Why IDEA Week Should Matter to Young Professionals

Why IDEA Week Should Matter to Young Professionals

We are the Generation of Innovation

Written by: Iris Hammel, RISE Executive Director, IDEA Week Coordinator

Have you heard? IDEA Week is coming to the South Bend - Elkhart Region for the second year in a row, April 8-13. Last year, this event brought big names like the Chainsmokers, Adam Savage from MythBusters, and even Daymond John from Shark Tank to this region. Going even bigger with some of the names, the question still remains from young professionals… why should we care? What makes this week long innovation celebration special to a young professional who is climbing the ladder at their corporation but doesn’t have a creative or innovative bone in his/her body? Or for someone who has a hidden dream but thinks it is thousands of dollars and many years down the road?

While the goal is to provide members of our community with the practical knowledge, creative inspiration, and social foundation they need to innovate within their own endeavors, young professionals can be a part of the bigger picture. The future of this region is what we make it. If we don’t rally around something as significant as IDEA Week now, our region could be more susceptible to economic uncertainties in the future. By engaging and supporting such impactful events like IDEA Week, we are putting the South Bend - Elkhart Region on the national map for the right reasons. We are telling the young entrepreneurs that they CAN make it in this world and that their dreams matter. Just as innovation was a hallmark of the entrepreneurial success stories that put this region on the map during the industrial age, innovation—specifically in tech fields—will be the key to economic growth and security going forward. For that reason, IDEA Week showcases the many ways the South Bend - Elkhart Region is primed to support innovative ventures and emerge as an economic leader.

But this isn’t just for the entrepreneurs. Defining blockchain, learning about what artificial intelligence can and can’t do, discovering the future of smart mobility, learning how to network like a champion, and hearing from a health and wellness panel, are all things that can be accomplished at IDEA Week. There is something in it for every young professional. Not to mention you could see Bill Nye the Science Guy, Charles Adler Co-founder of Kickstarter, Kevin Kelly from Wired magazine, and even country starts Scotty McCreery and Tim McGraw!

So, to answer the big question, “why should young professionals care about IDEA Week?” and the answer is clear. This week is all about the future. Whether you’re innovating and creating or working your way up the corporate ladder, we all need to know what our future could look like especially through the eyes of those that are already knocking on the door. Through learning and connecting with other young professionals at this event, it embodies the mission of YPN South Bend: develop, connect and empower.

 YPN South Bend not only supports this incredible week, but we are partnering with IDEA Week to bring you one of the best YP@5s of the year. Join us on April 8 at the South Bend Museum of Art to network and connect with young professionals and kick off this innovation festival.


For a full list of IDEA Week activities, visit https://ideaweek.com/ 


Get Engaged:

  1. Register and select your sessions
  2. Volunteer
  3. Encourage your company to send employees to events - here’s the schedule.

Thoughts on Sustainability in 2019


If you Google "sustainability," a great number of search results will appear. Many reference the Triple Bottom Line or 3Ps (People, Planet, Profit) relating to business application. In brief, sustainability is the ability to meet today's needs without compromising the needs of future generations. Being a young professional, we are keenly aware that our decisions as the next leaders will affect how the next generation manages challenges. If we view our decisions through a sustainable lens, we can ensure the next generation has the tools and groundwork to handle those next set of obstacles.

Sustainability can be giving back to the community or improving neighborhoods with time and commitment. Monetary donations are always welcome, but nothing can replace the sweat and tears of being hands-on. Sustainability can take the shape of mentorship of the youth, being involved in educational activities, or sparking the next generation's interest in critical thinking and personal development. Whatever sustainability means to you as a young professional, you can apply the concept in various ways to make this world improved for the next generation.

As a YP, I practice sustainable concepts in my daily role. I am an account manager at NIPSCO, but I view myself as an energy advisor to my major accounts. In today's world, you have to incorporate "sustainability" into your life decisions every day. I recently co-presented at a sustainability series at IU South Bend. Below are key takeaways from that presentation.


Key TakeAways

Sustainability pertains to every aspect of our day-to-day lives. When we are considering how our actions today will affect future generations, we are applying the concept of sustainability.

Many businesses in the modern era have adopted the 3Ps in regard to sustainability. As this business model grows in popularity, YPs must understand what their employers aim to protect:

  • People: They ensure individuals are treated fairly. No group is harmed, exploited or unequally burdened by business pursuits.
  • Planet: They ensure Earth's natural resources (including the ecology, plants, or wildlife species) are not adversely impacted by their business pursuits.
  • Profit: They ensure that fiscal or economic success is not limited by the pursuit of the other two values. This concept is especially relevant in the growing global markets and it is most likely something that a YP will come across during some point during his/her career.

Sustainability also pertains to individual course of action. It is just as important to find out what sustainability means to you, as understanding the macro business views on the subject. YPs should find things that matter to them with the same goal in mind; leaving the world in a better way than which we found it.

To learn more: Sustainability & Innovation Series 2019

Avoiding Workplace Distractions this Holiday Season

Is the intern in the cubicle to your right blasting "Jingle Bell Rock" through their headphones a little too loudly? Perhaps a third coworker has interrupted your meeting to ask you to order some holiday wrapping paper for their child's school fundraiser. Are you stressing out because you just remembered you promised to bring the turkey to tomorrow's office holiday potluck? 

There are countless workplace distractions this time of year, which can be fun, but what do you do when you're on a time crunch and you really need to get some work done?

Change Locations

Sometimes the best way to hunker down and finish that project is to try a change of scenery. Is there an empty conference room you can take over for the day or a local coffee shop you could visit? You could even check with your supervisor about working from home a couple days out of the week. A study from researchers at Stanford University found a productivity boost from employees who chose to work from home. Bonus! You can sneak in a viewing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on your lunch break.

Update Your Calendar

Often, we use our work calendars exclusively for scheduling meetings when we should also be blocking off time for working on long-term projects or even day-to-day tasks. If you see a deadline approaching and aren't sure when you're going to work on your deliverables, try scheduling a meeting with yourself to make the time. Jeff from HR can't rope you into helping him decorate the lobby if you've got your morning blocked off for doing your actual job. 

Avoid Confusion

End-of-year deadlines, budget planning meetings and time off can lead to the perfect storm of confusion during the holiday season. To keep from getting sucked into the Christmastime chaos, keep your comprehensive to-do list and prioritize what's important. Make sure you're communicating with your team and that everyone is aware of expectations. At the end of the week no one wants to be stuck alone at the office instead of sipping eggnog at the office holiday party. 

While the holidays can certainly be a stressful time, remember to take a breath and enjoy the season. Getting your work done is important, but so is spending quality time with friends and family.

A Hidden Gem Holiday Gift Guide

The holidays are right around the corner! There are plenty of local options for you to find the perfect something for everyone on your list. The problem is knowing where to look! The YPN Hidden Gem Holiday has you covered with options for the foodie, book lover, artsy friend and so much more. 

For the Foodie

Whether you need a gift set for the foodie on your list or need something to bring to the office holiday party, consider Yoder's Meat and Cheese in Shipshewana or Macri's Italian Bakery in South Bend. If you know someone who loves to cook or someone who is just getting started in the kitchen, purchase a gift card for them to sharpen their culinary skills at Martin's School of Cooking at Martin's Super Markets. They have classes for all ages. If the foodie on your list loves trying local restaurants while supporting a great nonprofit, purchase them a gift card from South Bend Brew Werks where they support Neighborhood Resource Network, La Casa de Amistad and The Music Village.

For the Book Lover

Know someone who can't put down a good book? Look no further than Idle Hours Bookshop and Griffon Bookstore both located in South Bend. If you want to travel to find a good book, check out The Next Chapter Bookseller & Buffalo Street Emporium in Warsaw.

For the Coffee or Tea Lover

We all know someone who can't get by without their morning coffee. There are some great regional coffee shops that will keep your coffee lover awake all daylong. Get them a gift card or coffee set to the French Press in Plymouth, Culver Coffee Co. in Culver or Little Black Dog 101 in Mishawaka. If you know someone who wants their fresh cup of coffee while supporting their neighbors in need, head over to Chicory Café and pick up a bag of SOUL Coffee which is roasted by Bendix Coffee and proceeds go to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.

For the Artsy One

There are plenty of gifts to purchase for the art lover in your life. If they enjoy the theatre, consider purchasing them tickets to a show at South Bend Civic Theatre, the Morris Performing Arts Center, the Lerner Theatre or the Round Barn Theatre. If drawing or painting is for them, consider purchasing a class at South Bend Museum of Art, Make South Bend, or Heartland Artist Galleries.

For the Fashion Lover

End the year by dressing to impress and purchase the fashion lover in your life a new outfit. There are hundreds of stores in Northern Indiana that have the most up-to-date styles. Check out Diva in Culver, Inspire Me in South Bend and Snyder's Men's Shop in Granger or Goshen. Because of you, your fashion lover will steal the spotlight at all the holiday and New Year's Eve parties.

For the Home DÉcor Lover

In the cold winter months, sometimes your space needs to be refreshed. Those who love updating their home décor will love Indiana Rug Company in Mishawaka, 820 Antique in Elkhart, or South Bend Woodworks in South Bend. Give them a gift that keeps on giving by buying a custom-made home décor gift from Goodwill Rocks to change the lives of those seeking employment in our community.

Dealing With Your "New"-ness in Any Situation

Young professionals are getting themselves into "new" things all the time. While not necessarily a "problem," a new job, house, city, spouse, child or boss often brings new kinds of obstacles and stressors. This article suggests some concepts to remember and books to read that might help you make the most of your own new. 

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome "is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts [his or her] accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud!" Probably already a buzz word for you, imposter syndrome may follow a recent promotion or the first months at your first job.

Give yourself a few weeks or months to settle in. Those impostor feelings take hold in the absence of confidence-instilling experience of both successes and failures. Relish your successes and revel in your failures. Enough of each will keep the imposter syndrome at bay (or-better yet-at sea).

Remembering that nearly everyone can feel like an impostor and that the feeling is often a sign of a new and better environment, you can subdue that fear and worry. (Besides, impostor syndrome may be good for you-tagline: "If work is comfortable, you probably aren't challenging yourself.")

Routines & Goals

Be deliberate about your routines and goals. A routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed, and a goal is the object of your ambition or effort. Routines will develop whether intended or not but being deliberate and building routines marches you toward your goals. Having both routines and goals for your "new thing" will also help you grow and cope with its challenges.

Establishing routines will make South bend or your new job familiar. Familiar things are comfortable for humans, and there are fewer distractions with familiarity. Making a point to establish good habits and patterns in your new job will let you be efficient and effective from the beginning.

Establishing some routine in your new city (e.g. attending YPN events, joining a weekly running club, joining a local gym, finding a favorite coffee shop) will give you a sense of ownership, allow you to shrink down your world to a manageable size, and enable more opportunities to have fun and find peace. 

Identifying and working toward goals for your "new thing" keeps your mind busy, presents additional opportunities and just feels good.

Neuroplasticity & Growth Opportunity

Your “new thing” is probably something you chose. If you did choose it, remember you likely did so hoping to grow as a result. Even if it wasn’t your choice, understanding and remembering that your brain is plastic will help you make the most of newness (no, not real plastic, we are talking about neuroplasticity). Our brains are continuously making new neural connections. With every sensation, image, feeling and thought, the physical architecture of our brains changes. And the new connections that form can be strengthened via repeated neural firing. Be deliberate about which neurons are firing together—what patterns (sensations, images, feelings, thoughts) do you want hardwired into your brain?

The way you choose to handle new situations, regardless whether the new situation itself was chosen, is reflected in the connections of your neurons in your brain. And those connections can later enable or inhibit your later performance. How do you respond to stimuli outside of your circle of influence? How do you respond to urgent disruptions in your planned activities? How do you greet and treat strangers? How much Netflix do you watch…?

Reigning this section back in a little: your “new thing” is your new best opportunity to grow. You don’t have as much potential to grow in old, familiar, comfortable things. Your first house, new job, first child—these are opportunities to grow like you’re a single-digit level Charmander in Pokémon Red Edition on your Game Boy Color.

Further Reading

These are several amazing books you should read before December 31.

  • The Confidence Gap, Russ Harris (great for overcoming imposter syndrome and healthily interacting with your thoughts and feelings)

  • The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor (introduction to positive psychology and why happiness begets success, not the other way around)

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie (this classic is tops for some key principles to live by and habits to form for healthy professional and personal relationships)

  • The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman (provides a supremely helpful vocabulary and conceptual framework to talk and think about love)

  • Mindset, Carol Dweck (explains the "fixed mindset" and "growth mindset," how people with a growth mindset succeed when challenged, and how to develop a growth mindset)

  • How Not to Die, Michael Greger, MD, FACLM (100+ Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease)

Keeping Your Cool in Heated Situations

Stress—dozens of things can trigger it. You’re getting ready to leave work for the weekend and your boss hands you a new project, due Monday. A co-worker sends you a terse email in response to a request for help. Your subordinate takes a two-hour lunch break and misses an important meeting. Just like that, you’re seeing red.

Before you fire off that angry, emotion-filled email, take a few breaths. Remember what you do in this moment will reflect your character to those around you. Do you really want to damage your reputation, for a brief second of blowing off steam?

To keep your cool in heated situations, try out a couple of these strategies from corporate leaders.

Take a breath

“Pause a moment and breathe. Take in some oxygen. You need to think clearly and rationally, and the more emotional you are the less clear and rational you are going to think,” says Michael Garty, Corporate Director of Leadership Development at Lippert Components.

Garty recommends pausing and re-evaluating the situation. Once you’ve got your emotions under control, you might realize that you’ve interpreted the interaction incorrectly. We often make these interactions personal, when they often aren’t.

“We tend to interpret through that lens and project our own baggage of thinking onto the sender. We are typically off a mark or two,” says Garty.

Change Your Mindset

“If you're feeling a little worn out by work, consider putting a Post It note on your desk with the word 'Game' on it, so you can be reminded to keep this mindset all day long,” says Siimon Reynolds, the founder of a consulting group focused on mentoring CEOs.

Reynolds believes that there are two mindsets that people bring with them to work, the war mindset and the game mindset. Showing up to work every day prepared to battle your colleagues is totally unsustainable and can take a huge emotional toll. Instead, Reynolds wants you to approach work with a game mindset. Leaders with the game mindset still work hard, but see their work through a fun, more entertaining lens.

“Time and time again I have seen people who think this way both outperform the warriors and simultaneously be more relaxed and happier,” says Reynolds.

Get Support

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help when needed, and offer to assist them in return,” says entrepreneur Faisal Hoque.

When you feel like you’ve been given more than you can handle at work, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Whether you’re delegating tasks to your subordinates or building up a team of specialists for a more long-term project, you’re helping to relieve the pressure. This will ultimately improve your inter-office relationships.

“There is comfort in not being alone in times of stress,” says Hoque.

YPN Book Club

Failing Up: How to take risks, aim higher, and never stop learning

By Mike Franz, Formerly with Visit South Bend Mishawaka

When you think of failure, what are a few words that come to mind? Defeat… nonfulfillment… disappointment? In his autobiography, Leslie Odom, Jr. explains how “spectacular failure is the secret ingredient to your ultimate success.” Through mentors, a willingness to fail, and a tireless work ethic, you learn how an aspiring young actor from Philadelphia found success and became a part of theatrical history in the Broadway masterpiece, Hamilton.

Throughout Odom’s life, he has been inspired and challenged by his mentors. Three of his most influential mentors are featured throughout the pages of this book with each having a separate, but equally important, life lesson. Mrs. Frances Turner was Odom’s grade school social studies teacher. At first, Odom was a handful in Mrs. Turner’s classroom, causing trouble day in and day out. It wasn’t until a parent-teacher conference where his father gave Mrs. Turner all the power and control, that Odom and his teacher finally became congenial, even friendly. Their relationship would grow stronger when his teacher helped Odom enter the African-American Oratorical Competition in fifth grade. Despite coming in second, Leslie used the motivation of failure to retool and come back to win the competition the next four years in a row. 

"When I hear people complain or bemoan coming close to a sought-after goal and missing by inches, I am quick to reassure them. Celebrate the fight and the proud run. Coming close can be confirmation you are on the right path."

After seeing early success in his acting career with a short stint in the Broadway ensemble of Rent, Leslie attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

There, he met Tony and Grammy Award-winning performer Billy Porter. Porter taught Odom some valuable acting lessons in college, but it was not until years later that Porter taught Odom his greatest lesson. Porter called Odom years after they met and said he wanted him to star in a theater piece he was working on called Being Alive. There was a part in the piece where Odom’s character is supposed to have a “Billy Porter moment” and amp things up all the way to ten. He had never really taken a risk with any performance but decided to risk everything by embracing his willingness to fail.

"Everything changed in an instant the first time I really gave myself the room and the permission to fail spectacularly. ... I screamed. I flailed. I jumped. I ran. I cried. I let go. I flew. I soared. ... In my willingness to fail, I flew instead."

Whether you are seeking out a new job, looking to reignite the passion for your current position, or are looking to embrace failure and pursue your dream, Leslie Odom, Jr.’s autobiography Failing Up is a source of inspiration for us all to wait for the opportunity to present itself and not throw away our shot when it is right in front of us.

Eat a Good Breakfast: Words of Wisdom from Commencement Speeches

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since Baz Luhrmann set a hypothetical commencement speech written by a Chicago Tribune columnist to music. The song reached number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100, and when you read the original column, “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young,” it’s not hard to see why the song inspired nostalgia for those who had graduated and excitement for those who were looking forward to growing up. It also didn’t hurt that it came out at the same time as Vitamin C’s “Graduation (Friends Forever)” that seemed ubiquitous on the airwaves as well.

That’s the last time a commencement speech has really been in such high demand, but words of wisdom are shared with graduating classes every year. Many of us may not have attended another commencement ceremony since our own, but there’s much to be learned from individuals speaking to a graduating class. Here are some of our favorite messages delivered to the Class of 2018.

Oprah Winfrey: USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

"Eat a good breakfast. It really pays off. Pay your bills on time. Recycle. Make your bed. Aim high. Say thank you to people and actually mean it. And know that what you tweet and post and Instagram today might be asked about in a job interview tomorrow or 20 years from tomorrow."

Chadwick Boseman, actor: Howard University

"Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose."

Abby Wambach, soccer star: Barnard College

"Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it's something to be powered by. Failure is the highest octane fuel your life can run on. You gotta learn to make failure your fuel."

Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani: University of Pennsylvania

"It's great that you are a Wharton MBA, but please, don't act like it. What they mean is don't let it be a burden on you. Don't let it get in the way of seeing people as people and all they have to offer you, regardless of their title opposition. Acknowledging the wisdom and experience of a forklift operator or a security guard with 30 years on the job doesn't diminish your own experience. Acknowledging the sacrifices of others that enabled you to be in this position does not diminish the sacrifices you made on your own.

Be the type of leader that other people want to sacrifice for. Ask other for advice, no matter their jobs. And listen, really listen to their answers."

Jesmyn Ward, author: Tulane University

If you are one of those lucky people who are exceptionally good at an endeavor you’re passionate about, if you possess tireless ambition and keen direction, congratulations! You will go far and do well,” she said. “Your successes will come early and rapidly. If you are not one of those lucky people: If you are bewildered and confused and clinging tenaciously to some course you love, be patient. Work hard.

Hold your dream tightly to you and do everything you can to realize it, within reason. Take a step that will lead you toward the realization of your dream, and then take another, and another, and another.”