Thaddeus Wong Joins May 14 Greater Chicago Networking Extravaganza Panel

April 23rd, 2015

ThadThaddeus Wong, co-founder of @properties, rounds out the panel of successful entrepreneurs at the 13th Greater Chicago Networking Extravaganza from 5:30 – 8:45 pm May 14, 2015 at TechNexus in Chicago. He joins Gary Rabine, CEO and founder of Rabine Group, and Genevieve Theirs, founder of Sittercity.com. All three have been inducted into UIC’s Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. Moderator will be Jason Jacobsohn, event co-producer and business advisor, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative.

The 13th version of this highly popular Chicago networking event will focus on how to leverage relationships to start, build and grow a company. “Relationships are crucial to finding customers, partners, advisors, capital and peers with whom to share the journey,” said Lillian Bjorseth, event co-founder and co-producer.

@properties is the largest independently owned residential real estate brokerage firm in Illinois and one of the 25 largest brokerage firms in the U.S. by sales volume.

Wong, a Loyola graduate (BBA ’96), began his career in real-estate sales in 1996 and quickly established himself as one of the most successful agents in Chicago. During the early years of his career, he earned four consecutive Golden Eagle Awards from the Chicago Association of REALTORS® as the top-producing agent among the organization’s 10,000+ members.

In 2000 Wong and business partner Michael Golden established @properties and in less than 15 years have grown the company from $40 million in sales to more than $5 billion in annual sales. Today, @properties has 16 offices in the city of Chicago, surrounding suburbs and southwestern Michigan. The firm has divisions for residential and commercial brokerage, development marketing, relocation, property management and bank-advisory services.

A highly energetic and creative entrepreneur, Wong focuses on implementing his vision for a real estate company in which both the agent and client experience the highest level of service and support. He is primarily responsible for the business growth and development of @properties’ more than 1,600 agents, as well as the development and implementation of the firm’s award-winning marketing programs. Wong created and manages the company’s signature training, education and performance coaching programs utilized by hundreds of agents per year.

Wong’s accomplishments have been widely recognized by the real estate industry and the broader business community. Honors include: the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the Midwest; Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 500/5000” list; inclusion on Crain’s Chicago Business’ “Fast Fifty,” “40 Under 40,” and “Largest Privately Held Companies” lists; Inman News’ “100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders”; induction in the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame; the Impact Aware from the Lincoln Park Builders Club; and the Damen Award from the Loyola University of Chicago School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Wong and @properties support a number of charitable and civic organizations through the @properties Friends and Neighbors Community Fund. Past and present beneficiaries include: Teen Living Programs, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), Off The Street Club and Community Partnership for Affordable Housing.

Wong is a member of the NFTE board, a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation, and co-chairs the annual Beelzebub Halloween Bash and Fundraiser.

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Chicago Networking Extravaganza Adds another Stellar Panelist

April 15th, 2015

sittercityGenevieve Thiers, self-described as disruptor, entrepreneur, speaker and investor, has been named to the panel of successful entrepreneurs at the 13th Greater Chicago Networking Extravaganza from 5:30 – 8:45 pm May 14, 2015 at TechNexus in Chicago.

The 13th version of this highly popular Chicago networking event will focus on how to leverage relationships to start, build and grow a company. “Relationships are crucial to finding customers, partners, advisors, capital and peers with whom to share the journey,” said Lillian Bjorseth, event co-founder and co-producer.

Genevieve puts it this way, “Relationships are the only way anyone in business gets anywhere. Period.”

Her first company, Sittercity.com, was America’s first company to take caregiving services online. It now has millions of users in the United States with new locations in the UK and Canada.

The idea first came to Genevieve when she was a college student and saw a pregnant mother walking around the campus, posting “help wanted” fliers for a babysitter. She hurried outside to take over the job and sent the woman home. It made her wonder, “Why isn’t there an easier way to find a babysitter or nanny?”

Though Genevieve was initially laughed out of the room by venture capitalists when she sought funding, she knew her idea to connect families and babysitters online could work. In 2001, she launched Sittercity.com. The rest is history.

She is also co-founder and CEO of Operamode that focuses on providing paid roles for new, emerging singers in the Chicago area. Genevieve herself is a professional opera singer.

Genevieve was recognized by President Bush at the White House as the Small Business Administration Young Entrepreneur Champion of the Year for 2006. Her companies have won more than 18 major awards, including the CEC Momentum Award, the WBDC Rising Start Award, a CNN Young Heroes feature, the UPS Out of the Box Award, the INC 500 list and more.

Genevieve has been featured thousands of times in the press for her work including by the TODAY show, Ellen, the View, MSNBC, the CBS Early Show, CNN, Live & Style, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Redbook, Parents, Parenting, Marie Clare, TIME, Better Homes and Gardens and Working Mother. She is the author of Love at First Sit.

Genevieve has mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs throughout her career. She is on the board of the CEC, which created 1871, a co-working space in Chicago, and also teaches classes there. She is also an investor in TechStars and the FireStarter fund and in several female-run new tech startups that target women and lesser-known industries. She speaks regularly on the lack of women in tech and how to right the balance.

“We are thrilled to have Genevieve on our panel as she has spoken for hundreds of companies and groups around the company,” Bjorseth said. “Our attendees are in for a real treat!”

To register and/or get sponsorship information about the event, visit www.greaterchicagonetworking.com

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Chicago 2015 Boomer Women’s Business Conference Adds another Stellar Presenter

April 10th, 2015

andieChicago’s first Boomer business skills conference for women has added Andrea Kramer to its already power-packed schedule of speakers. Andie, a partner at the international law firm of McDermott Will & Emory LLP, is a nationally recognized speaker and proponent of assuring women equal access to career opportunities and leadership roles in professional service firms.

She will discuss the role of impression management as part of a panel, “Promote Yourself Effectively over 50” at the “Maximize Your Career- Business Tools for Women over 50” conference. The event is being held from 8:15 am – 4 pm Aug. 28 at DePaul University’s Naperville campus.

Andie heads MWE’s Financial Products, Trading and Derivatives group. She is a founding member of the firm’s diversity committee and chair of the gender diversity subcommittee. By serving on her law firm’s management and compensation committees, she learned firsthand how women can level the playing field for career advancement.

Andie was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America by the National Law Journal; honored as Gender Diversity: Private Practice Lawyer of 2014, (Chambers USA Women in Law); received the 2013 Founder’s Award from the Chicago Bar Association, Alliance for Women; received the 2011 Women With Vision Award from the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois; and received the 2012 National Public Service Award from the ABA, Business Law Section.

She was featured in the February 2012 Chicago Lawyer magazine as an “inspiring innovator” who thinks outside the box and inspires her colleagues and as a “Remarkable Woman” in the August 2013 Chicago Tribune.

Andie is also a prolific writer. She is co-author of the article “Taking Control: Women, Gender Stereotypes and Impression Management,” published in the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois Newsletter, Winter 2013-2014. This chapter is a preliminary draft of a chapter in her forthcoming book, tentatively entitled, Beating the Stereotypes: How Women Can Succeed in Gender-biased Workplaces.

For more details about conference registration and sponsorship, visit www.bizwomenover50conference.com.

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Chicago Business Women over 50 Conference Presenter Shares how to get out of your own way and Create an Amazing Life

April 8th, 2015

This blog by Christine Suva, M.S., CPC, first appeared on suvawww.bizwomenover50conference.com, website for the “Maximize Your Career – Business Tools for Women over 50″ conference being produced Aug. 28, 2015 by Lillian Bjorseth.

How would it feel if you knew you were completely aligned with everything that is most important to you in your life? What if you were clear on the legacy you are creating and it absolutely filled you with joy? What if you could look back over your life and have few if any regrets?

There are FAR too many people miserable in their careers working jobs that leave them empty, frustrated, burned out and in many cases literally ill. Life is too short! Too many have a dream but play small. Both men and women get in their own way; however, there are some things I see far more often in women.

The “Disease to Please”
Women are often socialized to be nice, caregivers and non-confrontational. Do you struggle to say “no” or establish healthy boundaries out of fear of disappointing or upsetting others? Do you feel guilty thinking about what you want, being assertive and leave little for yourself? Over time, it can lead to being depleted, resentful, frustrated and, if taken to the extreme, illness.

Thankfully, with age comes wisdom! One of the beautiful things that can happen as we get older is we care less about what others think. We begin to learn to tap into and trust our own intuition. Our needs shift at different stages in life so check in regularly with yourself and give yourself permission to make changes.

Denying Your Gifts
If you were brought up in a home that placed high value on humbleness and talking about your strengths was frowned upon, it may be very difficult to OWN your worth in the workplace. Selling yourself in an interview, asking for a raise or promotion or even identifying what your real gifts, strengths and talents are can be crippling. In an interview, you MUST be able to identify and articulate what you’re good at.

One way to feel more comfortable is to talk about your strengths through stories of your accomplishments. Skills are demonstrated in the stories about circumstances, actions you took and results you achieved. Step out of your comfort zone and let yourself be seen! You can’t articulate what you don’t acknowledge. Your gifts may very well be the thing you take for granted. Pay attention to what comes easily to you and brings you joy!

Feeling Guilty for Wanting More
When was the last time you asked yourself “What do I really want?” Moms often feel guilt asking themselves that question. Many women put their own dreams, needs and desires out of mind after having children. When I hear moms say “It doesn’t matter what I want anymore. It’s all about the kids.” I cringe.

I’m a mom and by far the best thing I’ve ever done in my life are my kids! However, what is more powerful? TELLING our kids “you can be anything you want, go after your dreams” or SHOWING them what going after your dreams and living a life of purpose and meaning looks and feels like? Don’t just tell them . . . SHOW them! Many women completely wrap their entire identity into being a mom and run the risk of feeling they have no purpose when the kids grow up and leave home.

Actually, it’s the perfect opportunity to reinvent! It’s a choice to start showing up differently in your life and that choice starts with YOU. Drop the guilt and give yourself permission to live a happy, healthy, fulfilling life at any age!

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Top Five Reasons to Attend 2015 Greater Chicago Networking Extravagana

April 6th, 2015

GCNE-LOGOWondering why you should attend the 2015 Greater Chicago Networking Extravaganza on May 14, 2015? Here are the top five reasons!

    • 13th event in the series – Long-running-event series with a successful track record that has brought hundreds of people together to connect and learn for the past 10 years. This version of the GCNE will focus on how to leverage relationships to start, build and grow a company. And along with the way you’ll learn how to increase brand awareness, sales and career success through the art and science of networking.

    • Seasoned hosts – Event is co-produced and co-hosted by Lillian Bjorseth and Jason Jacobsohn who are synonymous with relationship building and connecting entrepreneurs and other professionals in the Chicago area. Lillian is a nationally renowned face-to-face networking authority and author of Breakthrough Networking: Building Relationships That Last. Jason is well known in the Chicago area as a “connector” for entrepreneurs, veteran panel facilitator and director of the Founder Institute.

    • Successful entrepreneur panel – A panel of successful entrepreneurs will share the vital role that relationships played and continue to in the growth of their businesses and individual well-being. Already confirmed is Gary Rabine, founder and CEO of the Rabine Group, a group of facilities maintenance companies that are leaders in the paving, roofing, snow removal and fuel distribution industries. Also sharing her information is Genevieve Thiers, whose company, Sittercity.com, is America’s first online caregiving service, which has millions of users nationwide and serves hundreds of corporate clients.

    • Grow your network – During the event, you will have the chance to network with entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals during our structured and open networking time. Mingle with sponsors that have products and services to assist you and help your business grow. You are guaranteed to meet 10 or more new people with whom who can start to build relationships.

    • Enhance your relationship building skills – During the event, you will acquire valuable face-to-face and online networking tips and techniques. You will learn how the right relationships can add immeasurably to your success. In addition, you will gain skills and confidence that you can transfer to other networking opportunities.

Registration and sponsorship information details …

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A Seven-year-old May Lead Us … to Better Grammatical Usage

April 3rd, 2015

logangradI admit it! I may be a bit partial since he is my seven-year-old grandson; however, he is smart for his age, and I am used to his using that logical mind to figure out the challenges I toss his way.

I am amazed that he can put together a puzzle of the United States by himself, point out the routes his family took when driving to Florida and Cooperstown for his brother’s baseball games. He knows in which states members of the extended family were born and/or live. Last week he said to me, “I’m now going to look at the western United States, turn my back and tell you all the states.” Which he did going as far east as the Dakotas … missing only one which he pointed out when he turned around.

What surprised me more … and delighted me even more since I love when the English language is used correctly … is that he understands how to use apostrophes correctly already. He was putting his “office materials” in my office into a folder and wanted to label it. He then showed me the label and said, “In this case, there is an apostrophe in Logan’s since the materials are mine.” Probably a good thing that I was already sitting!

When asked how he knew that, he replied that had studied apostrophes and commas in first grade! He tends to remember most everything he hears. Hurray, maybe there’s hope for the younger generation and proper grammar. At times, the two seem like an oxymoron.

I shared the story with one of my sons who is an attorney, and he responded he knows other attorneys who don’t know how to use them correctly. And as luck would have it, I received three emails that same day from professionals who used apostrophes incorrectly in their short messages.

Cheers, Logan, you have lots of work ahead of you!

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Gary Rabine to be on 13th Greater Chicago Networking Extravaganza Panel May 14

March 11th, 2015

rabineGary Rabine, CEO and founder of the Rabine Group, will join a panel of successful entrepreneurs at the 13th Greater Chicago Networking Extravaganza from 5:30 – 8:45 pm May 14, 2015 at TechNexus in Chicago.

The 13th version of this highly popular premier Chicago networking event will focus on how to leverage relationships to start, build and grow a company since relationships are crucial to finding customers, partners, advisors, capital and peers with whom to share the journey.

Gary’s competitive drive over the last 33 years has helped transform Rabine Paving, a small Northern Illinois driveway company, into a group of facilities maintenance companies that lead the paving, roofing, snow removal and fuel distribution industries. It includes Rabine Paving America, one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing commercial paving companies.

Gary, who began his quest to build a paving company in the early 80s at 18 years old, attributes “most of his business success to mentors. My formal education ended with high school,” Gary said. “The friendships I gained from dozens of great mentors helped me to envision a road map to industry leadership and individual success.

“I am honored to be asked to share my experiences and knowledge at the Greater Chicago Networking Extravaganza so I can pay forward from all that I have received,” Gary added.

The Rabine Group has grown over 3,000 percent and now paves more parking lots than any other organization in America. It was included on Crain’s Fast Fifty List 4 years in a row and Inc Magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies list the last 3 years.

Gary and more than 400 Rabine Group team members work locally, regionally and nationally with a focus on serving America’s largest facilities and utilities distribution companies. They have produced many industry innovations that are trademarked and patented and have received recognition from The World of Concrete, The Edison Awards, Inc 5000 and Chicago’s Innovation Awards.

In 2011 Gary received Schaumburg’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2012 he was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and the same year was inducted into the UIC Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. In 2013 Gary received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Illinois for entrepreneurial achievement and making an impact on Chicago’s business landscape.

Gary is an active member of Young Presidents (YPO), World Presidents (WPO) and Job Creators Network (JCN).

Gary is proud that is company is family integrated. His wife, Cheryl, oversees the Rabine Group Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on enriching the lives of children, elderly and underprivileged. The two oldest of their four children are managers in Rabine Companies.

To register and/or get sponsorship information about the even, visit www.greaterchicagonetworking.com

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Showcase Your Wisdom not Your Age at Work – Chicago Boomer Business Women Conference Speaker Says

March 8th, 2015

MYCsmallestyetI’m sharing this insightful post by Sarah Donahue, CPA, who is a presenter at the April 17, 2015, “Maximize Your Career – Business Tools for Women over 50” conference that I am producing. It first appeared on http://www.bizwomenover50conference.com/blog.html

You are a woman over 50 working with and for people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. You have incredible experience, both in the workplace and in life, which may enable you to see the strategies and tactics that will succeed and the ones with more obstacles and challenges. You know that you willingly share what you know, but those making decisions do not always seem to listen to you. Why doesn’t everyone recognize the wisdom of your words?

You may inadvertently be showcasing your age instead of your wisdom. Make sure that your wisdom is not overlooked by how you show up. Be the person everyone consults on new initiatives. Be a real voice of reason. To do so, you must be heard. To be heard you must understand how you show-up to those who are younger and how to most effectively share your valuable experience.

Do your colleagues see you as someone reluctant to change or embrace new ideas and approaches? Do they hear you saying “we tried it years ago and it did not work”? Do you appear to shut down possibilities or be somewhat stubborn and stuck in the “the way it has always been done”? How do people feel when you share your expertise? Are you having a real dialogue or are you more focused on telling people your opinion? Do you sound out of touch with today’s world?

Make your experience valuable and appreciated.

First, be truly open to ideas. Facts and circumstances change, something may work today that did not in the past. Don’t assume that past experience gives you all the answers. Focus on achieving results, there are many ways to get there.
Check your tone, facial expressions and body language—do you look and sound like a parent, an old-timer or a contemporary colleague?

Stay current and be relevant. Technology is changing on an exponential time scale. Use of big data and analytics is advancing rapidly. New communication tools and social media have changed the way we work and interface with our customers. This does not negate the value of past experience. Your ability to marry what is learned from the past with current capabilities is extremely valuable. And, if you are not current, you will be viewed as not relevant and not worth being heard.

Use your experience to ask thoughtful, probing questions. Bring unbiased facts to the table. Raise important considerations in a non-judgmental way. Asking good questions, while being open and objective, will drive deeper thinking and more collaboration. Oftentimes others will get to the answer you instinctively knew, and your unbiased thought leadership will be appreciated. And, you will be surprised that a new idea does have merit and your thought leadership will be recognized for the inevitable improvements that come from powerful, insightful questions.

Finally, know when to stop asking questions. Even after you have brought forth facts and asked good questions, decisions will be made with which you do not agree. Get over it. It is fair to state your opinion, but then just let it go. You appear to be a stubborn barrier if you continue to question the merits after the decision is made. Use your wisdom to drive a successful outcome. And, if it does not succeed—don’t say or imply “I told your so”. Your wise counsel will be remembered in the future. Now use your experience to help others learn constructively from the failure.

Being known as an open and engaged thought leader will benefit your career and bring you much personal satisfaction. You will be pleased by what happens when you showcase your wisdom not your age.

Sarah Donahue recently retired from a successful career as vice president with Allstate Life and Retirement. She is known for her practical and decisive business approach and collaborative style. She is also recognized for developing leaders and has been a mentor with MENTTIUM and Step Up Women’s Network

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ClassAct to Help Millennials Gain Access to Professionals’ Experience and Wisdom

February 26th, 2015

classactlogojimI am delighted to announce ClassAct, a training/mentoring program for young professionals. It is being launched in May 2015 by co-founders Jim Vaselopulos, a senior-level executive with a proven record as a rainmaker and new business development expert, and Lillian Bjorseth, a nationally known networking and communication skills authority.

We believe that the Millennial generation is poised to make outstanding contributions in our world. Millennials are intelligent, driven and incredibly tech savvy. The world is already a better place because of the contributions of Millenials.

At the same time, however, Millennials as a generation are very misunderstood. They have been labeled lazy, entitled and idealistic. In many ways the responsibility for this misunderstanding rests upon both the older generations in leadership positions and the younger generations driving new workplace behaviors and attitudes.

For many Millennials, one way to circumvent this misunderstanding is to go straight into an entrepreneurial environment. Startups don’t have any baggage. You can be the boss in a startup. Startups can operate with “new rules.”

And while this has worked well for some, it does not work well for most. Most startups never reach their potential. Many startups fail. Startups still need capital and most capital still resides in organizations run by non-Millennials. Startups still need to work with existing channels. Startups still need to sell to organizations that are not all operating with “new rules”. It is impossible to escape into a purely “new” world.

Additionally, most jobs and opportunities lie within organizations that are not startups — organizations with a wide variety of employees and a greater diversity of ideas and experiences than ever before.

Our goal at ClassAct is to help the next generation of leaders develop in a way that helps them thrive in these diverse environments.
To read more about our philosophy and ClassAct details, visit www.classact.guru.

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Benefits of Face-to-face Networking: One-minute Reminders – Build Your Top-of-mind Positioning

February 17th, 2015

5756000763_c8648c23b7_z[1]Are you top-of-mind in your contacts’ minds?

If you didn’t answer “yes” quickly or responded with a “maybe,” then it’s time to make this one of your priorities. Warm referrals are a coveted form of getting business and a job, and one of the most likely ways to make this happen for you is to be the first name that comes to mind when someone is looking for a product or service you offer.

Tactics that help:

    Design a website that focuses on your key product or service.
    Use online media (LinkedIn, Facebook) to zero in on your key talents/services
    Post to LinkedIn groups in your area of expertise.
    Attend your industry trade shows. People on “booth duty” have a lot of time to talk. Review the program ahead of time and try to talk with presenters/keynoters, etc.
    Join a horizontal professional organization (within your industry).
    Join a vertical professional organization (people who have the same kind of job).
    Become involved in the groups you join. Committee work shortens the time it takes to build relationships.
    Seek speaking opportunities (paid or no fee) for groups whose membership is made up of companies for which you want to work.
    Reconnect with people you used to work with, this time for the purpose of building solid relationships.

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