Wisconsin YPs

Top 10 Things to See and Do (and Eat) When You Move to Madison

By: Elizabeth Purcell 1. CURDS: Eat ‘em, scarf ‘em, bite ‘em, chow ‘em. It’s not a secret that Wisconsin is known for dairy, and more specifically cheese! Well…what’s better than cheese…duh…fried cheese! Upon moving to Madison, you definitely need to try the city’s selection of curds. They’re gooey, their, they’re crunchy and just plain sinful.

For the cities best curds try:


2. Devils Lake Us Madisonians like to get out into the fresh air and get some exercise once in a while (We gotta burn off those cheese curds somehow!). A great camping and hiking spot is Devils Lake. Only a short drive from downtown, it’s a great place for a day trip to hike, swim and cookout.

Insider Tip – the park can get quite crowded in the summer months, for a more tranquil experience check it out in early spring or fall!


3. Farmers’ Market A quintessential Saturday morning in Madison is spent strolling around the Capitol square procuring some of the city’s freshest produce and baked goods. One of the most popular stops at this seasonal Farmers’ Market along the way is Stella’s, known for the delectably famous Spicy Cheesy Bread; a loaf of warm, gooey heaven. Definitely a MUST!

4. IRONMAN: “Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles – Brag for the rest of your life.” – John Collins, IRONMAN Founder

Madison is home to one of the most exciting and impressive sporting events; IRONMAN. While participating isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s an impressive and inspiring event to watch. Athletes from around the world flock to the city to put their physical and mental strength to the test.

Insider Tip: The start (swim) is one of the most exhilarating parts to witness. Many triathlons have staggered starts, where different age groups start at different times. Well the Madison Ironman is a mass start – that means thousands of athletes begin the race at once. This makes for a pretty crazy scene in the lake!


5. State Capitol Can’t live in the state’s capital city without a visit to the Capitol building! Not only is it a gorgeous building but a trek up to the top floor promises great views of the city. It’s also the only Capitol building to be built on an isthmus! Check out their website for more information on scheduling a tour!

6. Terrace Well you’ve may have noticed by now that there is no shortage of beer in this city! One of the most popular spots to enjoy a cold one is at the Terrace! Known for their iconic colored chairs and tables, the Terrace is a wonderful spot to catch up with friends, listen to some music and watch the sailboats float across the lake.

Insider Tip: The Terrace is currently closed for a ‘facelift’ but should be back in service by the end of May!


7. Go Badgers Living in a Big 10 college town definitely has its perks. Football season is just one of them! Not only will it make you feel like a (college) kid again, but the sense of community and camaraderie on game day is truly unique! And here in Wisconsin, we sure take our tailgating seriously! When kickoff is at 11am it’s just an excuse to have a brat and a beer for breakfast, but hey there’s nothing wrong with that!

Insider Tip: Madison, WI is the only place where a football game is made up of 5 quarters. “Nowhere except Camp Randall Stadium can you find 30,000-40,000 die-hard fans who will stay for as long as 45 to 50 minutes after the game. Fans stay to watch, sing, dance, and enjoy the excitement of a latter-day Wisconsin tradition: the Fifth Quarter” 


8. Olbrich Botanical Gardens Honestly, I’ve only been here once in the 8 years I’ve lived in #MadTown. But in the long winter month’s it’s a great way to escape the cold and pretend you’re in a tropical paradise.

9. Concerts on the Square Starting in July, the Madison Chamber Orchestra hosts concerts on the Capitol lawn. Be sure to get there early and save your picnic spot with a blanket – and don’t forget the wine and cheese!

10. Brewery Tours Well…are you sensing a theme here?! Here in Madison and the surrounding area there is no shortage of micro-breweries to check out. Whether you are into hoppy beers, dark beers, fruity beers, wheat beers…you are sure to find cold pint to quench your thirst.

Some of my favs are:


Spring Explodes in March and April for Magnet Members!


There is so much going on in Madison this spring. After the long, messy winter months everyone is waiting for the sun. We all want to break through like the early spring flowers, bursting the thawing soil to enjoy the awaited explosion of life in Madison! If you’re like me, you’re ready to soak up the rays, warm and add some color to your pale, almost translucent skin. Well, here are some great things to do as you awaken from the long winter hibernation:

On Thursday, March 3rd mingle with your Magnet friends and meet some new ones at Hamilton’s on the square from 4:30 to 6:30 PM. Hamilton’s will be closed to the public during our event, so this is a great way to experience all that Hamilton’s has to offer.

On Tuesday, March 8th a few, lucky Magnet members will be energized as they have Lunch with a Leader at the Madison Club: Gary Wolter, Chairman, President and CEO of MG&E.

Then on Wednesday, March 16th many Magnet Members will meet (is that enough M’sfor you?) at Hilldale for either:  A) the Wisconsin Film Festival’s “First Look” event, where attendees upstairs at Sundance Cinemas ($40 ahead and $50 at the door) will enjoy some of the best food and drinks Hilldale has to offer and be the first to get their hands on the Festival Film Guide (before it’s published in Isthmus) and see movie trailers of the 150+ films, and buy Festival tickets before they go on sale to the general public. And B) at a special Meet & Eat for Magnet Members only at Café Hollander.

On Friday, March 18th Magnet Members will take over the MABA Slap Shot Suite to shriek “Sieve!” (enough s’s?) at the MadCap opponent’s goalie, during the Madison Capitals’ game.

On Tuesday, March 22nd Magnet members will try to work off some of the beer and food they’ve consumed all winter at MadPower Training Center in Fitchburg.

And finally, don’t miss the volunteer opportunities, associated parties and the 150+ world-class films showing during the Wisconsin Film Festival! The Festival begins with a huge Opening Night Celebration and film(s) on Thursday, April 14th at the Barrymore Theatre on Atwood Avenue, with an after-party across the street at the Harmony Bar. Then the festival expands to include screens at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, on Friday, April 15th (a day when Madison schools are closed) for the Big Screens, Little Folks children’s series and 3 campus venues (Chazen Museum of Art, Cinematheque-4070 Vilas Hall and the Marquee Theatre in Union South), as well as 3-screens at Sundance Cinema’s in Hilldale!

The whole Wisconsin Film Festival runs from April 14th through the 21st and includes talks by filmmakers and UW-Madison experts on some of the topics of the films and lots and lots of associated parties and events. Altogether, lot’s to do in March and April! So, mark your calendar and don’t be left out.

We hope to see you at all or some of these events! Check out our events page to learn more.

By: Zack Robbins

YPs to Watch: Megan Watt, Founder of Dream Catalyst Labs

Megan photo
Megan photo

As we approach YPWeek, let’s be reminded that our city is full of talented young professionals! To catch up with one of Madison’s own talented YPs, Magnet Board Member, Jess Parker sits down with Megan Watt, Founder of Dream Catalyst Labs, to discuss entrepreneurship in Madison. Megan Watt is a highly sought after Facilitator, Speaker, and Career Coach. She speaks to audiences such as AT&T, American Family Insurance, University of Iowa, WARF, and Alpha Chi Omega, on the power of strengths and the power of connections in the pursuit of one’s dreams. Megan currently serves as the Chief Dream Maker of Dream Catalyst Labs, based in Madison. Before starting her own company she taught Career and Leadership Development at three BigTen universities, and served as the VP of Innovation & Strategy for a local startup. In 2015, she was an Athena Young Professional Awards nominee. Megan is a lover of fun and random facts. A fun fact about her is that she’s ridden the world’s largest skateboard while working for ESPN’s X Games. Megan’s mission is to inspire others to dream big, and to tenaciously pursue those dreams daily.

Learn more about Megan and Dream Catalyst Labs in the interview below.

What is the mission of Dream Catalyst Labs?

The mission of DCL is to empower and inspire individuals and organizations to identify and pursue their dreams through speaking, training, and coaching. We believe that when you have self-confidence, know your purpose, and leverage your strengths, you can achieve your someday goals, positively impact your community, and create lasting change.

How was Dream Catalyst Labs born?

DCL started with family and friends asking for help finding a job, reviewing a resume, or preparing for an upcoming interview. Dream Catalyst Creator, Ilsa May and I both participated in two years of training in Career Advising and teaching at Indiana University's Career Development Center. We realized that it’s not only new professionals who need career advice, but individuals of all ages and we sought a way to formally offer our knowledge and expertise to those in need of help fulfilling their personal, professional, and educational goals. What really motivated us to create and formalize Dream Catalyst Labs were our own career development experiences. Finding a dream job and doing what you love is attainable and we hope to empower and assist people to achieve their dream and/or dream job. We think of DCL as the catalyst to helping people achieve their dreams through speaking, coaching, and training.

What resources in the Madison area have allowed you to embark on this journey as a business owner?Are there any under-utilized services that you feel other YPs should know about?

There are two resources in Madison that have had the greatest impact on me and my journey as a business owner. First is the DreamBank. Personally, I believe it is the greatest thing in Madison and one of the coolest, most inspiring spaces in town (and this includes the Terrace). The DreamBank and one of its staff members, Chris Rudolph have been a part of my journey from higher education, to a local startup, to starting my own company. From the incredible programming and events to the AMAZING people I've met there, the DreamBank has provided me with the tools and skills to go after my dream, but most importantly a community of dreamers that support me.

Second is the UpStart program which is an awesome resource. I cannot say enough good things about that program. And it's all free! If you are a woman or minority who has an idea for a business or is already working on one...You MUST APPLY for UpStart. :)

If you don't fit the criteria for UpStart I recommend the DreamBank, Small Business Development Center, and the Capital Entrepreneurs Resource page.

What are some of your favorite ways to build your network locally?

I participate in an entrepreneur book club through the DreamBank. Additionally, each week I try to make at least one new connection and set one follow-up meeting with a current connection. No matter my schedule I always try to meet as many people as possible, and FOLLOW UP! Also, I'm not afraid to ask for an introduction when needed, and I always try to make introductions for other people. At DCL we feel incredibly grateful that all of our business has come from networking and referrals; we’ve not done any outbound marketing to date.

Where do you see the business in five years and what are your long-term goals for the company?

Our future will be based on the needs of our clientele. As we grow alongside our clients, we want to continuously develop new offerings and expand our team to reach a broader range of clientele. This includes speaking at more conferences, hosting live events (including Brainstorm Gatherings, workshops, and retreats for organizations), creating online courses, and other digital resources.

How did you decide to transition into self-employment and what advice to you have to other young professionals regarding entrepreneurship?

I watched this clip of Oprah at Stanford for the first time mid-December 2014. At the time, I was wrestling with the idea of leaving the startup I was at, and what to do next with my life. I ended up watching the entire interview (see it here) and no joke... I decided then that I was going to go out on my own and start my company full time. Two days later this decision was confirmed when I was given an opportunity to help a friend for two months and earn $1000 (which was enough of a "cushion" that I could justify getting rid of any security and start being 100% responsible for my income). That was my next ‘right’ move. The DreamBank and my amazing, supportive partner/co-founder played a critical role in believing that I could do this full time; they were my dream catalyst. And in all reality, I have wanted to be a speaker since I was 15 years old. It just took a while for me to realize that it didn't have to be a daydream any more, and I could fearlessly chase my dream!

To learn more about Dream Catalyst Labs, visit www.dreamgatalyst.org and stay in the know by signing up for for exclusive updates here.

Wisconsin’s Best Places to Work for Young Professionals: Calling for 2016 Bubbler Award Nominations


2016 Bubbler Awards Highlights Wisconsin’s Best Places to Work for Young Professionals For the second year, YPWeek recognizes the Wisconsin companies that make it a priority to retain and engage their young talent through a dynamic workplace and Madison Magnet is requesting that young professionals submit their workplace for the 2016 Bubbler Awards.

“We now know that companies across the state are realizing the demand to evolve theiR work places to fit the needs of the young professional workforce,” says Angela Damiani, president of NEWaukee, lead organization of YPWeek. “We’re excited to be able to show that Wisconsin companies are taking the charge on this front and creating an environment that draws young professionals to work and live in this state.”

Nominations for the Bubbler Awards will be accepted through February 26, 2016. The following criteria will be taken into consideration by a juried panel that will evaluate what Millennials look for in an ideal workplace: competitive salary and benefits, opportunity for advancement, work-life balance and employee engagement. 2016’s Bubbler Awards winners will be announced on March 11, 2016.

The Bubbler Awards is an example of how YPWeek Wisconsin highlights the young professional voice. Additionally, the nomination and selection process establish a framework for existing and emerging young professionals throughout the state to collaborate and brand Wisconsin as a workplace destination for Millennials.

The Bubbler Awards Ceremony will take place in Appleton on Saturday, April 23, 2016 as the launch of the fifth annual YPWeek, hosted April 23 - 30, 2016. The Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is a major sponsor of the 2016 Bubbler Awards. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is a major sponsor of the 2016 YPWeek.

To find more information and to nominate a workplace, visit bit.ly/BubblerAward

YPWeek 2016 brings together key leaders in 15 communities, at purposefully chosen locations that integrate the unique cultural assets with meaningful learning or social interaction. The activities engage the millennial workforce in activities and experience that are important to them while educating employers on the important role these functions play in retaining their workforce. YPWeek 2016 includes the following communities: Door County, Fond du Lac, Fox Cities, Green Bay, Kenosha, La Crosse, Madison, Marshfield, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Racine, Sheboygan, Stevens Point, Wausau and Wisconsin Rapids. Visit www.ypweek.com to learn more.

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.

Rules of Thumb: Holiday Shopping & Your Career

By: Knoel Kambak It’s December, which means the weather is getting noticeably colder, the daylight hours shorter and there is only a matter of weeks left to get your holiday shopping done. As I sit in my office at work spending countless hours online shopping for gifts for family and friends (note to employer: I am not spending countless hours online shopping for gifts) I realize that many rules of thumb that apply to effective holiday gift shopping also apply to success in one’s professional career.

Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. As much as I want to believe that a $20 appliance can solve dozens of my kitchen quandaries and provide me with a year-round beach-worthy tan, it will likely fail in all respects. I’m sure somewhere along the line you had high hopes for something you bought or received as a gift, only to have it not live up to the manufacturer’s promises. The same thing can happen in your career. Ever sought out a new job before? A job change is ripe for this rule of thumb. Usually new job opportunities are presented in the most positive light, but you need to be realistic as to what the opportunity actually entails.

You need to be skeptical about the details and realistic about your skill set. While the opportunity to become a C-level executive of a company with just a few years of experience under your belt sounds great, the realities of a real C-level position should tip you off that this may be too good to be true.

Seek out feedback. One of the best ways to address the problems described in the previous paragraph is to get feedback from others. In regards to shopping for gifts, reading online reviews and asking people you know that have used a certain product before helps prevent disappointment after a purchase is made. In your career, you can help prevent a poorly thought out job change through seeking out information from others (e.g. past and present employees of the prospective employer.)

There are also many aspects of your job performance you can improve and develop through feedback. Getting feedback on your work is typically part of your company’s processes (e.g. performance review from a supervisor) but getting feedback from clients and professional acquaintances should also be sought out, especially for feedback on presentations and “soft skills.” Many times the feedback you get from those outside of your company is different, and more useful, than internally. Plus it never hurts to have a wide variety of people providing opinions.

Think of others. In deciding on gifts for others, it is difficult to fully remove one’s personal preferences from the final decision. As much as we consciously try to pick gifts that someone else will like, the decision process is filtered through our own set of values and preferences, whether consciously or not. One way to overcome this is become a good observer. Pay attention to what the person you are buying a gift for talks about and how they talk about different items. You can employ the point from the last paragraph and ask some of the person’s friends what he or she might want as a gift based on what they have observed. Or you just cut to the chase, and ask that person what they would want as a gift.

Professionally, you should always consider your audience. Even if you just turn out sheets of numbers all day, someone else is relying on those sheets of numbers and you should try to include only the information that is important to the person(s) relying on it (and omit the information that is superfluous.)

Think Differently: Lessons from YPSummit 2015

By: Corinn Ploessl VP, Dan Merfeld and I attended NEWaukee’s YPSummit on November 5-6. We were among friends at the Summit as many representatives were Wisconsin YPs we worked with earlier this year for YPWeek 2015. It was great to be back in the company of energetic and encouraging minds. The Summit was all about thinking outside the box – how can we approach our programming with a new spin?; what benefits will truly excite our members?; how can we create and leverage partnerships in our community?

Here are 3 lessons I learned at this year’s YPSummit:

1. Don’t be afraid to take a personal interest and turn it into an event, you may find that many others enjoy the same, weird things as you. Our friend from Appleton’s Pulse Young Professionals Network took her love of thrift store hunting and open market shopping and turned it into something called, The ARTery. She had several hundred people explore the goods at her inaugural event and has since hosted it twice more, expanding the number of artists and attendees each time.

2. Titles are everything

Prime example: NEWaukee hosts a Naked Ballet, no the dancers are not naked, but I bet that was your first thought. The ballet is “naked” because it is a stripped-down performance in an unassuming venue. No tickets, no seats, no stage – just a beautiful display of the combination of art and music.

3. Engage YPs through experience

This one may be obvious to some, but I don’t think I’ve heard anyone put it in the terms I heard at the Summit. If you think about our generation, we ignore more traditional media – newspapers, TV/radio ads, print ads, heck, even email at this point! So, how do you engage a generation that ignores many of the messages that surround us? The answer is to give us an experience. The challenge is getting us to attend, but once we are at an event, the experience will sell itself. The experience is what will keep us coming back.

I’m happy to say that our state, our cheese & beer loving state, is leading the charge for America’s next generation of leaders. Being in a room with these dynamic YPs from all corners of Wisconsin was inspiring and I, we, Magnet are looking forward to sharing and implementing what we learned.