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novembeR 2021

We talk to industry experts to learn more about how to close those big deals.

sales tech

the future of sales

Small Business 27 books to help Financing Basics you sell better

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Sponsored Content: Bringing it All Together: A Path to Efficient Effective HR


Sponsored Content: Giving Should Be Easy; The FM Area Foundation Can Help


Sponsored Content: Raven Rising: Helping Individuals Rise Above Adversity


Crank Up Your Sales Efforts With These Pieces of Tech


Ben Nelson's Tips for Salespeople Moving Into 2022


10 Sales Tips to Help You Leave 2021 in the Dust


The Personal Side of Selling


The Future of Sales


Outstate MN: Innovation in Northwest MN and Fargo


27 Books To Help You Sell Better


Awesome Foundation Grant Award Winner: Life Care Unites Foundation


Four Ways to Stop Someone from Stealing Your Idea


Ladyboss of the Month: Katie Anderson


10 Questions With John Machacek: Sign Badgers


Academic Insight


Event Calendar






All our stories in one place

Business events calendar

Read all the past issues

Extra video content

E d i t o r ’s n o t e

The Secret to Sales


ecret to Sales, I hardly know her. Seriously, I've never sold anything in my life. But as my boss likes to say in some fashion or another, "we are all in sales." And he is right. Right now, I'm trying to sell you on reading this magazine. And you should because, like me, you're probably trying to sell every day without even realizing it. Meaning, this magazine can be helpful to almost anyone. Sure,

the majority of the content is built around advice for people that are actually selling for a profession. However, I believe that anyone can benefit from the many practices that are central to a good salesperson. Who wouldn't benefit from the ability to listen, commitment to service and the all-important follow up? So, if you're a salesperson, great. Take a read, you will definitely learn something from

any of the experts we worked with to make this magazine possible. If you're not a salesperson, give this magazine a peak, you might just learn something as well.

Brady Drake Fargo INC! Editor

Brady Drake, Fargo INC! Editor

NOVEMBER 2021 Volume 6 Issue 11

Fargo INC! is published 12 times a year and is available at area businesses and online at

Publisher EDITORIAL Editorial Team Lead Editors

Mike Dragosavich Brady Drake Geneva Nodland, Grant Ayers

Graphic Designer

Kim Cowles

Creative Strategist

Josiah Kopp

Contract Photographer Contributors

Jeremy Albright Ben Nelson, Bethany Berkeley,, Brandi Malarkey, Thomas Kading, Ladyboss Midwest, John Machacek, Shontarius D. Aikens

INTERACTIVE Business Development Manager

Nick Schommer

Business Development Associate

Kellen Feeney

Videographers Graphic Designer ADVERTISING VP of Business Development Sales Representatives

Client Relations Client Relations Manager Marketing Designer ADMINISTRATION VP of Human Resources Account Strategist DISTRIBUTION Delivery

Tommy Uhlir, Robert Whiteside Ben Buchanan Paul Hoefer Al Anderson Zach Willis Jenny Johnson Christy German Colleen Dreyer Cassie Wiste John Stuber

Fargo INC! is published by Spotlight LLC, Copyright 2020 Fargo INC! & 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 ADVERTISING: 701-478-SPOT (7768)


BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER: A PATH TO EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE HR Businesses have learned to do many things in new ways over the past two years. The business of human resources (HR) is no different. With the rapid adoption of remote work, the challenges of attracting and retaining talent, and evolving compliance and reporting requirements, a business’s benefits and how they are accessed and administered are more important than ever. One new framework that is gaining traction is called Human Capital Management (HCM). This integrated approach consolidates and links functions of HR so businesses can enjoy the convenience of consolidating HR and benefit services with a single vendor.

Compliance: Efficiently Manage the Rising Tide of Reporting

Compliance rules are on the rise for retirement accounts, health-savings accounts (HSAs), and other regulated benefits. A centralized system makes it easier to comply with regulations, and also helps HR professionals avoid costly mistakes. For example, failing to provide employeerequested contributions in a timely manner can result in penalties for an employer. The automation of an integrated HR-benefits system makes such a situation far less likely.

Onboarding: Create a Positive and Easy Experience

An efficient onboarding experience helps orient new employees, sets them up for success and can improve their satisfaction. The ability to independently access and set up benefits helps new employees appreciate all their employer has to offer. The onboarding automation found in HCM systems makes the experience consistent and understandable and works remotely–a critical feature for businesses hiring people who may not be coming into the office.

Data Entry and Transfer: Empowering Employees, Ensuring Accuracy

A centralized HR system, starting with payroll, reduces one major headache all HR professionals face: Data management and integrity. A centralized system shares

employee data, eliminating re-entry and it can automatically run repeated processes. If employees have their own login capabilities, they can take ownership of updating information about dependents, elections, or other personal data, saving personnel time and reducing the potential for input errors.

Communication and Action Items: Reach Everyone, Everywhere

HR professionals follow a calendar that is driven by regulatory and business requirements. During enrollment season, at tax time, or throughout an internal company initiative, an employer needs to reach all employees simultaneously with education and action items. A centralized system makes this easier. It can deliver messages, videos, documents, and can reduce time-intensive tasks, such as providing tax forms based on an employee’s state of residence.

Administration: Helping HR Professionals Make Good Use of Time

Integrating benefits eliminates the need to re-enter or transmit data, generally a labor-intensive process. Merely sourcing payroll, health, retirement, and other benefits from a single source may create these efficiencies. The vendor can offer automated integration across benefit offerings, and on a practical level, it means fewer vendors to manage, pay, and interact with, and less chance that changes made by one vendor will have a ripple effect through a company.

The business advantages of an efficient system can include freeing up HR professionals to spend time on strategic and employeerelated matters, reducing errors that can lead to compliance issues and possible penalties, and increased employee satisfaction. If you want to learn more about consolidating benefits with one provider or about HCM, contact an Alerus business advisor today. The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Alerus does not provide legal or tax advice. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation. Alerus Financial, N.A. is member FDIC.


ROBERT - Videography

AL - Sales

ZACH - Sales GRANT - Editorial

JENNY - Client Relations TOMMY - Videography

BEN - Design

PAUL - Sales CHRISTY - Design

CASSIE - Admin

JOSIAH - Editorial

KIM - Design

JOHN - Distribution COLLEEN - HR & Operations

NICK - Digital Services KELLEN - Digital Services

JEREMY - Photography

BRADY - Editorial

“We have been working with SWL for 8 years. They help us with HR practices, contracts, and other legal issues that come up. I love how progressive and proactive they are. They have always felt like a partner and not just a law firm we call when we need something.” MIKE DRAGOSAVICH

Founder, Spotlight


Who doesn't love soup? Seriously, who? It's so versatile. Use whatever, vegetables, meat, seasonings, broths or creams you want. Don't want something hot? That is more than understandable. Sometimes you're just not in the mood. Good thing you can still have some gazpacho! In this issue, we bring you some amazing soup recipes to try and so much more.

All of the athletes in this RISE issue found success in their freshman campaigns and bigger things are certainly ahead. Read to learn more about their road to achievement.

Are you overwhelmed trying to plan for the big day? You're not alone. We've done our best to provide all types of local resources, expert guidance, destressing tips and everything in between. Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. Hopefully, this issue will help you prepare for that day so it's all about you.

In this issue, you will find a snippet of the [x[cube LABS 2021 Agritech Report. Read and you will learn about some of the amazing things going on in the world of agriculture.


GIVING SHOULD BE EASY THE FM AREA FOUNDATION CAN HELP FM Area Foundation donors Ron and Nancy Saeger with Executive Director Eric Wilkie


When you think of giving, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s giving to your child’s school function, donating to your church or supporting a local nonprofit. No matter the cause, giving back should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Since 1960, the FM Area Foundation has been inspiring people throughout the Red River Valley to give back to their communities and the causes they love. Throughout the FM Area Foundation’s existence, more than $61 million has been granted to charitable organizations from the 400 plus charitable funds they manage. The FM Area Foundation helps donors maximize their philanthropy while simplifying the process. If you want to give back, but don’t know which organization to give to, or the best assets to gift, or the most tax effective way to make your gift, the FM Area Foundation can help. Their expert staff knows the Fargo-Moorhead community well, the work of local nonprofits, as well as giving strategies to drive local impact.

By Courtney Larson Communications and Marketing Director FM Area Foundation



“We truly want to make being generous easy and rewarding, and we exist to help the citizens of our local communities create the most philanthropic place on the planet. A vibrant community full of opportunities for everyone is key to our region’s continued prosperity. If we can help connect your passion to a purpose, together, we’ll have greater impact on the place we call home,” said Eric Wilkie, Executive Director of the FM Area Foundation.

The FM Area Foundation Staff (L to R):

Michelle Johnson, Greg Diehl, Carrie Feigum, Lexi Oestreich, Eric Wilkie, Patty Mastel, Courtney Larson

The FM Area Foundation offers personalized service when it comes to philanthropy. They offer seven different fund types, like donor advised funds, scholarship funds, field-of-interest funds, and a variety of giving vehicles. Charitable funds can be endowed, meaning they will exist forever, or set up as pass-through funds so more dollars go to work today. “We established a donor advised fund to consolidate assets that will be used for charitable purposes. Doing so has management and tax advantages that make our dollars go further in helping others,” said Ron Saeger. Ron and his wife, Nancy, established the Saeger Family Fund at the FM Area Foundation to benefit organizations working across the spectrum of social justice, human rights, education, cultural and conservation agencies serving our community, region, nation and world. “There are many needs and worthwhile endeavors to meet them in our community and region. While we can only do so much as individuals, we can give financial support to nonprofits that will, in turn, help many more in many ways,” said Saeger. The staff at the FM Area Foundation also work with donors and their financial advisors, accountants and estate planners to ensure their giving meets both their financial and philanthropic goals both now and for the future. “It’s very important to my clients that their philanthropic giving

matches their values. The FM Area Foundation is a local, knowledgeable resource that can provide them with options and insight into the needs within our community, and they work closely with donors to find ways to give that reflects their goals,” said Sandy Korbel, Financial Advisor at Alerus. Assets you might not typically think of can also make great charitable gifts, while providing tax benefits, such as real estate. Clarence and Mary Horsager recently donated 80 acres of farmland to establish a donor advised fund to support their favorite charities. “We are very pleased with how smoothly things went when donating farmland to the FM Area Foundation. We have also received appreciation responses from recipients of grants made from our donor-advised fund. We’re thankful for the Foundation’s excellent service,” said Clarence and Mary Horsager. Making a charitable gift of real estate through the FM Area Foundation can help you turn your property gains into community good. The value of your real estate may exceed that of any other asset you own. Your gift may qualify for a tax deduction based on its full market value and avoid the capital gains tax that would otherwise arise from the sale of the property. With gifts of real estate, your property gains translate into community impact, so you get a more rewarding return on a major asset. “Don’t hesitate to contact the FM Area Foundation to learn about available options and how easy it is to establish a fund that will meet your needs. The staff is great and will professionally assist you in every way,” said Saeger.



Impact Investing A new way of investing

Impact investing leverages more assets for good. The purpose of impact investing is to invest in projects that generate both a social and financial return. To date, the FM Area Foundation has put $1.4 million back into the FargoMoorhead area by investing in local projects focused on creating a vibrant community. “Our local impact investing program represents a new and exciting opportunity to provide meaningful support to our community nonprofits in a different manner than a traditional grant. Our nonprofits are doing great work but sometimes lack the capacity to attract traditional financial support. We want to help fill the gap between hopes and reality by coming alongside our nonprofits to make a difference locally,” said Wilkie. The following organizations have secured funding through the FM Area Foundation’s impact investing program to help carry out their mission related work: Cass Clay Community Land Trust A $200,000 loan to cover the subsidy cost of four affordable workforce homes in Fargo that will be owner-occupied by local families in the fall of 2021. Emerging Prairie A $200,000 loan is providing capital improvement dollars needed by Emerging Prairie to enhance the Prairie Den, a professional coworking space available for local entrepreneurs. CAPLP - Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership A $100,000 loan helped complete Lakes & Prairies’ down payment for an office in south Moorhead, which now houses two full-day, full-year Head Start classrooms, Child Care Aware staff and additional outreach and selfsufficiency services. Rebuilding Together A $600,000 loan to Rebuilding Together allowed their organization to build two twin homes that will provide affordable housing options in Fargo.

Sandy Korbel,

Financial Advisor Alerus



Soul Solutions Recovery Center A $300,000 guaranty is helping Soul Solutions secure a five-year lease with Alliance Property Group. Soul Solutions is a new nonprofit that will provide outpatient chemical dependency services to people in Fargo and the surrounding area.


What is a Community Foundation? The FM Area Foundation is a community foundation. Community foundations are grantmaking public charities dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area. They bring together the financial resources of individuals, families and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities.

These investments, once returned to the Foundation, will be re-used for other socially beneficial projects. The recycling of this capital into local projects generates positive outcomes year after year. The FM Area Foundation continues to develop this new program while simultaneously looking for more opportunities to invest.

Caring Catalog Give back to the place you love

The holiday season is a great time to give, and the Caring Catalog offers a central location for community members to view a wide variety of charitable projects helping to make the Cass-Clay area a more vibrant place to live. “At the community foundation, we often get questions about the work being done by local charities, so in 2018, we created the Caring Catalog, an online, crowdfunding platform where area nonprofits can share their stories and community members can give to great causes doing amazing work locally,” said Wilkie. The Caring Catalog has grown every year, both by number of nonprofits participating and dollars raised. Community members use the Caring Catalog as a resource to learn about the needs in the community and make tax-deductible donations.

The 2021 Caring Catalog runs November 29 through December 13. There is no participation fee for nonprofits, credit card fees are covered by the FM Area Foundation and 100 percent of your gift goes directly into the community through the participating charities. Gifts of all sizes are welcomed and appreciated. “There are giving incentives available throughout the Caring Catalog— matching dollars, special drawings, social media contests and more thanks to our generous sponsors,” said Wilkie. Learn more at

Philanthropic Best Practices The FM Area Foundation is accredited by the Community Foundations National Standards Board. The National Standards ensure the values of community foundations are demonstrated through their commitment to legal compliance, philanthropic best practices and excellence that benefits communities.

Donor Advised Funds Donor advised funds are one of the fastest growing philanthropic planning tools in the marketplace. An individual or a family can make a tax-deductible transfer that qualifies as a charitable contribution, and then recommend grants to favorite charities. When you set up a donor advised fund at the FM Area Foundation, you work with the professional program staff identifying ways to use dollars from your fund to address the issues and needs you care about most.



Raven Rising: Helping Individuals Rise Above Adversity

Meet Steven Peterson, Bounty-Hunter-TurnedLife-Coach

Courage, Resilience, Strength; Those are the three cornerstones of Raven Rising. Meet Steven Peterson, founder of Raven Rising and life coach to so many individuals rising above adversity, which you will get to hear testimonials from later. Steven Peterson's dream for Raven Rising first began when he was a bail agent and bounty hunter in the late 90s. Peterson was able to see first-hand the stress and anxiety these individuals were facing with their addictions, and he was filled with love and compassion as well as a mission to provide them the tools they need to face adversity and reclaim their lives.



Raven Rising began as an organization in 2015, selling tactical gadgets and wilderness gear to raise funds for a high ropes course, which supplemented training and therapy for individuals facing addictions. Peterson understood the vicious cycle people struggling with addictions face, and wanted to create a facility to help them find freedom—and Raven Rising was born. We sat down with Peterson to learn more about the mission and work that goes into the entire program.

Steven Peterson Tell me about the history of the C.O.P.E. program in Minnesota: Who all helped orchestrate and bring it to fruition? The C.O.P.E. program has been with the Boy Scouts since 1981. Locally, Chad Swenson of Fargo was one of the original Scouting Staff to offer these activities to youths. Originally only for Scouts, we in the late Eighties were lucky enough to expand the program to include different groups around the region. By the Nineties, we were able to include groups from adjudicated youth programs. In the early Two Thousand's, through my involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous, we were able to organize AA trips where they too could participate in various portions of C.O.P.E. activities and methodologies. Since those original small groups, they each have turned into their own entities that have grown into annual events that have seen thousands of people over the years. Your goal has been to bring this program to North Dakota. What did you see lacking in the ND region that this program could solve? In 2019, I was able to work as a lobbyist during the North Dakota legislative session. That work had me listening to and hearing the concerns of the Human Services committees of the House and Senate. Many different concerned parties came to speak about many issues during that session. I took the time to speak with many of those who came to testify on their various subjects. When I brought up and explained the C.O.P.E. program in Minnesota, many said they'd love to bring their students or patients, but that the hours of driving and related costs were prohibitive. Others identified current and past political differences with the Scouting organization as a reason not to participate. The simplest solution I saw was to bring a facility to North Dakota and centralize it in the state to increase access. We also have no connections to the Scouting organization, and their current legal problems nationally. We are creating a hybrid, where with cross-training of already established therapists, that we are able to service groups that

have never had access to this methodology before. While based on the Scouts program, its focus at our facility will be on helping people with PTSD and other issues find the tools and skills to enjoy a fruitful life. Who and what inspires you the most about this program, and what are you most excited about looking ahead? The who's that inspire this is a long list of people who go back decades. Col. Dick Bourne (Rt.) and Bob "Ya Gotta Wanna" Young were critical people for me when I was younger. Bob especially, as a Bail Bondsman, help me see people in an entirely different light. My experiences with him helped frame how I see alcohol and drug dependence, and its impacts on people's lives. What inspires me is the future, the unseen potential energy becoming kinetic. Even more so with the hope that we can make this accessible to adults and youths across North Dakota.



How can people get involved and help? To learn more about Raven Rising or to help the cause, visit their online store, The sales provide the company with the funds needed to achieve their next steps of moving forward.

Jenna Vanhorne How were you introduced to Steven and how did he help you overcome adversity? I met Steven in 2019 while we were both working in the capital during a session. We became friends and worked through a lot of issues separately, but together. Steven has a way of putting the world into terms I can understand. We both have frequented some of the same spaces on our life's journeys, be it from opposite sides of the spectrum. Because of his understanding of my past, he has been instrumental in shaping my future. No one has put as much faith and belief in me in my life as much has Steven has. What positive takeaways did you apply to your life after working with Steven? Positive takeaways....I've never had a conversation with Steven where he wasn't teaching me something. No matter what action I take in life, I hear Steven's voice and encouragement in my head while forming my decisions. He's changed my way of thinking completely and I have grown because of it. Because of him, I have trust and faith in humanity, because he's proved without a doubt that he will be there for me no matter what. I can't imagine my life without him. What would you say to someone considering looking to participate in a Raven Rising event? Do the thing but don't do it with half a heart. Throw everything you have into it emotionally and mentally. If you do this, you cannot fail.



Chris Kenney How were you introduced to Steven and how did he help you overcome adversity?

What would you say to someone considering looking to participate in a Raven Rising event?

Steven and I became acquainted through work at Hector International Airport during our time at Vic's Aircraft Sales and Flight Training. I was a hangar attendant, and Steve worked in sales for the office. We quickly became friends, and he did me the honor of taking me under his mentorship as well.

To all those who wish to participate in any RR events, they will be provided with some truly valuable networking and mentorship. Stevens's experience in a multitude of disciplines and areas of expertise will be invaluable. The work that RR will provide is a testament to progress and the values that Steven represents every day.

What positive takeaways did you apply to your life after working with Steven? Stevens's guidance has been applied to nearly every aspect of my personal and professional life. Through his guidance, I've learned to manage my finance, goals, and business acumen.

Brandon Fitzgerald How were you introduced to Steven and how did he help you overcome adversity? I was introduced to Steven through a mutual business associate. Steven and I share a mutual passion for helping others. The cornerstone of this passion is the belief in true harm reduction and evidence-based practices. Raven Rising is dedicated to bringing opportunities to all people regardless of the individual’s identity, race, religion, or socioeconomic status. What positive takeaways did you apply to your life after working with Steven?

empowerment programs to all people. This creativity and outside-the-box thinking can be utilized in almost every area of a person’s life. What would you say to someone considering looking to participate in a Raven Rising event? You will be challenged. The high ropes courses will challenge you mentally and physically. In the end, you may be surprised at what you can accomplish on your own and with a team of individuals who believe in you. At the very least, expect to have fun.

As I continue to work with Steven, we are working towards finding creative ways to bring recovery and




Crank Up Your Sales' Efforts With These Pieces of Tech What it does: "Reduce wasted opportunities by executing the right activity with the right people. From buyer signals to sales cadences, automated tools can help you close deals." -From the Cirrus Insight Website

What it does:

What it does: Boxxstep helps sellers better manage committee relationships by helping users map out who they know and what they know to better understand what to do next and with whom.

What it does: "Sales Hub eliminates friction by bringing all your tools and data together on one easy-to-use, powerful CRM platform your whole team will love. Now you’re freed up to focus on what really matters: your customers." -From the HubSpot Website



Use AI-powered Chatbots to chat with visitors in realtime . Capture visitor information with customizable Web Forms. Understand visitor intent. Track page visits and actions on your site. -From Freshworks Website

What it does: "Jiminny: the sales coaching platform that records, transcribes and analyses your team's customer conversations so that you can collaborate, coach and grow effortlessly." -From Jiminny Website

What it does: "Our mission is to support your success with a platform that helps you manage your business, sell more effectively, automate service delivery, and control technology effectively." -From ConnectWise Manage Website

SALES TECH What it does: "Bombora measures prospects’ digital journey across 4,000+ premium B2B websites, so you know exactly what prospects are in the market for, letting you guide them to your solution." -From the Bombora Website

What it does:

What it does:

"PFL delivers authentic human experiences by orchestrating impactful direct mail in an ecosystem fueled by data. We bring the measurement, personalization, and predictability we expect from digital to direct mail. We amplify growth for businesses, and we have a proven track record of doing this for some of the biggest brands in the world.

"Our proprietary network, Intelligence, connects revenue-facing professionals who can help each other and studies buyer activity across every sales touchpoint to learn how each buyer buys — transforming those interactions into invaluable insights, forecasts, and opportunity odds for sellers." -From the Collective[i] Website

Our Hybrid Experience Platform integrates with your current systems and listens for intent signals—behavioral data—to influence the timing and content for your most effective channel…direct mail." -From the PFL website

What it does: "Use efficient SFA to manage the complete sales cycle– from lead to repeat sales–and automate sales processes of any type." -From the Sales Creatio Website.



What it does: "Visualize your sales team’s email activity with your own email analytics dashboard. That which gets measured gets improved." -From the EmailAnalytics Website

What it does:

What it does:

"Pardot is a marketing automation solution that helps companies create meaningful connections, generate more pipeline, and empower sales to close more deals." -From the Pardot Website

What it does: "Zoho CRM empowers a global network of over 250,000 businesses in 180 countries to convert more leads, engage with customers, and grow their revenue." -From the Zoho CRM Website

What it does: "Guru is a company wiki that works in your workflow, so the information you need to do your job is always at your fingertips." -From the Guru Website

What it does: What it does: "Scraping millions of contacts and selling access to a database with no regards for accuracy is easy. Helping you build a clean prospecting list that you can plug into your sales tools and generate new leads from, right away? That’s hard. Data accuracy is our #1 priority at UpLead. That’s why we are the only prospecting company to offer a 95% or higher accuracy guarantee." -From the UpLead Website

What it does: "Veelo sales enablement gets your sales team performing at their best with built in training, content management and sales engagement." -From the Veelo Website

What it does: Qstream works by integrating microlearning into your employee ecosystem.



Ben Nelson's Tips for Salespeople Moving Into 2022

B By Ben Nelson



Ben Nelson, Senior Business Development Manager at Network Center, has spent 21 years in sales leadership. He is originally from Moorhead and graduated from MSUM with a Business Management degree. When he is not working, you can find him spending time with his Wife Jen, their three kids (Riley, Brayden and Harper) and their two dogs (Daisy and Duke). He also enjoys spending time at the lake, being outdoors, hunting, golfing and playing softball.

The Problem solution #1

Owners, C-Level executives, decision-makers are working remotely, and if they are not, their doors may be locked, or they don’t accept walk-ins without an appointment. So how do salespeople engage with them?



Sequencing The evolution of messaging has evolved immensely over the past few years. Social media, vlogs, podcasts, emails, team chat all have changed the way salespeople are conducting business today. If you are still sending your troops into the field knocking on doors you are probably seeing poor results. Sequencing has become a hot topic for most sales organizations. This automated process of engaging with prospects not only saves salespeople time, but is also one of the highest performing marketing channels in terms of ROI. There are many flavors of sequencing, two of the most common are TimeBased Sequencing and TriggerBased Sequencing. Time-Based Sequencing means certain actions are performed at predefined intervals. Trigger-Based Sequencing is more advanced and requires a little more time to set up but is well worth the rewards. A common version is Trigger-Based Email Sequencing. This method is when someone acts on an email sent, it triggers additional actions. If you click the web link, if you open the email, if you download a white paper, etc. all can act as triggers to launch a workflow of other emails

to help lead that customer down the path to engage with your sales team or purchase your product. What’s coming to sequencing – The future of sequencing is coming fast. Many CRM’s are now trying to integrate sequencing into their platforms. Multi-Platform Sequencing is the future. This allows messaging on multiple platforms automatically. Sending LinkedIn messages, sending emails, scheduling activities on salespeople’s daily dashboards, auto-scheduling meetings with customers using Callendly or Microsoft Bookings, all are the future of this platform. What we have done – At Network Center we partnered with a company to help us succeed in this area while at the same time developing software for the future. Mind Matrix works with our current CRM and has content already built for our industry. It allows for timebased and trigger-based email sequencing and is very automated. We are in the final stages of launching this to the sales team. Secondly, we are helping build the software of the future. A CRM dashboard that is being created by our partner, Plumly, will help automate the sequencing process,

alert salespeople in real-time with text messages or Teams messages for prompt responses, using pre-recorded voicemails with the correct messages, video messages to email or LinkedIn and many other unique offerings. The abilities are endless and we look forward to evolving this over the next few months/years.

In 2022 I feel video messaging will be a sales tool used by all the top sales professionals. Engaging with people and re-humanizing contact with your potential customers is so important right now. Currently, traditional engagements are not working. Door knocking is not the same. The contacts are not available or working from home, doors are locked, or appointments are needed. Phone calling is a voicemail graveyard, contacts are not answering their phones unless they know the number, even if you spoof the number. Emails are getting lost to a slough of junk emails that don’t get read, and if they do, are not engaging potential customers. Therefore, sales professionals need to get creative and stand out. Video messaging is the tool all sales organizations should be implementing. You get to humanize your interaction with potential customers. They get to put

a name to the face. They see your smile and how passionate you are about your product. You get to personalize the message to that client, write their name on a piece of paper, hold up their logo. Do something that makes you stand out and you will see wins. These videos are also helping sales professionals hold more and better conversations by sending pre and postmeeting videos to engage prospects, letting them know you care and they can trust you. Another great option is delivering proposals with a video to help them step through more complex proposals using a screen recorder option. All of these make you stand out from your competition.

customers to click a link and enter information, download a white paper or request a quote or meeting. What we are doing – Network Center is implementing a software called BombBomb as a video platform. This platform lets us create and track videos, embed marketing information, do screen sharing and overall engage with clients at a higher rate–which is estimated to be over double what our traditional methods have resulted in. They are also showing over 75% more click-throughs rates than typical emails or messages.

solution #2

video messaging

Find a platform for video messaging also allows you to track the performance of your videos. You can see who is clicking on it and when, how long they watched it, you can even embed “call to actions” for FARGOINC.COM


solution #3

Building your team



You can have the best CRM in the world, you can use the most renowned database tool for finding potential customers, you can implement sequencing and you can deploy a video messaging platform but if your sales organization is not ready, all will be wasted. It is important to have your team engaged in the tools you are implementing. They must “buy in” to the concepts presented or they will never work. These also need to have the time and resources to perform. In many organizations, you just have sales professionals and that’s it. Those professionals need to handle everything from pre-sales engagements to qualifying, proposing and closing all the way to nurturing the client for future business. In those organizations, it is hard to implement these advanced tools because many are inundated with daily sales “busy” work. Therefore, many organizations are transforming. Sales organizational transformations have been going on for years. We all know that 80% of the sales are done by 20% of the reps. So, organizations are looking to change this stat and here is how they have done it and what Network Center is working towards. Creating a process in sales to do more with less. Implementing Sales Development Representatives (SDR’s) to work the pre-sales side of the sales cycle is helping keep the higher producing Account Mangers (AM’s) in front of more prospects. These SDR’s use the tools above to engage prospects and schedule meetings for the Account Managers. These SDR’s are entry positions with lower

costs than Account Managers but bring a huge value to the organization by keeping the AM’s in the field. You are also building a pipeline of future AM’s with these SDR positions. Lastly, we all know what a typical AM’s mentality is, find a prospect, close the deal, move on to the next prospect. There is no development of the customer beyond the initial sale, and if there is, it is usually initiated by the customer. So, moving to a Customer Success Manager (CSM) role will help build your recurring business and keep clients longer. Trust is established with the CSM’s and you will see added growth with your clients. We have all heard the line “I didn’t know you sold that” and just cringe. This helps your current clients know and understand all the products you sell.

In summary, sales is a tough industry right now. Many sales professionals are having problems finding products, finding prospects, and engaging with clients. Sales professionals need to find new methods to engage, stand out amongst the crowd and be seen as a valuable and trusted resource. Hopefully, some of the topics in this article help move your organization along and as always I would be happy to discuss any of the topics listed here.

10 Via Ryan Dohrn Website

By Ryan Dohrn Emmy Winning Sales Coach Ryan Dohrn is a top motivational speaker that won an Emmy for marketing excellence while working for ABC TV/Walt Disney Co. and was recognized by Forbes. com with the “Best of the Web” award for his business strategies.

Ryan’s focus is leadership training and team performance development. His passion for sales and marketing has given him the unique opportunity to touch half a billion dollars in revenue for companies in 7 countries. Ryan was one of the youngest managers in Walt Disney history. His management insights have been featured in USA Today and on CNN. Ryan is an internationally certified business coach, has trained over 30,000 professionals, and works monthly with companies in 15 business sectors.

2021 has been an absolutely c-r-az-y year, one we’ll never forget. But now it’s time to jump into 2022 and ramp up for a MUCH better year—a year that’s filled with some crazy success! The question is, what are we going to do to dive into 2022 with a fervor? And how can we do more with less? (Because I’m sure we’re all being tasked to do just that.) So, I’m going to share with you some ideas that can help all of us drive toward serious success in 2022. When it comes down to it, these are fundamental things that we need to do consistently every year—in sales, in marketing and in business—to truly become and to stay exceedingly successful. These suggestions go way beyond the standard New Year’s resolutions people make. Because did you know that 75% of people just like you and me fail on those resolutions by January 28? They don’t even keep those resolutions alive more than 28 days! Why? It’s because they don’t do these 10 things to set themselves up for success—success that lasts all year long and takes them into the next.


Most people go straight to goal setting, when they really need to set keystone habits first. What are they? They are far more important than

the big sales goals you will set for 2022. But what is a keystone? If you look at an arch in a doorway, picture an old castle if you will, there’s a prominent stone right in the center that looks like a wedge. And without that stone, called the “keystone,” the arch would fall. The strength of that arch comes from the keystone right in the center. It’s that foundational piece of an arch that’s going to last hundreds, if not thousands, of years. What are keystone habits for you and me? Simple things, like getting plenty of sleep. Drinking plenty of water. Reducing stress by getting out and exercising. Things like that. Think about it this way. Is weight loss a keystone habit? The answer is probably not. But a keystone habit to help you reach that larger goal might be, when you’re at the grocery store, to only shop from the outside aisles of the store, and not in the middle where the less healthy stuff is. Right? Keystone habits are fundamental. What do they look like for you? The biggest one for me is sleep—making sure I get at least eight hours each night. And it’s tough because I love to binge watch Netflix after a long day of work. So think about your keystone habits … they’re going to be different from your big goals, but they’re going to set you up for success so you can reach the big ones.



#2 Before you think about how you’ll get to your sales goals, you’ve got to think about why. The why is fundamentally important to your success in goal setting in 2022.

Another mini goal in trying to get to the bigger goal could be that you’re going to learn your sales math, your call-to-close ratios, and then improve upon them.

Going back to the weight loss example, what would the “why” look like? Why are you trying to lose weight? To be healthier. But why? To live longer. But really, why? So that you don’t die! And you can actually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

To sum up mini goals… set them to get to your bigger goals. And before that, establish your keystone habits, and then sit down and identify the “why” in your bigger goals.

So idea no. 2 gets down to the heart of the matter—and making sure you identify the “why” in every goal that you set. Not just the what, not just the how, but the why.


See, a lot of times the reason you fail on the big goals is because the mini goals have not been set or achieved. And there are typically three mini goals below each main goal. And when you actually achieve your mini goals, that allows you to get to your big goal. So let’s say, for example, that your big goal is to exceed your sales numbers in 2022. Excellent. Now what are the mini goals to get you there? One mini goal might be to establish an active pipeline that you’re working every three days. And perhaps that


could start with even another mini goal—like learning how to work your CRM really effectively.



Heading into 2022, we’re all being tasked to do more with less. So, being a time management master comes down, in my sales experience, to time blocking. You’ve absolutely got to learn to time block. Let’s say one of your mini goals is, “I need to call 25 people each and every day.” How will you reach this? Time blocking. Put it on your calendar and make it repeat each day. Time blocking is fundamentally one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. It has made the most impact on my sales life, my marketing life … even my personal life.


Planning to adjust your plan is part and parcel to your success because a lot of times we fail at goals simply

because the train came off the tracks as we were trying to get to the goal. And when that happened, we simply didn’t know what to do. So, plan to adjust your plan. Just plan to fail. “What are you saying?" The gurus (be careful about selfproclaimed gurus) always say, “You’ve got to visualize winning. Visualize reaching your goals.” But here’s what I tell people to think about in my sales training. Plan to fail so that you have a plan for when the train comes off the tracks—so you can get back on the tracks again, really fast. Planning to adjust your plan is really about understanding that the vast majority of people are going to fail on their way to getting to the big goal. So because of that, you want to plan to adjust your plan. When the mini goal train goes off the tracks, how do you see that it’s going off the tracks and how do you get it back on? A lot of it, quite honestly, is simply paying attention.


Think about it. When do you lose the most weight? When you have a buddy. When do you gain the most muscle mass—on your own or with a trainer? Usually with a trainer. You probably need some kind of an accountability buddy. Now, if you don’t have one, you can use your calendar, your phone or an app to constantly remind you. Whatever you use, an accountability

buddy is vitally important in your sales life, your marketing life and your business life. How do you find one? Maybe you pay for a coach. And that’s okay—I have a coach, and I think I’m pretty good at what I do, but I have a coach. And that coach is always asking me, “How are you doing on this? How are you doing on that?” Having an accountability buddy, in whatever form that takes for you, is very, very important.


In the sales business, if you’re going to achieve your sales goals, you’ve got to know your deal counts. You’ve got to know your call-to-close ratios. It’s so difficult to go into a month of selling if you don’t know how many calls you need to make to get a meeting. And then, how many meetings do you need to have to close a deal? And how many deals do you need to get to goal? To be successful in the sales business, you’ve got to know your numbers so you know what it takes for

you to close a deal. I stress this over and over in my sales training. Here’s an example: I know that if I call 10 people and I work them every three days, out of those 10 people I’m going to get a couple of meetings. Then, out of those meetings, usually about half of them, I’m going to get a proposal in front of that person. And from there, about 30 percent of the time I’m going to close. So, when I get to 10 meetings, I close about three in 10. And I think that’s very, very successful. But I was talking to a guy the other day and he said, “Ryan, I close 80% of meetings I go on. So I need help closing that last 20%.” And I’m like, “Dude, you need to write a book, because nobody closes 80% (without discounting).” So, know your deal count. I truly believe that if you’re closing 30-40%, you’re doing well out there in COVID land.

#8 Randomness kills your day. Randomness kills your goals. Randomness will kill your love life. Randomness will kill your personal life. Randomness does not help you win. So how do you recognize it and how do you get rid of it? First, it’s very simple. Look for things that work and repeat them. And then look for things that don’t work, and don’t repeat them. I know it sounds so simple, but people just don’t pay attention. Recognize things that work and repeat those things. Recognize things that are not working and stop doing them. It’s amazing to me the number of people that do the wrong thing in the sales business, in the marketing business and in business in general. And they just keep doing it. I believe they think to themselves, “If I just work harder it’s going to work out.” And I know where this comes from. It comes from having really great parents, grandparents, or somebody who raised you say, “If you work hard enough, you can achieve anything.” Well, there’s some truth in that. I’m not trying to diminish what your parents or grandma said to you, but recognize, friends: When things aren’t working, stop doing the things that don’t work.



Conversely, when things are working, repeat the things that do work. Pay attention to them. Because these are the things that will make you successful.


Maybe your rewards look something like this, “I’m going to do this, and then if this is the end result I get a spa day for myself.” Maybe for you, it’s an expensive bottle of bourbon. Whatever that looks like for you, set rewards for yourself if you need them.


In my sales training, I encourage people to have a whiteboard in their offices. And I encourage them to write down their mini goals and their goals, and then to track themselves. The reason is, you’ve got to work your plan. What’s your plan? Work it. If you’re not working your plan, nobody else is going to work it for you. To recap, the 10 strategies I’ve outlined here start with setting keystone habits first. These habits are foundational and vitally important. No. 2, identify the “why” in your goal: why are you setting this goal? Why is it important to you, to your family, to your business? No 3, set mini goals—you’ve got to set at least three mini goals, on average, to get to the bigger goal. No. 4, become a time management

master by time blocking your day. In sales, every day, we need to prospect, retain and propose. So block out time for it. No. 5, you’re going to fail, so plan for it. And plan to adjust your plan. The train is going to come off the tracks and you’ll need to recognize it when it does, and then have a plan to get it back on the tracks quickly. No. 6, you may need an accountability buddy. If you don’t need one, maybe your calendar is enough. But you’re probably going to be more successful with a buddy. No 7, you’ve got to know your deal count. You have to know how much it takes for you to get to a meeting. How much it takes for you to close deals. Work that sales math to your advantage. No. 8, recognize randomness and get rid of it in your life. Be deliberate. No. 9, set rewards for yourself. If you need them, set them for yourself. Then, no. 10, you’ve got to work your plan. There you have it. This is my roadmap for sales success. It’s not the proposal template. It’s not the email templates. It’s recognizing why I’m doing things, how I’m doing things, and setting goals for myself. And here’s the thing, friends. You can do it, too. And then we’ll both see the kind of success in 2022 that we want to see. Remember, if sales was easy everybody would be doing it, and they’re not. So we’re either crazy or we’ve found a career that will feed our families for a lifetime.

Anna Hanson Sales Director ByteSpeed




A Q&A WITH ANNA HANSON FROM BYTESPEED Anna Hanson spent 11 years as a sales associate for ByteSpeed before moving into a sales leadership role in 2016. Because of her experience working on both sides of management, she has a unique perspective on sales and a lot to say. The first thing she is very adamant about is that sales is a really great line of work to be in. According to Hanson, there is a stigma around sales. When she recently when to speak to a class at Minnesota State University Moorhead and asked if any of the students wanted to work in sales in the future, she hardly got a response. "There's a stigma around sales that makes people not want to be in sales. Being a salesperson isn't about getting people solutions they don't need and it's not about forcing your ideas on people," said Hanson. "It's about listening to the issues that people are dealing with and helping them solve problems." Once she explained that a career in sales could be about helping people (while having the chance to earn a lot of money) the class seemed to perk up a bit. "I have hired a lot of salespeople over the years that have told me, I'm not a salesperson," said Hanson. "That's perfect. I don't want them to be. I just want them to become experts in the solutions that we have." That might found foreign to some, but according to Hanson, that truly is the best way to sell. "I don't feel like I've ever been a salesman a day in my life," said Hanson. "It's really important to

help your clients find solutions. Take the recent supply chain shortage for example. We've been having a lot of issues with people calling and asking for a certain laptop. I might have to tell them that we won't have what they want in until February. What a horrible thing to have to say to somebody. But, we always try to make sure we let them know what other options we have that can fit their needs. That way the customer is still being helped and their need is being met. If at the end of the day, somebody feels like you help them and you get to feel like you did help them, then you won that sale." "I do think that there's a real push in the market for that relationshipbased selling. Everything else is automated. If you're a salesperson, and you're just totally focused on automation and process, you will be replaced," said Hanson. "I like the convenience of Amazon, but I don't have a relationship with them. There's a reason I go to SCHEELS, everybody there is really nice to me. I feel like I have a relationship with them. They're good company. They do great things for the community. It's personal. And I could buy all that stuff on Amazon. I could buy it online. But the relationships are not there." And so there's a process in the way that I stagger my follow ups. And there's a process in the way that I structure my day. And part of it is that I'm not naturally really organized. And I think most sales people were not like the most organized, people were running all over and having all these fantastic conversations. And if you don't build some sort of process and structure into your day, you may forge

Q& A

What are your top sales tips? Are there any tricks you have picked up along the way? What is that old saying, you have two ears and one mouth? Listen, don’t talk. Don’t pitch people, let them tell you what their challenges are in your specific area of expertise and look for ways to resolve them. All of your potential customers are different, and what matters to one person may not matter to another. It sounds cliché, but treat people the way you want to be treated.

Do you have any advice for building a relationship with a customer? Be sincere. You are talking to a real person with real-life ups and downs. People have good days and bad days. Sometimes there are sick kids, family losses, tough bosses, divorces and all of the messy things that life throws at a person. If someone doesn’t want to talk or does not get back to you right away, it’s not personal. Be patient, be kind, and don’t make it about you. Always keep honesty and integrity at the front of your decisionmaking process. In any sales job, there will be



times where you have to share news with someone that you feel they might not like. Maybe the lead times are super long or one of the features they want isn’t available with the solution you are offering. Be very upfront about any possible issues and you will build trust. Everyone wants to make informed decisions. Give the people you want to work with the opportunity to do that and you will build life long relationships on solid foundations. Make sure you are working for an organization that you believe in that offers a product you have confidence in. If either of those things are missing, you should find another place to represent. You can’t be successful in sales if either of those things are not there.

I get the impression that you see some soft skills missing with salespeople today. What are some things you see missing? How do you think those things can be improved? In my experience, empathy is one of the most important characteristics of a good salesperson. I feel that good salespeople don’t make relationships

about moving their own agendas forward. Successful relationships are built on mutual benefit.

Why is sales a good job to be in? Sales is one of the most important positions for most companies. You are the face of the organization and key to its success. If you love meeting people, making friends and having a good salary, I don’t think there is a better career out there! My team will tell you that they love the ability to be creative every day as they try to find the perfect solution for what their individual customers need.

I can't seem to get past the cold call phase, do you have any advice to help me take the next step and get some meetings? Absolutely! If you are calling to be a resource and provide value, you should never feel guilty picking up the phone. Find a way to introduce value right away in the conversation and qualify that a meeting is a good fit for the benefit of both of you. Time is a valuable commodity for you and the customer. I know a lot of people are afraid to call because they believe someone will ask a question they do not know

the answer to. The truth is, no one expects you to know every answer. All you have to do is find the answer and you are the hero, even if it is just connecting someone with another brilliant resource. Just jump in, what is the worst thing that can happen? If everyone is saying yes to you, you aren’t asking enough. Getting told no is a very normal part of the process and you should expect it, not fear it.

How do you qualify prospects and decide how to reach out to? At ByteSpeed we have an idea of what sort of an organization we would be a good fit for defined and we focus hard on engaging with that set of people. I think it is really important for organizations to define that for their sales staff. There are prospects you are a great fit for, but there will always be prospects that are not right,and knowing who not to call is just as important as knowing who to call.

Do you have any tips for follow-ups? Be consistent and ask people you are working with how and how often

they want you to follow up with them. If you wait for someone to get back to you, you might be waiting a very long time. Good salespeople make it easy for people to buy from them. You are not bugging people when you follow up on a proposal.

Do you have any thoughts on sequencing and automated emails? I think marketing emails should be just that–marketing. I think it is a valuable tool every company should engage in using. When it comes to sequencing and automated emails, they can also be a very useful tool when done correctly, but I have always preferred a more personal approach.

Do you have any recommendations on CRM's? We use Microsoft Dynamics and have been happy with it. I know there are a ton of great tools out there. I would just recommend that whatever you use, be diligent about keeping your records organized and up to date!

How do you get past the

gatekeeper? I try to keep in mind that a gatekeeper is just a person doing their job. Kill them with kindness and don’t treat them like a hurdle you are trying to overcome. Remember their name. They can be a very positive influencer if you build a good relationship.

The Future of Sales By Brady Drake

In this issue, we've tried to give the sales experts as much voice as possible, after all, they are the experts. And Shawn Peterson is nothing short of a sales expert. He has been a salesperson himself, he has led sales teams as a Senior Vice President of Sales, he has led teams as a Chief Executive Officer and now he is working full-time on his business Quantum Business Solutions. We sat down with Peterson to pick his brain on what upcoming trends he sees in the sales world.

Shawn Peterson CEO of Quantum Business Solutions Photo by Michael Woolheater Photography 56


What are some of the most helpful things in the automation space these days? I personally think the most helpful automations are coming out of HubSpot which offers the ability to mirror and emulate your best sales rep and their processes with automation. If your best sales rep would send a handwritten thank you note on day one, a gift on day five and call on day seven, that can be automated. That way your mediocre salesperson is doing the same thing as your best salesperson. The HubSpot space is supposed to triple in the next three years. Their revenue is about to go from 1 billion to 3 billion. The ecosystem is going to go from 4.8 billion to 19 billion. That shows you that if you're not going towards automation, someone else will. Your competitors will. I call this outbound inbound. What you're trying to do right now is personalize things, but on a mass scale. The ability to mass personalize is a huge trend right now.

The ability to automate the client experience and systemize it out is helping to reduce churn, build up the client experience and build referral networks.

Is there anything you wish you could automate in the sales process right now but can't? The only things that can't really be automated right now is emotional intelligence and business acumen. That's where the training of your sales professionals comes in. The idea is to get the right product in front of the right person at the right time with the right margin and to have your salespeople trained well enough to close the deal. Then, you want to have a systemized process for the client following the sale so you can ensure that they are getting a certain experience from the organization.

"70% of what a salesperson does today can be automated. From list building to prospecting, outreach, texts, emails, followups and videos, all of it can be automated. There are a lot of ways to multiply oneself and improve processes." -Shawn Peterson So the biggest gap you are seeing right now is actually coming after the sale? No, I'm just saying that the only things you can't really automate right now is the emotional intelligence piece and the business acumen piece. However, there is AI software out there right now that can feed you information right before a meeting about any news updates from that company, how to sell to that type of position. Things like that.

With Quantum, Peterson is offering his clients two distinct services with the goal of improving revenue generation.

What are the four main pieces of software that you have found helpful during your career?

1. Virtual Chief Revenue Officer 2. Implementation of automation software and artificial intelligence software.

They're all really strong and they have a good price point. They're also, from a complexity standpoint, at a point where most people will be able to execute on them. The other great this about them is that they can all automate with HubSpot.



Book Recommendation From Shawn Peterson

How recent are some of these trends? I would say it has been around for a while, but the adoption is starting to go from leading edge to cutting edge. What I mean by that is that the companies who hop in now are going to have a major advantage. Let's say you wait one year to build some of these things out but your competition starts building things out today, they're going to have a major competitive advantage over you.

Do you see most companies starting to use these things yet? No, most aren't using them yet. All Amazon is is a platform, but think



about how many companies they have put out of business. Technology can change a lot of things very quickly and you'd rather be in on it early trying to figure things out instead of playing catch up. If they aren't using it yet, they should.

Do you have any other advice on how businesses can switch their mindsets for this? You're going to want to start looking at having a buyer-centric sales process as a company. Most companies have a seller-centric process. They sell things the way they want to do it. But buyers are getting used to a certain experience because of the way retail is heading. So, you have to change your sales process to accommodate your customers.

You want to make things as easy as possible for your buyers.

What other advice do you have? It's very important to try to provide value to your clients in the form of information. You want to educate them not on your product but what they need to know from a business perspective to be interested in your product. Have questions for Shawn? Reach out at

By Laura Beier


One may react in disbelief when told the amount of flourishing innovation in the Fargo-Moorhead area, but recent developments show it to be true. With dedicated economic development associations paired with state funding, blossoming startups aiming to change the way we look at ordering food, and virtual academies looking to accelerate growth, there’s really no direction but up for the

Northwestern Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota region. And the statistics bear this out. Since the mid-1800s, the area’s population has grown every decade. The median age in the region is 31.6 years, making for a population that can seize and drive innovation and entrepreneurship given the catalysts.

*This article is the first in a series on Outstate MN Innovation written in partnership with Great North Ventures.

John Machacek,

Chief innovation officer of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation.

A Creative and “Weird” Community “The entrepreneurial history goes back a lot of time, there are lots of success stories,” said John Machacek, chief innovation officer of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation. Describing his position as "interesting, with lots of variety," he said there really are not a lot of jobs like his. “There are lots of ecosystem builders, but not as many that focus on relationships, and being the friend of the entrepreneurs,” Machacek, who currently works with approximately 90 startups, said. This goes along with the community, which he described as friendly, collaborative, and creative. “Fargo-Moorhead is kind of a weird community, but a good weird,” he said.

“We’ve fostered a lot of creativity and ‘cando’ people. It’s not your normal Midwest mindset.” In addition to the plethora of state resources and programs—the Grand Farm initiative, the LIFT program, and Growth Initiative Fund— Machacek has worked with Emerging Prairie to share resources with entrepreneurs in the region. “There’s been a good thing between us and Emerging Prairie [since 2012],” he said, mentioning additional programs for small businesses such as Innovate North Dakota, a four-phase grant program with a total of $40,000 per recipient.

About Great North Ventures: Great North Ventures is an earlystage venture fund headquartered in Minnesota. The fund’s motto is “Execution Is Our North Star,” based on a belief that great startups can be built anywhere, but, to flourish, they need teams that can execute. The fund is led and supported by founders and operators that have scaled tech businesses from the idea stage to multiple IPOs with an aim at providing both capital and guidance to early-stage startups in support of strengthening their execution from idea to scale-up.



Greg Tehven,

Co-Founder of Emerging Prairie. Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography

Greg Tehven, Co-Founder of Emerging Prairie, would agree that it’s an exciting time for startups in the region. “I think entrepreneurship is alive and well in FargoMoorhead and has been for a long time,” he said. Formerly a world traveler and founder of a national nonprofit, Tehven “fell in love with Fargo” after returning to his hometown. He and three other founders—including Jake Joraanstad of the flourishing agtech startup, Bushel (which has now raised $75M)—originally built out Emerging Prairie as an online content blog to tell the story of entrepreneurship, but ended up turning it into an entrepreneurial support organization. “[Turns out] bringing entrepreneurs together was more important than writing about them,” Tehven said, of Emerging Prairie. It organized and sponsored the



largest “1 Million Cups” chapter in the nation until 2020. It now runs StartupBREW Fargo, a weekly event that highlights entrepreneurship; organizes one of the biggest TEDx events in the country; and was previously very involved in Startup Weekend Fargo. Real estate, manufacturing, agriculture, and hardware have all done incredibly well in the region, Tehven explained. “I think people overlook the successful outcomes we’ve had here,” he said. Both he and Machachek mentioned that local DNA sciences company Aldevron recently sold for $9 billion. “[They] overlook the vibrancy of our downtown—there’s a really high energy and youthful environment,” Tehven said, echoing Machachek’s sentiment of a collaborative and creative spirit, which has been noticed by Great North Ventures.

“The startups, ecosystem leaders, and energy are all outstanding in FargoMoorhead, so it’s easy to get more involved in supporting the community,” said Ryan Weber, managing partner of Minnesotabased Great North Ventures. “We’ve found opportunities for founders there to participate in our free GreaterMN gBeta St. Cloud Startup Accelerator programs and it’s been exciting for us to participate in conferences and founder retreats in the Fargo-Moorhead area.”

*This article is the first in a series on Outstate MN Innovation written in partnership with Great North Ventures.

Impacting a Billion People One of these creative spirits in this area is Brian Larry, founder of the rapidly-growing platform Where’s My Food Truck.

encouraging people to eat at food trucks—another marketing strategy— go to youth education programs in the community.

“I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life,” he said, as he gave details of previous companies in technology such as a Wi-Fi loyalty program. Once he figured out an opportunity with contactless ordering during the past year of untraditional dining experiences, he found his niche.

“My motto is to impact one billion people in a positive way,” Larry said, explaining that his “when we all do better, we all do better” mindset hit after COVID-19 ravaged the world.

What started out as a platform that tracks user data every time a QR code is scanned at a food truck has now scaled to a full operation that not only helps people book food trucks, but functions as a booking site for food trucks. “We do a bunch of marketing and advertising for free for the food truck industry, and it’s more of a partnership,” Larry explained. “Once the customer pays them, it pays me.” He was able to build out the concept with a $40,000 Innovate North Dakota grant, and in the past nine months, it’s grown immensely. His web app—which is now active in 35 cities across the nation—has the first smart menu with videos, now includes a texting and automated email platform, and includes a loyalty program. “It’s a brain for a business,” he said. Once that QR code is scanned, Larry is not only helping food trucks get food to people faster and more efficiently, but he’s tracking demographics along the way so his clients can understand everyone who comes through the door. Hoping to expand into the restaurant and coffee shop scene, Larry also designed a charity aspect of the business. Proceeds from T-shirts

Realizing in the past few years that the U.S. school system is flawed for many students, he wanted to give back to today’s youth. Larry mentioned ILT Academy as another organization that’s helping with education in underrepresented communities. “ILT [Academy] is giving that entrepreneurial spark very early,” Larry, who has gone through one of their cohorts, said. ILT Academy is a startup studio with a variety of programs aimed at delivering practical and extensive educational experiences to underestimated entrepreneurs. “Our mission is to find all of the regional and local entrepreneurs that are in silos right now,” said Nick Tietz, founder and CEO. Originally started in Minnesota cities Red Wing and St. Cloud, based on a collaboration between Red Wing Ignite, Great North Ventures, and Launch MN. ILT Academy has now grown to 10 locations across the state, including the Fargo-Moorhead area. Beginning just a week before the pandemic last year, Tietz spoke on how going virtual wasn’t an option before—but has now allowed them to grow rapidly. “Now I can drive across the state in 10 minutes,” he said. ILT was founded on the idea that there’s a ton of opportunity for innovation in areas that are overlooked

Brian Larry, Founder of Where's My Food Truck



*This article is the first in a series on Outstate MN Innovation written in partnership with Great North Ventures.

because of size, resources, or lack of big companies that have come out of the region. “[These spots] may not be the first places people go looking for talent and ideas, but there are tons,” Tietz said. “[We thought], if we could teach them the skills to be an innovator, would they be able to turn these ideas into bigger, better companies?” In the past nine months, ILT Academy has worked with more than 100 startups in Minnesota through their intensive workshops and two levels of cohort-style programs. Each program is focused on lean startup innovation, with the backbone being the lean canvas. “We start with design thinking to maximize founders’ ability to think critically about the problem they’re trying to solve,” Tietz said. The difference between ILT and other organizations that support startups is that it’s made up of individuals who are founders at heart, he said. Programming is focused on getting to the bottom of questions like, “Is this a problem worth solving? And, “Do people want this solution from you?”



The Future of Fargo ILT is excited to be bringing programming to the Fargo-Moorhead area, Tietz said—something that was made possible in part by Great North Ventures, who sponsored four scholarships that will make bringing additional talent to the cohort possible. “[They] really have their act together, they’re really starting to build,” he said of the region. “I’m excited to work on making the Fargo-Moorhead area our second home.” Larry from Where’s My Food Truck expressed similar sentiments. “As an

entrepreneur, you really can’t ask for a better city to be a part of,” he said. Bringing in revenue with his company from other states while creating jobs for youth here, he’s a great example of how helping entrepreneurs, in turn, spurs economic growth for the state. “It’s gotten to a point where the entrepreneur system is amazing.” But it’s not stopping anytime soon. With a growing interest in socalled flyover states, a vibrant downtown, and three colleges in the area, this region has nothing

but potential to grow. “I think the future of the ecosystem is uniquely positioned to have a transitional impact,” Tehven said.



Books To Help You Sell Better




by Anthony Iannarino

by Roger Fish and William Ury

The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition, from the author of The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need and The Lost Art of Closing.

Getting to Yes offers a proven, step-by-step strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. Thoroughly updated and revised, it offers readers a straight- forward, universally applicable method for negotiating personal and professional disputes without getting angry-or getting taken.



The purpose of this book is to give you a series of ideas, methods, strategies, and techniques that you can use immediately to make more sales, faster and easier than ever before.


In this groundbreaking book, award winning sales leader Todd Caponi will reveal his hard-earned secrets for engaging potential buyers with unexpected honesty and understanding the buying brain to get the deal you want, while delighting your customer with the experience.



Finally! The definitive guide to the toughest, most challenging, and most rewarding job in sales. Front Line Sales Managers have to do it all – often without anyone showing them the ropes.


A former international hostage negotiator for the FBI offers a new field-tested approach to high-stakes negotiations whether in the boardroom or at home.




This book encapsulates author Trish Bertuzzi's three decades of practical, hands-on experience. It presents six elements for building new pipeline and accelerating revenue growth with inside sales.

Everyone has to "sell" their ideas and themselves to be successful. This new guide by America's #1 professional in the art of persuasion focuses on the most essential part of the sale—how to make them say "Yes, I will!"

Coaching Salespeople Into Sales Champions is a winning playbook for managers who need to strengthen and invigorate their sales team through executive sales coaching.

by Trish Bertuzzi

by Zig Ziglar


The Sales Acceleration Formula provides a scalable, predictable approach to growing revenue and building a winning sales team.” It's about taking a data-driven approach in order to develop a repeatable process to streamline the sales cycle, remove friction, and get leads “across the finish line” more quickly.

by Keith Rosen


In How to Get a Meeting with Anyone, Heinecke explains how you can use your own creative contact campaigns to get those critical conversations.




HACKING SALES by Mark Roberge

Hacking Sales creates an actionable, cutting edge sales process that can scale with your sales org and the ever changing world of technology.



Thinking about launching a new career or progressing in your existing career as a field application engineer or a technical sales professional? Do you dream of a career visiting and helping engineers in multiple industries, international travel, and a great salary earned using your ever-increasing technical knowledge? If so, then this is the book for you.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini—New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion—explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don’t have to be a scientist to learn how to use this science.

by Robert Cialdini

by Russell Jay Williamson


Packed with examples and anecdotes, New Sales. Simplified. offers a proven formula for prospecting, developing, and closing deals—in your time, on your terms.




by Jeb Blount In Sales EQ, Jeb Blount takes you on an unprecedented journey into the behaviors, techniques, and secrets of the highest earning salespeople in every industry and field.


THE 10X RULE by Grant Cardone

The 10X Rule says that 1) you should set targets for yourself that are 10X greater than what you believe you can achieve and 2) you should take actions that are 10X greater than what you believe are necessary to achieve your goals. The biggest mistake most people make in life is not setting goals high enough.



Sales Engagement is how you engage and interact with your potential buyer to create connection, grab attention, and generate enough interest to create a buying opportunity. Sales Engagement details the modern way to build the top of the funnel and generate qualified leads for B2B companies.

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" is all about how two systems — intuition and slow thinking — shape our judgment, and how we can effectively tap into both. Using principles of behavioral economics, Kahneman walks us through how to think and avoid mistakes in situations when the stakes are really high.

by Manny Medina, Max Altschuler and Mark Kosoglow

by Daniel Kahneman


21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling highlights the laws which determine whether you excel or stumble along in mediocrity. To excel you certainly don’t have to play by the rules but you do have to follow and implement the laws for aligning your actions, progressing forward and building a solid foundation for your future sales career success.








DJ Sebastian warns about the upcoming revolution in selling, then describes the proven strategies and approaches that business-to-business sales professionals can quickly adopt to help them prosper in this new world.

There are 4 distinct steps to every business transaction employed by all successful salespeople – and it’s the understanding and execution of those 4 steps that separates the elite from the rest of the pack.

From the Harvard Negotiation Project, the organization that brought you Getting to Yes, Difficult Conversations provides a step-by-step approach to having those tough conversations with less stress and more success.

To Sell Is Human shows you that selling is part of your life, no matter what you do, and what a successful salesperson looks like in the 21st century, with practical ideas to help you convince others in a more honest, natural and sustainable way.

by DJ Sebastian


This book is the legacy Chet Holmes left to help sales staff all over the world, by giving them 12 key strategies to relentlessly focus and execute on, in order to at least double their sales.



by Chris Murray

by Douglas Stone & Bruce Patton


by Daniel H. Pink


by Lee Bartlett

by Matthew Pollard & Derek Lewis

The No.1 Best Seller is a masterclass in professional selling, as seen through the eyes of a top salesman. Reflecting on an exemplary sales career, predominantly spent selling financial technology to the C-Suite and Investment Banking community, Lee Bartlett shares the mindset and methodology that have allowed him to consistently win the largest mandates in his industry.

Whether you want to drum up clients, pitch investors, or exceed quotas, Matthew’s advice, examples, and stories unleash the low-key, high-impact sales machine lurking inside.


Life Care Unites Foundation Sometimes giving as a family takes a surprising direction.


When the Robinson family relocated to Fargo in 2018 to recover from financial hardship, they were pleased to receive both support and assistance from the community. As they got back on their feet, they wanted to pay that effort forward and help others who were in similar situations. As the pandemic continued, and they watched the needs of the community grow, they were moved to try to do their part to combat the growing insecurity they perceived by creating the Life Care Unites Foundation. Created with seed money provided by the four Robinson children, the newly formed 501(c)3 nonprofit organization started in January 2021. Their collaboration with the Chisom Housing Group and The Arbors at McCormick park allows Katrina & Jeremy Robinson to operate their Relief Shopping and Hot Meal programs at 622 23rd Street South in Fargo. While Katrina Robinson organizes the Relief Shop, donations and volunteers, her husband Jeremy works on turning donations from local food pantries, farmers markets, and grocery stores into healthy meals with the goal of reducing food waste as well as feeding those in need. “We try to give people a healthier meal, not just serve things out of a can. When

BY Brandi




you are going through challenges, you need healthier food, and that isn’t always available,” says Jeremy. “There are a lot of groups in Fargo doing great work to provide assistance in the community. However, as the need grows, there are a lot of people who don’t qualify for assistance, but still need help. We are trying to fill in some of those gaps,” says Katrina of their organization. All four Robinson children actively participate in all aspects of running the new non-profit. The oldest daughter, Asia, is taking the lead on being the social media ambassador for the group, managing their TikTok and Snapchat accounts. The youngest daughter, India, hands out flyers and practices public speaking on behalf of the organization. The oldest son, Scott, is taking a position as junior chef to learn to manage the food program as it grows, while the younger son, Brice, is learning the basics of budgeting and what it costs to run the program. However, while it started as a family initiative, the group isn’t only a family affair. Life Care Unites Foundation is creating more partnerships within the community, and growing quickly. “Chisom has really made this possible by allowing us to run our Hot Meal and Relief Shop programs in their space. With the support of the Chisom and the Arbors at McCormick Park property management company, we are really excited to look at expanding the two

programs this fall to serve more meals and do more appointments,” says Katrina. “We’re hoping to move toward providing a hot meal every Friday and add an additional day where people can shop.” While the Life Care Unites Foundation strives to serve the McCormick Park and GAP Pantry communities, they also receive referrals through SENDCCA, Family Health Care, United Way, FirstLink, and Youthworks. In addition, they have also recently entered into a partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs of Red River Valley to create volunteer opportunities for the children in their programs to grow and learn. “The support has just been amazing,” agrees both Robinsons. With the assistance of the Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation, who named them as their July grantee with a gift of $1000, the group is hoping to host an additional initiative, a Winter Giving Event, in mid-November of this year. The event is designed to try to provide community members, especially children and teens, with the winter items they need before the holidays, so that families do not need to choose necessities over a Christmas memory or time with their loved ones. “We’re testing things out as a new organization, trying to see what works. Right now we are laying the groundwork,

speaking to people and other organizations, figuring out who else we can partner with. We want to continue growing and help bridge the gap with those who need help and can’t access it.” All the programs and initiatives of the Life Care Unites Foundation are offered at no cost to those they serve. “We don’t want to charge people for the things they need. If we can get donations and focus on reducing landfill and recycling, as well as help people who need help,

that’s the goal. The meals are free. The Relief Shopping center is free. Sometimes people are facing challenges, and they just need a little help to get through.” While the organization is looking to build community partnerships, they also very much welcome donors as well as individual volunteers for a variety of simple tasks for both programs. Opportunities are available on their website,, or they can be contacted at lifecareunites@, or Scheduling (701) 318-7836 Administrative Office: (701) 566-9221


any business people, entrepreneurs and creatives have an idea but are unsure how to keep it from being taken by someone else. A business owner might have a unique method to manufacture a device. An entrepreneur might have a unique business name they want to turn into a national brand. A creative person might have created artwork or a book. Each of these people has developed valuable content, and each of them is due credit for their work. When someone has taken the time to develop an idea, it can be frustrating and painful if that idea is taken. When it comes to intellectual property protection, there are four basic strategies to protect an idea. The strategies include a patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret. Some of the strategies are expensive and others are not so expensive. There are other techniques, strategies and combinations to protect an idea; the following focuses on describing the four basic strategies.



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

Katie Anderson Agent at New York Life, Fargo, ND

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself. A. It is always tricky talking about one’s self, isn’t it? Even as an agent with New York Life, talking with people every day, it is still difficult. Well, the basics are: I’m from Fargo, went to Fargo South High School then to NDSU, and later went back to school for my MBA. My favorite color is green. I like tacos. I am a relatively new cat mom with two fluffy kitties named Boo and Ghost. More recently, I engaged to a loving man named Sidney Ben Simons. My fiancé and I met at our gym, Academy of Combat Arts, where we both love practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and kickboxing. Currently, my friends have started a Dungeons & Dragons campaign (yes, we are quite nerdy), that we play on downtime. Q. How did you get involved in your work? A. After I got my MBA, I started to look at how best to put it to work for me. I was looking around on different job sites. During that time, my family was trying to find a nursing home for my grandmother. She needs more care than what we could give her at home. Now, at the time, I knew the basics about retirement, insurance, healthcare, etc. In going through my grandparent’s plan with my dad to try and help, I realized everything that they put away will be gone sooner rather than later. Now, this opened my eyes, and I stumbled upon New York Life through my research, which has been the best decision for me. I get to help other families as they grow and educate them on how our choices today can impact our families and life later on. Q. What do you wish more women knew about insurance? A. First thing first: Know what you have! If you have a spouse, know what they have and what their strategy is. All too often, I hear from

Katie Anderson has a passion for helping families as they grow and providing education on how choices made today can impact life later on. She talks with Ladyboss about tips on managing insurance, community connection, and self-care. Written and photo provided by Ladyboss Midwest 84


couples, “my spouse knows all that” or “my spouse takes care of that.” If something goes wrong or the other spouse isn’t there or is unreachable, you should know whom to contact. Even know if you are the beneficiary for any loved ones. When it comes to insurance, we should all look at what we currently have. Once we know that, I like to ask folks, “What do you want your insurance to do for you and your family?” Insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all. Your insurance should be customized to your lifestyle. Not to mention life changes happen. Take me for an example, I was not expecting to be engaged here this year, but surprise! At a minimum, you should review your insurance once a year. If things are the same, great; if not, look at what changes you can make or how to expand them. Q. How have you been staying connected with your community lately? A. The pandemic has been both a blessing and a curse when it comes to staying connected. Before, being able to go to events or social gatherings was the norm for us. Now, zoom meeting while wearing your pajama bottoms is a regular phenomenon. The bright side is that people have made it more of a priority to reach out to each other. I have attended more zoom gatherings simply because I don’t have to drive to them. Our community has been fantastic at providing virtual events for people to follow and stay connected. My generation has relied on social media, texting, and zoom/skype.

Now it seems to not register for many people. It’s why I have now started to actually call people, say hi to them, hear their voices. To me, it feels more personal, and it has gotten me through the pandemic. Q. What does self-care mean to you? A. Getting all my frustrations, anxiety, and aggression out on a bag is the most significant part of my life now. I always joke with my friends that if it weren’t for Kickboxing or JiuJitsu, I would probably be in a worse situation. The Academy of Combat Arts has become a second family to me. You develop deep relationships with folks whom you train with. They are always there for me, pushing me both physically and emotionally. We can’t go through this life with everything bottled up, and the coaches there have helped me get through those hard times. Having a support team that you can go to is incredibly important, especially after the past few years. Be selfish, go for that walk, reach out to your friends and family, talk with them. Let them know how you’re feeling or what you are thinking. Combined, you can release those pent-up emotions, get those endorphins, get the blood flowing.

me, life is not an “or”–it’s an “and.” For example if you’re trying to lose weight, and you’re at Chipotle, the “or” would be, “I can lose weight or have a burrito.” Now, I see it as, “I can lose weight and have a delicious meal at Chipotle.” This hit home for me. It’s still a work in progress, shifting my perspective, and I do have to remind myself of this advice often. Q. What is a recent challenge you’ve overcome? A. Building and establishing my practice has been an ongoing process that is both rewarding and challenging. As any small business owner knows, that challenge never really goes away. But recently, I have had to change my work habits since working from home. Like most people, over the pandemic, we switched to working from home. If you didn’t have an office already in place, you got creative. Unfortunately, this made for some bad habits, like munching on snacks all day. It took me some time and working with my mentors to get me back on track. For me, it’s the little habits that are the hardest to break, so this was a massive win for me.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard recently? A. Life is not an “or”–it is an “and.” We all talk about work-life balance and how it’s challenging to manage. I was that way too until a mentor told



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 seven 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 the CoFounders of Sign Badgers: Justin Nelson, Eric Roethel and James Botnen.

By John Machacek Photos by Josiah Kopp and Hillary Ehlen



01 Tell us your Sign Badgers elevator pitch? Sign Badgers is a small sign shop that does big things. Every day, our team is working with walk-in customers looking for yard signs or stickers all the way up to companies with locations across the country to provide store signage, equipment decals and custom display solutions. We want to be the go-to sign shop from simple to complex and everything in between.

02 How do you separate yourself from other sign manufacturers? We like to be very handson and collaborative with our customers. The fact that our products are being presented as a representation of our customer’s company or brand is something that we take very seriously. A lot of times when a customer comes to us with a project or an idea, they need our experience, suggestions and insight in order to bring it all to life. A lot of

our customer relationships have developed from the idea that we want to be seen as an extension of their team. We go the extra mile on each project instead of just maximizing the volume of orders passing through our shop, which ultimately gives us an opportunity to earn future and repeat business.

03 While I’ve known your team and company for several years, for the sake of the readers, as we may discuss this in the upcoming questions, will you please share more information about your other brands/ businesses?

website that offers a premium, consistent line of office signage that companies can use to outfit their entire building. 2. Event Badger ( is a company that we launched in 2019 to supply events and conferences with highquality wood, metal, acrylic, leather and paper name badges. 3. Cozy Timber Co. is a company that we partnered with in 2018 that custommanufactures doublesided farmhouse-style signage for vendor fairs, boutiques, and e-commerce sales. 4. In 2019, we also sold a company called Shirts From Fargo that we had owned and operated to provide the community with event and corporate apparel.

Although most of our focus and day-to-day attention is geared towards our local customer base through Sign Badgers, we have a few other brands under our operations umbrella. 1. Signs 4 Work ( is an online e-commerce



10 Questions 04 You seem like you are very entrepreneurial within the main holding company itself, with these different facets. How do you go about developing and managing these diversified lines? This has truly been one of our biggest challenges and lessons as we’ve grown over the past several years. In the early stages of Sign Badgers, it was very easy to pivot and jump from idea to idea or to chase down every job just to help keep the lights on. We were all over the board, bouncing from pressing custom shirts for an event to changing out a flagpole rope for a local company to pulling an all-nighter in order to finish up a vehicle wrap. It didn’t take long to realize how unsustainable that cycle was both for the health of the business and for us personally. Part of the thought behind separating the aspects of the business into different “lanes” was that it allowed us to be more intentional with our focus rather than having everything fall into one bucket. As soon as we created that separation, we were able to see that our local-facing sign business, Sign Badgers, was



where we currently needed to be placing the bulk of our attention and efforts. It’s still often a challenge to stay the course and not get distracted by the other aspects of our business that we might find more exciting at times. However, we’ve found that the more that we focus at this stage in our business, the healthier our company, along with our personal lives, has become.

05 You mentioned that you sold off Shirts From Fargo at some point. Is that an example of refining your focus areas? Absolutely. We had grown Shirts From Fargo to a point where it was generating about 30-35% of our overall sales and was profitable on a standalone basis. We had also started working with local charities and events with a unique fulfillment model that allowed them to sell apparel and promotional items online through the SFF website. However, even though we were excited about Shirts From Fargo’s trajectory, we couldn’t ignore how much of our time and energy it took away from the signage side of the business in terms of opportunity cost and spreading ourselves too thin. The current owner

has since taken Shirts From Fargo much further than we would have been able to with our diluted attention, and it has allowed us to pour that additional energy into areas of the business that fall more in line with where we need to be focused. So while we lost that revenue that we had built through the apparel/ promotional sales, we quickly recaptured it back within the year by our increased efforts and efficiencies in Sign Badgers and have since grown well beyond where we were with both companies under one roof.

06 That strategy of understanding areas of focus reminds me a little of how you decided to bring James on as a business partner a couple of years ago. How did that decision process go? When we made the decision to bring James on board a couple of years ago, we were candidly going through a pretty rough patch of burnout. We were still spread very thin at that point and working around the clock to keep juggling everything. Although we had a couple of great team members, our company

was still very scattered and lacking operationally. Rather than having defined roles, responsibilities and processes, we were basically operating with a “whateverit-takes” mindset where everyone was acting like their own project manager and tackling customer jobs and projects solo. We knew that James, who Justin had worked with in a previous print production job and had kept in touch with, was looking to make a career change and that his skill set was in the area that our company was lacking in. Even though our strengths in business were all different, most importantly our values as far as the priority of building a healthy work environment and supporting/empowering our team were in line with one another. Once that puzzle piece fell into place and James came on board, we were all able to lean into our individual strengths and start the ongoing process of organizing the company into a more functional, focused business ,which has paid dividends in terms of a balanced workflow and healthier culture.

07 What does culture and fit mean to all of you at Sign Badgers? We have an awesome team at Sign Badgers, and over the past few years, it has become

10 Questions very clear that they are the most important part of our business. We’ve also found that it is more about finding the person that’s the right fit as far as attitude and initiative rather than the person with the most experience. We brought on a good percentage of our employees at points where we weren’t necessarily looking to hire but couldn’t pass up on the person. In every one of those instances, it has paid off tremendously and we’ve grown from a team of five to fifteen over the past couple of years. Our successes are a direct result of our team and so our number one job is making sure that we’re there to support and empower them to create a healthy work environment that they can feel proud to be a part of and where they can do great work. We do that by offering different benefits and perks as we’ve grown, such as a paid week off between Christmas and New Years (outside of normal PTO accrual), 12 weeks paid maternity leave, flex scheduling and cultivating a positive environment, among other various things.

08 For Event Badger, what kind of impact did COVID have on this business line? In February of 2020, we attended our first tradeshow with Event Badger and

started to see progress in sales through the efforts that we were putting towards marketing and SEO. We had also developed a number of customers who were event planners around the country and were using our high-end, innovative badges for their events and conferences. Then came the COVID pandemic and everything ground to a halt because nobody was putting on any events. Fortunately, we had the ability to pivot our efforts into other areas of the business and all of our eggs weren’t in the “Event Badger basket." It’s something we don’t take for granted, as we know that many businesses in these industries, even a handful we regularly do business with, weren’t so lucky and got hit extremely hard by this downturn. As things have worked their way back towards normal, we’ve started to notice orders picking back up and more requests, which is exciting for us and hopefully a good sign of things to come.

09 If you could go back in time to Eric, Justin and James from several years ago, what hindsight advice would you give yourself? Hiring good people is always a risk worth taking. Early on when we were overextended

and our day-to-day was more in the business than on the business, we thought of a million reasons why we shouldn’t add to our team, couldn’t afford it, no time to train, right person/wrong seat, timing is wrong, etc. And now, looking back, the best decisions and the biggest steps forward that we’ve made at Sign Badgers all include hiring great people and surrounding ourselves with a good team.

10 What can we do as a community to help Sign Badgers succeed?

About John

Do business locally as often as you can. We’ve got a supportive community and part of the reason why we’ve been able to grow is that we lean on other local businesses. When we’ve got a banking question or had uncertainties about programs during COVID, we were able to pick up the phone and call our banker at First Western Bank & Trust in West Fargo. When we’ve got an HR question or if an employee has a question about benefits, we can pick up the phone and call our benefits team at PRO Resources in Detroit Lakes. We collaborate on projects with other local sign shops in the FMWF area all the time, and many of our supplies and rolls of media are sourced from vendors in the region as well. Whether your business goes to us or another sign shop in the area, we all benefit when business is done locally.



Academic Insight


ou are taking a long overdue and much needed vacation, and you have chosen a destination. Good for you! Now, you must decide on the mode of transportation. If you have a limited number of vacation days and the destination is far away, air travel might be the best method. If you have a lot of vacation time and you want the option of sightseeing while traveling to your ultimate destination, ground transportation might be the best method. This vacation planning example can be used to explain the

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




The Basics of Organizational Structure: 6 Guiding Questions connection between an organization’s strategy and its organizational structure Once an organization determines its strategy and sets its goals, organization leaders must design the optimal organizational structure. The importance of this is further emphasized by Richard L. Daft and Dorothy Marcic (2020), authors of the popular college management textbook titled Understanding Management:

Over the years of teaching management students, I’ve learned that by providing my management students with six guiding questions for organizational structure, it enables them to understand the basics while also providing them with a framework to comprehend more advanced management concepts and terminology related to organizational structures. I think managers will benefit from this as it will give them a starting point for assessing the structure of their respective organizations and to think about any possible changes that need to be made. The questions are presented in the sections below along with tips and recommendations.

“Structure is a powerful tool for reaching strategic goals, and a strategy’s success often is determined by its fit with organizational structure.” (p. 229).

How do we divide up the work?

Due to the pandemic, organizations had to adjust their strategies, goals, business models and business practices just to stay afloat. Now might be a good time to assess if any changes to the organizational structure needs to be made to improve alignment and fit. For this month’s article, my goal is to provide you with the basic concepts of organizational structure in a simplistic and easy to understand manner.

This question focuses on all the tasks that are completed in the organization. With the help of current employees, re-evaluate if tasks and responsibilities are a) still necessary and essential and b) are assigned to the appropriate positions. Then, revise and update position and job description documents as needed. Who reports to whom? This question focuses on the chain of command in the organization considering

Dr. Aikens can be reached at:

factors such as authority, responsibility, accountability and delegation relationships among all employees. With very few exceptions, traditional management practices suggest that each employee should report to only one direct supervisor. How many direct reports should a supervisor have? This question focuses on determining the maximum number of employees a manager is responsible for supervising. Non-managerial employees can focus their time solely on completing their individual work responsibilities. Supervisors must divide their time between a) completing their individual work responsibilities and b) managing and overseeing the work completed by their direct reports. Even more so with the latter, the more direct reports a supervisor has, the less amount of time that can be devoted to each direct report. Take this into consideration when determining the number of direct reports assigned to a supervisor. Traditional practice in the field of management recommends a maximum ratio of 7-10 direct reports for each supervisor. At what level of the organization should decisions be made? This question focuses on determining the level at which most decisions should be made in the organization. The key word in the previous sentence is the word “should.” In centralized organizations, decisions are typically made by individuals at the top levels of the organization; in decentralized organizations, decisions are made by individuals that are closer to the lower levels of the organization. Depending upon your organization and industry, consider balancing the need for consistency across the organization (centralization) with the ability to adapt and to be flexible in response to changing market demands (decentralization). Which organizational structure works best to accomplish the strategy of the organization? This question focuses on the structural design of the organization to indicate

how individual job positions are grouped together in departments. Departments can be grouped by a) functions (e.g., marketing, finance), b) divisions (e.g., geographical locations), or c) a matrix structure (e.g., includes both function and division design elements). Determine which of these three structures would work best to enable the organization to achieve its goals, and update/revise the organizational chart accordingly. How do we enable communication among people in different departments and at different levels? This question focuses on communication, collaboration, and information sharing practices throughout the organization. Consider the inner workings of an automobile. The individual parts of an automobile belong to one of several independent systems (i.e., fuel system, electrical system, braking system, etc.). Yet, the individual parts and the collective independent systems must work interdependently with other parts and systems for the car to function properly. This is akin to what needs to occur in an organization. Employees and the collective departments need to communicate and collaborate with each other on a regular basis. This can occur in various formal ways (e.g., cross functional committees, task forces, etc.). The preference is to create an organizational culture in which communication, collaboration and information sharing across units (horizontally) and at different levels (vertically) is encouraged and occurs naturally through daily employee interactions. For additional information and details about organizational structure concepts, I recommend reviewing Daft & Marcic’s (2020) Understanding Management textbook..




Fargo Events

NOVEMBER 23 Negotiate Like You Mean It

Tuesday, November 23 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Small negotiations are woven through the fabric of our lives, personally and professionally. Negotiations require listening to others carefully, and observing their actions and reactions. Understanding which issues are the most important to your client or colleague is critical in developing a solution that is acceptable to both parties. With a clear understanding of the other person’s desires, you can partner to develop a solution that builds trust and lasting relationships. Avalon Events Center and livestream 2525 Ninth Avenue South, Fargo ND 56103

NOVEMBER 19 Networking Before 9

Friday, November 19 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Join this newly formatted Networking Before 9 event! There will be set up speed networking Zoom rooms where you’ll be able to have short conversations with each person to ensure you’re able to meet and network with each person that joins. Make sure to bring a friend along!

DECEMBER 2 Holiday Business After Hours

Thursday, December 2 from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Deck the halls and get holly and jolly at the Chamber’s biggest networking event of the year! December's Business After Hours is one you don't want to miss! Attendees, connect with your peers and a range of exhibitors for a chance to win prizes and learn more about the Chamber’s business community. Join in for a great time over apps, networking and fun -- you might even spot Santa or some carolers! Delta by Marriott 1635 42nd Street South, Fargo Fargo ND 58103





Eggs & Issues: Necessity of Water Infrastructure - A Dive into scarcity and protection

Maximizing Greatness: Using Psychological Safety to Drive Team Performance

The Red River Valley Water Supply Project is the region's emergency water supply for over 50% of North Dakotans. A 1930s style drought will cause an extreme water shortage, leading to a $32 billion impact over 10 years.

Research clearly shows that teams and organizations with higher levels of psychological safety perform better on almost any metric or KPI than those with low psychological safety. In fact, for most teams, psychological safety is the number one variable contributing to performance.

Tuesday, December 7 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

The Diversion is the permanent flood protection solution our community needs, protecting more than 235,000 people from catastrophic flooding. This project will protect North Dakota’s economic epicenter and preserve $5.4 billion in wages and more than $3.5 billion in taxable sales. Join the Chamber as they dive into the importance of water supply and diversion.

Courtyard by Marriott 1080 28th Avenue South, Moorhead MN 56560

Wednesday, December 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Psychological safety might sound a bit fluffy, but it isn’t about putting bubble wrap around people or lowering expectations. It’s quite the opposite. Psychological safety is about creating a space where people speak up, take intelligent risks, and focus their energy on what drives success. Participants will learn the 4 Domains of Psychological Safety and how teams can leverage Psychological Safety to…

• Make great decisions • Create healthy group dynamics • Stimulate intelligent risk-taking & innovation • Foster inclusion & equity • Ensure effective execution • Retain & engage key talent Delta by Mariott and livestream 1635 42nd Street South, Fargo ND 58103

DECEMBER 14 Jingle Mingle

Tuesday, December 14 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Join the Chamber for an afternoon filled with activities, live stage performances and entertainment, cocktails, appetizers, networking, and more! Avalon Events Center 2525 Ninth Avenue South Fargo ND 56103