New Membership Pricing Updates for 2017

Dear Magnet members,

Thank you for being a member of Madison Magnet. I have a few important updates I wanted to share with you as we move into 2017:

1) Beginning January 1, 2017, we are encouraging members to help grow our community of YPs by providing a member referral incentive. For every new member you encourage to join, you will save $20 on the price of your next renewal. If you recruit 5 or more members throughout the year, your next renewal will be free! Our student members are also eligible for this incentive. Discounted rates are indicated below:

Professional membership renewal pricing with referral incentive:

1 new member - $100
2 new members - $80
3 new members - $60
4 new members - $40
5 or more new members - no charge

Student membership renewal pricing with referral incentive:

Up to 2 new members - $20
3 to 4 new members - $10
5 or more new members - no charge

2) Beginning January 1, 2017, all professional development events will be included in the cost of your Magnet membership. This means that you will be able to bring a guest for free as well. This includes our monthly MagPRO professional development series at Dreambank and other special events being planned currently.

3) For the 2016-16 season, Forward Theater, the resident theatre company at the Overture Center, is offering Magnet members discounted tickets to performances. Please contact for the promotional code individually as you would like to see a performance.

4) A reaffirmation that as a Magnet member you are eligible for a 3 year subscription to BRAVA magazine at no additional cost. Please reach out to to receive your discount code.

Thank you again for your support of Magnet!

Happy holidays, 

Stefan Fletcher, PhD, JD
Board President
Madison Magnet

Out with the old, in with the new (A Farewell from outgoing President Corinn Ploessl)

By: Corinn Ploessl Ok, so I’m not “old” per say, but I am heading out…of the presidential role. It’s been an honor to serve as President of Magnet for the past two years. I’ve met TONS of great people, learned a lot about myself as a leader, and experienced many new and exciting things in Madison. I want to thank everyone who has been a member, friend, or partner of Magnet during my reign…I’ll plan to remain on the board for another year, but look forward to focusing my efforts on sustaining and building partnerships with you, our community.

All that said, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce our new executive committee!

Please welcome incoming President, Stefan Fletcher!

Stefan Fletcher is the Special Assistant to the Vice President for Administration at UW System Administration. He is originally from Watford, England and moved to the United States in 2004. Stefan holds both a PhD and a Law Degree from Michigan State University and served as the president of the graduate and professional student government there between 2010 and 2014. He is excited to work with fellow Magnet members to continue to expand the organization’s programming and outreach within the Greater Madison area.

Board Member turned VP, Elizabeth Purcell!

Elizabeth Purcell is a current member of the Magnet Board and will be assuming the role of Board Vice President. She is a Sconnie Native and an alumna of the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Elizabeth works in Marketing for Remington Products, a division of Spectrum Brands. She is also an active member of the Junior League of Madison. Elizabeth enjoys traveling, fitness, cooking and outdoor adventure.

Congratulations to new Secretary, Jess Parker!

Jess Parker is a current member of the Magnet Board and has recently been named as Secretary. A Madison resident for the past 5 years, Jess is originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She holds a Master of Spanish Literature from UW-Madison and is pursuing an MBA at Concordia University. Jess is Head of Recruitment and Business Development at Farmers Insurance in Verona and is passionate about community involvement, also serving as the President of the Verona Young Professionals. And in case you didn’t meet him when he became Treasurer earlier this year...Knoel Kambak!

Knoel Kambak assumed the duties of Treasurer of Magnet in June of 2015. He originally joined Magnet about four years ago after relocating from Dallas, TX. Knoel is currently the audit manager at Meicher CPAs. He also serves on the board of directors of the Institute of Management Accountants – Madison Chapter.

We are also happy to announce the addition of Kara Stucky to Magnet’s board of directors! She is will be a great addition to the leadership team and brings a creative, marketing flair.

Kara Stucky is a Digital Marketing Account Manager at Kennedy Communications, an interactive advertising agency, and works as the liaison between clients and the digital team, managing day-to-day interactive projects and strategy. Prior to being in the advertising world, Kara worked in Finance at AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. and in Operations at Target Corp. When she's not at work, Kara enjoys home remodeling projects, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and hitting the slopes in Colorado. She is excited to join the Magnet Board because she believes in Magnet's mission: community involvement, professional development and getting to know other young professionals in the Madison area.

Board Games for Grown Ups

By: Brad Grzesiak

In addition to "reading for leisure," one of the activities I rediscovered after college was playing board games with friends. No, I don't mean Monopoly or Candy Land... there exists a whole swath of board games intended for the adult mind, which is more analytical than that of our youths and has a distinctly different capacity for enjoyment. Whereas our 8-year-old minds might have been completely satisfied with the "tactics" of the card game War, our more mature brains often crave more. What follows is a list of games I've found to appeal to a wide array of individuals:

Settlers of Catan

Quite possibly the most famous adult game in the last decade, Settlers of Catan has, by far, been the most successful of the types of games I'll cover. It's made such a name for itself that The Wall Street Journal covered how Green Bay Packer starting tackle, David Bakhtiari, got a good chunk of the team hooked. While it definitely encourages strategic play, it also requires a bit of luck and diplomacy. In a sense, it's a bit like Monopoly, except for how a game of Catan always feels like it's progressing rather than stagnating (games last 45-90 minutes)... oh, and the players usually don't end up hating each other by the end. It's won so many awards, I won't bother listing them here. "Settlers" requires at least 3 players, which makes it a great casual double-date activity, especially when accompanied by a bottle of wine or two!


Named after a beautiful region in south France, Carcassonne features a gameplay-surface-building aspect similar to dominos while forcing players to manage the scarcity of their point-earning game pieces, affectionately called "meeples." There are four ways to earn points in the game, and three of them offer opportunities for opponents to swoop in and split or even steal points away. The game typically ends after 30 minutes after all the tiles, which are placed once per turn, are exhausted. Make sure to play on a big smooth table... the board can dynamically expand in any direction.


This 2-person-only card game seems straightforward, but it's balanced well enough that no one strategy can effectively always win. The basic idea of jaipur is to take turns either building your hand or laying down cards to earn points. The beginner's instinct is to hoard cards until a big play can be made, but the rules reward those who play early at the expense of their opponent. I pride myself as being a reasonably good game player, yet this is just one of those games I simply cannot "figure out." That makes it great for anyone feeling tentative about their abilities. An added bonus is that games are played best-of-three, so falling way behind in one game still affords you the opportunity to win overall.

Ticket to Ride

Who doesn't wanna pretend to be Cornelius Vanderbilt? Oh, um... never mind. Bad question. Ticket to Ride lets you compete against your friends to be the biggest railroad magnate in the US (or Germany, or Switzerland, or the Nordic countries, or... well, there are a bunch of expansions available). Players randomly select "tickets" that represent city-to-city routes that they must complete during the game. The larger the distance between cities, the more points you earn. Watch out, though. If you're too ambitious and don't complete your routes by the end of the game, you actually get penalized that number of points, reminiscent of those horrible standardized tests of high school.

Meet a Member: Barret Van Sicklen

barretName: Barret Van Sicklen

Years in Magnet: (Not sure  how long I have been a member – I know it has been off and on for a long time)

Position: Board Member


1. What is your favorite thing about being part of Magnet?

Magnet is great because it brings together like-minded young professionals to connect and collaborate.  I truly believe that Magnet helps make Madison a better place to live -- and we have fun doing it!

2. What do you as a career? What is your favorite part about it?

I am an attorney at DeWitt Ross & Stevens.  In addition to the people (DeWitt is a fantastic place to work), I enjoy helping people and/or businesses with their problems.  Because of the type of law I practice – litigation and labor/employment – I typically work with clients that are either in litigation, or on the verge of being in litigation.  That can be stressful; especially for those that have never been involved with court proceedings before.  Therefore, being able to work with them during this stressful time and find solutions to their problems brings me great satisfaction.

3. What do you do when you’re not working or hanging out with other Magnet members?

When not at the office, I love spending time with my wife (and best friend) Kelly, our wild and crazy toddler Owen, and our energetic dog Murphy.  I also enjoy playing/coaching soccer and cheering on the Badger basketball and football teams.

4. Tell us something about yourself that most people probably don’t know.

That I am a reality television junkie.  It is borderline embarrassing; I think I enjoy them because they are typically so stupid that, after a day spent using my brain, I can turn my brain off while watching them.

Also, I was born in San Francisco

5. What is a goal (personal/professional) you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Professionally: I think it would be amazing to argue in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  Personally: If I am shooting for the moon, I think it would be awesome to purchase a fixer-upper cabin on a lake within driving distance of Madison.

6. Money aside, what is your dream job? 

Professional Traveler.  I looked it up, and apparently this exists -- getting paid to travel!

Magnet Roundup: Lessons from Larry Page, Find Your Next Job, and More

By: Jill Shiroma We’ve rounded up some of our favorite articles from the week:

Do you go home and say, “Guess what I did today!” Larry Page is inspiring and empowering his team at Google. Find out how.

Wait, that creative block is just procrastination? 6 Unusual Habits of Exceptionally Creative People

The Best Way to Find Your Next Job. Spoiler alert: 80% of jobs are found through networking.

12 Real Reasons Some People Never Seem to Have Enough Time. Can we all relate to a few of these?

A bucket list for leaders. 15 Behaviors and Traits of Great Leaders

Keeping up on Good Habits

By: Knoel Kambak In sitting down to write this blog post, I was met with writer’s block and the unfamiliar feeling of not having my thoughts easily flow onto the computer screen. I realized I am really out of practice when it comes to writing anything for purposes outside my profession. I know this process should be much easier. What happened?

Way back when I was a college student and even early on in my career, I had access to multiple outlets for composing my thoughts on matters outside the business world. Now after years of typing emails to clients and colleagues and drafting numerous professional memos, letters, process documents and so forth, my routine has pushed me away from time I devoted to more creative pursuits. Now’s as good as a time as ever to reverse that trend. This post is a first step in me getting back in the (good) habit of avoiding routines, the first of three good habits I’ll discuss that can help improve your day-to-day experiences:

  1. Avoid routines. Think about your typical work week. How much of one day’s activities are the same as the day before? Or are your weeks fairly interchangeable when you look at how you spend your time (work, sleep, eat, etc.). The downside of routines is that your mind tends to dull and you may miss a creative spark or new way to approach a problem as a result.

To snap out of the routine, find something you can change in your daily routine, whether it’s the route you drive into work, the time of day you break for lunch or what establishment you select for happy hour (e.g. the Elk’s Lodge on September 3rd). It does not have to be a major change in your routine, just something that keeps your mind active and thinking about things in a new way.

  1. Have goals and a plan. This seems pretty straight-forward, but you would be surprised how many people do not keep this practice up. You should draft a list of short-term goals (for the next year or two) and long-term goals (5 years and beyond) related to your job and life outside of work. The short-term goals should be consistent with and support the long-term goals. Your goals can be as aggressive as you want to make them, mainly avoid making them too easy.

With your goals now in place, you can plan how you will achieve them. You don’t necessarily have to write this part down, so long as you know what you need to do to succeed. Most importantly, make sure you review and update your goal lists to see what you have accomplished, and what may need revising.

  1. Stay positive. Your rate of success in life will not be 100% (but if it is, send me an email because I have lots of questions for you-) so you will need to be able to deal with something not going your way. The best approach here is to maintain a positive attitude. People tend not to enjoy spending time around someone that has a negative attitude and focusing solely on what went wrong excludes what went right, or at least what was headed in the right direction.

Meet a Member: Brad Grzesiak


Name: Brad Grzesiak

Years in Magnet: Gosh, I dunno. I joined when Rebecca was still Executive Director. So that's like 8 years or so?

Position: Board Member


What prompted you to join Magnet? I originally joined Magnet a couple years out of college: I went to UW–Madison and, after graduation, I saw way too many of my friends find jobs or grad school in faraway places. After a couple years of hanging out with mostly friends from work, I wanted to expand my social circle outside of only engineers. I found Magnet and joined after going to just one happy hour. Almost immediately after joining, I found myself volunteering on the Community Involvement Committee, and I've been hooked ever since.

What do you as a career? What is your favorite part about it? I'm CEO of a software development consultancy. I absolutely love empowering my employees learn and create new things. We even set aside 8 hours each week to focus on professional development. I'm thrilled we are able to stick to our vision of sharing joy and success in our craft.

What do you do when you’re not working or hanging out with other Magnet members? I've been playing ultimate frisbee for about 8 years now, and I absolutely love it! While I typically claim "it's stress-relieving exercise," the truth is that I just really enjoy playing an active sport full of such friendly people. If you haven't played, there are typically men's, women's, and coed leagues available in the spring, summer, and fall.

Tell us something about yourself that most people probably don’t know. In college, I experienced about 12 minutes (in 25 second chunks) of zero gravity aboard NASA's Vomit Comet... er, "Weightless Wonder." I was on a team project that developed a robot designed to navigate the space station. And yes, I would totally do it again.

What achievement are you most proud of? As co-founder of a small company, I'm most proud of the sponsorship we've been able to give to programs aimed at the underprivileged, like Rails Girls Summer of Code and YWeb Career Academy. I'm even more excited about the bigger impacts we can make in the future.

Money aside, what is your dream job?  Prior to my current career, I thought I had already found my dream job. When combined with what I do now, that makes 2 dream jobs already, so I'm not one to assume that there's One True Job out there for me. That said, I *have* legitimately applied to be an astronaut before.

Quarterly Catch-Up

By: Corinn Ploessl Do you have some serious FOMO* when you can’t make it to a Magnet event? Here’s what you missed out on these last few months.


Our social game was strong this past quarter. We mixed and mingled with members & friends at our monthly happy hours. We sampled different wines at Fracesca’s Al Lago, toured and enjoyed music in Capital Brewery's beer garden, and finally, took in views of Lake Mendota and a gorgeous sunset at The Boathouse at the Edgewater.

A few members and friends played hooky the Friday before Memorial Day weekend with a Madison Eats Food Tour. Otehlia Cassidy led us on a lunch tour that included 3 stops around Capital Square.

In June, we held our 9th Annual Golf Outing at Pleasant View Golf Course in Middleton. Over 50 golfers hit the links – 18 holes of golf, putting with hockey sticks, stopping for selfies and cooling down with refreshing beer from Wisconsin Brewing Company. After play, golfers and friends enjoyed the 19th Hole Social at the Clubhouse.

Community Involvement

We channeled T. Swift in May with our “We Never Go Out of Style” event at the new St. Vincent de Paul store on Odana Road. CEO Ralph Middlecamp joined us for a cookout and discussed what he’s learned during his time leading a large, Madison NPO. We also had an all-out Style War – mad-rushing the store to pick out items that would create professional looks for YPs.

Who cut the cheese? We did! At Second Harvest Foodbank, our group of volunteers sort, cut, and packaged LOTS of cheese to prepare a shipment for delivery to local pantries.

Professional Development

We took the fear out of networking at our May Skill Building + Speed Networking session held at the Madison Club. We heard from experienced entrepreneur, Scott Kohl as he shared networking tactics and strategies for young professionals. Then we put these new strategies to the test during speed networking. Discussion ensued and lots of businesses cards were traded.

At our two book reviews, we learned about the advantages of being happy and how to gamestorm. Thank you to members, Scott Jaworski (The Happiness Advantage), and Jessica Parker & Erin West (Gamestorming) for leading these sessions!


We welcomed 4 new board members!

  • Stefan Fletcher, UW System
  • Knoel Kamback, Meicher CPAs (Treasurer)
  • Jessica Parker, Farmers Insurance
  • Zack Robbins, UW Madison Arts Institute

We’re excited to have these new faces on the board! They each bring a fresh perspective and have great ideas for improving benefits for our members and creating new events!

Coming up…

New Member Coffee | August 18 from 7:30-8:30 AM @ Panera Bread on University Avenue

Magnetic: Exploring Entrepreneurism | August 26 from 7:00-9:00 PM @ Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (part of Forward Fest)

Are you a new UW grad or law school student?

Catch us at your resource fairs to learn more about our student memberships! We’re also hosting a social with the UW on Friday evening – hope to see you there!

New Grad Student Welcome Resource Fair | August 26 from 11:00 AM -1:30 PM @ Union South

School of Law Orientation Fair | August 28 from 1:00-3:00 PM @ UW Law School Building

New Graduate Student Social | August 28 from 4:00-6:00 PM @ Brocach on the Square


* FOMO = fear of missing out…come on, YOUNG professionals!

RECAP: Gamestorming Book Review


On Tuesday July 28, Magnet members Erin West and Jess Parker hosted Magnet’s third Book Review featuring Dave Gray’s Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers.  The Gamestorming book is a collection of games for incorporation into your meetings, work flow or professional life. The games help shift your focus from methodical or prescriptive work, into innovative and creative work. In our post-industrial economy, many jobs now focus more on what the Gamestorming author calls “knowledge work” that require workers to innovate or create something “new” or not seen before. For those of us who don’t consider ourselves particularly creative, innovation can be daunting. But the game based methods of Gamestorming help set the framework for exploration of new ideas. At Magnet’s review of Gamestorming, we introduced the premise of game based work, and then the group engaged in several games to illustrate the techniques and benefits. We concluded the review with a take-away game that focused on how to create and perfect an “elevator pitch.” For those of you who couldn’t attend the book review—you don’t have to miss out on all the fun!  Below are the instructions on how to play the Elevator Pitch game from Gamestorming. You can play the game solo, or with some colleagues and friends to gain additional input. Check out some of the other games at the Gamestorming website: and stay tuned for Magnet’s next Book Review—where we read and review professional and career development books for you busy young professionals!

IMG_0274 resized

The Elevator Pitch


Object of Play: What has been a time-proven exercise in product development applies equally well in developing any  concept: writing the elevator pitch. Whether developing a service, a company-wide initiative, or just a good idea that merits spreading, a group will benefit from collaborating on what is- and isn’t– in the pitch.

Often this is the hardest thing to do in developing a new idea.  An elevator pitch should be short and compelling description of the problem you’re solving, who you solve it for, and one key benefit that distinguishes it from its competitors. It must be unique, believable and important. The better and bigger the idea, the harder the pitch is to write.

Number of Players: Works as well individually as with a small working group

Duration of Play: Long- save at least 90 minutes for the entire exercise, and consider a short break after the initial idea generation is complete, before prioritizing and shaping the pitch itself. Small working groups will have an easier time coming to a final pitch; in some cases it may be necessary to assign one person follow-up accountability for the final wording after the large decisions have been made in the exercise.


Going through the exercise involves both a generating and forming phase. To setup the generating phase, write these questions in sequence on flipcharts:

  1. Who is the target customer?
  2. What is the customer need?
  3. What is the product name?
  4. What is its market category?
  5. What is its key benefit?
  6. Who or what is the competition?
  7. What is the product’s unique differentiator?

These will become the elements of the pitch. They are in a sequence that follows the formula: For (target customer) who has (customer need), (product name) is a (market category) that (one key benefit). Unlike (competition), the product (unique differentiator).

To finish the setup, explain the elements and their connection to each other.


The target customer and customer need are deceptively simple- any relatively good idea or product will likely have many potential customers and address a greater number of needs. In the generative phase, all of these are welcome ideas.

It is helpful to fix the product name in advance—this will help contain the scope of the conversation and focus the participants on “what” the pitch is about. It is not outside the realm of possibility, however, that there will be useful ideas generated in the course of exercise that relate to the product name, so it may be left open to interpretation.

The market category should be an easily understood description of the type of idea or product. It may sound like “employee portal” or “training program” or “peer-to-peer community.” The category gives an important frame of reference for the target customer, from which they will base comparisons and perceive value.

The key benefit will be one of the hardest areas for the group to shape in the final pitch. This is the single most compelling reason a target customer would buy into the idea. In an elevator pitch, there is no time to confuse the matter with multiple benefits- there can only be one memorable reason “why to buy.” However, in the generative phase, all ideas are welcome.

The competition and unique differentiator put the final punctuation on the pitch. Who or what will the target customer compare this idea to, and what’s unique to this idea? In some cases, the competition may literally be another firm or product. In other cases, it may be “the existing training program” or “the last time we tried a big change initiative.” The unique differentiator should be just that- unique to this idea or approach, in a way that distinguishes it in comparisons to the competition.

Step One: The Generating Phase

Once the elements are understood, participants brainstorm ideas on sticky notes that fit under each of the headers. At first, they should generate freely, without discussion or analysis, any ideas that fit into any of the categories. Using the Post-up technique, participants put their notes onto the flipcharts and share their ideas.

Next, the group may discuss areas where they have the most trouble on their current pitch. Do we know enough about the competition to claim a unique differentiator? Do we agree on a target customer? Is our market category defined, or are we trying to define something new? Where do we need to focus?

Before stepping into the formative phase, the group may use dot voting, affinity mapping or other method to prioritize and cull their ideas in each category.

Step Two: The Forming Phase

Following a discussion and reflection on the possible elements of a pitch, the group then has the task of “trying out” some possibilities.

This may be done by breaking into small groups, pairs, or as individuals, depending on the size of the larger group. Each given the task of writing out an elevator pitch, based on the ideas on the flipcharts.

After a set amount of time (15 minutes may be sufficient) the groups then reconvene and present their draft versions of the pitch. The group may choose to role play as a target customer while listening to the pitch, and comment or ask questions of the presenters.

The exercise is complete when there is a strong direction among the group on what the pitch should and should not contain. One potential outcome is the crafting of distinct pitches for different target customers; you may direct the groups to focus in this manner during the formative stage.


Don’t aim for final wording with a large group. It’s an achievement if you can get to that level of finish, but it’s not critical and can be shaped after the exercise. What is important is that the group decides on what is and is not a part of the pitch.

Role play is the fastest way to test a pitch. Assuming the role of a customer (or getting some real ones to participate in the exercise) will help filter out the jargon and empty terms that may interfere with a clear pitch. If the pitch is truly believable and compelling, participants should have no problem making it real with customers.


Recap: Second Harvest Volunteering

On Tuesday, Magnet volunteers provided 10 hours of food packaging support to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Madison. We spent the evening cutting and sorting 40-pound cheese blocks into smaller two pound packaging, ready for shipment and delivery to local pantries. Second Harvest Food Bank is Wisconsin's largest hunger relief charity; they process and distribute more than a million pounds of food a month, and meet nearly one million requests for service each year. Their food goes directly to support local and 27 of their mobile pantries.

We had a great time working with the charity doing great things for our community. Looking to help out? Second Harvest is always looking for individual and group volunteers. Check out their website for more information. We look forward to notifying our membership of future service opportunities within Magnet.

second harvest event


Meet a Member: Jill Shiroma

JillName: Jill Shiroma

 -Magnet member for 8 years

 -Board secretary + Social Committee chair


What prompted you to join Magnet?

I joined Magnet several years ago after attending a professional development breakfast with Rebecca Ryan. At around the same time, Magnet was looking to develop a marketing committee, so I jumped on the opportunity to get more involved. 

  1. What is your favorite thing about being part of Magnet?

I love the variety of people I meet through Magnet, and the opportunity to learn about different industries. Some of my closest friendships exist because of connections I have made through Magnet.

  1. What do you as a career? What is your favorite part about it?

I am Product Manager for Morgan Murphy Media. Specifically, I manage projects for our digital properties and maintain our network advertising. I love the combination of working in an evolving digital landscape and being able to gauge and affect consumer experience on our sites.

  1. What do you do when you’re not working or hanging out with other Magnet members?

When I’m not working or participating in Magnet, I enjoy travelling, doing yoga, playing volleyball and softball, attending concerts and rooting for my Packers and Badgers. Namaste.

  1. Tell us something about yourself that most people probably don’t know

I am a professional singer when I get into my car. Seriously.

  1. Money aside, what is your dream job? 

Money and all reality aside, I dream of being a professional pastry taster in Paris. Mostly pain au chocolat…and mostly the pain au chocolat à la pistache at Ladurée. I’ll cleanse my palette between tastings with the really decadent, rich hot chocolate found only in Paris.

Event Rewind: "We Never Go Out of Style"

In May, Magnet partnered with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to host "We Never Go Out of Style" at their newly renovated, doubled-in-size Odana Road store. Their seven area thrift stores provide approximately half of the funding needed to support a large food pantry, charitable pharmacy, housing programs and other charitable efforts in the Madison community. Ralph Middlecamp, Chief Executive Officer with more than 25 years of SVdP experience, discussed the biggest lessons he learned while directing one of Madison’s largest charitable organizations. clothes



The event started with an informal store tour. Members learned about sales techniques, store design, pricing strategy and recycling efforts. The company adjacent to the store recently went out of business, and after selling their property to SVdP, the charitable organization doubled the size of the store, making for a more open and attractive customer buying environment.

The event continued with dinner off the grill: hamburgers/veggie burgers accompanied by chips, fruit, drinks and some addictive chocolate chip cookies. Members enjoyed the meal while chatting with Ralph and listening to him describe five principles that assisted him as he grew from volunteer to CEO of the organization.

First, Middlecamp shared that believing in your own career and your own work is important. You should feel that whatever product you are creating, sharing or selling is worth your time and energy to promote to others. Second, surrounding yourself with positive people and people smarter than you will help both you and your organization to grow. While some people are threatened by having those more intelligent or experienced working for them, Middlecamp noted that if he had been too insecure to hire Shopko’s former senior vice-president as SVdP’s former Director of Retail Operations (recently retired,) the organization’s stores would not be where they are today.

Middlecamp’s final three recommendations centered around focus and relationships with others. Do not let personal excuses control the organization’s destiny; instead, provide opportunities for employees to own their work and hold them (and yourself) accountable. Pick your battles. Know which principles and facets of the organization are most important and protect those, but be willing to bend at points that are less crucial when necessary. Finally, cooperation and collaboration with others leads to a better community result and ultimately a stronger organizational result.

The event finished with the Style Wars. Attendees had a limited amount of time to scour the store for clothing and accessories to complete a professional-style outfit. The winning ensemble sported a spring flair. Gift cards to an SVdP store and a box of cookies served as prizes.





Help us Avoid the Mid-Year Slump!

By: Corinn Ploessl We’re halfway through 2015 (That flew by, right!?) and Magnet’s Board of Directors and committees are hard at work planning what’s coming next. The first 6 months of this year brought us many successful events: YPWeek Wisconsin, our first book review (and a second, and now a series!,) a Community Connection with Habitat Young Professionals of Madison, a Madison Eats Food Tour and our 9th annual golf outing. We want to keep the momentum going and avoid any break in the awesomeness!

Despite the amazing programs that have come and gone, I know there are still many of you we haven’t connected with yet! We want to see your new faces amongst the familiar ones. Therefore, we want to take a moment to ask you all: Is there something you want to see Magnet host, a speaker you’re dying to hear from, a skill you’d like to learn more about, or a new venue you’re dying to get to? We want to hear from you! We always appreciate it when our members get involved and make suggestions. We want you to own your membership – you get out of Magnet what you put into it.

Tell us what you want to see happen in the second half of 2015 by emailing We’re happy to hear from you and look forward to keeping our events fresh and innovative!

Meet a Member: Melissa Johnson

melissa johnson jpegName: Melissa Johnson

Years on Magnet: 8 years

Position or committee placement: Marketing Committee Chair and Board Member

  1. What prompted you to join Magnet? 

My colleague Jill encouraged me to join Magnet as I entered the workforce after college. I was interested in meeting new people as I started out in my career.

  1. What is your favorite thing about being part of Magnet?

My favorite part of Magnet Membership is the close relationships I've developed across different types of companies. As professionals, we can sometimes get stuck in our own industry, and it's been great to meet people across many different functions. I also love the professional development events - I'm addicted to continuing education and striving to be a better me.

  1. What do you as a career? What's your favorite part about it?

I'm currently the Director of Strategic Marketing at social media software, Shoutlet. My favorite part is the our changing industry - you need to be on your toes at all times to keep up and to create marketing initiatives that have an impact.

  1. What do you do when you’re not working or hanging out with other Magnet members?

I enjoy running long distance, and trying new foods. Also try and travel as much as my checkbook can handle!

  1. Tell us something about yourself that most people probably don’t know.

I'm a dual citizen - born in Canada, but my parents are Irish and British.

  1. What achievement are you most proud of?

Running marathons and marrying my better half.

  1. What is a goal (personal/professional) you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

I'm entering a new career soon- motherhood. So a goal of mine is to find a work-life balance that allows me to be a great mom and wife while maintaining my independence and work identity, contributing to a company's success. (A side congrats to Melissa who gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Philomena Marie Johnson on June 9th!)

  1. Money aside, what is your dream job?

I would love to travel the world and blog about my adventures - OR start my own creative business making invitations and stationary for clients.

The ABCs of Golf Etiquette and Play

By: Dan Merfeld So you've decided to take the plunge. Curiosity finally got the better of you and you're trying out the great game known as golf. Congratulations and welcome.

If you're concerned about not knowing the rules, proper etiquette, or what to wear on the golf course, please read on. We've got you covered.

Gameplay First, you should know, we'll be playing a particular style of tournament golf called a "scramble" - which is typically played for such outings as ours. The rules are designed to make gameplay fun and enjoyable for players of all skill levels - especially beginners - so you've chosen the right place to start! Here's how we play this particular style of golf.

You'll be playing on a team of four golfers. At each hole every player in your team takes a turn at teeing off. After everyone in your team has had a turn, the team collectively decides which ball has the best position and all the other players pick up their ball and play their second shots from that spot. That counts as one stroke for the team. This process repeats itself until the ball is holed (or as Happy Gilmore might say "finds its home,") a player dies, or someone gets frustrated and throws their club (bad form - never throw your club.) At that time, the total number of strokes taken counts as your score for the hole. The lower the score, the better.

Each hole is rated with a number based on its overall difficulty to play. That rating represents the "average" number of strokes to get the ball in the hole and is referred to as "par." As you score your team will either be "under" - which means you're doing really well and have a negative score - congratulations, you must be a pro; "even" - which means you're exactly average - congratulations are still very much in order, or "over" - which means you're playing at a level most golfers (even experienced ones) play at. How much you're over par is really the question you'll be asking yourself, so don’t be discouraged if your score doesn’t land in one of the other two categories.

Dress Code You might be wondering what to wear. The golf course we will be playing at does not have an official dress code (some do) - it's recommended that you wear a shirt with a collar, and pants (not jeans,) shorts (not jean shorts), or a skirt (not a jean skirt.) For that matter, leave out jean jackets, and, well, anything made of jeans. You're going to see a lot of Khaki and plaid out there, I suggest you just roll with it.

For footwear, avoid open-toed shoes, sandals, or bear feet (for your own safety.) If you have a pair of tennis or soccer shoes they will work just fine. If you're thinking of using grandpa's golf shoes, be sure to check with someone at the course to see if the shoe spike type is allowed (some older golf shoes have metal spikes that can hurt the greens and are not allowed to wear.) All modern golf shoes (the ones with plastic spikes) should be okay to wear.

One final point about dress, remember you're going to be out in the direct sun, bring sunglasses and sunscreen.

Three Tips To Hit The Ball Like a Pro  Well, you've made it this far. You're dressed, at the golf course and ready to play. But how exactly does one go about hitting a golf ball you may ask?

First, let's get your head straight. Keep in mind that some people spend a lifetime perfecting this game and only scratch the surface of what could be their true possible potential. It's important to make sure your expectations are inline with reality. If you're a new golfer, you should expect to hit the ball in the general direction of your target and not much else. That's okay, remember, your team can always use one of the other player's shot if you don't do well. If you play other sports, particularly baseball or softball - you might find it shocking how different the swing is and how that might actually add to the challenge of hitting a golf ball. Be patient with yourself as you work out the differences.

1. Go for accuracy - not distance. Everyone wants to hit the ball far, and while that does give you a competitive advantage on the tees and on the longer holes, it can be disastrous for new golfers to attempt to go for distance. Instead, focus on hitting the ball well, and in the general direction of your target.

2. Don't swing your club too hard. Again with the distance. Hitting the ball far means swinging the club hard and fast - or so it would seem. When you're swinging the club, let the club head do the work. The less you try to force it, the more accuracy you'll get out of your shot.

You'll know you're forcing it if, when you swing, you completely miss the ball. When that happens it's a sure sign you're trying to swing way too hard. Take it down a notch or two and try to make it more of a natural and even swing then a blast of power. You'll give up some distance, but you'll enjoy the game much more if you're not always fishing your ball out of the woods or a hazard.

Club Selection Another aspect of golf that can be confusing to the outsider is which club to use. It's really quite simple though, if you keep the following in mind.

Golf clubs are broken into four main categories: Woods, Irons Wedges and Putters. The Woods and Irons have numbers on them. An easy way to remember what the numbers mean is to keep in mind that the lower the number, the farther the ball will travel and the higher the number the higher the ball will fly through the sky (referred to as 'loft.')

Let's talk about the main kinds of clubs.

Woods Woods are not actually made of wood any more, but that's how they originally got their name. They propel the ball the farthest (from 200-250 yards when in the hands of an experienced golfer.) They are only really used once, at the beginning of the hole. They work best when the ball is teed up and they have two defining characteristics - they are the longest of the clubs and they have a larger area to strike the ball on the club head. This is good and bad. You can get into a lot of trouble with your woods, so be careful.

Another thing worth noting, the 1 wood is the only one referred as the "Driver." It's the club that should, when hit properly, go the farthest and have the least amount of loft.

A standard golf club set might have a 1, 3 and 5 wood. Being new to golf, it's recommended you pick one of the woods (doesn't matter which one) and stick with it for your first rounds. You're not going to notice much of a difference between the clubs until you mature your swing a bit more with practice.

Irons Irons, like their woods counterparts, are no longer made from their namesake metal, iron. They are made of a metal mix. They're meant to be somewhat heavy to help strike the ball better. The club head is angled, and they will have much more loft than the woods.

Irons are numbered 1-9 - but it's likely you won't have all of them in a standard golf club set, so don't worry if you're missing a few. The "long irons"; irons 1,2, and 3 will get you the distance, while the short irons; 7,8, and 9 will get the ball up higher in the air and more quickly. What about 4,5, and 6 you say? Well, you guessed it, they're called the "middle irons" and they're for the in-between moments.

You should make friends with your irons before you make friends with any other club type - after all you'll be using them the most. It's recommended to pick one long-iron, one middle-iron and one short-iron and play exclusively with those clubs.

Wedges Wedges comes in all shapes and sizes too, and they don’t have numbers, they typically have letters (I know it’s like they’re trying to confuse us right?) There are really only two that you need concern yourself with - the Pitching Wedge (PW) is the highest lofted club of the bunch and the Sand Wedge (SW) which - you guessed it - comes in handy if you happen to be caught in the sand.

Putters If you’ve ever been mini-golfing, you’re probably already familiar with what a putter is, what it can do and how to use it. There is some discussion about how close to the hole you need to be before using a putter, but if you’re new to golf, it’s probably a bit unnecessary for us to get into such level of detail. Suffocate to say, if it looks like the putter might be a good club for the job, do it.

Etiquette rules to know Much has been written about the etiquette of golf and in some ways can be quite intimidating for new golfers. Here's a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Don't be loud - golf requires concentration and, at times, it can be frustrating to other golfers if they hear a lot of noise. It's considered particularly bad form to speak or make noise while a golfer is about to hit the ball. You might hear the warning "don't talk in my backswing!" which is golfer code for "please be quite while I'm attempting to hit the ball."

2. Position yourself - another consideration is where you stand while someone else is playing. It makes golfers nervous to see people standing in their field of vision or near them when they're about to hit the ball. Try to stand behind or off to the side of a golfer when it's their turn, and with quite a bit of distance between you and them. Avoid moving and remain quite, as not to distract them when they attempt to hit the ball.

3. Never Walk the Line - when putting it's generally considered bad practice to walk in-between the ball of a player and the hole, referred to as the "line." Why? Well, by walking in this area you may unknowingly affect the way the ball would travel over the grass on its way to the hole. Sometimes this is unavoidable, and if you have to walk over another player's line, try to minimize your disruption of the green you might create with your steps.

Well that’s it in a nutshell, you should be fully prepared to go forth and take on the sport of golf.

And last, have fun and enjoy!

9 Reasons to Sign Up for This Year's Golf Outing


May 14, 2015

By: Corinn Ploessl and Barret Van Sicklen

Magnet's 9th Annual Golf Outing for Madison Area young professionals will be held Friday, June 19th at Pleasant View Golf Course in Middleton. As a reminder, tomorrow (5/15) is the last day to save $20 with the Early Bird Discount!

Without further ado, here are 9 reasons we think you'll want to sign up for this year's outing:

10351961_10152499029832485_7644726788195188000_n1. The Goal -- Have Fun!

We call this outing “Magnet’s Day Off” because it really is just that. It’s an opportunity for young professionals to take the afternoon off and enjoy spending time with friends, both old and new! More than anything, it's about having fun!

2. Experienced & Novice Golfers Welcome

Our outing is catered to golfers of all levels. Whether you golf in a league or golf once a year (like say for example, our Board President,) you’ll love our scramble-style outing where there will be more to do than swinging your clubs. 

 3. Awards

While this isn’t a highly-competitive outing, we do give out awards to our winning foursome! In addition, we’ll be hosting course contests including: longest drive, longest put, and closest to the pin.  We want to reward those who golf well, but there are still plenty of ways to win prizes on June 19… keep reading!

4. Hungry? Why wait…

10012609_10152499021782485_1667724917959702868_nIn addition to grabbing your box lunch prior to the shotgun start, you’ll have the opportunity to sample fare at a few "food holes." The Harmony Bar, Bubbles’ Doubles, and potentially others will have food sprinkled throughout the course for your sampling. You definitely won't go hungry!  

5. Beer!

Did that headline get your attention? Wisconsin Brewing Company will be there to quench your thirst with some samples of its tasty brews. In the words of Homer Simpson, "mmmmmmm beer."

6. Holes with a Twist

Clubs needing a rest and/or looking to spice up the game? Then you’ll really enjoy the activity holes we've added throughout the course. Think hockey sticks for putters and voting off your weakest player during 'Survivor'!

 7. Secret Holes

New this year! There will be two secret holes on the course. You won’t know when you're playing them, but they may end up being your favorite part of #MagnetsDayOff. Doing well on a secret hole could mean everyone on the foursome gets a prize or maybe the score on that hole gets deducted!

10422042_10152499028992485_1537768398741901904_n8. Raffle

We have an awesome lineup of raffle items at this year’s outing.  To give you a little preview, we're sharing the following items:

  • Madison Mallards Duck Blind Package
  • $100 Gift Card to Flemings
  • Overnight Stay at the Hyatt Place Downtown
  • Karben4 Brewery Swag Package

9. The 19th Hole

After 18 holes, you won’t want to miss our 19th Hole party!  Enjoy appetizers and a cash bar while we announce the outing winners, secret holes and raffle prize winners!

With all this excitement going on, you know you want to golf on #MagnetsDayOff! Sign up today to receive the Early Bird Discount. We'll see you on the course!


Call for Magnet Board Nominations

  By: Melissa Johnson


Madison Magnet is looking to add several qualified new members to their Board of Directors.  Interested in a leadership position, gaining experience, and contributing to the community? Then keep reading, and submit your own nomination or nominate a friend.

Who is Magnet? Madison Magnet is a membership-based young professionals networking group in Madison, WI, and we focus on three main pillars: Community Involvement, Professional Development, and Social and Networking.  There are committees for each of these pillars that work to create events and membership value to connect, collaborate, and develop the talent in Madison.

About The Board Madison Magnet is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors who are career professionals working in all types of different industries. The Board consists of up to 15 members who serve three-year terms. To see who is currently on the Board, please read our About page.

The primary responsibility of the Board is to provide leadership to the organization, craft the strategic vision for the organization, execute on projects and partnerships, and continue to grow and develop Magnet.

What are the Requirements? Once elected, Board Members are expected to attend monthly Board meetings, execute on projects, be ambassadors for the organization, and are strongly encouraged to attend a variety of Magnet events. Board Members are also expected to be Madison Magnet Members.

What is the process? If you're interested in joining the Board, or know of a candidate that would be a good fit, please email our President, Corinn Ploessl, at with your LinkedIn profile and why you or your friend would be a good candidate for the Board.  We will accept nominations through March 31, 2015. If you're interested in learning more, please reach out or come to one of our events and talk to a current Board member!

What if I want to get involved, but not at the Board level yet? We have several committees that drive several key events. Check out our page on all of these committees, and if you'd like to get involved, please email one of the Project Leads!

We look forward to meeting you, and your contributions to the community!

What Do I Get in Return for Being a Magnet Member?

Magnet Golf Outing By Chris Gilbert

"What do I get in return for being a  Magnet member?"

This is the most frequently asked question I receive when talking to prospective new members. And to be perfectly honest, a completely fair and logical question to ask. It’s important to understand and know exactly what you will receive in any transaction, a Magnet membership is no different.

My typical response: “What would you like to get out of Magnet?”

In order to explain why, I’ll have to tell you a little about me. I moved to Madison from Michigan last January for a new job. I didn’t have any friends or family in the area and had to start new on my own. I was looking for things to do in town and found Magnet’s website. I saw an upcoming happy hour scheduled at the Ivory Room and decided to attend. For me personally, it was a good opportunity to meet some new people and see different parts of Madison.

I enjoyed the event and wanted to see how else I could get more involved. So, I decided to join the Community Involvement and Professional Development Committees. Not because I expected some big return from them at first, but to be perfectly frank, I was bored and needed something to do with my endless amounts of free time. After participating in a few events, I found out that I really started to enjoy volunteering my time and helping out. Roughly one year later, I am glad I joined and happy with all my experiences I have had with Magnet.

The point to all that, you get out of Magnet what you want to get out. For me, I wanted to meet some new people and possibly make some friends along the way. For others, it could be something different like:

-"I want to broaden my professional network in Madison" -"I want to get more involved in my community" -"I want to share my ideas to provide additional programming for YPs in Madison" -"I want to be a part of a local organization"

Whatever your membership goal, the only thing preventing you from achieving it is yourself. Everyone who joins Magnet has a goal of what they would like to get in return for their membership. Whatever that goal might be, Magnet can provide an opportunity to accomplish it. So, get involved, be assertive, and step out of your comfort zone. Or simply put, dive in head first. If you are willing to do that, you will be successful in accomplishing your goal.

So with that being said:

What would you like to get out of Magnet?

Interested in joining Magnet? Learn more about what you can get out of Magnet in this letter from our president.

Don't forget! If you join before the end of the year, you can lock in current rates.

Thinking of Joining Magnet?

I am thinking of joining MAGNET…I just joined MAGNET…I want to get involved…What next? I love answering these questions, because regardless of which one is being asked, I know this person is ready to be a part of the excellent network that exists within the organization. But, really, how do you get started?

I always tell people the best way to get a feel for the group is to come out

to an event. With an average of 4 events a month, there is no shortage of getting a MAGNET date on your calendar. When you come, make sure you have an open mind and you are ready to make connections. Find ways to connect with others both with their professional and also personal lives. You may just find your 4th bowler for your league team.

If you are not ready to come to an event, and you want more information, please contact me ( and I will answer all your questions. You will automatically know one person at the next event that you attend! Mostly, MAGNET is here for you

and for your growth, so ask questions, volunteer, attend events, and make MAGNET better.

Being a part of a network can be good thing for your business. Being a part of an awesome network full of bright talent, can be a great thing for your business and for you. Starting your awesome network is as easy as coming out to a MAGNET event.