Six Qualities of a Great Mentor

From Tim Elmore, Growing Leaders

As this year comes to an end, I thought it might be helpful to talk to you about finding a mentor. For you, a mentor might mean reconnecting with a person you feel is ahead of you in their career and nudging you to take a new step. For your students, this discussion might be helpful as they pursue growth in specific areas of their life. Let me begin with an analogy I use in Habitudes for the Journey©.

I call it Travel Agents and Tour Guides.

A Travel Agent or a Tour Guide

Several years ago, my family and I took a vacation to Hawaii. Our travel agent, Janet, was very familiar with the islands and arranged a great plan for us to implement. While we were there, one of the sightseeing trips we took up a mountain required a local travel agent. Gary was experienced and knew exactly where to take us to enjoy the best day of our vacation on top of that mountain.

In the end, we were pleased with both our travel agent and our tour guide—but we had very different expectations of both. Janet was only expected to tell us about the trip; to explain where we should go, and then leave it all up to us once we got there. Gary was a different story. Tour guides don’t merely tell you where to go—they go with you. Tour guides are on the journey, experiencing every site and sound along the way, right next to you. We had a much higher expectation of the tour guide.

This is a picture of life. You will notice as you grow, that you’ll meet people who will act as “travel agents” and those who will act as “tour guides.” Most people find it easier to be a travel agent. In fact, you’ll likely have loads of people who will give you advice…then say, “Good luck with that!” Tons of teachers, friends, coaches, employers, and counselors will offer their opinion, but not get very involved in the journey. It’s less expensive for them that way. That’s why it’s important for you to find a handful of people who are willing to be tour guides; people who not only have wisdom and experience but are willing to walk with you through some of your life.

You will likely have many “Janets” compared to your one “Gary.”

Look for Tour Guides Who Are GIFTED

Each year I enlist a set of mentors to help me mature in skills or qualities I believe are important. In fact, I select five or six areas I want to grow in, and then I hunt for GIFTED individuals who embody those qualities to be a one-year mentor. Here is my guide to finding them. Let me suggest a guide I’ve used now for more than twenty years.

G – Genuine

The first quality I look for is a person who is authentic. I need them to be the real deal; to be forthright and to share objectively what they see in me, good or bad. To be honest, finding genuine people is a rare find today. It’s so easy for leaders to hide behind exaggerated personas on social media. So, I meet with them first, before making any request of their ongoing time to see if we “fit” and there’s chemistry.

I – Influential

I look for people who have influence in their community. The reason this is key for me is that I want to learn from leaders who others pay attention to; their gifts and style are worthy of following. I don’t necessarily use a scientific measurement for this element; I simply search for people who I respect and would follow. I want to meet with people who carry weight with others. That way, I know I will listen to and heed their advice.

F – Fruitful

I look for mentors who are productive in their field of work. They’ve borne fruit. When I examine their body of work, I see results. They get the job done. Otherwise, why would I spend time with someone learning a skill or quality when it’s all theory and not real outcomes? When I’ve chosen “communication” mentors in the past, I look for people who not only speak very well and very clearly, but who are able to motivate others to respond.

T – Talented

I look for people who have stronger gifts than I do in a specific area of growth. They have more experience, talent or qualities than I do and in areas that I want to develop. For instance, I found mentors in the art of “focus” and “negotiation” who’ve been kind enough to invest in me in years past. They’re ahead of me on those areas, and each time we met for lunch, I brought a pad of questions regarding those areas. They had insights for every question.

E – Engaging

This is less important than the other traits, but I still look for it. I prefer to meet with mentors (to discuss whatever trait or skill I want to grow in) who communicate in an engaging manner. I take responsibility for the topic and even the questions I want to ask them, but I search for people who will volley back with something interesting. Something relevant. Something helpful. Something engaging.

D – Dependable

I look for mentors who have the time to meet and will keep a commitment they make for a coffee or lunch. I want them to assure me they can keep a secret when I am transparent, and they will not only listen but hold what I disclose in strict confidence. I look for people with high integrity, strong character and a keen sense of responsibility. In my conversations with my mentors, I tend to become far more vulnerable than I do with other relationships, which, frankly, requires a dependable person.

So, here’s to you finding relevant mentors for the New Year, and here’s to you being a relevant mentor for your students. Feel free to forward this list to students you know who themselves. are looking for mentors.

– See more at:


A Message From our Director

As many of you know, I adopted a baby last year; his name is Kason Thomas and he is the highlight of my life… well, he just turned 1 on July 14th and he wants for nothing so in lieu of gifts at his birthday party, I asked that everyone write a letter to 18-year old Kason and I will give them to him, unopened, at that time.  I sat down to write my own letter and once I finished, I thought “many of these things relate to business as well” so I decided to share parts of my letter with you in hopes that you may find a refresher useful in your business and in your everyday life…

Page 2 of my letter starts like this:
“As you go through life there are going to be many challenges and difficult times… it is that way for everyone. I hope that you not only recognize that in others so that you are able to understand that everyone has their own “cross to bear”, but also that you always know that difficult times are temporary – everything always works out exactly as it is supposed to. When you are confused, in pain, angry, or scared, just stay positive and do what our heart and your conscience tell you to do. I trust that you will try to make the correct decision – the one that allows you to maintain your integrity always!

As you go through life, your reputation, your education, your dignity, and your word are the most assets you have. If you are true to yourself and earn the trust of those around you, you will be revered as a leader, someone others can look up to and respect. There are going to be times when telling the truth, or doing the right thing, is the hardest thing to do – you will need to make these decisions knowing that for every action there is a reaction and consequences. I hope you always try to do what is good and just.

I hope you are completely comfortable with who you are – love whom you want to love, hang out with people that challenge and encourage you – surround yourself with people that you make you the best version of yourself and accept you just the way you are – you are your best self!

There are going to be jealous people, mean people, people that stab you in the back, people that don’t pull their weight, people that wish you harm – keep your head held high and continue to be your best self; you will always win in the end if you continuously take the high road.

Be Grateful! The world doesn’t owe you anything. Appreciate everything that people do for you – show them that you appreciate them! A “Thank –You” goes along way. Send hand-written cards, it is a lost-lost art means a lot to people!

Be confident! Take risks! Stay humble! People don’t like cocky people – you get more bees with honey that with vinegar. Let other people take credit, even if they don’t deserve it, give thanks for all things, appreciate what you have and give back whenever you can, without expecting anything in return… do it just for the betterment of the community, church, non-profit, or whomever you are helping.

Work hard! Nothing is going to come free in this life – you can have anything you want and you can become anything you choose with enough perseverance and hard work. Put your mind to something and do it! With the end-result in mind, work backwards to make it happen… all things are possible!

Love freely! Don’t be afraid to take risks. There is greater reward with greater risk, Take a leap of  faith when you need to – go into this world knowing that you have the support of a loving family and that you are amazing!

Make mistakes! Know that mistakes are inevitable; everyone make mistakes, it is only natural. People will not remember what happened but they will remember how you reacted to it. Pick yourself up, apologize when necessary, and admit when you’re wrong – then move on to the next amazing thing, having learned something and growing intellectually.

Take the lead! Don’t be afraid to speak up – be a leader; people like direction and are often waiting for someone to take the lead – take advantage of that and do more than is required of you so you can float to the top of any situation – this philosophy will serve you well in life.

My main wish for you is that you are happy – love your life and appreciate the beauty in the small things – make the most of everyday!

I’ll spare you the rest of the letter as it is mainly sappy, mom stuff. Have you considered having everyone in your family writing letters to your child for the future? I expect that some of these people will not be around in 18 years and I am happy to be able to give this gift to my son. I hope that you enjoyed reading excerpts of my letter.

As always, if there is anything we can do for you, please do not hesitate to ask.


7 Ways to Use LinkedIN to Grow Your Small Business

7 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Small Business

Grow your small business with LinkedIn by using these seven proven tactics.

There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, but only half of them will make it past five years. To ensure your small business is in the successful half, we encourage you to capitalize on the various ways LinkedIn can evolve your business.

With LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you can generate leads, produce sales, and hire top professionals to fuel your growth. Here are seven ways to grow your business using LinkedIn:

1. Create a LinkedIn Company Page

We’ve found that LinkedIn members are 50% more likely to buy once they’ve engaged with your business on LinkedIn. But they can’t connect with you if you don’t have a LinkedIn Company Page. According to Forbes, only 57% of companies have pages. The remaining 43% are missing out on a free opportunity to generate leads, talent, and, ultimately, revenue.

If you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn Company Page. Personal profiles don’t have the same marketing, advertising, and recruiting features as Company Pages, making them less effective at promoting your business. As you create your page, think about the kind of impression you want to create among potential customers and employees. This will help you select the right photos and messages to use on your page.

For a step-by-step guide on how to create an above and beyond Company Page, view our LinkedIn Company Page Best Practices.

2. Promote Your Company Page

Once you have a Company Page, announce it to your clients, employees, and personal network. This will help you gain your first followers, who in turn will help to promote your Company Page on the content you post to it.

Promoting your page on other platforms or via email is also a great way to grow your audience. Here are some simple ways to get the word out:

● Announce the launch of the Company Page on your personal LinkedIn profile
● Encourage employees to follow the Company Page by making it a part of your onboarding process—Social Media Today reports that content shared by employees receives eight times the engagement as brand shared content
● Link to your Company Page in the footer of your marketing emails or newsletters
● Embed a Company Follow button onto your website so visitors can easily follow your LinkedIn Company Page

3. Share Content Regularly

The more you post, the more people you can potentially reach and convert. Best-in-class LinkedIn Company Pages are consistently updated to ensure that visitors have plenty of new content to consume and share.

To get started, try posting at least once per week. It’s not uncommon for companies to post three or more times per day. Post whenever you have something worth saying. Posting consistently shows Company Page visitors that your company is active on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn’s Company Page analytics to see your top performing updates, your best times to post, and which members of your audience are the most engaged. With this information, it’s easy to make data-driven decisions to optimize your Company Page content.

In addition to posting often, here are a few more stats to help you boost engagement:
● Posts with links receive up to 45% more engagement
● Images see an incredible 98% increase in engagement
● Posts that have relevant “best-of” lists get almost 40% more amplification

When a post gets good engagement, consider promoting it to a wider audience with LinkedIn Sponsored Content. Take the Sponsored Content Tour and discover how Sponsored Content amplifies your best content.

4. Showcase Thought Leadership

Seventy nine percent of buyers say thought leadership is critical for determining which companies they want to learn more about. To get started with thought leadership content, try to provide a unique perspective on your industry, product, or organization. Sharing your opinion on the future of your industry or creating a definitive guide on your product are just two ways to demonstrate your expertise and position your company as a credible partner.

For more ideas and advice on expanding your brand’s authority, download our Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership to learn more.

5. Target Sales Prospects

LinkedIn has over 500 million users to date. That may seem like a lot to sort through, but LinkedIn also provides you with tools to identify and target your ideal audience.

LinkedIn members are more likely than other social media users to keep their profiles up-to-date, making it easier for you to find the right people. Use LinkedIn profile data to search for LinkedIn members based on geographic location, education, experience, and even connections. Once you’ve found prospects using the search feature, visit their profiles. Their endorsements or recent profile views might surface additional qualified prospects, too.

For more ways to reach your ideal audience, learn how to advertise on LinkedIn.

6. Build an All-Star Team

LinkedIn has helped 75% of job switchers make informed career decisions, making LinkedIn a top recruiting network. What are candidates looking for when making those decisions? Our research shows that 66% of candidates want to see company culture over everything else. To take advantage of this preference, consider enhancing your Company Page with a LinkedIn Career Page.

Career Pages allow you to target audiences with a personalized look into your company, culture, and jobs. They give you dedicated Life and Jobs Tabs on your Company Page that attract and engage relevant professionals.

In addition to creating Career Pages, encourage employees to share job postings and “day in the life” content as well. This gives visitors a genuine idea of what it’s like to work for you and adds to your authenticity. If you have a few employees who lead the pack in sharing content, consider linking them to your Company Page’s Life Tab. Their shared articles and recent updates will automatically populate, providing visitors with up-to-date information. Watch our video below on how to use the Life Tab to attract the right talent for your company.

7. Hire Freelancers

You’ve probably had an employee who took on a task outside of their domain. You might have even done it yourself a few times. While the effort is commendable, learning on the fly can also be detrimental.

Fortunately, finding the right talent for the task at hand isn’t as tricky as it once was, even if you can’t afford the salary of a full time employee.

LinkedIn ProFinder enables you to post your projects, receive free proposals, and hire trustworthy professionals all in one place. ProFinder will even pair you with local professionals to ensure you have the best freelance experience possible. With 172 professional services available on ProFinder, it’s easy to find the perfect professional for any task.

LinkedIn vets all the professionals on the platform to ensure they are qualified and leverages your network to find freelancers your connections have used, so you’re never in the dark about who you’re hiring.

By using freelancers, you’ll get access to outside perspectives & broad experience of professionals of all kinds, from creating websites and designing logos to managing your books or crafting your marketing strategy. Plus, with none of the management overhead of a full-time employee, you can focus solely on the job at hand.

May’s Member of the Month is Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity


Habitat for HumanityMecosta County Habitat for Humanity is well known in the community for building homes and changing lives. In 1992, a group of local individuals interested in eliminating poverty housing in Mecosta County came together to form MCHFH and since then partnered with local families to build 31 new homes in Mecosta County.

A few years ago the MCHFH Board of Directors, following the lead of Habitat International, made the decision to increase their impact within the Mecosta County community. Along with the traditional new home construction program the Board recognized that many current low-income homeowners needed assistance with critical home repairs that they found themselves unable to afford. The Board began focusing on incorporating a program to address that need and in 2016 launched the Brush with Kindness to addresses critical home repairs needed by existing low income homeowners unable to fund urgent repairs when they unexpectedly arise.

The program incorporates the same Habitat/Home Owner Family partnership model as the new home construction program based on need, willingness to partner and the ability to repay. The driving Habitat philosophy is to offer a hand-up not a hand-out and just as the new home construction builds, Brush With Kindness projects are initially funded by MCHFH and the partner family commits to repay the affiliate through affordable payments.

Since launching the Brush with Kindness Program in the spring of 2016 many applications have been received and new applications are submitted regularly. Some of the projects completed and in the pipeline include: wheel chair ramp construction; roof repairs/replacements; furnace replacement; exterior repairs; window replacements; interior water damage repairs; and insulation and weatherization projects.  The number of families assisted annually will depend on the size and scope of qualified project applications, the availability of volunteers willing to assist in these projects and the availability of financial resources.

Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity has also been able to expand in outreach through the affiliate ReStore located at 18387 Northland Drive (north of the Big Rapids Airport). Since opening in 2012 the ReStore has become a wonderful resource for the community by offering new and gently used donated home construction and home improvement materials, furniture and housewares at affordable prices. The store is able to pick up larger items from donors at no cost. The proceeds from the store go toward helping to fund all of the programs of the affiliate.

Habitat for Humanity was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have an affordable, durable place to live in dignity and safety and MCHFH is committed to recognizing and addressing the areas of need in Mecosta County. For more information, please visit

A Message From Our Director – March 2017

As you probably know, your business success depends largely on marketing. People won’t patronize your business if they don’t know about it, right? The marketing umbrella covers market research, advertising, public relations, promotions and sales.  Your business may offer the best products or services in your industry, but without marketing, your potential customers would not know about them. Without marketing, your sales may crash and the longevity of your business may be at risk.

You know your products and/or services.  You know your target customer, and you know your price points.  Know where to sell to maximize your marketing effectiveness. Younger customers are more likely to shop using a smartphone, shop on a website, and pay with PayPal or a credit card.  Older customers might prefer to shop at retail outlets.  A marketing strategy helps you determine if a particular magazine, newspaper, radio station, social media site, or other website fits into your selling plans.  Advertise with a combination of media outlets to reach the maximum number of potential customers.

Steer yourself towards profits and business growth.  With a good marketing plan in place, you control your sales.  A good plan identifies specific goals for advertising efforts, explains sales to be expected, and estimates when results should be noticed.  Reaching measurable milestones indicates an effective marketing plan.  Based on results, you can determine to stick to certain sales strategies or revise your plan.

If you would like to talk with someone about creating or improving your marketing plan, the Chamber has resources available to you! Give us a call and we can get you set up, free of charge!  As always, if there is anything else we can do for you please don’t hesitate to ask!

March Member of the Month

Congratulations to Trillium Staffing, our Member of the Month!

Trillium was founded in Battle Creek, MI in 1984 by Reńe Poch. Over the past 30+ years Trillium has grown to include 6 specialized brands including: Trillium Staffing Solutions, Trillium Driver Solutions, Trillium Construction Services, Trillium Technical, Trillium Environmental, and Trillium Marine. From humble beginnings to a leader in Staffing and Recruitment, our network of more than 90 branch offices across the United States has allowed us to assist more than 22,000 companies nationwide with their staffing and recruiting needs. Whether the client is seeking temporary, contract, or permanent employees, Trillium can find the best talent to fill any of your staffing needs.

We are proud to be recognized as the 24th Largest Industrial Staffing Firm in the United States, the 60th Largest Staffing Firm in the United States, in the Top 100 Fastest-Growing US Staffing Firms, and a National Best and Brightest Company to Work For. Our clients are partnered with our nearly 400 industry leading recruitment professionals who provide them with an unsurpassed sourcing, recruitment, and staffing plan that is scalable to meet the changing needs of their organization.

2016 Wrap Up

Pictured above L-R: 2017 Chamber President Jeffery Godfrey, Chamber Executive Director Jennifer Heinzman, State Representative Phil Potvin

2016 is just about in the books for the Chamber and what a full year it has been!  As we look back over the last 12 months it is hard to believe all that has taken place. Was it all in one year?

We have just finished up another wonderfully successful Holiday Gala. There are not enough thanks in the world to show how much we appreciate all of the committee members, volunteers, sponsors and businesses that donated to our event.

The foundation of the new Chamber/CVB Welcome Center is being poured as we speak. Another huge thank you to everyone who has already donated to the capital campaign, making our new building a reality.  The Welcome Center is going to be an eye-catching addition to State Street and will allow both the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and the Chamber to serve an even greater number of visitors and residents of our area. We can’t wait to show everyone around our new home this spring! If you are still interested in donating to this exciting project, call the Chamber office at (231)796-7649 and ask a staff member how to get involved!

You may have heard that members of the Chamber staff had the opportunity to meet with Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow as she made a stop in Big Rapids as part of her Small Business Tour.  It was an honor to spend time with the senator as she met with local business owners, discussing the current state of small business, as well as the future of politics with regards to the country’s most recent election.

This year, the hard work that has been happening at the Chamber was recognized by the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals as The Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce was honored to be named Outstanding Chamber of the Year.  Board Members and Chamber staff attended the awards ceremony, which took place in Ann Arbor at the breathtaking University of Michigan Football Stadium.  While at “The Big House,” the group was able to tour the facility, visiting the locker room and even had the opportunity to go on to the field itself.

Because of the Chamber’s achievement, at our recent Gala, State Representative Phil Potvin presented the Chamber with a proclamation from Governor Rick Snyder. This proclamation recognizes the dedication and hard work from the Chamber which led to the Outstanding Chamber of the Year Award.  The proclamation will find a great home on the wall of our new building.

The goal of the Chamber is to promote the quality of life through the economic, educational and cultural development of Mecosta County. We are working to achieve this through many new projects, as well as our ongoing efforts.

The Chamber has partnered with the CVB, The City of Big Rapids, Mecosta County, The Jaycees and other community members to form the Mecosta County Trail Alliance. The MCTA is working to help our local communities gain Pure Michigan Trail Town Status, which will help to encourage commerce and tourism within the area.  This effort will begin with Big Rapids, followed by surrounding communities.

Your Chamber of Commerce continues to grow and is looking forward to 2017!  We continue work on our annual events, such as the upcoming Taste of Mecosta, the Community and Family Expo, the Glow Run, the Pioneer Group Chamber Open, the Dam Festival, the Labor Day Arts and Crafts Festival, and so much more!

Your Chamber is stronger than ever, but we cannot do it without you and we encourage all of our members to get involved with the activities we have going on all of the time.  Take advantage of the networking opportunities found at Business After Hours and Rise and Shine events.  Volunteer your time to join a committee, helping us to organize all of the great programming and events that the Chamber offers!

Your Chamber staff wishes you and your family a happy and safe holiday season.  We will see you in the new year!