The green, smoky mist rose from between the heavy red curtains behind Susan Stockton as we prepared to capture her portrait for this month’s cover. It was weeks before the Wicked cast and crew would arrive at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, but the mood was bewitching.
Alas, we chose a different image. When Susan agreed to dip her finger in bright green paint and streak it down her face – hinting that the hit Broadway musical and its signature green hue was as good as in her blood – the moment was magical. She cocked an eyebrow playfully, and – voila! That was it. You will want to read about Stockton’s role in helping the P.A.C. become the sensation that it is, a cultural epicenter that helps make a difference when companies are looking to attract top talent to our area.
As I write this, I am preparing to run out to my local Meet Your Legislators event. Many communities in the region host these long about this time of year, when new and familiar faces begin appearing at chamber meetings to hear concerns of the business community. There will be a few new faces since last year, but not nearly as many as on the national front.
The approval rating for President Barack Obama was high on the eve of his inauguration – 78 percent in a mid-January Gallup poll. Even a slim majority of moderate and liberal Republicans, 51 percent, said they were confident Obama will be a good president. Conservative Republicans remained largely skeptical of Obama’s abilities, with about one in four giving him the thumbs-up.
Given the conservative nature of many businesspeople in our region, it’s safe to say that whatever Obama chooses to do in his first 100 days will be closely watched. The economy and health care will be top of mind for business, as evidenced from the 350-some attendees at a recent forum on the state’s proposed Badger Choice plan. Skepticism runs high, especially since the plan will be debated as part of the state budget this spring. Watch for coverage on this issue in upcoming issues of Insight.
For those looking for more opportunities to talk with state legislators, the NEW Chambers Coalition will host a Legislative Dialogue Breakfast on Feb. 16 at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel. (Attendance is limited to 100.)
For more clues on the economy, the Fox Cities Chamber will host its annual Economic Outlook Breakfast Feb. 4 at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, and the Oshkosh Chamber will host a similar event on Feb. 12 at La Sure’s Hall in Oshkosh. Gathering clues about the economy are but one means of staying abreast of business trends. Listening to successful business owners share their strategies is another, and a valuable forum for these is the St. Norbert College CEO Breakfast & Strategy Series. Two such talks are scheduled in February: Jim Rivett, president of Arketype Inc., will discuss “Building Your Organization’s Authentic Brand Identity” on Feb. 17 at St. Norbert College in De Pere (Rivett appeared on the cover of our September issue of Insight, still on our website under Back Issues). Then on Feb. 25, Sargento Cheese CEO Lou Gentine will discuss “Leadership Succession in a Family Business” at Riverview Country Club in Appleton.
Staying in touch with your network of professional partners is another valuable tool toward success. As the co-owner of a business, I’ve come to understand how vital my network is. To that end, I’ll be attending the Women Leaders of Wisconsin Conference on Feb. 17 at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel. I look forward to hearing keynote speaker Sarah Michel sharing her tips on how to make the most of your network – which she calls the true “net worth” for business owners and professionals. I also look forward to comedian Jeff Havens and his talk titled, “Uncrapify Your Life!” Now there’s a talk that sounds useful. See page 16 for details.