Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Announces Kristy Jelenik, Development Director

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Announces Kristy Jelenik, Development Director November 14, 2016, NORWALK, CT – With a passion for promoting philanthropy creatively with the greatest impact for positive change for the Fairfield County community, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation has announced the appointment of Kristy Jelenik as the Development Director. Kristy Jelenik joined Fairfield County’s Community…

via Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Announces Development Director — Fairfield County’s Community Foundation

TechXel Stamford, Enterprise Accelerator, Launches on January 18th

TechXel Stamford Venture Experts Series: Doug Campbell on Team Building –Wednesday January 18th, 6:00 PM-9:00 PM – Workpoint Stamford 290 Harbor Drive

TechXel Stamford, the first enterprise accelerator in Fairfield County, is launching on January 18th to better prepare tech ventures to compete in a shrinking pre-revenue funds pool. Their timing is perfect since start-up creation nationally is currently at a 40 year low.

The January 18th session focuses on team building. Common wisdom is that investors care even more about the people who will execute an idea and the strategies to do so than the idea itself. There are so many great ideas that lack the right people to execute. Their message is that investors invest in people not technology.

Series Description: As the first in its 12 week Wednesday evening series of expert presentations on elements for successful venture development, TechXel Stamford LLC, presents distinguished author, speaker, executive coach and entrepreneur, Doug Campbell, The Success Coach (www.thesuccesscoach.com),  Register here::

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/techxel-stamford-venture-experts-series-doug-campbell-on-team-building-tickets-30924869116

 

Mason Dixon Smokehouse: Drawing a New Line for BBQ – Stamford, CT — OmNomCT

Once upon a time, Mason Dixon was a line that clearly divided the North and South, but now–in Stamford–Mason Dixon is a Smokehouse that clearly divides killer BBQ from, um, well, pretty much all the rest. Yup, as we shared back on October 1, Pitmaster Nestor Laracuente was on a mission to open up a new BBQ joint, a joint that […]

via Mason Dixon Smokehouse: Drawing a New Line for BBQ – Stamford, CT — OmNomCT

Do You Have an Empty Wall?

 

I recently attended an artist exhibit at Fez, 227 Summer Street in Stamford. The event was part of their Artist in Residence Program, and it featured Kathy Muir, a Scottish photographer and singer. The room was filled with people discussing initiatives to increase venues for art and cultural experience throughout the state. I am interested in these initiatives since they impact quality of life in CT, which impacts demand for real estate and property values. I had a few questions for Kathy, especially since her photography is truly “wall worthy” and would enhance any room in your home. Her photos are mesmerizing representations of nature, people, places and still life. You can see them at http://kathymuirphotography.com/

 

Can you share the story of how you became an artist?

That is a great question. In all honesty, the first time I thought of myself as an artist was only three years ago when I moved to the States. I had been writing for oh, at least 20 years but had never gone out there and performed. The reason for this was quite simple: I wrote songs because I wanted to write, never really thinking about financial reward or otherwise. I often draw a parallel to a painter. I mean, a painter paints because he needs to; it’s in his creative genes, not because he expects to make money.

Anyway, when I moved to the States a friend of mine heard my music and thought I was really good. He called me an artist. I denied it at first, but over time I finally gave in!

With that newfound belief, I have been pretty relentless in expressing my art as extensively as possible.  I think I am in the studio working on my 35th song.

First and foremost, I am a singer-songwriter. However, I enjoy writing not only lyrics but short stories, stories inspired by images, or poetry inspired by images.

With regard to photography, like many folks I have always taken photographs. Again, I only started to pay more attention as to how I was taking my shots in the last four or five years. I think that with any art form, or any skill for that matter, it takes many hours of effort to actually hone. I found myself increasingly drawn to black and white imagery combined with a square format instead of the regular 4 x 6 type format. There is something about the square format that is challenging and more satisfying.

 

How do you think art improves communities?

I often say that art is not a creative delicacy it’s a creative need. Often people can think that “art” is fancy; that it is only for a select few.  In fact, art is for everyone and it is this alone that helps to create a bridge for communities.  There are so many ways in which art can be embedded in a community. I know of a church group back home in Edinburgh called Messy Church.  On Sunday afternoons moms and dads come to the local community center and watch their children paint, draw, play games, and even join in themselves! There is a group in Boston called ArtLifting that empowers homeless and disabled individuals through the sale of their artwork.  These are just two examples.  Closer to Stamford we can’t ignore the wonderful work done by the Loft Artists Association, a diverse group dedicated to sharing their appreciation of the power of art with the community in which they work.

As you can see, Art is everywhere in the community!

 

What advice would you give home owners in regard to choosing art for their homes?

I would say it is a personal choice. Also, I think that you should consider the space in which you are showing art. The setting of a painting, drawing our photograph can either dilute or enhance the energy of the art we see before us.

I would say consider the light in the room, any reflections that may hinder the appreciation of the art; and consider how much space should be given around the art. If you are still unsure, go to galleries in and around Fairfield County as they give some great examples of framing and the space between.

 

Here’s the info about the Artist in Residence Program at the Fez:

The Fez supports artists of many types, both musically and visually. The Artist in Residence Program allows artists to proudly showcase local artists in our restaurant through exhibition in our dining room. The restaurant, moderate in size, offers an intimate viewing. Most important, the space offers excellent exposure with a steady stream of new patrons.  The Fez seats at least 350 people per week.

Current Exhibit: Featuring the Photographic Genius of Kathy Muir
“PLACES IN OUR MINDS”  February 8th – May 14th

You can learn more about Kathy at http://kathymuirphotography.com/

Do You Need a Coach?

Even though I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs, I am sure I could have used a coach when I started to work for myself 15 years ago. Taking the risk to build something on my own took lots of courage, discipline and mental fortitude. Also, it took more time than I expected to find the right mentors and best practices to build my business. I needed to learn to run my real estate and consulting business efficiently and profitably; and most importantly I needed to make sure that my services aligned with my values. I coach could have helped me clarify my most important goals early on, align them with my values (educating/empowering clients; and protecting and growing their assets), and prioritize my work accordingly.

Home buying, like starting a business, marks a complete lifestyle change; and the process you use to make the change is as important as the change itself. I recently spoke to Jean Haynes about her coaching business. If you are considering your next big change, learn more at www.jeanhaynes.com.

 

Who is your typical client?

While every client is unique, the women I work with usually share these five characteristics:

  1. openness to change and a willingness to challenge the status quo
  2. excitement about what’s possible for them (though they may need help getting clarity on this)
  3. commitment to being  a leader in their own lives and doing the work to make things happen
  4. a sense of adventure and curiosity
  5. a desire for more joy, fulfillment and the opportunity to make a difference

 

Why has the coaching world grown so much in the past few years?

A recent report estimated that the coaching industry is growing at about 18% per year and that growth is expected to continue.

At its core, coaching is about helping people successfully navigate change.  Today we’re experiencing an accelerated rate of change in almost every aspect of our lives. We are working, living and communicating in new ways. Often there are no precedents. This can create fear, uncertainty and stress that lead to inaction. Coaching can empower people to take charge of their lives, act with confidence and be happier.

Here are the top five benefits clients report:

  1. Expanded understanding of the cycle of change and how to navigate it
  2. Tools and exercises that increase self-awareness and help determine personal priorities
  3. Ability to shift thinking and harness the power of a positive mindset
  4. Clarity of purpose and freedom from information overload
  5. Practical action steps and the confidence to take them

 

What are the common misunderstandings or myths concerning entrepreneurship?

You can do it alone. I’ve seen entrepreneurs struggle because they try to totally DIY their businesses. They’re stressed out and exhausted from trying to do it all. Eventually, something gets overlooked or mistakes start to happen. No matter how hard-working and talented you are, you don’t know it all and you can’t do it all by yourself.

The most successful entrepreneurs I know are skilled at recognizing where they need help, strategic in finding it and – this can be a tough one – willing to delegate in order to grow.

A great idea and a lot of passion will lead to success. Yes – you need a sound business idea and a lot of enthusiasm to start a business. But it is critical to have a market for what you are selling. I’ve seen eager entrepreneurs launch programs that they love and have spent a lot of time and energy creating, only to see them flop because they didn’t do their homework first.

Success comes from understanding who your ideal client is and the problem you solve that they’d pay money to have. The sweet spot is where your product or services intersect with their needs.

It’s all about the money. While there is huge potential to make money as an entrepreneur, I don’t believe amassing a fortune is the key driver for most entrepreneurs. I see motivation coming from a real desire to solve problems, improve lives and make the world better is some way.

In my experience, entrepreneurs who are deeply connected to their why are able to weather the ups and downs of running a business with greater resilience and success.

 

What types of events do you do?

I host monthly events and workshops for women. Each one centers on a personal empowerment theme.  We cover topics such as…

  • connecting with your purpose so you love what you do
  • treating yourself with compassion and letting go of negative self-talk
  • how to get your mojo back when things get off track and you feel stuck
  • ways to find more balance when you’re stressed out from trying to juggle it all
  • how to create “goals with soul” that align with your values and your heart

These groups are lively and thought-provoking.  Attendees get personal insights and practical strategies. But even more importantly, they have a chance to connect with like-minded women and share their experiences. Being part of a group gives you support, expands your network and is also a lot of fun!

Stamford Partnership Helps the City and Fairfield County

I recently met with Jackie Lightfield, the Executive Director of Stamford Partnership. I was excited by her experience, passion for creating great cities, and leadership style. Here are a few questions I posed.

What types of initiatives do you work on and what are your primary initiatives for 2016? 

The Stamford Partnership has been actively engaged in many different areas that touch on the quality of life of living, working and visiting Stamford. We have been focusing on a variety of projects that will improve the visitor experience at the Transportation Center, and promoting all the awesome things that are around the city. Our big project is having that info out as an app and using iBeacons to localize info to specific places. Since mobile devices have really become how people get their news and navigate to places, developing this app keeps Stamford connected to the digital world.

Since many of my clients live all over Fairfield County, can you touch on how the progress of Stamford impacts the entire county as a whole?

Stamford is one of the few cities in Connecticut that is experiencing consistent population growth, especially in the under 40 demographic. This creates an economic ecosystem that supports the entire region. It is kind of like a smaller scale version of what is happening around San Francisco or Brooklyn. New ideas and new opportunities radiate out into the region from Stamford because of our large pool of talented people, goods and services.

What is your relationship with the City of Stamford?

The Stamford Partnership was created over 36 years ago by the City of Stamford as its economic development arm. Since then, the Partnership has worked closely with the city on many initiatives. Currently, we are working on several economic development initiatives ranging from business startup programs to developing a business recruitment and retention strategy plan.

How can residents of Stamford and beyond contribute to your goals?

We’d like to engage residents in helping make Stamford an awesome place to explore and grow. That means we are always looking for people who would like to help be part of any of our projects and suggest new ones. Any city is the sum of its people. Stamford has always had a strong and active community that is doing so many wonderful things. It is great to be a part of that. We’d like to see more people sharing stories, about Stamford and what makes Stamford a special place. Anyone can do that, but collectively it makes a better impact.

For more about Stamford Partnership, check out their new web site: http://stamfordpartnership.com/

 

 

Do we need condominiums at Harbor Point in Stamford?

I have been thinking about Harbor Point, the new 100 acre development in Stamford, and the absence of condominium development. A few years ago, I was told that the developer of the rental buildings, BLT, no longer plans to build condos. Further, the city of Stamford put no mechanisms in place that required BLT to do so. So, the lack of condo development continues to exist in Stamford, as well as throughout the country, even though there is demand for new condo inventory.

In my business as a Realtor and a small business consultant, I see having newer places to live as a growing demand for home buyers: Downsizers want low maintenance and proximity to NYC; Investors look to build a diverse portfolio of condos to keep long-term; and renters are tired of ever-increasing cost but are used to new construction and modern amenities.

The shifting lifestyle needs of Stamford residents are consistent with homebuyer trends in major metros throughout the U.S. They seek higher levels of convenience, less reliance on cars, and walkable neighborhoods. There is also a desire for smaller, renovated, functional spaces with minimal maintenance and energy efficiencies. Access to parks, meeting places, and proximity to the diversity of talent and culture are the signature of great cities. While buying a single family house can satisfy all of these needs, there is not enough single family housing in Stamford to meet this particular demand, nor is there enough variety in the current housing selection.

The most frequently asked question I hear in regard to Harbor Point in Stamford is, “When are they building condos?”. I doubt that I am the only realtor who has heard this, so why are they not being built?

If the answer came from a large single developer’s perspective, it would be about cost. The cost of building a condo building and selling it is about 30% more expensive than building a rental buildling and selling it. This is primarily because legal fees must be paid to create and close on each condo. I have also read recently in an article in Next City that financing for condos is considered more risky by lenders, so financing is more expensive and assess to funds is more of a challenge.

It seems to me that it is time for the city to provide aggressive incentives to build condos and help smaller developers and land owners overcome barriers to condo development. There would be numerous benefits for Stamford, especially if we encourage cutting edge, sustainable design. These actions would be immeasurable in terms of making Stamford a truly great place to live.

In my experience, homeowners stay committed to living in a place longer than renters and they become invested in their communities. According to a 2011 report by NAR, “American Attitudes about Homeownership,” homeowners are more satisfied with their quality of life, feel more connected to their community, report better health, are more likely to know neighbors, and engage in community life. Furthermore, since homeowners are more likely to accumulate more wealth over time than renters, home owners add to the collective wealth of our cities.

And let’s not forget aesthetics and coolness!  Condo developments can be very different in design, function, and quality compared to rental buildings. A good condo development should take into account the owners who live there longer and perhaps want a higher quality of construction, design, and floor plan. For example, many condo owners will demand storage space, private outdoor space, deeded parking, and customization in design. Since homeowners typically start buying in their early thirties, their needs are often different than many renters who are in their twenties.

Good condos can improve property values in a way different from rental development, specifically in regard to social, sustainable, and economic impact. Rental buildings are often built to be sold within 5 years; and when new owners of these buildings buy them, the owners plan capital investments based on projected rental income and disposition strategies. Since the aim of owning a rental building is to maximize profit long-term for large investors, they are not necessarily built with focus on what many long-term residents need and want.

It would be great if the city of Stamford became proactive in reaching out to the owners of land in Harbor Point and executed a plan that could benefit everyone. Specifically in regard to Harbor; the right mix of renters and homeowners will attract a broader range of businesses and cultural outlets to the neighborhood and therefore boost the convenience of living there, which in turn will boost property values further for all of Stamford, even the older condo inventory that does exist.

The potential for Harbor Point to be a great urban development hinges on the creativity and proactive strategy development by the city of Stamford and its urban redevelopment commission, not private developers that may or may not be invested in Stamford’s future. While BLT has done a great job in starting the process of a better Harbor Point, it is up to our leaders (along with our help, of course) to build upon this progress with a plan for more housing diversity. I know the city of Stamford is up to the task and I am eager to see results.