The New University of Minnesota President is Making History

Just a few weeks ago I shared a blog post about Best Buy’s new CEO Corie Barry. Now another woman in Minnesota is making her mark—new University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel. Gabel is the first woman to hold the position since the founding of the university in 1851, and the 17th person to hold the title.

She told the regents that, "It's very important that anyone, who might not see themselves reflected in the position or goal that they aspire to achieve, know that it's possible for them. I hope that I'm showing that not only to women and girls on campus and in the community, but anyone who doesn't see themselves reflected in what it is they hope to achieve."

Taking on this role will of course come with many challenges, so it will be interesting to see where her leadership leads Minnesota’s largest university. From navigating today’s political landscape, working with legislators and regents, to rising tuition costs. She shared her early focuses will include student mental health, campus inclusion, and rethinking the university’s several billion-dollar budget.

You can see more about President Gabel in articles from the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio.

As part of a women-owned small business, it’s always wonderful to see women leading the way in their fields. I wish her all the best as she takes the helm at the U of M!

-Chelsea

Is Earned Media Dead?

Our world and everything in it is spinning at a million miles a minute. It’s hard to keep up when things are moving so fast and aspects of our job are constantly evolving. In the public relations world, we are always trying to look for ways to grow brand awareness for our clients.

One particular area that is a staple for public relations is earned media.

But with the evolution of social media and emerging outreach options, does earned media still have a place?

We’ve heard over the past decade that the print industry is declining…thanks, NO THANKS, millennials! If people are deciding to forego their subscription to local newspapers, then it takes away the option for citizens to submit their thoughts and concerns to the opinion sections. We’re seeing more and more papers turning to paid earned media for business purposes.

What does that mean for regular people? If you want to send a letter to the editor or opinion editorial to your local paper, many papers are now asking you to pay for the post. We understand the rationale, which is to save the print industry, however we wonder if it’s deterring regular people from sharing opinions on matters that impact their community?

Another question is even if these posts are free, would people even read them? We live in a world that demands news to be front and center on our mobile devices. We don’t like to involve a lot of searching.

As a public relations professional, I know there are benefits to earned media. For example, normal people have a voice where they otherwise wouldn’t on very important issues. When a letter to the editor or opinion editorial run it can be used to direct people to a message or issue instead of just talking about it.

As much as I’d like to believe that earned media isn’t dead, the future is looking pretty bleak. But all of us have a role in how we get our news.

Let us know what you think! Do you read the opinion sections in papers (print or digital)? Tweet us @k2andcompany

-Mary

Happy 4th from K2

With the 4th of July just a few days away, we wanted to take a few minutes to reflect. This is a wonderful time of year where we can enjoy the beautiful Midwest weather and make fun memories with friends and family. It’s also a time to be thankful and celebrate the great country we live in.

We might not always agree with what takes place or who represents us, but that’s the beauty of living in the United States of America. We have the choice and voice to make change. We’re thankful to live in a country that encourages us to pursue our dreams and help others on issues that matter most to them.

So, as you’re sippin’ an ice-cold beverage this 4th of July, cheers with your neighbors and family to the strong country we are and the ever-evolving country we hope to always be.

Happy 4th of July from K2!

KK's thoughts from her People to People visit to Cuba

Cuba has always been interesting to Americans for decades, that beautiful but elusive island off our coast, a place stuck in history that we’ve been told we couldn’t go. The very reason many of us want to.

Many of us grew up hearing from older generations about Cuba, including my parents who talk about the drills they conducted in schools during the missile crisis. I was in high school during the Elian Gonzalez saga. I took history and political science classes that focused heavily on Cuba America relations. Many of my Cuban American friends, many working in Republican politics like I’ve done for the past decade, tell stories about their families fleeing after the revolution. Our relations with the Cuban government have been a campaign issue as I worked my way up in American politics and I’ve spent a lot of time prepping candidates on the issue for U.S. Senate and presidential candidates.

All of that gave me a strongly held but it turns out fairly uneducated opinion about the country. To me and many others on the right, the Cubans left Americans for the Soviets and socialism and their corrupt government couldn’t be rewarded until they treat their people and their neighbors better. 

When President Obama opened up U.S. relations with Cuba, I was curious like many others who said, “we should go to Cuba before it gets built up,” but most in the GOP said it was wrong. The government wasn’t treating the Cubans right and we couldn’t incentivize that behavior.

When President Trump reversed course, it’s been controversial to many.

Right before the new Trump Administration’s new policy I had the opportunity to go on a People to People educational trip to Cuba with 10 strangers from across the country working in politics and business. It was a great group of diverse people who I learned a ton from. Despite my Cuban American friends telling me not to go, not to incentivize the Cuban government, I decided I needed to see and learn for myself. And I’m glad I did!

After seven days meeting farmers, restaurant owners, educators, economists, former military, entrepreneurs and officials from the Cuban government, I now know I’ve only touched the surface of a very complicated relationship between our two countries that I had been ignorant to for decades.

My trip reinforced one thing very strongly – I’m a proud capitalist. I cannot understand polling in the States showing a rise of support for socialism. I loved every minute of my trip and the Cuban people are amazing, but I’ve never been happier to step foot in America. We take our ability to achieve whatever we want to achieve for granted every day.

Seeing what socialism looks like firsthand made me more confident than ever that it’s a fool’s errand. Doctors, educators and janitors all make the same government salaries (equivalent to $25 a month), there is no incentive to compete or innovate, the government penalizes private businesses that are too successful, waitstaff at state owned restaurants do not care about providing service for their patrons, access to information is still severely limited with the internet being patrolled and the Cuban people just got data on their phones a couple of months ago. 

But despite the Cuban government trying to stifle entrepreneurial spirit, the Cuban people are fighting it – they are naturally curious and innovative. The best food in Cuba was at private restaurants in homes of entrepreneurial Cubans. Their food is sourced from private farm to table farms in the Havana countryside who are also opening catering companies. One farmer told us he uses YouTube to find new ways to cultivate his land.

The best renovations and construction are being done by private companies; they are winning government contracts over their government-run competitors. There are private construction, agricultural and textile cooperative popping up everywhere, giving their communities jobs that pay ten to fifteen times the income they make working for the government.

I urge everyone calling themselves a socialist in America to go to Cuba and talk to the people. Time and again we heard from Cubans that socialism was a great theory, but it failed in practice. The best that I saw of Cuba was directly related to their entrepreneurial and community spirit, not their government.

 - Kirsten

Below are some pictures of a traditional bodega where Cubans get their staples, so flour, cooking oil, etc. It’s all rationed so they have to bring their family’s ration card (one per family), they look at the board to understand supply and bring their plastic bags to get their food. It was one of the most eye opening experiences of the trip. Our bodegas in America look very different.

There’s also a beautiful picture of what Cuba has to offer - it’s a beautiful island with fantastic architecture. The 1950’s American cars are much-talked about in America and they are very cool but there’s a lot of history of why that happened. Fast forward a decade and it’s all Russian cars and then now you’re seeing Japanese cars as well.

This is their rationing system so people know how much of a product is available.

This is their rationing system so people know how much of a product is available.

These are the staples you’d get at a Bodega in Cuba, bring your own plastic bag and they weigh in on the scales.

These are the staples you’d get at a Bodega in Cuba, bring your own plastic bag and they weigh in on the scales.

Beautiful sunset drive along the ocean in a 1950s American car (sorry can’t remember which this one was :) ) in Havana

Beautiful sunset drive along the ocean in a 1950s American car (sorry can’t remember which this one was :) ) in Havana

Success is like an iceberg

It’s so easy to get caught in the daily grind of work and everything else that takes place outside of the office. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and acknowledge all the different facets that actually go into being a full-time, successful working adult. Believe it or not, it requires a lot more than just waking up and sending a few emails.

Recently, I stumbled upon a great picture that used an iceberg as a representation of success. If you can imagine the part of the iceberg that is above water, that represents the things people see which are titles and awards. Everything under water represents what people don’t see. This can include sacrifice, rejections, determination, persistence, good habits, daily goals, and many other things.

As I look at the list of things people don’t see, I can’t help but agree with the majority of these in my own life. In the process of reaching successes in my life, I’ve encountered tears, rejections, disappointment, the need to time manage, needing to stay healthy, and of course remaining focused. Even though people don’t see the submerged part of the iceberg, it’s there and ultimately you get to decide which aspects will be the most helpful to achieving the end goal.

We all have experienced the frustration that comes with people not understanding all the hard work that goes into successfully executing day to day operations or projects. We at K2 & Co. have found it beneficial to recognize a win in our business and what it will take to achieve that win. This helps show value to our clients along the way and keeps company moral up. When there aren’t clear opportunities to show the fun and flashy accolades to people, knowing you have wins on the board keeps the fire going!

No matter what profession you’re in, we’ve all been in positions where hard work isn’t always acknowledged. What’s important is knowing you’ve put in the effort and achieved the client’s need or personal goal at the end of the day! We’ve got this!

-Mary

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Women Reach a Workforce Milestone

News outlets across the United States are reporting that in 2019, college-educated women will make up a majority of the college-educated U.S. workforce.

The recently released analysis from Pew Research found that 29.5 million working women held at least a bachelor's degree in the first quarter of 2019, compared to 29.3 million men. According to the analysis, women, ages 25 and older, now account for more than half of the college-educated workforce which is an 11 percent increase since 2000.

While this is a notable milestone for women in the workforce, it’s interesting to to note that women have been a majority of college-educated adults for more than a decade, and have outnumbered men in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded since the 1981-1982 academic year.

Women in the workplace still remains a hot topic in the news, in politics and in the boardroom. Unequal wages, women dominating industries with lower salaries, maternity leave and childcare, harassment, and bias are all topics that continue to be a focus for employers and women navigating their career paths.

Some additional interesting statistics from the Census Bureau figures show that:

·       The typical worker (ages 25 and older) earned $41,900 in 2017, but a worker with at least a bachelor’s degree earned $61,300

·       The earnings bump associated with a bachelor’s degree is larger for men than women

·       The median earnings of college-educated men is $74,900, compared with $50,200 for men overall

·       The typical college-educated woman earns $51,600, versus $36,000 for women overall

·       About one-third (35 percent) of U.S. adults 25 and older are college educated, but these individuals generate 57 percent of the economy’s earnings – $4.7 trillion out of $8.4 trillion total labor market earnings in 2017

As women pass men and make up a majority of the college-educated workforce this year, the study notes it’s an important step toward growing earning power and income equality.

2019 is a milestone year for women in the workforce!

-Chelsea

KK at Yale's Women's Campaign School

Last week I had the opportunity to teach a course on communications planning to the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. It was an amazing room of women of all ages who are either running a campaign or running for office themselves. The school runs an intensive weeklong class bringing in top national campaign professionals on both sides of the aisle to help these women learn the art and sport of political campaigns. From vote goals to targeting, direct mail, paid and earned media, and legal compliance, the students learned every facet of a 2019 political campaign. There’s homework at night and they are graded at the end. 

They brought wonderful questions based on experience and just plain curiosity. It was great to see the energy of budding public servants. What a resource this campaign school is for these women! 

To many of us who have worked in national politics for years, some of what we teach seems obvious - the longer you talk to a reporter the more chance you will make a mistake, that reporters are people too and building relationships with them is appropriate and important, and like most other things in life, that every piece of a campaign should be planned from the endorsements you hope to receive to the coalition rollouts you will do, to the education TV ad that will air. Campaigns may be unpredictable but nothing on a campaign should be left to chance. 

But to most in this arena, some people just know they have a story and a desire to serve and I’m happy to have helped some of them get the knowledge they need to take the next step.

Politics gets a bad rap these days with people’s opinions getting the better of them. It’s tough to wear your beliefs on your sleeve every day while others insult from behind their social media apps. I applaud all of these women for putting themselves out there and stepping up to the plate. We need more highly competent, energetic people to run for office and we need more women to run for office. And all of us voters out there need to see them for what they are - people who want to make a difference while diving into the deep end of politics.

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Why Media Training Makes All the Difference

Maybe you’ve done hundreds of interviews, or maybe it’s your first time talking to press. Either way, media training and preparation are incredibly important! At K2 & Co. we work with our clients to provide thorough preparation and advice before interviews so you can be ready to talk to reporters and get your message and brand out to the public.

Looking for more on what to do before your big interview? We have a few helpful tips for you.

First, as the Boy Scouts’ motto goes, and as Scar from the Lion King tells us: Be Prepared. That means formulating and understanding your key talking points, anticipating what questions reporters will ask so you have answers in mind, and of course, practicing! In today’s quick media culture of soundbites, you need to be able to get your message out quickly, clearly and concisely.

Practicing in front of a mirror, or better yet videotaping yourself, will let you review and critique how you’re answering questions, as well as how you can improve. Posture, appearance, projection, confidence and body language all play a part in your message beyond the words you speak.

And just as important as it is to be prepared with your message, it’s also important to understand who you’re talking to! Is it a newspaper reporter, a radio interview, a live television interview or an editorial board? Do they have a political persuasion? How long have they been covering this beat? If you can understand the outlet and reporter you’re speaking to, as well as their audience and history of reporting on similar topics to what you’re discussing, it will go a long way to help you create a positive interview. 

Next, it’s key to understand what’s interesting and what’s newsworthy. Demonstrate why you and who you represent are important, and why what you’re adding to the discussion is different, unique and innovative. If you can understand what drives news, it will help you get your point across in an interesting and memorable way.

Finally, while it’s incredibly important to practice, prepare and be ready with a strong and engaging message, it’s also critical you don’t forget to be yourself! Authenticity and passion go a long way in connecting, and whether it’s a one-on-one with a reporter or you’re live on television, make sure that you stay true to yourself. Your message will resonate all the more for it.

We hope those tips were helpful, and If you want even more advice on media training, crisis communications and building relationships with media, let us know! K2 & Co. is here to help!

-Chelsea

Inspiration Coming to the Twin Cities

Looking for a fun event that is guaranteed to lighten your soul? The Inclusion Revolution has returned to Minnesota for the Special Olympics Summer Games at the University of St. Thomas campus. Athletes, unified partners, coaches and volunteers from all over the state are coming together to this weekend to celebrate a year of hard work, passion, and love of the game!

Special Olympics holds a special place in my heart. My older brother, Robert, has Down Syndrome and has participated with Special Olympics since he was 8 years old. Many lasting relationships were built during the years of my brother competing, my dad coaching, and all the siblings volunteering. I’m forever grateful for the friendships and memories made through Special Olympics.

You too can get in on the memories and cheer on over 3,600 participants! During this weekend’s Summer Games, you can check out track + field, basketball and swimming.  Another awesome feature of the Summer Games is the Opening Ceremonies. This takes place on Friday, June 21st and includes the Parade of Athletes. This year’s Grand Marshals will be Joe Mauer of the MN Twins, and John Randle and Ben Leber of the MN Vikings.

Leading up to Friday, keep an eye out for local law enforcement’s participation in the Final Leg. This is a statewide run put on by the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Minnesota. Officers from over 75 agencies across the state work together to carry the torch and the Flame of Hope a total of 1,066 miles to Summer Games in support of SOMN. LETR’s mission is to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics. On Tuesday, the torch was carried through Mankato before heading to the Twin Cities.

Special Olympics has not only been a beacon of hope for my family but for so many others throughout the world. Join the thousands of fans from around the great state of Minnesota in celebrating our athletes and their accomplishments. Hope to see you there!

-Mary

Best Buy’s New CEO Talks Work-Life Balance

Working for a certified women-owned small business, it’s always inspiring to see other women succeeding and blazing trails forward in their industry. Corie Barry, is one of those women who begins her new job as CEO of Minnesota-based Best Buy this month.

Barry is not only making headlines for taking over a major company, but for also being the youngest female CEO in a Fortune 100 company. At 44 years old, it’s exciting to see her success and candid attitude about work-life balance. She is a parent to two young children and also is the caregiver for her grandmother.

“I think, from the outside, an employee might look and say it's all figured out she has people driving her kids to work or she has tutors and nannies. We have none of that. They get on the bus with everyone else,” Barry said in an interview with KARE 11. “I wanted to be as genuine as we could about the challenges we face about how hard it is to make some of the trade-off decisions and just let every parent, whether it's a mom or dad, let them all know it's not always clean it's sometimes messy and that's ok.”

According to a CNN story from April when Best Buy announced Barry would be their new CEO, women represent just 5.2 percent of all S&P Fortune 500 companies.

That’s why when we see women like Barry rise to the top, it’s newsworthy, and the business world and media stop to take notice. They want to hear about her leadership style and what it means to be a woman in this role.

And while it’s important to celebrate female entrepreneurs, leaders, elected officials, CEOs and boss women who work their way to the top, what Barry and most women leaders will point out is that at the end of the day, what matters most is results.

“I carry a lot of responsibility in that role, and I love that I also maybe can set an example as a woman or set an example as someone who is younger than average, but that is not the priority. The priority is to be the best possible CEO of this amazing company,” Barry said.

So way to go Corie Barry, and to all the women out there leading the way in their industries!

You can see more about her in a recent KARE 11 story with Julie Nelson here.

-Chelsea

What does work life balance even mean

As a semi-young professional (what even is the cut off age for a young professional anyway?), I’m always looking for tips and tricks to make sure I’m using my time efficiently. I grew up with a dad that hammered into my four other siblings and I, “think smarter, not harder” so if that’s any indication of the person I’ve been molded into…well you get the picture!

The phrase “work life balance” is thrown around an egregious amount these days but what does it really mean? And it really being used in the proper context that it was created? Shockingly enough, these aren’t the questions that keep me up at night, however, it does stop me momentarily.

I recently read an article in Entrepreneur about this topic that went into the myths associated and how focusing on this ideal is setting people up for failure. From my experience, work life balance usually comes up in a super positive or super negative way because folks have either achieved it or they haven’t. After reading through the article, I’ve settled on a few takeaways:

Good in theory, bad in practice

The idea of work life balance seems great at the onset but work culture has changed a lot over the years that it’s pretty much impossible to have a clean cut between work and social life. If you constantly stress about have the divide or balance between the two, you’ll just add stress when that doesn’t consistently happen. There’s bound to be crossover, so accepting that will save you a lot of frustration.  

Office hours are often home hours

This goes in tangent with the first takeaway but sometimes office hours are all over the place. We often have the intention of shutting off as soon as it hits 5pm and yet, that’s not always possible. Sometimes we have to take a call or respond to emails during family time or on vacations. Being flexible and having open communications with management and your co-workers will definitely help alleviate stress.

Times are changing and the work environment is changing too. Upgrades to technology, pace of projects increasing and other indicators are all factors that influence this new “work life balance”. What does it mean to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

-Mary

The Importance of Authentic Thought Leadership

Influencer is a word thrown around a lot these days, and it seems like anyone with a YouTube channel or an Instagram account is striving to make their mark. And while social media is a vital part of growing your reach and sharing your message, becoming a real, authentic thought leader in your industry or area expertise takes so much more.

First, it’s important to note that thought leadership does not happen overnight. But over time, if you are able to lend your voice as an expert in your field or niche, predict future trends, and offer real, meaningful insights that people want to hear, it will help build up your brand and make you a resource in your industry or field.

Thought leaders are experts in what they do. Maybe that means you’re a seasoned-political operative, a successful entrepreneur, or a CEO in your industry. But make no mistake, it takes hard work to become a respected thought leader.

If you’re looking to grow into a thought leadership role, here are a few tips.

First, social media must be used in the right way. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all sites where you can put out thoughtful, meaningful content that adds your perspective and provides insight about trends, relevant news and more. Social media also allows you to interact and engage with others in your field. What’s more, it’s a way to build up your personal brand and gain more followers.

Second, finding ways to connect with traditional media is also important. Submitting an editorial in the newspaper for example, or building relationships with reporters who report on your industry is key. That way, when media is covering stories related to the space where you’re a thought leader, they’ll come to you for interviews and commentary furthering your reach.

It’s also critical to make sure you’re always learning and listening to become a real thought leader. Being respectful of other perspectives, ideas and always working to grow professionally will give you a more well-rounded base and help you remain relevant in your field of expertise.

Regularly putting out content is also critical. What’s happening in the news? How is your industry growing and changing? If you can provide insightful commentary, offer a unique perspective, and most importantly help guide others, you are on your way to becoming a real thought leader.

Honesty, authenticity, humility and a real investment in solving the problems of the day is what makes a genuine thought leader in today’s society. So if you’re looking to become a thought leader in your field, utilize both traditional and social media, continue to grow and learn, and most importantly show your passion for your industry while demonstrating a clear point-of-view. It will help you spread your message, grow your reach and come into your own as someone whose insights and opinions are influencing the world around you.

-Chelsea

A Thank You From Bridging

Dear Staff and Friends of K2 and Co,

Thank you for your incredible donation of 200+ towels to Bridging. We had some of the towel sets on the shelves for clients today and they loved them!  Did you know we need nearly 300 towel sets at Bridging each week? We went through 48 towel sets in Roseville alone today! You not only helped the families who will receive the towels, you also helped raise awareness of Bridging within your community. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity!

Your collection helps families transitioning out of homelessness and poverty by giving them the opportunity to turn their houses into homes.  With a stable home, Bridging’s clients are able to focus on educational and economic opportunities that will forge a path to a brighter future for them and their families.  Since 1987 Bridging has served more than 90,000 local Twin Cities households, and reduced landfill space by 10 million pounds each year. Visit bridging.org for additional program details or watch our BRIDGING 101 VIDEO and see us in action!  

Thanks, again, for donating towels to us. You’ve made a huge difference in the lives of families in need. Thank you for being part of the good things that happen at Bridging every day!

With heartfelt appreciation,

Wendy Erickson

Volunteer Coordinator

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Thank You to Everyone Who Donated Towels to Bridging!

K2 and Company is proud to support local charities that make a real difference in our community. Last month, we did a towel drive and thanks to many generous donations, we collected 200 towels for Bridging. To everyone who donated—thank you! You helped a family transitioning out of homelessness turn their house into a home!

For those that don’t know about Bridging, it’s a charity that has helped more than 90,000 households furnish their homes over the past 30 years. Bridging believes that with a stable home, Minnesotans are able to focus on educational and economic opportunities that will forge a path to a brighter future for them and their families.

Bridging shared with us that they need nearly 300 towels a week for their clients. We were proud to make this donation and help families in need!

Have other items you’d like to donate to help local Twin Cities residents in need? Bridging takes new and gently used items including furniture, housewares, linens, small electronics and artwork. Donating gently used items have also helped Bridging reduce landfill space by 10 million pounds annually! That’s a real win for everybody!

Check out their website https://www.bridging.org/ to see how you can donate and make a difference in the lives of Twin Cities families!

K2 and Co. is proud to support Bridging—a fantastic local charity making a real difference in the lives of Minnesotans.

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Now is the season to start building your grassroots efforts

The Minnesota Legislature (finally) finalized their budget bills this weekend and there were plenty of ups and downs, and twists and turns along the way in St. Paul. But that’s the life in any state capitol.

Rest assured, through it all K2 & Co was in the action and loving every minute. We thrive working with people who care about an issue and connecting them to the bills that will impact them because every bill has an impact.

With state elected officials heading back to their districts until next February, this is the time to work on the issues you care the most about. Legislative breaks are the time to recruit and train advocates who will engage leading up to and during peak capitol months and begin getting local media coverage on issues. In fact, now is when the real grassroots work starts.

The longer runway you have leading up to next session to build relationships and educate the public on whatever issue it is – the better your outcome will be – hands down. It’s like training for a marathon for a year versus one month. You need six months to a year to properly prepare grassroots campaigns for the best chance at success.

Whether it’s preparing a public affairs strategic plan or blocking and tackling with letters to the editor, opinion editorials, email updates, pitching reporter interviews to build those relationships, or building events so the general public learns more about you – we are here to support you. This is the awareness campaign that should happen so when it’s time for the legislative session again, K2 & Co can work to facilitate meetings with elected officials and they are ready to engage!

Grassroots work should be done throughout the year and K2 has the experience to execute your needs. Check out our full list of our areas of expertise.

Why Professional Mentorship is Important

Sometimes you just need a chance, an opportunity and a little guidance. Whether you’re an intern or a seasoned veteran in your field, we can all think of someone (or many people) who helped us get where we are today in our career and provided meaningful guidance along the way. Professional mentorship is an invaluable asset as we continue to grow both personally and professionally, and whether you’re the mentor or mentee at this point in your career—mentorship helps make us all better.

A good professional mentor challenges us. They push us beyond our current capabilities and show us how we can do better. To advance in your career, you must grow in your skillset, knowledge and relationships, and a good mentor understands where you’re at in your career development, and provides suggestions and ideas of how you can move forward.

If your mentor is someone higher up at your current company, look to their work and ask questions like how they got into their current role. Ask them what it was like when they started, how the company has developed, and how to build relationships and skills that will help you grow and benefit your company. And most importantly, watch what they’re doing and see what professional traits and skills you can emulate that will help you be more successful in your current role. 

Failure is also a key part of career growth, and where mentorship can be incredibly valuable. Maybe you feel like you failed at a project, didn’t get the promotion you were hoping for, or are facing unexpected adversity at work. These things can be hard to handle, but you’re not the only one who has faced setbacks. A good mentor can help guide you, and share their own experiences of how they overcame their own career obstacles. No one becomes a CEO overnight, after all!

What’s also important to remember is mentors come to us in many ways. Sometimes, it’s about formally asking for help. Maybe you meet for coffee once a month asking for specific career advice. Other times, we may not even know someone is impacting our careers and helping us grow until we look back on that project, that experience or that promotion.

Many mentors also find that when they’re able to discuss their careers and impart their knowledge to another, it helps them better assess their own skills and where they can improve too. Bouncing ideas off one another often offers new perspectives and key insights.

Perhaps most importantly when it comes to mentorship, don’t be afraid to ask for advice and don’t be afraid to offer it! You can grow leaps and bounds professionally as you learn new skills, how to better navigate relationships and situations, and become more self-aware of your strengths and where you can improve.

Professional mentorship can make a huge difference in your career trajectory, so look to others as you look to grow in your career.

-Chelsea

Dealing with the Post Grad Blues

It’s that time of year again! The birds are singing, most of the snow in Minnesota has melted, and our graduates are coming into the workforce all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. With all the excitement that these young professionals have, there is still a lot of uncertainty and insecurities that come with starting the next chapter in life.

As a “recent grad” (does 5 years count as recent?) myself, I can completely relate with the feelings of loss and angst for what’s to come. There was definitely an adjustment period but after a while I found a couple things that really helped me cope.

First, it was coming to the realization that at 22 years old it’s okay to not have your whole life planned out. There’s a lot of pressure to have everything planned out. The reality is, the majority of people will spend 50 years in the work force and it’s a safe bet you won’t do the same thing the whole time.

After accepting that there will be transition phase, it’s important to identify the things you can control in your life. Recognizing those things will be helpful in keeping balance and reduce stress. For me, diet and exercise are things that I have complete control over. Whether you’re interviewing, just starting a new job, or still trying to figure things out having a set eating and working out schedule will keep you in check.

Lastly, one way to deal with the post grad blues is to stay connected. Keep in touch with friends, family, coaches, and professors. Find groups or fun activities that are going on in your neighborhood. Grab a cup of coffee or do a quick call. We’ve all experienced this in some capacity and talking through the unknown is helpful.

We at K2 & Co, have all had our fair share of interesting jobs throughout the years. Each venture has shaped us into the people we are today and has created a business we can be proud of. Whether you’re a recent grad or not, we’d love to chat and tell you all about K2 &Co!

-Mary

Why Authenticity Matters

Honesty is the best policy.

Your mother probably told you this growing up when you were caught telling a little white lie or a whopper of a tale. But there is value in that lesson—especially when it comes to marketing and engaging with the public.

With social media, brands are constantly being monitored and a public relations mistake or story can go viral in a matter of seconds. If you’re not honest with consumers, stray too far from your brand, and most importantly—don’t address a problem and engage in an authentic way, you’ll have trouble building trust with your audience in the long-term. And no one wants the public to lose confidence in their brand.  

Social media has made people more savvy when it comes to how they engage with brands. Previously, an ad campaign was all it took to tell a brand story. Now it’s people who can send out a tweet or a post, making what was once consolidated brand story telling effort into thousands or millions of voices with an opinion on who you are and what you do.

More and more, consumers seek out brands with a cause, a purpose and a mission—and brands telling their stories must make sure they find authentic ways to advocate for something while also remaining true to their brand. Too much spin, and people will quickly dismiss your efforts as insincere and move onto the next.

While social media can add real pressure to businesses and brands, it also provides an amazing opportunity for consumers to be your brand ambassador. I think each of us know a product or service we recommend to our friends and rave about. If that brand feels aligned with our values and feels authentic, all the better.

So to my fellow public relations experts, marketing gurus, branding champions, and anyone working to tell the story of their brand, non-profit, business or idea—ask yourself this question first: Is it authentic and is it honest? If it is, you have a great chance of connecting with your audience and growing your brand, because after all—honesty is the best policy.


-Chelsea

Politics at the Pub

Last week the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce put on another great event—Politics at the Pub. The event was hosted at Patrick McGovern’s in St. Paul so you know that there was not only great conversation, but great food and drinks too!

K2 and Co. co-sponsored the event which included a great chance to network with chamber members, local elected officials and candidates. It’s wonderful to see so many community leaders working together to ensure St. Paul is, and continues to be, a thriving community for businesses of all sizes.

I had a great time getting to chat with some local elected officials and hear more about their vision for St. Paul area communities. Politics and good public policy matter, and in many ways more greatly impact our everyday lives at the local level. No matter what issue you’re most passionate about, there are many great people to meet and meaningful ways to get involved at the local level.

Thanks to the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce for putting on another great event! I look forward to many more fantastic events this year!

-Chelsea

Highlighting Local Stories for a Positive Impact

Grassroots can sometimes be hard to define. What it really breaks down to is familiarizing ourselves with issues that impact our local communities, finding groups of people who have a stake in the issue, and highlighting their authentic stories in a way that humanizes the issue.

We love what we do at K2&CO and we love the people we’re able to connect with through our projects. This week, there was a touching story in the Star Tribune about Ana Younker-Zimmerman. Ana was born without arms but that hasn’t stopped her from living life to the fullest. Recently, Ana threw out the first pitch during the Minnesota Twins game at Target Field. Ana is an inspiration, not only in the adapted sports community, but throughout the Twin Cities. Check out the full story here: http://www.startribune.com/st-paul-teen-with-disabilities-inspires/509553092/

K2&CO has had the honor of working with a number of amazing organizations and people over the years. Through our grassroots work, we have been able to bring attention to issues by partnering with local sports teams. Not only is it enjoyable for our project partners and volunteers to work with Minnesota sports teams, but this is a unique way to inform a greater number of people on issues they might not be familiar with.

Many sports teams have community fund programs that offer opportunities for activists and local organizations to share their stories. K2&CO has partnered with the Minnesota Twins, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, House of Charity, Verde Technologies, and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department to educate the public on prescription use/abuse and safe disposal. Our group was featured during the pre-game ceremony, had a video play on the Jumbotron, and we were able to pass out rally rags before the game. What a success!

If you’re curious about grassroots advocacy, the issues we’ve worked on, or how we can help bring attention to an issue you’re passionate about let us know. We’d love to connect!

-Mary