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Out & About in Cleveland

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Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce Coffee Contacts; Why Values Matter: A New Paradigm for Business, Politics, Communities and Life; 23rd Annual Rescuer of Humanity Awards Dinner

On Thursday, January 18th, we first met to an Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce "Coffee Contacts" that was held at "Flux Metal Arts" on Mentor Avenue in Mentor.

"Flux Metal Arts" is an "artisan gallery" where local artists produce beautiful jewelry and metalwork. For Ms. Kim Baxter who started the venture about five years ago, it is a dream come true because it provides the resources for artistically gifted people to make their own dreams come true by engaging in a practice that they love.

Several people from who were there that morning wore jewelry that they had purchased at "Flux Metal Arts" and our friend, Ms. Grace Himmelright from "Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc." shared with us that her son (with Ms. Baxter's help) designed and created an engagement ring for his fiancé there.

Along the way, networking tips were shared and we talked about how is wise to always bring a little notebook to such sessions so we could take jot down a couple of things about the person we were talking to and their place of business. We held up our little 3" by 4" inch spiral notebook which we purchased for only $.99 and noted that it was very convenient for us because it had a lot of pages that were easy to quickly turn and fit beautifully into the breast pocket of our sports coat.

Before we left, a friend of ours who is an insurance broker came over to say how much she agreed with us. She also mentioned that she is starting to get foreign-born clients who are in need of health insurance and how provisions of the ACA are kind of tricky along these lines and must be carefully adhered to.

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Next, we went to the City Club of Cleveland to attend a luncheon titled "Why Values Matter: A New Paradigm for Business, Politics, Communities and Life" which featured three panelists being interviewed by Mr. Dan Moulthrop, the City Club CEO.

Two of the panelists were Ms. Susan Dwyer-Owens, Co-Chairperson of "Dwyer Group" and Mr. Stewart Kohl, Co-CEO of "The Riverside Company" who talked about their experiences presiding over organizations that put values like "Do Unto Others..." front and center. To be sure, they hire and work with people and companies whose values are consistent with those of their organization; and as a result they have earned much respect and enjoy significant financial success.

As the City Club notes stated:

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"It seems that companies are required to provide more and more social good-however, there is significant pushback from implementing such initiatives, as they can reduce profits for shareholders. However, some business leaders have found ways to do both. Stewart Kohl is the co-CEO of the Cleveland-based Riverside Company. Within their 400 portfolio companies, they emphasize character, values and community support, which has resulted in significant financial success as well. One of Riverside's value-driven portfolio companies is the Dwyer Group. Dina Dwyer-Owens, co-chairman, says that 'a company that lives and leads with values will always outperform, outshine, outdo and outlive competitors."

Ms. Dwyer-Owens brought with copies of her book, "Values, Inc.; How Incorporating Values into Business and Life can Change the World" and generously gave them away to all of us there.

During the Q and A, we asked both Ms. Dwyer-Owens and Mr. Kohl about working with immigrants because, as we know, they are often very religious and family-oriented. Therefore, we believed that they would be a perfect fit for businesses that place ethics very highly.

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Ms. Dwyer-Owens responded that indeed immigrants are great to work make wonderful franchisees. Plus they are very trade oriented and technicians are badly needed right now. As far as personal encounters, she is working with a group of women involved in the trades and many of whom are immigrants. Mr. Kohl followed-up by saying how much he agreed with Ms. Dwyer-Owens (they are good friends) and that he believed immigrants had a lot to offer this country and its economy.

The third panelist came from the public sector. He was Mr. Percy Farwell, the Mayor of the town of Gander in Newfoundland. In 2001, he held the office of Vice Mayor at the time when 38 planes and 6800 passengers were forced to land in Gander and remain there for four to five days. The occasion was the 9/11 attacks in the United States when all planes traveling here were re-routed and/or grounded.

Mayor Farwell spoke of how the citizens of the town came forward and greeted there unexpected guests and did all that they could to make them feel welcomed and comfortable. Just as Ms. Dwyer-Owens and Mr. Kohl applied the "Do Unto Others..." Golden Rule to their businesses/organizations, Gander did so for these international people who came from all over the world.

Although it never did this to gain a halo in the world's eyes, Gander's display of humanitarian values in a troubled time brought it all kinds of attention and prosperity in terms of investment and tourism in the following years. A very successful Broadway musical was even created and a film deal for it is in the works.

Nevertheless, Mayor Farwell impressed us as still being a humble, everyday kind of guy and we enjoyed talking to him about how two of the passengers forced to stay in Gander hooked-up and eventually moved on to a successful marriage.

It should be pointed out that on Thursday evening, "The Riverside Company"; "Dwyer Group" and the Town of Gander were all scheduled to receive recognition at the 23rd Annual Rescuer of Humanity Awards Dinner at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven, an event that received a donation from "Margaret W. Wong & Associates".

Since entrepreneurship was a key element in this day's City Club program, several young people involved with the "Young Entrepreneur Institute at University School" program set up tables displaying their wares. We enjoyed talking to Mr. Noah Foster who (along with his brother Giles) had started a business named "Suds Brewing Company" which was marketing a new brand of soap; Miss Hannah Leszez, the owner of "Gift Me Up Pail" which offered women's gift pails; and Ms. Katherine Becker, the owner/maker of "Rainbow Simes" , a product that reminded us of the play dough and silly putty we enjoyed playing with when we were younger.

At lunch we sat next to Ms. Lynn Maitland, the Vice President of Mission and Ministry at "UH St. John Medical Center" in Westlake. Ms. Maitland told us that she came to this program because she believed that this panel would offer optimism about now and the future. We think that her expectations were more than fulfilled because it seemed like everyone there was heartened by what they saw and heard.

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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