Author Archives: Anna Young

About Anna Young

Anna is the digital guru for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce

2018 Government Affairs Chamber Survey: Businesses like What They See, Addressing Talent Critical to Growth

1/10/2018

Results from the annual Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs survey confirms talent and workforce development, coupled with parking and mobility, remain the top concerns of West Michigan business.

More than 600 members contributed to this year’s survey, with two-thirds of respondents representing small and mid-sized business.

The Chamber uses the survey to identify top issues concerning West Michigan businesses — small to large – and helps define our advocacy efforts to create a progressively better business climate for the community.

For a second year in a row, the “availability of skilled labor” and “general talent retention” are the top priorities for Chamber members. Following these concerns, parking availability replaced federal government regulations in the top three, with 28 percent of respondents noting concern. Of the top five issues identified, parking availability is the only item unrelated to talent and workforce.

Despite concerns expressed in the survey, 96 percent of Chamber members reported a favorable or very favorable perception of West Michigan’s business climate. This marks a three percent increase from 2017, with less than two percent of respondents holding unfavorable or very unfavorable perceptions.

West Michigan is a growing business hub and the Chamber will continue our momentum with policies that reflect our members’ needs and create a thriving business climate. The message is clear and we will continue to drive forward an agenda that addressees our talent.”

Click here for complete survey results.

Talent and Workforce

More than 85 percent of respondents hired and/or added new positions within the past 12 months as a result of business growth — an increase of eight percent from 2017.

Nearly 80 percent of the same audience, however, stated difficulty in finding qualified applicants to fill these roles. This number has steadily and significantly increased from 51 percent in 2014 to 72 percent in 2017. When asked how businesses overcame hiring challenges, nearly half increased wages to attract qualified workers, almost double the amount from the 2016 survey.

Parking and Mobility

As a barrier to business growth, parking availability has increased from a top-five to a top-three priority with nearly a third of respondents highlighting as a top concern (28 percent total). In examining mobility closer, both availability of parking and employee commutes were highlighted as primary concerns by roughly half of the respondents. Transit connections followed in third with 17 percent.

The Chamber will work to build upon the positive steps taken in 2017 and the increased engagement of downtown stakeholders. In 2018, we are prepared to engage the business community in the evaluation of the recent parking census, and will work with the City to advocate for a variety of options employers can leverage to alleviate parking and mobility obstacles.

When asked to rank potential investments from the City of Grand Rapids that would best benefit their business, nearly 70 percent of survey participants placed parking first. Other beneficial investments included Enhanced DASH service (fare-less, high-frequency circulator), remote parking with transit access, Bus Rapid Transit, car share and bike share, respectively.

When sorted by companies and organizations primarily doing business within the City of Grand Rapids, the results remained largely the same with slightly more (73 percent) recognizing parking availability as the number one investment to benefit their business.

Ballot Questions

This year’s survey covered possible proposals making an appearance on the 2018 statewide ballot including paid sick leave, the legalization of marijuana, a minimum wage increase and redistricting.

The plurality of members surveyed feel the proposals would negatively impact their business — redistricting being the only exception — and would oppose the proposals.

Respondents felt most strongly about the proposal regarding possible paid sick leave, which would require all Michigan businesses with more than 10 employees to provide workers with 72 hours paid sick leave. Forty-one percent believe this proposal would lead to adverse outcomes for their business, with almost 45 percent of those surveyed opposing the proposal.


Questions? Contact Joshua Lunger at 616.771.0336

Chamber Guest Blog: Tips from TeamLogic IT on Protecting Your Business from Disaster

1/8/2017

Article submitted by Grand Rapids Chamber Member, Max Gibbard of TeamLogic IT Grand Rapids, Michigan

Every business needs a disaster recovery plan. Regardless of your industry or location, the danger of losing your organization’s critical data is a serious concern. While a degree of risk is involved in decisions made in business every day, the choices managers make typically don’t jeopardize the future of their business. Not many entrepreneurs would knowingly drop fire or liability coverage, yet many companies operate without a viable disaster recovery (DR) plan in place to protect one of their most valued assets—business data and information.

The likelihood of your company burning to the ground or being decimated by a tornado may be remote, but catastrophes do happen and a business has to be prepared for these events. Consider the implications if your critical financial and customer data was lost and could not be recovered, or the information loss required the business to close for several days. Without an effective data backup plan and properly designed systems, the interruption and lost productivity could be disastrous. It’s impossible to put a price on the information stored in your company’s information systems but, with the right preparation you won’t have to.

A number of federal and state regulations require businesses to ensure proper information management procedures are implemented and that the steps are followed. For example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted to ensure proper business record management processes were being followed by publicly held companies. Similar regulations affect specific industries or markets, such as HIPAA (Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which protects and regulates medical information.

Remote Site Backup – Your Security Blanket

DR plans not only ensure a timely retrieval of information, but the continuity of your company’s operations. In order to maximize its effectiveness, at least one data backup system should be located off-site; in a separate building or with a third-party information specialist.  While some organizations choose to place their off-site backup systems in their own facilities to maximize control and safety, assumed cost and security benefits may not be realistic. Third-party DR services invest in enhanced systems to manage and store business data for a number of clients, and offer security and other protections that could be cost prohibitive for individual companies.

Remember the Role of On-Site Backup

A more comprehensive option for on-site information backup is a NAS (network attached storage), which connects a hardware device and specialized software to a business network. Even with the implementation and support costs for trained IT professionals, a NAS system is a cost-effective solution for most businesses. These backup systems map all network-connected file directories and then schedule backup sessions based on the needs of the individual organization.

Build an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan

A disaster recovery plan should include a complete list of the precautions your company must take to minimize the effects of a disaster on the organization, as well as a detailed process for bringing critical systems back online.  In many respects, the DR plan can be more important than the original business plan. For that reason, companies commonly retain the services of an experienced consultant to develop and implement the program and spend upwards of 25% of their annual technology budgets in this area. While that investment may be seem large, recognizing the importance of disaster recovery in your business and implementing a proper plan are invaluable.


TeamLogic IT of Grand Rapids, Michigan is part of a nationwide network of computer consultation and managed services businesses providing outsourced IT services. Small- to medium-sized businesses rely on TeamLogic IT to handle a broad range of services from urgent computer repair and proactive maintenance to the installation of entire networks and more. For more information, contact Max Gibbard at mgibbard@TeamLogicIT.com or visit www.TeamLogicIT.com.


Like what you’re reading? Check out our Chamber Blog to read our Member Spotlights, feature articles, and other great content!

 

November 7 Local Elections!

On November 7, voters across Kent County will head to the polls to decide local races and tax questions.

Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Click here to find your polling location and view a sample ballot.

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce PAC, the Friends of West Michigan Business, has endorsed three experienced and capable candidates for Grand Rapids City Commission, Mayor of Kentwood and Mayor of Walker. Endorsements were based on candidate questionnaires, interviews and past performance for incumbents.

GR Chamber PAC Endorsements:

Grand Rapids City Commission

Ward 3 – Senita Lenear

Mayor of Kentwood                                        

Stephen Kepley

Mayor of Walker                                             

Mark Huizenga

Rapid Millage Renewal

The Rapid is seeking a millage renewal from voters of its six-city service territory (Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Walker and Wyoming). The renewal would continue the rate of 1.47 mills for 12 years, costing the owner of a home with a taxable value of $100,000 roughly $147 per year.

The Rapid last had a millage vote in 2011, when the rate was increased from 1.12 to 1.47 to fund services enhancements. The Chamber Board voted to endorse the renewal and urges a YES vote.

Josh Lunger, Director of Government Affairs for the Chamber, says supporting The Rapid remains a key issue for employers in attracting and retaining talent in the region.

“At the Chamber, we hear about talent every day from every industry and from businesses of every size,” Lunger said, “We need to continue to work to overcome obstacles to employment across the area.”

The Chamber urges a YES vote on this proposal.

Grand Rapids Public Library Millage

The Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) is asking city residents for a new tax.

The library’s capital millage is expiring, and it is asking residents for a new 20-year tax to be used for expanded purposes, including operations, maintenance and capital projects. This is on top of an existing $8.5 million operation millage.

After meeting with GRPL and considering its plan, the Grand Rapids Chamber has decided to oppose this millage.

While libraries are critical to providing all area residents and businesses access to knowledge and resources, a tax increase is not the best way to support the library’s future. As a community, we need to fix structural issues before we embark on two decades of increased taxes.

See the Chamber’s Grand Rapids Business Journal’s editorial here.

The Chamber urges a NO vote on this proposal.

Questions? Contact Andy Johnston at 616.771.0335

Grand Rapids Chamber Opposes Library’s New 20-Year Tax

This November, the Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) is asking City residents for a new tax. The library’s capital millage is expiring, and they are asking residents for a new 20-year tax to be used for expanded purposes – including operations, maintenance, and capital projects.

After meeting with GRPL and considering their plan, the Grand Rapids Chamber has decided to oppose this millage.

“While we believe libraries are critical in providing all area residents and businesses access to knowledge and resources, a tax increase is not the best way to support the library’s future,” said Rick Baker, President & CEO of the Chamber. “First and foremost, it is crucial to understand GRPL has a long-term budget issue. The Chamber believes it is inappropriate to use an expiring capital millage and convert it to operations under the guise of a renewal.”

“When GRPL asked taxpayers for extra funding to ‘catch up’ with needed building repairs, the voters dug into their pockets and gave more. Now they want to tax at a higher level and shift the money towards operations and salaries,” continued Baker. “Operations and programming should not be supported by a special millage when taxpayers already contribute $8.5 million to the Library’s budget through an existing millage.”

“Twenty years is far too long to be accountable to voters. In a time of rapidly changing expectations, technology, and service delivery, the citizens of Grand Rapids won’t be able to reconsider this tax until 2037,” said Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Chamber. “Most millages span for ten years or less. This tax will impact an entire generation of taxpayers.”

The Chamber has placed a high priority on local governments pursuing every possible pathway to reduce duplication and increase service sharing. The same level of vision when it comes to operating our system of libraries and the two library systems in Kent County would benefit from stronger partnerships. Greater service sharing would both improve the quality of services and make better use of taxpayer resources.

“Serious steps toward collaboration and restructuring will ensure long-term sustainability. An unrestrictive, long-term tax increase removes incentives to pursue these goals,” added Johnston.

“Libraries play a vital role in our communities, but we need to fix structural issues before we embark on two decades of increased taxes,” continued Johnston. “We urge a ‘No’ vote on November 7.”

Looking to the Future: Continuing Growth in Metro Grand Rapids

By: Rick Baker, President/CEO, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

For the elected leaders of Grand Rapids and Kent County, the hiring of our next professional leaders is one of their most significant responsibilities.

The revitalization and growth our region is experiencing is unmatched. We experienced a higher percentage job growth in Metro Grand Rapids last year than any other large metro area in the U.S.  As our community continues to climb the various rankings of economic success, we cannot forget the work that drives our growth nor can we afford to become complacent. Our continued success is never assured, the deliberate work by community leaders will continue to drive our progress.

A critical partner in our region’s success is the public sector. With the retirement of Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio and the retirement announcement of Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom our community has a unique opportunity as we select new leaders for these significant public entities.

In both instances the role serves as chief executive officer, tasked with implementing the government’s goals, strategies and budget. Selecting the next leaders is a critically important decision for our community. For the elected leaders of Grand Rapids and Kent County, the hiring of our next professional leaders is one of their most significant responsibilities.

As we thank our retiring leaders for their decades of service, we see the potential to continue to build upon the ways our local governments communicate and interact with citizens and the business community. From a Grand Rapids Chamber perspective our Commission-Manager system at the City of Grand Rapids and appointed administrator for Kent County have served us well and has resulted in a history of effective leadership.

Our members have a strong interest in fostering a climate that supports business growth. To build upon our success as a region, we suggest the next leaders to take the helm as the CEO of the County and the City have:

  • Sound financial management and fiscal policies, with a history of budget design and implementation.
  • A focus on customer service and engagement for both citizens and the business community.
  • Understanding of the private/public collaboration that is part of the fabric of our community and their organization’s role in those partnerships.
  • A willingness to address difficult and systemic issues.
  • Track records of encouraging innovative ways to improve service delivery to make more effective use of taxpayer dollars.
  • A history of support for policies that provide a strong business and entrepreneurial climate.
  • A collaborative leadership style and experience in partnering to deliver transformative projects.

Both the City and County are in position to be unifiers and drivers of projects, policies and programs that will propel our region forward. Our past successes are one indication of the potential outcomes for this work. We are all working to create a dynamic community, and strong partnerships between the public and private sectors have helped create a resurgence of vibrancy.

As we select these new government leaders, we urge our elected leaders of both bodies to seek out and listen to private-sector input as these processes go forward and we look forward to working with this new generation of leadership.

Parking System Changes in the City of Grand Rapids

Parking is only one part of the overall mobility solution that is necessary to serve the future of the City. The City’s Mobile GR and Parking Services Department continues to evolve to support both the growth in demand for parking and mobility. The year ahead presents an opportunity to not only continue to support the operations, maintenance, enforcement and expansion of parking, but to provide support for additional mobility solutions.

The City’s parking system is currently at about 95 percent capacity of available monthly permit parking. Monthly spaces are currently only available in surface lots served by the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH). We continue to have ample parking to support continued growth in visitors, special events and residential parking. To address current challenges, the City implemented a number of parking management changes on September 1, 2016:

  • Improvements to mobility options including expanded DASH and the fare less Silver Line in Downtown
  • On and off-street rate changes
  • Expanding parking supply

However, there remains a need to implement strategic additions to the current parking supply.

On Monday, July 24, the City broke ground on a new 300 space surface parking lot across from the Downtown Market. This is private property that the City will be improving and leasing to address parking challenges. The City will continue work on additional surface parking expansion with additional projects planned for construction in spring of 2018. We’re also exploring structured parking facilities as part of public/private development partnerships. A new 750 to 900 space parking ramp proposed as part of a private development on City and DDA owned property is scheduled to begin construction by the end of the calendar year. The City will retain a lease on 300 parking cards for commuter parking.

The City is also using parking analytics and new technology to explore ways to optimize current parking facilities:

  • Deploying technology to allow for new parking programs in facilities like nights and weekends, residential programs, and student and event employee parking
  • Implementing an online permit system to improve the customer experience and allow use of some on-street parking to be converted to permit parking

These will be deployed later this fall and add hundreds of more parking spaces to the inventory.

The City continues to evolve and implement new mobility initiatives. The City Commission recently approved $200,000 to support a new Transportation Solutions program. In partnership with the Chamber and DGRI, this program will invest resources in mobility solutions to manage demand for parking like:

  • Transit accessible, lower-cost remote parking on DASH or other transit routes
  • Carshare, carpooling and bikeshare
  • Other employer-driven programs like subsidized transit passes and parking cash out

We are committed to continue to address mobility challenges. The City is currently conducting a commuter survey in partnership with the Chamber to better understand how employees use the current parking system, and help create solutions for any challenges. We ask you to please complete the survey and share it with your employees. Data collected will be used create a clearer picture of commuting, inform discussions on where and how to add additional parking capacity, assess demand for potential services such as car-share, and guide enhancements to DASH/transit options.

Take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/parkingandmobility

 

Back to the Future … with Cheese

By Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government & Corporate Affairs

“The future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.” – Emmet “Doc” Brown

In the 1989 time-travelling classic, Back to the Future II, Marty McFly travels to 2015. The future world imagined by the filmmakers got a number of things right (automation, biometrics) and other things wrong (internet, mobile phones).

Based on trends at the time, they did their best to predict 26 years into the future. While today’s society may not have hoverboards (real ones!) and flying cars, the filmmakers didn’t do too bad. And the inaccuracies? So, what! (They still might come true.)

As chamber leaders, we need to try our best to predict 26 years (or maybe just 6 at our current rate of change) into the future and develop a plan to position our organizations for success. To provide value for our members and the community, we must lead by anticipating what the future holds and doing our best to create and lead the change. In a world cluttered with noise and information, leaders must cut through, synthesize and actualize new information, or we’ll be left behind.

This brings to mind the lessons learned in the classic, “Who Moved My Cheese?” The world is changing and we need to keep our running shoes on.

It illustrates how we must be ready to change, to burn our current platforms early and mercilessly. We must paint the picture of the future for our members, know our stakeholders, reward innovative behavior on our teams and not get hung up on “who moved the cheese”.

A complimentary concept is to think about how to keep your organization on the “bleeding edge.” Defined as “the very forefront of technological development”, chambers can live in this space by demonstrating a willingness to take on a new development that is so new that it could be risky. Scary, right?

One of my Institute classmates had a great insight … She rejected the adage “fail fast.” Instead, she suggests we consider new initiatives “experiments.” I love this. It implies to the Board, staff and community that you are trying something new and sets that expectation that it may fail. And that’s OK.

Plus, I think it’s a concept that a scientist like Doc Brown would really like! He experimented and imagined what could be. When presented with new technology, like the ability to make the car fly, Doc embraced it and incorporated it into the DeLorean.

For Chambers, let’s continue to embrace new technology and trends. Our stakeholders are doing it and if we are leading the business community, we should be the first to do it.

With technology changing at faster pace, our organizations needs to be early adopters, so we can bring the lessons we learn to our members and communities. These efforts will maximize our value and provide a strong return on member investment.

To position your organization for success and get started planning for the future, ACCE’s report, Horizon Initiative: Chambers 2025 is a great reference for Chambers.

At the end of the first Back to the Future, Doc, Marty, and Jennifer are about to head 30 years into the future. Marty is concerned that Doc isn’t giving himself enough road to get up to 88 miles per hour and Doc responds, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” And the DeLorean flies off. Awesome.

Ultimately, we want to have the same insightful answers like Doc Brown. We need to keep our sights on the future and fly towards it.


About Andy Johnston

Andy Johnston serves as Vice President of Government & Corporate Affairs for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and is responsible for managing the Chamber’s public policy efforts on behalf of over 2,400 members before local, state and federal stakeholders.

He serves as a member of the Chamber’s Leadership Team, responsible for strategic planning and execution, organizational development, day-to-day decision making, marketing and communications. Andy also manages the advocacy efforts of the West Michigan Chamber Coalition.

The Making of a Chamber Event: An Inside Look

By Michelle Glover, Events Project Manager

As members of the Chamber’s events team, we hear it time and time again … “You plan events for a living? That must be so much fun. Your life is like one big party!” Well, kind of. While it is our job to plan events, the day-to-day is less piñata party and more neurotic organization with a heavy side of sweating the small stuff. The event planning process is highly involved, with a large portion of the heavy lifting happening behind-the-scenes months in advance of the big show.

There are elements of glitz and glamour — selecting floral arrangements, touring venues (and their rooftop gardens) across the city, developing menus in private tastings – but they only make up a small percentage of the work we do. Event planning, much like unicorns or narwhales, is mysterious yet intriguing. We’re pulling back the curtain to share what it really takes to pull off a successful Chamber event.

Is an event merited?

As the host of more than 130 events each year, we’re not about having events for the sake of having events. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Before diving head-first into planning, we are critical about the purpose for the event, the resources it will take to pull it off and how we will define success. If an event doesn’t offer value to our Chamber members, we’re not adding it to our calendar.

We’re doing it. Why?

Why are we organizing this event? What are we trying to achieve? Not only do these questions help us determine if an event is needed, but they also help establish our goals and objectives to guide our planning.

Date, Time, Location

Sounds simple enough; however, there are limitations. The date should be a minimum of four to six months into the future. Holidays, school breaks and competing event dates must be avoided. Also, the location must align with the established goals and objectives. A venue that fits 50 guests comfortably probably isn’t the best space to host a seminar for 75.

Assemble the Squad

Our squad is so on point Taylor Swift is jealous. Sorry, Taylor. We have a team of stellar program managers, marketing gurus and sponsorship go-getters who each play key roles in our events. At this point in the planning process, we need to assemble the squad to:

1. Brief them on our goals and objectives
2. Determine how they can best assist in the planning process
3. Get their buy-in.

This is the first of many, many meetings. Practice patience but remain persistent.

Determine Programming Needs

This is where your squad comes in handy. As event managers, we rely on the expertise of the squad, specifically our program managers, to select relevant speakers and discussion topics that align with the established goals and objectives.

Determine Marketing Needs

Again, it’s all about the squad. Our lovely marketing gurus ensure our events are actually attended by spreading the word amongst our Chamber members. From The Chamber Newsletter and the eTCN to social posts, radio appearances and print materials, we couldn’t do our job without them. We give them creative freedom and watch them fly.

Establish Deadlines

We don’t have to tell you deadlines are an inevitable part of life. It’s even truer in the world of event planning. With mile-long lists of timely tasks that we need to hit to stay on track, our squad lives and dies by deadlines. We rely heavily on project management tools like Basecamp to ensure project milestones are achieved and the squad stays on the same page. Missed milestones result in fires, and fires require firefighters. Don’t make us get out the hose.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

You would not believe the number of touch-base meetings we have. While Basecamp is magical and on an otherworldly level, we can’t rely solely on it to keep our many projects moving. Therefore, we have periodic face-to-face meetings leading up to the event date to ensure everything is moving along as it should be. Use your words, people.

Day-of Coordination

Slip into something black and grab your best pair of sassy orthopedic sneakers. Event day is the holy grail of event planning. Even at this stage, however, there’s work to be done before we get to sit back and watch the event unfold. We need transport the supplies, set up the venue, complete a final A/V walk-through, brief our Chamber Ambassadors and manage speakers and sponsors. We do a lot of fire extinguishing and cat herding during this stage. Once the event concludes, we need to collect our supplies, break down our registration tables and signage, and check out of the venue.

Post-Event Evaluation

Ready for a glass of wine and a nap? It’ll have to wait. We have to send post-event evaluations! How else would we know you’re sick of Chamber chicken? We also have to update our events database, share event photos, settle final invoices and take care of sponsorship fulfillment.

As you can see, there’s a lot more involved in the event planning process than simply picking out a venue and getting attendees. There’s strategy, people pleasing, cat chasing, fire extinguishing and so much more. Back to planning … Ready, set, go!


Meet the Squad

Cindy Johnson, Director of Events
Cindy is a former bull riding champion and air band frontrunner with a heart for REO Speedwagon. She enjoys a good audio book and adding to her rapidly growing Starbucks tumbler collection.
Michelle Glover, Events Project Manager
Michelle is an aspiring food critic with dreams of traveling the world in search of the finest cuisines. She has a heart for animals and a thirst for adrenaline. You can find her on the back of a motorcycle, enjoying an occasional episode (or four) of Bob’s Burgers, and adding to her collection of unique coffee mugs.
Chantell LaForest, Events Project Manager
Chantell is an aspiring embroiderer with an unhealthy Starbucks addiction. She enjoys long naps on the couch with her pillow pets, reading aloud in accents, expanding her overalls collection, and maintaining her status as Celine Dion’s greatest fan.

We have the recipe for a longer life

What are you doing to live a longer life? It’s easy to do.

There are simple things you can do every day to set yourself up to live life to the fullest and achieve the longest life possible. At the Health Care Summit on June 16 (register here!), Tony Buettner from the Blue Zones Project will be joining us to discuss what we can do as a community, and individually, to improve our health and lower health care costs.

To get you thinking about how daily activities can impact your life-span, we’ve put the Blue Zones Power 9 principles in action. The Power 9 tips for longevity make it easy to make positive behavioral changes. You can make your home and work place your own personal Blue Zone.

Join us at the Health Care Summit on June 16.

This is just the beginning of the chance for a longer life. At the Health Care Summit, you’ll join community members and local leaders to discuss how West Michigan can add years to your life. Blue Zones Project expert Tony Buettner will share the Secrets to a Longer Life. Don’t miss it.

Register today!

The first things you should do is pause for three minutes and take the vitality test found here. The test will show you how many years you can add to your life by adopting the simple changes outlined in your personalized improvement plan. Once you have your plan, look at the Power 9 list. Which three can you implement today? Start small and pick the easiest ones. To make them a habit, wait 12 weeks before adding the next three.

Longevity: The Power 9

The Power Nine covers the following life domains: What to do to optimize your lifestyle for a longer, healthier life; how to think; how to eat; and how to build social relationships that support your good habits.

  • Move Naturally: You don’t have to exercise in a gym to see results. By working natural exercise into your daily routine, you’ll receive the benefit without the hassle. Park on a higher floor, ditch your riding lawn mower, and hide your TV remote.
  • Purpose: Do you know your purpose? You should. Being cognizant of your purpose adds 7 years to your life. Get started by creating a personal mission statement. Why do you get up in the morning? What is truly important to you?
  • Down Shift: Stress is a killer. Force yourself to take mental and physical breaks. Use this time to meet with friends, family, or to spend time alone. Find what helps you relieve stress and anxiety and allow yourself to take a break.
  • 80% Rule: Feel full? Stop eating! When you feel 80% full, push the plate away. Eating the extra 20% could be the difference between losing and gaining weight.
  • Plant Slant: They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. In truth, a plant-based diet adds years to your life. Fill up on soy products, olive oil, and vegetables. We aren’t saying go full veggie, but limit your intake of meat to 3-4 ounces five times a month.
  • Wine @ 5: You read that right. 1-2 glasses of wine with friends and food will do your body and mind good.
  • Belong: Attending faith-based services four times a month will add 4-14 years to your life. Not religious? Find a non-denominational community. Sharing common ideals, feeling togetherness, and even the act of singing hymns will enhance your physical and mental being.
  • Loved Ones First: Where does your family fall on your priorities list? What about your grandparents? Investing in your loved ones, young and old, will add years to their life and yours.
  • Right Tribe: We live longer with a little help from our friends. Healthy behavior is contagious. Long-lived people choose friends or were born into circles that impact their behavior in a positive way.

To make it easy, we’ve created a recipe for the perfect blue zone day.

6 a.m. Wake up and remember your purpose. Really! Think about what you’ll do today to feed your purpose. Make your breakfast. This should be the biggest meal of the day. You’ll need that energy. Hand grind your coffee for a little exercise. Hold the bacon.

7 a.m. Get you and your family out the door. Walk or ride your bike to work. If you are driving, park on a higher level or at the back of the parking lot. Don’t forget to hydrate!

8 a.m. Look at your work load. Build in time to rest and destress throughout the day. This should be the first time you look at your cell phone for the day.

10 a.m. Take a five minute break. Get outside and soak up some sun. Have a handful of nuts. Drink a large glass of water.

12 p.m. Grab your co-workers and eat a small plant-based meal. Include a dash of olive oil and soy for protein. Relax and take your time. Stop eating when you’re 80% full. Take a ten minute walk after you’ve eaten.

1 p.m. Once back at your desk, reassess your work load.

3 p.m. Make a cup of herbal tea and call a relative. Make plans to see them in the upcoming week.

5 p.m. Meet your friends for happy hour. Have a glass (or 2) of wine and connect with your group. Unplug. Do. Not. Look. At. Your. Cell. Phone. Seriously, don’t.

6 p.m. Time to go home. Don’t let traffic get you down. Here are some tips. Think about what you did today to serve your purpose. Enjoy a plant-based meal with your family. Encourage conversation and connection at the dinner table.

7 p.m. Take an after dinner walk or bike ride with your family. Cement healthy behaviors and make exercise accessible and fun. When you get home, put that cell phone away for the night.

8 p.m. Meditate. Whether you do yoga, stretching, or simply sitting without noise, take time to listen to your inner monologue. How do you feel? How did the day go? What can you try tomorrow to improve?

9 p.m. Start your bedtime routine. No cell phone. No TV. No blue lights shinning on your face in the dark. Make your plant-based lunch for the next day. Quiet your mind and prepare to sleep. Think about your purpose.

Health Care Summit focus gets national attention

On June 16, we welcome Tony Buettner to share his expert knowledge about the Blue Zones Project at the Health Care Summit.

A Blue Zone is a region that produces a high number of people who live to be 100 years old. Blue Zones look at communities from a system-level, determining how to redesign and refocus a city around what matters to the health and happiness of the citizens that live there.

At the Summit, we’ll discuss what becoming a Blue Zones community could mean for our region, our life spans, and our health care costs.

Register for the Health Care Summit today!

See for yourself.

Blue Zones was featured on the Today show on May 30 and 31. Learn about what makes a Blue Zone in this short segment.

Dan Buettner, Tony’s brother and Blue Zone expert, brought Today reporters to a Blue Zone in Costa Rica to show them the Blue Zone lifestyle first hand.

Change your life and business. Join us on June 16 at the Health Care Summit.