Oct
29

Leave football alone!

By Katie Kieffer

It must be nice to be president. I thought it would be a stressful job in this economy with consumer confidence at an all-time low, our country at war, a swine flu pandemic and multiple national security threats. Apparently I was wrong.

With 32 newly-appointed “czars” to help run the country, President Obama appears to have ample time on his hands for more serious issues like whether NCAA football should convert from a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system to an eight-team college football playoff system.

Is President Obama an expert on football? No. Is football in the constitution under “executive powers”? No. Is Obama feeling political pressure from a certain Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to look into the playoff system? Yes. Hatch is bent out of shape because, under the current BCS system, his school, the University of Utah, doesn’t have an automatic bid to participate in the top-tier bowl games.

Hmmm. Might there be some, cough, bias involved here? If Obama has so much “weight to throw around,” as he tells 60 Minutes in the video below, why does he seem so intimidated by Fox News? A friendly Nerf football summit invite from Sean Hannity shouldn’t cause our President to withdraw in trepidation.

The NCAA already has many layers of leadership and it doesn’t need politicians trying to jump into its kitchen. It’s one thing for the President to state his opinion on college football, but it’s another thing for him to try to use his authority to control it. What is the point of Jim Delany’s role as Big Ten Conference commissioner if politicians with pet teams get to call the shots?

I think we should let football’s experts – like Lou Holtz and Mark May - decide whether we should make a change this big, not politicians who need to better prioritize their time.

Obama told 60 Minutes, “I don’t know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this.” It might be true that he doesn’t personally know a single serious fan of college football who doesn’t want an eight-team system.  However, I personally know many serious college football fans that support the existing BCS system.

The President tries to make it sound like a switch from the BCS system to a playoff system is a no-brainer. It’s more complicated than that and many serious fans are in favor of the current system, where each and every game matters. The existing college football system yields the most meaningful regular season in all of sports. Each and every week there is a wide variety of meaningful games to watch. The biggest disadvantage to a playoff system is that it would diminish the regular season and college football wouldn’t be as enjoyable to watch.

Watch these two videos. ESPN almost always is politically neutral on their T.V. shows, so the passion and debate shown here is unusual. Decide for yourself whether President Obama and other elected officials should get involved and try to control the college football championships. Haven’t we given politicians enough control over our lives already? I’d like to keep my beer and football untouched, thank you.

Oct
28

Sickeningly sweet news

By Katie Kieffer

Photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/yhzbqfc

Photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/yhzbqfc

I was reading a local health fitness magazine the other day and came across an article about foods that give you energy. The author surprised me by stating a little-known-fact about one of the biggest culprits to your health: High fructose corn syrup.

High fructose corn syrup is subsidized by the government. No big deal? Huge deal. Government corn subsidies total over $56.2 billion.

High fructose corn syrup is linked to obesity in America, as well as a whole host of other diseases including diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and premature aging of skin.

How can we trust the government to run our health care if it subsidizes such an unhealthy substance? Why should our taxpayer money subsidize food that’s packed with a disease-causing sweetener? Is this the kind of “doctor” we want dictating all other aspects of our health? Do we want to live in a Mary Poppins fantasy land where “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down” … and the medicine itself is sugar?

I want a healthcare plan that’s run by an organization that has my health’s best interest in mind. I don’t want to wake up one morning and find out that my healthcare provider is also subsidizing something that’s detrimental to my health. This would cause me to lose trust in my healthcare provider and look into switching to a better provider.

There are lots of arguments against a public health care option. For today, I simply want to point out that our government is currently caught in “the uncomfortable position of subsidizing both the costs of treating Type 2 diabetes and the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup.”

The latest Gallup Poll on healthcare shows an increasing number of people feel that the “costs, quality and coverage” of their healthcare plan will worsen “if a healthcare bill passes.” Americans are ready for a healthier kind of coverage plan – one that’s less like an expensive, government-sponsored candy bar and more like a home-grown, nutrient-rich cucumber.

Oct
27

Need a Halloween costume idea?

By Katie Kieffer

Art by Amie Kieffer.

Art copyright Amie Kieffer.

Halloween is at the end of the week. Last Halloween was a no-brainer if you wanted to dress up as a political figure: Palins, McCains and Obamas were everywhere. If you’re out of creative ideas, I’ve got a few for you:

ACORN

  • A sexy Acorn costume, what’s not to love?

A CZAR

MR. LIMBAUGH

Note that most, if not all, of the above costume ideas will likely require a bodyguard to ward off drunken militant types who are adverse to free speech. So, dress if you dare!

Oct
26

Chi-Town’s career advice for young professionals

By Katie Kieffer

DowntownChicagoSkylineIf you’re like most young professionals, you want to know when this recession is going to end. We’re young and generally optimistic, but reality is starting to bite. If you’re paid on a commission, you’re drowning. If you’re salaried, you hope your job won’t be cut. So, what can you do for your career during this down-cycle?

Chicago, IL: Rumblings of the recession, its length and its impact sifted up the rainy skyline. This month, I participated in a conference with about thirty other young professionals in commercial real estate from across the country. We all wanted to know: “When is the recession going to end, and what can we do to boost our careers in the meantime?” To this end, we invited Dr. James R. DeLisle to come present on the economy and capital markets. Here are my key takeaways from DeLisle’s presentation that can help you build your career up during this recession:

  1. The economy is not going to rebound overnight. Dr. DeLisle said it could be at least three years before our economy is healthy again. Prepare yourself for a long ride.
  2. This recession is “not just about layoffs. Your own company may be going away, so you may as well go in style.”
    • Go in style? Practically speaking, I think this means you need to be proactive. If you’re still working and you like your job, work harder. “Read more, act faster, be analytical and come up with new solutions, but be quick,” said DeLisle.
    • If you see inefficiencies in your business, start working on a solution. Be the person who can do more with less and who can innovate when others are whining. There are deals to be done, even in this climate, and you’ll find them by pounding the phone and thinking creatively.
    • The days of excessive corporate perks are in the past. As a young person, you actually have the advantage of being near the bottom of the ladder. You aren’t used to huge corporate bonuses. You can move ahead and work with a shoestring budget while your superiors may be stuck fantasizing about the glory days of the past.
    • If your company goes down or you lose your job, it’s not the end of the world. I know of some senior real estate executives who were laid off in this environment and started their own companies. They brought bright young talent along to work for them: Be open to partnering with a peer or a senior leader and starting your own gig. It’s a lot of work, but the best time to start your own company is when you’re young. See here, here and here for real-world inspiration.
  3. Clients are getting feistier and more demanding. Try to anticipate their needs. Make it a game. Provide your clients with solutions before they present you with problems. Check in on clients regularly with a friendly phone call, note, email or text to show that you care and to find out what’s on their mind.
  4. The stimulus didn’t work. The U.S. labor market is still in the tank. There’s no magic wand to fix this recession. Rather than waiting for Tinker Bell to sprinkle her pixie dust, create your own magic. Many “problems” are hidden opportunities.
    • Educate yourself so you’re a resource within your industry. You don’t need to go back to school and accumulate massive debt. You do need to talk to senior leaders within your industry and read all the trade journals you can. Read about business and innovation outside your industry and outside our country too. This will keep you on your toes and help you innovate.
    • If your company is stubbornly doing the same things it’s done for clients for decades – despite signs of needed change – you’ll have difficulty promoting your innovative ideas. Recessions are about doing things differently because the old ways no longer work: This is the kind of company that will be going away soon. So, instead of wasting your time trying to convince leaders who are set in their ways to accept your ideas, use your time at night and on weekends to think of your own ideas: What kind of company would you want to start? What are your talents? What’s your dream job? If your company goes under in six months, what’s your game plan?

As I walked out of Dr. DeLisle’s presentation, I looked up at the Chicago skyscrapers. These tall, beautiful buildings are a tribute to the American entrepreneurial spirit. The new Trump Tower, in particular, is a symbol of optimism. I recalled what my taxi-driver had told me earlier that week as we drove past Trump Tower: “Do you know he (Trump) went bankrupt twice before he built that? You’ve got to keep trying.”

America is still a place where young leaders can thrive. Small government, entrepreneurial vision and hard work are still a recipe for success here. Seize the day, and make it your own!


Oct
23

Find out what top MN money-maker is overlooked

By Katie Kieffer

Bees are essential to our economy. Photo credit: http://preview.tinyurl.com/yhyfu97

Bees are essential to our economy. Photo credit: http://preview.tinyurl.com/yhyfu97

Bees are an essential part of our national economy.  Did you know that we rely on bees for one-third of our food supply? Pollinators are essential to helping “over 70 percent of the world’s wild and cultivated flowering plants reproduce,” Brian Devore states in his column, “A Sticky Situation for Pollinators,” in Minnesota Conservation Volunteer. There is an “estimated $20 billion in services pollinators provide U.S. crops annually,” says Devore.

Clearly, if the bees continue to fade away, much of our agricultural economy and independence will be at stake. There are various explanations for why the bees are dying off. Ultimately, we want to know what to do to help save them – and protect our food supply.

One of the best solutions I’ve seen proposed so far is to start creating year-round habitats that are needed by bees. Bees need a “seasonal succession of blooming plants to get through spring, summer and fall – and prepare for the winter,” states Devore. This means that you can’t preserve the bees by putting a pot of annuals on your porch. Bees need a more permanent, three-season home, or habitat. Conservation Volunteer reports that we’d likely see a 50 percent increase in the wild bee population, if we planted our highway roadsides, ditches and buffer strips with native prairie grasses - if a study performed by the University of Kansas in 2008 holds true.

I come from a real estate background, and I understand growth and development. And, as a LEED AP, I think there’s more that we can do to help ensure that we don’t undermine our economy by bypassing opportunities to protect or create habitats for pollinators as we grow and develop the land.

As we put up new structures and developments, we need to assess whether there is a natural habitat that we’re impacting. I don’t think we need more government legislation or restrictions on positive development. Most commercial real estate developers are well-aware of the environmental impact of their projects. Many of them are incredibly conscious about incorporating green roofs, green space and rain water gardens into their developments. I think we need to think long-term and prioritize this crisis over less-urgent environmental concerns.

There is more opportunity to do good and reverse the trend of endangered bees along a long stretch of road that extends for hundreds of miles than within a single real estate development. Our country has many long stretches of road that could easily be planted with native grasses. In Minnesota alone, the DNR estimates that there are “525,000 roadside acres that could be planted with native” plants, reports Conservation Volunteer.

The bee crisis is urgent because of how it impacts our economy, jobs and future agricultural growth. As a state and a country we need to act now before it’s too late. Building and preserving sufficient habitats for pollinators should be at top of mind for young Americans concerned about the environment.

On the scale of urgency for things to do to protect the economy and the environment, this may be more pressing than worrying about human contributions to climate change. In fact, just last week, CNS News reported that a group of scientists presented, “evidence backing their claim that climate change is caused not by man but by nature, and that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but the hope for a greener planet.”

A new Pew Research Center Poll shows public opinion has taken the biggest drop in three years regarding global warming. Said differently, fewer people today believe that humans are causing global temperatures to rise.

Likewise, business people like Warren Buffett and H. Leighton Steward, and scientific evidence question green regulations that do not have a proven, reasoned and financially sound approach to controlling human/commercial sources of greenhouse gas emissions. As a young professional, I think it’s interesting to note that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has called for increased transparency from the EPA regarding regulations of greenhouse emissions under the Clean Air Act.  The Chamber is concerned that, “any regulation of greenhouse gases using existing environmental laws not harm the economy and American jobs, be based on sound science and allow for public review of all underlying data and scientific analysis.”

Bottom line, bee extinction is a here-and-now crisis, whereas some other environmental concerns and their solutions are still debatable. As good stewards of the earth, we should allocate our time and money wisely and move this crisis to the top of our list.

Oct
21

How to keep our country safe

By Katie Kieffer

The Allegory of War and Peace by Pompeo Batoni

The Allegory of War and Peace by Pompeo Batoni

Our country is at war in Iraq. We hear of potential terrorist threats on our country on a daily basis. I can’t remember the last time I went to the airport and the Homeland Security Advisory System’s “threat level” was lower than “High” or “Orange.” We are continually bombarded with signs of war and violence. Consequently, it’s easy to become numb to war when most of our daily activities are peaceful. Aloofness puts us in danger, however, of risking the very peace we enjoy.

This past weekend, I went to The Art Institute of Chicago. One of the paintings that jumped out at me was Pompeo Batoni’s painting, The Allegory of War and Peace. This is a famous work of art that can be interpreted in many ways. Here are my takeaways as a young professional on how we can achieve peace in the U.S.:

  1. Notice War’s physical strength compared to the soft and delicate look of Peace. Reagan promoted a policy of “peace through strength.” Reagan knew that by increasing spending on defense, he would be able to eliminate or lesson violence. Reagan tried it, and it worked. There’s a reason bars keep bouncers at the door – their strength and stature keeps people in line.  Likewise, a bouncer can typically control the atmosphere at the bar without having to lay a hand on anyone – he just has to be himself: strong and intimidating. The most peaceful way of allowing as many people as possible into a bar without performing complicated background checks is to simply have a strong presence at the entrance.
    • Winston Churchill described appeasement – the opposite of Reagan’s theory – this way: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile – hoping it will eat him last.”
  2. An investment in defense is an investment in peace. Notice the protective shield that War holds over Peace’s head in the painting. Without the armor of defense, Peace would not be able to stand there and hold the olive branch. Peace is, by nature, vulnerable. Her vulnerability is one of her greatest attributes, but since humans are inclined to envy, fighting, hatred and other forms of vice and violence, she needs the protection of War’s strength.
  3. This is not a battle scene. This painting illustrates the fact that we don’t necessarily need to engage in brutal battles to stay at peace. Rather, during times of peace, we need to invest in and possess the defensive and strategic systems and tactics that will show our neighbors that: Anyone – who comes in peace – is welcome into our country. At the same time, the scene isn’t a bread-breaking. War’s shield safeguards Peace, and his sword is at his side, should anyone try to attack her. Peace gently touches War’s hand – urging him to resist an actual battle – yet, she does not refuse his protective battle shield. Peace also does not take the sword from War’s hand – she merely advises it from unnecessary use. Diplomacy alone won’t keep our country safe: Bouncers rarely keep random, intoxicated visitors in line by passing out candy, smiley face stickers and free drinks.  The proven way to achieve national security is through the interaction of smart, strategic defense with the goal of protecting the olive branch of Peace.

Just as a healthy, “peacefully functioning” body is dependant on strong bones, tissues and muscles, there is a delicate balancing act between maintaining peace and having a strong national defense system. All too quickly can we forget the dependence of Peace on military strength, and this painting is a gentle and timely reminder.

Oct
19

How to stay optimistic in a recession

By Katie Kieffer

Photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/yh8wv69

Photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/yh8wv69

How do you stimulate yourself to stay positive in this economy? When your friends are losing their jobs and the world seems to be closing in on you at the speed of light, it can be challenging to stay optimistic.

President Obama has tried to stimulate our economy to recover quickly through his economic stimulus package. Clearly, he recognizes that the economy is in a down-cycle. I am concerned, however, about the long-term ramifications of his actions, particularly for young people like me.

Young people of my generation are typically optimistic. 66 percent of my peers, ages 18-40, voted for President Obama in 2008. Young people thought that President Obama would be able to bring the necessary change to the United States to make it a more prosperous place. Change can be good – if it makes things better for the long-haul.

USA Today’s article, “Obama poll: Scores higher on personal traits, lower on issues,” discusses a survey of Americans’ views on the president’s healthcare proposals. Young professionals seem concerned that the president’s idea of change is too expensive and expands the powers of government too far: According to, ‘Adam Davis, 32, a software engineer from Turnersville, N.J., who was called in the survey. “No doubt things need to change,” he says, “but for me personally it’s too much, too fast.”’

Economists who have studied this recession are now pointing out that the $787 billion dollar stimulus that Congress passed in January didn’t work. A recent Wall Street Journal article stated that, “the data available so far tell us that the government transfers and rebates have not stimulated consumption at all, and that the resilience of the private sector following the fall 2008 panic—not the fiscal stimulus package program—deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the impressive growth improvement from the first and second quarter of 2009.”

Chief economic strategist for Miller Tabak, Dan Greenhaus, pointed out to FOXBusiness that the case will be made that we may be entering a “double-dip recession” and that it’s highly debatable whether the GDP boost is due to real growth or just to the stimulus. Other economists increasingly concur with this outlook, reports Bloomberg.com.

America is about jobs. Historically, people have come to America to secure jobs. We are currently facing $11.8 trillion dollars in national debt that grows by about $3.8 billion every day. Just because we’ve seen a short term improvement in GDP, we still haven’t seen a recovery in the labor markets. The unemployment rate is still climbing dangerously to 10%.

Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of GDP, so until employers are able to start hiring again, our economy won’t recover in the long term. If this recession persists in the labor markets, and, if new jobs aren’t created through the private sector, the opportunities for my generation are going to dry up.

If our country isn’t achieving real growth and the government is simply redistributing money from one source to another, we have not achieved a long-term solution. Our generation needs to find a long-term solution for economic growth and recovery.

I think that one way we can all try to stay optimistic is by embracing this recession as a time to innovate and do things better and differently than ever before. By taking action and making things happen, we’ll be able to channel our worries into positive, productive energy. We can encourage entrepreneurial and innovative ideas and enterprises that will create jobs and help us compete with the global marketplace.

We can’t expect the government to come up with a creative solution for the economy. Clearly, they’ve tried to stimulate the economy and jobs are still on a downward spiral. Now, it’s up to ordinary citizens – especially young leaders – to step forward with creative ideas and solutions.

What are your ideas?

Oct
15

Bold young real estate firm steps out in recession

Part 4 of 4

This is the fourth in a series on how young entrepreneurs and innovation – not massive government spending – will get us out of our economic recession. The young entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed have all started their companies during this recession.

By Katie Kieffer

Anders & Kiel

Anders Pesevanto & Kiel Luse – The Paradigm Group, LLC

The Questions:

1.)    When did you start the Paradigm Group? Summarize briefly how the two of you decided to come together to start this company?

Kiel: We opened in May of 2009. Anders and I were colleagues at The Geneva Organization and we kept in touch after we both left earlier this year. I came to Anders and we were discussing what was going on in the market and decided it would be a good time to come together and start our own company.

Anders: We did our background research and spoke with a number of companies in the area and realized that even though things are slow, the workload for a lot of companies is still rather high. We recognized that and said to ourselves, “Why don’t we start a company where we can offer commercial real estate services on a short-term basis – hourly or by project?”

2.) What is unique about The Paradigm Group? How do you set yourself apart from larger corporations?

Anders: Some of what we do is project-based consulting or advisory work. We can come into a situation where a client has a problem on their hands and, not only can we say, “This is what we recommend,” but we can also tell them: “We can get it done for you. We can build it for you. We can execute your ideas for you.” Combined, Kiel and I have close to 10 years of experience in commercial real estate, and this is an asset to our clients. We are also young and open-minded, so we bring fresh ideas to the table.

Kiel: Adding to Anders’ points, we offer to do our projects on a contingent basis.  If a client is either unsatisfied or had something completely different in mind after we perform our work, we will re-adjust our analysis to better suit the client, free of charge.  Our number one goal is to provide quality work to our clients in order for them to better their business models.

3.) Have either or both of you always had the dream of doing your own thing? Would you consider yourself to be a serial entrepreneur or is this your first independent venture?

Kiel: Both of us had at some point planned to go out on our own. Growing up, my family was very entrepreneurial-oriented.  I used to watch and learn how my father ran his company, and it definitely instilled a motivation for me to be running my own company at some point in my life. Because of circumstances, it just so happened to be now versus later on in life.

Anders: I always saw myself as running my own company down the road. We just had the opportunity to open it up sooner than planned, and we took the leap.

4.) In the cover story of the September 21, 2009 issue of TIME Magazine’s “Verbatim” section, they quote Rick Alexander, a FL carpenter who gave up searching for a job after several months as saying: ‘It becomes a “why bother” scenario.’ Do you think that this recession is a perfect time to create your own opportunities versus relying on large corporations to provide them?

Anders: We are more optimistic. We think that this is a great time to start a company. There are a lot of things that take time you are starting up a company, such as building a brand. Over the next 12-18 months we can get our name out there and when things pick up, we’ll be ready to capitalize on our investment.

Kiel: Even though it’s slow and most people in our industry are playing the “wait and see” approach, I still think there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity out there.  If you look at past recessions, they have been a catalyst for new and innovative companies.

5.) As young professionals, do you feel like it’s easier to take on the risk of doing your own thing while you’re young?

Kiel: No matter what, when you start a new company there is a risk. However, generally younger individuals have less responsibility in their lives, allowing them more time and effort to make a business successful.  For us, companies can get two young, hard-working professionals that can come in and do exceptional work for them, while at the same time focusing their time on bigger tasks and reducing their expenses by not having to hire full-time.

Anders: I feel being young is our biggest asset. Given the fact we are just starting our careers we can take more risks and have the ability to be more flexible in our decision-making. Right now we have both the time and energy it requires to start up a new company.

6.) What are the biggest challenges you face today as a young entrepreneur? What is the most fulfilling?

Challenges:

Anders: Getting enough work load to keep us going in a slow market.

Kiel: Getting companies on-board or being comfortable with bringing in an outside consultant, especially a younger one.  At first, they might hesitate due to the perceived time involved in getting us up-to-speed with their work. It’s not as time-consuming as it may sound. We can jump in right away because of our background experience, generally requiring only one meeting to discuss the extent of a project.

Fulfilling:

Anders & Kiel: When we are able to provide exceptional work for a client and they want to work with us again. It is always nice to hear that our work directly benefitted their company as a whole or allowed them to close a deal.

7.) Where do you see your company a year from now?

Anders: We’ll be a more recognizable name in the Twin Cities commercial real estate market. Hopefully by then we can hire a few more people to work under us to help us with the work load

Kiel: We want to expand to our name and reputation within the industry, providing niche services to a number of different clients.

8.)    What’s your website? How can people reach you?

Company website:

www.theparadigmgroupmn.com

Email:

Anders Persavanto – anders@theparadigmgroupmn.com

Kiel Luse – kiel@theparadigmgroupmn.com

Oct
14

Young designer builds her firm despite sluggish market

Part 3 of 4

This is the third in a series on how young entrepreneurs and innovation – not massive government spending – will get us out of our economic recession. The young entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed have all started their companies during this recession.

By Katie Kieffer

Endura Financial Federal Credit Lobby - Interior Design by Evoke

Endura Financial Federal Credit Lobby – Interior Design by Evoke

The Questions:

1.)    Tell me about Evoke. What’s the story behind your company?

I started Evoke two and a half years ago. I set out to focus on the corporate market and actually work in the Minnesota market for a change.  I had been traveling a lot, working on casinos and hotels for the past six or so years and needed to be around more for my new blended family.

I have always enjoyed working with smaller companies on their offices and creating a “home” for their brand.  I founded the firm on the principles of conscious design. Conscious design takes a holistic view of space from the perspective of people, environment, culture and cost. Functional and beautiful spaces facilitate productivity and joy. I love hearing stories from clients about how we increased their efficiency. I once had a client increase their employee productivity by 30 percent in 30 days after moving into the new space. What a wonderful gift for them.

2.)    Was it hard to make that leap into the Minneapolis market?

It has been time-consuming – introducing myself and my brand – but not necessarily difficult getting into the market.  The one positive of the recession is that no one is especially busy, so scheduling coffee and breakfast meetings is much easier. (Always looking for the positives!)

3.)    What are some resources you’d recommend for people who are trying to decide whether to venture off on their own?

Inc. magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine are national publications that feature people who’ve started their own companies. They can be very inspirational to people who are just getting started.

4.) Is it a good or bad idea to start a company during a recession as a young professional?

It boils down to your personality. Are you a strong, driven person committed to your venture through thick and thin? Then go for it.

Recessions are about shaking things up. Some of the best ideas have come from recessions. I love the word recession. It starts with the pre-fix “re.” Think of all the fabulous words that start with “re:” re-birth, re-think, re-do, re-generate, re-juvenate,  re-plenish, re-new, re-novate, re-vitalize. Thinking of recession as a re-birth puts a positive spin on an otherwise negative word.

All that aside, from a business perspective, this was probably the worst time I could have started my business. This recession has turned out to be far longer and more difficult than anyone could have predicted. It will be interesting to look back in ten years, though.

5.) What’s unique about EVOKE?

If you hire my firm you know who you will be working with at the end of the day, me. I strive to make life easier for each client by giving them a complete binder of information, so that in 10 years if they need to re-paint or re-carpet all the information is right at their finger tips.

6.) What are the biggest challenges and rewards you experience as a young entrepreneur?

  • The biggest challenge: That would be the “fallen” credit market. My business is reliant on my clients’ ability to fund projects. The A&D industry as well as the commercial real estate industry has seen many projects go on hold indefinitely due to lack of financing.
  • The rewards are: Seeing how many people know and recognize the Evoke brand. After two years of meeting and greeting it is fun to see people recognize me and the brand. (It is also nice to know more than one person at a NAIOP meeting. They are not as scary anymore!)

7.)    Any last words of advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Be prepared for a lot of hours. Remember, with every challenge comes an opportunity. Also, follow your passion. If you’re truly not passionate about it, it becomes work and your opportunity for success will decrease.

8.)    How can people reach you?

Alyssa Peterson - Evoke Design, Inc.

Alyssa Peterson – Evoke Design, Inc.

  1. Follow me on Twitter: @Evokedesigninc or @EvokeAlyssa
  2. Website: www.evokedesigninc.com
  3. Email: Alyssa@evokedesigninc.com

Oct
13

MyCore entrepreneur innovates with energy

Part 2 of 4

This is the second in a series on how young entrepreneurs and innovation – not massive government spending – will get us out of our economic recession. The young entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed have all started their companies during this recession.

By Katie Kieffer

Photo credit - Photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/yz6ayzz

Photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/yz6ayzz

The Questions:

1.)   What’s the story behind MyCore Industries LLC? How and when did you decide to start this company?

  • MyCore was started in March 2009 after my team and I had spent months researching a project in the renewable energy industry. We quickly realized that if a company or business wanted to start using renewable energy, they were essentially on their own.
  • There was no single, turn-key solution provider to guide them through the process of determining what kind of technology to use (solar thermal, solar PV, wind, geothermal), getting financing, designing and implementing products and systems, creating environmentally friendly marketing campaigns and seeing each piece through from start to finish.  We knew we could fill this hole within the industry – this led us to create MyCore.
  • Nearly every business/building could benefit from their own sustainability advisor, who can take them through the audit process, aggregate and maintain quality standards for all of the market services, research products and new technologies, manage the design and engineering phase and manage the implementation process for energy efficiency and renewable energy systems.

2.)   With so many newcomers to the sustainable market, how does MyCore set itself apart? What is MyCore’s unique value-add?

  • MyCore is a one-stop shop for organizations to innovate through sustainability. Our services include energy advisory, project management, project finance, and marketing from start to finish.
  • MyCore offers unbiased suggestions and implements them to reduce a building’s operating costs.  Unlike others in the industry, MyCore will consider all energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and prioritize them for a customized plan, aligned with our client’s goals.  Our goal is to recommend, to our clients, the optimum technologies and systems to reduce their operating costs.  In an effort to do so, we have built relationships with the best companies that offer each service and technology.
  • We help a company improve bottom line performance.
  • We add value to buildings by reducing their operating costs.
  • Minimal upfront costs.
  • Unbiased partnerships with suppliers.
  • We do all this while still helping out the planet.

3.)   You’ve been the innovator behind other entrepreneurial launches in the past. What lessons did you take from those ventures when you launched MyCore?

  1. Yes, I was raised in an entrepreneurial family that owns a manufacturing business with clients around the globe.   I learned first-hand from my parents who taught me about the hard work, risk, and diligence necessary to create a successful company from initial conception to rapid and sustained growth.
  2. In addition, I have had some projects not go as originally planned – but that is the risk I take and part of the realization that I am only one guy, and I can’t do everything myself. I know that if I can bring people together who are inspired and driven – we can create something that is bigger than us.  With MyCore, we have created something that changes lives and helps people work better and cleaner.

4.) Do you consider your youth an asset or a liability as an entrepreneur?

  1. I’m a glass-half-full person, so even though my age may give me some challenges, it gives me the vitality, flexibility and energy to get through them! That being said, I try to learn from everything and everyone.
  2. As a young entrepreneur, I love asking questions!  I have found that the best way to gain knowledge is by building relationships with seasoned business and industry professionals who I can bounce ideas off of.  Their guidance is invaluable, and helps me learn from their mistakes and successes to give me the best tools for today’s opportunities.

5.) What is it about being an entrepreneur that most energizes you?

I LOVE the challenge of building something new that nobody has yet, but everybody wants.  In doing so, I am lucky enough to meet and work with amazing people whose excitement keeps this project rolling.  MyCore would not be what it is today without the continued support and enthusiasm of numerous people who are much smarter than I am.

6.) Do you think that we have a better chance at getting out of this recession through individual innovation and resourcefulness or through massive government spending?

  1. I’m not an economist so I can’t even begin to speculate on how we will all get through this tough time in history.
  2. I know I’m just one guy and I can’t change the world – but I can try to change my corner of it!  I have the power to make sure that my business is run as efficiently as possible and that I take advantage of opportunities provided by clients and individual investors rather than just the government alone.

7.) Where do you see your company a year from now?

My company is designed to look into the future – we help people build their businesses to work better and cleaner, and therefore creating a better future for our tomorrow. So, if I had to guess our future, I see MyCore with a variety of past, present, and future clients who have, are, and will discover the power to own their energy.  I see my team and I having a blast and making a difference in our corner of the world and filling the niche that the market needed.

8.)   How can people reach you?

Ryan Lee Anderson, MyCore Industries, LLC

Ryan Lee Anderson, MyCore Industries

  1. Follow me on Twitter: RyanLeeAnderson
  2. Website: www.MyCoreIndustries.com
  3. Email: Ryan.Anderson@MyCoreIndustries.com
  4. Facebook: Become a Fan of MyCore Industries, LLC.
  5. Phone:
  • Office: (612) 349-6985
  • Office Fax: (612) 349-6989