Fargo INC! March 2022

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Sponsored Content: The New Era of Branded Video Content


Sponsored Content: You Can Bank On Us


Sponsored Content: Your OneStop Technology Shop


Leadership Lessons from the United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program


Congratulations to the 2022 United Way 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program Class


Imagine This!: An Introduction To Extreme Targeting For Small Businesses


Working In Your Business vs Getting Lost In It – A Reality Check For Entrepreneurs


10 Questions With John Machacek: 3D-Fuel and Fargo 3D Printing


Legal Planning For Inflation


Academic Insight



Sponsored Content: Helping workers achieve financial wellness benefits businesses

Ladyboss Of The Month: Jessieca Bledsoe

MARCH 2022






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1515 42nd Street South

E d i t o r ’s n o t e

Congratulations To The 2022 United Way 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program Class


fter a year off due to the pandemic, the United Way's 35 Under 35 Leadership Program is back with a tremendous group of participants who we are proud to feature in this magazine. However, it's not just these 35 women who get to participate in the program, now you can as well! We, along with the United Way of Cass-Clay, have come to realize that everyone in the community could stand

to benefit from the lessons learned within the 35 Under 35 Leadership Program. That's why we worked with a handful of this year's speakers to bring a portion of their presentations to the pages of this magazine. Hopefully, you can learn something that will help you grow personally and professionally.

Brady Drake Fargo INC! Editor

Brady Drake, Fargo INC! Editor





FMWF Chamber of Commerce

Emerging Prairie

President and CEO

As I look forward to this new season, I am filled with anticipation and excitement to see what is next for our growing region. This is also a great time to reflect on the leaders, creators, dreamers, innovators and go-getters who make our community, region and state vibrant and thriving. Women are a vital part of the workforce, and I'm excited to see the increasing number of women-owned businesses and women in leadership roles. The Chamber aims to support female leaders and heighten their impact, and strives to provide resources, tools and connections to enhance the journey of being a woman in the business world. The United Way's 35 Under 35, Ladyboss Midwest and The Chamber's Women Connect are a few of the many programs that have filled an incredibly important gap in our community and have grown to become flagship experiences and communities for the women of our community. We congratulate and support all of the women leaders and business owners in our community, and look forward to what we will accomplish today and in the future.


MARCH 2022

Director of Ecosystem

I've had the honor of being involved with Fargo INC! since the beginning. Having started with Spotlight right out of college, I had the honor of leading a team that helped scale the magazine. After moving to Emerging Prairie, I still had the honor of helping tell Fargo-Moorhead's great entrepreneurial story. As you all know, there's something special happening in our region. Every day, I've had the honor of hearing founders tell me their stories of passion, heartache and triumph. It's important we support those risk-takers. I'm excited to introduce you to Jenny Sheets who will be leading the Entrepreneurial Programming for Emerging Prairie. Starting next month, she'll be taking on the lead role working with Fargo INC! as I switch over to focus on building Grand Farm. After having played a role with the magazine, I can't wait to watch what happens next. With that being said, I won't be going anywhere. If you're interested in getting involved in Grand Farm, please reach out at andrewj@ emergingprairie.com.



Moore Holding Company

FM Area Foundation


Leadership quotes are everywhere, but this one from John Quincy Adams really sticks with me: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” I like it because it gets to the heart of what I think leadership is about: vision and inspiration. Leaders are able to paint a future and then provide the generous spirit and energy to compel others to get there. It’s magical at times, especially when the impact of leadership is so apparent – like when a company takes a dramatic turn in a positive direction. In those cases, it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint where the inspiration for change arose. It’s not necessarily from the top of an organizational chart. But we know it came from somewhere, and someone. We can all lead, from whatever chair we find ourselves. As Adams said, if your actions inspire others in positive ways, you are a leader.


The FM Area Foundation has been a longtime partner with our United Way of Cass and Clay County. Their work here has created a lasting impact and we support the mission and vision of our United Way. We want to congratulate all of United Way’s 35 Under 35. We look forward to seeing what each of you does to make our community a more vibrant place to live, full of opportunities for everyone. Like the United Way, the FM Area Foundation is dedicated to building a strong community. We do this by encouraging and working beside our local citizens to support local charities and causes. Together, through charitable giving, we drive local impact in our community and beyond. If you are looking to make an impact in an area you are passionate about, reach out to the FM Area Foundation today or visit fmareafoundation.org. Giving should be easy, let us help!



The Executives Club of Fargo - Moorhead

Greater FM Economic Development Corporation

Founder and Director

This month we’re recognizing and celebrating an outstanding group of local business leaders, the 35 Under 35. I’m terribly envious of these young individuals, who’ve found their direction; are on a purposeful path; and have an intentional focus on leadership. Twenty years ago, when I was 35, I was without a job, essentially broke, living in a hotel room in Las Vegas, with absolutely no direction, no purpose and no focus. It still took me another 10 years after that, to even begin to find direction and purpose in my life. Today, working for The Executives’ Club of FargoMoorhead, I have the privilege of sharing in the lives of some or our area’s best young business leaders and entrepreneurs. Each club meeting, I am inspired by their innovation and determination, as are many of our more seasoned, more grayish Members. Our hats off to this year’s 35 Under 35! -Kurt McSparron

Chief Innovation Officer

I turn 50 this March, which feels weird but also feels good. The weird is the “What, I’m 50!?! Didn’t I just turn 30 a few years ago?” The good is that, even though your body & metabolism seem to go to pot as you age, aging brings you the benefits of wisdom and perspective. My first 30+ years were filled with clueless naivete and self-doubt, but it’s been the good, the bad and the ignorant experiences in life mixed in with self-reflection that make the 50year old John who I am. The 50-year old John appreciates each day as none of us know when our last day will come; I know that any time with family and friends is the best time; I strive to be positive, productive, realistic and easygoing; I find joy in doing what little things I can to help others and the community. With that last part, I am very appreciative of the GFMEDC organization and leadership that allows me to be in a role, and understands the value of that role, where much of what I do is to be a friendly, resourceful, and engaged concierge-like person who is there to pay attention, ask questions, always be learning and help connect the dots for organizations and individuals.


Lead Content & Public Relations Strategist

United Way of Cass-Clay

"Great leaders encourage leadership development by openly developing themselves." -Marshall Goldsmith As human beings, it is in our nature to make assumptions. When we meet other people it’s easy to glance at their title, credentials, and list of experiences and assume that since they are at a certain level in their career or their life that they must have it all figured out. Can you relate to that feeling? For the past few weeks, I have had the honor of connecting with some of the leaders and experts featured in this month’s issue. At United Way, we are fortunate and grateful that they volunteer their time as speakers and mentors for our United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program. And yet these talented, accomplished people have taken it one step further and graciously offered to share their expertise with all of us – the readers of Fargo INC and the greater community. In working with these tremendous leaders who are experts in their fields, there has been one resounding common thread – they’re all openly seeking opportunities to develop themselves as leaders and learn. They asked good questions and pondered the value of the words they were about to share. They approached the opportunity with humble, authentic hearts – with a goal of taking this opportunity to keep improving, and seeking more knowledge from those around them. They openly talked about their own journey of self-development and while at times it sometimes surprised me (come on, these people are amazing!) it only encouraged me even more to find ways to keep learning and growing. At United Way, we truly hope you feel that same inspiration to be the best leader you can be, and encourage those around you to do the same. Together, UNITED, we’re stronger.



Meet the team MIKE























Learn more about us at SpotlightMediaFargo.com


Helping workers achieve financial wellness benefits businesses At a time when hiring and retaining quality employees is a challenge, some businesses are finding success by focusing on employee financial wellness, not just salaries (although those are important too). This strategy can not only boost recruitment and retention efforts but also improve employee productivity. After all, financial concerns are a leading cause of stress and distraction for workers, which can spill into working hours.

and became more savvy about comparing offerings. Meanwhile, it also became readily apparent to many why safety net insurance, like life insurance or long-term disability coverage, is so valuable. Employers should reexamine their offerings and consider offering or promoting these benefits as part of a complete package.

Businesses can help employees achieve financial wellness by partnering with business advisors and benefits providers who make wellness a focus. These programs offer one-on-one and group sessions to guide employees, along with tools they can use to manage their individual goals and progress, helping workers take control and gain confidence without requiring the employer to manage the programs.

Retirement accounts are still one of the most visible and attractive benefits for employees, but like all aspects of financial wellness, they need to be used properly to have the desired impact. Managed accounts allow participants to prioritize their retirement goals and provide personalized strategies, making it easy to take action and navigate retirement planning with confidence.

Look for ways to help employees take action

People have the best of intentions when it comes to financial wellness but often fall just short of taking action. Employers can help overcome inertia by making it easy to engage – let employees talk with advisors during business hours, offer virtual meetings, and reward participation. Don’t forget the importance of education in financial wellness. Consider recording financial education sessions so employees can view them when it’s convenient.

Get creative to help employees save

One of the hardest financial wellness goals for many people to achieve is building emergency savings. Employers can help encourage their employees to save by choosing a financial wellness program that includes the option for employees to establish emergency savings accounts. These accounts offer a higher yield if the account owner deposits funds on a regular basis and lets it build up. Helping employees set up automatic deposits from their paycheck makes it even easier for them to save.

Managed account programs provide personalized retirement strategies

Make financial wellness easy for businesses to administer, too

Making it easy to take action applies to employers, too. Offering a financial wellness program should be as easy to set up and administer as it is to use. Fortunately, the trend towards automation, online self-serve portals, and remote assistance from professionals allows business owners and administrators the same kind of convenience and time-savings the program is designed to deliver for workers. At Alerus, delivering holistic financial wellness is part of our mission. We have been innovating our offerings over the years, and like many organizations we made a major investment in digital engagement and technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. We now offer more webinars, remote meetings, and online tools than ever before. Talk to one of our benefits specialists to learn more about our workplace financial wellness offerings and how they can help your business and employees thrive together.

Employee interest in health, disability, and life insurance has spiked

The COVID-19 pandemic raised awareness and interest in all types of insurance. Many workers took a closer look at their health insurance

Deposit products are offered through Alerus Financial, N.A. Member FDIC. Trust products and services are offered through Alerus Financial, N.A. (Alerus), which does not provide legal or tax advice. Registered representatives of Alerus Securities may offer investment and insurance products and services through INFINEX INVESTMENTS, INC. Member FINRA/SIPC. Alerus Securities is trade name of Alerus. Infinex and Alerus are not affiliated. The information and opinions in this communication are for general information only and not intended to provide tax or legal advice or recommendations for any particular situation or type of retirement plan. Plan sponsors should always consult the plan’s legal counsel or tax advisor for advice regarding plan-specific issues. Statements of fact are from sources considered reliable but no representation or warranty is made as to their completeness or accuracy. The opinions presented in this communication are subject to change without notice. Investment and Insurance products: 1) are not FDIC insured; 2) are not deposits or obligations of a bank; and 3) involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal amount invested.

MARCH 2022 Volume 7 Issue 3

Fargo INC! is published 12 times a year and is available at area businesses and online at FargoInc.com. Publisher EDITORIAL Editorial Team Lead Editors

Mike Dragosavich Brady Drake FargoInc@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Geneva Nodland, Grant Ayers

Graphic Designer

Kim Cowles

Creative Strategist

Josiah Kopp

Contract Photographer Contributors

INTERACTIVE Business Development Manager Business Development Associate Videographers Graphic Designer

Jeremy Albright Ladyboss Midwest, Shontarius D. Aikens, Tom Kading, Josh Marineau, John Machacek, Shawn Peterson, Collette Campbell, Eric Piela, Kara Jorvig, Karla Isley, Katie Ehlis, Chris Thompson, Annie Wood, Nick Schommer Kellen Feeney Tommy Uhlir, Robert Whiteside Ben Buchanan

Web Designer ADVERTISING VP of Business Development Sales Representatives

Kellan Benson Paul Hoefer Paul@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Al Anderson Al@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Devan Maki Devan@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Client Relations Client Relations Manager Marketing & Client Strategist

ClientRelations@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Jenny Johnson Brita Fagerlund

Marketing Coordinator

Jessica Mullen

Social Media Content Specialist

Meagan Stock

ADMINISTRATION Operations Administrator Operations Analyst DISTRIBUTION Delivery

Kodi Geris-Schroeder Tara Schwan John Stuber

Fargo INC! is published by Spotlight LLC, Copyright 2022 Fargo INC! & FargoInc.com. All rights reserved. No parts of this magazine may be reproduced or distributed without written permission of Fargo INC!, and Spotlight LLC, is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to or reliance on such information. Spotlight LLC, accepts no liability for the accuracy of statements made by the advertisers.

Spotlight, LLC 4609 33rd Ave S Suite #304 Fargo, ND 58104 or info@spotlightmediafargo.com ADVERTISING: 701-478-SPOT (7768)


Come with us as we explore some of the wonderful tattoo and piercing artists leaving a mark on our community!

The championship issue is out now! Relive NDSU's unprecedented 9th FCS Championship season in all its glory.


The New Era of Branded Video Content t’s 1941, and you’re sitting in your living room in Brooklyn, NY. All of a sudden, an advertisement from the Bulova Watch Company comes across the 10-inch screen of your RCA TV set and you’re thinking to yourself: what the hell is this?! With the innumerable ways that we’re advertised to on a daily basis now, it’s hard to take a step back and imagine what life was like 80 years ago when the first TV commercial aired. As time roared on, brands continued to develop new ways to get their marketing messages to the masses. From traditional cable to OTT and social media, you can’t spend more than a few minutes staring at a screen without being served branded content. Still, brands continue to ask: What’s the best way to reach my audience & grow my customer base? Usher in the era of TikTok and Instagram Reels. Sure, we’ve all gotten to know the dance trends and new influencers who have infiltrated pop culture. But the root of our fascination with TikTok and Instagram Reels goes much deeper than the zeitgeist of the 2020s. As consumers, we’ve fallen in love with the personalized experience of shortform video content that is tailored to our interests. And as business owners, it’s time we take notice. The Case for Getting Your Business on TikTok and Instagram Reels My last four jobs have involved, in some capacity, managing our company’s content marketing. I understand the time, money and creative resources that get expended on trying to boost an organization’s engagement. It’s a lot. Some might argue that throwing TikTok or Instagram into the mix just adds more time and resources. I’d argue


MARCH 2022


• Jump on Trends: imitation is the highest form of flattery, particularly on these social platforms. With TikTok in particular, trending sounds are much more likely to gain traction than trying to create your own. Add your own flare to an existing sound that is trending on TikTok, and watch your numbers grow!

that supplanting some of your current content with more short-form video content can allow you to make the MOST of your resources. Here’s why: • TikTok’s user base is huge, and still growing. TikTok has over 1 billion monthly active users (compared to 395 million users on Twitter and 310 million on LinkedIn)

• Consistency is Key: you’re going to want to post at least 3 times a week. Ideally, more. To use an example from our office: we had been putting up about 2-3 TikToks a week for a few months before we finally had a video “blow up.” We went from 80 followers to almost 2,000 in about a week, and had a video receive 650k views (when previous videos were getting about 500 views on average). Don’t give up when your results are minimal at first–keep plugging away and let the algorithm do its work.

• Short-form video content is more engaging. On both Instagram Reels and TikTok, you’re dealing with a captive audience who is ready to engage with your content. Other social platforms can involve more passive viewership, and it’s harder to get the same amount of video views & interactions. • Advertising is affordable on both platforms. Once you tie in advertising, you’ll realize extremely low CPMs on both Instagram and TikTok compared with alternative social platforms. CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) are around $12 on Instagram and $10 on TikTok, compared with $20+ on YouTube.

• Keep Your Brand in Mind: it’s important to know who you are, and know who your business is. Don’t sacrifice your brand voice or brand morals, but rather ensure that all of your short-form video is ‘on brand’ with who you are. People will pay attention and appreciate your commitment to the bit, and your timeline of videos will seem more consistent and original.

• TikTok is becoming popular with (almost) every audience. The largest age group on TikTok is still 10-19 at 25%. However, 22.4% of the audience make-up is 20-29, 21.7% is 30-39, and 20.3% is 40-49. Between 2018 and 2020 alone, the number of American adults using TikTok grew 5.5 times.

• Dedicate a Small Team: it takes a village, and it’s important that you have one. Trying to maintain your content as a single person can be tough! Instead, try to get a committee of individuals who are willing to contribute to the cause–even if their contributions merely involve being “actors” or “actresses” in your videos. Ideally, you’d have a group of 3 or more people to help brainstorm ideas and carry out the execution of the videos.

Advice for Maximizing Your Success on TikTok or Instagram Reels If you’re a business owner, marketing professional, or office administrator that’s looking to get started on TikTok or Instagram Reels–it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Getting started can be an uphill battle, and growing your audience of followers will require a concerted effort from your content team. Some tips to help get you started include: • Be a Viewer Before a Creator: trying to start creating short-form videos before watching what others are doing is akin to trying to writing a novel, but never reading. It’s important to understand the platforms you’re trying to use, and you must become a fan before you start creating. When all else fails, lean on the TikTok user in your office for some ideas on how your team can start making content.

Learning More About ShortForm Videos and Social Media Marketing If you’re interested in learning more about short-form video and the ins and outs of managing your social media accounts, consider attending AAF-ND’s March Speaker. On March 16th, former Fargoan and current social media extraordinaire Maren Hamilton will be speaking to our audience at the Sanctuary Events Center. You can visit aaf-nd.org to learn about reserving your ticket!

• Make Your Content Feel Native to the Platform: it will be obvious when you try to cut down a long-form video that you used to introduce your brand on YouTube or on a Hulu ad. Make content that feels unique and native to TikTok or Instagram Reels, and ensure that there’s no awkward cropping or truncating of important information. Whether you’re using Adobe Premiere or editing your videos on your phone, get it right and get it tight. Make sure your videos are within the guidelines for TikTok or Instagram (ideal pixels and video settings, and length) for optimal performance.




YOU CAN BANK ON US At First Western Bank & Trust, we like to say, “You can bank on us.” It means you can count on us to make decisions locally for your personal banking, business banking, ag banking, trust services, insurance and mortgages serviced by us. We see people full of potential, and work hard to provide them with the personal, business, and agricultural financing they need. We’re an independently owned bank offering a full range of financial products. You can count on us to provide you with the conveniences and innovative solutions you want.

firstwestern.bank Member FDIC

Business Banking Whether you are a new or seasoned entrepreneur, the business bankers and lenders at First Western Bank & Trust have the expertise to meet your business banking needs. From small business lending to specialized business products and services, all decisions are made locally. No business is too small or too large for us.

Business Accounts John Jessen

ND East Region President

To best serve you and your business, First Western offers a variety of business and nonprofit checking and savings accounts and services with options to save you time and money. Choose from accounts that offer lower minimum balances or opening balances, accounts that are interest bearing, and accounts that come with our professional account analysis services.

Business Financing First Western Bank & Trust provides lending options for all business owners. We are a certified SBA lending institution, and we work with the Bank of North Dakota to provide you with programs that best fit your business. Please visit with one of our experienced commercial lenders to discuss the resources and tools we offer. Business credit card, Commercial real estate loans, Term loans, Working capital loans / lines of

Jace Holm

Business Banking Officer

credit, Special loan programs, Letters of credit

Insurance The right insurance coverage is important for the financial wellbeing of your business. Through First Western Insurance and many of the nation’s leading insurance providers, we can help make sure you’re covered for property, bonds, worker’s compensation, and various types of liability including professional liability, employment practices liability and more.

Online Services for Business Emily Larby

Business Banking Officer

Businesses need more than just access to the standard online services like fund transfers, loan and bill payments, eStatements, and initiating wire transfers. That’s why First Western Bank & Trust offers solutions specifically for creating business efficiency.

Cash Management Commercial Cash Management is a service for businesses looking for an online financial management tool. With it, you can originate ACH files, credits or debits for direct deposit of payroll or collection of receivables.

Remote Deposit Easily deposit checks electronically without a trip to the bank. We provide and install your new check scanner. There is no need to purchase or maintain software — it’s all webbased. Our local staff will come to you for set up, hands-on training, and ongoing support. Gerald Brossart

SVP Commercial Banking Manager

855 26th Ave East, West Fargo, ND 58078 • 701-551-1320 • firstwestern.bank


Ag Banking The Ag Lending staff at First Western Bank & Trust understands the financial constraints placed on our local farmers and ranchers. Your expenses are paid at retail and your income is at wholesale. You put in the long hours and the late nights because your operation is your way of life. For over 40 years, we have been there with you. We offer ag financing in-house or jointly with the Farm Services Agency and Bank of North Dakota. Annual Operating Loans and Lines of Credit, Livestock Purchases, Ag Machinery / Equipment Purchases, Farm Infrastructure, Ag Real Estate, Crop Hail Insurance

Michael Schaefer Let one of our experienced and trusted Ag Lenders help you build a better tomorrow for your business!

VP Ag Lending

Mortgage Loans Buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make. When you need financing to make your dream home a reality, First Western Bank & Trust is here for you with local decision-making and loan servicing. We offer all types of mortgage loans including: Conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, First-time home buyer loans, Construction loans, Home equity loans, Home equity lines of credit

We can help you find the mortgage product that best fits your criteria and get prequalified. That way, you know what you can afford before you begin the search for your perfect home or begin the planning and building process.

Brenda Holman

Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS # 686727

Michael Mihulka

Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS # 686731

Sarah Bulik

Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS # 1002134

Nick Soltis

Mortgage Loan Associate NMLS # 1957936

855 26th Ave East, West Fargo, ND 58078 • 701-551-1320 • firstwestern.bank

Kailey Boraas

Mary Dissette

Shawn Dye

Caley Perleberg

Ross Perleberg

John Stibbe

Mark Strand

Joan Wrolstad

Trust Officer

Trust Officer

Trust Officer

SVP Eastern ND Trust Manager

Trust Officer

VP Senior Trust Officer

AVP Trust Portfolio Officer

AVP Trust Officer

Trust Services Financial security and wealth management are an integral part of how we help individuals, families and business owners benefit from their resources now and in the years to come. First Western Bank & Trust delivers trust services on a local level. Whether you are an individual or an employer in need of retirement plans, investments or other ways of protecting your assets, our experienced and tenured staff are here to help.

Asset and investment management We can help tailor investment options to meet your goals. Our team has the expertise to manage portfolios for trust investments, retirement accounts and other investing needs.

Employer-provided retirement plans Employers can offer their employees attractive benefits with help from our team. With administrative investment, administrative and trustee services available, we offer profit-sharing plans, employee 401(k) plans, individual 401(k), and safe harbor 401(k) plans for a variety of needs.

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) Let us help you find the best choices for traditional and Roth IRAs, so you get the best tax benefit and funds that help you reach the retirement you deserve.

Personal trust and investment services We can help make sure your wealth is both protected and used according to your wishes in the future. Services we provide include living trust, testamentary trust, charitable trusts, mineral trusts, managing agent for investments, or farm and land

855 26th Ave East, West Fargo, ND 58078 • 701-551-1320 • firstwestern.bank


Online Services Online banking is available for all personal and business accounts at First Western Bank & Trust. This allows you to bank at your convenience with instant access to your accounts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Transfer funds, make loan and bill payments, check balances and set up important alerts. You can also take advantage of Zelle®, the handy person-toperson payment app.

iPay (Bill Pay) Pay your bills from anywhere, at any time with iPay. You can receive helpful email or text reminders when payments are due, send payments with a simple click, and automate recurring payments so your bills are always paid on time.

Diana Chase

VP Universal Banking Manager & Senior Consumer Lender NMLS # 636678

eStatements View your monthly statements electronically through our website.

Mobile Banking For banking on the go, our new mobile app is a cleaner, simpler, more secure platform than ever — available for both iOS and Android devices.

Zelle® person-to-person payment Zelle® is a great way to send money to friends and family, even if they bank somewhere different than you do. (They must have a checking or savings account at a participating bank in the United States.) It’s fast and free to use, so it’s easy to pitch in or get paid back for all sorts of things.

855 26th Ave East, West Fargo, ND 58078 • 701-551-1320 • firstwestern.bank

ADVANCE YOUR CAREER GRADUATE PROGRAMS Accountancy (MAcc) Business Administration (MBA, MBA in Agribusiness) Business Analytics (MSBA, Certificate) Digital Marketing and Innovation (Certificate) Enterprise Resource Planning—ERP (Certificate) Leadership and Managerial Skills (Certificate) Supply Chain Management (MSCM, Certificate) Transportation and Logistics (PhD)





Your One-Stop Technology Shop

About/History Our story begins in 1997 when Don Rubertus, our President & Founder with 14-years of previous Telcom experience, made the decision to start his own business and focus on what was new technology at the time, Voice Over IP (VOIP) phone systems in the Fargo/ Moorhead market. In January 1997 Don formed a new company called Network Center Communications (NCC). Due to Don’s foresight, we were the first company in the area to offer and install a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone system that same year.


MARCH 2022

With the help of co-owners Kent Bergeron & Jim Nagel, NCC originally focused on communications, security cameras, access control, audio visual, voice/data, and fiber optic cabling. Looking forward they knew that data was the future of business technology and proceeded to hire and grow further into the data industry. In 2008, we expanded our offerings to include IT services to better serve our customers and meet the demands of our evergrowing data-centric world. In 2019, we changed our name to NetCenter Technologies, to better reflect what we do – technology. We are your locally trusted onestop-shop for all of your business’ technology needs, serving the Fargo area and beyond.

Meet Don Rubertus, President & Founder of NetCenter

25 Years of Trust

Celebrating 25 Years of Industry-Leading Technology NCT is celebrating 25 years of trust, what three main things do you attribute to in building that trust? Employees: We wouldn’t be this far without the dedication of our employees and the relationships they’ve built over the years with our customers. Cutting-Edge Technology: Always looking to find a solution to meet a customer’s needs with the latest technology. Quality Service: Our technicians are local, so we can provide immediate response times, when customers call in there is someone from the FargoMoorhead-West Fargo

community there to help them. What does that 25-year legacy mean to you? It feels great to know we’ve made so many new friends and helped so many clients over the years work more efficiently and more profitable using the technologies we provide. NCT is a one-stop technology shop, which is a great way to set you apart from competitors. What other unique experiences can you provide to your customers?

Moorhead-West Fargo and surrounding area. We are focused on serving our community and money stays local. Nimble—We are large enough to be able to serve our customers with quality support, but small enough to be able to make decisions quickly. Proactive instead of reactive in our support.

NEC Corporation of America (NEC) is a leading technology integrator providing solutions that improve the way people work and communicate. Through phone solutions, such as IP, hosted, digital, and more, we deliver one of the industry's strongest and most innovative communication solutions. Contact NetCenter Technologies at 701-235-8100 or sales@netcentertech.com to learn more about NEC’s offerings.

Local company with a dedication to the FargoFARGOINC.COM



26th St NW 3RD AVE NW

Looking Ahead NetCenter's Vision for the Next 25 Years


94 94

As NetCenter looks ahead into the next 25 years, their sights are set on continually growing and further excelling in providing products and tools that will have a positive lasting effect on the people they serve. NetCenter is focused on four main objectives as they set their sights on the next 25 years. The first is growth in the company, of course, but more importantly their impact on the community. The second is training for all their employees so they can continue to excel in their position, from IT help desk to sales, they can continue to improve the customer experience. The third is researching and implementing new technology to make the customer experience overall better, and lastly, explore new products for their customers, so NetCenter can remain on the cutting-edge of technology.

2536 Main Ave W, West Fargo, ND 58078 701.235.8100 netcentertech.com 36

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MARCH 2022

Leadership Lessons from the United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program By Karla Isley, President & CEO, United Way of Cass-Clay

"The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership." -Harvey Firestone We’ve all heard the quote that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, or are familiar with the notion that who you spend time with is who you become. At United Way, we are fortunate to have some of our communities’ brightest and most talented leaders serve as volunteers. These extraordinary leaders give of their time and energy to share their experiences and knowledge to help each of us grow as leaders and advocates. As each of us learn, our workplaces are enhanced with more talent and our community becomes a better, stronger place to call home. In this month’s issue, we’re giving you the opportunity to “meet” extraordinary leaders that volunteer their time as mentors and speakers for our United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program. These speakers and their valuable lessons are examples of the opportunities, within this program and in general, United Way is committed to providing for those involved with our work. By advancing our own knowledge, and learning to lead and inspire,

we can exponentially change our community’s culture and values for generations. Leadership development is more important than ever. New and complex challenges highlight the need for developing the talent and leadership skills of our workforce and our community members. It is imperative that we are encouraging employees, colleagues, and one another to develop leadership skills that will continue to propel us to success as a community. Leadership development is a lifetime journey, not a quick trip. -John C Maxwell Each year, United Way invests in a group of 35 women to encourage them on their leadership development journey through the 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program. The purpose of the program is to strengthen leadership skills and confidence, enhance the impact of women across our workplaces, homes, community, and above all inspire collaboration and unity. While we are excited to introduce you to the 35 local women participating in the program this year, we are ecstatic to be able to share with you – our greater community – and inspire each of you to continue on your own

leadership development journey by experiencing some of the same leadership lessons as this year’s participants. Great leaders encourage leadership development by openly developing themselves. -Marshall Goldsmith At United Way, we want to inspire our community to focus on the growth and development of people because we know that we will need innovative leaders to find solutions to our communities’ biggest challenges. United Way works to bring together community leaders, nonprofit organizations, companies, volunteers, and donors to find solutions to community issues such as student success, hunger, homelessness, and lifting families out of poverty – issues that impact each of us as leaders and community members. We invite you to learn more about United Way of Cass-Clay’s vision and our 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program at unitedwaycassclay. org. I am excited for the future of our community as I see people investing in themselves, just as you are in reading this article, to be the best leaders we can be, and inspiring and encouraging others to do the same.






MARCH 2022

Uncovering Your Core Values and Maximizing Their Power By Annie Wood, Associate Director for Student Life, Minnesota State University Moorhead


he word “values” gets thrown around often, and if we never pause to reflect on what our values really are, it’s pretty likely that we’ll default to whatever values are put in front of us. You probably know some of the common ones–the kind you often see in an artistic form on a company’s wall–integrity, trust, respect, generosity, yada yada yada. This is not to say that those couldn’t be your personal values. But until you spend time getting clear on the values that are true for you, all you’ll really have are words. Probably generic words. Words that don’t come alive for you because you haven’t dug deep to uncover the values that ring true for you. Generic values are challenging to live by because they aren’t connected to your authentic self. At least this was the case for me for a number of years. Personal values are a way of articulating what is important to us and how we will interact with the world. Our values permeate our lives. Sometimes we’re conscious of them. Sometimes we’re not. And whether they’re top-of-mind of not, they shape how we show up

as leaders, as teammates, as family members, as partners, as parents, as friends. I find that I operate very differently when I’m in alignment with my values vs. when I’m not. I challenge you to bring clarity to your values by investing some intentional “think time” in defining what they mean to you and what they look like in action. This can help you better understand what guides you and live a life that is true to yourself. Having well-defined values sounds nice, doesn’t it? Perhaps, though, you’re not really sure where to begin. I’ve got some good news: it’s possible for anyone to uncover and clarify their values. This idea of “defining your values” may seem like a squishy, hard-to-wrapyour-brain-around concept. But you’re in luck–I have a few guiding questions to help you move toward clarity. Pro Tip: It can also be helpful to seek out a list of commonly held values to build from. (There’s no shame in Googling a list of values! A favorite of mine comes from author James Clear (jamesclear.com/ core-values).

I have learned that so long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values– and follow my own moral compass– then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own. - Michelle Obama 42

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Challenge yourself to hone in on five core values. As you explore values, here are a few questions to ask: 1. Which of these values do I see showing up consistently in my life? Which values show up sometimes? Which values just don’t ring true for me? 2. Of the values that are resonating with me, are there any that are similar? Are there any that overlap in how I define them? 3. What has influenced my values? 4. What are actions I take consistently and how do those demonstrate my values? 5. What does each of these words mean to me and what does it look like in practice? A few reminders as you work on defining your values: 1. There are no right or wrong answers. Your values are what’s true for you. 2. If you ever find yourself thinking “I feel like this should be one of my values,”

that word "should" is a strong signal that idea is coming from an external source and not from within you. 3. There are no values that are “better” than any others. 4. Words are just words until you give them meaning. Challenge yourself to create a rich definition that includes the value in action. 5. Values are principles, priorities, ideals, or how we behave, while beliefs are convictions that we generally accept to be true. Values influence your decisions, choices, and interactions every day– basically your values are the undercurrent of your life. To plant your flag in the ground and say, “These are my values!” can be challenging and a little scary. Our proclamation means we have to be accountable to those values and commit to showing up in ways that demonstrate them. By sharing them, we are asking the people around us to both cheer us on and challenge us to live by those values. Committing to values can also be difficult because when we say

“yes” to something, it usually means we are de-prioritizing other things. Yet, being clear about what our values are can make decisions easier, because they guide us to invest our time and energy into what matters most to us. As we clarify our values, declare them to ourselves and others, and work to live in alignment with our values, it will be our actions and behaviors that demonstrate to us if we are really living out those values. Our values are more than just a simple list of words–our values are the rich definitions we create and the behaviors or actions that back them up. One of my deeply held values is “community.” And for me, it is so much more than just a word. To explore what my values look like in action, I often write out a description of the type of person I want to be through the lens of that value. One bullet point within my community definition is “I want to be a person who shows up for the people I care about.” Then, I spend some time thinking about how this type of person–someone who values community and shows up for people–would behave or actions that they would take. For example, a person who shows up for the people I care about would… check in with them through regular communication. She would know when their birthdays are

and acknowledge them. She would intentionally invest time in the relationships, spending time with those people. She would invite them to coffee or happy hour or dinner. She would ask them how they’re really doing and honor/ validate all of their emotions. She would celebrate their successes and cheer them on. She would organize a meal delivery when they have a baby. She would send a good old-fashioned note in the mail from time to time to brighten their day.

challenge yourself to use the questions I posed and start to uncover them. Wherever you’re at in your values journey, remember that values are your guide to living your truest, most beautiful, most authentic life.

You get the idea. And then, if I’m really honest about community being a value of mine–I must challenge myself to live this way. To take these actions, not just one time, but consistently. At the risk of sounding cliché, actions speak louder than words. I can say community is my value, but until I’m living it day in and day out, it’s just a word. It can be a challenge to really step back and look at how we spend our time and energy to see if we are consistently taking actions that demonstrate our values. So, I encourage you to think about the values that guide you. Perhaps you’ve given them a lot of thought and you feel clear about them– challenge yourself to look at how you’re living them every day. Perhaps you’re in a spot where you haven’t spent much time thinking about what values are true for you–

Why is uncovering the values of your team members important? So that I can be a leader who supports my team well, I need to understand what is important to my teammates and what motivates them. At the same time, I need to understand what would be out of alignment with their values. When I understand their individual values, we can co-create team values and shared expectations that serve us all while encouraging growth. I can also invite them to contribute in ways that align with their values, letting them really shine and work to avoid instances that would put them at odds with their values.




MARCH 2022

The Leadership Mindset By Chris Thompson, Founder & Owner, Chris Thompson Coaching LLC


he brain – a limitless machine of thinking, processing, and emotions. The results of what our brain does drive our actions at work, home, and play – and ultimately leads to our results in life. And with so much going on up there, it’s important to pause and be intentional about how we manage this amazing tool. For example, we could make excuses, blame others, or focus on the barriers. Or we could choose to live a life as big as we want, be open to taking risks, let go of what we think we “should” do and do what lights us up. Why not use our brain to lead ourselves? There is no one who knows us more intimately, cares more about our goals, or is more qualified to lead us to our future then each of us personally. And the best news is: it’s empowering. The Leadership Mindset puts us in the driver’s seat of our own life by utilizing cognitive science to be the boss of our own brain. I’ve had a lot of great roles throughout my career – from teaching high school students in Texas to starting my coaching business and leading teams at Microsoft in Fargo. And the examples of how people approach a situation leading to a related outcome are endless. As a

teacher, I would see firsthand students with the same background and resources encounter the same challenge, yet resulted in totally different outcomes. Then I saw adults in their workplaces, again the same opportunities to succeed, same challenge, and a different result. Why do some people excel at a particular problem, and some do not? Over and over, from high school students to technical hires, it became clear that the thoughts that individuals have about their future and their abilities influenced their outcomes. When looking closer, the high school students had very different approaches to the problem: one student felt asking a question made him look clueless; and the other felt asking was a step on his path to being the first in him family to graduate. These differing thoughts produce different actions and therefore different outcomes. When earning my degree, I took a course that explained Cognitive Behavioral Psychology. Little did I know at the time, but these principles have provided so much insight into my roles of teacher, leader, and also as a self-manager of my own mind through loss, growth, and change. Boiled down, your thoughts create your feelings which influence our actions and then our results. So, for

example, if our thought is “I can’t learn to ride a bike, it’s too hard” that probably leads to a discouraging type of feeling and our actions are filled with proving our thought to be true. Instead, a learner who thinks, “I can learn hard things, or I just haven’t learned that yet” creates a very different feeling for themselves, possibly curiosity or focus and their outcome when trying that task will likely be different. Today, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a large tenet of coaching and training. Apps like Headspace, Noom, and Bloom are dedicated to helping people manage their thinking. The brain is our most powerful tool and the better we understand it, the more we can utilize it to achieve our goals, evolve and live the lives we imagine. In a particular day, the human brain handles over 6 thousand thoughts with 80% of them being negative if left unmanaged. As humans, our ability to plan thoughtfully is the thing that makes us uniquely human. As we all are proud owners of a brain, we automatically get the titles of “leader” or even “brain CEO”. No matter what job title we hold in “real” life, we are 100% in charge of how we manage our minds on purpose.



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1 Ask better questions, get better answers. Notice the difference when you ask this question to yourself, “Why can’t I figure this out?” versus “What are all of the steps I can take as I figure this out?” Our brain wants to be helpful so when you ask it a question, it’s going to try to answer it. Ask questions that put it to work creating solutions.


2 Take a turtle step. A turtle step is the smallest component of a goal that you can take. As in, if you want to improve your health, maybe the turtle step is to start drinking 2 extra glasses of water per day. When you master that, work on sleep habits. Keep adding turtle steps until you’re where you want to be. Turtle steps done repeatedly lead to results. Leaders who can do this for themselves and their teams end up simplifying complex ideas and projects into achievable pieces.


Start with yourself. This means being CEO of your learning, your career, your health, and your relationships. What are your goals? Do you have a plan to achieve them? How does your brain learn best? What are your top three values so you can use them to make decisions consistently? In what environment do you thrive? How much money do you want to make? When you are honest with your answers, you are then in a place where you can take action to get there. There is no other human on the planet that knows the answers better than we do for ourselves and frankly, no one is more vested. Don’t wait for a manager to provide learning or career goals, this is your superpower as the leader of your own brain. Leaders who are clearer on their goals and values, and know how to manage their own mindset are also clearer in leading others to do the same.

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What if... we thought about our goals this way? Option 1: Your Goal Thought - "I can't fail, this must work." Feeling - Guarded Action - Set tiny goals that I know I can achieve, don't take risks, limit work to what I already do well. Probable outcome - Focus on not failing vs. going for something amazing. Regret not trying.

Vs. Option 2: Your Goal Thought - "I’m willing to fail repeatedly for the sake of this huge, amazing goal.” Feeling - Determinated Action - Take smart chances, grow from the learning, keep trying, have fun. Probable outcome - I learn, gain wisdom, experience, understanding and confidence.


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One of my favorite examples of how this works is from while I was watching a child take a horsebackriding lesson and they were hesitating to pick up the reins. The instructor told the child, “Either you can be the leader or your horse can be the leader, either way one of you is going to lead. Trust me, you’re going to want to be the leader.” An unmanaged brain is going to continue to think, come to conclusions, tell yourself stories, and drive actions. And trust me, you’re going to want to be the leader of your most powerful muscle instead of it managing you. Teaching the cognitive thought model and then applying it to business and leadership scenarios is the focus of the leadership mindset training. It’s one thing to understand how to do something, and yet often we don’t take those actions because of the way we are thinking. For example, a common scenario that I hear from both employees and leaders is regarding feedback. Employees want more feedback and leaders struggle to give feedback that is actionable. Employers get stuck with thoughts like, “I want them to like me, I don’t want to hurt their feelings, and I will tell them when I see them next month”. The most effective leaders at building teams are thinking something more like, “I really want to help this person improve so my job as a leader is to give them actionable, clear, timely feedback and then support them as they grow.” They are focusing outward on the employee versus inward on themselves and their barriers. Additionally, effective employees are those that are skilled at asking and acting on feedback because they have a thought that feedback isn’t personal, it’s their path to growth. Sound familiar? It’s all in your mindset!

Managing our brain has so many positive benefits. We all know of and possibly are examples of high performers who have grinded our way to results. The downside of the “nose to the grindstone” method is that it often results in a high cost to our health, happiness, and contributes to burnout. As humans, our foundation is our mindset and when we understand how to maneuver it on purpose, there isn’t anything that we can't work through. And this preparation makes us able to better manage life events like change, failure, and loss more easily. It is possible to be highly impactful and mentally and physically well at the same time. Managing your brain, instead of it managing you, is a game-changer. Once you learn this skill, it not only applies to your workplace and team, but almost always transfers over to managing your mind better in all aspects of your life. Often, people will get coaching for a businessrelated issue and then find out they are using this new tool all over the place outside of work. They are using it with their kids, their weight loss and health, their relationships, and their overall goals.




MARCH 2022

Leading from Behind the Scenes: Building and Empowering Your Team By Katie Ehlis, Founder & Owner, The Vanity Bar


ver my career, I have been in different roles and levels in an organization. And now as the founder and owner of The Vanity Bar, a boutique-style med spa in Fargo, one important lesson in leadership stands out. Authentic and true leaders focus on helping their team, and those around them, to find purpose and meaning in what they do. When groups of people have a common purpose and passion, amazing things happen. Leading from behind the scenes is about allowing your team to find a common purpose and contribute to larger culture and growth. Leading from behind is not delegating all responsibility and duties so you can clear your plate, it is an everevolving process that requires you to keep your team on course by giving them guided autonomy to dream, innovate, and problem solve collectively. At the core of this concept is the ability to build an authentic community with a strong culture. At The Vanity Bar, we call it the “Bar Code” – a defined backbone for

our culture that ensures everyone has a common purpose. The Bar Code is all about how we SERV which stands for, Show up Smart, Engage authentically, Respect all the ingredients, and Value and Validate. These four pillars create clarity, drive consistency, and empower the team to grow and develop. • Show up Smart – We’re not talking about book smarts, we’re talking about emotional intelligence. By having self-awareness and being able to read and recognize other’s emotions in the room, as well as recognizing your own self-worth, builds on how we can give and receive mutual respect. • Engage Authentically – Be a driver not a passenger when it comes to our culture. Drivers are able to follow a route and keep their passengers safe, but can still decide to reroute and make additional stops if needed. Passengers are just along for the ride and only do what they need to as passive contributors.

• Respect All of the Ingredients – There is a recipe for a reason. Each ingredient plays an integral part. Pick ingredients not solely based on their resume but the unique gifts, talents, behaviors, and experiences they bring. When combined and blended, it makes the end result so much better. Don’t be afraid to shake it up and adjust the recipe when needed. • Value and Validate – Patrick Lencioni laid it all out in “The Ideal Team Player” that you need humility and hunger. As a team, we need to value both humility and hunger because these qualities allow leaders to take a step back. Humility is allowing yourself to check that ego and understand that you still can think highly of yourself but value what other people bring to the team at the same time. Hunger is about consistently looking for more and doing more. Validate those on the team that is hungry and know that having authentic



Without trust, you can’t have mutual respect and authentic communication and dialogue." hunger makes our team collectively stronger in achieving our goals. The goal is to stay mindful of the big picture and direction while supporting your team to be innovators and trailblazers. This coupled with welldefined parameters, empowers teams to take the lead. When your team is authentically part of the process both day-to-day and big-picture growth, you achieve true employee engagement. Trust is at the foundation of this practice – it allows a culture of mutual respect, authentic communication, and dialogue. Without those fundamental components, it is nearly impossible for team members to have the confidence to take on challenges and problem solve effectively. Three actionable things readers can do to put this topic into practice right now • Define your purpose and values for collaboration, problem-solving, and valuing contributions. • Be deliberate with clear parameters so that your team can innovate and explore, but also have a good grasp and understanding of the boundaries. As a leader, sharing your intent and ideas provides clarity for the team. • Create a road map for practical leading from behind. It should include things like how you will stay involved throughout the process, how to celebrate quick wins along the way


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and provide authentic feedback, and/ or how to ensure things are staying on course. Leading from behind gives me the opportunity to dream big and share my ideas with the team without the sense of fear. They know that dreaming big means opportunities for them to actively participate in shaping our work. It’s an amazing place to be when every team member is engaged, inspired, and moving together.


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MARCH 2022

Community Involvement Builds Strong, Engaged Teams By Karla Isley, President & CEO, United Way of Cass-Clay

Everyone is a leader because everyone influences someone.” – John C. Maxwell When we think of the term “corporate culture” many of us may view these words or concept as something that is created and controlled by a CEO, employer, supervisor, or a specific group of people that serve in leadership positions within a company. The truth is, corporate culture is shaped mostly by employees at all levels within an organization–including you. Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. In short–you are the corporate culture. When you live out your values and beliefs, and shape the attitude of those you work among, you’re creating the corporate culture. No matter your seat at the table, position on the team, or role, you as an individual employee have great influence on your corporate culture. As an aspiring and growing leader, you have the ability to create the type of workplace you want to come to each day by choosing to maximize your influence. One way to multiply your influence is to seek out ways to be involved and give back to your community, individually,

and also encourage others to give of themselves as well. When you take the initiative to rally those around you to give back, this positively impacts those around you, builds teams and improves the world for everyone. As someone looking to increase their leadership skills, making volunteerism and giving back a priority is a way to achieve your goal. United Way shares that same vision with you, which is why we offer a wide variety of opportunities for volunteers to take action for their community and have a ripple effect on their workplace. Corporate Culture as a Competitive Advantage Beyond your individual aspirations to shape corporate culture, those who study corporate culture closely agree that engaging the hearts, minds, and hands of talent is the most sustainable source of competitive advantage–it better positions your company to succeed. It is also intriguing to note that in today’s changing world corporate culture is one of the only sustainable competitive advantages that is completely within the control of those that make up a company–and truly anyone and everyone contributes.

Building a Strong Community within Your Workplace and Beyond To build a strong community, it takes all of us to believe that everyone deserves opportunities to succeed. In our local community, companies play a crucial role in supporting that belief. When you do this, the community, your coworkers, and your company’s culture thrive. The team at Marvin is a wonderful example of how partnering with United Way can impact corporate culture and give employees meaningful ways to engage in our community. Chris Barta, Senior Director of Operations at Marvin shared, “United Way helps us to create a great place to work. Our partnership with United Way gives our employees so many opportunities to give back, volunteer, and learn about the needs that exist in our community. United Way events give employees a chance to connect with one another and be engaged with their community. Those are all factors as to how employees feel about their work and their workplace.” The team at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota partners with United Way year-round to give employees a wide variety of ways to give back and be actively involved. This partnership continues to



A snapshot on local hunger and homelessness: -Approximately 1,000 people experience homelessness on any given night in our community. -Last year, of those experiencing homelessness in our community, approximately 20% were children. -Of those experiencing hunger in our community, 37% are children.

A snapshot on student success: -In Cass and Clay Counties, only 37% of children ages 3 and 4 are enrolled in early childhood education. -In North Dakota, 26,937 children are unsupervised after school, meaning for every child in an afterschool program there are two waiting to get in.

A snapshot on local families in poverty: -Right here in our community 1 in 9 people are living in poverty. -Young families are struggling the most in our community, with 1 in 7 children under 5 years old living in poverty. -In Minnesota and North Dakota, 1 in 5 children have parents or guardians who lack secure employment. -Approximately 60% of American adults will live below the poverty level for at least a year during their lifetime.


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shape their corporate culture each and every day. Dan Conrad, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota shared, “Our partnership with United Way has provided an amazing avenue for our team to get outside of our walls and volunteer in the communities we serve. United Way has helped us see our communities through a new perspective, learn about the community issues that impact our daily lives and the health of our customers, and then gives us ways to take action to create change.” When companies invest time and focus on creating events and opportunities for team members to connect and give back, the return on investment greatly impacts the company culture, employee morale, and overall health of companies–and gives employees new opportunities to gain and sharpen those leadership skills. Here are a few ways you can get started today! • Host an employee campaign and raise your hand to be an Employee Campaign Coordinator A workplace campaign can engage your employees in a collective purpose and allow for activities that can bring your employees together. People also have the opportunity to step into leadership roles to help make these events happen by volunteering

as an Employee Campaign Coordinator. This opportunity gives people a chance to collaborate with others outside of their normal role, create connections, strengthen relationships and test out new skills– all while having the chance to get noticed by leaders in the community and serve as a role model for others at your company. One Employee Campaign Coordinator shared with us that the experience “allowed me to be more involved with things that both relate to my role within my own organization and things that are personally important to me. It has also provided a great opportunity to network with other individuals and organizations that share our same passion for helping our community.” We hear from many companies how their United Way campaigns successfully bolster the morale of their employees because of the fun, virtual events they are able to host even though some or all of their workforce is currently working remotely. Matt Leiseth, President of Hornbacher’s shared with our team that their United Way campaign “gives our employees the opportunity to rally one another. Year after year I see our employees enjoying the chance to be a part of something that is bigger than our store and our company. That excitement carries over into how they do their job every day.”

• Help coordinate a team volunteer activity in your workplace Today more than ever, companies are recognizing how important it is for employees to feel connected not only to their employers but also to their teammates. Hosting an on-site volunteer activity gives employees a sense of camaraderie and connection through a meaningful experience. With more and more workplaces choosing a hybrid work model, volunteering can be a unique and important experience for team building, and United Way can help create an opportunity for you that meets your goals and enhances your team– whether they are working in the office, remotely or a mix of both. Our team is dedicated to inspiring and engaging members of our community in creating positive change for our neighbor’s most in need. In 2021, we were able to host 963 volunteers through unique volunteer opportunities. • Host a Poverty Simulation If you’re looking for an eyeopening, transformative, and unforgettable experience for your team, then we encourage you to reach out to United Way and help you coordinate a Poverty Simulation for your workplace. We provide a unique opportunity to experience what it might be like to live in a typical lowincome family, working hard to survive month to month and succeed. The Simulation allows participants to gain a new perspective on the realities faced by low-income households, opportunities to learn more about local data

and insights, what United Way is doing to support those in need, and ways you can help. Here’s what others have said about experiencing the simulation: “I was fortunate to be able to experience the Poverty Simulation through my job and it reminded me of the struggles our own employees face on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s easy to think, ‘I don’t know anyone living in poverty’ or that ‘these situations don’t directly impact me,’ but even at Wanzek some of our very own employees struggle with the things that the Poverty Simulation depicted.” -Poverty Simulation participant from Wanzek Construction “Since going to the United Way Poverty Simulation, I’ve found myself more compassionate and patient with employees at my company and others in our community. We are all one step away from having an impactful moment turn our world upside down, the Poverty Simulation reminded me that people are living those struggles daily and my actions can influence a person’s life dramatically. I choose to be part of the difference and will pass these lessons onto my kids so they can do the same at home, in school and through their own friendships.” - Poverty Simulation participant • Help a Child Learn to Read with Literacy Kits If you and your coworkers are passionate about helping kids learn to read, then this volunteer opportunity

is for you. Literacy and early learning are critical to ensuring kids are ready for kindergarten. Our United Way literacy kits were designed to focus on skills young children need when learning to read. As a volunteer, you help assemble kits so they are ready for eager learners across Cass and Clay counties. This activity can be done onsite at your office or coordinated at the United Way of Cass-Clay office. • Support and Encourage a Local Senior Citizen Struggling with Hunger This quick, hands-on volunteer opportunity is just the right way to bring joy and kindness and ensure people don’t go hungry. In collaboration with CAPLP, United Way rallies volunteers to help senior citizens struggling with isolation and safety concerns to ensure they have access to nutritional food and a friendly note delivered to their doors each month. Volunteers who have participated in the past have shared that they have enjoyed the great experience of being a friendly face for local senior citizens. • Blankets for Good At United Way, we help individuals and families stop the cycle of homelessness. For many parents who have experienced homelessness, moving in to a new home is exciting and emotional, but also stressful as they often don’t have the supplies needed to make their home feel like home, especially for their kids. You can help. Fleece tie blankets are given to families with children so they can receive a warm, cheerful, and colorful blanket as they settle into their new

home. This is a wonderful option for families, friends, or coworkers to volunteer together, and have fun in the process! People of all abilities and even kids can participate in this volunteer activity that can be done safely from your own home – a perfect option for workplaces where some or all of your employees are working remotely. United Way has all of the “how to” instructions for you to volunteer whenever and wherever it works for you right on our website at unitedwaycassclay.org . • Volunteer on the Community Investment Review Panel People like you can play an active role in determining how dollars donated to United Way are invested in the community. Each year, United Way invites donors to take the opportunity to be a part of this decision-making process while also learning about the impactful programs that are helping people every day in our community. Every year, local non-profits apply for grants from United Way to support their programs. With the help of our volunteers on the panel, these applications are thoughtfully evaluated to decide how best to invest the dollars that align with our United Way strategy and will have the greatest overall impact on our community. No matter how you choose to volunteer or get involved in our community, when we serve together we create a better tomorrow for all of us and positively impact our teams and workplaces.






MARCH 2022

Finding Inspiration on the Leadership Journey By Kara Jorvig, Founder/CEO, Allegro Group


ongratulations to the 2022 class of the United Way of Cass-Clay's 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program. As a speaker, leader and mentor for the United Way 35 Under 35 program, I've seen first-hand how the participants consistently bring high energy, passion for the community, and an appetite for growth. Their desire to make connections and empower others is an asset to the entire region and they always inspire me. It is exciting to see how this United Way program has evolved over the past 14 years. It continues to bring tremendous value to our community by teaching emerging leaders to invest in themselves while supporting businesses that believe in lifting up the next generation and building a network of diverse leaders with different

goals but who are united in their commitment to personal, professional and community growth. All Leaders Face Challenges At Allegro Group, we work with businesses to build and develop their teams, and with leaders to navigate career advancement. We invest heavily in studying leadership and understanding the competencies, attributes and behaviors needed to successfully grow highperformance teams and culture. One thing that we've found to be universal is that all leaders face hurdles in their journey. As part of the United Way 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program, I'm honored to share insights into three of the most common hurdles: clarity, inner critic and expanding your network.

Hurdle #1: Lack of Clarity At some point in their leadership journey, most people eventually come to a crossroads where they are looking for something more but aren’t clear on what their next step should be. Clarity, or a lack thereof, is one of the most common hurdles leaders face within their careers. If you find yourself in this spot, introspection is the key. By asking clarifying questions of yourself, you start the process of better understanding where you are today and where you want to be. Then, you can determine who you need to be in order to bridge that gap. Here are five questions you can ask yourself to help gain clarity: • How do I feel today? • What is my current mindset? • How do I perceive myself? • How do others perceive me? • What would you like to change about those answers? Hurdle #2: Inner Critic We all have a voice inside our head that is critical of ourselves and others. This inner critic tends to crop up whenever we perceive something to be imperfect. It often sounds like, "I'm not good enough," or "You could never do that." Left unregulated, our inner critic can cause us to play small, avoid a worthwhile challenge or even miss out on a great opportunity.


MARCH 2022

Some techniques for managing your inner critic include: • Practice becoming more aware of when your inner critic creeps into your thoughts. • Recognize your inner critic for what it is: a biased perception of the current situation. • Observe your inner critic as if you were a third party observing the story you’re telling yourself. For example, you might say to yourself, "My inner critic wants me to feel like I'm not talented enough to tackle this job. That's interesting. I wonder where that feeling comes from?" Hurdle #3: Expanding Your Network Leadership is not a solo pursuit. Yet, too often, even high-performing leaders find themselves without peers or mentors from whom they can learn from or relate to. That's why it is vital to carve out time to meet new people and intentionally cultivate new relationships. If you're ready to expand your network, here are three great ways to start: • Ask someone in your current network to introduce you to someone they think you should meet. • Join a new industry or professional organization based on your goals.

• Participate in community programs or volunteer opportunities that fuel your passion. Leaving a Legacy This year we also are celebrating the legacy of a long-time champion of the United Way 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program, Pam McGee. Pam was a legacy speaker of this program and someone I deeply admired. She was an accomplished leader who passed away on January 19 after a valiant battle with cancer. Pam had many wonderful attributes as a leader and mentor, but what I remember most were her authenticity and courageous vulnerability. Most of us have a perception of what "success" looks like. What Pam showed us is that success is different for everyone. She demonstrated to me that achieving true success means choosing your path with confidence and supporting others as they choose theirs. It is a lesson I hope everyone— inside the United Way 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program and beyond—takes to heart.


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MARCH 2022

Inside Out: Reflecting On Ourselves So We Can Better See Others By Colette Campbell, Chief Talent Acquisition and Diversity Officer, Bremer Bank


hat does it mean to be seen? This is a human desire that is important to all. It might look different to each of us, but it speaks to “belonging” and, ultimately, inclusion. Much of the conversation around diversity and inclusion is noticing the “differences,” and while differences do set people apart, there is something compelling about being known and the shared hope of belonging and contributing to a larger shared purpose. As leaders, cultural competency is an essential skill. We have not made enough progress toward inclusion and equity. We have to do things differently. We must move faster, be more deliberate and have a greater impact in making change. Our collective effort is the only way this can happen. Our demographics are changing, particularly in the Fargo-Moorhead area. We want to contribute to the building of thriving communities, and that means we have to be more deliberate in how we see, value and include each other. It’s a journey, and I am willing to keep climbing with whoever wants to be on it with me. Equity and inclusion are essential ingredients to a brighter, more prosperous future. During my diversity/inclusion sessions, I bring the group through a series of exercises that explore how our

perceptions influence our actions and ultimately our leadership. Belonging is an important component to how we show up. When we feel that our talent, skills and experiences contribute to something bigger than ourselves, it makes us eager to participate. In our workplaces, if we can inspire people around our organization's purpose and mission, we will build teams of people eager to participate and do great work not only for our organization, but for our communities and world. As our workplaces become more diverse, our leaders will also need to become more culturally competent. Cultural competence is as imperative as other leadership skills, such as conflict resolution, team building, etc., and is essential in helping us work within diverse teams. In the United Way session, we work through exercises that help us unpack our individual identity and values to better understand how these things influence our leadership.

that time, I learned a lot about how that culture values age. The older you are, the more revered. People loved telling their age, which is much different than the American culture of age or “youth” and desire to celebrate looking young. I would see birthday parties of individuals with their age highlighted. I also don’t remember seeing a nursing home, as families in this part of the world usually take care of their parents. My time in South Korea influenced and challenged me in my perceptions of age. We will take some time to explore how what we experienced in our lives influences how we value things. The next thing we examine is identity. In doing so, we talk about how identity is formed and how we might make an “iceberg” observation of someone.

To find that, the group goes through a series of prompts, the first of which is to examine the values that we have for ourselves and how we came to have those values. Ultimately, they are determined by our family of origin, our upbringing, where we were raised and what experiences we had. These are the things that shape us. For example, I spent four years living in South Korea. During



Three Actionable Things Readers Can Do Right Now •

What we believe about ourselves is only partly true. We each have our own lens, and there is only so much we can see. Our perception isn’t always based on one reality. But there are tools that help give us a fuller picture of ourselves. Take an assessment such as the Strength Finder, DiSC, the Intercultural Development Inventory, Harvard Implicit Bias Test, etc.

Seek out new opportunities to expand your comfort zone. It is easy to play the part you’ve always played, but new situations allow you to reinvent yourself, show up differently, and navigate new groups of people and new experiences. The exploration of navigating cultures different from ourselves doesn’t have to be difficult. You could visit an ethnic grocery store you’ve never been to before that specializes in foods that may not be common in your home. You could check your local coffee shop boards or newspaper listings to see what is happening in your community and attend where you don’t know anyone.


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Watch, read or listen to an author who has a different reality from your own. Streaming platforms like Netflix or Spotify, even social media, only show you content in genres that you’ve identified you like or are interested in. Mix it up. Ask people who you know have a different political ideology, religion or orientation from you what they are watching or reading and expand your knowledge.

Colette’s Media Recommendations

The majority of the iceberg is under the water and not visible to another person, but that part of the iceberg represents the things that make up a large part of us. The peak of the iceberg that is sticking out of the water represents the easily identifiable things about us. I think somebody might look at me, as a Black woman, and say I’m African American. However, I grew up in Canada and my parents are Jamaican, so I would say I’m Afro-Caribbean. That with my family status, work style, perspectives, political beliefs and sexual orientation is all underneath the surface and would have to come up in conversations for someone to know. Another exercise I take the group through is a discussion around their own iceberg with their tablemates.

I ask them to talk about their peak: What they think people see. I also ask them to examine a few unknown facts about themselves and discuss how that plays into identity.

IDI Another tool I recommend is something called the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) which is a tool used to improve people’s intercultural competence and their efforts at bridging cultural differences so that relationships are strengthened. The Intercultural Development Inventory assesses intercultural competence—the capability to shift cultural perspective and

What is the business case for diversity, equity and inclusion?

appropriately adapt behavior to cultural differences and commonalities. It is a 50-item questionnaire available online that can be completed in 15–20 minutes. The IDI is theory-based, provides practical, in-depth information, applies across a wide-range of cultures and has a wide application. It has two versions - one for use in educational institutions and one for organizational settings, which works well for businesses and organizations who are seeking a tool to start conversations among their teams of employees. The results are actionable and easy to apply - for each individual who completes the assessment, the IDI creates a customized Intercultural Development Plan that guides the person through a series of activities and self-reflections that

developmentally build intercultural competence. These are just a few of the exercises that I take groups through when I speak to them. While this description of the group discussion is not set in stone, it is ultimately a very unique and dynamic presentation. I hope it provides a framework that you can use in your own organization to have constructive, reflective and retrospective conversations that increase your organization's inclusivity.

“It’s no secret that systemic racism has caused people of color to be underutilized and underemployed for generations. Almost every industry is experiencing a talent squeeze, with not enough talent to fill available jobs. We can see this as a challenge, and an incredible opportunity for employers to create better accessibility and inclusion to better utilize and include underutilized diverse populations. The world of work is constantly changing, at a pace faster than before. We need innovative, diverse teams for our businesses to be relevant for today and tomorrow. Virtual work has expanded our ability to work differently, and many companies are hiring outside of their physical footprint. In our virtual age, organizations have to be culturally competent to retain talent and the increasingly diverse available talent that they will inevitably be hiring in the future. Simply, inclusion matters for companies that want to compete and be considered leaders in their industry.”






MARCH 2022

Crucial Conversations By Eric Piela, Senior Brand Manager, WEX and Certified Crucial Conversations Trainer


hatever the nature of a relationship, personal or business, crucial conversations matter. However, unfortunately, the majority of critical conversations that need to occur either don’t happen at all or they're executed poorly. What’s at stake is the quality of our relationships and our success. What is a crucial conversation? According to Crucial Learning, the research and training organization that created this communication tool, a crucial conversation must have three elements: 1. You must have opposing opinions. 2. You must have strong emotions 3. There must be high stakes All three components need to be present for it to be a true crucial conversation. For example, I like to joke that at the end of the night after my wife and I have put the kids to bed and finally get to sit down to watch a television show, the debate around what we're going to

watch, while at times heated, is indeed not a crucial conversation. We certainly have opposing opinions as she may want to watch Bridgerton and I might want to watch the football game. I may even be really emotional about the fact that the Vikings are playing the Packers. However, what we ultimately decide to watch most certainly wouldn’t be considered “high stakes.” Given the high threshold for what constitutes a crucial conversation, it's not surprising that when I ask an audience how many crucial conversations they have during a typical day, they often underestimate it. Usually, the group will guess that 15-20% of their conversations are crucial. According to Crucial Learning, the real number is actually estimated to be 20-30%. This gap derives from a lack of perception around what is important to the other person involved in the conversation. While a conversation may not feel crucial to us, it might very well be to the person we're interacting with.

Why are crucial conversations important? We all get stuck. Whether it's a relationship we struggle with at work or a project that is failing, we all want to get unstuck. "If you don't talk it out, you'll act it out." Joseph Grenny, Crucial Learning Many times people tend to hold stuff in because either we’re scared to engage in the dialogue or, if you’re like me, you’re a classic conflict avoider. The problem is if we don't have these conversations the frustration festers. We often either act it out by complaining to a co-worker, saying something we regret in the heat of the moment, or bottle it up and quit out of frustration, keeping us from what we really want.



Another enlightening question I ask during a training is, “What did you do to get what you wanted when you were a child?” It's hilarious to hear some of the answers. Some people threw tantrums, gave the silent treatment, went to mom if dad said no, and some made PowerPoint presentations pleading their case. While not all are productive, there are a variety of tactics we have all used to get what we want. What's really fascinating is that we tend to fall back on these tactics as adults. While they may have evolved slightly, we’re still deploying them in conversations which causes us to alter our motives and get emotional. We stop listening to each other and just focus on what we want or go into “fight or flight” mode. The reptilian part of our brain activates and it’s imperative we become hyper-aware of how we respond in these situations so we can manage our emotions and have more productive crucial conversations. Focus on what you want and let that motivate you. What you want should not be simply winning the argument. It shouldn't be about having that perfect “zinger” for someone you dislike. Instead, start with the heart. If you enter a conversation with the frame of mind that the other person is both wrong and intolerable, you’ve already set yourself up for failure and predetermined the outcome. Try to understand why you view them the way you do, and more importantly, how they might view you. Focus on the outcome you want, which is hopefully a better working relationship or project outcome. Control your story Have you ever had a boss send you a message with “Come see

me in my office” in the subject line? You know how quickly you can start telling yourself a story. You may wonder “Oh no, what did I do wrong now?” In the absence of information or context, we create stories in our heads. Sadly, we rarely tell ourselves a positive story in these types of situations. Here’s an example: You’re working on a report for your manager and she stops by your desk three times, in one hour, to see how it’s coming along. Her simple actions cause you to begin to create a story in your head. You think to yourself, “She doesn’t trust me. She doesn’t think I’m capable, “ or “Why didn’t she just do this report herself?” In worst-case scenarios, those thoughts turn to behaviors such as holding a grudge or resisting direction next time she requests a report from you. In these stories, we create a villain, play the victim, or worse, convince ourselves we’re helpless and there are no healthy options for taking action. When we let these stories dictate our behaviors, we’re never in the right frame of mind for a constructive crucial conversation. Instead, before you start storytelling, be sure to look at things from the perspective of the other person involved. For instance, in the example involving the report, maybe your manager is getting pressure from her boss or perhaps the future of your department is dependent on the quality and accuracy of the report. It’s often easier to point fingers or extrapolate the intent of the other person because it keeps us out of the equation. Fight the urge of falling into those story traps.

You can argue as strongly as you want for your opinion, as long as you were equally vigorous in encouraging others to disagree." -Ron McMillan, Crucial Learning



It's easy to be passionate about what you want to share, but it's vital to be equally passionate about listening to other people's perspectives. Remember that a conversation should be a dialogue with two people and two perspectives. Here are some tangible tips for engaging in a crucial conversation. Initiating the discussion in a prescriptive and safe manner can often be the most important step to a healthy dialogue.

1. Share your facts. Focus on factual information and summarize what you have seen and heard. Facts lack emotion and are rarely a source for disagreement. They provide a safe ground to begin the dialogue. Start with what actually happened and leave out emotion and storytelling.

2. Tell your story.


Tools For a Crucial Conversation

Now is the time to share what you think the facts mean. What do the facts lead you to believe? How does it make you feel? What are your opinions? How do you think it’s impacting the situation?

3. Ask for others’ opinions. Remember that quote about being equally vigorous to hear their side of the story? Now’s your chance! Let the other person know that while you’ve shared your viewpoint, there is a chance you could be misinterpreting the situation. Share that you would like help understanding their perspective. This is important step because we know from our own experience how infuriating it can be when we aren’t given the opportunity to tell our side of the story.

4. Talk tentatively. How you engage in a crucial conversation will be an indicator if the other person will go into “fight or flight” mode. Make sure you're creating a safe space for the other person to tell their side of the story. Pay attention to the tone of your voice, your nonverbal actions, and where you engage in the conversation. Sometimes choosing a neutral place such as a coffee shop or public meeting room instead of your own office can help lessen the power dynamic and create the best outcome.

5. Encourage testing Last, encourage their involvement in the discussion and make sure they play an active role in developing a solution. As an equal stakeholder, they’re more likely to be invested in how to move forward. When possible, all parties should feel ownership in the decision process. The limiting factor of all communication is not the riskiness of the message you want to share, but how safe you can help others feel hearing that message. Hopefully, this information will help you engage in more effective dialogues and spot the conversations that are keeping you from what you want.


MARCH 2022

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Marketing Business Partner Sanford Health

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Chiropractor/Owner Rising Family Chiropractic

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Legal and Compliance Specialist AgCountry Farm Credit Services

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Principal Architect/Partner Shultz + Associates Architects

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to the 2022 United Way 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program Class

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2022 United Way 35 Under 35 Women's Leadership Program Class

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Making the transition from CEO of a midsize company to owning my own startup, I am learning to balance working in my business vs being able to devote most of my time to being the visionary. For smaller companies, everyone, including the owner/CEO, wears multiple hats. As the owner, if I don’t do the work, there may not be anyone else to get it done. It is very easy to get sucked into fighting the latest fire and end up losing hours or days that should have been spent on driving the business


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forward. My strongest attribute is being a creative thinker and visionary, but as an entrepreneur I don’t have the luxury of doing that 100% of the time. Here are 5 of the strategies I have employed to help me find the right balance. 1. Finding the Right Mentors:

Throughout my career, I have sought out and connected with highly successful mentors. I have mentors who I have worked with for years, as well as several I have connected with since starting Quantum. I don’t rely on just one

mentor. Instead, I utilize a wellrounded network of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders as well as thought leaders. Last Fall, I read the book Tech-Powered Sales: Achieve Superhuman Sales Skills by Justin Michael and Tony Hughes and was blown away. I immediately reached out to Justin Michael and ended up hiring him as a consultant. I have gained so much insight into what technology is currently available for sales automation and what is on the horizon. This knowledge has transformed the way I operate

my business and has also elevated what knowledge I share and am able to bring to the table when coaching my clients. 2. Hiring the Right People for the Right Seats:

As a startup, I can’t afford to hire a large team. I have a few key team members who I brought on board to fill the gaps. I knew I needed team members who would fit my organization’s core values, could also wear multiple hats, and had skill sets in areas that were not my biggest strengths. As a visionary, I needed an integrator who would push to get things done and bring order and structure. I needed team members who had strong work ethic and who were enthusiastic and passionate about this business and

opportunity. I needed individuals who were able to take a bit of a risk and go on this ride with me. From the beginning, I developed and implemented a “Hire to Retire” process to recruit the best talent, keep them happy and engaged, and build a pipeline of future candidates to bring on board as we grow. 3. Automation:

I referenced automation tools above. Automation has enabled me and my team to multiply ourselves ten-fold. We utilize tools like HubSpot for our CRM (lead and pipeline management), calendar links, social media scheduling, sales and marketing email automation and tracking, landing pages, chat, and more. We utilize other tools that integrate with HubSpot like Kennected for

Shawn Peterson is the CEO of Quantum Business Solutions. He comes with a decade of experience in the technology services industry as an executive. Shawn is a visionary focused on high growth and performance through sales, marketing, and client experience. He is known for driving brand growth, maximizing sales and marketing efficiency, and delivering financial performance. He realizes that great people in the right seats, equipped with the right tools and development, is the most important ingredient to business success. When Shawn isn’t working on growing organizations, he enjoys spending time with his family. Other hobbies include traveling, running, boating, and yoga.



LinkedIn automation; Kixie for automated dialing with local presence, texting, and voicemail drops; and ConnectandSell for call campaigns to 10X productivity and gain direct access to decision makers. We also utilize automation tools for additional social media outreach, including LinkedIn Sales Navigator, building lists, sending coffee on us for virtual meetings, gifting and one-to-one sales videos. 4. Culture: Growth is at the

top of our core values list for a reason. Staying focused on what each team member’s role is and how they can most effectively contribute to that growth, myself included, helps us to figure out where we are overlapping efforts, and execute. We cover our core values in our team meeting each morning to help keep us focused on our priorities. 5. Balance: I am passionate

about my business. I believe in our product offerings and the value we bring to our clients. It is very easy for me to work 14 to 16-hour days. To make sure I am


MARCH 2022

focused on the right things that will grow and evolve the business, it is important for me to take breaks and reflect. I practice and teach hot yoga. I usually do two workouts each day. I take time out for family, friends and fun. I read and listen to audio books and podcasts to expand my knowledge and gain inspiration. I step away so I can step back in with a clearer head and refocus on what I can do that will have the biggest impact on growing the business. I learn more as I go and grow as an entrepreneur. I don’t always get it right, but knowing and being aware of how easy it is to get caught up working in the business rather than on it, helps me to regularly evaluate how I am spending my time and determine the value of my efforts on a specific task. The goal is to leverage my strengths as a visionary and fill in the gaps when and where needed to grow and scale the business.

10 Questions


Questions ohn Machacek, Chief Innovation Officer for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, has worked with countless startups throughout our community over the past nine years. He knows their ups, their downs, but most of all, he knows the questions to ask them. Here are John Machacek’s 10 questions for John Schneider, Co-Founder of 3D-Fuel and Fargo 3D Printing

By John Machacek Photos by Josiah Kopp and Hillary Ehlen


MARCH 2022

01 Will you please tell us your 3D-Fuel and Fargo 3D Printing elevator pitches? Fargo 3D Printing focuses on helping people in the tri-state area get started with 3D printing, stay with 3D printing and (hopefully) change the world! We do that by providing pre-built and calibrated 3D printer kits, 3D printing materials from 3D-Fuel, upgrade and replacement parts–all with advice and guidance from our 3D printing experts. Fargo 3D Printing also provides custom 3D printing and design services for those that need parts–fast! 3D-Fuel empowers your 3D printing success by providing THE premium 3D printing experience. We do this by manufacturing high-quality, reliable 3D printing materials right here in Fargo, and by providing exceptional customer support and advice in an industry that many times raises more questions than it answers. We pick up the phone, answer chats and emails and won’t rest until we help you bring your ideas to life.

02 That is two entirely different companies under one roof but they are complementary of each other. I’m guessing a basic synergy is that Fargo 3D Printing can sell your manufactured 3D-Fuel filament products. Are there other synergies of owning both of these and having them co-located? You’re absolutely correct, John, that one of the biggest synergies is that Fargo 3D Printing is able to sell filament manufactured by 3D-Fuel right in our local area. One of the other massive benefits is that we have Fargo 3D Printing employees that are very skilled in 3D design and, of course, in 3D printing itself. When we are looking to solve a problem out on the 3D-Fuel production floor, many times there is not an off-the-shelf solution. We have unique problems, so that requires unique solutions. It could be a production operator informing his manager that “there’s got to be a better/ faster/easier way to do this, but we’d need a part like THIS”.

Our plant manager will then reach out to one of the Fargo 3D Printing folks to see if there is something that they can design and, if it makes sense, 3D print to be that unique solution. We also “eat our own dog food”, so to speak. We 3D print every single day at Fargo 3D Printing using 3D-Fuel materials. If there are any product quality concerns or 3D printer settings that we notice work really well with 3D-Fuel materials, that kind of feedback can go directly to the production floor or to our customer support team.

03 Speaking of synergies, I interviewed c2renew last month and we discussed the region’s interesting, integrated 3D printing ecosystem. How does this dynamic ecosystem we have play a role in your operations? It’s kind of funny, actually. We’ve been getting that same type of question from others in our industry, “Why is there so much 3D printing activity going on in Fargo?!” The short answer is that it’s been a 10-year overnight success story. I joke, but only sort of.



10 Questions I remember back in 2012 purchasing my first laser cut wooden 3D printer kit for $400 (a Printrbot Jr V2, for those interested) and thinking how cool it would be to have one of the nice, $2k+ 3D printers to tackle larger projects. I reached out to Ben Bernard in the NDSU Architecture department as I had heard they were working with 3D printers. From there one thing led to another, I opened a makerspace and met my business partner for Fargo 3D Printing. Skip ahead 8-9 years and we now have a diverse ecosystem of 3D printer manufacturer, consumer marketplace, materials manufacturing, and materials research. Add all of that to the fact that it is incredibly easy to do business in ND and to be supported by various programs from the Bank of North Dakota, the SBDC, and the GFMEDC and it’s a wonderful story of right place, right time, right preparation.

04 With 3D-Fuel, you offer many varieties of colors, sizes and materials for your filaments. What stands out as your most popular? With thanks to the priormentioned c2renew and their composite materials, we sell some very interesting filaments infused with


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materials such as coffee, hemp, beer and more. However, our most popular products are the Pro PLA+ filaments. They are derived from corn and are 100% biobased. They come in 40 colors, are tough and print very well. Our customers also appreciate that our products are 100% originated in the USA and they love that we have a very knowledgeable, US-based customer support team. They can pick up the phone or use our chat function to ask questions and get advice. By far, however, our most popular color is Midnight Black and our most popular material is Pro PLA+.

05 Then with the 3D printing side, you obviously sell a lot of printers, parts and filaments, but you also do custom 3D printing. Can you please tell me more about that component of the business? We have done custom 3D printing projects as small as just one unit but have also undertaken projects where the unit count was in the 10,000s. Right now, we’re working with a large equipment manufacturer that is running into supply chain issues with the electronics

components that are in each piece of equipment. Rather than completely halt their production, they are assembling 99% of each unit and then placing them outside in parking lots until the delayed electronic components show up. Until then, they need to protect all of the electrical connectors from the elements. Enter 3D printing. They provided the 3D design file to us; we were able to print parts for a testfit within 24 hours and the next day they placed an order for thousands of units and we were able to start delivering on that order within a week. You simply can’t do that with any other manufacturing method. If you went to injection molding, you’re looking at months and tens of thousands of dollars just for the injection mold tool to be produced. That’s not even including the time necessary to produce the parts! 3D printing really is changing the way and the speed that manufacturing can be done.

06 What has changed about the 3D printing industry and what excites you about its future? The industry is being taken much more seriously now and not looked at as much as a hobbyist thing. Of course, there are more hobbyists than ever, too! A much broader realization from manufacturers that it can

be used for producing final parts, not just for prototyping or for jigs and fixtures. Large format 3D printing will really come into its own soon. Also, the exposure to youth and college students over the years is leading to more knowledge and comfort with the tools and as these people continue to enter the workforce, it should continue to grow this.

07 Any advice for others, whether individuals or schools or novices, about what early steps they can take to learn more and get involved with 3D printing? There is so much content out there. It’s crazy how much excellent 3D printing content exists on YouTube and other platforms. When I first got started with 3D printing in 2012, I immersed myself in all of the content that I could and I was very active in the then Google+ 3D printing community. It got to the point that I was answering new member questions even before I had a 3D printer in my hands! There was so much content even at that early time that a person could be offering useful advice without ever having used a 3D printer. Now take that, add 10 years’ time with improvement in 3D printers, software, and

content quality and you have a wealth of options to learn from. There are also classes available locally to get your feet wet with hands-time on 3D printers and, of course, we are more than happy at Fargo 3D Printing to walk you through getting started with your first 3D printer and to have it assembled and calibrated for you to start off on the best foot possible!

08 We first met, I’d say about 9 years ago, around the time you were creating your makerspace. So, from a makerspace to now a manufacturer, what are some key things you learned over the years? Community should come first. This was the case with MELD Workshop (makerspace) and it’s the case with the 3D printing industry. I did things the wrong way with MELD. I took a Field of Dreams approach after being encouraged by the local startup community to follow my dreams and build a space. The startup community is great, don’t get me wrong, but you should have a community of customers ready to go before starting up a space like that. Words are nice, dollars

are what keep the doors open on something like that. Some of my most engaged members I had never met prior to opening the space. 3D printing is similar – many of our customers are extremely active in their own groups and subgroups in the 3D printing community. We also do our best to engage in those communities – our customers really enjoy and respect that and it helps to create that long-term customer relationship rather than just a one-time transactional relationship. We also like to elevate our customers and show our community the things that they’ve been able to do with 3D printing–it’s amazing what businesses, organizations and individuals are doing with 3D printing!

09 In that vein, if you could go back in time to John from several years ago, what hindsight advice would you give yourself? Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I was, and still am, incredibly stubborn and want to prove that I can do it without any help. That’s a terrible approach. You can’t possibly be an expert at everything and asking for help doesn’t mean that you are failing at an aspect of your business. It means that you have the self-awareness

to recognize that for your business to succeed and thrive you need to get the heck out of your own way. People generally want to see you succeed, but you can’t wait for them to offer help. They may have no way of knowing that you want or need it.

10 What can we do as a community to help 3D-Fuel and Fargo 3D Printing succeed? Words are nice, but dollars are better. First of all, if you’ve been considering getting into 3D printing as a hobby or to help you meet business objectives, stop into Fargo 3D Printing. We have a great team here that is excited to help you succeed. Okay, I said that words are nice, too: if you have someone in your life who is in manufacturing, higher education, government purchasing, etc. who cares about a secure, USA-based manufacturing supply chain, tell them about 3D-Fuel. We are as US-based as you can possibly be. Our PLA filaments use US-grown corn to turn corn into plastic down in Blair, Nebraska. We then turn those pellets into filament in our Fargo facility. Our box supplier is in West Fargo. Our spool supplier is in Fergus Falls. Many of our other miscellaneous packaging is from a Wisconsin company. And, of course, our sales and customer support team in based right here in Fargo. Get in touch with us – we’d love to tell you more!

About John




Legal Planning for Inflation As of January 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS) released a metric indicating that inflation over the last 12 months was 7.5%. BLS's referenced metric is the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Since 1913, the average inflation as per the CPI has been 3.2% per year. At 7.5%, we are seeing the highest inflation rate since the early '80s. The purpose of this article isn't to consider the causes of this inflation; rather, it is to look at how the business community can plan for the potential of inflation (and deflation) in their contract strategies.



MARCH 2022

Contract clauses may be an important part of planning for inflation, but they certainly cannot be the only planning. Planning for inflation includes a comprehensive look into the operation of a business and an understanding of how inflation may affect the business. An appropriate holistic approach may consider adjusting business strategies, hedging and drafting contracts that account for potential inflation. In addition, maintaining accurate accounting and reporting practices is important when considering inflation. If you don't know your numbers, it may be exceedingly difficult to identify which inflationary factors impact your business. Accurate accounting is also a good practice in general and often may be helpful if legal disputes ever arise. Each business may be affected uniquely by inflation. For example, a manufacturing business that relies on metal inputs may have its bottom line significantly impacted by inflation on materials. On the other hand, a restaurant may be more impacted by the inflation of food products. One reasonable approach for these examples might be locking prices for a period of time or

Thomas Kading Attorney at Fargo Patent & Business Law, PLLC Josiah Kopp

building an escalation clause into a vendor agreement. An escalation clause is a term added to an agreement that stipulates a change in price based on a predetermined set of conditions. Escalation clauses may be used with customers, vendors, and other parties. An exemplary escalation clause may stipulate that the contract price may increase in relation to the CPI as put out by BLS. A good escalation clause will select an appropriate index, determine how often the repricing applies and set a pricing floor and ceiling.

Appropriate Index Virtually any metric may be chosen when drafting an escalation clause. One of the more common metrics is the CPI. There are many variations of the CPI as put out by the BLS. For example, the BLS issues CPI metrics based on energy prices, food prices, new vehicles and many others. Further, the BLS breaks down the CPI metrics by geographic areas, population types, specific categories and so forth.

CPI metrics may be seasonally adjusted or unadjusted. The BLS recommends against seasonally adjusted CPIs in escalation clauses as seasonally adjusted indexes are subject to revision each year. An exemplary CPI metric for use in an escalation clause by a clothing store in Fargo might be the Midwest CPI for Apparel. The Midwest CPI represents ten northern states in the Midwest. Picking the Midwest as a geography may be important as inflation may affect the Midwest geography differently than other geographies. For example, the Apparel CPI for the trailing 12 months in the Midwest was 3.1%, whereas it was 5.3% nationwide. A difference of 2.2% could significantly impact a big contract. Further, selecting the Apparel category is more specific to a clothing company verse Fuels and Utilities. The Fuels and Utilities category increased by 11.2% in the Midwest over the last 12 months. In just the few examples provided, there is a huge range of percentage differences, and this is why picking a specific appropriate metric is important.

Frequency of Repricing A good escalation clause's second constraint is regarding how often the repricing should be applied. For example, repricing could occur every month with the release of the latest CPI from the BLS, or it could happen quarterly to provide more stability. Again, this decision is largely a business strategy decision.

Pricing Floor and Ceiling Inserting a pricing floor and ceiling may be an important element to add to an escalation clause. In some businesses, certain price points may cause the business to no longer be feasible. For example, if

a lawn care business contracts with its customers using an escalation clause tied to Motor Fuel, it might not maintain customers if the clause results in the customers paying 40% more as per the current Motor Fuel CPI. Therefore, a lawn care company might want to set a price ceiling increase of no more than a 10% increase in a given year. Such a price ceiling may help incentivize customers to sign up rather than being scared to sign such an escalation clause. Alternatively, a business might consider adding a pricing floor. Say, for example, deflation occurs, and the CPI goes negative, a business might want to restrict the possibility of a price decrease.

Closing Thoughts Ultimately, the contract terms and decisions a business makes need to be done pragmatically. Proposed contract terms are only possible if the parties to a contract are willing to agree to the terms and the terms are suitable to all parties.

Fargo Patent & Business Law, PLLC is an intellectual property and business law firm. The firm helps innovative businesses and inventors develop opportunities by turning their great ideas into protected assets. The information provided in this article does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. All information, content, and material is for general informational or educational purposes only. Information provided may not be the most up-to-date legal information, and it is recommended that readers contact their attorney to obtain advice on any particular legal matter.

Academic Insight

The 6SA Framework:


he ability to craft an argument and to defend one’s position in a logical and succinct manner is a critical skill for managers. To help my upperlevel management students improve in this area, I searched for various resources in the management education literature. I found an article written by Julian Kolbel and Erik Jentges (2018) titled The SixSentence Argument: Training Critical Thinking Skills Using Peer Review. Obviously, the title caught my attention, and I pondered if it was possible to craft an argument using only six sentences. After reading the article and implementing this tool in my classes over the years, the answer to that question is a resounding YES!

BY Shontarius D. Aikens, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Management at Offutt School of Business at Concordia College


MARCH 2022


Crafting an Argument in 120 words or less

For this month’s article, I want to introduce you to the Six Sentence Argument (6SA) framework, to provide you with a completed 6SA example, and to share some insights on how managers could use this tool.

• Challenge: “anticipates a point of criticism that a reader might voice concerning the reason. The idea is to strengthen the argument by preempting criticism.”

The Six Sentence Argument (6SA) Framework

• Rebuttal: “provides an answer to the challenge, for example, by limiting the position to certain situations. The purpose is to inform the reader that the author has weighed the pros and cons of the position.”

According to Kolbel and Jentges (2018), the Six Sentence Argument (6SA) is defined as “a mini-essay of six sentences that conveys one statement, supports it with one reason, and heads off one important challenge” (p. 120). The structure of a 6SA consists of six different functions and criterion:

• Introduction: “presents the topic of the 6SA. It guides the reader to the decision situation of the case.” • Position: “states the course of action the author decides to argue for. The author can choose any position as long as it responds to the decision situation.” • Reason: “supports the stated position. Authors need to choose the most compelling reason that can be expressed in one sentence.”

• Conclusion: “sums up the argument and states the result of the author’s reasoning. It should rest firmly on the previous sentences and avoid introducing new information.” The goal is to write a sentence that meets each purpose or function in the argument. To ensure conciseness, each sentence is limited to 20 words or less.

The 2019 College Football Playoff Debate: A 6SA Example

Before providing you with a 6SA example, let me first provide some context concerning

Dr. Aikens can be reached at: saikens@cord.edu

a debate that occurred during the 2018-2019 college football season. Each year, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee is tasked with selecting four teams to play in a playoff system to crown a national champion. There were three college football teams during that season (Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame) that were unquestionably deserving of the top 3 spots in the national championship playoff bracket. However, there was considerable debate among sports pundits regarding what team should get the fourth and final spot. There were three schools that equally had a strong case for being considered: Georgia, Oklahoma, and Ohio State. Some argued that the best team (regardless of their winloss record or conference affiliation) should be selected. Others argued that only conference champions should be permitted to play for a national title. Given my love for college football and to model and teach the 6SA framework to my students, I posed the question: “Which team should get the final spot in the 2019 College Football Playoff?”. And I crafted a 6SA to argue and to defend my position. Please note that each function of the 6SA framework is referenced (in parentheses) at the end of each sentence below: “The decision is to determine whether Georgia, Oklahoma, or Ohio State should receive the final spot in the playoff (Introduction). My position is that Oklahoma should be awarded the 4th and final spot over both Georgia and Ohio State (Position). Oklahoma won the Big 12 Conference Championship Saturday after beating Texas to avenge its only loss from earlier this season (Reason). If using the 4 best teams in approach, one could argue that Georgia should be awarded the final playoff spot (Challenge). While Georgia may be the better team, they have 2 losses, while Oklahoma only has 1 loss on the season (Rebuttal). Therefore, since Oklahoma is a 1 loss conference champion, unlike Georgia on both points, Oklahoma is more deserving (Conclusion).” Two things to mention regarding this 6SA example. First, notice that each sentence meets the criterion and word limit for each function. Second, when drafting a 6SA, it is important to consider how the sentences are

connected to each other (i.e., the flow). When reading the 6SA paragraph aloud, there is a natural flow and connection between the sentences. To accomplish this, appropriate transition words were included within each sentence during the editing and revision process.

Summary and Insights

The key thing to remember is that the 6SA is a framework that helps someone structure an argument. Once you understand and master the 6SA framework, you can adapt and modify it depending upon your needs. For example, it could be used to practice and to prepare for radio or TV interviews in which quick and to-the-point responses are essential due to limited time during segments. Or in circumstances where more written details and explanations are needed (e.g., a proposal or a position paper), one could still use the 6SA framework while eliminating the 20 words per sentence restriction. I hope you find the 6SA tool to be beneficial and helpful to you. For more information on the Six Sentence Argument (6SA), please refer to the original article: • Kölbel, J., & Jentges, E. (2018). The Six-Sentence Argument: Training Critical Thinking Skills Using Peer Review. Management Teaching Review, 3(2), 118–128. doi. org/10.1177/2379298117739856

Jessieca Bledsoe

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself. A. I was born in Coon Rapids, MN. I grew up in West Fargo and graduated from West Fargo High School. I went on to NDSU. I have a bachelor’s in apparel retail merchandising and design. After college, I fell in love with yoga and decided to pursue my 200-hour training. After completing that training, I taught at a studio in town for roughly two years. Then COVID-19 hit, which took many of us out of the fitness industry. During that time I pursued an additional 300 hours of training, making me a 500-hour master now. When travel opened back up, I took a yoga class in Arizona, and I fell back in love with it. Coming back to Fargo I decided that was my passion, to bring a solid yoga community back to Fargo. I’ve also been able to tie my passion for fashion into the business [Indigo Bloom Yoga and Wellness] as well. Q. How old is your studio Indigo Bloom Yoga and Wellness? A. We opened August 2, 2021. We are very young, but the growth over the last few months has been incredible. When I was younger I thought I’d own a cupcake bakery or a wedding business. I was familiar with the wellness industry because I’d been teaching at a studio for a while, and I found this space is really about making connections with people. You really get to know people, and it’s important in making people feel comfortable and empowered, especially for women. I knew what I wanted to do with the business in the beginning, but once we got clientele, it’s been about making sure we meet their needs and expectations too. It’s been incredible so far. We have a lot of returning faces, which is so great to see. I feel so blessed to have our incredible 14 instructors here as well. There hasn’t been much

Jessieca Bledsoe, Owner of Indigo Bloom Yoga and Wellness, talks with Ladyboss Midwest about falling in love with yoga and taking the leap to turn her passion into a career. Written and photo provided by Ladyboss Midwest 110

MARCH 2022

yet that’s been super difficult. It helps that I was known in the space before opening our doors. I had built relationships and a clientele base before we opened. Q. Do you think having been immersed in and really having gotten to know the wellness community in Fargo before opening Indigo is part of what has made these early months so successful? A. It helped a lot, being known in the community. When I went through training, I really held onto the idea that I was going through all of these hours so that I could share this practice with others. I found myself in the practice, and what I wanted to do was give that same experience to people. I wasn’t there to teach a fitness class or a yoga class; I was there to guide mind, body and soul. With COVID I think a lot of people were looking for an outlet, something that would help their entire wellbeing and pull them out of the darkness. It’s incredible just for someone to take an hour in their day to focus on themselves. Q. You’re obviously very passionate about yoga. I’m curious how you set boundaries when your job is something you love so much. A. That has been one of the hardest things for me. All of the instructors here I know as a friend. Being able to draw the line between boss and employee and friend has been especially difficult. I’m lucky because the group of women here are so respectful of that relationship. I’m willing to listen and be open and keep communication open with them. I try to nurture those

relationships here, make sure they have the resources they need to be their best. Q. What advice or insight do you have for other young women who want to start a business? A. Why wait? We all have excuses. Owning this studio was supposed to happen ten years down the line for me. I woke up one morning and I was like, “I need to do this now. I’ll figure it out.” I had a great support system who helped me get the doors open. You can have a five-year plan, but when those five years are up, will you really do it? I say take the leap and trust the process.

COVID I’ve heard so many women talk about falling into a hole, maybe losing sight of their purpose. I started yoga for anxiety and depression. Mental health really took a crash during COVID, and I felt like I really found myself again through yoga. Even if you bring your friend with you to class, when you’re there, you’re focused on yourself. You’re there for yourself. A lot of my instructors will say at the beginning, “For the next hour nothing else matters.” It helps you get yourself out of your head. We find when you give yourself that hour of focus it can help even outside of the studio.

Q. Did you get any good advice when you were just starting out? A. My dad really pushed me to do it. He had moved to Fargo when he was nineteen and started working for the railroad and eventually started his own business. He said he’d asked himself, “why wait?” So, when I was talking with him about opening this studio he looked at me and asked, “why are you waiting?” I had all of these excuses. He’d say there’s no reason to wait for a dream. Then he started saying if I didn’t open the studio, he’d do it himself, hah! But knowing my dad was able to make his dream come true really inspired me to do the same. Q. Why do you think mindfulness or just taking that hour on the mat to be with yourself is so important? A. A lot of us are focused on others and figuring out how to help others. Since



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