My Internship with the Lancaster Chamber

As I played football and basketball growing up, in various iterations, my coaches had this to say in regards to teamwork: People should not be judged on how they act in times of success, but how they act in times of adversity.

My name is Fisayo Oluleye, and I’m a rising senior at Bucknell University. I major in economics, and play cornerback for the football team. From what I saw during my first week at the Chamber, Lancaster is truly filled with great leaders who meet my coaches’ standard. After an alleged case of financial fraud, Worley and Obetz filed for bankruptcy liquidation leaving over 250 people without a job. This, combined with other business closings, (Bon-Ton, Toys-R-Us) provided an opportunity for the Chamber.

Quick thinking, effective decision making, and help from local leaders allowed for the community to bounce back through two job fairs for displaced workers. It was a big success with many of the 150+ businesses signing up within 24 hours. It takes a lot of coordination and commitment in order to create something of value for the public. Although it was an unfortunate situation, people were still able to see something positive out of it. Even through difficulties, leaders are ready to step up to the plate which is why I believe Lancaster is increasingly prosperous. Along with making community impact, my experience allowed me to jump start my career after school.

This internship gave me a great opportunity to grow as a leader. From planning and researching future events to facilitating discussion at networking events, I was able to deliver valuable work while developing my communication skills. It was also encouraging knowing my opinion was sought after when discussing the direction of our marketing campaigns. Going forward I’ll utilize my ability to think outside the box and problem solve as I hope to pursue management consulting post graduation.

Throughout my time with the Chamber I saw the qualities of respect, transparency, and accountability through the conduct of my colleagues. These qualities are also reflected in the business owners and individuals, whom I met with over the 8 weeks. With small businesses flourishing, a booming agricultural industry, and an appreciation of the arts, Lancaster is growing in popularity and it’s easy to see why.

By: Fisayo Oluleye








Mindfulness and Leadership….Really?

Since mindfulness has pushed its way into the mainstream it is inevitably at risk to go the way of Cabbage Patch Dolls and Chia Pets (for the YPs, think Silly Bands and Tamagotchi Pets). Mindfulness has one significant defense that Chia Pets and other fads did not…it has been practiced for thousands of years across a multitude of cultures and in many different contexts. Making the case for its practical application for getting results may mitigate the risk of achieving fad status and obsolescence and I don’t think this is a complicated case to make. Mindfulness is recognized as being great for relaxation and reduction in the stress response, but that is because relaxation is a consequence of a focused mind.

The practice of mindfulness is fairly straightforward. It is the act of directing your mind’s attention in a single direction, consistently, moment to moment. That single direction may be to your breath, a sound, your environment, a person you are in conversation with, a book, etc. It doesn’t matter the direction or the object; what matters is how disciplined you are at re-focusing when the inevitable distraction occurs.

Part of our brain is designed for distraction. It happens to be the oldest part of our brain and the place where processing starts. It served us well when our ancestors faced very real, physical threats from their environment and when life was about hunting, gathering, eating, sleeping and keeping from getting eaten by a saber-toothed tiger. Life is more complicated now and, thankfully, our brain has evolved. Mindfulness is engaging the younger aspects of our brain that help us override our instinct to react to a hostile customer as if they were a saber-toothed tiger. Mindfulness practice is basically training the more sophisticated parts of our brain to override our instinctual reactions so we can respond in a more measured, deliberate and comprehensive way.

These days, office politics, interpersonal dynamics, bad moods, miscommunications and just plain busyness and distraction require different “muscles” in the brain to be exercised to be effective and, honestly, to minimize stress and tension. The sources of distraction in the environments we work in continue to increase. Just like physical fitness can help prevent physical disease, “mental fitness” or establishing some form of consistent mindful practice can help prevent dis-ease in our mind and approach our work with a calm, focused and clear mind on a more consistent basis.

On August 9, 2018, I will be leading a conversation for the Lancaster Chamber that will explore the idea of Mindful Leadership in more depth. If you are curious about how you can integrate mindfulness into your daily routine to enable you to have a more engaged, fulfilled and successful work experience, please join us. You can register here:

Christian Recknagel, Vice President of Leadership and Culture
Benchmark Construction Company


One Year In: Lessons Learned in the Trenches of Self-Employment

ideation-3267505_1920A year ago, I found myself suddenly unemployed. While I admit there were a few brief moments of uncertainty – my wife and I were expecting our first child in just a few months, after all – it didn’t take long for those concerns to pivot into excitement. Was this is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for to start my own business? (Spoiler alert: It was.)

I’ve long been enamored by the notion of being my own boss – likely a genetic trait passed on by my dad – but never felt so strongly about it so as to up and quit the comfort and stability of a salary and benefits. But to be let go? Now that was a different story.

I didn’t have time to sit and think about it for too long. A few chance encounters (the first of which occurred just days after being laid off while serving as a volunteer at last year’s Annual Dinner) quickly turned into project work that itself has either grown into repeat business or yielded referrals for working with other businesses. Fast forward to this spring when – drum roll, please – I finally took the step to formally establish myself as an LLC and begin to operate as a business instead of a gig-to-gig freelancer.

Now I’m by no means claiming to have it all figured out yet – some of the best lessons are learned by trial and error, after all. But I’ve learned more than a few lessons over the past year that I feel could apply to any professional – young, seasoned, employed, self-employed or otherwise.

  1. Mind your Return on Time. Since exploring the topic of time management in my first post to this here blog two years ago, I have since been introduced to the term “Return on Time” – a twist on the standard ROI acronym that’s centered on your most limited (and, arguably, most valuable) resource: time. It may be splitting hairs to differentiate ROT from ROI (time is money, after all). But by specifically reflecting on the amount of time you put into an effort – an email, a pitch, a meeting, doing the actual work – as a means of determining the value of that effort, you quickly become mindful of just how important it is to be a responsible steward of your time. Whether you are self-employed and billing your clients hourly, an employee and being paid for the hours you are working or simply interested in striking a better work-life balance, you can work towards a positive ROT by using task management tools like Asana or Trello, maintaining an accurate and organized calendar, and practicing saying the word “no” in the mirror every morning in an effort to avoid overextending yourself.
  2. Honest communication is the best policy. We’ve all dug ourselves into a hole in one way or another in our careers, and chances are good that at least a few of those holes could have been avoided if only we had just been a bit more honest – to our bosses, to our clients, to ourselves. And while bad time management has no doubt been to blame for missed deadlines or pushed delivery dates, I can say with some certainty that these situations could have been 1,000% smoother had I just simply called or emailed to give a proper heads up of the scenario. That’s not to say that merely providing context will excuse the behavior. But what it does do – especially when delivered in a timely (read: before deadline day) manner – is affirm to your client or boss that you are not some aloof amateur that’s squandering away their time and money, but instead a human being that’s as likely to experiencing setbacks as you are dedicated to working through them. To be clear, this is not a guarantee that there won’t be repercussions. But, with any luck, it will at least help you maintain the relationship and earn another shot down the line.
  3. Invest in yourself. Lancaster is not lacking in its opportunities to grow your skills as well as your network, so you should get in the habit of taking advantage of them. Events like the YPN Skills Accelerator and the Chamber’s various academies and workshops offer great opportunities to hone your professional tool kit and network with other peer professionals at the same time. And in a business community like Lancaster, there are few things more valuable than a rolodex of contacts who know you and are familiar with your skills and experiences. And who knows, you just might be able to get your boss to pay your way…
  4. Be nimble. No amount of proactive planning can serve to guarantee an opportunity or outcome will ever arise. Yes, it is important to make time to strategize and plan for an upcoming marketing campaign or sales push. But seeing as how the universe seems to, on occasion, take pleasure in throwing our best-laid plans in our face, it’s equally as important to maintain your composure if and when all hell breaks loose. Your ability to keep a cool head and function in the face of adversity is directly linked to your probability of surviving this whole career path experience.

By: Mike McMonagle, mcklco mktg

Are you taking advantage of your vacation days?


Next week I am travelling to Iceland for a week-long vacation. Pictured above is the sunset at Blue Lagoon, this vacation can’t come soon enough! I think the last time I took a week off for vacation was in college, hard to believe it’s been that long.

During the past few years, I’ve struggled to use up my vacation days. Sometimes I’d tell myself I didn’t have the extra money to spend, but more often than not I just felt too busy to take the days off. I know that I’m not the only crazy person who does this. Thinking ahead to my upcoming exciting vacation, I couldn’t help but think of reasons why we all need to stop wasting our vacation days:

  1. You are throwing money away if you don’t use your days. You are literally working for free, don’t do it!
  2. You are being less productive and potentially squandering your chance of promotion. Ironically, many of us are hesitant to take time off in fear of looking like a slacker. Mental fatigue is as real as physical fatigue, so just like you need to take a break after exercising, your brain needs regular breaks as well. Vacations can be a great mental reset and in turn actually help your performance.
  3. You are ruining your health. Heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and other health issues have all been linked to a stressful lifestyle. Our body needs time off to regenerate – don’t forgo the chance your company gives you!
  4. You are stifling your own creativity. Sometimes I get my best ideas when I’m away from work, a fresh perspective can do wonders.

Whether you take a stay-cation, an international excursion, or just a day trip to the beach. We all deserve a break once in a while. Why not take advantage of this generous benefit our employers give to us every year?! Take a vacation day soon, you deserve it.

By: Bri Callahan, StoudtAdvisors


Expanding Your Net

By: Amy Giangiulio , VisionCorps

It’s 5:00 p.m. I’ve spent all day putting out fires from behind my desktop. My feet are sore from breaking in my new heels and I feel a slight caffeine headache coming on. Everything in me screams to change into sweatpants and pour a glass of wine. Instead, I take a quick break and head out to the networking event I registered for, weeks ago.

For some, the value of networking isn’t always easy to identify. Yet, a 2017 LinkedIn study found that 80 percent of people considered professional networking to be essential for career success. Beyond that, 70 percent of people said that a connection led to their hiring.

While it’s true that networking can help you advance your current career or make careers moves, it may also be of value beyond this. Put down the wine & sweatpants, take a step back, and look at a few ways networking can help you expand your net:

  • Networking opens doors for professional partnerships. Placing yourself in a room of other ambitious young professionals can help you connect in meaningful ways that may lead to partnerships between your organizations. While sharing your organizations’ strategies, goals, mission, barriers, common purposes, etc. – you may be able to identify areas for collaboration. Does your organization provide a service that another service organization could promote and its clients could benefit from? The possibilities are endless once conversation starts, so remember to bring your business cards.


  • Networking allows folks to see your limitless potential beyond your 9-5, offering volunteer opportunities. Networking (particularly in Lancaster) may lead to community leadership opportunities, volunteer opportunities, or other ways to shift your passion into action. In a recent blog by YPN Advisory Group member, Megan Scheffey, Megan suggests some benefits of identifying passions beyond your cubicle. Not only can this leave you feeling more fulfilled and confident, it may also lead to change in perspective where your talents are utilized or valued in a different way than they are in the workplace. This can lead to even greater connection in your community and personal growth.


  • Networking creates friendships and expands your support network. Connecting with other young professionals can help you find a like-minded individual over a drink (or not) and proceed as best friends for life. Or at the very least, help you build a support network prepared volley back and forth on questions of strategy, meandering thoughts during brainstorming sessions, interview preparation, and more. If you can connect with individuals in roles that mirror yours in the same community, you’ve struck gold.


  • The very accurate cliché – Networking creates meaningful connections that may lead to career moves & promotions. Because you are more visible in the community when networking regularly, this can open new doors for you professionally. You might be approached about job opportunities, be noticed by people who would like to work with you on a freelance basis, or be introduced to an opportunity that can advance your current career such as leadership training or a community skill builder. Several studies also show a correlation between professional networking and promotions.


My Personal Experience

Through networking with the Lancaster Chamber’s Young Professionals Network, I’ve made countless connections to improve my organization’s visibility and keep me involved in different segments of our community. I connected with the women of Leadership Lancaster, Erin and Kate, and now offer tours of VisionCorps during College Core Class. I also met the ever impressive Executive Director of Clare House, Eva, during our Annual Progressive Mixer. She would later take the reigns as co-chair beside me, for an annual event in celebration of the Extraordinary Give.

I’ve made some of my best friends through serving on community boards and volunteer committees. One volunteer opportunity, with Humane Pennsylvania (formerly Humane League of Lancaster), led to my current role at VisionCorps. My supervisor Sherry and I both have a passion for animals, as well as serving the community, so when a position opened at VisionCorps, she reached out to me.

Lancaster is unique in being able to connect like-minded individuals, generally leading to a powerful impact in the local community. Why not take advantage of this? Join us at the next YPN Morning Buzz and see how we can help expand your net.

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Read, Listen & Watch Your Way to a Successful 2018 (and Beyond)

By: Mike McMonagle, mcklco mktg

If you made a New Year’s resolution this year, it’s likely that February finds you residing in one of two camps: those who have a solid streak going for their resolution(s), or, well, those who don’t. But here’s the thing – there’s no rule book dictating the 24-hour span that is January 1st as the lone open enrollment period for establishing good habits or embarking on paths of self-betterment. In other words, today is as good a day as any to get a move on towards any number of goals – including (but certainly not limited to) your own professional development.

Now if you find yourself hungry for some new material to help sharpen your mind, improve your business habits or fan your entrepreneurial flame, you’ve come to the right place. We polled the six recipients of our YPN Awards to learn what books, podcasts & TED Talks have made an impact on them, challenged them or otherwise helped them to grow professionally – all in hopes likewise inspiring you as you work towards making 2018 your most successful year yet.



READ: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain)

With at least one-third of people leaning more toward the introvert side of the introvert-extrovert spectrum, chances are high that you work with many (or you are one yourself). This book shows that a “quiet” leader can be just as effective as a loud, gregarious one as Susan Cain lays out a fascinating case for the power of introverts as leaders (i.e. Rosa Parks, Steve Wozniak, Albert Einstein, Larry Page). Backed by a great deal of evidence-based research, Cain discusses the importance of leaders who are contemplative, listen more than talk, and get their energy from quiet situations. This is essential reading for quieter individuals who might struggle to see themselves as leaders, or any manager looking to understand their team better.

Chloe McPhillips Rich
Vice President of Brand Strategy
2017 YPN Lead Award recipient



READ: Bootstrapping Your Business: Start and Grow a Successful Company with Almost No Money (Greg Gianforte)

This is a quick read and a valuable lens to look through when starting a new business. The insights, tactics and real-world examples do a fantastic job illustrating how you get a company off the ground with real validation before you begin scaling. It is not your typical Valley POV on startups and I think that’s why it’s so refreshing.

Matt Ranauro
Founder/CEO, Benefix
2017 YPN Innovate Award recipient



WATCH: ”How to Revive a Neighborhood with Imagination, Beauty, and Art” (Theaster Gates)

I’ve returned to this TED Talk countless times for inspiration and motivation. Lancaster City is facing a tipping point of investment and development, and making sure the community we’re building is accessible, inclusive, and equitable is, in my honest opinion, the most important challenge we have to face (and we haven’t yet). And in my further opinion, one of the best ways to achieve these things is through art: harnessing the power of emotion to weave together and tackle all the societal obstacles our community struggles with. Because, in the words of Mr. Gates: “Beauty is a basic service.”

Aaron Spangler
Communications Manager, Lancaster County Community Foundation
2017 YPN Connect Award recipient



LISTEN: How I Built This

Leading an entrepreneurial organization or starting your own business is hard! The “How I Built This” podcast tells the stories of successful entrepreneurs, most of whom have had significant challenges along the way. Whenever I am feeling stuck, or tired, or unmotivated, I listen to this podcast to revive my spirit and get my entrepreneurial juices flowing again.

Jonathan Coleman
Interim Co-Executive Director, ASSETS
2016 YPN Innovate Award recipient


StartWithWhy-book.jpgREAD: Start With Why by Simon Sinek

WATCH: Start With Why

In your career or business, it is very challenging to wake up everyday and find true fulfillment in what you do, how you do it and believe it or not even who you do it with. Tasks will constantly become more and more challenging, people come with different personalities and baggage, and the demands of life will always be knocking at the door. However true purpose and calling starts with understanding why you do what you do. Living intentionally for your “Why” is where you can find purpose and contentment in living life to its fullest.

Conlan Swope
Vice President of Operations, Warfel Construction
2016 YPN Lead Award recipient



LISTEN: Presidential

“Presidential” – a podcast produced by the Washington Post – is great for personal learning and development. Each episode is devoted to one former US president, and takes about 30 minutes to explore his life, career, legacy, and the successes and failures of his administration.

Sean Smith
Staff Accountant, Ross Buehler Falk & Company
2016 YPN Connect Award recipient
By: Mike McMonagle, mcklco mktg

6 Ways to Avoid Being Negatively Stereotyped as a Millennial in the Workplace

I came across this article and had to laugh a little. I frequently hear colleagues complain about millennials in front of me (a millennial) and then watch their faces quickly turn pale as they attempt to convince me I’m “not like other stereotypical millennials.” Hopefully they really do feel that way about me as I have always tried my best to break any stereotype forced upon me, whether it be millennial, relative of an executive, woman, etc. I focus on a few key principals which are also highlighted in this article:

  • Be present
  • Be a team player
  • Be a sponge – learn something new any chance you have
  • Be ambitious – seek out constructive criticism, don’t wait for that annual performance review

By Bri Callahan, Stoudt Advisors