Street Talk: MSU’s breakfast of champions


Two former White House advisers will tell their war stories at a breakfast event in GR Feb. 27, put on by the MSU Michigan Political Leadership Program.

Best-selling contemporary authors and political campaign analysts Nicolle Wallace and Douglas Sosnik will speak at MPLP’s 20th annual dinner Feb. 26 in Livonia and again the next morning at the 13th annual breakfast in downtown Grand Rapids at the JW Marriott.

Wallace and Sosnik are outspoken nationally on presidential politics, crisis communications and political campaigns in books, magazines and television.

Wallace is a best-selling author, a political analyst for MSNBC, a top strategist for the GOP, and the former special assistant to the president and director of communications at the White House under President George W. Bush. She’s also the author of political novels including “Eighteen Acres” and “It’s Classified.”

Sosnik was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, playing a key role in policy, strategy and communications. He now advises Fortune 100 corporations and the National Basketball Association. He’s co-author of “Applebee’s America: What Political, Business and Religious Leaders Can Learn from Each Other.”

MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research houses the MPLP, which trains 24 Fellows each year, selected through competitive application and interviews. For 10 months, they meet one weekend each month around Michigan, where they learn from some of the state’s top leaders, tour businesses and communities, and take part in hands-on exercises to expand budgeting, communications and policy analysis skills.

The newest graduates of MPLP include Grand Rapidians Barb Holt, board chair of The Rapid, and Chelsea Knauf of MFP Automation Engineering. Another is Jacob Santangelo of Holland, CEO of Adventurate.

The dinner and breakfast raise most of the funds to provide MPLP fellowships valued at $12,000 each.

Both events are open to the public. Tickets can be purchased by calling MPLP Administrator Linda Cleary at (517) 353-0891.

Wet weekend

A record 103 breweries and 1,035 beers will be featured at the 10th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival, Friday and Saturday at Fifth Third Ballpark.

Tickets for Friday’s session, which will run from 3-7 p.m., remain available for $45 each at Overall, organizers said 1,000 fewer tickets are available for Friday, meaning slightly smaller crowds and shorter lines. Friday also will feature special beer releases and tappings, a live ice-carving demonstration by The Ice Guru Randy Finch, sideshow acts and street performers, musical entertainment and fireworks (weather permitting). If the Friday session does not sell out prior to the event, tickets will be available at the gate for $50. There will not be tickets at the gate on Saturday.

Earlier last summer, the Brewers Guild announced the expansion of its popular Winter Beer Festival to a two-day event to accommodate growing demand. Tickets went on sale Dec. 4 and Saturday’s sold out in record time — 6,500 tickets sold in less than a half-hour.

“We are pleased to offer a second day to allow more thirsty Michigan craft beer fans an opportunity to experience this festival,” said Scott Graham, executive director of the Brewers Guild. “I don’t ever want to take for granted how enthusiastic our fans get when it comes to attending our festivals. It is both humbling and overwhelming that our festivals are so popular. It’s a testament to Michigan’s great craft-brewing culture.”

Lead by example

Boss’s Day isn’t until October, which should give you plenty of time to determine whether you are a boss or a leader when it comes to workplace initiative.

Every employee has a boss; however, not every employee has a leader. A boss is the top of the chain of command and gives employees direction, and is often the owner or manager in a small business.

While bosses are considered necessary, often businesses lack a leader who goes above and beyond, setting examples for their employees and empowering them to follow, says Terry Powell, founder of AdviCoach, a business coaching and advisory service for small to mid-size businesses with a 30-year track record.

“The way an individual in charge approaches his or her leadership role can have a great impact on how a small business operates and grows,” Powell said. “Not only being a boss but truly becoming a leader is essential when running a small business. Bosses tell people what to do to make sure the business thrives. The leader does this, as well, but a leader shows them how and explains why.”

He said there are a number of differences between bosses and leaders:

Bosses drive their employees to success; leaders coach them toward their best performance.

Bosses instill intimidation; leaders inspire collaboration.

Bosses set expectations; leaders model them.

Bosses use a lot of “I’s”; leaders use many “we’s.”

Bosses take credit for each success; leaders give credit to others when credit is due.

“When analyzing what a great leader embodies and what a boss possesses, the differences are pretty clear,” he said. “It’s essential for small business owners to understand that the best business owners have a balance between the two archetypes.”

A thousand words

The State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section has launched a new “Everyday Justice” Instagram photo competition. There is a separate contest for middle school students (grades six through eight) and high school students (grades nine through 12).

To enter the contest, students must take a photo that illustrates what people in their community can do to exemplify justice every day, then upload the photo to Instagram on or before March 14. Middle school students should use the hashtag #SBMjusticeeverydayMS, while high schoolers can use #SBMjusticeeverydayHS.

For both contests, participants can enter the contest as many times as they wish, according to Laura Kubit of Lakeshore Legal Aid. She said they must keep captions to photos within 140 characters in length (Twitter rules!). They must also obtain a parent or legal guardian's permission before submitting their entries.

Each finalist will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Each winner also will have lunch with a legal leader in his or her community.

Career change

Instead of promoting a photo contest, maybe the state bar would be better off letting students know where the real money is when it comes to legal careers.

The Associated Press last week reported lobbyists spent a near record total of more than $37 million in 2014 trying to influence legislation in Michigan.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network said lobbyists' spending in 2014 totaled $37,038,329. That's just short of the record spending reported for 2012, a total of $37,152,883.

The AP said several lobbyists' reports for the last few months of 2014 still need to be filed, so it's possible the 2014 total could set a new record.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network says the state’s disclosure laws leave the public “largely in the dark about lobbyists’ activity.” The law doesn't require lobbyists to disclose the specific causes they promoted.

Becky Bechler, who lobbies for Kent County, probably has nothing to hide. But it still would be nice to find some information on the county’s website.

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