Startup Grind Lansing2024-02-26T21:41:31+00:00

Startup Grind Lansing

EXPERT CONNEXIONS: Building Smarter Marketing Solutions with AI

We’ve talked in previous episodes about various ways you can incorporate artificial intelligence into your business model to forge ahead of the competition, but today we’re excited to feature a crossover where two of our favorite topics—AI and marketing—fuse together.

Join us to hear how today’s expert, Adam Stoker, has created a custom GPT agent to serve niche marketing purposes for his destination marketing agency.

Adam shares profound insights on:

The evolutionary path of AI in the marketing world, and why you simply can’t afford to overlook it!

How his team harnesses the power of large language models to deliver cutting-edge marketing strategies to their clients.

Dispelling fears surrounding AI adoption in marketing and highlighting its role as an invaluable ally in strategy execution.

How the imminent shift from an era of information to an era of answers will impact the marketing world and the strategies of businesses everywhere.
Don’t miss out — subscribe to Expert Connexions for more AI demos, expert interviews, and deep dives into the world of artificial intelligence.

Learn more about Adam Stoker:

By |May 17th, 2024|Categories: Blog, Expert Connexions|0 Comments

A Conversation with Jenn Dubey of Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan — Mission Control

A Conversation with Jenn Dubey of Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan

Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us for the much-anticipated season four premiere of Mission Control—the podcast where we delve into the inspiring journeys of executive directors and nonprofit leaders who are making a difference in their communities. I’m Paul Schmidt, your host and the creative video strategist behind Unveil Multimedia.

Today, I am thrilled to have a dear friend on our show, Jenn Dubie. This might take a second—it’s a mouthful—the Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan, or as we like to keep it simple, the 4 AM. Trust me, those acronyms can be a lifesaver in daily conversations!

Getting to Know Jenn Dubey

Jenn and I have been friends for what seems like an eternity in fast-paced careers—almost a decade or possibly a bit more. Reflecting on this, Jenn corrected with a light laugh, “I think it’s been about 14, starting two positions ago for me, and with each position over ten years, so yes, quite a while.”

How It All Began

Our friendship and professional collaboration go way back, and I always find the story of how we met compelling. We were brought together by a mutual involvement in a project focused on a health and wellness journey by a common friend. Jenn, who was deeply involved in personal training and nutritional consulting at the time, played a pivotal role in our friend’s transition towards better health, specializing in assisting women navigate the challenging hormonal changes during various life stages.

A Day to Remember

“The first day we met is as clear as yesterday,” Jenn recalls. It marked the beginning of a successful partnership and a series of collaborative projects that brought out the best in all involved. Jenn wasn’t just there providing training; she brought emotional and motivational support, acting almost in a therapist’s capacity.

Jenn Dubie’s Reflection on the Role and Journey:

“That project probably sparked the transition to my next big move, to corporate wellness and owning my own business. Seeing the potential to follow someone’s journey from the start all the way to achieving their goals was incredibly inspiring.”

This led Jenn to explore how collaboration between individuals, each with different yet aligned goals, could drive significant change and lead to successful outcomes—something she carried forward in her ventures.

From Fitness to Corporate Wellness

Jenn’s venture into corporate wellness wasn’t initially part of her career roadmap. However, the seed was planted during her training days. After helping a client’s company on a small scale, Jenn started recognizing the potential of applying her skills in a corporate setting. This realization spearheaded her dive into entrepreneurship, tackling the learning curves of transitioning from personal training to impacting organizational health culture.

The Growth: Challenges and Triumphs

Growing a new business came with challenges—navigating corporate contracts, managing ROI expectations, and everything in between. Yet, Jenn’s story embraces growth and learning through experiences.

Building a Business:

“I realized if I wanted to expand this business, I needed to build it. It involved strategic thinking and continual learning and adapting,” Jenn remarks about scaling her operations, reflecting on the criticality of building a business from groundwork to an established entity.

Her website, nicknamed ‘Trainer Jen,’ became the linchpin in her strategy to personalize her wellness philosophy. The venture led to a publication—a cookbook echoing her beliefs in health and nutrition—and a robust online platform for tracking employee wellness programs.

Transitioning Into a New Role

Despite her success and deep involvement in her business, life had another plan. A transition from her business to a nonprofit setting was not just a step back into employment but a leap into unfamiliar waters, managing multiple departments and a significantly larger team, which demanded a different leadership style and operational approach.

Embracing Nonprofit Challenges at 4 AM

Jenn’s current role as the Operations Manager at 4 AM involves leveraging her extensive experience in leadership, program development, and advocacy to enhance the quality of life for older adults. She focuses on allowing them to live with dignity and independence in their chosen environments—a mission driven by empathy and reinforced by strategic action.

Jenn’s Vision Moving Forward:

Navigating the challenges and intricacies of a nonprofit that deals directly with life-impacting services, Jenn applies her entrepreneurial spirit to influence change and drive initiatives that scale up the community impacts of 4 AM.

The Joy of Learning and Growing

“I find that every role I’ve had allowed me to build on something new, to learn something different. That’s what keeps me driven,” Jenn shared, her voice imbued with the passion and dedication that have marked her diverse career path.

Conclusion: The Journey Continues

Our conversation with Jenn Dubie has been nothing short of inspiring. Her journey has been marked by continual growth, learning, and an unwavering commitment to making a difference. Her story is a testament to the power of resilience and adaptability and the profound impacts of nurturing relationships and collaborations in professional settings.

Thank you, Jenn, for sharing your incredible journey with us today on Mission Control. For our listeners who wish to learn more about Jenn’s work or reach out to her, please visit or connect via LinkedIn.

Remember to tune in for our next episode, and don’t hesitate to reach out with suggestions for future guests or topics. Thank you for joining us, and until next time, keep striving to make a positive impact in your world!

By |May 15th, 2024|Categories: Blog, Mission Control Podcast|0 Comments

Guest Blog: Effective Strategies for Thriving in a Women-First Business Environment

Nearly all modern businesses are confronted with daily challenges that can impact their ability to operate efficiently. This just doesn’t extend to dealing with customer-facing issues or differentiating themselves from competitors.

Many organizations, especially those working to establish a “women-first” business environment, are regularly faced with internal challenges associated with the acceptance of diverse leadership perspectives and available opportunities.

However, there are some effective strategies that every women-first business can apply to help them thrive in today’s business environment.

Common Challenges When Running a Women-First Business

Even though women-first businesses are often great examples of how businesses can embrace a positive vision and important core values, they still operate in a world dominated by outdated corporate traditions. Below are some of the common challenges these businesses face:

Confronting Stereotypical Expectations of Society

Even with the amount of progress we’ve made as a society, there are still many preconceived notions that exist regarding how a woman should prioritize both her personal and career ambitions.

The assumption that a woman should be focusing more on her family or even that the qualities she should manifest need to be “soft” or “nurturing” often leads to biases in how women are treated in professional settings.

Dealing with Business Funding Issues

Several studies have focused on evaluating the balance between men’s and women’s owned and operated businesses when it comes to receiving necessary funding. Unfortunately, there is still a considerable gap, with men receiving 63% more value and twice as much funding for their businesses.

Women entrepreneurs are often put in the position-whether consciously or unconsciously-of having to work harder for their business ventures and under heavier scrutiny just to receive fewer funding opportunities than men.

Working Around Certain Cultural Values and Traditions

Different cultures have varying opinions when it comes to women taking on certain roles in business. For women who represent certain demographics, it can be hard to allow themselves to experience the same opportunities as males without impacting how they’re viewed in light of cultural expectations.

This can make it difficult for women in certain areas around the world to get the same fair treatment as others in business settings.

Being Underrepresented in Leadership Roles

Unfortunately, there is a self-reinforcing cycle that can take place when fewer women are positioned in leadership roles. As younger women start entering the workforce, it can be hard to find role models to look up to, which often leads to less support when facing certain stereotypes within professional settings.

This lack of support can often lead many new aspiring female professionals to abandon their career goals, leading to even fewer role models for future generations.

Effective Strategies for Creating a Thriving Women-First Business Environment

Although running or working in a women-first organization has its fair share of challenges, there are some effective strategies you can apply to help you thrive.

Establishing a More Resilient Mindset

As difficult as many of the challenges mentioned might be on their own, one of the toughest challenges women will often face in their careers is their own self-doubt. Not believing in yourself, or worse, accepting the narrow-minded viewpoint of others, can be debilitating.

One way that you can help to avoid this is by establishing a resilient mindset when it comes tohow you face certain obstacles. The importance of resiliency is often showcased in trauma therapy sessions, where therapists will help their clients accept and respect the difficult moments in their lives but never run from them.

Resiliency teaches individuals to look deeper at the positive qualities and capabilities they have, giving them more strength to tackle certain challenges in life. When you’re able to successfully build more resiliency in life, the “bigger” setbacks in your career or personal life start to look little smaller every day, and you’re able to approach every new challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Developing Important Leadership Qualities

Being a great leader takes time to develop and can require a wide range of both technical and interpersonal skills. Unfortunately, however, women are often scrutinized more than their male counterparts when it comes to how they showcase and prove their ability to take on larger roles in an organization.

But rather than letting this stereotypical mindset dissuade you from taking on leadership positions, use it to make yourself even better at driving and motivating your teams. Developing strong communication and conflict-resolution skills is a great way to showcase your ability to inspire others.

However, this doesn’t mean that women need to abandon their empathy just to prove a point. Showing that you truly care about those around you is a significant strength and something that should be encouraged in everyone.

Learning How to Effectively Negotiate

An important part of growing a business effectively is knowing how to negotiate. This caninvolve a fair amount of research when it comes to industry standards of pay or even comparative costing when it comes to engaging with vendors. But for women in negotiation scenarios, it’s often important to overcome any internal discomfort they may be feeling when it comes to their own self-advocacy.
Women are many times associated with being more agreeable in negotiation situations or more prone to want to avoid conflict. However, much like in anxiety therapy, where individuals are taught to establish more confidence in their surroundings, it’s important to be your own advocate and not be afraid to be assertive in your communication.
You should be able to enter a negotiation with a clear understanding of the objectives you want to achieve and develop an effective strategy to see them through.

Finding Helpful Tools and Resources

It can be tempting for many women in business environments to feel like they can only depend on their own abilities or experiences to move their careers forward. However, this is far from the truth, and there are a number of industry-specific networks and organizations designed specifically to help women succeed in their professional goals.
A common setback for some women when wanting to explore new career ambitions is balancing this need with their personal commitments in their relationship. In many situations, there may be conflict in a relationship when it comes to who should be the “breadwinner” and who should focus on other priorities.
In these situations, couples therapy can be a great way to make sure everyone’s wants and needs are heard and addressed. Simply abandoning your own career goals in an effort to keep the peace isn’t a sustainable way to keep a relationship strong. Many times, working with a professional who can facilitate honest and productive conversation about this topic can help both parties feel like their feelings are acknowledged while working together to find the right solution.

Position Yourself and Your Business for Success

Women face unique challenges when navigating business environments. However, by applying some of these strategies discussed, you can make sure you’re not just accepting what the world is willing to give to you. Instead, you’re creating a new standard of how a women-first can allow you to thrive.
Author Bio: Visionary and healthcare entrepreneur by passion, Licensed Psychologist by training, Dr. Hannah Yang loves creating new possibilities in the world of mental health and wellness. Dr. Yang established Balanced Awakening in 2015 as a niche psychotherapy practice for women. As Balanced Awakening flourishes in Chicago, and soon Miami, she also loves to tap into her passion for design and Feng Shui to create fabulous environments for herself, her team, and clients.
By |May 14th, 2024|Categories: Blog|0 Comments

EXPERT CONNEXIONS: Startup Story: Stunio

Meet Stunio: a tech startup that launched — without technology!

If you think you need to build an advanced enterprise tech platform before going live, you’ll want to hear the story behind Stunio.

In this episode of Expert Connexions, Julie Holton speaks with Adam Green, the founder of Stunio, and Jordan Hankwitz, the new Chief Strategy Officer brought on board to drive strategic growth.

Recognizing the need for expanded leadership: Adam’s journey from realizing the need for a strategic vision and administrative support to transform Stunio from a student startup to a professional enterprise.
The origin of Stunio: How Adam’s personal struggles during law school inspired the creation of a platform to connect college students with local job opportunities.
Evolution of Stunio: From humble beginnings to a sophisticated technology-driven platform, the strategic decisions behind its growth.
Strategic direction and community engagement: Jordan shares insights into his role in shaping Stunio’s future and fostering connections within the community.

By |May 10th, 2024|Categories: Blog, Expert Connexions|0 Comments