Inspiring people to Challenge the Norm

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Bret Simmons – Helping Students Build Their Personal Brand

bret simmons Bret Simmons is the master mind behind all the content being created at the University of Nevada, Reno. Bret is a professor for the College of Business who teaches the Personal Branding class offered to both undergrads and master level students.  His class provides the necessary education to build a strong framework for a students’ personal brand.  As a student in the class, you actively participate in various social media platforms.  These platforms included Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Yelp, and various other sites which the student must create an account and actively participate in.

But the Personal Branding class isn’t just a class you’ll take and forget about.  Bret Simmons’ class is life changing and for some, may create a lifeline.  By building a personal brand on the various social media sites, many students are reporting positive feedback within their careers and personal lives.  Not only are they creating a strong digital footprint which positively reflects their brand, some students have been offered jobs via social media platforms.  The students who successfully complete the course will have created a professional image of themselves online while learning how to successfully navigate online.

Although some still believe social media is not necessary within the business world, Bret Simmons is proving reasons why it is imperative to participate in these platforms.  Various successful professionals and business owners share their stories from social media and what it has done for them.  Dr. Simmons is truly challenging the norm, and inspiring students to build their personal brand.

Interested in improving your social media awareness and personal brand? Contact Bret Simmons to learn more.

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Lauren Suleski – The Link Between Littles and Their Big

lauren suleskiLauren Suleski is the Boys and Girls Club program and volunteer outreach coordinator for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada.  Her role is to match children with a volunteer mentor who will then meet with the child at the club one day a week for an hour.  Her passion for ensuring the best possible match is inspiring others to become part of the life changing non-profit organization.  The leadership she displays through the process of matching a little with a big is one piece which contributes to the organizations success.

Laurens leadership is providing tremendous results for the little ones involved in the program.  Not only is she constantly recruiting volunteers to become a mentor, she is partnering with other groups within the community to help spread program awareness.  The children who make up the Boys and Girls Club face educational deficiencies, issues with the law, and home problems.  By providing a mentor for these little ones, the organization has seen not only an improvement in their behaviors and scholarly competency, but the overall experience appears to improve their happiness.

In partnership with Lauren’s coworkers, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada are continually working to improve the mentor matching process and length of mentorship.  In the recent years, with the help of Lauren’s passion for the program, BBBS has found 98% of little’s improve in social acceptance, 82″% of little’s are very sure they will graduate from high school, 53% of little’s improve in scholarly competency, 8.1% of all youth in Washoe County were arrested compared to 3.1% of matched little brothers and little sisters.

With the help of Lauren Suleski, BBBS is improving the lives of little ones everyday.  Her patience and understanding allows her to work more effectively with the various personalities and cultures.  In turn, allowing her to recruit the best possible mentor matches.  Lauren believes in what she is doing because she knows it makes a difference in the little ones lives.  The leadership she displays stands out in our community thus inspiring others to volunteer to help mentor little’s.

Want to become a mentor and improve the lives of little ones?  Join Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada today!

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Brian Williams – Think Kindess

bio_headshot_brianBrian Williams is the founder of the non profit organization, Think Kindness. Brian is inspiring thousands of youth across the nation to incorporate Kindness into their daily lives and future careers. He has designed elementary, middle, high school, and corporate programs all based on inspiring individuals to change the world through seemingly small acts of kindness. To date, Brian has documented more than 250,000 Acts of Kindness, he has spoken to over 75,000 students, and received the Thornton Peace Prize. Each one of the 250,000 acts of kindness documented by the organization is making a huge impact in the community and the lives of those involved.  The goal is to achieve 1,000,000 acts of kindness, but he has no intention of stopping there.

Brian Williams wants to not only make a difference in his community but he wants to make a difference in the world.  The Think Kindness crew is raising money to purchase life straws which are straws that filter water into drinkable water as you sip through the straw. The straws filter 99.99% percent of bacteria out of water up to 1,000L.  And only cost $5.00 per straw.  Along with raising funds to purchase life straws for the children in Kenya, the team is in the process of collecting shoes for their next trip.  Brian is an incredible leader, who is inspiring those around him to join his Kindness Crew to make a difference in today’s world.

But his drive to change the world is having a rippling effect.  The random acts of kindness are morphing into even more acts of kindness.  When an individual has a stranger or a friend do something nice for them, whether it be opening a door or buying them a coffee, they are finding themselves wanting to repay the gesture to another.

How can you help Brian spread the kindness concept? Sponsor a Kindness Camp, purchase life straws, travel with the team to Kenya, or donate to the organization.

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Margaret Brindzak – An HR Hero

Margaret BrindzakA dear friend of mine and a mentor who has inspired me in my career lost her battle to cancer Thursday, March 14, 2013.  But her legacy lives on.  When you think of Human Resources, most individuals associate some form of negative connotation towards the industry. But Margaret Brindak was changing that.  She dedicated her entire life to improve the way the Human Resources’ department operated at Washoe County.

Margaret was responsible for all things human resources primarily for the sheriff’s office but also helped out with recruitment in other departments within the county.  Being in the position since 2001, Margaret had created some of the most efficient processes for recruiting.  She had developed excel spreadsheets that basically filled themselves out.  The time she saved, allowed her to dedicate her time to doing more for the department.  She truly valued teaching what she knew about Human Resources to her coworkers.  She didn’t just want to go to work, she wanted to improve the process of the overall department.

Margaret was one of those individuals who were so dedicated to their jobs that they made you want to be involved.  Her positive impacts made you want to learn more about the industry.  And for me, a fellow human resource enthusiast, her leadership in the industry and desire to constantly improve the recruitment processes made me want to enter the industry after college. The leadership displayed was a combination of both her passion for life but also her passion for Human Resources.

Rest In Peace Margaret Brindzak. You were a Human Resources Leader and a mentor, you will be missed dearly.  Do you have someone in your life that has made an impact in your life you’d like to recognize? Please share in a comment below.

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Anonymous – The Legacy of Santa Claus

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Reno, Nevada an unidentified man has started a non-profit organization under the name “Santa Claus” which gives back to the community around the holiday season. The idea is children of needy families write Santa Claus their holiday wish list.  A few weeks later Santa Claus comes to their school to deliver a wrapped present to be opened on Christmas Day along with a bag of groceries which includes a turkey, gravy, stuffing, rolls, milk, and vegetables.

This last year, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District partnered up with the organization to help deliver the presents to the Sun Valley Elementary School. Even in the current economic state, Santa Claus was able to provide meals for 729 local families; allowing 5,100 individual had full bellies because of the communities generosity. The amount of dedication by volunteers to make this all possible was incredible.  Together, they took Santa Claus’s leadership and continued his legacy by making it bigger and better every year.  The volunteers work long hours to ensure each family has a full meal and a wrapped present from Santa Claus no matter the time it takes to prepare the gifts.

What I admire most about Santa Class was his leadership.  At no point did he release his name to the public and when he passed away others continued his legacy.  The leaders behind Santa Claus are concerned about ensuring needy children have a special holiday season.  They do not care about the media, the public, or the attention they would receive if they came clean on who was “Santa Claus”.  Instead, the individuals behind Santa Claus want to make sure all the attention goes to the children. The organization asks the community to help participate, which allows the anonymous to accomplish so much. Although they will forever remain anonymous, each person who contributes is creating a valuable memory for those impacts.    It is a true leadership and a display of unselfishness.  Please share your comments below.

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Jane Bessette – The Link between College and Career

jane bessettte Jane Bessette is one of the most passionate women you will meet.  Jane is the Director of Career Connections and Alumni Relations at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is responsible for providing career education, exploration and opportunities to College of Business undergraduate & graduate students as well as alumni.  Serves as college liaison to employers and community contacts and coordinates internships. Working very close with organizations located both locally and globally she works to learn the organizations needs and the college graduates who can meet those needs. But her desire to help the soon to be and recent college graduates from the University is inspiring. You can sense she truly wants to make sure college graduates find a career they are happy with.

But more importantly, Jane Bessette does not just help graduates find a career after college, she teaches you the tools you will need in the professional workplace.  Throughout each school year she organizes events to prepare students for success such as resume writing, networking, dressing for success, preparing for interviews, and much more.  What is especially inspiring about Jane is her availability to students.  She works all hours of the day to help coach and prepare students for their future careers.

Jane Bessette is truly inspiring students to take control of their future and prepare for life after college.  She is constantly working to recruit more corporations to hire recent UNR graduates.   In addition to finding the most up to date recruitment techniques to help students gain a competitive edge in the recruitment process.  Furthermore, she continuously gets feedback from corporations as to what they are looking for from new hires and in what areas new hires can improve.  Such as in writing, speaking, proficiency in computers, etc.  And then caters events to help teach students what she has learned.

Providing students with tools to achieve success after college is what Jane Bessette is passionate about.  She is an incredible leader for the students at UNR, making a tremendous impact that is benefiting everyone around us. Do you know someone making an impact in the lives of students in your community? Please share in a comment below.

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Sara Miller – Changing Lives through the use of Words

Sara Miller

“I’m not just a therapist, but an advocate for my students” – Sara Miller

Sara Miller, a speech language pathologist at an early childhood center in Carson City, Nevada.  But she is doing more than just her “job”. She is changing the lives of her students.  Sara provides speech therapy to around forty kids, ages 3-5, ranging in disabilities from being non-verbal due to intellectual disabilities to having developmental delays due to lack of exposure to the world.  The needs and abilities of her students greatly differ also.   Sara is helping parents and teachers alike better understand speech in children so they can align their expectations to be more appropriate to what the child can actually accomplish.

Sara Miller is making a significant improvement in the lives of her students.  Many come in and their sole way of communicating is to say single words, throw things, or point at what they want.  And more often than not, who they are trying to communicate with doesn’t understand and the child gets frustrated. So Sara is doing all she can to improve their quality of life.  She has seen significant improvements in short amounts of time with her students.   A few students who were on the spectrum of no words are now putting together two or three words.  Even one student whose goal was to make eye contact is now saying one to two words.  Sara is excited about their possibilities.  Being able to communicate whether it is through a few words or entire sentences changes their life tremendously.

The students of Sara Miller go to her for speech pathology but leave with a friend, advocate, and a fan.  She is the rooting for them to succeed.  Sara believes her biggest job is to teach her students how to communicate so they can have a better way of life.  While educating adults on how to help and what is a realistic expectation.  A lot of her students come from foster care so Sara does all she can to make sure they feel significant and let them know that someone cares about them.  Special needs children have a deficit to communicate their needs and wants, but Sara Miller is dedicating her life to improve these children’s’ quality of life.

Please share your comments below.

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Everday Leadership – A Simple Idea with a Huge Impact

This video is exactly what motivated me to begin this blog.  Everyday leaders are among all of us, yet often overlooked.  These individuals make a significant impact in others’ lives, whether they know it or not.  How often do we recognize these everyday leaders?  I’d like to say frequently, but that’s not the truth.  In fact, the ones who are achieving greatness and becoming leaders are often overlooked.  Why? For a number of reasons, but I’d have to say the most frequent one is because we become to expect greatness from these individuals.  Basically setting our expectations from these individuals to ones which mirror their achievements.

Whether these everyday leaders impact one or a million, they’ve impacted a life in a positive way.  As Drew Dudley describes it, they have had a ‘lollipop moment’.  A moment in which someone has a huge impact in another ones’ life.  I am fascinated by the way one person can have such a tremendous impact in the lives of others.   But it saddens me that we do not tell others the impact they’ve had.

There are so many great leaders around us.  People who are challenging the norm, truly achieving greatness, and inspiring others.  So, this blog was created to recognize those people.  The ones who are having a huge impact on the lives of one or million.  The everyday leaders in our communities that are not getting the recognition they deserve.  So this platform is a way to say thank you for being a leader.  For challenging the norm, and even when times got tough, they stuck it out.  These individuals are showing their counterparts exactly what it takes to achieve greatness.  And inspiring others along the way.

Want to learn more about everyday leaders?  Visit Nuance Leadership to learn more on how to create transforming experiences.


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Randy Gates – Northern Nevada Firefighters Random Acts of Kindness

IMG_5977Childhood Cancer, a tragedy that strikes children at all different times in their lives.  The battle can be a fight that ends in grief for a family or a sigh of relief for the survivor.  Either way, there are organizations across the world working to make the fight more bearable while ensuring the children continue as normal lives as possible.  In Reno, Nevada, firefighters are joining forces to promote Northern Nevada Firefighters Random Acts of Kindness. For Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, the one behind all the kindness, is Fire Captain Randall Gates.

A leader not only in the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District but at St. Baldrick’s.  Through his leadership and passion to the cause, Randall Gates and twenty other members of the district shaved their heads for those brave children.  Together they raised over $3,000 to help support Children’s Cancer treatment and research.  With hopes to make the event even bigger, with more money raised next year.

But St. Baldrick’s is only one little piece of Randall Gates and the Northern Nevada Firefighters Random Acts of Kindness.  He’s working diligently to recruit other fire departments and firefighters to give back to the community in which they live.  Whether it be through station tours, fundraisers, or helping the older generations shovel snow.  Giving back to the community is the ultimate outcome. Randy recognizes the roll he and the others play in the community.  They are leaders at heart.

What I find to be the most fascinating, is the leadership that has emerged.  People look up to Randy because of the leader he is.  So inherently, more and more people have  stepped up to the plate and participated in random acts of kindness. Randy Gates is a leader to other leaders in our community.  Inspiring others to promote the cause they are passionate about.  Do you know a firefighter in your community involved in Random Acts of Kindness?  Please share your comments below.


Ian Satterfield – Giving Back to Children with Cancer

Ian and LeslieIan Satterfield, a volunteer with Northern Nevada Children’s Society with a passion to make a difference.  With two daughters of his own, giving back to children is a close passion to his heart.  So he’s doing just that.  On March 15, 2013, with the help of other Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Firefighters, their union hosted a pre-shave event for St. Baldrick’s. Which is a head-shaving event to raise money for children fighting cancer.

Four families with children who are fighting cancer came to Station 36 in the Arrowcreek area to enjoy a BBQ dinner, station tours, fire truck rides and even got to spray water out of the fire hoses! The families got to enjoy the company of firefighters in our community and watch about ten firefighters (both from Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District and Sparks Fire Protection District) and five children shave their heads in their honor.  Smiles, tears and stories were shared among the group.Random Acts of Kindness

The event was a night to remember for those children.  The smiles on their faces as they rode away in the fire trucks was heart touching.  These kids were so happy to be able to spend time with their “hero’s”.  The four families shared their  progress with the firefighters. It was an amazing night for all who were able to join in the festivities.  Truly touching to see the community come together to support such a great cause.

Ian is showing the community just how easy it is to make such an incredible impact in others’ lives.  He’s truly a leader at heart, inspiring others to give back to the community in which they live.  Interested in hosting an event to raise money for children with cancer in Northern Nevada?  Please visit Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation. What are you doing to give back to your community? Please share in a comment below.