Archive | General

RSS feed for this section


Good Company: The Podcast
An Inside Look at Project 1 by ArtPrize
with Jori Bennett & Kevin Buist

Good Company: The Podcast logo over a photograph of the guests jori bennett and kevin buist

While visiting Grand Rapids, Jori Bennett’s husband called to tell her about a city with little traffic and lots of art. It just so happened to be during ArtPrize, and it led the Bennett family to relocate to Grand Rapids. Years later, Jori serves as the Executive Director of ArtPrize.

Now, after ten years, ArtPrize has shifted to a biennial competition to make way for the Project series of citywide art commissions. Project 1 is launching this September. We sat down with Jori and ArtPrize Artistic Director Kevin Buist to chat through what the community can expect from this new format, as well as some of their favorite pieces from the past, while we sipped on Rainbow Universe from Grand Rapids Brewing Company!

Listen Here!

Want to learn more about Project 1? Join us at the Chamber July 25 for Inside Project 1: Benefits for Business!

 Good Company The Podcast --- We help the cool people of Grand Rapids share their stories... while drinking Michigan-made craft beer.

Chef Jenna ‘Builds Success form Scratch’ with Grand Rapids Business Women

Chef Jenns of Amore Grand Rapids at WISE event Grand Rapids Business womenWISE Grand Rapids business women were fortunate to spend time with Chef Jenna of Amore Trattoria Italiana on Wednesday August 20 at the Downtown Grand Rapids offices of Varnum. All the elements of a successful business networking event were in place; a beautiful venue with spectacular views of the Grand Rapids skyline with billowing white clouds and crisp blue sky. Wine was plentiful as was the tantalizing hors’d oeuvres and desserts prepared with expertise and lots of amore by Chef Jenna and her staff.

All of these treats served along with the laugh out loud and heartwarming story that is the life of Chef Jenna captured the audience and endeared WISE attendees to the talented Grand Rapids female chef. Chef Jenna and husband Maurizio Arcidiacono have carved a special place in the hearts of Grand Rapids foodies with their award winning food and unique touch of personally greeting their customers.

Chef Jenna’s passion, love for Italian food and serving the Grand Rapids community is apparent in the tasty morsels she provided, the smiles she shared, and the love that filled the room as she gave us a taste of what Amore is all about. As every successful business owner knows it’s not all award ceremonies and recognition. It is the skill of rolling with the punches that separates the week from the strong. WISE attendees heard first hand authentic stories spun with Chef Jenna’s funny twists on the day to day challenges that the restaurant industry delivers. Thankfully, she loves what she does enough to plow through, always see the humor and share the love.

chef jenna of Amore in style with bacon and egg shoe designs

You know anybody who wears bacon and egg shoes is going to fun to hang out with!

Be sure to visit the restaurant to enjoy homemade pasta, authentic recipes from Nonna, and the unique specialties offered. Share your reviews with Chef Jenna and Maurizio when they visit the dining room. If you don’t see Chef Jenna at the restaurant while you are there she is probably out at event like WISE where she is gifting her time, expertise and food for a greater cause.

We are so grateful to Chef Jenn for saying ‘yes’ to WISE and sharing her time, story, love and food with us! We didn’t even have to have Jeff Daniels in the crowd to bring her in!

This is just the beginning of the many more evenings these Grand Rapids business women will share with her and her incredible Italian food at her restaurant located at 5080 Alpine Ave. Comstock Ave, MI 49321.

If you are interested in a special treat Chef Jenna offers chef tables at the restaurant and catering for events. Call ahead for specifics. You can also visit the Amore website for more information, reservations, recipes, and hours. While there , indulge in archived videos of local television spots where Chef Jenna has featured some of her recipes. For daily treats follow Amore on Facebook and Twitter along with AmoreChefJenna on Twitter and personal Facebook.

I don’t believe there has ever been a more enjoyable evening of networking with local Grand Rapids business women. Thank you Chef Jenna! Benvenuti!


Spice up your business with a recipe for success

What does success mean to you? Is it fame, fortune, a sense of belonging, being part of a community? There are so many definitions for success, but for WISE women the common thread is a growing business. Whether your business is just starting or well on its way, the road to success is paved in gravel and there will always be little bumps along the way. It’s important to have a community of friends and colleagues you can turn to with questions – or just to bounce a few ideas around with – and WISE provides that opportunity for anyone with an entrepreneurial heart. To that end, we’re so pleased to welcome Chef Jenna from Amore for our 3rd Quarter Event, Building Success From Scratch.

Jenna Arcidiacono from Amore De Trattoria, Grand Rapids’ very own 2013 Chef of the Year, will share her recipe for success on Wednesday, August 20. Networking starts at 5PM, with beverages and specially prepared tastings from Chef Jenna, on the sky deck at Varnum. Don’t miss this outstanding summer event and your opportunity to build success from scratch with a dash of seasoning from Chef Jenna.

Register for the August 13 event here:


WISE Women network. Do you?

Networking is critical for success in a business environment, and WISE always provides networking time at events. How can you utilize this time to successfully network and build relationships with other WISE women?

First, be genuine. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to show your personality. People are more likely to trust you when they feel you’re authentic, and trust is the foundation of any good relationship.

Second, know your goals. Why are you networking? What do you hope to gain from the relationships? Having goals will help you set a plan and you can target the right groups and the right people in your networking efforts.  It’s also important to be able to articulate your goals to others. If someone asks how they can help, be able to state it in a clear and concise way.

Third, volunteer. You’re benefitting from the organization; now it’s time to give back and support a group or organization that has supported you. In addition, volunteer positions are a great way to stay visible and at the top of everyone’s mind during the event.

Fourth, spark a conversation. Open-ended questions and interjecting stories help build and foster relationships. You wouldn’t ask  potential friends yes or no questions when you get to know them; treat networking the same way and get to know people. Listen to people’s responses and show genuine interest in the conversation.

Fifth, remember that networking is a give-and-take. You’re forging relationships and making connections, and along the way someone could help you out in some way. It’s important to always give back and provide the same assistance to those that have helped you – and others! Pay it forward.

Women as Mentors

WISE provides an environment of growth and support for business women. We’re able to connect with each other and help each other take our businesses to the next stage, contributing to each other’s success as a group. We are supportive of each other and offer advice. We are a group of women mentoring other women.

But what does this mean? And why is it so important in the business community to have a mentor? WISE women help each other achieve their goals, and we support each other in difficult times. We talk about the challenges we’ve faced or are facing so that our experiences can help others overcome those same challenges. We are empowering women to be leaders in the community.

Having a mentor early in your career can help women immensely. For younger career-minded women, mentorship is an opportunity to learn from others in the workforce that are more experienced than they are. For those that have been in the workforce for a while, mentoring a new employee is a way to learn what the younger generations in the workforce are thinking. Each generation faces its own unique challenges in the workplace, and women can learn from each other.

According to Business Insider, the biggest variable that differentiates women in business who are moderately successful versus phenomenally successful, but are equally educated and qualified,  is access to a mentor1. So what do you do? Find a mentor. Network in the community. Join other WISE women at the August 20th event.





  1. “Every Woman Should Have A Mentor at Work” by Melissa Stanger, published December 17, 2012. http://www.businessinsider.com/every-woman-should-have-a-mentor-at-work-levo-league-2012-12


Third Quarter Event – Coming July 25th!

How Can We Serve? Strategies for Service Companies to Win The Bid

Speaker Panel: Debra Quade – Kellogg’s, Melissa Fennell – Herman Miller, Mansfield Matthewson – GRCC

click to view map
Capturing your service niche in the supplier diversity market can be a daunting experience. The RFP’s are time consuming and after submitting proposal after proposal with no positive gain, small businesses often feel their efforts can be best spent on other, more productive and fulfilling pursuits.

Panelists will take your questions and address:

  • How can your woman owned business be the service resource large companies seek?
  • What best practices should be adopted to engage supplier diversity decision makers?
  • Are large corporations continuing to encourage diversity supplier development and engagement?

Join WISE as we engage in a very insightful panel discussion to glean what real opportunities exist and how our business can obtain consideration as diverse suppliers. Our panel consists of experienced sourcing agents including Debra Quade from Kellogg’s Corporation, Melissa Fennell senior supplier development manager  from Herman Miller, Mansfield Matthewson of Grand Rapids Community College. Certification Director for WBENC-Great Lakes, Pam Smith will also be in attendance and available to answer questions about women owned business certification.

Q2 Event Posts from Attendees

WISE welcomed Shawne Duperon – Networking, Gossip, & Media Expert of ShawneTV to Louis Benton downtown Grand Rapids for our 2nd Quarter 2013 event.

Shawne’s delivery style is always engaging and gut splitting funny. To top it off the content is always spot on, useful information that can be applied right away. Shawne worked with the audience, got us up and moving around to ‘play’ at being fearless. As we were jumping out of our comfort zones we learned techniques on how to deal with challenging life circumstances – in work and in play. A big message shared that the entire audience benefited from was the grace we can find in forgiveness. Shawne shared her Project Forgiveness Video which delivers one of the most powerful examples of forgiveness you may ever encounter. (http://bit.ly/16E2Dg6)

But what does forgiveness have to do with business? Working within teams to conduct business puts us in positions where we are reliant on other people to deliver on promises. Whether deadlines need met, products or services produced and delivered, etc. sometimes people fail. What do we do when this happens? Shawne shares the beauty and grace in forgiveness – women we must learn to pull up our big panties and move on and stopholding grudges and passing blame. Recognizing that we are human beings who make mistakes we can form long lasting, positive relationships personally and professionally. Shawne isn’t asking us to forget when someone we work with is not capable of providing particular results. It is important to learn where there may be weaknesses and not put ourselves into repear positions where there is failure. To get the best result we accept there was a mistake made and forgive ourselves or others and we learn and move forward with love and greater wisdom.

Thanks to all of attending. Special thanks to Shawne Duperon and to Herman Miller for their gracious sponsorship.

Also link to the WISE FB page with photos…

Check out the What Are You Broadcasting photo album:


Third Quarter Event Geared to Grow Business

wise-group3A special Thank You to Shawn Duperon and all of the wonderful WISE volunteers that made the second quarter event a success.  It is valuable to remember that we won’t be perfect and there are ways to overcome mistakes. 

In our third quarter event, get strategies to grow your business.  Learn how to create bids that put your company on top!  We look forward to seeing you July 25th at “How Can We Serve? Strategies for Service Companies to Win the Bid”.  5:30pm – 7:30pm

Get The Media Scoop from Shawne Duperon

shawne1_smallWISE Women and their WISE friends can’t wait to see Six-time EMMY® Award winning Media Coach Shawne Duperon (dew-PEAR-un, rhymes with Sharon).  She is presenting at the May 1, 2013 event.  She has been in the TV business for nearly 20 years. She has taught thousands how to communicate as leaders while networking and marketing in social and traditional media. Shawne works with corporations, entrepreneurs, universities and government agencies across the globe.

She has collaborated with many best-selling authors, has replaced Bill Ford of Ford Motor Company when she spoke at the Department of Defense and even lectures on cruise ships. She has interviewed many recent US presidents and has filmed hundreds of celebrities including Morgan Freeman, Bill Cosby, Yo Yo Ma, Senator John McCain and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

You’ve watched her on national networks such as CNN, CBS’ “The Early Show” and have seen her featured in “Inc. Magazine,” “USA Today,” “The Washington Post” and “The Chicago Tribune” to name a few.

One of her personal passions is the work she does with multicultural groups to help delete media stereotypes through communication leadership. She spearheaded the movement on global forgiveness called Project: Forgive, a little five-minute video that went viral without YouTube!

Shawne is currently a PhD candidate, creating leading-edge research on the relationship between mass media and gossip (yes, gossip!). She says knowing how to create and navigate communication skills as a leader is the secret to unlimited marketing and personal power.  Watch the WISE Blog for more info about the event an about Shawne and her work!

Learn More with Shawne Duperon 2nd Quarter Event Speaker

shawne1_smallOur 2nd Quarter speaker, Shawne Duperon has created some excellent learning events for business professionals to hone their skills in everything from networking to branding and media image.  At the May 1, 2013 WISE event, those that attend will enjoy insights for “What are You Broadcasting?”  Shawne’s program on leveraging media to grow your business.  Below is a little more information on the programs she offers to help business professionals grow.  Join us May 1 for networking and learning with this Award Winning Media Specialist!

Networking for Neanderthals Networking is primal. It’s biological. We need it. We crave it. And most of us don’t do it well. In this half day workshop, held in several cities in the US and Canada, you will step into a new realm of possibility.

What are you Broadcasting? How to Leverage Traditional and Social Media This marketing workshop is like no other. It’s a blend of tips for traditional and social media, designed to give you the tools, skills and strategies to lower your marketing costs and grow your business or career despite any economy. When you register, you also receive one of Shawne’s best selling press release tool.

Media Mastery Bootcamp One :30 story is worth real advertising dollars. Triple that value because your story is not an advertisement, it’s the media powerfully endorsing you and linking you to their website.