Category Archives: Site-Members

“Salt Creek Anthology” Virtual Book Tour!

CCLaP’s Book Tour for Jason Fisk’s “Salt Creek Anthology” is in process, and I’m honored to be included!

In case you are new to this exciting new work, here is an introduction:

A couple meet in a mental institution, have six kids, and devolve into violent alcoholism. An elderly Polish woman with Alzheimer’s goes insane in front of our eyes. A frazzled empty-nester has her bruiser son move back in, along with a scheming girlfriend planning a surprise pregnancy to get them both back out. And an abusive, overweight, racist monster of a man psychologically lords over them all, a total of twenty-odd characters all living on the same cul-de-sac in the far rural suburbs of Chicago. Welcome to the dark, poetic world of author Jason Fisk, a “micro-story” collection that breaks these families’ adventures down into a series of 75 linguistic nuggets; these are then experimentally hooked together in a non-linear fashion through literal hyperlinks within each story, letting you read them in whichever order you wish. With “Salt Creek Anthology,” tumble down that brooding, enticing rabbithole that Fisk has created on this unassuming street for yourself, and see just how far the nightmare will take you.

What follows is a conversation with Jason Fisk, the author, about his work in general, this book in particular, and various other topics of interest.

ClaritySol: You are a husband and father, you teach, you write. You have a blog and other social media outlets to feed. How do you manage to be enthusiastic about all of it? Do you have any words of advice for those to seek to gain traction on a path similar to yours?

Jason Fisk: Well, with the exception of the upkeep of the blog, and other media outlets, I honestly feel like my enthusiasm is directly connected to the fact that I’m truly passionate about my family, my teaching, and my writing, which makes the balancing of it all a lot of fun for me. That’s not to say that I don’t have bad teaching days, days that I feel like a failure as a parent, and days that it would be so much easier not to write, but I’m always back at it the next day, even when I don’t feel like it. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration; there have been weeklong stretches where I have quit writing all together, due to various reasons, but it usually weasels its way back into my life and routine.

The whole social media thing is relatively new to me too, and by relatively new, I mean less than two years on facebook. Initially, I was resistant to it, but have found it to be a wonderful and necessary resource for the promotion of my writing, which, in the world of the small presses, is sometimes exhausting in and of itsel

ClaritySol: It looks like your paths have been intertwining with CCLaP, Jason Pettus and the other writers there: Ben Tanzer, Mark Brand, Sally Wiegert and the others. How important is that to your process, to share your work with writers and to hear what they’re doing and to work with your publisher in the way that you and Jason do?

Jason Fisk: That’s a tough one to answer. My involvement with other authors has changed over the years. Writing started out as a very solitary thing for me. I’d sit at my desk, write, and send my stuff out into cyberspace and wait for a response. I would not necessarily consider myself much of an extrovert, and there is part of me that struggles with the act of social networking, especially when it feels disingenuous. I have to give credit to Ben Tanzer for opening a lot of doors to the local literary world. He actually put me in touch with Jason Pettus and CCLaP, and introduced me to different authors in the area, Mark and Sally being two of them. The actual act of writing and sharing my writing with other authors is something I’ve just started doing recently.

ClaritySol: I know one of Jason Pettus’ goals is to be responsive to the CCLaP audience – to provide what they want to read, and/or provide what they want to be challenged with.

How do you and your work fit in to those goals? What is your approach to the audience – are they part of your writing, or is your writing more a personal process?

Jason Fisk: When I write, I don’t think about audience. Personally, I believe thinking about an audience while writing sucks the integrity from what I’m writing. It begins to feel watered down. I would always be second guessing myself and wondering how a certain group would react to this or that.

I let Jason Pettus worry about the audience. If you send him something, writing or an idea, that he’s not so into, he’ll let you know, and he’ll gently push you in the direction he’d like to see you go, which is probably where catering to his audience comes into play. I also think he does a nice job of creating, or attracting, an audience that has similar tastes as him. Publishers like Jason not only have to sell their product, they also have to create and generate an interest where there may not initially have been one. Having said all of that, Jason Pettus also has this great philosophy of being hands off while the author writes their first draft. I think this is very respectful of the creative process and of the writer.

ClaritySol: You have an impressive publication history already, which I found here:

http://jasonfisk.com/publicationpage.html

It is clear that poetry also has a big place in your writing. Which do you prefer? Do you find certain content is best explored in one format or the other? Are the struggles inherent in each very different, or mostly similar?

Jason Fisk: I started writing poetry in an elective in graduate school, and I absolutely loved finding that little piece of truth (or at least what I thought was truth) and writing about it. Most of my poems have a narrative quality to them, which probably has something to do with my early love of the short story. My relationship with poetry is somewhat contentious though; I really like accessible poetry, and hate pretentious, dense poetry. My real love is the short story, which I find more challenging to write, especially after working so hard to pare a story to its bare essentials for a poem. It’s hard to get into the short story mind set.

ClaritySol: From your blog, here is a description of a book meeting from one of the attendees:

‘What began as a discussion about fictional others quickly turned to ourselves and our own little bits of crazy. We praised Fisk for his ability to hand-pick what is absolutely essential about a story, entertain us with it, and then make us look twice for a glimpse we thought we caught of ourselves – all in two to four paragraphs.’

It sounds to me like you are one of those writers who applies to discipline and the strength of poetry to any other form you engage in as well, would you agree? That you are always a poet, and sometimes you write poetry and sometimes you write in other forms?

Jason Fisk: To me, it’s all about the transaction between the writer and the reader, and I believe the transaction part is very important. My goal is to create an outline of place, time, and movement, and have the reader fill the rest in with their imagination. The reader has then invested part of himself or herself in the story by painting the walls the colors they see, or imagining that particular space is similar to one in his or her house. I believe poetry has been a wonderful tool to roughly sketch out those bits and pieces of a story, and allow the readers to fill in the blanks, which, hopefully, creates a unique reading experience. I think you’re right; I will always be a poet, or at least retain those elements of poetry.

ClaritySol: From your blog, I borrowed this passage of yours:

William Carlos Williams wrote, “No ideas but in things.” While I know that my poetry is nowhere near Williams’ level, it is something I strive to emulate. I love the thought of “No ideas but in things,” and only want to paint what I see (whether it is in my imagination, or in real life). What the reader takes from it is their business.

Is that an accurate capture of your attitude towards this piece as well?

Jason Fisk: Oh, absolutely!

ClaritySol: What’s next? Do you have many additional things that you’re working on right now? Do you have additional pieces percolating that are not even in the writing stage yet? What can we look forward to?

Jason Fisk: I just finished up a small collection of more flash fiction, and am currently in the process of polishing that up. Jason Pettus has also suggested that I take the next year and try my hand at writing a novel, which is what I’m planning on doing, so that’s what’s currently fermenting in my head. We’ll see…

ClaritySol: Anything else you’d like us to know about your work, your plans, your art?

Jason Fisk: No, I feel like we’ve covered quite a bit here. I do want to thank you for taking the time to research and craft such insightful and thoughtful questions. Your time and involvement is very much appreciated.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Chicago, Community, Entrepreneurship, Publishing, Site-Members

Update: Starting up activity again!

Hello again!

Have been away for a while, just due to normal busy-ness and so forth. But things are starting to begin to commence simmering a little more easily soon, so I thought I’d hurry up and take advantage early accordingly.

I have an exciting post coming up soon, a literary interview in conjunction with CCLaP of Chicago.

In advance of that, thought I’d better stop back in, open the windows, let the place air out a bit.

And thought I’d start doing something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but haven’t yet: actually write a little bit about what I’m doing.

I’m currently working with 5-7 entities, providing accounting services. Some of the relationships are employment, some contract, some a combination (providing contract services as an employee of a service provider).

Needless to say, it all adds up to a strenuous work week. But I thought I’d note (for the record) that I really believe it’s important to keep striving for excellence, despite all the challenges.

I started out being employed as an accountant, in a company that consulted on the process of work. And the values of that company have stayed with me ever since. They include focusing on the overarching goal at all times, even when the task is a piddly one. Mutual respect, functional trust, eschewing pettiness, going that extra mile to get the job done.

These are challenging days for anyone in the accounting field. There is a sort of mania out there to pay the least amount, which often translates to doing the least possible chunk of work, which then often has effects that accumulate and multiply.

Instead I believe in gaining an understanding of what the optimal amount of work is – balancing outcomes with effort required – to meet the best needs of the organization, and doing that to the best of my ability within the existing constraints. The strenuousness of that is why I have not written very often lately.

I believe many in the work world today are facing similar challenges in different guises. I hope we’re all able to keep carrying on, and that better days will soon be on the horizon!

Leave a comment

Filed under Accounting, Business, Community, Entrepreneurship, NonProfits, Site-Members

Site-Member Profile: 3232 Design!

Year Established: I’ve been doing freelance web design on the side since 1996, and in 2007 I created 3232 Design and started treating it like a business. In January 2010 I quit my day job of nine years as a Creative Director to concentrate on my business full-time, and it’s been nothing but awesome.

Business/Organization Name: 3232 Design. ‘3232’ is my address, possibly the least imaginative business name but I currently dominate the market for people searching Google on ‘3232’. Take that, RFC 3232!

Owner/Executive Director Name: That’s me, Richard Mueller. No full-time employees yet, and I’ll always keep it small because that’s how I can deliver the highest quality design with the most minimal costs.

Product/Service: Graphic Design, specializing in web design but including brand identity, print, and advertising for small and medium-sized businesses. I love working with creative types.

Unique Features/Competitive Advantage: I’ve won design awards, yet at the same time I’m a great web coder. Finding both in one person is highly unusual, and it allows me to look ahead to take advantage of coding tricks in my designs that save tons of time and money for my clients while delivering agency-quality design.

Contact Information

Notes/Misc other: Though my design is often envelope-pushing, my business is very conservative. It was getting obvious that I wasn’t going to get laid off and if I wanted to do 3232 full time I’d just have to quit. I’d spent two years saving everything I made on the side into a capital cushion so I wouldn’t have to take out a start-up loan. Still, it was one of the scariest decisions I’ve made. Would I lose the house? How would I feed my family? The net result is, I’ve been profitable from my first day, and the freedom is very rewarding.

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Site-Members

Site-Member Interview in-Depth: CCLaP’s Four Year Anniversary!

CCLaP – the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography – founded June 2007 – is as a private for-profit company; established to champion the best of today’s bleeding-edge, ultra-contemporary work.

ClaritySol: Congratulations on your Four-Year Anniversary! Now, like many start-ups, you’re self-funded, so you’ve been slowly growing CCLaP’s client-base and community. Your pattern has been to publish one book each year electronically, complementing your extensive book reviews and essays (such as the ever-popular series about literary classics called “The CCLaP 100”). Now in the last year you’ve stepped things up considerably..

CCLaP: Yes, I’ve been publishing books since 2008 now, just with all the past ones being electronic only; it’s just this summer that I’m finally getting paper versions of them out for the first time.

2011 has been a year of significantly increased activity: after publishing only one book a year previously (Ben Tanzer’s “Repetition Patterns” in 2008, Sally Weigel’s “Too Young to Fall Asleep” in 2009, and Tanzer’s “99 Problems” in 2010), starting this year I’ve upped the schedule to four new titles every year . In 2011 the four books include Mark R. Brand’s “Life After Sleep” and Jason Fisk’s “Salt Creek Anthology” already published, with the compilation book “American Wasteland” and Katherine Scott Nelson’s “Write Me Back” still to come.

So that’s been a significant increase in work, needless to say, especially since I’m now adding paper versions to each release. So time that I had before been dedicating to extensive reading and high-octane book reviews (which are posted on the CCLaP blog) is going to these newer activities instead.
Accordingly, I started the long-term hunt for other staff writers who can do book reviews in the CCLaP “ethos,” if you will, so that I can keep the daily posting schedule up at the blog while still devoting my own time to more publishing-related activities.

ClaritySol: Would you like to give the audience a brief bio of yourself, your journey to opening CCLaP? Did you always have an entrepreneurial bent? Or had you had a different life vision, and then things shifted and this became the optimal path? I have heard you state over the years that you used to write, and then you stopped. Yet currently you write book & film reviews and various other things.

CCLaP: I suppose I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bent, now that you put it like that; by the age of six I was already doing puppet shows for neighborhood kids and charging admission, putting out a subdivision newsletter, things like that. I’ve had a whole series of different career focuses over the decades, mostly due to just a wide range of interests — first I was all set to enter college on a high math track and eventually become a computer programmer, then suddenly switched to political science for four years, then studied photography for four years after that, then became a publishing author and performance poet for a decade, after moving to Chicago in the mid-1990s.

When I say that I “stopped writing,” I mean only the creative fiction; as you point out, I’m still penning almost a quarter of a million new words a year at the CCLaP site, only all of it in the genre of critical and personal essays.

CCLaP itself came just very slowly and organically over the course of several years, as I first hit middle-age and became more and more dissatisfied with pursuing a career as a solo creative artist; it’s a way essentially for me to still work in the milieu I love, while hopefully bringing the kind of stability to my life that I simply didn’t need when I was younger.

ClaritySol: The close relationship between the artist and the fan, is that the main benchmark of success for you, the overriding goal?

CCLaP: Well, perhaps it’s better to call that a business goal, in that I ultimately view CCLaP in competitive terms to other larger institutions that do a whole variety of creative things, like perhaps the Museum of Contemporary Art or the Old Town School of Music; the center isn’t even close in size or scope to those examples, let me make it very clear, but that’s the eventual hope of where I’d like to see CCLaP heading as the years progress.

And what I feel is a good way to compete in that field is to pay very close attention to what your readers, your audience members want, what they really respond to, what they’re mentioning to you in emails and at dinner parties and things like that. I feel like a lot of creative institutions have lost sight of that, that many of the bigger ones especially that started back in the Modernist era have become so insular and so totally focused on grants, corporate partnerships, and just the mere struggle to stay alive at the level they’re accustomed to.

I feel a good way for a tiny organization like mine to differentiate itself from that is to be much more responsive to our customers than those groups are. But there’s of course a tricky balance to maintain, because as a creative curator, people are coming to CCLaP many times precisely FOR my recommendations of stuff they’ve never heard of or sometimes even thought about. My job as CCLaP’s owner is essentially to listen to all these people, listen to what they’re saying, and then think, “Well, if they say they want THIS kind of thing, I’ll bet that they’ll really be into THAT kind of thing too.”

ClaritySol: What is the unifying element of the work you publish?

CCLaP: My focus is on trying to get the best work possible out of that writer. I really look at an author’s entire body of work and where they are in their career, and think about what I consider the best thing they could possibly be doing right now for their particular style and where they should be next professionally. That guides what the finished book looks like more than an adherence to any particular type of genre, length, etc.

As far as the paper books go, I’m selling them literally as fast as I can make them right now, which is a double-edged sword; I could be selling more if I could simply make them faster, but the reason there’s such a strong interest is because everyone knows how long they take, and what a high quality these handmade editions have at the end because of it. Sigh!

ClaritySol: Who is your target audience?:

CCLaP: My main core target audience are people known by the term “creative class” — twenties to fifties, with creative careers but that still lets them be middle-class, essentially a lot like my personal friends here in Chicago, urban-dwelling and politically/ecologically aware, with only a certain small amount of money and time they can dedicate to the arts anymore, and wanting not just a good experience for their money but an opportunity to take a part in the process, even if just a little bit.

I think people of my generation and in my circumstances are a little burnt out on the “totebag syndrome” as I call it of older cultural institutions, where the idea is, “Give us a yearly check and otherwise just shut up and enjoy the splendor of it all, and here’s your token gift thanks very much.” I think creative-classers would like a much more direct say over which artists are being featured there, or at least what kinds of artists, and would enjoy an opportunity as a patron of one of these groups to occasionally be able to talk straight to the curators and decision-makers, literally say to them, “I saw this band or this photographer at this gallery or that pub, and they’d be perfect for your place.”

ClaritySol: How has your internet presence birthed/supported your business? Will you be enlarging it, and enlarging your business? Is there a particular size or scope you are aiming to attain?

CCLaP: Well, I have personal things to gain from maintaining an international audience, which ultimately is the simple answer in my case — I like traveling internationally, and hope to do so a lot more in the future, so it’s worth it to me to cultivate an online presence just for that alone.

Commercially it’s a trickier question; because although electronic content is great for building a passionate audience, it’s still through actual physical merchandise and physical events that most artists make the majority of their actual money, whether that’s a publisher or a photographer or an indie musician, so the question of a spread-out audience in that case ties in more with how easy or hard it is to ship things to them, whether you’ll be there regularly on tours or not, etc.

But then, I know for a fact that one of the things that a lot of CCLaP’s audience members like the most about the site is its international focus, so just from a curatorial aspect there are positive things to be gained — I read much more interesting books and see much more interesting movies because of it, feature a wider range of photography, get a wider range of perspectives.

ClaritySol: How involved are you in the Chicago Literary Scene, and is that important to CCLaP?

CCLaP: I’m unfortunately not too terribly involved with the local community anymore, for a variety of reasons. I’ve been changing that this summer somewhat, because I’ve been taking my new high-def videocamera out and shooting at least one live literary event in the city a week, then cutting it into just a little 60-second highlight reel and posting them at YouTube all year; that’s at least had me out and being a lot more social, and getting the word about CCLaP out to a brand-new audience.

While all of CCLaP’s authors have so far been Chicagoans, and all but one book have all been set in Chicago; that’s partly random, and partly that I skew a little heavily towards Chicago authors and projects from the mere nature of being here. But I’m certainly up for publishing people in other cities as well.

ClaritySol: Four year anniversary, very exciting – congratulations! Did you always expect to reach this point (and beyond)?

CCLaP: Well, thanks! As mentioned, the goal in my head has always been to go even a lot longer than this; but that said, it’s still a treat to actually make it to four years, given how many artistic projects are launched with such full confidence every year and then fall apart six months later.

ClaritySol: What about the past (four) years has surprised you the most?

CCLaP: I suppose the biggest “surprise” has actually been the anti-surprise of studying small business beforehand, and learning that just about each and every little thing I read about when studying small business has come true while actually running one.

ClaritySol: Are there things you would do differently if you could have a do-over? What lessons have you learned about entrepreneurialism in the real world?

CCLaP: If I had a chance to start over, probably the biggest change would be much less of a focus on live events at first, and a much bigger push into paper publishing from the get-go, learning in hindsight how much interest there’s been in it since actually starting it.

These are just little lessons you can only learn by actually opening and trying stuff out, which is another basic lesson from my “self-taught MBA” days that has absolutely come true: that it’s best at first to keep this sort of open, semi-flexible framework to what you’re doing, so that you can try some various things out without too terribly much commitment, and quickly shut down the things that aren’t working, even if they’re sentimental favorites.

I’d love to be doing more really big live events, like the one I did with Nathan Rabin last winter, but it just hasn’t been in the cards so far in terms of CCLaP’s audience being willing to support it, which as a business owner I have to pay more attention to than whatever personal desire I have to be sitting on a stage talking to someone cool and famous.

ClaritySol: New developments: you have an intern now! How is that going – I know for lots of folks that shift from one person to two people is a big one.

CCLaP: Oh, it’s been just about as minimalist as possible, to tell you the truth, and frankly I’m not sure if I’ll be doing it again for awhile; Traci Kim has been great, but the fact is that as a one-person, home-based business, there’s simply almost nothing for her to actually do. I’ve instead put her in charge of her own themed anthology, which we’ll be publishing at the end of the summer, which she mostly does on her own from home.

I just wanted to try hosting an internship at least once, since I had this opportunity just fall in my lap (Traci literally just wrote out of the blue this spring about it), just to see how it would go; I’m not sure if I’ll be doing it again until after CCLaP finally has its own permanent physical space somewhere in the city, and there’d be a lot more intern-type stuff for an intern to do.

ClaritySol: You’re producing blank journals – that seems a great idea – wide-open future sales. Congrats!

CCLaP: Yes, at Etsy, with me and ten million middle-aged moms! Stop by and purchase one, please!

ClaritySol: How does the Photography part of CCLAP – is that more of a future aspect of the company?

CCLaP: Yes, I have a lot more plans for photography, but they unfortunately almost all involve significantly more money than I currently have, and with a lot of it tied to finally having a permanent physical space in the city somewhere: at that point I’d like to have a full-time gallery, and also publish a book and giftstore-type merchandise with each show, which only makes sense if we literally had our own giftstore, etc.

I have a long-term view in mind with CCLaP, which at least makes it a little easier to decide to shelve certain things for now.

ClaritySol: Anything else you’d like us to know about your plans?

CCLaP: Well, just that CCLaP will have another four original books out in 2012 as well, one every three months, and mostly female-focused next year too — first a new story collection by Sally Weigel, then the new surrealist novel by Lauryn Allison Lewis, and then a new post-apocalyptic thriller of all things by Amy Guth, although political as well in that Margaret Atwood feminist-SF style, and then a winter slot I haven’t filled yet.

I’m going with an entirely new binding style for 2012, and all four books will be done in this similar style, so that in the future you’ll be able to just glance at CCLaP books and know which year they were put out.

Both the 2011 books and these coming 2012 ones are sold at a special subscription rate at the website, which is the main piece of news I’d like to get out, for those who really believe in the center and want to make a substantial financial contribution to it.

I encourage people to think of this like becoming a member of their local art museum or NPR station; only instead of a totebag or coffeemug, you’re getting a whole shelf of special handmade, hand-numbered, high-quality original books, ten altogether plus free shipping if you purchase both subscriptions for a total of $140.

Thanks again for giving me a chance to talk about the center and everything that’s been going on; I hope this has been of some interest.

ClaritySol: You’re very welcome, Jason! This has been a wonderful peek into your exciting, successful company. Wishing you all the best success for the future!

—————————–

For more information about CCLaP, check out the installment at Clarity Solutions Google+ page: http://gplus.to/CstokesCS

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Chicago, Community, Entrepreneurship, Local, Publishing, Site-Members

Site-Member Profile: Entrepreneurial Realtor, Jea Standing Bear!

Year Started: Employed as a Realtor since since 2006

Business/Organization Name: Sandals Realty of Fort Myers, Inc.

Product/Service: Real Estate in the Fort Myers area

Unique Features/Competitive Advantage: Anyone who buys or sells through me will receive a traditional Native American house blessing!

Contact Information:

Jeanine Standing Bear

Phone: 239/340-5600

Email: jstandingbear@yahoo.com

Website: http://jeaninestandingbear.point2agent.com/

Notes/Misc other:

Now certified as AHWD (AT Home With Diversity). Only 1 in 500 realtors has that certification! I specialize in working with people from different backgrounds (race, ethnicity, etc.).

Assisting buyers in their search of their dream home. Whether it be their primary home, vacation home or investment property, I take pride in making my buyer’s goal my number one priority!

Member: Florida Association of Realtors, National Association of Realtors. Certified as an “At Home With Diversity” Realtor.

2 Comments

Filed under Site-Members

Site-Member Profile: Helping Survivors Manage!

Year Established: 2009

Business/Organization Name: Helping Survivors Manage

Owner/Executive Director Name: Kat Reed

Product Inception/Business Creation: Kat Reed created this definitive book on what to do when a loved one dies based on her own experiences after her mother’s death, when she discovered the lack of resources available for families facing the struggles inherent in the death of a loved one. She and her predominantly-deaf father experienced first-hand the same challenges that overwhelm so many. Kat decided to do something about it, and using her volunteer hospice experience and prior career in business and communications, she created this helpful resource which fills a much-needed gap for everyone who is a survivor facing these tasks.

Product/Service: Self-help instructional manual for the survivors of a death; death care industry, book and online tools. Begin Here guides survivors through the seemingly overwhelming practical yet necessary tasks that remain after a death, from residential to financial to personal. Leveraging Reed’s unique insights, invaluable suggestions, and organizational skills will help anyone simplify this process.

Unique Features/Competitive Advantage: Nothing else available similar to it in the market for the general public

Contact Information:

Kat Reed
HSM
PO Box 16058
Saint Paul, MN 55116
612.293.6407
kat@HelpingSurvivorsManage.com
http://www.HelpingSurvivorsManage.com
http://www.helpingsurvivorsmanage.com/

Notes/Misc other:
Finalist in the 2009 Midwest Independent Publishers Association Book Awards, Social Science category.

Currently focusing on large businesses to use book as a private label product; part of insurance services; as well as EAP (Employee Assistance Program) for large companies. Plans to expand the version to translate and customize into different languages for use all around the world; customize to religion, relationship, location, cause of death, death circumstance; versions that can accommodate those with disabilities. Also in the beginning stages of developing an “app” for the web and mobile devices. Plans to become and remain the “go-to” organization for after-death care concerning business responsibilities.

Best lessons learned:
A mentor in his late 70s told me that if you don’t keep up with technology, you WILL be left behind by your competitors.

High school art teacher and mentor said, and I always remember, “there is always room for improvement.”

Great ideas are a dime a dozen, what makes one succeed? Research the industry, research the competition, research profitability, research demand for the service/product, then hard work in your product/service; and start all over again, researching and studying every single day.

Asking and more importantly, listening.

If you cannot or will not manage an integral part of your business, (for example, branding/public relations/media) find someone who can and will, and hire it out to them.

Do the math.

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Site-Members, St. Paul

Site-Member Profile: Creative HealthCare Management, Marie Manthey!

Year Established: 1978

Business/Organization Name: Creative Nursing Management (originally), Creative Health Care Management (since 1988)

Ownership/Management: Organization is employee-owned and team-managed. Current Management team: Jayne Felgen, President; Brano Stankovsky and Mary Koloroutis, Vice Presidents. Founder: Marie Manthey, labeled in a newspaper article years ago the ‘fiesty former Chicagoan’, and life-long Nurse Visionary.

Product/Service: Support and Facilitation of Nursing Delivery Systems that promote healing and caring of patients and their families.

Unique Features/Competitive Advantage: CHCM is unique in that it is clinical practice-based, while also incorporating cutting-edge management theories and techniques from across the board. Grounded in real-world implementation, CHCM has been on the forefront of transformational change in hospital practice both nationally and internationally.

Organizational history summarized: Marie Manthey formed CNM after leaving an executive role at Yale-New Haven hospital in 1978, in order to support the practice of Primary Nursing. In this delivery system, nurses have a primary relationship with their patients, and are empowered to coordinate their care.

In the first full year of the business, starting in September 1978, Marie contacted hospitals who had been interested in hearing her, and told them she was available, booked those trips, made all her own arrangements, went out to those hospitals and spoke and consulted, traveled nearly every week; and also wrote a book containing that same content she was speaking about, and got it published.

Marie continued to travel constantly,speaking and consulting, throughout those early years. In 1982 she moved back to Minneapolis where her daughter was, continued the business out of her home still, and added one full-time employee. In 1986 a neighbor complained about her business to the city. It had grown substantially, and there were 3-5 cars parked on the street in relation to it every day. So she and her staff started looking for an alternate space. Eventually, after a few earlier sites that were stymied by neighbor resistance, she found a building on Grant and 10th near downtown (next to Eden House). CHCM had a home of its own for the first time!

That building had been built by a photographer, and then its second owner had been a company that makes tv commercials. It had that sloping wall so necessary to commercial photography, and a dock in that area, and so on. So for several years CHCM rented out that studio portion to the prior owner and others in that industry. Employees would (early on especially) sneak on to the balcony looking over the studio to watch. It was fascinating. But completely unrelated to CHCM’s work, and eventually that ceased. CHCM used that space for their classes instead, drawing folks in from around the country as its educational service offering really took off.

In the early 80’s, she created the first coordinated curriculum for nurse managers, in which they could learn all the necessary management & team techniques to be successful.

Currently a multi-million dollar company with dozens of employees and full-time top-level consultants with various specialties, CHCM presents a range of programs and consultative services, as well as books and manuals and other media.

Contact Information: http://www.chcm.com

Notes from the Field: when asked for her current thinking on lessons learned and what she would share with others in business for themselves, here are her thoughts:

One of the most important things is to put yourself in the shoes of the client. When you listen to the content of your client’s situation and their challenges and goals, and you have experience that is relevant, you are able to imagine how you can best help them. You can imagine what you would need if you were them. That empathy-based viewpoint is crucial to creating long-range client relationships.

Regarding rates, it is all very tricky. We have found that it almost always is in our best interest to set the rate based on market conditions and our costs, and to not go below that. Of course, when market conditions change, it is crucial to be sensitive to those changes, and adjust accordingly. If the only way to work is to lower your rates, and you need to work, then you need to lower your rates.

Common sense is also important. That goes beyond simply understanding the language of accounting and business principles and ratios and so on. It all has to make sense, as well. Like your checkbook makes sense. That is the bottom line as far as finances.

And, seek help when you need it. Early on, the organization SCORE was a huge help, they were actually instrumental in our survival and growth in our first few organizational years.

Additional References: http://www.score.org/index.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Entrepreneurship, Site-Members