LOCAL MASTERMINDS WORKING TO BETTER THE CITY

The internet defines ‘mastermind’ in 2 distinct ways. noun – a person with outstanding intellect and verb – plan and direct (an ingenious and complex scheme or enterprise) In the city where I live, West Allis Wisconsin, we have a local group of masterminds who fit that definition exactly. The group is called “West Allis Masterminds”. It consists of a small group of local business owners from the city. Recently, I sat down with the group’s founder, Ricky Grabow, to learn more about this amazing group, who they are and what they are doing to improve the city.

My first question to Ricky was what exactly is the West Allis Masterminds? As I discovered, not only are they people of outstanding intellect, but they are owners of local brick and mortar stores located in the city of West Allis. How does such a group come together and why the name masterminds? Several years back the city had decided to disband its local chamber of commerce. When Mr. Grabow heard of this, he saw a great opportunity to establish a group of people that are not only vested in the city, but dedicated to its success. The exact mission statement of the Mastermind group reads as follows, “To provide West Allis small businesses a supportive community that ensures long term success and survival.” That certainly fits the second part of our definition of mastermind, plan and direct an ingenious and complex scheme or enterprise. In this case they are planning and scheming ways in which to improve the climate for small businesses in the city by working together cooperatively.

Ricky is the owner of Peak Physique a local gym here in West Allis. He is not only vested in the city, but has a passion for seeing it, and those in it, do well. I asked him how he chose the name for the group. He said it was inspired from the 1937 Napoleon Hill classic Think and Grow Rich. In which Mr. Hill advocates forming a group of individuals all with different opinions and talents dedicated to a common purpose. In this case that means Mr. Grabow contacted other West Allis business owners who also wanted to work together to not only improve their chances for success, but the chance for other local businesses to succeed as well.

There were several local businesses that were involved from very early on. Westallion Brewing Company and their owners were eager to help out. They often do many things to promote and benefit the city. Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli was another business working within the group. Mike, the owner, is not only a great businessman, but one of the friendliest people you will have the pleasure of meeting. Andrea and her business Oniomania, a small boutique on the east side of the city was another early member. Lisa and Josh from Transaction Skate Shop were also eager to help Ricky in his mission. These five businesses were soon joined by others and continue to work to improve the environment for small business.

Being a man of specifics, I wanted to know what steps they were taking to improve the climate for local businesses and how people can become a part of their efforts. The first way in which they are assisting local businesses is by providing a platform on which they can network with each other. In this way, the businesses can discover ways in which they can both support each other and work together to increase business in the city as a whole. Local business owners are encouraged to attend one of their monthly meetings and become a part of this amazing group. The next one is April 22nd at Westallion Brewing Company at 2pm. There is no cost to attend the event or be a part of the group and it is a fun and unique way to get to know fellow business owners.

The current goal the group is working towards is developing a stream of revenue to be able to provide new businesses with grants to assist them in getting started. They are also focused on being able to provide assistance to businesses that may be struggling in these current and difficult circumstances. I was curious as to how an average citizen could play a part in the efforts of the group. Once again Mr. Grabow had an answer. Starting June 8th, the group will hold a vendor fair showcasing many of the amazing businesses that are a part of this group. These will be held in the beer garden right outside the restaurant Public Table. Past events have not only featured beers from Westallion and amazing gift ideas from Oniomania, but also massages from Susan of Massage MKE. It is a free event where you can browse and experience many of the amazing businesses present in the city. A portion of the revenue will go towards the group and their goals. You can enjoy a good meal, a tasty beverage, a relaxing massage and do some shopping all while helping support the health and vitality of the city and its small businesses.

If you would like to know more about the group, the fun things they have planned and how you can be a part of the great positive changes they are striving to make in the community, I will include a link to the group’s Facebook page at the end of this blog. I am very proud to be in a city that is filled with such caring business owners. They are people dedicated to not only the health of the local business community , but the city as a whole. I strongly encourage you to learn more about the group and attend one or more of their vending fairs.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WEST ALLIS MASTERMINDS

A VITAL COMMUNITY

Time is one thing that always moves on. In the photo above you see the intersection of the streets of 70th and Greenfield in the city of West Allis taken in the early 1900s. The Bank is still there. It is now BMO Harris, not First National. It also doesn’t look nearly as cool though. The building that says Schurs was for a moment a diner called Skelly’s that served delicious greasy breakfast. I recall walking in there and always smelling eggs and toast. The street lights also look a great deal different.

Some people may lament over the passing of time and the changes it creates. Not only is this a fools endeavor, as the only thing constant is change, but it robs us of a chance to focus on some of the positives. Yes, the bank looked far more impressive to me in the picture above than it does now, but it also has a little seating area it didn’t have before. I sure love little places that you can stop and get breakfast and would have loved to go to Skelly’s with Margie. What is there now is a nice place called Urban Joe’s. Not only do they serve wonderful breakfast and great coffee, they do so with a smile.

2 great local businesses

It certainly doesn’t do us harm to fondly remember the businesses of yesteryear, but let us celebrate and support the businesses of today. We may not have a Shur’s or Skelly’s anymore, but we do have plenty of other amazing businesses. We have Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli where you can explore the crazy possibilities of creating things with… you guessed it peanut butter and jelly! Trust me when I tell you that you will be in for some delicious surprises. There are also great gyms like Peak Physique where you can learn everything from kickboxing to yoga and so much more. Ricky, the owner, is passionate and knowledgeable about fitness and would love to help you.

Supporting local businesses is one way to have a vital and healthy community. What I think is even more important and constructive is to get to know and support your neighbors. There are plenty of fun and exciting ways in which to do this. True, we may never go back to the days of leaving our doors unlocked, but we can make our towns a lot friendlier and safer by connecting with those in our community.

Supporting local businesses and getting to know their owners like Mike from Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli and Ricky from Peak Physique is a good start. I suggest adding connecting with other neighbors through groups on social media such as Facebook and Nextdoor. You can also join local community groups. We have several in my city such as East Allis Association and Women’s Club of West Allis. There are countless others that all represent one possible fun way to get to meet and know your neighbors. Taking classes at your local recreation center is another great way to meet those who live near you. Even simply taking a walk through the neighborhood can introduce you to a host of new smiling faces.

Everyone wants a safe, strong and vital community. It is up to us to create it. Support local business, get to know your neighbors and join groups that make a difference. Be a part of the solution and you will feel better about the town you live in.

GET THE ANTIDOTE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

There are plenty of toxins floating around today. I am not even speaking of the covid-19 pandemic we are in the middle of. No, I am talking about emotional and spiritual toxins. There are news stories about violence in your city and throughout the world. There are demeaning and disrespectful political comments. There is even the sad news about this corona virus and how many lives have been lost. Somedays we are exposed to more things that are hazardous to our emotional and spiritual well-being than we can handle.

I have a suggestion that can help us be proactive and save us from a good deal of emotional and spiritual suffering. You know how it feels when after a hard day at work you come home to see climbing death tolls on the news or hear some elected official calling other people names. It is a anchor to your already sinking soul. You see the fear in the eyes of people on the street about a virus that seems to be growing stronger by the day. Even little things that used to lift your spirits such as the smile on the face of a stranger are now hidden beneath a mask. The world can seem to be growing darker by the day.

What we need is an antidote. What do I mean? While an antidote is something taken to counteract a particular poison. We are familiar with being bitten by a venomous snake and then having to get a dose of antidote. What about the venomous people and things we encounter everyday that poison our spirit? Is there an antidote for them? There sure is! Much like each poison has its own antidote, so does each spiritual poison. They also vary from person to person. This is where you get to be an explorer and discover antidotes for you. This is an adventure you should undertake without delay. You certainly wouldn’t want to wait until after you get bit by the snake to start looking for an antidote. While we all may not be exposed to venomous snakes, there are a few snakes in the grass in every community. We all are vulnerable to certain toxins depending on our particular situation.

Let me share some personal examples of toxins in my own life and the antidotes I have put in place to counteract them. My day job is at the United States Postal Service, my night job is DJing. Although there are plenty of nice people I consider friends at both locations, there are also those who may call my faith in humanity into question. Add those to the inevitable sunshine challenged individuals we all come in contact with and you can find yourself feeling rather antisocial. That is the effect of the toxin of unpleasant people. What is my antidote? I have a group of people that always do a great deal to restore my faith in humanity. Here in West Allis Wisconsin, where I live, there are 2 options I use. (there are more, but for sake of brevity we shall stick to two) My friend Curtis at Urban Joe’s café is always full of good humor and serves amazing food and coffee with a smile. If I need an emotional lift, not to mention a great breakfast or lunch, I stop at Urban Joe’s and see Curtis. The same is true of my friends Ricky and Jodi at Peak Physique. It is a local gym that can help find ways to keep you fit during quarantine. Both of these folks are great at bringing a smile to your face. Ricky and I have had great conversations exchanging information on sources of self-improvement. Just a few stops around the neighborhood and I have an antidote for the poison of unpleasant people.

What about all of the stressful news we are exposed to on a daily basis? Hard to avoid seeing less than inspiring items on television, online or even to some extent on social media. Luckily for us, there is an item that can be a great antidote for the toxin of negative news. It is the show Positively Milwaukee. I have written about this show before when I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a part of it. For those of you who may have missed that post, allow me to share a brief description of the show. It is a show that highlights some of the most positive people, places and events in the city of Milwaukee. It is hosted by a young lady named Carole Meekins. She is passionate about sharing positivity and it shows. Every Sunday morning she is there supplying an antidote for all of the negative news we may be exposed to. What if you do not live in Milwaukee? You certainly can still benefit from this show as the episodes are all available on YouTube as well. I will share the link to the episode I appeared on at the end of this post. I encourage you to check out as many other episodes as you can. Each one will bring a smile to your face and joy to your soul.

Whether it is finding people like Curtis, Ricky and Jodi in your own community or discovering a wonderful gem like Positively Milwaukee, I implore of you to find your antidotes today! Some other suggestions are things like joining positive pages on Facebook, following positive people on Twitter and just finding other things that bring us peace and happiness. I would love to get more ideas of antidotes from you. Share what you do to counteract the negativity in your life in the comments below.

SEE THE EPISODE OF POSITIVELY MILWAUKEE I APPEARED ON BY CLICKING HERE

BETTER FRIENDSHIP THROUGH CHEMISTRY

Who wouldn’t want better friendships? Friendships filled with more understanding, more love and more productivity. It would be safe to say anyone reading a blog like this would. To do so we are going to take a brief look into the world of chemistry. Don’t let that scare you. We are going to keep this very simple. In school chemistry was not my best subject, so nothing here will be too complex. We are going to look at one of the most basic equations of chemistry and that is water. When two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen get together, it is not just 3 molecules getting together for coffee and hanging out. In this case a fourth thing is created and that is water.

You may be asking, and for good reason, what any of this has to do with friendship. It works the same way with people. In Napoleon Hill’s timeless book Think and Grow Rich, he mentions forming what he calls a ‘mastermind group’. That is a group of different people, all with different talents, that are working towards a common goal. The author claims that when these people gather together a new person is formed. One who is the combination of the thoughts of all the people present in that group.

One of the highlights of any day for me is to share conversation with someone who shares my passion in self-improvement. I always walk away with so much more knowledge and a different perspective than I had before the meeting. In the past week, I have had the pleasure of having 2 such experiences. The first came when a friendly and wonderful fellow named Ricky offered to buy me a cup of coffee for my birthday. It was the first time the two of us had an opportunity to sit down and chat. Ricky owns a local fitness studio called Peak Physique here in West Allis, where I live. Not knowing too much about each other I was wondering how the conversation might flow. It was amazing. We both spoke at length about topics in both the fitness and self-improvement industry. I left with a great deal of new information about the world of fitness as well as a new self-improvement book to read by an author we mutually admire, Jocko Willink.

The best thing about this meeting to me was the actions taken by my new friend Ricky. I am not sure why this is, but not many adults find it easy to make new friends. This gentleman thought that it might be beneficial for us to meet and become friends. Not only was this a very astute thought, but it took some courage to reach out and put into motion. I commend and thank him for taking this action. Not only did we both make a new friend, we discovered we also shared some amazing friends in common. Jodi, whom I have had the honor of knowing for some time, teaches yoga at his gym. Curtis, the gentleman who served us coffee, as well as several compliments, was a mutual friend. I want to take a second to recognize Curtis is also a man with a brilliant mind when it comes to self-improvement and I am eagerly looking forward to sitting down to a conversation with him.

Another divine new connection I made was with a very talented journalist, Carole Meekins. She had reached out to me to inquire if I would be interested in being interviewed for the show she hosts called Positively Milwaukee. It appears on WTMJ, the local NBC affiliate. As you can imagine, I am a big fan of this show which highlights the positive aspects of the city. Carole is a well-established journalist who is amazing at what she does. I was excited and honored to be part of this show. Little did I know, that would be just the tip of the iceberg of what I would get out of this meeting. I spoke on the phone with Carole a few days ahead of the planned day of filming to exchange information. I learned that not only was she a talented interviewer but had a warm and thoughtful personality. She was well read in the field of self-improvement and we talked for a good while about different authors and speakers we were familiar with.

The day of filming arrived and we shared some more great conversation. I hope this is also the beginning of a great friendship. It has always been my goal to host my own television show interviewing people and I cannot thank Carole Meekins enough for the opportunity to be a part of a show that displays how to do this better than any show I have watched in recent memory. From my new friendship with Carole I have gained a few different resources to explore as well as a renewed passion for exploring my dream of finding a medium in which to explore my desire to interview and uncover the beauty in all of the amazing people that surround us every day.

If you are thinking that you might like to establish a friendship with someone new, I encourage you to pursue that friendship. Both parties will walk away with far more than they started with. It seems comical to me that children seem far more adept at making friends than adults. If you need a little trick that might make it easier, I have one for you. As you are thinking about asking someone new out for a cup of coffee, a drink or just a great conversation, think of how you would feel knowing someone finds you valuable enough to want to pursue a friendship. You will never know the gifts hidden inside someone’s soul until you choose to unwrap them with friendship.