From Farm to Power Equipment to Bridal Shops to Politics

He’s a 4th generation farmer from Northern Indiana.  He and his family own a farming operation.  He owns a trucking company and power equipment business.  He and his wife opened a bridal shop.

He was an Indiana State Representative.  He was an Indiana State Senator.  He served as the Indiana 3rd District Representative in Congress.  He is now the Chief Development Officer for an orthopedic company.

He is a husband and a father.  Marlin is a leader.

Marlin Stutzman will be our December 7 First Fridays presenter.  Come hear leadership lessons Marlin has learned over the years.  Invite a friend!  To register for this free event, click on the image below.

Dec 7 2018 Marlin Stutzman flyer

October 5 First Fridays Focus

Do you know why some businesses fail while others succeed?  Do you know the role a leader plays in a business’s success?  Do you want to learn how to navigate towards success in business?

If you want to learn more about all of this and be truly inspired, then the October 5 First Fridays is for you.  In fact, bring a friend!

Wayne Robison will be our featured presenter.  Wayne will share from his 40 years of experience in helping businesses succeed and prosper.  You will enjoy his stories and insights.

Oct 5 2018 flyer Wayne Robison

We only have 67 seats remaining.  Remember, this is a free event designed to help you grow and as a leader and to provide an energetic place to network and connect.  To reserve your seat today, click on the image above.

Jordan Page – NE Indiana Entrepreneur

I saw this in this morning’s news. I was inspired by this young man’s drive. The following link is the news story from 21Alive here in Fort Wayne:

You can follow Jordan and his upcoming magazine, Tillman, on Instagram. Here is that profile link: Tillman Magazine on Instagram

What to do on July 6 by Jim Johnson

As you know, First Fridays is taking a break this summer.  We’ll be back at it on Friday, September 7 (2018-2019 Schedule).

So what will you do on Friday, July 6 (the first Friday of July)?  Here’s some ideas to keep the networking momentum moving forward:

  1. Look through the business cards you’ve collected at First Fridays or any other networking event.  Pick one and contact that person.  Invite them to coffee/breakfast/or lunch.  Get to know a local leader.  Let them get to know you.
  2. Find a new book to begin reading.
  3. Find a new leadership blog to start following and interacting with.
  4. Start to follow a key organization here in NE Indiana.  I would recommend the NE Indiana Regional Partnership and/or the NIIC as great places to start.
  5. Go on a “field trip”
    • Pick a local company/person from your collected business cards.
    • Ask that person if you make a brief visit at their location.
    • Meet new leaders there.
    • Discover what leadership looks like there.
    • Discover what their ideal customer looks like (then in the near future, give them some referrals/connections).
    • Appreciate the value they bring to their customers, staff members, and our community.

Intentionally create value in your community.  As you expand your relationship reach in NE Indiana, you will discover great organizations doing great things with great people.  You and our community will be better for your efforts to connect with our businesses.

summer break

Does Connecting on LinkedIn Make a Difference? by Jim Johnson

My brother, Jere, and I talk with a lot of business people.  It seems the conversation comes around to social media and to this – are you “on it”, watching it from afar, or want nothing to do with it?

We encourage businesses to be “on it”.  Here’s why.

We are building a local networking/leadership forum, First Fridays, here in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  We could not have reached the audience we have without LinkedIn.  Prior to launching First Fridays, we both independently began extending our relationship reach using LinkedIn.  As a result, we met some great people who were also working to become better connected in the area.  We discovered that NE Indiana has a lively LinkedIn community – and we are proud to be a part of it.

Why do we encourage business people and their companies to become more involved in LinkedIn?

Awareness.  We are not marketing experts, but we have seen many businesses struggle with having the community know they exist.  LinkedIn is a HUGE resource in building awareness.  Connecting with others, participating in the online conversation, networking, sharing content all builds awareness of YOU (your personal brand) as well as your company.  In just the recent months, I’ve become aware of a local company that is growing and working to make an impact – GMS Distribution, Inc.  I’ve followed Gerrett Stier‘s posts and I’ve read his content.  He’s using LinkedIn and he is building awareness!  I’m not in the market for what GMS creates, but I’m enjoying how Gerrett promotes and builds awareness!

Indiana Wesleyan University has used LinkedIn to build awareness of their Fort Wayne campus.  From my brother‘s posts (he is a corporate rep with IWU) to posts by Dr. Matt Lucas, Chancellor of the National/Global campuses, to hosting First Fridays each month, Indiana Wesleyan has jumped into the the spotlight in NE Indiana.

Networking.  Businesses all over NE Indiana are finding ways to connect with consumers and other businesses.  Networking forums such as First Fridays, BNI, etc. are great places to meet face-to-face.  But networking can also happen online.  Because I network and have gotten to know more about local organizations, I have shared leads with others.  I have done this with Reusser DesignNate Reusser and Brandon Noll are “frequent flyers” at First Fridays and have become friends in the process.  I have had others ask if I knew a company that can design websites.  Of course, I did!  I reached out to Nate & Brandon on LinkedIn.

Content.  Businesses and business representatives are always sharing great content.  The ones that do it well are producing more than mini commercials on LinkedIn.  They are providing value-added content.  Organizations that excel in this are the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnershipand the NIIC.  From articles about how NE Indiana is growing to entrepreneurial stories and resources, both create content that is interesting, educational, motivating and truly makes us proud to live in our corner of the state.  Both organizations make an impact beyond our geographical boundaries.

Other business leaders such Randy Lehman of Northwest Mutual share content from wealth building to home buying tips.  All very practical.  Cody Weikel, one of my team members (he is the creator of the First Fridays logo), always shares interesting content while also promoting our company, 3Rivers.

Connect.  If you are not on LinkedIn or struggle to understand the reason why you should consider being on it, talk with Jere and me.  Or someone who is actively on it.  There are local experts on this.  You’ll find them on LinkedIn.  Experiment.  Read other’s content.  See how they are doing it.  You can do this.

It’s not about creating a commercial.  It’s about connections, conversations, content, and impact.  NE Indiana is blessed with wonderful organizations, companies and leaders.  You’ll discover them on LinkedIn.  They also want to see you there.

It works when you work it.

Lunch (Breakfast) with a Leader – Karl LaPan

karl lapanAs you know, Karl LaPan is the CEO of the NIIC (Northeast Indiana Innovation Center).  Karl was our First Fridays speaker on January 5, 2018.  Karl invested in me this morning by having breakfast with me.

Karl overflows with innovation!  I have met no one quite like him.  We talked about business impact, entrepreneurship, new initiatives, vision, culture – my head and heart are full.

Did you know that Karl speaks all over the world?  He does!  He is a leader who passionately helps entrepreneurs and established business folks become better.  He and the work of the NIIC changes lives.  How?

By helping people understand and then fulfill their dreams.  He’s honest with them as those dreams are fleshed-out.  The NIIC is great at vetting ideas and people.  And when the “product”, the people, and the plan unite, powerful things happen.  Personal economies grow.  Lives are changed.

Karl is a natural connector.  He marries what he reads, who he knows, what he has experienced into a meaningful connection experience.  He simply adds value!  And as a result, he is intentionally leaving a legacy with those that are fortunate to interact with him.

Visit www.niic.org to learn more about what all this group offers to our community.  Help connect a budding entrepreneur to Karl and the NIIC.

ideas at work niic

 

Attend the upcoming Ideas@Work 2018 on April 17.  Follow this link for more information.  I plan to be there!

 

 

Thank you, Karl, for what you do in and for our community.

Lunch with a Leader: Marlin Stutzman

marlin stutzmanI (Jim) had the privilege of having lunch with Marlin Stutzman today.  Marlin, as you know, was the former Congressman from the 3rd District in NE Indiana.

This man is one busy person!  He manages to balance several businesses and ventures in Indiana and out of state.  He supports his wife as she runs for a State office and they both stay busy with their kids.  And then there’s a flooded basement (but that’s another story…)

Marlin served in Congress for 6 years.  Upon completing his service to our State, he began his work with WishBone Medical where he now serves as the Chief Development Officer.   What does WishBone do?

“WishBone Medical is a Warsaw, Indiana based pediatric orthopedic company dedicated to the unmet needs of children suffering from orthopedic challenges.            Our commitment is to provide global access to anatomically appropriate innovative implants and instruments in sterile packed, single use, disposable kits for children who are still growing, because kids are not just little adults.”

Beyond WishBone, Marlin is very involved in Stutzman Power Equipment, Ava Laurenne Bride, and the Principal Partner of The Stutzman Group, LLC.

We talked about balancing all of this.  Marlin said he is blessed to be in business and involved with mostly family members.  This can be challenging for some, but Marlin said the family works well together to make so much of this work.  His parents were great role models on how to serve and lead.

In my experience in watching and following Marlin in his time in Congress and now meeting with him, it is clear that he is a servant leader.  He is passionate about helping others and connecting them with others who can help them succeed.  He shared an incident just the other day where he was able to directly help a Goshen-based business owner trying to recover and reopen after northern Indiana’s recent floods.  Marlin’s efforts helped this business reopen quickly to avoid any more loss in revenues.

Innovation, servant-leadership, business growth – all this and more is Marlin’s heart.  And here’s the good news for us – Marlin will be a featured presenter at next year’s First Fridays!  We will be building out our 2018-2019 calendar soon, so be looking for Marlin’s month.

Leverage experiences.  Serve others.  Build businesses.  Marlin Stutzman is doing this here in NE Indiana.