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Our Blog

Real World Experiences: The Evolving CIO and CMO Relationship

This year’s Capitalize on Illinois conference will focus on the CIO/CMO relationship and how both chiefs can work together for the good of the business. Ray Conrad, Chief Executive Officer at Tahoe Partners; Amy Widicus, Managing Director at Tahoe Partners; and Tanya Mena, Director Web Channel at Health Care Services Corporation (HCSC) will be presenting a case study titled, “Real World Experiences: The Evolving CIO and CMO Relationship.” I had an opportunity to sit down with Ray to get a glimpse into his perspective on the subject.

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Open Minds


“A Quote from the Universe”

“In the sky there is no distinction of east and west; people create the distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.” - Buddah

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It's Bigger Than Being a Nonprofit

Every person affects 1000 other people over the course of their lifetime. At i.c.stars, we believe that a leader can affect 10,000 people. But when we start to think about how to understand the kinds of leadership we need in all of our communities, we start with a very simple question:


Does Everyone Have the Same Opportunities?

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Freaky Friday Fun: The Power of Changing Perspectives

Matt Hancock, CEO of ChiTech, is a good friend of i.c.stars and an important part of the local ecosystem of education, technology learning and leadership development. He and I both had the idea to do a Freaky Friday type switch with each other. (This refers to the 70s book and Disney movie about a girl and her mom who switched places. In doing so, they ended up learning so much about each other that it strengthened their relationship.)

We made the switch for one full day. Matt came to i.c.stars and spent the day in my shoes, and I went to ChiTech, where I was in his. It was one of the most fun days of the year.

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IT Marketing Company Of The Future



This week, I interviewed one of our main staff members, Brandies Dunagan. She is behind the scenes most of the time. But looking at the embedded infographic at the bottom of this post, which details the future of marketing agencies (especially the technology aspects of agencies), I knew it was the perfect time to thrust her out into the forefront.

Discovering Opportunities for Collaboration With Other Nonprofits

Let’s flip the script. In the nonprofit world, we always hear about doing more with less. My fundraising career has led me to believe we can all do more with MORE.

In the nonprofit community, there is a fear that collaboration results in less funding from the funders. Fundraisers and funders alike recognize that this is a misconception, and they are working hard to change that mindset.

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Just Love


“A Quote from the Universe”

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.” - Mother Teresa

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Where do you stand?


“A Quote from the Universe”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” - Martin Luther King Jr.,

CIOs and CMOs Working Together... Mass Hysteria!

The title of this blog post is a play on my favorite Ghostbusters quote.

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Are we listening?


“A Quote from the Universe”

“A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both.” - James Madison

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Twitter Hashtag Strategies: Broad Hash Tagging Leads to Clicks!

Over the last several months we sought to understand how our clients twitter activities were performing. The catch here is that we didn’t just want to look at the traffic that gets driven back to their site. We wanted to understand what kind of clicks were generated for sharing 3rd party content. Our technical team was able to build a service to accomplish this (for geeks: they “unpack” twitter links (t.co links) into their underlying bit.ly’s, and then ask bit.ly for a click count).

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A conversation with Marge Hayes: Leveraging Data, People, and Information

Sandee: We are back today with my dear friend Marge Hayes. Last week, we had a fantastic discussion about cutting-edge technology, data, listening and Northwest Industries. We’re continuing our conversation with Marge today. She’s going to share some thoughts on how to leverage different things in business, and also about her good friend Chestina Hughes, who, sadly, passed away recently.

Finding Funding in Unlikely Places: "Marketing Dollars"

Nonprofits are missing out on an incredible funding opportunity.

Corporations spend considerably more on marketing than on donations to nonprofits. What if corporate marketing dollars were aligned with your nonprofit organization’s passion?

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Welcome to the Kitchen Table: "No one can succeed alone"

Every good thing starts in the kitchen. It is the heart of the home. That is where we receive nourishment for our bodies and our souls.

The Technical Path to Better Non-profits

I had the opportunity to sit down with Lance K. Russell to gain his insight on the state of technology in the not for profit sector. Lance K. Russell is an entrepreneur who founded and grew PointBridge into one of the top Microsoft consultancies in the United States, with nearly 100 employees and $20MM in annual revenue. He successfully sold the business in early 2012 to Perficient (NASDAQ: PRFT). He also led all marketing, finance, HR, recruiting and administration functions, and previously oversaw all sales and business development, including the relationship with Microsoft. He is currently serving on the boards of both The Cara Program and Chicago Tech Academy High School.

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What Do You Stand For?

On Friday, February 15th, we celebrated the commencement of our 27th Cycle here at i.c.stars. I am so proud of all of the new residents: Bo, Ashley, Shawn, Nicholas, Tyeshia, Absalom, Julio, Erik, Mike, Melanie, Christopher and Derek.

Marcus Cobb, the Keynote Speaker, gave a very inspirational talk about looking in the mirror and knowing that you are not alone.

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Discovering DISQUS

Can you share some insight about what you’ve learned about Disqus?

I’m going to be blogging about Disqus a lot. I think it’s the long sought-after missing piece of what we used to call “web 2.0”. We’ve had commenting capabilities on blogs for years. We’ve had discussion forums for even longer. Let’s be honest we have never had meaningful b2b conversations on either of them.

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A conversation with Marge Hayes: Lesson 2 Tribune Company

One way you can encourage the use of metrics is to have a president or CEO like Mr. Heinemann. It’s better when it comes from the top-down. It sort of forces people in the ranks to do it, too. When you see that top management is happy with something, you know that’s the right way to go.

At Northwest, Mr. Heinemann created his own set of reports with the data he wanted to see. On certain days, you got certain reports. We made sure that the reports were accurate and timely.

This was a different way of doing things. Everyone held some responsibility for being informed.

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What are the simple steps to write great content for a website?

What are the simple steps to write great content for a website. From your experience what are some of the best practices to follow to write great content for a new website or an existing website?

A Fresh Perspective on Education

Since receiving my undergraduate degree, I have been adamant that I would never go back to school. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy my time at Columbia. I did very much.

Nonetheless, even now, in my 30’s, I still have nightmares where I forget to study for a final or forget my locker combination.

While at Columbia, my education was focused on learning from professors who worked in the industry. Project based learning and internships were really big for me. I always look back on my time at Columbia as an opportunity-maker.

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Anchoring into Viral Content - TED

Last week we were in our Kissmetrics reporting system, and we noticed that someone came to the blog by Googling, “The First Follower is What Turns a Lone Nut…” That line is from a video on TED that I had blogged about a couple of months back. I wondered, “How in the world did that query end up in my blog?”

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A conversation with Marge Hayes: Lesson 1 Northwest Industries

One of my favorite things is spending time with my dear friend Marge. She is an amazing storyteller. I love Marge’s stories because they span across politics, gender, technology and leadership.

13 Nerds Walk Into a Bar

13 nerds walk into a bar.

No, this is not the beginning of an epic joke. It’s the story of how one event was able to bring like-minded people together.

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Eric's Answers: Are infographics a fad or are important to link building and brand promotion?

I recently submitted my answer to a question on “LinkedIn Answers” posted by a user named Claire. The question is asking if infographics are a fad or are they really important to link building and brand promotion?. Please view the thread here

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Eric's Answers: Are we at a point where video is replacing written content on websites?

I recently submitted my answer to a question on “LinkedIn Answers” posted by a user named Jim. The question is asking if we are at a point where video is replacing written content on websites. Please view the thread here

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Eric's Answers: Should you outsource your Social Media function at all?

I recently submitted my answer to a question on “LinkedIn Answers” posted by a user named Ravi. The question is asking for some advice on whether or not social media should be outsourced or kept in-house. Please view the thread here

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itDuzzit: A Simple Way to Keep Track of the Things that Matter

One of the biggest problems we’ve tried to solve for a long time is how to keep track of things that are unstructured in nature.

Things like:

  • remembering to record how many times someone lands a new job
  • keeping track of how many resumés have been sent out
  • keeping track of the thank-yous that go out to our volunteers every day
  • keeping track of things that we find on the internet that we’d like to blog about or we want to comment on
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It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

It is the most wonderful time of the year. It is a time when we wonder what the next year has in store for us, and we share in the wonder of receiving and giving gifts.

At i.c.stars, we believe that leadership is making opportunities for others. In our program, one of the measures of leadership is how many opportunities we make in business, community, and on our team.

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Eric's Answers: Should a Company’s Social Media Presence be Directly Connected to a Personality?

I recently submitted my answer to a question on “LinkedIn Answers” posted by a user named Iris. The question is asking for some advice on how to handle a company’s social media presence. Please view the thread here

Culture Shock: How to Help Your New Hires

Starting a new job can be nerve-wracking. Will I fit in? Will I have things to talk about with my co-workers? Will my work be appreciated? We all face these questions no matter what our role.

A Measurable Impact

Initial placement rate:
95%
Industry retention rate:
81%
College attendance rate:
44%
Alumni actively engaged in their communities:
72%
Average 12-month earnings before program:
$9,846
Average 12-month earnings after program:
$57,240