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The Leadership Lansing Blog is the open communication forum of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. In the Leadership Lansing Blog, we will highlight all things related to the Greater Lansing business community. We will feature posts from our staff, our membership and the legislative leaders of this region. If you have any questions or would like to be a contributor to the Leadership Lansing Blog, please contact Eric Dimoff, Marketing and Communications Director, at 517-853-6460 or We appreciate the continued support!


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Young Professionals on Why They #LoveLansing

Posted By Michelle Rahl, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tuesday, August 5, 2014

If I’d have been asked where I would start my career a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have predicted Lansing.

I wanted to go off to a big city like many public relations folks do. But that was before I met my mentor. While interning in Lansing, my boss morphed into an incredible mentor. But she went beyond simply mentoring me as a PR professional; she personally introduced me to Lansing. Through this mentor-turned-ambassador, I got to see the close-knit community, affordable living, job opportunities and entertainment side of Lansing. I found that as a young professional, these attracted me to this unsuspecting city. 

With time, I also learned the impact individuals can have in Lansing. One person can easily make waves, and that’s something unique. While building my network, I’ve realized community members are willing to help one another toward success. In Lansing, I have the ability to make a difference. I’m enthusiastic and proud to call Lansing home.

Hannah Leibinger, Account Strategist at Piper & Gold Public Relations

Lansing, Michigan. Asking someone exactly why they live here will yield a myriad of responses: "I came here for college and, well...I just stayed," "I enjoy the peaceful quaintness," and "I can bike and walk anywhere I need to go." I, too, have similar reasons for why I came here, but the sense of community and the warm embrace of its collective culture is what made me call Lansing home. The hashtag "#lovelansing" represents the people of Lansing as much as it represents the city itself. The passion and love people have for Lansing is contagious. If you want to make a positive impact in your community, the support you get here is unmatched. 


 I have been lucky to find three wonderful communities in Lansing: an incredibly robust creative collective; a well-established Muslim population; and a world class clinical research community at Michigan State University. From the silhouette of Lansing’s hallmark smokestacks to the Brenke Fish Ladder and all the neighborhoods, our capital city has allowed me the opportunity to thrive and continue to develop my sense of self, for which I am thankful. Lansing, Michigan is where I hang my hat and that is something that makes me very proud indeed.

Khalid Ibrahim, epidemiologist at Michigan State University and the owner/lead photographer at Eat Pomegranate Photography


Why I chose to stay in Lansing: This is a question I get asked often, as many of my fellow MSU grads packed up all of those years ago were headed off to big cities around the country: Washington D.C., Chicago, Austin. They were moving out of state and here I was looking to put down some roots in the city I now call home- Lansing.

To me, there is no better place to be at this time in my life than Lansing. I am a young professional with big ideas. While I hold down a 9-5 in the policy world, I consider myself to be a community activist. First and foremost, I am a social justice advocate in all that I do, and hope to make my community as equitable, sustainable and fun as possible. Lansing gives me the opportunity to do just that!

Lansing is the type of community where if you have an idea, the stage is set to go for it! Sure, we may not have the food truck scene, biking infrastructure or environmentally sound policy that cities like, say, San Francisco have, but if you are interested in seeing those things happen, Lansing gives you the opportunity to become a part of that process. Rather than just supporting the ideals that I love, I get to be on committees and have a say in making them actually happen. It feels amazing.

Not to mention, the community of people in Lansing are truly one of a kind.

I am lucky to call Lansing home and hope to encourage others to put down some roots and join the movement of young professionals making a home in this city of endless possibilities and unlimited potential.

Shannon Nobles, Outreach Specialist, Michigan League for Public Policy  


Settling down in Lansing seemed like a logical choice for me after graduating from law school at Michigan State.  I grew up here and I already had a good job at a local firm.  However, I quickly realized that most of my friends from high school and law school were gone, and I didn't really know anyone aside from a few work colleagues.  It quickly became apparent that I either needed to make Lansing my own or pick-up and move elsewhere.  Once I started to get involved, the decision was easy.  I was shocked to see how much was already going on in Lansing that had completely flown beneath my radar and how many other young professionals actually lived here.  Given that the area is the seat of state government, home to a Big Ten university, and the headquarters for a number of major businesses, I now realize that this shouldn't have been surprising.  However, I still remain impressed by how easy it was for a young person to get involved in the community at a very high level. 

Lansing is a great place to live, work, and play.  For me, it strikes a perfect balance between life in a small town and life in the big city.  The cost of living is low, and the quality of life is high.  My monthly mortgage payment is lower than many of my friends pay to rent a studio apartment in a big city.  Yet we still have access to fantastic entertainment, from Michigan State athletics and Broadway shows at the Wharton Center to the countless festivals and concerts downtown and in Old Town.  And when it's time to work, there are positions available with world-class employers in virtually every industry, with realistic opportunities for advancement.  Sure, it may be a little easier to find a job in a big city, but in Lansing you can start a career.  As President of Grand River Connection and a member of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Board, I am invested in helping Lansing attract and retain talented young workers by helping them to see Lansing as I now do.

I may have landed here by default, but I'm certainly glad that I stayed.

Brian Gallagher is an Employee Benefits Attorney with Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C. Brian is also President of Grand River Connection and serves on the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. 

Tags:  #lovelansing  affordable living  community  entertainment  Lansing  networking  young professionals 

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Posted By Michelle Rahl, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Internet or travel agent? It’s a dilemma many people are wrestling with as the summer vacation season heats up.

If you think most travel agents are being superseded by online booking mechanisms, think again. Although the Internet has simplified booking an airline ticket or a room at a well-known hotel chain, if your trip involves several components or you’re seeking a truly unique professional or private experience, that’s when a well-connected travel agent can really make a difference.

Travel agents are staging a comeback to web sites like, Orbitz, and Travelocity. This is because travelers are tired of always communicating with a screen and want to ensure that their getaway is in good hands. Creating a personal relationship with a travel agent who understands and cares about your travel needs is important no matter what realm you are traveling in: corporate or academic, group or private, domestic or international. Just as much as you can’t beat the relationship that you create with an agent, you also can’t beat the relationship that they have forged through repeat business with travel suppliers that will be sure to land you your ‘sold out’ room or coveted aisle seat. 

Here are three scenarios when a travel agent’s expertise may outperform the electronic variety:

  1. If your trip is complex – A vacation involving a 10-day Mediterranean cruise followed by a week on your own driving the Grand Corniche into Monte Carlo requires numerous airline, cruise, hotel, and car reservations. Or perhaps more realistically, consider a business summit involving numerous guests arriving and departing at different times, staying at different hotels, and looking for different combinations of business and pleasure while they’re there. These are situations that can be overwhelming to most travelers or travel planners. Leave those critical details to a travel consultant like 7C Lingo, who specializes in group and corporate travel and has instant access to it all.
  2. If you’re traveling overseas – Do I need a passport and/or visa? Are there security issues or travel advisories for this country? These are just three of a myriad of questions that a travel agent can answer for you. Travel counselors also have access to the specific locale and region, such as which museums are closed for renovation, which holidays shut down the city, and which festivals are coming up. 7C Lingo is unique because it already functions as a cultural consultancy that can provide you with expert multi-cultural knowledge to supplement your travel experience. Whether you are an individual with just a few country-specific questions or a business leader looking for a pre-departure culture seminar or an English interpreter, 7C Lingo can help to ensure that you are prepared in every dimension for your journey. 
  3. If you want an ally start-to-finish– Many people like the comfort in knowing they have a built-in problem solver throughout not only the trip planning process, but also the trip itself. From an advisor on the local best cuisine to someone to call when your party was double booked in your hotel’s only conference room, you will have someone to call if you are working with a travel agency.

And what about pricing? Smart Money magazine compared the vacation pricing of three traditional travel agencies to two travel Web sites. The results? The travel agents were able to deliver the greatest savings to their clients when going head to head with Expedia and Travelocity. Travel agents can always recommend ways for you to save money without jeopardizing the quality of the vacation experience. Sometimes all it takes is for your agent to make a slight modification of your itinerary based on their knowledge of the industry.

Indeed, a travel agent should not be the sole source when planning your next vacation. But if you’re seeking extraordinary experiences, insider connections, and exclusive perks not possible on your own – plus the benefit of a real person – there’s none better.

7C Lingo has expanded to become a full-service retail travel agency specializing in group and corporate travel. Its customized, uniquely personal approach provides not just the buying power of a travel agency, but the full-service, multi-cultural support of true global experts. 7C Lingo is a member of Ensemble Travel® Group, an elite circle of professionals with knowledge of every type of vacation experience. 7C offers special amenities and unique opportunities around the world which are only available through an Ensemble Travel Group member agency.

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Tags:  business  cultural  internet  multi-cultural  overseas  passport  summer  travel  travel agent  trip  vacation 

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Big or Small, Strategic Planning is for All!

Posted By Michelle Rahl, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Big or Small, Strategic Planning is for All!

Why?  Lao Tzu stated, If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."  Strategic planning is akin to the map and navigation software we use when we are heading out on a trip: we know where we want to go and we are looking for the best route to get there.  Imagine getting into your vehicle and when Siri asks, “What is your destination?”  You respond with, “Anywhere is fine, just as long as I’m moving.”  That is a common unintentional approach that many small and medium sized businesses take to planning. 

Who?  For small/medium sized companies the planning should start with the owners picking the destination and then involving the operational leaders to fill out the near term activities needed to support the goals.  Those goals should be shared with the entire company for top to bottom and bottom up clarity.

When?  Annually is the most common and the smaller the company, the less time the process should take.  The meetings should be held away from the phones of the business during a dedicated time that doesn’t allow for interruptions.  The future is very important to all businesses and if it can’t function without the owner’s input to “put out customer fires” then the business may have other challenges to address.

How to make it work?

Share the goals and Key Performance Indicators: your staff believes in you and the company; share your vision of the coming year with them.

Keep Score in a highly visible manner: share actual results compared to your planned goals.  Review them with your team on a regular basis.  Ask them for their opinions on how operations are performing and how to improve.    Depending on the size of the company, the results should be posted in the time frame that makes the most sense: daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly are common in successful firms.

Review as a team:  employees want to hear the owner’s or key manager’s interpretation of the results and the next steps.  Do this routinely and your staff will feel much more attuned to the company’s future.

Strategic planning and sharing company operating information are difficult for many small and medium sized business owners to implement.  However, committing to the process will greatly increase the company’s ability to meet its goals and will gain more commitment to the future by its employees.


Jeff Chaffin

Principal, The Executive Influence

Phone: 517.853.2570, ext. 570

Find us on the web:


Tags:  Business  Goals  Key Performance Indicators  Small Business  Strategic Planning  Team 

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Three Cornerstones of Confidence

Posted By Michelle Rahl, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Friday, April 18, 2014

I am always amazed when I watch great athletes and championship teams at what a fine line there is between superior confidence and self-doubt. How often do we see a player or team on a hot streak or coming off a championship season suddenly hit the skids and profess that their confidence is shaken?  How can anyone be so good one day and then profess that they have trouble believing in themselves the next?

Losing streaks and shaken confidence can hit each one of us and our organizations at any time.  History is filled with stories of companies that were on top of the world and lost their way for a variety of reasons. Harvard Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter studied many business and sports organizations that have hit both ends of the confidence pendulum in her book Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin and End. She identifies what I call three cornerstones of confidence that organizations must address to turnaround a downward spiral or maintain a winning streak.

Accountability. Kanter says accountability is missing in most losing streaks, when “people stop talking, stop practicing and stop trying or become accustomed to finding fault than facing facts.  To shift the cycle from losing to winning, leaders must develop accountability—the discipline and responsibility of the best athletes and teams.”

Cultivating Collaboration.  When organizations go on losing streaks, people’s confidence in one another is lost.  It’s up to the leaders in the organization to lead that turnaround. It starts with including everyone on the team in developing and implementing turnaround strategies. Leaders need to set ground rules for team behavior, new goals and new respect for a healthy team building process. This includes getting people connected to each other, carrying out work in teams and communicating an inclusive environment of mutual respect.

Inspiring Initiative and Innovation.  Kanter says leaders should be guided by four principles:

1)      Believe in people and their power to make a difference

2)      Direct the energy tied up in negativity into positive actions

3)      Make initiative possible and desirable

4)      Start with small wins—things that people can control

Even the most supremely confident leaders and their teams will experience more than one crisis of confidence during their careers.  Starting a new winning streak begins with a willingness to honestly face the facts and make changes to “business as usual.”  View your personal and organizational setbacks as opportunities to build a new championship team that will enjoy many more victory celebrations.

Ross Woodstock, Executive Coaching and Leadership Development
Kolt Communications, Inc.

Ross Woodstock is an executive coach/consultant with Kolt Communications in Okemos, Michigan.  During his career in leadership, management and consulting, Ross has become widely known as an innovative leader, creative problem solver and an inspiring communicator. As an executive coach, Ross helps leaders achieve sustainable growth in their careers.  He also works with organizations to help them develop their high potential leaders. He received his ACC coaching credential from the International Coach Federation.

Tags:  Accountability  Athletes  Championships  Collaboration  Confidence  Initiative  Innovation 

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Delivering Value to our Members

Posted By Michelle Rahl, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Thursday, April 3, 2014
We at the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce are proud to deliver our 2013 Annual Report in the April edition of FOCUS Magazine. I encourage you to take some time and review the report on our activities over the past 12 months and look ahead to our exciting plans for 2014.

I have written many times about the importance of our members in the mission of the Chamber. Our team understand that our success depends on the success of our members, to whom we are dedicated to serve with every one of our programs and services. We also understand that our members make an investment when they join the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and that it is our responsibility to deliver a return on that investment.

When it comes to value, we believe that a membership in the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce is one of the smartest investments for any business in the tri-county region to make. The American Chamber of Commerce Executives organization recently commissioned the Schapiro Group to conduct a web-based study of 2,000 adults nationwide, to determine how consumers view businesses that are members of a chamber of commerce. The results showed:
  • Being active in the local chamber of commerce is an effective business strategy. It communicates to consumers that a company uses good business practices, is reputable, cares about its customers, and is involved in the community;
  • If a company shows it is highly involved in its local chamber, consumers are 10% more likely to think its products stack up better against its competitors;
  • When a consumer thinks more favorably of a company because of its involvement in a chamber, it is because he or she infers the company is trustworthy and cares about its customers; and
  • When consumers know a small business is a member of a chamber, they are 49% more likely to think favorably of it and 80% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company.
I am proud of the hard work that our Chamber team continues to perform dayin and day-out on behalf of our members. Those efforts are reflected in the pages of the April FOCUS Magazine, which details the great success we have enjoyed over the past year in delivering high-quality signature events and business networking opportunities, government relations and advocacy, professional development and educational opportunities, business growth initiatives, affinity programs that save our members money and outstanding publications and communications.

Why do we do it? Quite simply, it’s all about building a better region by building better businesses. For those of us at the Lansing Chamber of Commerce, we believe achieving those worthwhile goals begins with a solid foundation of delivering the highest possible value every day to all of our members. 

Tim Daman is the President & CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce

Tags:  Annual Report  Chamber of Commerce  Member Benefits  Membership  Regionalism 

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Tim Daman: Now is the Time to Invest in Higher Education

Posted By Michelle Rahl, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tim Daman: Now is the Time to Invest in Higher Education

Higher education is the best investment to ensure Michigan’s comeback can be sustained, and now is the time to start investing. Universities and colleges develop the skill set and sharpen the talent that is desperately needed for Michigan’s workforce. This is precisely why Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed funding hike for universities is a much-needed investment in Michigan’s future.

Most good-paying jobs in Michigan require applicants to have more than a high school education. By making college more affordable, our state can begin to address the skills deficit in its workforce – which is quickly becoming a glaring weakness.

To fully understand this problem, visit the state’s employment website: Each day there are more than 65,000 jobs waiting for qualified applicants. Michigan’s lingering challenges are not the result of a lack of jobs, they are the result of a lack of education and opportunity. That is why the time to invest is now.

The economic disparity between those with and without postsecondary education is the largest in U.S. history.  For workers between 25 and 34, those with an associate’s degree will earn an average of $7,000 more each year than their peers with high school diplomas. For those with a bachelor’s degree, average earnings are $17,550 above the high school-only average.  Unemployment rates for workers with bachelor’s degrees are 3.8% compared to 12.2% for high school diploma workers. It’s clear, Michigan needs to invest in young minds to remain globally competitive.

Over the past five years, our state has become more focused than ever on finding return for its investment. In 2012, Michigan universities had a $24 billion economic impact on the state. While there were more than 280,000 students enrolled in higher ed that year, many thousands of others did not pursue higher education because it was not affordable.

The governor’s budget is especially important in Mid-Michigan because of Michigan State University and Lansing Community College. In addition to enrolling more than 49,000 students, the 47,000 MSU alumni living in Mid-Michigan contributed more than $3 billion to our state’s economy in 2013. Add that to the 20,000 enrolled LCC students and 500,000 LCC alumni and you begin to see why higher education is so important to our region.

The governor’s proposed budget increase will help universities and colleges pave the way to a more prosperous future for our students and the state.  It’s where the smart money belongs.

Tim Daman is the President & CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Tags:  Budget  Education  Higher Education  Lansing  Snyder  Talent 

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