Invest in Your Future

The first stage of one’s career is a highly formative time for every young professional.  It’s a chance to learn, grow, develop and determine one’s individual path to success and happiness.  Are you taking advantage of every opportunity to put yourself ahead?  Because if you’re not, someone else is.

A focus on ongoing professional training is critical for a young employee’s development.  The need to strengthen your repertoire in any way possible is exacerbated in our current climate.  While the official unemployment rate for people in their late teens and post-college years is around 16%, when you add in those who've quit the search or are “underemployed”, The Wall Street Journal estimates the true number to exceed 25%.

Underemployment has forced graduates to take non-professional jobs until they are able to find one related to the career for which they’ve been preparing.  A study by Millennial Branding found that over 63% of Gen Y workers have a bachelor’s degree, but the most commonly reported jobs for Gen Y don’t necessarily require a college degree.  So if you’re lucky enough to have landed yourself that first real professional job and don’t consider yourself underemployed, you’re going to want to do everything you can to make yourself an invaluable employee. 

Enter Fuse Duluth.  Our organization is committed to providing educational and professional development opportunities to our community’s young professional population.  In pursuit of this goal, we are excited to bring back our second annual young professional summit, “YPro to CEO: Thriving as a Young Professional”. 

Last year’s conference was a great success.  Ted Schick of Schick Corporate Learning kicked-off the conference with his keynote presentation titled “Positioning Yourself as a Leader”.  This year’s session topics will be selected based on survey results from Fusers.  In 2012, topics included learning to stand out in a big company; entrepreneurs and effective hiring; tactics to advance your career; and intergenerational dynamics.  The conference concludes with a delicious three-course etiquette luncheon at Greysolon Plaza.

As a young professional, you don’t need all the answers; however you must never stop asking questions.  Actively seek the knowledge and experiences that will contribute to your professional growth.  As an employer, whole-heartedly support this effort of self-improvement.  The likelihood of talented people leaving diminishes when they feel they are continually developing and improving.  On September 25, join future corporate leaders and change-makers as Fuse prepares a new generation to lead with vision and passion. Click here to RSVP.


Choose Duluth

Duluth's economy is thriving. It appears our beloved community has adroitly melded our working, industrial port heritage with a new entrepreneurial culture. It is a synergy that is creating opportunity for our community members and for future Duluthians.

Businesses, companies and corporations are making massive private investments in our community. Altec HiLine, ME Global, Enbridge, AAR, and maurices are expanding and, while doing so, bringing hundreds of new jobs to our Zenith City.

This investment is allowing Duluth to keep our unemployment rate lower than the state average and the national average. This is a remarkable and energizing reversal of Duluth's fortunes. We have come a long way since the 1980's when our unemployment rate was the highest in Minnesota.
The good news continues. Duluth is cultivating and supporting the most recent generation of entrepreneurs. They are choosing Duluth, in part, because they are striving in our authentic and adventurous city.
More jobs and opportunities are on Duluth's breathtaking horizon. For the first time in decades, Duluth will soon have a wave of career job openings. Baby Boomers are in the twilight of our careers. There will soon be thousands of job openings in: healthcare, education, government, utilities and business services as my generation of Boomers retire. While this evolution is not unique to Duluth, it represents a unique opportunity for Duluth.
In the past, it was the lack of jobs in Duluth that kept hundreds of would-be Duluthians from making the pilgrimage to our Shining City on the Hill. The jobs are now available. It is time for your family members and your friends to see Duluth for what is has become - the land of opportunity.
In stark contrast to our revitalization - Suburbia is dying. There is a migration back to the urban core cities and back to the cities of heritage and distinction and natural beauty. Duluth enjoys all of these distinctions. We are a community that offers world class natural assets. Mayor Ness is intent on staking our claim as one of the world's premier urban outdoor adventure cities.
Outdoor Magazine has discovered Duluth. The magazine ranked our city as one of the Top 10 places to live in the United States. Additionally, it recently identified Duluth as the second best outdoor adventure hub in the entire world. I am confident you will join me in forgiving Outdoor Magazine for not naming us as the best outdoor hub.
Duluthians have a profound connection to our hillside home. We also have a deep emotional connection to Lake Superior, the Greatest of the Great Lakes. It is this natural beauty that so beautifully complements our world-class healthcare, excellent educational opportunities, strong and safe neighborhoods, affordable housing. It is a rare community that offers all of these things.
In conclusion, a creative and engaged culture has been reborn in Duluth. Our deep working class roots have united with a progressive spirit to create a distinct blend of loyalty, pride and optimism. Visitors can witness it. Yet, to truly experience this compelling spirit, one must live amidst this remarkable topography. So, tell your family and friends who are not yet Duluthians to make their move. Now is the time. Tell them it is an ideal time to choose Duluth.

David Ross is the President & CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Connect with David to learn more about Chamber initiatives or subscribe to the president's blog.


Embracing the Unconventional

A recent viral video captured the attention of nearly 2.4 million viewers, myself included, with its bold, provocative message – there is more than one way in this world to become an educated man.  Using this platform, the artist in the video passionately promoted a lesson with much larger implications.  Refuse to accept the conventional approach to life as the only approach. 

Convention demands following certain rules and precepts, trying to fit in rather than stand out.  But much of our Western value system is predicated on the spirit of the individual, autonomy, and in fact, standing out from the crowd.  How does one best merge these seemingly contradictory notions to achieve success?  Do we stay in line or forge our own path?

Clearly certain situations demand you “play by the rules” but other times you can, and should, choose to challenge the norm.  Job searching is a perfect example of this dichotomy as it’s a balance between projecting professionalism and leaving an impression.  Where some have certainly faltered in their audacious attempts to be noticed, (CareerBuilder even cites one applicant’s desperate attempt to make an impression by claiming to speak a non-existent language) others have successfully harnessed a more creative approach.      

A favorite, somewhat extravagant example of the guerilla job search is that of New York investment banker, Joshua Persky.  After exhausting the traditional methods of emailing his resume, networking like mad, and talking with recruiters, he threw caution to the wind and quite literally put himself out there.  Wearing his best suit and armed with his resumes, Persky hit up Park Avenue with a giant sandwich board around his neck reading "Experienced MIT Grad for Hire." His extremely unorthodox approach created media frenzy and ultimately landed him a job with a New York accounting firm.

Am I advising you don a sandwich board as a solution to your latest problem?  No.  Just like the man in the video isn’t suggesting that no one should pursue a college education.  The point is that no matter the situation, allow yourself and your mind the freedom to exercise creativity and individuality.  Seize that pivotal moment when you see what everyone else is doing and recognize that you can do it better.
The man in the video concludes his argument by listing well-known names like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Walt Disney, all successful men whom never finished their formal education.  Just like Joshua Persky, they pushed beyond the current social paradigms that lead us to believe that there is only one way to find success.  They embraced the unconventional route. 

People like this remind us that there are different paths to success and that you ultimately have the freedom to choose your own route.  Nineteenth century economist and philosopher John Stuart Mill states it best: “The only freedom deserving the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way…Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”


Fuse Celebrates 8th Birthday

Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate Fuse's 8th Birthday on March 14th. 

Over 100 attendees celebrated,
31 gifts donated,
5 cakes provided,
And 3 cake winners named. 

Join me in congratulating the following local bakers for their outstanding, and tasty, creations:

BEST TASTING: How Sweet It Is Cakes

 MOST CREATIVE: The Exchange Deli & Bakery

PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Cake Occasions

Chris Brabeck is the Communications Coordinator for the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Stay current in all Chamber communications via Facebook   |   Twitter   |   LinkedIn   |   Website


Reach the Millennial Demographic

Companies around the world are putting their effort, and money, into learning how to best reach their future lifeblood - the Millennial Generation.  For a demographic that's grown up surrounded by technology and social media, traditional methods may fall flat.  Struggling to stay relevant to this demographic and to quickly adapt to new, ever-changing marketing trends, companies are searching for the best opportunities.  Enter Fuse Duluth.

As the Twin Ports' premier organization for young professionals, Fuse consistently reaches the 20-to-40 year old crowd through our events and communications.  Many high-visibility, low-cost opportunities exist within Fuse to reach this lucrative demographic.

Possibilities include:
  • Advertisements in our Fuse Flash e-newsletter, sent to over 1,400 recipients
  • Banner advertisements featured on our new website
  • Event and corporate sponsorships
    • Yield numerous forms of promotion through Fuse Duluth website, social media, Duluth Chamber event page, Fuse Flash e-newsletter, Chamber Week at a Glance email, and presence at a sponsored event
Align yourself with a valued community program while making a local impact. 


Clutter Check!

Simplifying is more than learning to say “no”.  Many of us want to say yes to all those things that will advance our relationships, launch our careers, and complete our lives.   A few weeks back, I wasn’t even living by the standard of taking it one day at time.  I felt the need to break it down even further and decided six hours would work for me.  The tiny little cracks in my life seemed to be changing into full on ravines.  And then, it happened.  I heard from Chick-fil-A, the corporate sponsor for the Leadership Simulcast.  This year’s topic - SIMPLY LEAD.  And the first lesson – simplify your life.

I like the sounds of that and you should too.

What in the world is a simulcast you ask?  Visit the Leadercast website to check-it out. The Leadercast began with one innovative leader and a simple vision.  That leader is
John Maxwell.

Now, the simulcast is celebrating 13 years and an audience of 125,000+ people will tap into this day of leadership training May 10th, 2013.  The event is broadcast live from Atlanta to communities across the globe – 25 countries to be exact.  You don’t need to travel far.  We host the event at the Gospel Tabernacle – a space that meets our needs in terms of being comfy as well as having the necessary technology needs.    Whether leading a group of 100 or working hard to simplify your life, you will not want to miss this day. 
Check it out and register today.

Join your Chamber staff and don’t forget to call me with questions.


Conversation vs. Connection

In October 2012, Facebook hit a new milestone – 1 billion users.  Most people recognize the powerful potential inherent in the ability of social networking sites to connect people on this unprecedented scale.   An insightful op-ed featured in the New York Times, however, captured an entirely different perspective.  In her article titled “The Flight From Conversation”, Sherry Turkle reached a startling conclusion: “we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.”

My discovery of this article was not by accident.  I’d just had my cellphone stolen and found myself struggling to navigate the world without it.  I felt utterly disconnected and realized just how truly dependent I’d become upon the little device.  I no longer had the convenience of texting, or the limitless connections provided by social media sites constantly at my fingertips.  I was intrigued by my reaction and so began researching this phenomenon.

One study conducted by the social discovery site Badoo reported that nearly 40% of Americans now spend more time socializing via the Internet than they do in real life.  It was no wonder I felt disconnected!  The implications of that statistic are immense; especially great for my generation of “millennials” who have grown up alongside the development of these technologies.  Small surprise we’ve been dubbed “the always-connected generation”.

This label and what it implies led Turkel to the conclusions highlighted in her article.  She suggests that while we’re able to create an unparalleled capacity of connections, those relationships tend be much shallower than those established in the real world.  We have high accessibility to so many people, but technology allows us to keep them at a comfortable distance.  We’re choosing breadth over depth and a virtual world over the real world.

The consequence of socializing primarily online is the potential loss of face-to-face to communication skills, a skillset critical for future success.  Behaviors of the millennial generation are often viewed as anti-social – preoccupations with cell phones, wearing earphones while working, and avoiding eye contact during conversation.  The ability to engage in conversation and appear confident in social situations is vital when trying to impress a client, colleague, or superior.

It’s not surprising that a reliance on virtual world communications could lead to a deficiency in real world abilities.  Just like texting while maintaining eye contact with the person across from you requires practice, so too does face-to-face communication.  Luckily, Fuse and the Chamber provide ample opportunities to practice this by hosting frequent networking events.  With the mission of “connecting young people to strengthen our community,” Fuse seeks to assist in the development of real-world social networks.  Register for an event today and make the commitment to develop your skills.

While there, remember to refrain from using your cellphone as a crutch.  The purpose of attending is to network with the people who are actually there.  Focus on making fewer connections, but make them on a more meaningful level.  An important point Turkle makes regarding the difficultly of transitioning from online to offline communications is that within our online communications, we have the ability to edit.  Communications online aren’t instantaneous and allow ample time to formulate an appropriate response.  In real life situations, you need to be able to think and respond quickly and you do not have the luxury of backspacing away an inadequate response.

The three weeks I went without a cellphone lent me a new perspective.  Use technology as it was intended – to enhance your life, not to dominate it.  We all live in our own little bubbles, constantly staring down at our cell phones communicating with someone located miles away rather than looking up and engaging in conversation with the person actually there.  To all my fellow Millennials reading this, don’t grant validity to the prevalent stereotypes we often face.  Avert your eyes from your mobile device and join us in the real world.  There’s much to see.