Category Archives: interview

meet emily: radio producer sharing milwaukee’s stories

Emily Forman's producer-phones, People with Panache

What does Emily’s job entail? Producing a radio story each week. That means she pitches ideas, does interviews, writes a script, collects the tape, mixes it together in audio software and delivers the complete radio package to the radio station.

I’m still waiting for Orlando being the “largest mass shooting in American history” to sink in. Filling my mind instead are images of the individual people: mothers texting their children to no replies, police officers listening to the haunting rings of owner-less cellphones, survivors wondering why they were spared.

This week, we’re featuring Emily Forman, producer of Precious Lives, a two-year, 100-part radio series about young people and gun violence in Milwaukee. Each week, Emily and her team weave together living snapshots of survivors, neighborhoods, families—of resilience. They’re 73 episodes in. With many episodes about healing and peace—rather than shootings and funerals—they frequently focus on the helpers, the people working to create positive change.

Milwaukee, Orlando, and so many cities in between remind us constantly that life can change in an instant. So with each story Emily brings to light, we share the same hope that listeners grow in compassion, acknowledge the very different lives of others in their own city, and recognize just how precious every life is. Continue reading

meet kristen: lawyer changing chicago workplaces

Kristen Prinz, People with Panache

On challenges in her career: “One challenge I’ve had is just starting my own firm and becoming a boss. I thought I would be a really good boss when I quit my job and started my own firm, and then after a couple years I realized, I’m probably doing a lot of things wrong.”

“We had a week-and-a-half-long jury trial. The other side had been overly cocky the entire time. I had a dream two weeks before the trial that we were going to get a $10 million jury verdict. So, because of my dream, we changed the entire strategy of what we were presenting to the jury. And then we got the $10 million jury verdict! How funny is that? It wasn’t really a dream—it was a vision.”

They say if you verbalize what you really want, it’s more likely that you’ll take the necessary steps to make it happen. Apparently dreaming works, too!

I met Kristen Prinz at Money Smart Week 2016. She was a panelist for “It’s the Money, Honey!” the equal pay event, and her passion couldn’t be more obvious. Already, I knew she had to be on the blog.

Kristen started her own law firm, The Prinz Law Group, in 2009 to specialize in employment law. Her firm works with both employees and employers—with, not against, one another. For companies, they will prepare handbooks or represent them if an employee is suing them. They only represent individuals if they haven’t also represented their company. Through improving workplaces, Kristen affects people’s day-to-day lives, and she loves it. Continue reading

meet carrie: supporting sick kids in chicago through art

Carrie Spitler, Snow City Arts, People with Panache

Carrie with movie posters made for some of the kids’ films. In addition to executive director of Snow City Arts, Carrie is a community gardener, a beekeeper and a baker!

“Doctors find the illness, we find the artist.”

I’ve watched enough medical shows to feel those pangs in my heart, imagining just how strenuous and sad it must be to have a child—or be a child—experiencing an illness, especially a serious one. Snow City Arts takes an approach that I wouldn’t have expected to help sick kids stay on track with school while getting better: This nonprofit deploys a team of artists at hospitals in Chicago to work with kids on artistic, educational projects while they stay for extended treatment.

I first heard about this beautiful endeavor because of my boyfriend, Jim. Bringing his passion for music to a whole new dimension, he has served on the auxiliary board of Snow City Arts for about a year now. In support, we attended their annual Gallery Night last fall. Originally I partially agreed so I had an excuse to wear a fabulous dress, but once we got there, I was awestruck. Gallery Night showcased all of the artwork that the kids in the hospitals produce, from visual art including painting to 3D art to creative writing, video and music. All by artists under 18 years of age, the work was not only professional, it was impressive and smart, beautiful and funny and creative. I was completely blown away by the level of talent these kids have. We both were. These weren’t just kid “art projects.” Continue reading

meet carolyn: trailblazer in chicago’s financial industry

“Some of the guys thought that because I’m blonde, I was dumb. So they would talk about their trading strategy in front of me. And I would just listen and absorb everything they were saying.”

Carolyn Leonard, DyMynd, People with Panache

Carolyn’s philosophy on investing: “Diversity does go to the bottom line: all diversity – racial, gender, sexuality. If you’re looking to invest in companies that will outperform their peers, look for diversity and depth of experience in the C-suite and the board of directors.”

Way to turn lemons into lemonade and jerks into teachers, Carolyn!

In some ways, Carolyn Leonard’s story isn’t uncommon. She entered a “man’s world” and was treated brazenly unequally—but that’s where any notion of Carolyn being average ends.

Carolyn, 73-year-old entrepreneur and founder of DyMynd, says in America there are 9.2 million women-led companies with an economic impact of $3 trillion. While discrimination like she experienced keeps lingering longer than seems acceptable or necessary, we women can change it—together. And we are.

As one of the oldest entrepreneurs in the country, Carolyn is a real-life testament to facing your fears, taking risks on yourself, and never giving up. From being one of the first women to trade on the Chicago Board of Options Exchange to starting her own business four years ago at age 69, Carolyn’s story tells itself. Continue reading

meet sarah: using nutrition to change lives in milwaukee

Abundance is such an important theme for Sarah—she wanted it to be a constant reminder for her. So it became part of her business’ name!

Abundance is such an important theme for Sarah—she wanted it to be a constant reminder for her. So it became part of her business’ name!

A few weekends ago, one of my closest friends came up from Chicago for the day to share that she had broken up with her boyfriend. She was still settling into singleness (with the happiest smile, I must say) and evaluating her next steps while deciding to stay put for a bit—with her job, her apartment, herself. Time for a little bit of dedicated solo time. And friend time. And really simple, solid advice: “I realized that I was blaming my job for unhappiness and stress—but a lot of it had to do with my attitude.”

While I know I have a lot of blessings in my life—my faith, family and friends—she helped me remember that day-to-day happiness is a choice. It’s a choice to adjust my attitude to point toward the positive. It’s a choice to take a deep breath when I feel overwhelmed, make myself a piña colada, and just keep moving forward. (Real life. Last Monday.) And it’s a choice to stay out late singing Space Oddity on the karaoke stage rather than sleeping. (I’m in no way saying I always make good choices.)

Sarah Philipp, 32, was born with an entrepreneurial gene—check out her cousin!—and also reminds me how empowered I am to take charge of my own life and body. She is a Milwaukee nutritionist who created a beautiful little business, Abundelicious, where she uses food as a tool for wellness. She specializes in anxiety and digestive disorders, teaching her clients (and hopefully you now, too!) the power of nutrition as fuel for our lives, our minds and our happiness. Continue reading

meet sarah: using hip-hop to empower youth in milwaukee

TRUE Skool purchased all the pieces produced through the Art of Coping program.

TRUE Skool purchased all the pieces produced through the Art of Coping program. This piece is by Lasha Bradley.

“Your life becomes so enriched by being around differences,” says Sarah Dollhausen. “It doesn’t take anything away from you.”

Sarah, director, founder and trailblazer at TRUE Skool, is just the kind of woman you wish you had in your life when you were younger. She created TRUE Skool, a Milwaukee nonprofit and after-school program that uses hip-hop’s core elements—DJing, breakdance, emceeing, graffiti and knowledge—to empower youth, teach about social justice, encourage community service, and create a pipeline of opportunity for Milwaukee’s young people. Now 11 years old, much of TRUE Skool’s work comes to life via after-school programming including classes such as the Art of Emceeing, DJing, Video Production, Band (not the kind that was in my high school…) and more. (Seriously, how freaking cool is that?)

Besides the fact that she has shepherded the growth of this organization whose programs will now hopefully expand nation-wide, Sarah has one particularly beautiful gift that stood out to me: She has a clear, deep passion for bringing people together to work on co-creating the future. Competition doesn’t have much of a place. Jealousy? Nope. These students, the team of working artists, and every person involved has a safe space to share, learn, grow and collaborate to create the community they want to live within.
Continue reading

happy 10th anniversary, motion pr!

Things were a little different 10 years ago.

It was 2006, and…

George W. Bush was president.

The RAZR was still the world’s best-selling phone, and the iPhone was just a twinkle in Apple’s eye.

Pluto ruined childhood mnemonic devices everywhere and lost its status as a planet.

Twitter came chirping into our lives—and we had only just been invited to Facebook!

Crash won best motion picture—and if you haven’t seen it, Netflix has it on DVD.

Steve Irwin, the “Crocodile Hunter,” sadly died on the job from being stung in the chest by a stingray.

The Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews—a major win for Chicago.

The TSA banned liquids and gels from air travel—a major loss for just about everyone who flies. Not that we don’t appreciate the extra safety I suppose.

Alysse and I started our senior year in high school—a year before we met at Drake. We still loved Seventeen magazine, not even imagining that we’d someday have friends who worked there.

And Kimberly Eberl started her PR company, Motion PR, 10 years ago to this day. As one of the first to join our Panache family back in 2013, at the time I interviewed her, she had 6 employees; now, she has 19! And of course, a brand new office to accommodate everyone. In honor of her 10th year in business, we asked for Kimberly’s top 10 lessons learned.

People with Panache: Kimberly, what is your secret sauce for success? How did you make it 10 years and going strong? Continue reading

meet eva: creative event space curator in chicago

Eva N, Catalyst Ranch, People with Panache

Eva won Enterprising Women Magazine’s 2016 Enterprising Women of the Year Award! This award recognizes the world’s top women entrepreneurs who demonstrate they have fast growing businesses, mentor or actively support other women and girls in entrepreneurship, and stand out as leaders in their communities.

Many people hit major roadblocks before they succeed.

Famous wedding gown designer Vera Wang wanted to be an ice skater but failed to get into the Olympics. It was then that she decided to go into fashion.

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, took a trip to Italy and came home with an idea about a chain of intimate cafes. He brought it to the coffee company he worked for at the time, they turned his idea down, and he did it anyway. Now there’s a Starbucks on every street corner.

J.K. Rowling was nearly penniless and raising a child on her own when she wrote the massively popular Harry Potter books. She was rejected by several publishers before finding success. I bet those people are kicking themselves.

Eva Niewiadomski, the mastermind behind Catalyst Ranch, can relate to these stories. Her business is a creative meeting space and event venue in Chicago—and it is extraordinary. Every square inch is covered in color and toys and art and crazy furniture. None of it goes together, yet somehow it all blends into a mass of swirling fun—and it launched because she lost her job. She wanted to create a space where companies, consultants, organizations or really whoever could come and have meetings, events or parties in a creative space, a space that really gets you thinking outside of the box. Catalyst Ranch is one of a kind in this city and, quite possibly, the world. Continue reading

meet molly: baker and pastry maker in milwaukee

Molly’s personal favorite is her lemon poppyseed cake with strawberry jam filling. She picks the strawberries in the summer and makes her own jam. “The flavors are just bursting,” Molly says.

Molly’s personal favorite is her lemon poppyseed cake with strawberry jam filling. She picks the strawberries in the summer and makes her own jam. “The flavors are just bursting,” Molly says.

How do you decide to make an idea into a real thing?
Where do you go for honest feedback?
What do you need to be able to move forward?

For me, all those things involve other people. Their opinions, experiences, skills, resources, expertise. Even just their presence, so I can speak something out loud and make sure it doesn’t sound too ridiculous. (A little ridiculous is okay with me.)

Lately I’ve been surrounded by a lot more targeted teamwork: The yoga studio I attend and absolutely love recently transitioned to two owners, no longer just the one amazing woman who has run it for years. My boyfriend, who owns a composting company, is working with aligned businesses and organizations to transform a Milwaukee warehouse into a hub of urban agriculture, bringing together innovative projects with positive momentum so they can grow together. Escuela Verde brought together a team of people to start a school they all believe in. Who else comes to mind for you?

Truly, no one ever starts a business venture solo—you have to count those supportive family members, colleagues, spouses and friends!—so this week we want to especially highlight the value of collaboration. Here’s one really special example:

Molly Sullivan, 29, is the PR manager and pastry chef at Braise. She’s also the owner of Miss Molly’s Pastries. As Molly has built her business, her local-food-system-strengthening employer, Braise, has fostered her growth and supported her along the way. As she’s paving her pastry-making path, Molly is not alone. [Help her on her Kickstarter here through June 2016!] Continue reading

meet coco: chicago beauty and technology entrepreneur

 

Coco Meers, PrettyQuick, peoplewithpanache.com

“Swing for the fences in terms of fundraising and goal setting—be very aggressive,” Coco says. “If your goal is to make money, you should not be raising venture capital unless you can see the path to being a billion dollar business.”

You are important.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of self-care. Not just that you should do it—re: every self help book and inspirational quote ever—but what it actually means. For me, it has two parts.

Part one is reflection. People spend a lot of time getting to know each other, and not enough time getting to know themselves. How can you care about what others need if your own needs aren’t being met? Answer: You can’t. It’s like the airplane mask thing; you have to put yours on first. Reflection helps you dial in to what’s going on with you right now, your wants and needs, what kinks need to be worked out, what path you’re on. Without this kind of knowledge, it actually becomes harder to form healthy relationships with other people.

The tough part? You guessed it: time. Spare me the saga; we’re all busy. So, I practice taking mini moments to self reflect many times throughout the day… on the bus, walking to the grocery store, in the shower, basically any time I’m in a bathroom. I savor those moments—that’s usually when the aha happens! I stop thinking about everyone else for just a few minutes of my day and, instead, think about how I’ve been feeling and behaving, what I’m doing and if it aligns with my beliefs and aspirations—then what can I do to change it if not. This daily practice keeps me focused and centered on my way forward. Continue reading