Archive | January, 2014

It’s only classical music! Don’t be scared! [Guest Post]

22 Jan

By Kimberly Dimond

Managing Director of the Midland Symphony Orchestra

The Midland Symphony Orchestra is pairing up with MYPros for our next concert on Saturday, February 8. Attending a classical music performance can be intimidating if you are unsure what to expect. Everyone is welcome at our concerts, no matter how familiar you are with the program. This is the time to let go of any preconceptions you may have about classical music or the concert experience. We want you to feel comfortable and enjoy yourself. Don’t be scared, it’s just music!

Classical music is all around us: in commercials, movie soundtracks, television themes, cartoons, video games, and battling Kenny G and Celine Dion for top airplay in elevators and doctor’s offices. Attending a live orchestra concert formalizes the classical music experience, but it shouldn’t feel daunting. Just like lyrics to a song, a symphony tells a story. You can sit back, relax and listen to it as background music, try and follow the themes and motivations, or visually follow the movements of the conductor and musicians.

The Midland Symphony Orchestra will perform the same night as MYPros Ribbit, Rhythms & Red Shoes event at the Midland Center for the Arts. MYPros will have a chance to meet and greet the music director before the show!

Why Classical Music?
Orchestras encourage creativity and bring people together to share the experience of live music. Orchestras fuel local economies, attract new business developments, increase tuxedo sales (☺), educate young people, and unite individuals and cultures in times of suffering and joy. The country is brimming with extraordinary musicians, live concerts, and orchestras as unique as the communities they serve. We are lucky to have a professional orchestra to enjoy right in our own backyards here in Midland.

Attending the MSO Can Make You Smarter!
Known as the “Mozart effect,” a set of research published by the Oxford University Press contends that classical music can make you smarter, raising your IQ by a few points while you’re listening. Next time you’re trying to crack a crossword or Sudoku puzzle, it couldn’t hurt to crank up the classical tunes. This is the one time your elderly neighbor may jam along.

Classical music isn’t just for your parents. Give it a try – you might really enjoy it!

Classical Music De-Stresses Like a Valium!
According to a study at the University of Baltimore, classical music and Valium both have the same anti-anxiety benefits for heart patients. Thirty minutes of classical music equals one dose of the stress-free drug. The MSO is here to help you do some serious relaxing.

Symphony 101 
If you’re still unsure and need some more tips on what to wear to a concert, when should you clap, etc., you can read our Symphony 101 guidelines. It’s only classical music though. Don’t be scared!

Midland Symphony Orchestra Music Director, Bohuslav Rattay, is known for his red shoes.

Music Director Bohuslav Rattay and Principal Trumpet Matt Thomas give you an exclusive preview of the Feb. 8 concert in this interview.

Learn more about the MSO and conductor Bohuslav Rattay! We hope to see you at the upcoming MYPros event on Feb. 8!

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Ribbits, Rhythms & Red Shoes MYPros event will take place on February 8 at Midland Center for the Arts. Register here.

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Pilsners & Politics: Jeff Mayes

15 Jan

What’s better than an evening of drinks with fellow young professionals? Throwing politics into the mix! At the year’s first Pilsners & Politics event, hosted at the Midland Center for the Arts’ Saints and Sinners lounge, a group of 18 young (or young at heart) professionals gathered to enjoy a brew and talk about the political climate in Michigan at the start of an important election year.

Our guest was Jeff Mayes, who got into politics at age 12 by helping a friend’s dad run for office. Jeff himself was elected from Bay City to the Michigan House of Representatives at age 33. After six years in the House, Jeff moved on to his current position as the Director of Economic Development Strategy for Consumers Energy. At the event, he took some time to reflect back on his past life in politics, and how there are a lot of positives we don’t always see.

Jeff Mayes

Jeff Mayes (MLive photo)

This was a great evening for several reasons:

  1. We got to ask a lot of questions. With the Internet, the pace of life and the general political climate, it can seem like all politicians do is give speeches. Pilsners & Politics events are small enough to put the focus on what the attendees want to know, and they’re relaxed enough to let the speaker be candid with his or her responses… even if one of the attendees is taking notes for a blog post.
  2. It wasn’t a typical political discussion. As in, we didn’t focus on people or specific issues as much as the overall political process: What do we do about polarization between the political parties? What’s it like getting into office? What’s it like getting out of office? How do you work across the aisle? These are the kinds of things you don’t always have time to ask in a crowded room – but when you’re sitting in a small circle with a drink, you can get answers.
  3. Things are actually pretty good out there. Jeff mentioned that politicians quickly find it’s in their own best interest to compromise. “Government is very much an interactive sport,” he said. “New people hit first and then they’re shocked and appalled when others hit back.” He said politicians quickly find they have leeway to compromise on any issue, and the best part of politics was “really working with others to get to solutions.” Even though cooperation doesn’t often get reported (“because it doesn’t sell papers”), it’s happening every day.
  4. We learned everyone can be politically active. Anybody can run for office, Jeff assured us, as long as they’re willing to commit the time it takes. “You have to say, ‘Until Election Day, I’m suspending my life to some degree,’” he said. But the rewards are great, not least because political involvement opens people’s eyes to new and different sides of their community and local issues.
  5. Beer. Actually, I had a mixed drink. But that was good too.

If relaxing, having a drink and getting real political answers sounds like a good time (and it is), keep an eye out for upcoming Pilsners & Politics events later this year. In the meantime, comment on this post and let us know what other politically themed events or gatherings you’d like to see! With almost every single Michigan office up for reelection this year, 2014 is a crucial time for us to be involved in shaping our state’s political future.

MYPros in 2013: We Didn’t Take This Year Lying Down!

15 Jan

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I was going to start off this blog post by saying something like “wow 2013 has come and gone, and… Can you believe it’s already 2014!” But that seems so generic and I tend to try to do things a little differently! So I am going to start by saying that I can’t wait to see what 2014 holds for MYPros. In 2013 we accomplished so much and added a few more layers to this program. If you’re someone who likes to go by the numbers, here’s a breakdown of the 2013 MYPros program.

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  • There were 14 total young professional events.
  • MYPros hosted 10 total events for the year and we were hosted by Saginaw and Bay City YPs for four events, two per city.
  • MYPros held four luncheons, four social events (two were regional) and two Pilsners & Politics.
  • There were 527 total young professionals that attended at least one MYPros event.  I have to say that again…that’s 527 individuals!
  • We raised $2,300 to pay for MYPros t-shirts to be given out to YP’s. We raised this money by hosting the “Fury at Currie” golf outing.
  • We started a new giving circle in Midland specifically for young professionals, the 100 Young Professionals Club. The 100 YP Club’s goal is to obtain 100 members; in our first year we have 46 members.
  • The 100 YP Club held two meetings and donated a total of $3,900 in 2013; $1,600 to Midland Area Homes and $2,300 to Creative 360.
  • In 2013, the MYPros Communications Subcommittee created 12 newsletters, one every month.
  • The Communications Subcommittee also unveiled the new MYPros blog in July of 2013. To date we have had 2,146 hits in just six months.
  • The MYPros Marquee was created in 2013 as a resource for young professionals to find out what’s going on in the community and all the fun events happening.
  • 2013 was the last year our wonderful, fearless leader, Karl Ieuter of Ieuter Insurance Group, was Chair of the MYPros Steering Committee.  A special thank you goes out to Karl; he has devoted much of his time to this program and has been a dedicated Chair for the past three years. Thank you Karl!

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So after all this you might be asking, what’s next in 2014? Well here’s a peek into the upcoming year…

  • Ben Morlock of The Dow Chemical Company  will be Chair of the MYPros Steering Committee, and Trish Ross of Members First Credit Union will be Chair-Elect.
  • New this year, MYPros will host two orientation sessions for new members of MYPros. This will help new YP’s learn more about the program and how they can get involved. These sessions will be sponsored by Northwood University’s DeVos Graduate School.
  • We will continue with our events, hosting four luncheons, social events and Pilsners & Politics.
  • The 100 YP Club will meet twice this year again and we hope by the end of 2014 we will reach our goal of 100 members!
  • We will continue to grow the MYPros blog and newsletter, as well as the MYPros Marquee.

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This is just a sample of what’s to come in 2014! Thank you to all of you who help to make the MYPros program what it is today, either by volunteering on a committee or attending events. Without all of your participation we wouldn’t have this program. So thank you again for making 2013 a success! If you have any comments or suggestions for programming in 2014, please feel free to email me your thoughts at jmaki@macc.org.  I always love to hear new ideas!

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“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants to be happy.” -Benjamin Franklin [Guest Post]

13 Jan

By Sydney Allen, MYPros Government Issues Chair,

Greater Midland Community Centers, Inc.

Beer_Politics_1

Beer and politics have long gone hand in hand—since the beginning of America, even! President George Washington was apparently an avid beer connoisseur and even made his own homebrew. Flash forward 224 years to the Presidential tenure of Number 44, Barack Obama where polling questions are asked, like, “which Presidential candidate would you most like to have a beer with?” and meetings consisting of  “Beer Summits” are actually a thing. Ever heard of the White House Honey Ale? Well, you can’t buy it at Eastman Party Store, but the true aficionados can brew their own at home with this easy to follow recipe straight from the White House brewmaster.

President Obama with Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley during the “Beer Summit” in 2009.

President Obama with Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley during the “Beer Summit” in 2009.

This White House home brew experiment is all made possible by President Obama’s early predecessor, President Jimmy Carter, who in 1978, signed into law a bill legalizing home beer brewing which until that point had been illegal since prohibition began in 1920. Speaking of prohibition, did you know that the Great Depression began during the height of prohibition era? Not that I’m trying to peg prohibition as a key factor in causing the Black Tuesday Market crash of 1929 but…

Thankfully, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who campaigned on the promise to end prohibition, signed the 21st Amendment in 1933 which again legalized the consumption of alcohol and opened the gateway for the now 2,000+ breweries found nationwide.

Democrats aren’t the only ones making strides with the “proper drink for Americans.” Luckily for Busch, er, I mean, Bush…in 2004, Americans resoundingly chose our 43rd President over Senator John Kerry as the person they’d most like to have a beer with. The beer drinkers’ voices were heard and George W. Bush was elected to his 2nd four-year term. Unfortunately, for Americans, President Bush has been sober since 1986 so it’s non-alcoholic only selections for Dubya.

President Bush laughs with German chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2007.

President Bush laughs with German chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2007.

Ever visited the Ronald Reagan Pub? Well clearly you’ve never been to Ballyporeen, Ireland then! The Irish pub renamed their establishment after our 40th U.S. President made a stop there in 1984. There is now a replica of the Ronald Reagan Pub located in Reagan’s Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California.

President Reagan receiving a beer during a visit to O’Farrell’s Pub in Ballyporeen, Ireland in 1984.

President Reagan receiving a beer during a visit to O’Farrell’s Pub in Ballyporeen, Ireland in 1984.

Beer unites generations, political ideology and turns strangers into friends. Cheers to you, President Obama for popularizing the “Beer Summit” – serving politics up to the American people as it should be, with an ice cold pilsner.

Join us on Tuesday, January 14 for Pilsners and Politics featuring a lively conversation with former State Representative Jeff Mayes (D) Bay City. Spaces are limited. Register today to secure your spot!

Simplify, a Resolution Worth Revisiting

13 Jan

Often times we find ourselves surrounded by stuff, stuff that really doesn’t matter to us, but has built up overtime. Would we know if it was gone one day and we never saw it again? Don’t we go buy the “next best thing” and just stack it on top of the pile we already have? Why do we find it necessary to accumulate all of this stuff, when all we really need to live is simple…clothes, a shelter, food and love.

As we begin the New Year, I encourage you to join me in revisiting what living simple actually means. Do you need 20 pairs of jeans, 50 CDs that you never listen to or that pile of old junk from your college years? I have recently read an article that I have begun implementing into my new year, Simplify Your Life. In this article it talks about several steps you can take to get rid of all of your stuff, so that you can live life more fully. Below are some of my favorite steps of this process:

1.      List your top 4-5 most important things:
These 4-5 things can be anything: relationships, hobbies, possessions, interests, etc. What are the top 4-5 things that you live for? Sometimes this can be hard to narrow down, because there are so many other things cluttering our lives, but if you can make a list of your priorities.

2.      Evaluate:
How do you currently spend your time? If you are doing things that do not relate to your most important things, why are you doing them? When you make this list, check out what you should keep doing and what you should push to the side. When I answered this question, I found out (as I am sure many will) that I was spending way too much time with technology, esp. the internet, when it really wasn’t in line with my 4-5 important things. One of my goals is to leave my phone sit more often and limit my internet time, by only getting online from 12-7pm (VERY DIFFICULT!).

3.      Learn to say NO:
I think that this is a hard one for us. We have been taught that getting involved will help boost our job potential. Saying no is not always necessary, but if you find yourself having no time to work on the top 4-5 important things in your life, why are you clogging your schedule with the unnecessary?

4.      Declutter your packrattery:
What exactly is packratter? All of that stuff that you are saving for “that one day”… get rid of it! Can you honestly say that you have used it in the last 3-6 months? If not, give it away to someone who might need it. Take all of that stuff that you have piled up in your storage unit and organize it into a keep and a donate pile. I recently did this, because we just moved into a new house. It was a relief knowing I could get rid of useless junk and give it to someone who may need it more.

5.      Spending Time With People:
Because we are so tech savvy, we often forget about the people around us. Instead of meeting up with a friend, we decided that commenting on their Facebook picture is good enough or sending them a quick text will do the job. Instead of using a “middle man” to communicate, go visit the people who are most important to you. We have so much stuff that takes up our time, we often forget about the people around us. Go out and spend time building relationships instead of cooped up in your house with all of your stuff.

Think about when you go on vacation…you live out of a suitcase and you aren’t worried about all of your stuff, instead you are interested in going out and visiting new places, doing new things. It feels like a better quality of life and we often wish we could be on vacation 100% of the time. Then instead of coming home and closing yourself off in your house, why don’t we continue to go out in our community and see what it has to offer? You never know what new experiences you might have or who you might meet right in your back yard!

At the end of the day, we are always going to have too much stuff. There will always be ways to simplify, but it can be hard to do because we are moving at such a rapid pace. When you face a new opportunity, whether it is buying a new toy, joining a new organization or downloading a new app, ask yourself “Will this simplify my life?”

Do you have any new ideas for the new year that will make your life easier? Please share! Here is to a simpler 2014! Cheers!

10 Things You Should Accomplish in 2014

7 Jan

The key to being better at anything is consistency. Whether you’re choosing a New Year resolution or having a quarter-life-crisis in June, identify a few simple things that you can develop into habits and build skills that will help you overcome career-changing and challenging situations.

1. Become a better writer

Writing is a simple way to improve communication overall. Committing to becoming a better writer will strengthen your communication skill and it will last forever. Start a blog to share your ideas with the world. I suggest WordPress or Tumblr to build a base with. Both are well known and easy to use.

Writing a journal is an alternative, low-pressure way to regularly write without the pressure of making your thoughts and writing available for public consumption. I recommend (and personally use) Day One, a digital private journal. It has a mac app for my computer and an iPhone app for jotting down quick thoughts on the go.

Make it measurable: Aim for at least 1 post a week.

2. Volunteer for something new

Volunteering gives you an opportunity to polish your skills while helping others. There is no better way to learn and grow than when you’re work is helping others. Choose an activity where you’ll get to meet new people with similar goals. Bonus: it strengthens your network.

Make it measurable: Sign up for 1 volunteer activity this year.

3. Pitch a new project to your boss

Suggest an improvement to a process or a new way to help the company you work for. It will give you an opportunity to develop a pitch, deliver it via report or presentation (polishing writing, and/or presenting!) and earn you some respect from leadership. It will probably add a little more work to what is already expected of you but it’s worth it.

Make it measurable: Choose one project in 2014.

4. Read more

It will help you be a better speaker and a better writer – we’ve already talked about that. Plus, by rotating novels and professional literature, you’ll learn while having fun too. Here are some suggestions for some recommended reading. Amazon has a bestseller list that’s worth choosing from regardless!

Make it measurable: Pick something you consider manageable. I’d recommend choosing 6 books in 2014 and switch between novels and professional books. Or if you prefer short form reading, perhaps subscribe to Fast Company and commit to reading each edition or download Zite and commit to reading daily.

5. Relax a little

Every day, the demand for our time will increase and become more valuable, making breaks a priceless opportunity. Don’t let that get out of hand and commit to managing stress by starting today. Taking 10 minutes out of your day to meditate or be alone will improve your overall well-being and give you the chance to recover from stress and other pressures put on you. Find 10 minutes to close your eyes and breathe, whether it’s in the parking lot every morning when you arrive to work or when you finish lunch. If the peace and silence is too much for your busy and active-prone style, walk around your work for a few minutes before or after a bathroom break. Take time for yourself for 10-minute intervals, 1-2 times per day for yourself.

Make it measurable: Build it into your day – Schedule it ahead of time and make it daily.

6. Find a mentor

A mentor is someone you can lean on for advice and can guide you based on experience. Don’t feel uncomfortable about asking for someone’s time because more than likely, they’d like to help. At the same token, if you have a mentor already and don’t feel as if you need another, decide to mentor someone else. Teaching is the best learning.

Make it measurable: Find a mentor, or seek out someone to mentor this year.

7. Subscribe to a podcast

Or five. It doesn’t matter. Find a news radio that you enjoy and keep up with the world while multitasking. Maybe it’s during your daily walk or on the way to work. It’s a different way to consume news and it will likely diversify what you know and learn a little more this year.

Make it measurable: Listen to the news round up on Stitcher at least once a week.

8. Invest your earnings

If you haven’t started investing your money, now is the time. I’m no financial planner and won’t pretend to be but I urge you to meet with a financial planner and ask about long-term investments like Roth IRA accounts, the 401K your company may offer, and how to pay off your debt if you have it.

Make it measurable: Meet with the adviser and set up your long-term saving and investment accounts. Find the appropriate amount of money of your earnings to invest or save. Many recommend 10% or more. You can find a list of qualified financial planners on the Chamber’s website.

9. Be humble

Oh how arbitrary you say? Humility is the quality of being modest or respectful. It’s also one of the top recommendations of Warren Buffet to young professionals. Recognize what you don’t know and what you can learn from others. Yes, this will be a hard one to measure but we will.

Make it measurable: Make a mental list (or a journal!!) of people you interact with daily and things that you think they’re good at. In conversation, ask them questions about how they do things and advice about things you think that they’re good at.

10. Sign up for a 5K

I’m biased because I’m a runner but I think everyone should try it because everyone can do it. You can literally run everywhere at any time with no need for a gym membership or special equipment. Start by downloading Couch to 5K on your iPhone or Android and make a commitment by finding a local race or color run. Signing up will hold you to it and you can make it a bucket list activity.

Make it measurable: Easy! Complete the race.