Archive | November, 2013

RECAP: A Wild Gourmet Experience

19 Nov

Gourmet Gone Wild logo

Our society enjoys plenty of meats and foods that come from animals, but a surprising number of individuals would tell you they have never tasted wild game. By wild game, I’m talking about food from deer, elk, grouse, pheasant or even local fish, among many others animal species, that aren’t your typical grocery store commodity.

Several weeks ago, regional young professional groups, including your very own MYPros, teamed up to bring Gourmet Gone Wild to Saginaw, and I had the pleasure of attending.

Gourmet Gone Wild is a Michigan-specific traveling event that aims to introduce young people to wild game, conservation and outdoor recreation like hunting and fishing. Backed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan United Conservation Club and Pheasants Forever, among other organizations, these events not only prove that wild game can be delicious, but also that eating wild game is a healthy and sustainable practice for local communities around the state.

Pour the wine! Gourmet Gone Wild staff serve Michigan beers and wines while regional young professionals enjoy food in the background. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood

Pour the wine! Gourmet Gone Wild staff serve Michigan beers and wines while regional young professionals enjoy food and socializing in the background. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

The menu for our event included:

– Mozzarella-stuffed venison (deer meat) meatballs
– Spicy curried pheasant wontons
– Salmon cakes
– Paw paw fruit panna cotta

One neat thing about this event was in knowing that all the food was harvested locally to our region or state. This idea of eating locally-produced food is known as the ‘locavore movement,’ which Gourmet Gone Wild exemplifies. The deer and pheasants were harvested locally, the salmon was fresh caught from Lake Michigan and I know nothing about paw paw fruit other than it is native to Michigan (and that it was pretty tasty in a panna cotta dessert). I’m no food critic, so I won’t try and explain how each food “interacted with my palate.” I will say that I went back for seconds on all the items…and maybe thirds.

Tasty tasty! The menu was a delicious combination of Michigan-harvested wild game and fish. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

Tasty tasty! The menu was a delicious combination of Michigan-harvested wild game, fish and fruit. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

In addition, the wild game menu is paired with Michigan beers and wines. Most of the area’s young professionals can already attest to the deliciousness of Michigan-made adult refreshments, so I won’t go into details here either, other than to say they were tasty, of course.

To top off the night, wild game chef Dan Nelsen gave a quick presentation on how to prepare the venison meat ball recipe, including some tips/tricks for cooking venison, since the meat is leaner and dries out quicker than normal beef.

Wild game chef Dan Nelson gives a presentation on how to prepare venison meatballs. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

Wild game chef Dan Nelson gives a presentation on how to prepare venison meatballs. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

Being a hunter and fisherman myself, I appreciate Gourmet Gone Wild and their mission to introduce individuals to the outdoors and the eating of wild game. One thing about harvesting food myself, whether from Michigan’s woods, lakes or rivers, is that I have a greater appreciation about the food I eat and where it comes from. No, hunting isn’t for everyone. But I do believe that seeing the process through, from the woods to the dinner plate, is a rewarding experience and I encourage everyone to try it.

Are there any hunters or fisherman in MYPros that will be enjoying the woods or water this year? If you don’t hunt or fish, would you be willing to try it? Comment below!

If you are interested in Gourmet Gone Wild or the introductory hunting programs they offer to harvest food for their events, visit www.gourmetgonewild.org.

SOCIAL MEDIA MONDAY! Social Media Strategies for Businesses

18 Nov

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As social media and technology become a more critical part of our everyday lives, stop and think about your business or organization. Are you also making social media a critical part of your business strategy? While many of you may have a social media presence, are you engaging with your customers on these platforms and meeting your goals?

With a little planning and effort, your business or organization can use social media effectively. Here are my top 10 tips for social media strategy.

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1. Be Where Your Customers Are.
Use the social media sites your audiences are using. You don’t have to be on ALL the social media sites out there. If most of your customers are on Facebook or Pinterest, explore just using those tools for your business. If you’re not sure where your audiences are, just ask! Have a conversation with your customers or patrons and see what they’re using. This is a simple question that will get you started on the right path. However, the most common social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Vine.

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2. You MUST find ways to be efficient.
Social media is not free. Social media costs you your time, energy and effort. To be as efficient as possible, pick the social media sites that will be key to communicating with your audiences, determine your goals, and define who will be responsible for the content creation and day-to-day upkeep of the sites.

3. Success cannot be measured solely by followers/fans.
Obtaining more followers can be a great goal when you first establish a presence on social media, but it is not a sustainable goal. Focus on engaging with audiences. After you grow a base of loyal followers/fans, measure success on the quality of engagement and conversation you have with them.

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4. Follow the 70-20-10 rule.
Social media does not equal self-promotion. Be an expert in your industry. When consumers trust your content, they’ll trust your products. Do not just talk at your audiences with things such as “Buy this new product!” or “Come to our event!” This general rule should help you:

  • 70%: Share content that adds value to the community.
  • 20%: Engage with your audiences.
  • 10%: Blatantly self-promote your business.

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5. Set goals and strategies.
What do you want to accomplish? What audiences are you trying to reach? Make sure these goals and strategies are specific, measurable, attainable, within reach and have a timeframe.

6. Get help.
See what similar businesses or brands are doing to get ideas for your business. Learn from the work of others while tailoring it to fit your needs and goals. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel!

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7. Advertise that you’re using social media.
A lot of times, your audiences aren’t going to search for you on their own. Put it out there and notify them which sites you’re using. You can also go a step further by giving a call to action and encouraging your supporters to join your social media networks. And advertising doesn’t always mean spending money! Print out a flyer or poster to keep in your business. Put icons on your business cards. Just flat out tell people when you talk to them!

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8. Reach out to local influencers.
Network online and offline. When you create contacts offline, they will be more likely to share or retweet your posts and help you spread the word. You also may consider getting involved with online communities related to your business.

9. Establish a culture of transparency.
Be ready to face negativity and criticism. People like to speak their mind. Don’t be evasive. Be open and honest and try to resolve the problem.

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10. Evolve.
Change your goals and strategies as social media, technology and your business change.

Does anyone have other tips to add? Or do you have examples of how your social media has been effective? Please share! We’d love to hear from you!

16 Nov

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We’ve got a very interesting luncheon coming on December 12th at  D’Alessandro’s Tuscany Hall. We will have Dr. Todd Thomas who is a professor at the DeVos Graduate School at Northwood coming to do the True Color Personality workshop.  Dr. Thomas is a speaker, author, educator and coach who has provided seminars and presentations in over 20 countries. Dr. Thomas has coached and consulted with over 3000 leaders from 40 different countries spanning 4 continents.. He has been featured on Fox Business News, CNBC’s Squawk Box, the Wall Street Journal, the Street.com and other media and publications. 

“In this highly interactive and entertaining workshop, Dr. Todd Thomas will take you through the process of not only examining your own personality, but finding the strengths and barriers that your personality bring to effective leadership and relationships. Using the True Colors© tool, you will have a chance to develop new insights, even if you’ve taken many personality assessments before. This is one of Todd’s most popular workshops, presented to hundreds of leaders around the globe. Whether you are the direct “Just Get-‘er-Done” type of leader or the loving “Kumbaya” type,  you will leave this workshop with ideas you can put into action immediately.”

To register for this event or for more info click here.

Holiday Wishes Gala

15 Nov

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I am very excited about the next MYPros social event. MYPros and the Young Leaders United are getting together for a fun festive event that benefits the United Way Sharing Tree, Safe & Sound Child Advocacy Center and Midland Area Homes.  The Holiday Wishes Gala was started in 2009 by a group of Midland residents that wanted to help the community.  Since then they have hosted the event each year at the Dow Diamond. They came up with this fundraiser to help the United Way fill the sharing tree requests, as well as two other local non-profits.

I attended this event for the first time last year and it was blast! There is a ton of food, great prizes for auction, raffles, and ways to win prizes. Since I had such a good time at this event last year I thought it would be a great event to host a MYPros social at.  We will have a private reception just for young professionals from 4:30-6:00 p.m. in the Great Lakes Reserve (the bar in the suite level), Sue Moody, Mortgage Officer at Chemical Bank has sponsored an iPad give away just for us. Peter Baiardi, Realtor at Ayre/Rhinehart has also sponsored the beverages for the YP reception.  Also, don’t forget to bring a new unwrapped toy to be entered in a special prize drawing that I am working on. Trust me the prize will be a good one, I have many businesses eager to donate to help out! The more toys you bring, the more tickets you will receive to be entered into the drawing. Click here to register or for more info.