YP Week Milwaukee – Looking Back

May 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

By Julie Caan

YP Week Milwaukee. A series of events presented by Newaukee that celebrate all that is vibrant in Milwaukee – giving the city’s young professionals an inside look at what’s going on in our city and how it affects us. Both Jessica and I attended a few of the week’s events. The following is a recap of the highlights and what we learned.

Milwaukee: The Silicon Valley of Water

Many young people know Milwaukee as the Brew City. Given our city’s rich history of breweries and deep-rooted German culture, this label is an easy one to apply (and one that many Milwaukeeans, including myself, take pride in). However, thanks in part to organizations like The Water Council, an alliance formed five years ago by leading water technology companies in Southeastern Wisconsin, things are starting to change. AKA less focus on beer, and more focus on one of our Earth’s most precious resources: water.

Rich Meeusen, CEO of Badger Meter, the world’s leading provider of water meter technologies, and co-founder of The Water Council, kicked-off Tuesday morning’s event by providing a history of water in Milwaukee and a glimpse into our future as a world water hub. Rich, as always, was entertaining, humorous, and most of all, informative.

Rich Meeusen speaking at YP Week.

Rich Meeusen speaking at YP Week.

Here are my takeaways from Rich’s talk:

  • Every 20 seconds a child dies from lack of water – water is an immediate problem. Rich shared that he believes Milwaukee is the solution.
  • Over 21% of the world’s fresh water  is found right here in the Great Lakes.
  • Milwaukee has an image of a beer town, but we need to get back to our roots – and that’s water.
  • Tanning companies, breweries and other industry first came to Milwaukee because of it’s connection to the Great Lakes. Today, more than 150 water technology companies call Southeastern Wisconsin home. This rare concentration includes companies from every cycle of water. What’s even cooler, is that through the Water Council, these companies work together.
  • The area is also home to more leading water technology companies, more flow labs than anywhere in the world and the first ever school of freshwater sciences (UWM) – Milwaukee is the Silicon Valley of Water.

Perhaps Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said it best when he closed out the program by saying, “You have the East Coat and you have the West Coast, we are America’s Fresh Coast – we are not the Rust Belt anymore, Laverne and Shirley no longer work here.” Amen to that.

To learn more about Milwaukee’s status as one of the world’s most significant hubs for water research and industry, visit The Water Council’s website – you’ll be glad you did! http://www.thewatercouncil.com/

“Tips and Tools for Growing Your Career” presented by TEMPO Milwaukee.

Another event we really enjoyed was Wednesday morning’s breakfast event, “Tips and Tools for Growing Your Career” presented by TEMPO Milwaukee.

For those unfamiliar with TEMPO, it is an organization made up of women in leadership in the Greater Milwaukee area. The group is comprised of approximately 275 members from more than 100 companies in Milwaukee. Basically, when these women talked, I made sure to listen – they all gave great advice!

Here are just a few of the valuable nuggets I took away from this discussion:

  • “Not everyone is born a leader, but everyone can develop the capacity to lead” – Mary Dowell, director of global community relations, Johnson Controls.
  • “The ability to accept when you make a bad decision and to learn from it; Solicit feedback from key people; Be confident in your decisions,” – Peggy Williams-Smith, senior corporate director of catering, Marcus Hotels & Resorts.
  • “Take time to brainstorm with people with different strengths and skills than you have. Gain as diverse a perspective as you can in order to arrive at the best decision” – Linda Newberry-Ferguson, managing partner, Newberry Ferguson LLC.
  • “A good mentor won’t just tell you the things you want to hear. They will also tell you the things that no one else will take the time to have the courage to tell you. In order to move forward, you have to have the willingness to hear the good and the bad and be thankful.” – Ellen Trytek, chief marketing officer, CliftonLarsonAllen.

Perhaps my biggest takeaway from this talk was to not be afraid to make mistakes because that is how you grow. A difficult lesson to learn, but a valuable one nonetheless.

Sunday Brunch with Zappos CEO

The last event we attended was brunch with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com. Wow, it’s not every day you can say you had brunch (well, theoretically speaking) with the CEO of Zappos. Despite his great amount of success and power, I found Tony to be surprisingly down to Earth. As he explained how he started his company, and the tremendous emphasis it puts on culture and community, I really got to thinking how these same principles could be applied to Milwaukee.

Jessica and I at Sunday brunch.

Jessica and I at Sunday brunch.

I could go on and on about takeaways from Tony, but you’d stop reading, so I’ll keep it short and sweet.

  • Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger.
  • No matter what your position at a company, or in any aspect of life, treat people with respect – you never know who’s watching.
  • Money shouldn’t affect your decisions. Chase the vision, not the money.
  • Downtown Las Vegas (where Zappos is headquartered – not the traditional Las Vegas strip as most people would think) focuses on community and collaboration. Utilizing the art of “co-working,” people focus on increasing their “collisions” with others in order to create the greatest amount of idea sharing and betterment for the entire community. I like this concept and think it is one that is being increasingly applied in our area, especially through organizations like the Water Council and Newaukee.

Overall, YP Week taught me to really take ownership and pride in our city – and myself. Even if you don’t consider yourself a leader now, you will be. It’s important to know what’s going on and to take stock in Milwaukee’s future!

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