Time, Money, Values, Impact

Make It Better Founder Susan B. Noyes speaks at Money, Values & Impact

Make It Better Founder Susan B. Noyes speaks at Money, Values & Impact (Photos by Erica Barraca)

We all have complicated relationships with money. We need it, but we don’t want this to overtake living our life well.

Fortunately, there is growing awareness that aligning our values with how we earn, invest and spend our money can allow us to earn greater profit as we also contribute to greater social impact that makes the world better too.

Impact Investing — to improve your finances and your philanthropy — is a growing, powerful, positive change agent for you and the world.

But there is one thing even more powerful and valuable: our time. Our minutes, hours and days are most precious indeed. That is why I am particularly grateful to our sponsors and our audience who attended March 1’s Money, Values, Impact event at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Thank you!

For those who missed it, please watch for the Powerful, Positive, Connecting content soon to follow from Make It Better. You can also read all of the live updates we posted from the event.

Make It Better President and CEO Francia Harrington with Money, Values and Impact speakers J. Steven Auston of Morgan Stanley and Kathy Roeser of The Roeser Group.

Make It Better President and CEO Francia Harrington with Money, Values and Impact speakers J. Steven Auston of Morgan Stanley and Kathy Roeser of The Roeser Group.

Pies provided by Mrs. Green's Natural Market

Pies provided by Mrs. Green’s Natural Market.

Random Acts of Flowers provided the centerpieces for the event.

Random Acts of Flowers provided the centerpieces for the event.

Make It Better Associate Publisher Michelle Morris with Money, Values and Impact sponsors Tony Perry and Anthony Perry of A. Perry Homes.

Make It Better Associate Publisher Michelle Morris with Money, Values and Impact sponsors Tony Perry and Anthony Perry of A. Perry Homes.

Money, Values and Impact guests read through the day's program.

Money, Values and Impact guests read through the day’s program.

Morgan Stanley's J. Steven Austin welcomes attendees to Money, Values and Impact.

Morgan Stanley’s J. Steven Austin welcomes attendees to Money, Values and Impact.

Kathy Roeser of The Roeser Group gives the Money, Values and Impact audience a month by month timeline for their finances.

Kathy Roeser of The Roeser Group gives the Money, Values and Impact audience a month by month timeline for their finances.

Annette Findling and Leslie North of Stonebridge Wealth Advisors

Annette Findling and Leslie North of Stonebridge Wealth Advisors spoke about insurance.

Tony Perry of A. Perry Homes talked about Home Trends and Solutions that Protect Wealth.

Tony Perry of A. Perry Homes talked about Home Trends and Solutions that Protect Wealth.

Susan B. Noyes with Hilary Irby of Morgan Stanley.

Susan B. Noyes with Hilary Irby of Morgan Stanley before the Garden Side Chat.

Perika Sampson of Morgan Stanley

Perika Sampson of Morgan Stanley

Forefront President and CEO Eric Weinheimer addresses the Money, Values and Impact audience.

Forefront President and CEO Eric Weinheimer addresses the Money, Values and Impact audience.

Make It Better Editor-in-Chief Genevieve Lill moderates a panel with Make It Better Founder Susan N. Noyes, Forefront CEO Eric Weinheimer and Make It Better President and Chief Strategy Officer Francia Harrington.

Make It Better Editor-in-Chief Genevieve Lill moderates a panel with Make It Better Founder Susan N. Noyes, Forefront CEO Eric Weinheimer and Make It Better President and Chief Strategy Officer Francia Harrington.

Shop Oak Street Chicago: Help the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and The World

“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo
Win/win/win virtuous circles is a powerful idea whose time has come.
So is growing what is great about the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.  For decades it’s been ranked the best rehabilitation hospital in the country.

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Civic leaders know that Dr. Henry Betts led RIC to the top of the rankings because of his  extraordinary focus on patients, talent for advocacy and ability to implement leading edge research for people with disabilities.  Learn more here.

His successor, Dr. Joanne Smith, not only carried forward Betts’ legacy, she improved upon it. This includes her brainchild, the Ability Lab,” which put a high quality, light filled rehab therapy space decorated with positive messages next to appropriate research scientists and laboratories.  This proved extraordinarily effective and is one of the many good reasons behind RIC’s campaign to build a new hospital filled with similar spaces.


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Improving business by supporting local treasure nonprofits is another great idea whose time has come.  So, Make It Better is happy, happy, happy to be the media sponsor of the Oak Street Shop Around this Thursday, June 18 from 10 – 6 pm, at which participating stores donate 15% (not just 10%, rather 15%) of their sales to RIC.Could there be a better win/win/win, virtuous circle than this?You enjoy the best shopping in Chicago to support the best rehabilitation research and facilities in the country, with festival-like amenities that include live music, summer drinks and photo shoots too.
Please join us.Register here and you earn a free raffle ticket for fabulous prizes too: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/oak-street-summer-shop-around-tickets-16872198199

Working With, And Leading, Greatness

The not-so-secret sauce of Make It Better’s success is our people. Many great people – talented, kind leaders all – laid a strong, trusted, valued and valuable community foundation when we launched makeitbetter.net on May 1, 2007. Watch that story here.

Susan B NoyesMany more have been building greatness upon this foundation ever since – particularly our staff, savvy advertisers, outstanding nonprofit partners and smart, engaged audience. I thank and celebrate each and every person.  But, most of all, I thank and celebrate my partner (and sister in a former life), Mindy Fauntleroy.

Two days ago, in New York City, Make It Better’s unique success was recognized nationally – when we received Folio’s Top Women In Media Award as Inspiring Entrepreneurs.

Other Folio Award recipients included publishing superstars from the New York Times, Hearst, The Atlantic, Financial Times, The Economist, Forbes, Time, Glamour, Meredith, Guggenheim, Harvard Business Review and Slate. Here’s the full list.  See #FolioTopWomen too. So we were in delightful, inspiring company. You can watch the story on this video.

Not Me, But WeFolio Top Women in Media Awards

Others often comment to me, “Can you believe how much you’ve done with Make It Better – and so quickly?”

My response, “It’s not what I’ve done, but what so many others have done.  And it doesn’t feel fast to us!  It’s been – and continues to be – so much work.”  Again, it’s only because so many talented, great people have worked well together that Make It Better has grown.

Yes, it was my brainchild.  But it’s taken a very large village to raise it – and grow our most trusted, easy to use community resource. Again, Mindy is at the heart of this success.

More than 10 years ago, I took her to lunch and invited her to be my partner launching a website for North Shore women.  Mindy has all the organizational skills I lack and an even bigger make it better heart.  She’s the perfect ying to my imaginative, self-deprecating yang. With four young children and a husband who travels a lot, Mindy only agreed because she thought this meant we were starting a little neighborhood blog.Mindy Fauntleroy

Ha! Little did Mindy know.

Now we’re a full service print, online, video and events media company with an annual audience of at least 75,000 engaged, unique online users, 150,000 print mag readers, 1000s of event attendees. And we create virtuous circles as fast as we can. Oh yeah, and along the way we also launched a Foundation.   And soon we will officially launch our Shop For Good eCommerce too.

Whew!

We’ve attracted great people to help with every new initiative.  Talented writers, videographer, sales reps, marketers, nonprofit leaders, social networkers, audience members and more. I love them all.  No hyperbole.

Our world is ever more complex and interconnected; so, it will be ever more important for people, brands and institutions to work together to solve problems, share their passions and joy, and to lift each other up. That’s why the mission of Make It Better is to be the most trusted, easiest to use community resource that helps you make your life and the lives of others better by connecting you to the businesses and resources you support – online, in print and in person.

Thanks Mindy for living our mission so well, helping us attract and work with great others together, too.

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.” African proverb

Living The Dream: Everyone Deserves One Good Chance

Harvard College GraduationImagine how magnificent our world would be if every person got at least one good chance in life and made the most of it.  It’s easy for me to envision this right now, after I spent last week attended Harvard graduation events. The speeches, the exemplary lives honored and the hope for the future on display everywhere inspired this.

I was at HarvPatricia Grahamard’s commencement to celebrate with the Honorary Degree recipients. The group of ten included two of my friends, who also have been featured in Make It Better : Patricia Graham and Renee Fleming. A third recipient – Honorable Deval Patrick. – has a strong Chicago connection. He descended from slaves, grew up on the south side and was the first person in his family to attend college. After completing his eight year tenure as Governor of Massachusetts last year, Deval dove into the innovative and hopeful field of social impact investing at Bain Capital.

Of course, the other honorary degree recipients were inspiring too.  The entire list also includes:

Svetlana L. Alpers

Robert Axelrod

Wallace S. Broecker

Linda B. Buck

Denis Mukwege

Deval L. Patrick

Peter Salovey

Bryan Stevenson

Harvard College Honorary Degree Recipients 2015“We got our chances and lived up to them.” -Honorable Deval Patrick’s acceptance on behalf of all honorary degree recipients.

This is the statement that got me thinking about the possibilities inherent in our American society to give every person around the world at least one good chance in life.  We have the wealth, freedom, democratic structure and abundant good intentions to realize this magnificent dream – sooner, rather than later.  The dream to give every person at least one good chance, every family at least one good resource to help, and every child a caring village of support.

Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick

Every child should have at least one person who sees their potential and helps them develop it.  Every family should have at least one good community resource to help them with whatever struggle they face. Some type of committed, loving community should be available to everyone.

Our country’s vast resources can and should more readily align around the most effective problem solving programs and institutions to accomplish this.  Honorary degree recipient Patricia A. Graham serves as an example of someone who has consistently worked towards this and has had great impact.

“She not only illuminated the history of education, she made it.” – Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust’s comments about Patricia A. Graham.

I couldn’t be more proud of my association with Pat Graham.  I’m so fortunate to have her as my Godmother.   She is also a role model for everyone else, as well. Her career as a teacher, historian of education, federal agency director, author, first female dean of Harvard, president or chair of multiple foundations, corporate board member, highly prized education expert nationally and internationally is extraordinary. She used each role to create more opportunities for women and the indigent while she also helped the politically displaced receive a better education while exercising common sense and wisdom on behalf of each institution.  She lifts up each person and program she touches.

Pat’s vision and influence is intertwined with America’s growing determination to better educate every child. It was particularly delightful to hear President Faust declare Pat a maker of history. Pat’s example continues to inspires me in my own life and my Make It Better publishing journey.  I hope her extraordinarily well-lived life will inspire you too.

“She is both diva and divine, known for her arias, but not for her airs.” Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust comments about Renee Fleming.

Opera star, literacy advocate, National Medal of Arts recipient, author, crossover singer, teacher, fashion icon, champion of new music, TV host, Creative Director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, proud mother of two.  Renee Fleming is all of this and more.

She describes her work as “beauty, humanity and history every day, combined with the joy of singing.” This may be true of all great opera singers.  What inspires me about Renee is what makes her different from other divas – her focus on including the most meaningful facets of a well-lived life that aren’t related to singing, despite the demands and opportunities of being “The Voice.”   Renee once explained to me that few international opera stars marry, have children and enjoy a great relationship with their offspring; they are too busy enjoying the opportunities and demands of an international career.

Renee FlemingRenee has always prioritized her kids, given back, focused more on others than herself, taken risks, tried new things and helped others.  She’s a natural collaborator and an out-of-the-box thinker, working ever smart to grow new audiences for the music she loves and new opportunities for the next generation of artists.  This is exactly the type of thinking and opportunity creating we need to achieve my dream of giving every person at least one good chance in life.

“It’s much better to fail while daring greatly than to be a bystander.” Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean Jim Ryan, quoting Teddy Roosevelt. Watch his speech here.Dean James Ryan, Harvard

It’s such an exciting time.  New technologies accelerate our knowledge and our ability to connect every day.  Good people can spread good ideas faster than ever too. For this reason, in my own small way, I have dared greatly too – with Make It Better Media. This has been a journey inspired by a belief that paying good fortune forward is the best way to grow something of enduring value.   With the help of so many good people and the inspiration others like the honorary degree recipients, I’m living a worthwhile dream.

As Make It Better Media accomplishes its’ mission to be the most trusted, easiest to use community resource and magazine that helps our audience make their lives and the lives of others better, we’re growing a valuable network of good. More good people, finding more good ways to help, giving at least one good chance in life to those who need it the most.

 

 

Ala’a Basetneh on the #FreeSyria Movement Need Your Help

ala'a Basatneh #freesyria“Your social network needs to know about the innocent Syrian children, women and other citizens being imprisoned, tortured, killed by their own government.” – Chicago’s Ala’a Basetneh,

Ala’a Basetneh prefers pink.  It predominates her attire and the décor of her suburban Chicago bedroom in the home she still shares with her parents. Even her fingernail tips are sometimes pink.  But don’t let this deceive you. Basetneh is made of steel. Courageous, compassionate, composed, determined steel.

By age 19, as a college freshman and despite death threats, Basetneh was facilitating protests within Syria of its repressive regime – via social network from that quiet suburban pink bedroom, in between classes, during breaks from a full-time job. Since then she also has lobbied or worked with appropriate officials at the United Nations, White House, UNICEF and other international organizations.  Basetneh even convinced her father to accompany her on two secret trips to Syria to deliver humanitarian aid.images-3

Four years on, the protest continues.  A full 75% of the people Basetneh has worked with in Syria have been killed – including a Fulbright Scholar journalist from Syracuse University, Bassel Al Shahade

Mainstream media attention has moved on from the Syrian government’s atrocities against its own people to ISIS atrocities within Syria against the world.

Fortunately though, others can still learn about the Free Syria movement and Basetneh’s extraordinary efforts through the documentary “#ChicagoGirl.” 

Thanks to the Family of Women Film Festival  at the Wilmette Theatre, which opened with this film and a Q&A with Basetneh, last night, a sold out North Shore audience was informed and inspired. Including me. When asked how we best could help, Basetnet’s answer was simple – and it reminded me how powerful your personal online voice can be.free syria movment with ala'a basatneh

 “Please, just share our story – #freeSyria,” she said. “Your social network needs to know about the innocent Syrian children, women and other citizens being imprisoned, tortured, killed by their own government.  When you share an online post about our struggles, we see and are inspired by this support.”

The Film Festival continues through the weekend with two more films I recommend to you too:

“India’s Daughter”

Saturday, April 11, 7 p.m.

“The Supreme Price”

Sunday, April 12, 2 p.m.

But, before you see these, please take a few moments to share your support online for Chicago’s own Ala’a Basetneh and those struggling for freedom and democracy in Syria:

On Twitter: #freeSyria

On Facebook at : https://www.facebook.com/Ffree.Syriaa

Thank you.

Gates Foundation Donation Fuels Women’s Philanthropy Institute

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation just awarded a $375,000 grant to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to increase understanding about how and why women give to charity.

Bill and Melinda GatesAlthough this amount is small compared to what the Gates Foundation spends on issues like polio and Africa’s food supply, it could prove to be their most impactful gift.  Women make the lion’s share of philanthropic spending decisions.  In her book, Giving 2.0, Stanford University professor and philanthropist with a mission to make everyone more impactful givers, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen provides substantial data to prove that women drive most philanthropy. And of course, women just live longer, which means they are more likely to control substantial wealth in their estate planning.  The US Social Security Administration calculates that women live on average 2 years, 3 months longer than men. .

Our own Make It Better research proves that 92% of the women in our audience will change their brand loyalty if they think it will make the world a better place.  92%.  That’s an extraordinarily number.  We think that it proves that philanthropy is somehow innate in female DNA. And how much do you want to bet that Melinda was the first spouse to propose the Foundation to the other?Women Give 2014 Report

For the last few years the IU Women’s Philanthropy Institute have published Women Give reports that put it in the vanguard of building a body of knowledge on women’s leadership in philanthropy, and how women think about and practice their giving.  The Gates Foundation grant will build on that foundation.

Better understand how and why women give, and the world will be changed for the better even faster.  Thank you Melinda and Bill Gates.

 

 

 

 

Dare2Tri Helps Athletes Overcome Disabilities

“I will be talking about the sports that I do—and I will hopefully change the world.” – Gabi Berthiaume, age 12, born with Spina Bifida.

When she was four months pregnant, doctors told Gretchen Berthiaume that her child would never walk—probably never do anything but sit on a couch. “Never, never, never,” is all she heard. Her daughter Gabbi was born with spina bifida, a condition characterized by the incomplete development of the brain, spinal cord and meninges, which can lead to paralysis.

Berthiaume says she and her husband weren’t going to take “never” for an answer.

“My husband and I said ‘Oh heck no,” Berthiaume says. “We would look for whatever opportunities we could find for our child.”

Flash forward 12 years, and Gabi, or the “energizer bunny” as her mother calls her, can barely find time to stop moving. While confined to a wheelchair she participates in multiple adaptive sports programs her parents have helped her find, including track and field, dance and hockey. She has finished five triathlons.

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Gabi’s energetic, resilient personality is apparent through our phone conversation.

While participating in her last triathlon in Wauconda, Ill., Gabi crashed and had to be taken off the course in an ambulance. Berthiaume describes the incident as pretty scary, recalling Gabi’s “smooshed and roadrashed” face. Fortunately she didn’t break any bones.

“Mommy, I was fine, OK,” Gabi pipes up from the background. “And at least we got to have ice cream!”

The 12 year-old was not deterred by her accident and she has already signed up for a 3-day triathlon clinic that will take place in May.

Gabi was first invited to participate in a triathlon by Keri Serota, co-founder and executive director of Dare2Tri, an organization that helps people with disabilities participate in triathlons. Gabi first met Serota while Serota was working at the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association in Kenosha. Gabi has been participating in GLASA programs since she was six years old.

“She [Serota] just inspires the kids to do their best, be their best and have fun,” Berthiaume says.

Serota has asked Gabi to speak on a panel of young athletes at Dare2Tri’s Play For All event for the last four years and she will speak again this year. The event will take place at the Chicago Children’s Museum on Feb. 14, and will present a variety of interactive adaptive sports activities as well as the athlete panel.

When asked about what she will say to the audience and her peers at the event, Gabi responds emphatically.

“I will be talking about the sports that I do—and I will hopefully change the world.”

Please see information below for event details.

What: Dare2Tri Play For All day

The Chicago Children’s Museum will open an hour early on Feb. 14 to host families of children and veterans with disabilities.

Dare2Tri will be displaying a variety of hands-on, adaptive sports activities including a See, Touch and Feel prosthetics display, goalball, roller sled hockey, a Pedal and Scoot Triathlon and an athlete panel. The panel will feature triathletes, like Gabi, who were either born with a disability or acquired one later in life. The athletes range from ages 9 to 16 and will share their stories about overcoming adversity. It’s about kids talking to kids, says Keri Serota, Dare2Tri executive director.

Sign up here.

Where: The Chicago Children’s Museum, 700 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

When: Saturday, Feb. 14

The organization: Dare2Tri works to help people with disabilities train for and participate in triathlons. The idea for the program started in 2010 when three friends and triathletes—Keri Serota, Melissa Stockwell and Dan Tun—were brainstorming ways to get more people with disabilities involved in the sport. Serota, Dare2Tri’s executive director, was working for Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (GLASA) at the time and says Dare2Tri’s original goal was to be another program that organizations like GLASA or park districts could offer to their communities.

The founders initially hoped to serve eight to 10 individuals. The three friends felt they needed more legitimacy as a staff and wrote a grant to the US Olympic committee for the funding to become certified triathlon coaches. Then, in September of 2012, Serota left her position at GLASA to build the Dare2Tri organization full-time. In 2014, Dare2Tri served over 230 athletes ranging from 6 to 71 years old. Their athletes mostly compete in local competitions in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin but their “elite team,” a group of extremely dedicated athletes, competes in national and international competitions.

Written by Maura Flaherty for Make it Better.

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