Happy February Everyone!
This is an update on my fourth week interning at The Lightning Jar. We sent out our January newsletter yesterday, and I was so surprised to see how much was packed into one month - all the events and so many wonderful people we met on the way.
On Monday, Wally Lother, a Financial Advisor at VSECU visited us and taught a course on “Financial Planning Basics”. I had an opportunity to learn more about creating budgets, investment concepts, and credit fundamentals. This was followed by a one on one financial planning session where I learned a lot about my own finances. If you want to retire in your 50s, then you should give Wally a visit at VSECU, and guess what? It is free of charge! We heard other people wanted to attend so we are going to do it again in March.
On Wednesday night, I audited the StartUp 802 course at the Community College of Vermont (CCV) in Bennington. I had an amazing time and was so happy to meet all of the people wanting to be entrepreneurs. They were hardworking, really engaged with their peers and they were all from different age groups and backgrounds! I can’t wait to see their amazing ideas grow in a local business! StartUp 802 is a 6 week course designed to help people understand the entrepreneurial mindset. It also exposes them to various principles to make business dreams come true such as practicing pitches and developing a networking plan. It's been a collaborative project between CCV and The Lightning Jar, and taught by Robert Braathe, who is an amazing instructor and an entrepreneur himself. He has worked for Disney, GAP, and Apple. He is also the founder of BE Your Start.
Lastly, it was quite a learning experience to see how much work goes into putting together the newsletter. While a bit challenging to understand the website it's built on, it was cool to see the final product and how many subscribers it has (over 500 people!). I had fun putting it together with Joelle, especially looking back at all of our fun times with all the people we met to get the word out about what is happening at The Lightning Jar and in the Bennington community.
I am really happy that my January has been wonderful. We faced some challenging projects but with a lot of hard work we got accomplished our goals. Can't wait for week 5!
Hi there! I can't believe it's my third week at The Lightning Jar and how I am already at the halfway point of my field work term. This week, we focused mostly on the internal organization and all the things that need to be done for it to run. I got a deeper understanding of how an organization runs (inside and outside) from the budget allocation, events planning, marketing, understanding grants, collaboration with other organizations and much more. It's all pretty incredible and a lot of work.
Additionally, we have successfully planned two events for the first two weeks of February - “Joe w/ Jo” at Powers Market (details at The Lightning Jar Facebook page) and “Pizza and Podcasts” - details to come this week on our Facebook page! It was great to meet people from both Powers Market and United Counseling Services who were more than happy to collaborate on these fun and community-focused events. We also focused on the space and how to make it more open and functional as well as Joelle teaching me how to create a budget. I didn't realize all the things you need to think about. As hard as it was, I enjoyed learning about it and look forward to our event on Monday, Financial Planning Basics.
Something that was really cool was visiting local artist Jackie Kelly at her studio. We met her through one of our connections at a Joe w/Jo event and we just finished decorating our walls with her amazing work. There are so many beautiful paintings filling the walls of our space till the middle of April. We are planning to change the paintings quarterly. Our members really like them as they are so colorful and bright. The Lightning Jar wants to provide its walls for local artists to show their work - if you are an artist and want to collaborate then we would love to talk and plan with you. If you are passing by our area, feel free to stop by to enjoy Jackie’s stunning work. Check out her story in our January Newsletter where she talks more about how she began painting and how she paints for great causes.
We've also begun creating an Instagram account for The Lightning Jar, and I look forward to building that up more as there is so much to share. Can't wait for week four!
My second week has been wonderful at The Lightning Jar!
Joelle and I met Jim Verzino, an entrepreneur who has co-founded many socially responsible businesses focused around energy, waste management and workforce. I learned a lot about the challenges for entrepreneurs in Vermont because of its many geographical locations, but also the opportunities the "Vermont" branding in the US market. Jim has already become one of my role models looking at his many contributions to the community and the environment.
I am also really happy with our success at organizing “Buzzword Bingo!” at TLJ this past Tuesday evening. We were joined by James Salerno (Hale Mountain Research and BAM - Bennington Area Makers) and students from Bennington College who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs. The event was planned to be both educational and fun. Sharing lots of laughs with food and drink, we learned a lot watching TED Talks and Shark Tank videos, but we also learned the most listening to each others opinions and dreams. The TED Talks on what happens when you answer SPAM was a highlight getting many laughs and hearing about a man becoming an entrepreneur at 66 was inspiring. Why don't we have a "70 over 70" list?! Thanks to James and his generous gift donations, everyone went home a winner with awesome prizes!
I also had an amazing opportunity to sit in on the interview for the Working Communities Challenge grant. The team who applied was a collaboration of different organizations from the Bennington community. It filled me with great happiness to see so many like-minded people putting a huge effort to fight the issues of generational poverty in Bennington and thinking beyond - to make a change in the bigger economic system of the community.
On Friday, Joelle and I were invited to speak about The Lightning Jar at the Bennington Rotary Club's January meeting on Friday. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to share our vision with rotary members and thinking of how we can collaborate to build a Bennington as an entrepreneurial hub focused on improving the quality of life.
In the last two weeks, I have met so many awesome people, and all of them have made me see the wonders of the Bennington community. Each day I am finding one more reason as to why the Bennington community is the best. Thank you to all I have met over the past two weeks of my journey, I can’t wait to keep meeting new people and also working with those who I have already met.
I hope to see you on January 27th at The Lightning Jar (12-1pm) for the Financial Planning Basics workshop hosted by The Lightning Jar and VSECU.
As we launch strongly into 2020 (can you believe it's 2020?) I wondered what could really be useful to our community of entrepreneurs?
When you read the title of this blog, did you think Steve Jobs or what might have happened to your car when you didn't pay attention backing out of a parking spot during holiday shopping? If it's the latter than be prepared to read about how my life pivoted a year ago. A year ago, my family and I moved from Colorado to Vermont. You heard that right - we left Colorado. TWICE. Once in 2008 and again in 2018. A lot of things transpired in 2018, but one of the biggies was coming across this quote from Steve Jobs, who tragically passed at age 56. "We're here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?" How true.
It's been 34 days at The Lightning Jar and even that is not really accurate - it's the "at" that is the misnomer. My point is that while I've only been at the helm for 34 days, I've had the most amazing time visiting other co-working spaces/innovation hubs, and meeting people who have shown me a whole new world (e.g. Middlebury, Albany, Troy, Burlington, Springfield, Hartland, Keene). It's a world filled with creative thinkers, risk takers and those seeking to fulfill entrepreneurial dreams. (And yes, I always have to think and visualize how to spell the various forms of entrepreneur until I see that red line disappear and I know I've spelled it correctly.) So let's talk about that - what does the word "entrepreneur" mean? According to Merriam-Webster, entrepreneur (noun) means: one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. Hmmm, that's not how I would describe the incredibly talented entrepreneurs I've met these past 34 days. How about we give Entrepreneur.com a try? According to Steve Tobak's article, "The True Meaning of Entrepreneur" (entrepreneur.com/article/244565), being an entrepreneur is not a job. He then states, quite strongly, that anyone aspiring to be an entrepreneur should paste the following equation on his/her smart phone, mirror or wherever you will see it most:
ENTREPRENEUR + CAPITAL = PRODUCTS + CUSTOMERS = BUSINESS
He goes on to provide some examples of real world entrepreneurs (CEOs of Snapchat and Whole Foods), but concludes with you can't be a successful entrepreneur by just wanting to be one. You begin by identifying a customer problem and a product that solves it. The next step - capital. Then make the product, market it and gain customers. Of course, I would interject that many, many iterations of this process will ensue (and a lot of necessary failures), but, after a lot of determination, and with an insatiable need and passion to create your product, you'll become what Tobak sums up this way: "Someday you’ll wake up and realize what you’ve become: a guy who took a risk, started a business, and made money. An entrepreneur."
What do you think? What does "entrepreneur" mean to you? I'd love to hear your thoughts (email@example.com), or give a call at 802-321-3070 to arrange a tour of The Lightning Jar. We are always eager to talk to those who are creative, have great ideas and who want to be an "entrepreneur".
Cheers - JSG
What is an entrepreneurial mindset?
What does it take to succeed?
Being an entrepreneur is a lot more than simply creating or managing a business. Develop the skills and mindset needed to recognize opportunity, innovate, explore creative ideas, and learn what it takes to start a business.
To register, contact Nicole Stetson at CCV-Bennington: (802) 447-2361 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Braathe of BE Your Start is a speaker, educator and mentor delivering engaging, interactive presentations on topics such as Marketing, Communications, Human Resources, Education, and more. His years in management with Disney, Gap and Apple as well as his 12 years as a business consultant and startup consultant give him unique perspectives on a wide array of topics. He has also mentored entrepreneurs through consultations, accelerator programs, college classes and high school programs.
The Lightning Jar
Bennington's first collaborative coworking space for entrepreneurs, students, and professionals.