YPN’s Guide to Dating Charities

So you made it past Valentine’s Day. Maybe you survived it proudly single, enjoying the company of friends, or doing something special with a significant other. Regardless of your relationship status, though, it’s a great time to start dating, building a relationship, and maybe even form a long-term commitment with a nonprofit organization.

When growing your career, you seek a mentor. When purchasing a home, you gain advice from professionals. When starting or raising a family, you look to your family for guidance. What do you do when you date? Get a little help from a friend. This same principle should be applied when looking at engaging with a nonprofit.

Like any good friend would tell you, take it slow. Make sure you get the all clear from its bff (staff). Check out its parents (board of directors) and what you might be looking forward to. Maybe there is an ex (financial misstep) you didn’t know about. Are you falling head over heels, because or in spite of everything you’ve come to know about this new love? Here are some guidelines to follow before going all-in with a charity.


Why not give a small gift?

Your first gift doesn’t need to be a major one. A $25 donation may buy a few meals, provide support for after-school programming for a few students for a day, or go toward a much larger capital campaign. You’re taking the first step in discovering how the non-profit responds to and cares about its donors. Note whether or not you receive a “thank you” from the organization. For a small gift, it may only be an email or a mail-merged form letter. What’s important is you are making a difference, and hopefully finding out how your donation is being put to use, while laying the building blocks of a relationship with the charity.

Spend some quality time with them

The next step in dating a charity is likely more valuable to young professionals than a modest financial contribution—your time. Coordinating volunteer activities can actually be a drain on resources for many charitable organizations. Depending on safety, privacy, training, and even laws to take into consideration, some nonprofits may have limited opportunities to volunteer or expend considerable staff time to prepare for a group volunteer event. Remember, it is a benefit to the organization, but also a privilege for you. There may never be better insight to the impact of an organization than seeing it in action. With just a few, focused and respectful hours of your time, you can make an impact for that organization, the lives of the individuals they serve, and our community.


By now, you should be ready to ask yourself some more serious questions about your future together with this charity…

Can your charity clearly communicate who they are and what they do?

If a nonprofit struggles to communicate its impact, then it is likely struggling on delivering programs that create impact. Charities and their representatives should be able to clearly explain who they are, what they’re trying to accomplish, and why they are needed. If they can’t, then find one that can.

Does your charity’s programs make sense to you?

Every nonprofit should have a mission and vision statement. Do they align with the programs they offer? Are the programs productive and creating change for the people they are intended to serve? Is another organization in the community doing a better job of executing similar programs? Sometimes nonprofits are competing for the same dollars and have a disproportionate amount of success in utilizing their resources. This may be a good opportunity for collaboration to lift the underperforming program up, or for the more successful program to expand, as the services they provide in one geographic area may be needed in another. Even then, should your hard-earned dollars go to a charity which isn’t using them effectively?


Okay, the feeling is real. Before investing your full heart or wallet into this relationship, there are some really important questions yet to consider…

Is there an opportunity to join a committee?

Whether it be an annual fundraising event, volunteer appreciation dinner, or steering a particular project for the organization—there’s a committee for that. This is a great way to get to know your charity better, but also contribute in a more substantial way. Even if you aren’t capable of making a large financial gift, helping coordinate a successful fundraiser or taking the responsibility off of staff to organize a volunteer event is a way to amplify your impact.

Can you trust your charity?

Research has shown that the overwhelming majority of charities in the United States are not only responsible and honest, but well-managed. That said, do your research before making significant financial gifts. There are many resources available to know how trustworthy a charitable organization is. Once you have done your research, give with confidence. One of the biggest constraints for nonprofit organizations is cash flow, with a direct correlation to serving more people with their mission if they have more money to invest into programs.

Not all agencies are perfect. In the case of some online rating websites, they may require additional work to achieve a higher rating at the expense of energy diverted from delivering services to those in need. With that disclaimer in place, check out the charity’s website and see if they publish their IRS Form 990 publicly. This form lists the pertinent financial information required annually by the IRS, and some nonprofit organizations utilize this document as an opportunity to include narratives about how the money spent was impactful in the community. Charity Navigator and Guidestar are two other online resources to verify the accountability and transparency of an agency. Lastly, and arguably more importantly, ask around within the community, friends, or colleagues about the reputation and history of an organization. As with the online sources, though, be wary of skewed perceptions or lagging grief with an agency which may have overcome a checkered past.


It’s time to get serious, buckle down, and propose to your charity of choice…

Are you willing to make a long-term commitment to your organization?

You’ve made several donations by now. You’ve joined a committee and found new ways to give beyond your individual financial means. You’ve also done your research to gain an understanding of the organization’s goals, progress toward them, stewardship of funds, and accountability to the community it serves. Even then, you may admit, there is more of yourself to give. The question remains, do you have three or more years to give for the average term on a nonprofit board?

One of the most rewarding, and needed, services you can provide a non-profit is to join its board of directors. Not only are charities regularly looking for professionals to sit on their boards, but they are looking for individuals who are connected to the mission, provide an inclusive representation of the community served, and are willing to do more than just vote “aye” or “nay” at a bi-monthly or quarterly meeting. They’re looking for more than a seat warmer just because the organization’s bylaws require a certain number of board seats to be filled. Nonprofits thrive when they have passionate board members who take a vested interest in the personnel, financials, programs, advocacy and reporting.

How do you benefit? Innumerable ways. You will gain leadership skills, an understanding of organizational governance, professional and personal development, patience, finding your own voice among a group of leaders, and an impact on the community you likely could never achieve on your own. Nonprofit boards are a great way to network and build community relationships beyond the walls of your full-time job. Most importantly, in my opinion, it is the best way to build and support a community you can be proud of and one that future generations can thrive in.

Are you succeeding in your career goals so you can help the charity succeed?

You owe it to yourself to be successful, and you also may owe it in some ways to the nonprofit that was serving you as much as you thought you were serving it. Make sure you continue to share your appreciation and belief in the mission by giving what you can financially, of your time, and of your ever-growing network. This should continue long after you’ve fulfilled your obligations on the board. It may even last a lifetime, but so will the friendships and the pride in what was accomplished together, for the betterment of the entire community.


Guest blog authored by Bryan Tanner, director of strategic engagement with United Way of St. Joseph County. Bryan brings over 30 years of community service experience, contribution as a member of 4 non-profit boards, fundraising of nearly a million dollars, and management of several charitable programs or projects to our community. He has been an active participant within YPN for over 7 years, is a past city council member in Mishawaka, and volunteers over 200 hours every years between Lions Club activities, coaching youth sports, and community

YPN Holiday Gift Guide

YPN Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for the perfect gift for your loved ones this holiday season but want to shop local? Well you are in for a treat! We have compiled many options for every person on your list! From the book lover to the ones in your life needing a serious pampering, get your shopping done early and take advantage of local deals from these businesses!


South Bend is lucky to have some amazing local bookstores to choose from in this category! Griffon Books and Games is a great choice because on top of the huge selection of books they carry, they also have a ton of board games to choose from! For the children in your life, The Brain Lair has a ton of books specially curated just for kids. Need some book inspiration? Check out the YPN Question of the month section below! We have some great book recommendations listed there. Once you pick your new favorite book, plan on stopping by the newly opened Half Price Books in Mishawaka! Friday they will be running a special for 20% off AND the first 100 book-lovers through the door receive a tote bag and a $5 gift card. One lucky person will receive a $100!


Want a gift that keeps the energy flowing right into the New Year? Try Embassy Coffee Company in Goshen. This new place has such a special feel and the coffee is always amazing. Pick up a gift card and treat them to a coffee experience. If Goshen is a little far for you, no fear, there is always the staple to the South Bend Region available right around the corner. Run in to pick up a specialty blend from the South Bend Chocolate Café located downtown South Bend on Michigan St. They have so many different flavors, treats and candies that you might have a hard time not getting a gift for yourself!


MAKE SOUTH BEND offers all sorts of classes and workshops that would be a perfect gift for someone looking for a new creative outlet. Try anything from knitting a scarf and making jewelry to pour painting and calligraphy. Feel free to grab gift cards and/or items for sale right inside their doors! Looking for an experience for you AND a friend?  Wine and Canvas is always a great option for a really fun and artsy night out!


Hammes Bookstore located on the Notre Dame campus not only has textbooks for the students but also is also packed full of apparel and gifts. Literally anything you can think of with a Notre Dame logo, this store has it! Perfect for all the Fighting Irish on your list. Looking for outdoor sports gifts? Outpost Sports has many options for you and your favorite person, but this Friday, you can save up to 25% off select gifts and items! The earlier you show up, the more you save.


Insomnia Cookies located at 2130 South Bend Ave., South Bend, is perfect for the person with a sweet tooth in your life! Get a selection of every single flavor. They will absolutely melt in your mouth. Another SWEET option is Love & Macarons! This young professional provides delicious desserts for all occasions. Specialties include French macarons, cakes, tarts, and candies. Friday Love & Macs will have a Black Friday launch at Ironhand Winery from 3:00-6:00 p.m. Buy a glass of wine and get a free mini macaron! Have someone who prefers salt to sugar? No worries there, Oh Mamma’s located on Mishawaka Ave., is an amazing place to pick up specialty meats and cheeses for the holidays! Get your holiday party platter there without any stress or worry. The Ragamuffin creates wholesome baked goods while promoting a sense of community committed to using all-local ingredients. Pies, cookies, croissants, apple pear cranberry turnovers and molten caramel chocolate chip cookies are just a few of the favorites. Be sure to get your order in for December holiday parties and gifts now!


DeNolf’s Barbershop is a brand new but totally old-school barber shop located in downtown South Bend. They offer the coolest looking gift cards in town. Treat the guy in your life to a special close-razor shave or a beard trim. They have special evening and weekend hours to accommodate the professional in your life needing a trim. Looking for special massage and spa packages?  Therapeutic Indulgence is a great place to find all that and more. Their Black Friday deals include 20% off gift cards, and discounted retail and BOGO 50% off select items including DoTerra essential oils. Don’t let your favorite person start the year stressed out. Another relaxation destination is Woodhouse Day Spa in Granger. This is a great option for a couple’s massage or even a chance to spoil your employees with gift cards. Call and ask about their corporate pricing!


Talk about options!! Cambria Boutique located in the Emporium Building in South Bend is offering 20% off for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. On top of that they will be doing gift card giveaways, so you can also get yourself something fun! Pink Pineapple Boutique in Granger is also a great choice for the trendiest of fashions and unique options. Stocked with Spanx, Comfort Colors, and many more, you won’t go wrong spoiling your someone special here. Another option in Granger is Satori Boutique. Satori specializes in unique apparel, jewelry and accessories. Your fashion-forward gift recipient will surely love any item or gift card from any of these locations. 


Ten Thousand Villages Mishawaka will have a BOGO 50% off sale on jewelry and ornaments on Black Friday. They have so many one-of-a-kind options sure to stun and wow…not to mention they are a fair-trade business providing jobs and opportunities for people around the world. Board and Brush is another great local option! Buy a gift card and treat them to a truly unique experience of building and painting their own perfect home décor item. Perfect for someone who might be picky about their home décor, they get to customize their piece to their specific tastes! Friday they are even doing a family friendly Black Friday class with special drawings and prizes. The House of Andala Lamp Shoppe in South Bend is also a great choice! Have a custom piece built specifically for someone you love. Making lamps from camera parts and tripods, old chandeliers, or even from a blow torch is just scratching the surface on what they like to create for their clients.

The Most Productive You


The Most Productive You

Written and shared by Patrick Frazier

"You're not you when you're hungry" is what the Snickers commercial say. But did you know, “You’re NOT you when you are experiencing Major Life Events?” The most productive you is when you are healthy, resilient and feeling GREAT.  When major life events occur, we often suffer deeply and as a result we aren’t able to continue the growth of our company. 

In his book, Your Oxygen Mask First, Kevin Lawrence introduces 17 habits for maintaining the resilience you need for staying healthy, focused and achieving great success. A few of my favorite habits are figuring out your sweet spots, gathering a team of experts and learning like your life depends on it.

The first habit is to figure out what you are good at, your strengths and sweet spots. Try to spend 80% of your time and energy doing things you love and in the ways you love to do them. Have you ever noticed when you do things you are good at you just seem to get better?  Have you ever noticed that when you do things you love, it takes you less time and energy?  Or maybe you’ve noticed others ask you to do the things you are good at?  People are attracted to successful people, so find out what your sweet spots are and go about being a rock star!

Secondly, quadruple your IQ by gathering a team of experts. You don't have to be the smartest person in the room. Collective brainpower is always smarter that individual intelligence. Be the person in the room that has the biggest network of smart people.  Find smart people that are one text, phone call or message away. Trying to solve every problem by yourself, is a complete waste of time. Why not generate more great ideas, come up with better solutions and have more fun by gathering the input from your team of trusted advisors. No one of us is as smart as all of us! 

Lastly, learn like your life depends on it. If you want to 2x your company, then you (and your leadership team) need to 3x your rate of learning. By the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. Change is constant. Change is accelerating, therefore learning must be a survival skill. 

Perhaps you have heard the saying "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.” The moral of this saying is, “whether you are a lion or a gazelle, when you wake up, you better be running!” In today’s business world, “when you wake up you better be learning!” Your most productive you, is a good book away, another expert in your corner, and right in your sweet spot!

This content was written and shared by guest blogger Patrick Frazier.

As President of The Coaching Authority, Patrick Frazier brings over 20 years of experience in project leadership, process development, and management. Patrick had a successful management and process development run in both Information Technology and Operations for Citigroup Inc, as Senior Project Manager and Vice President Statement Processing. He was also Director of System Development and Project Manager for Associates Financial Services.

Patrick is a certified Gravitas Impact executive coach, Total Quality Facilitator, Adventures in Attitude Facilitator, and Six Sigma Yellow Belt. He is certified in Rising Stars and ADVanced Insight. He has a BS in Computer Science from Missouri Western State College. Patrick also has experience in Youth and Nonprofit arenas, such as his past involvement with College Success Collation, Upward Basketball as Michiana Director, and the Hope Rescue Mission, as Volunteer Benefit Organizer. Additionally, Patrick is the Executive CAB Leader for the Christian Business Fellowship.

Connect with Patrick on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Visit his Web Site at https://coachingauthority.net

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.”