Young Professionals Blog

Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Taking the Leap
by Kristi Martin

Comfort zones are good, but being too comfortable could eventually make one unhappy. As the definition suggests, it is a “range of minimum and maximum exposure or risk within which an entity can operate without coming under undue stress.” Undue stress? No, thank you. No one wants added unwarranted stress; however, after a long time in your comfort zone are you being productive? Are you motivated? Most importantly, are you happy and really reaching your potential?

My answers recently to those questions were, “Sort of, yes,” but I was working to achieve someone else’s goals. So, after 18 years in my comfort zone, I took the leap.

After graduation from college, I jumped into the workforce as a young professional in a job working within my degree. Then I got laid off. I started over with two more jobs working within my field but realized after a weekend getaway that I wanted to own my own bed-and-breakfast. Even though that did not seem the right thing to do for someone in her mid-20s, if it is what would make me happy, why work my whole life doing something I may not enjoy? This trajectory of jumping into the hospitality and tourism industry and experiencing a taste of the entrepreneurial spirit has led me to my new journey today.

I jumped out of my comfort zone in February 2012 and became an entrepreneur starting Charlotte’s first culinary tourism and food tour company, FEAST Food Tours & Culinary Events, Inc.

An entrepreneur is defined as “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” That is someone who operated outside of his or her comfort zone, I suppose, since I have come under undue stress from time to time. I left a comfortable salary and benefits to work for myself. Did I mention that my husband is self-employed with a new business as well? I would not change a thing, have learned a lot, and have recently started pinching myself because I actually have built something and am starting to feel my first signs of growing pains.

Whether you were built with the entrepreneurial spirit or not, you still find ease in your comfort zone. However, if you are feeling just the bit of uneasiness in that zone, it may be time to jump. You may not have the desire to take the leap into “considerable initiative and risk,” but consider challenging yourself to stay productive and motivated to reach your best potential. It may be scary, but with enough planning, courage, and faith, you can do it. Pursue your happiness.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Posted by: Kristi Martin, FEAST Food Tours & Culinary Events, Inc. @ 6:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Monday, July 1, 2013
Access to Healthcare in a “Foreign” Land
by Danilo Formolo

Imagine you are doing mission work in a foreign country and suddenly have a medical emergency. The health care providers at the local hospital speak limited or broken English, and you are having difficulty communicating with each other. This can be quite scary, especially if your situation is acute.

Thanks to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, non-English speakers can gain access to an interpreter and have an excellent patient experience. The Charlotte region is a “tossed salad” of diverse culture; many immigrants moved here from Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa. These immigrants may be experiencing a surgery or the birth of a baby for the first time in the United States. As patients, their minds are placed at ease at the sheer presence of a medical interpreter.

I have worked with Carolinas HealthCare System since 2004 and serve as the director of Language Services for the organization’s hospitals and clinics in the Charlotte region. Our team consists of approximately 60 professional medical interpreters and leaders who are the voice of both the patient and provider. We eliminate disparities by bridging the communication gap for internal and external customers. As we interact with patients and medical professionals on a daily basis, we understand that medical interpreting is more than just being bilingual. Medical interpreters have a vast knowledge of medical terminology and function as a cultural broker as needed. Medical interpreting is a profession and not just a skillset. Some of our teammates have even chosen to pursue a national certification for their careers.

With the challenges of health care such as rising costs and reform, we are often faced with providing the best and most cost-effective service possible. Therefore, we must constantly explore new and innovative techniques for delivery of services. One of those techniques, which we hope to grow, is the use of videoconferencing where a provider may obtain an interpreter via video at the touch of a button.

No matter how much health care changes, and no matter how much we evolve, the mission of our enterprise is to simply serve. Our purpose and drive must always be patient-focused to deliver excellent and culturally-competent health care.

Posted by: Danilo Formolo, Carolinas HealthCare System @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Monday, June 3, 2013
Why Charlotte?
by Joanna Gammon

The No. 1 question I ask when networking is, “What brought you to Charlotte?” Most young professionals are transplants. I refer to Charlotte as a “melting pot,” which is great diversity-wise but it’s almost embarrassing to see more black and gold jerseys rather than blue on game day! Back to the question: do you know what the No. 1 response is? ... Because of the city.

“You mean to tell me it wasn’t for a job?” No.
“Do you have family in the area?” No.
“You just up and moved and you chose Charlotte, North Carolina?” Yep. ... WOW – I can’t say I would do that!

Some of my favorite cities in the U.S. are Portland (Maine), Chicago and Boston, respectively. I love the old buildings, architecture and cities on water. So why are young professionals choosing Charlotte as their next destination? Maybe it has something to do with the Panthers staying in town (thanks to the chamber’s support), the Hornets coming back, it being home of NASCAR or UNC Charlotte finally getting a football team (go 49ers!). Or maybe it’s because of our sweet tea, No. 1 chicken at Price’s Chicken Coop, bow ties or how polite our Southerners are. But I bet it has a lot to do with Charlotte being a “young” city. Still growing. New infrastructure. Strong Fortune 500 presence. Many headquarters relocating here. Great airport. Strong talent pool for dating. Whitewater Center. Entrepreneurial hub. Philanthropic community. Museums. Clean downtown. Fun music venues. Awesome bars and restaurants. The word “y’all.” Beaches, lakes and mountains within driving distance. YPs choose Charlotte because they see opportunity. They see a final destination.

As a former Charlotte Chamber Young Professional board member, our focus was and still is to help attract young professionals to the Charlotte area, and to retain them. If you’ve been around the networking block, help me help others get connected. Make introductions. Get people plugged in and engaged. Leverage resources from the chamber, great leaders in this city or peers to help you and others settle in and find your purpose, your passion. It’s in these simple acts of kindness that help make Charlotte a great city we can all call home.

What a great city we live in! Take advantage of all of the opportunities surrounding us. And remember, next time you’re out networking, ask someone what brought them to Charlotte. You might just find a new reason to fall in love with our city again! To those of you who are new to the area, welcome. To my fellow Charlotteans, enjoy the journey.

Posted by: Joanna Gammon, MadisonGunn, 2013 Charlotte Chamber Young Professional Business Leader Award finalist @ 8:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Friday, May 31, 2013
Charlotte Chamber YP Campaign Team
by Crystal Thomann

The Charlotte Chamber is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization with more than 3,200 members and is comprised of divisions that range from member engagement to economic development and public policy.  The chamber’s various programs and services are funded through memberships, advertising and sponsorships. 

Local companies and groups – small and large – that are invested in ensuring Charlotte remains competitive in the global marketplace come together annually for a 12-week campaign to help support the chamber’s annual operating budget.  Each year, the campaign efforts raise more than 50 percent of the chamber’s annual budget.

The Charlotte Chamber Young Professionals group is excited to announce it just wrapped up its second year participating in the campaign with its very own team!  The team is currently comprised of three board members: Adrienne Schermer, Amy Chiou and Crystal Thomann.  The team was challenged with securing $50,000 towards the overall goal.  For the second year in a row, the Charlotte Chamber YP Team met and exceeded its goal, raising $60,447!

If you are interested in getting involved, the YP campaign team would appreciate your support year-round!  There are an abundance of YP sponsorship opportunities, and our campaign team would be more than happy to help find a good fit for you and your organization.  For more information, please contact Crystal Thomann at 704.330.4674 or

Posted by: Crystal Thomann, Harris Conference Center, CCYPs Board Member & Campaign Chair @ 8:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Raleigh Advocacy Bus Trip – May 8, 2013
Cristin Lee

I don’t know about you, but the last time that I was on a bus headed for a destination, I was a summer camp counselor and we were going to a waterpark. Needless to say, this Raleigh Advocacy Bus Trip organized by Charlotte Chamber of Commerce was remarkably different. A fellow CCYP board member, Jessica Hreha, sent an email to the CCYP Board expressing interest in participating and asked if any other board members planned to attend and represent the CCYPs. I had seen the event listing and had thought the trip might be too political for my position with my company. After some thought, I realized that I need to understand how North Carolina’s government works and what the impact is on Charlotte’s business community as a young professional in Charlotte.

I decided to approach this bus trip as a Cliff’s Notes review of the legislative process complete with a section on Lobbying 101. I set aside my political beliefs and became determined to understand the process. The day was a whirlwind around the capital, full of meetings with state senators and representatives, time spent on the House chamber floor with Speaker Tillis and “walking the halls.” Our delegation met with five House representatives and two senators that represent Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. With each presentation, we heard an overview of pending bills regarding the state budget, the proposed gradual elimination of state income taxes and insight into the airport authority from the state’s perspective.

Besides being incredibly fascinating, the exposure to the inner workings of Raleigh gave me the background to understand the agenda of the annual bus trip. The Charlotte Chamber has a legislative agenda for 2013-2014 that focuses on the following key issues: taxes, transportation, job creation, regulatory reform and education. If you would like to see the details of this agenda PLEASE CLICK HERE. These focal points directly affect Charlotte’s ability to create a competitive business advantage over other cities in our state and throughout the Southeast region. Overall, I found the 2013 Raleigh Advocacy Bus Trip to be very informative as well as an excellent networking opportunity. Just like when I used Cliff’s Notes in high school, upon reflection, I want to read the whole book!

— Cristin Lee, Charlotte Chamber Young Professionals Board Member & Business Development Liaison for Party Reflections
Jessica Hreha

To piggyback on Cristin’s sentiments and the reminder to just read the darn whole book as any teacher might say, the Raleigh bus trip was informative and fun – and everyone should go. Yes, there are those in our companies who may focus on government relations/affairs, or business owners who need to lobby through the chamber to the state, but there is also the rest of us who are committed to the economic development and sustainability of the region we now call home. And it’s important to understand the process, how it works and what’s going on. Otherwise, how can you actually create a truly informed opinion and corresponding action? We’re all very proud of the growth in Charlotte, but it did not happen easily and it did not happen overnight. There are a lot of other things that go on that affect the business community and region we live in.

The date for the 2014 Raleigh bus trip isn’t out yet, but when you see the announcements remember this article and our experiences. Get involved. Understand the process. Make a difference. Oh – and have a little fun networking and socializing while you’re at it!

— Jessica Hreha, Charlotte Chamber Young Professionals Board Member
Posted by: Cristin Lee, Party Reflections, CCYPs Board Member
Jessica Hreha, CCYPs Board Member @ 12:00:00 am
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