Good Neighbors – Olivia Lehman
Mar05

Good Neighbors – Olivia Lehman

Fort Wayne is continually being described as “the city that saved itself”, and a place with exciting growth. The growth we see in Fort Wayne is because of the great people that live here, call it home, and want to see Fort Wayne embrace itself as a city worth loving. People like Olivia Lehman. A new event called CreativeMornings has been brought to the community thanks to Olivia and she, along with the CreativeMornings Fort Wayne team, want to see people connect and embrace the creative nature that is within all of us. Olivia is the associate director of development for the nonprofit Water for Good, and is the host of CreativeMornings Fort Wayne. I spoke with Olivia about what inspired her and her team to take on this event, and how it’s making an impact in our community. What is CreativeMornings (CM)? CreativeMornings (CM) is literally a breakfast lecture series for the creative community where people can come together with no agenda or boundaries, share ideas, and be inspired. The goal is for it to be a safe, sacred place for people to just be together. How did you get started with CM? I lived in Indianapolis for six years and volunteered at the CM events in Indianapolis. When I moved back to Fort Wayne I saw the potential. I had experience with event planning, and bringing people together so it felt natural. When I moved back to Fort Wayne, I had to jump out of my comfort zone and start meeting new people. I went out for drinks, started having conversations, and when I asked people to join me, a lot of people were interested. A big influencer for me was Matt Kelley, the owner of One Lucky Guitar. When he heard about what I was planning to do, he was all in and asked how he could help me make it happen. What has inspired you throughout this process? I was actually inspired by the book “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. To sum it up, she describes that if you have a dream, it may pass you by and someone else will pick it up instead. You could miss out, but if you take it and run with it, great things could come of it. What type of people attend CM? All kinds of people! People from ad agencies, banks, schools, people who are creative but you may not expect them to be. The CreativeMornings manifesto starts out with “everyone is creative” and I think that sums it up. All are welcome. Talk to me about the guest speakers. How do you find them? We have...

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Good Neighbors – Steve Franks in Fort Wayne
Aug08

Good Neighbors – Steve Franks in Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne area community good neighbor Steve Franks “Fort Wayne, a league of its own.” For over a decade, Steve Franks has been helping small businesses take their first step. He works with Start Fort Wayne coaching entrepreneurs through their LevelUP program and serves on the board for the nonprofit Believe in a Dream, working with their Believe in Your Business program that focuses on high school age entrepreneurs. He sees youth-centered entrepreneurship as vibrant and world changers. When encouraged, they will find the way. I asked how one would encourage these young entrepreneurs. “Not every venture needs to be a home run, but a lot of singles will get a lot of runs,“ Steve replied. He went on to explain that not every first venture will be your best.   I find myself continually amazed and inspired by people living in the Fort Wayne area, Steve Franks being one of them. We had an opportunity to ask Steve about who he is and what he does. How long have you been helping small businesses? I left the world of innovation consulting 13 years ago and started coaching entrepreneurs at the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center. NIIC was fairly new at the time. I sought it out since it had the word “innovation” in its name – it turned out to be more about entrepreneurship than what I had come to know as innovation. Fortunately, discovering I loved working with startup entrepreneur, I started helping them think through their new ventures. Most everything I’ve done for the past three decades or so has been with smaller entrepreneurial companies.  I’ve co-founded two ventures and have been working around and developing new things.   What was the first job or one of the first jobs you had? The job that made the biggest difference in the trajectory of my life was when I resigned from the cushy office job at North American Van Lines (where I worked since high school) to go sell microcomputers on commission. Not the most fiscally prudent move, perhaps, but it worked out and gave me a foothold into something I love–which was why I took the plunge. It started me down the path of working with things I was passionate about, rather than just some financially comfortable salary job. It allowed me to hone skills that help me be a good entrepreneur coach today.   You are helping with things all over. How do you keep your energy up and prioritize to prevent burn out? What is this “prioritize” thing you speak of?  One way to not burn out is to be busy. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you only really burn...

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