A Very Special Ribbon Cutting

Last year while in CEO class, Justin Wiggins bought a building for his IT business, Wiggins Computing, and began the renovation. A ribbon cutting with the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce and his open house was held on Wednesday. What an honor for the CEO class to be included in this celebration. 

This and That

It isn't often we have three days in a week filled with time to work in class. Monday, Tuesday, and Friday were filled with a variety of activities. Terry McGuire stopped by to meet the 2018 CEO class and answer questions regarding his expertise as a mentor. Due to a scheduleing conflict, he was unable to attend the mentor sessions next week on Wednesday and Thursday. CEO students will meet business professionals from a variety of professions and then rank their top 4 choices. Facilitators will make the final matches. 

Students also brainstormed possible themes for the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner. Very soon they will announce the project manager for the event and unveil the theme. They are very excited about their ideas!

Other important topics this week included a debriefing on last week's events with project managers Brendon and Andrew, time for speakers to organize their thoughts for the business luncheon in Dixon, a discussion about Thursday's awesome field trip, and much more.

Justin Wiggins, 2017 CEO

Wiggins Computing

What a day! Starting with class time learning about Justin's journey to becoming an 18 year old business owner! We appreicate Justin (CEO class of 2017) hosting the us on such an important day: the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce Ribbon-Cutting Event at Wiggins Computing! Yes Justin, there are giant scissors used on the ribbon and in this case, the ceremonial cutting of his tie! Executive Director Kris Noble shared a few prideful words, explaining the significance of a young local choosing to live, work, and play in the Sauk Valley Area. Justin expressed his appreciation for the support of his parents and the CEO program for the vast resources. SVACC Ambassadors, CEO class and board members, local businesses, friends and family enjoyed an Open House complete with breakfast on a very special day. 

Northward Bound

Four Stops, Five Speakers Top the Day

Each year CEO students are fortunate to spend a day on the road visiting businesses and meeting professionals in another city. The trip also allows students to spend time building relationships with one another. With eight different high schools represented, they don't often spend time together beyond our daily class lessons. Our first stop was to enjoy Barnacopia and pick up classmates who live in the north. Owner Gary Bocker was a source of knowledge as we viewed his extensive collection of agriculture relics, including his FFA jacket from the 1960's! Next, was a visit with entrepreneur Pam Rossman and her husband Ken in their vineyard near Freeport, Famous Fossil Winery, where we learned about the chemistry, agronomy, and patience needed when growing grapes. Students learned about weather factors and the extensive manual labor involved. The business boasted a beautiful countryside and corncrib converted to event venue. On to the Wagner House were we visited with 23 year old Fish Tank contestant, Malaysia, owner Bill Green, and Blake Musser, Director of Community Marketing. CEO students had lots of business questions for Bill, with his favorites relating to math! A quick tour revealed three floors of amazing renovation of the old Wagner Printing Company. Our last stop gave us a little time to relax as we enjoyed Union Dairy and a brief visit with owner and Freeport Mayor Jodi Miller. A quick picture with the Lincoln-Douglas Debate statues and we were on our way!

Trip Perspectives

By CEO Students

Above, Bill Green and Blake Musser. If you talk with a CEO student, be sure to ask them about our trip, below are a few of their thoughts. 

I found Malaysia to be incredibly inspiring because of her being in the process of starting a business rather than already having a successful one. She offered a lot of advice about ticking with your passion. Victoria Dingman

If you are not pushing forward, you’re probably going to get run over. Competition should drive you and excite you. Anastasia Matias

The thing that I saw during our field trip that was inspiring was Bill Green’s persistence in opening, starting and partnering with other businesses. I also like how almost everybody said that you can’t start a business by yourself and the amount of help you have will greatly benefit you. Kurt Agravante

The two things that inspired me on our field trip is how determined Gary was to finish the tour no matter what. He’s a very persistent and strong man. The other thing was how passionate Bill Green was about his business. I’m definitely going to email him for advice on my individual business. Jose Castro

Bill Green from the Wagner House told us, “Working WITH competition is good.” Opened my eyes a little! Isaac Blaney

I found it inspiring when at Famous Fossil Pam said that both introverts and extroverts are important for business. As an introvert I sometimes feel like I don’t have a place in the business world, but you do. You just have to know yourself. Maddy Weaver

Our field trip taught us not only to think on our feet but to always be there to support others. Your dreams can come true if you work for it. In the end, never give up on your dreams. Nick Clemens

Our last stop was Union Dairy which I found interesting since the owner is also the Freeport Mayor, and delicious! Sam Hildebrand

I found Bill’s enthusiasm and passion to be very inspiring. Jack Williamson

Fish Tank finalist Malaysia Jordan was an unexpected speaker while at the Wagner House. Hannah McCarty

Problems turn into opportunities if you can find solutions. Rachel Scidmore

Build a “community” of people who have the same standards as you for your business. Think about your customers. What do they want versus what do you want? Kortney Queckboerner

Bill Green inspired me when he was talking about how you can partner with other businesses that could be a problem or competition. Brendon Riesselman

Student Journal Highlights for this week

I love to talk. I always have been a talker, and I always will be. This week, I had the opportunity to speak with many new people that I have never met before. On Wednesday, our class met up with the Sauk Valley leadership program. After speaking to two of the lovely women there, I discovered that their class is much like ours. It was such a good feeling to TRULY be listened to by older individuals because it made me feel more important. Being able to carry on a conversation without rambling is just one of the important skills that CEO has helped me acquire. Like stated before, I LOVE to talk, and when I found out that we were going to get the chance to speak at Breakfast Before Business (BBB), my heart jumped. At first, I was unsure that BBB was going to run smoothly because I felt that simple tasks were not being completed as fast as they should have been. We rehearsed what we were going to say two or three times, and this is when I found out that other people were not afraid to talk either; however, this time, I mean in a critical way. My peers were easily able to critique each other on their responses, including myself. I thought that this was awesome because critiquing others is not something that can just be ignored; it must be done, and it must be done nicely. In the "real" world, you have to be able to take constructive criticism, because you are not able to see yourself from someone else's point of view. "The best critique is a better solution." BBB ended up being a great success, and I am overjoyed with how our class was able to speak clearly in front of business professionals. From the lessons on communication, public speaking, and leadership skills, I can easily say CEO has already found a place in my heart and will stay there forever.

When I thought about owning my own business someday, my first thought was that it had to be in a large city to even begin to be successful at all. Then, Jill Shaulis came to talk to our class and my whole perspective changed. She told us her journey and how she made her business  successful when she started it in the small town of 800 people in Pearl City, IL. This really astonished me because I go to Pearl City all the time for various sports events and didn’t really know that there was much of anything there! However, Jill knew that she wanted to start her own quilt shop and made it a goal of her’s. Yellow Creek Quilt Designs became a very successful business and a destination for quilters everywhere! So crazy!

I am not very interested in quilting but I do find them to be very beautiful and I admire the work that quilters must put into making them. A couple things that I took with me from Jill Shaulis is that you must work hard to get to where you are someday. If you want to own a business in a small town you must make it a destination for consumers to want to go there. You also must know how to be independent. I can see that Jill is a very strong lady and didn’t have much support from her husband when she went into her business because he is a farmer. I think that people often give up on their dreams because they don’t have much support, so I strive to not be one of those people. I must learn to be independent and strong just like Jill Shaulis! Learning from her was a great experience!

Honestly I feel as if this week could not have gotten any better. It was such an exciting week, filled with so many diverse mindsets. Meeting with the Adult Leadership class provided a lot of insight to me, as it was so interesting to see all of these adults, already going through the motions of their work life, and still making time to continue learning. I admire that so much. My biggest goal in life is to never stop learning. And to not overshadow Jill Shaulis, I have to say that she was an incredible speaker, and I was honored that she made time in her busy schedule to meet with us. Her passion was evident in everything she does, and I found that so inspiring. 

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The manner in which the CEO program is funded is critical to its success and sustainability. All funds raised are used exclusively for the WACC CEO program. To participate, a 3-year $1000 per year commitment is required. Business Partner Investors commitments of time and energy are also critical to the program's success. Contributions may be tax deductible, as our organization is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.

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