John Vance Automotive Group, Three Generations of Business Success and Community Impact

John Vance Automotive Group is a mainstay in Guthrie, Perry and Miami, Oklahoma and represents twelve automotive brands in 3 communities. I knew they invested in each community but, when they became the lead sponsor of Guthrie’s Red Brick Nights summer concert series, I had to learn more about them, their history and their motivation. I recently spent a few minutes with Megan Vance Ochs, Vice President to hear their story.

Good morning Megan. John Vance Autogroup has been around for a long time. Tell me a bit about the history.
This industry is in our blood. Both sides of my family have been connected with the automotive industry for 3 generations. My grandparents, Mike and Carolyn Vance, were big supporters and always very well respected in the dealership. My grandfather, Phil Galleher, was a service representative for Pontiac for 30 years. That’s who inspired my dad, John Vance, to started selling cars at Ernie Miller Pontiac where my Grandmother Mary was the Controller. My dad worked his way up to General Sales Manager and then, in 1983 he and my mom bought the first dealership in Guthrie. Family is a huge part of our business. My Uncle Mark worked here until he passed away in 2005. My brother Garrett, cousin Derek and I plan to carry on the legacy. 

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The Guthrie Dealership was probably a lot different in 1983 than it is today, correct?
Oh yeah. When he bought it, it was a small, GM dealership in a wheat field. He grew that business and then began adding more. He became the youngest Cadillac dealer in the nation. He then added a Chrysler and Ford store; added a mobility department; then more stores in Kansas, Perry, Texas and Miami, Oklahoma. We’ve since sold the Texas and Kansas stores and started our latest venture, Vance Insurance, May of 2014. It’s been a great run and we’re grateful for it.

You grew up in and around the dealership businesses. But, you haven’t always worked there.
That’s right. My first job was at the Prairie Rose Cafe which was next to Guthrie’s Blue Bell saloon. I worked at Granny Had One and a carpet store during college then, my first “real” job was at the dealership.

“I love to make things better—people, processes, you know—with whatever ability and means I have”

That’s interesting. How did those roles prepare you for what you do today?
Well, traditionally, people advance in the auto sales industry through the sales path or finance path. In my role in Customer Relations, I was really focused on process development, process optimization and customer experience.

The core and heart of our business is taking care of people. That’s how I’m wired as a person and that’s what my prior experience shaped in me. It was really a great way to start my career in the automotive business.

Before I go much further into your career path, I have to ask, what makes you tick? What do you love in your work?
Wow.

[Pause]

I love to make things better—people and processes—with whatever ability and means I have. I love to see people grow. I love doing what I can to help them. I also love making processes better, easier and more efficient.

Thanks Megan. How did you land your current role at the dealership?
When my son was a year old, I got a call from the dealership to run our business development center. I brought a service oriented approach and worked hard to improve all the processes to make the shopping and buying experience more efficient for our customers.

What happened next?
In 2007, I became the General Manager. Which was interesting. It was right on the front end of a recession that hit everybody hard including the car businesses we ran.

I remember that period of time, 2007 to 2010, or longer. It was really tough. As the new General Manager, I can imagine it was stressful. That said, how do you manage stress?
[laughing]

I pray.

And, I have to choose my mindset. Stress is always around. I have to recognize that and choose to be optimistic. I also work hard to focus on doing the things in my control with that spirit of optimism.

Megan, you invest in the communities you serve through corporate sponsorship and charitable gifts. Why?
That’s easy. It’s the right thing to do.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t spend money on advertising, we’d just do good work and invest back into the communities we serve and let people tell our story. Our main source of business has always been repeat customers and referrals.

You partnered with James Long and some others through the years to launch and grow Guthrie’s Red Brick Nights. Tell me about that.
I love music. I love Guthrie and James is really enjoyable to work with. He’s a true professional.

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Are you surprised it’s drawing tens of thousands of people to Guthrie each season?
I’m happy, but certainly not shocked. We had a vision for the event. It is just the perfect event at the right time for the right community.

“Passion. That’s it. Passion drives perseverance. Going in, you have to know it’s not going to be easy—nothing comes easy. I think it was Einstein that said something like, ‘you can’t fail until you quit.’”

What do you find most rewarding?
Making a difference through all of our community investments is most rewarding. Helping teachers, students, communities grow and enjoy one another is always rewarding. With Red Brick Nights, I think it’s so fun to see many, many people outside of Guthrie show up. Last month I was in Nashville for a meeting and ran into some local musicians trying to catch a break. When I told them I was from Oklahoma they said the had been trying to get into this new venue called “the red brick”. I had not even mentioned Guthrie. The word is getting out about about what is happening in our little town!

O.K., you told me you listen to music every night. What’s on your play list?
Ha! Everything…Pearl Jam, CCR, Tom Petty, Citizen Cope, Levi Parham, Turnpike Troubadours. I could list more…

Alright Megan, last question: Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs and your fellow business owners?
[laughter]

I’m trying not to sound like a fortune cookie…

Passion. That’s it. Passion drives perseverance. Going in, you have to know it’s not going to be easy—nothing comes easy. I think it was Einstein that said something like, “you can’t fail until you quit.”

Thank you Megan. You’ve inspired me and others to keep going and keep making a difference as we work to make a living. I appreciate you.
You’re welcome.


About Made Possible By
Made Possible By is the new way community minded companies manage and share their grant, sponsorship and charitable gift requests. Made Possible By is reinventing the community investment process for companies with an easy to use, online toolset that saves them time and money and helps them earn community and customer trust. Learn more at our website or blog.

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Environmental Management Services: From a Garage Startup to Nationwide Coverage

A couple years ago, when Made Possible By was just an idea, I had lunch with Terry Bobo (Thanks Dan Newton!), founder of Environmental Management Services. Shortly thereafter, he introduced me to Kristal Flury, EMI’s HR Coordinator, point person on community engagement and a 20 year veteran of the company. EMI was one our first customers. It’s been a privilege and inspiring to learn about business, life and community impact from these great people. Kristal and I visited to talk about EMI’s history and one of their most recent awards. I think you will too will be inspired by the story.

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Good afternoon, Kristal. EMI is a local company that provides services throughout the United States. Where did EMI start?
Terry and Lonnie Bobo started the company from their garage in Edmond in 1983.

Well, from an entrepreneurial perspective, the garage-based startup is always fascinating. Did they start out with a lot of capital?
I don’t think so. Terry had an idea and a lot of expertise. Lonnie was supportive. So, they just set up shop and got to work.

“Never burn a banana. They smell horrific.”

Environmental clean-up is a unique business. I can imagine the required expertise must be unique as well. What was Terry’s background?
Well, he’s a Chemist. He went to school at Auburn and graduated with a Chemistry degree. But it wasn’t just Terry’s expertise that helped him grow. It was Lonnie’s support and family support. Lonnie’s dad, Robert Nichols, was the accountant for many years. This support really allowed Terry to do what he does best, chemistry and operations.

That education sounds like it lends itself well to Environmental Cleanup. But, what exactly does EMI do?
We have 52 employees that cross the nation to do hazardous and non-hazardous waste cleanup. We work for the transportation industry cleaning up spills on our highway system or rail transport; we help medical providers; schools and colleges; pigeon droppings are toxic an we clean those out of buildings, etc. Really, if there is a spill of anything hazardous or, non-hazardous, anywhere, we clean it up.

O.K., give me some examples.
For the sake of our clients I can’t say much but I will say, never burn a banana. They smell horrific. We had to clean up an overturned truck full of burning bananas and we have employees that still can’t eat a banana. We also do underground storage tank removals, asbestos testing, lead paint testing. Sadly, we even test for chemical residue from meth labs.

Let’s shift gears. You implied that EMI is a family run business but, being around you leads me to believe that the business is run like a healthy family.
That’s true! We love each other. We care for one another. We have lunches together. We throw baby showers. the team came by and helped my family clean up our place after a tornado…really, when one of has joy, we all have joy. When one of us is hurting, we’re all hurting.

Terry just cares for people. You know, in 35 years of business, we’ve had one layoff. We do everything to avoid them.

“When one of us has joy, we all have joy. When one of us is hurting, we’re all hurting.”

You won Guthrie’s Business of The Year for 2018. What does that mean to each of you at EMI?
We’re honored for sure. Terry is so humble and just goes about the business doing what he does because it’s the right thing to do. But, it is an honor and it’s more of a testimony to the team we have and the hearts we have for one another and the community. We’re grateful.

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What motivates EMI and Terry to invest in the community?
Terry has such a kind heart. He does everything he can to make those around him better. He loves to share his experiences, knowledge and expertise. EMI moved to Guthrie in 1987 and he’s committed to help this community and all the communities we serve become a better place.

From experience, I know you do. How do you go about that?
We partner with and support the organizations, events and causes doing work we love. These type of investments range from investments in kids and schools to local food banks. It’s really a privilege to be able to help as we can.

Both you as an individual and EMI have been actively involved in the United Way as well, correct?
We have. Since 2003 EMI and our employees have contributed significantly to the work the United Way provides Logan County. It’s been a great way for the company and our employees to rally together to make a difference locally.

I know you invest financially in numerous communities and organizations, but you also provide equipment, labor and expertise to those in need. Tell me about that.
As I said, Terry loves to lend his expertise. On numerous occasions we’ve sent our crew and equipment to help with disaster cleanup resulting from tornados in Mulhall, Oklahoma City, Carney etc. We also send our crew and tanker trucks out to refill fire rigs during wildfires. Finally, we’re able to give away usable salvage from our Product Distribution Program. This includes things like paint, light bulbs and occasionally food supplies.

We look for ways to lend what we have to make a difference and are grateful that we can do it.

I’m always inspired by companies that have figured out how to survive the ups and downs of business. What advice would Terry offer a new or relatively young business?
I spoke with Terry about this very subject. For him, life and business is really simple when you, “surround yourself with the right people” and, “Do your best to pay for things as you go, do not have debt to service.”

Kristal, thank you for your time. It’s an honor to share your story, we appreciate your work and wish EMI another successful and impactful 35 years.
Thank you. It’s been a joy to be a part of this company the last 20 years.


About Made Possible By
Made Possible By is the new way community minded companies manage and share their grant, sponsorship and charitable gift requests. Made Possible By is reinventing the community investment process for companies with an easy to use, online toolset that saves them time and money and helps them earn community and customer trust. Learn more at our website or blog.


Billy Clark: 8 Thoughts on How to Make a Difference in Your Community

Billy Clark has been in the car business for over 35 years. After 5 years as Eskridge Chevrolet’s General Manager he semi-retired from the car business. Under his leadership, Eskridge Chevrolet was named Guthrie’s Business of The Year in 2017. And, Billy was just named Guthrie’s Citizen of The Year for 2018. Fortunately, for his community, he’s really not retiring. He’s just freeing up time to do more of what he loves: invest in the people, causes and community he loves. Here’s a bit of his story and what he’s learned about making a difference.

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You’ve been in the car business for quite sometime haven’t you?
My whole life really. I’ve been doing this for 35 years.

You’re wrapping up your tenure in the business, transitioning out of the General Manager role at Eskridge Chevrolet.
I am. It’s time. My 10 years at Eskridge have been amazing and rewarding.

How so?
Well, a couple reasons. First, I work for an owner’s group, the Eskridge family, that truly cares about people—their customers and the communities they serve. Their values really align with mine. Second, I was able to be a part of a community that cares for one another. I really fell in love with Guthrie. I’m blessed.

Sounds like the perfect fit, Billy. Why leave?
Ha! It’s just time. I’ve been in this business for a long time. I’ve treated people right and that’s given me the opportunity to have options. So, the number one reason is, I’m ready to keep making a difference in different ways, apart from the day to day operations of the dealership.

One more question about the dealership. Eskridge Chevrolet was Guthrie’s Business of the Year. How did that feel?
Honestly, it was probably the highest honor I’ve had professionally. I just try to go about my business and do what I can the right way. I don’t do what I do for any sort of recognition or reward. But, I have to admit, when my peers in the community voted our dealership as Business of The Year, it felt amazing. Kind of like the culmination of my work. I teared up.

Also, I like to think we raised the bar for community involvement. We’ve been able to do so much. It wasn’t always easy but we love it. I think we were out in front and that our involvement got other businesses to get involved too.

“Relationships will make or break you. Align with the right people.”

O.K., Billy, what’s next?
Some days, I have no idea. I have the general stuff figured out but, the details are a bit foggy. I know I’m called to make a difference. So, that’s it. I’m transitioning out of the dealership to have more time to invest in the community.

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You were just named citizen of the year. How does that feel?
I’m still shocked. Also, honored. It’s still sinking in. But, it was confirmation that the next steps I’m taking are the right ones.

Billy, it is well deserved. After running the business named Business of The Year and then being recognized as Guthrie’s Citizen of The Year, what can you share with us about how you go about investing in your community, people and making a difference in general?
Well. There’s no real formula for me.

[Long pause]

Here’s what comes to mind:

  1. Just treat people the way you want to be treated.

  2. If you say you’re in, go 100%.

  3. I’m married to the right person. I’m really blessed to be married to Maggie. She loves to give and do even more than I do. She’s my inspiration.

  4. Don’t overthink stuff. Just do it, do what you can. Take action.

  5. Show up, give your time. Say yes.

  6. Relationships will make or break you. Align with the right people.

  7. Time is the hardest thing to give. But, the most rewarding.

  8. Keep your eyes open, look for ways to give. And do it, time, money, whatever you can.

Billy, it’s exciting to think that you’re just getting started. We commend you for the impact you’ve made and look forward to your future. Thank you.
Thank you.


About Made Possible By
Made Possible By is the new way community minded companies manage and share their grant, sponsorship and charitable gift requests. Made Possible By is reinventing the community investment process for companies with an easy to use, online toolset that saves them time and money and helps them earn community and customer trust. Learn more at our website or blog.

Jameson Real Estate. An Entrepreneurs Journey to Impact

I met James 6 years ago. My family had just moved to Guthrie and we crossed paths often—the way it's done in small towns. He was in the middle of his first business and starting his second. James has strong convictions, and he's vocal. He's also an accidental, astute, and now, seasoned entrepreneur. He's also committed to Guthrie, America. So much so, he moved from the edge of town to the center in order to connect with the community and make a difference. Grab a beer or fruit smoothie with him from Guthrie Nutrition sometime, you will enjoy the visit. In the meantime, read on to learn more about his journey and vision for community impact.

How did you become an entrepreneur?
Well, it started out as an accident. I was an employee for an oil and gas land/lease company. In 2007, the company restructured and began to focus on their core business. But, they had a problem and I guess I was the solution.

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What was the problem?
They wanted to divest a small training business they owned and they offered it to me. I said, "look, you guys know what I make, you pay me. I don't have the money to buy much of anything at the moment.” But, they saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself at the time.

I think laughter and candidness helped the negotiations. After more detail and discussions than anyone cares about, it worked out. They wanted out of the training business and I got into it...

What did you learn from your first business?
Out of the gate the business did great. It generated a lot of cash. But, I didn't understand all the details of accounting, tax liability, processes etc. I did a great job marketing the business and training people. But, I wasn’t a great business operator at the time.

Hire a good accountant. Learn how to operate the business, not just do the work you do to make the money.

Fortunately, I partnered with a strong accountant near the end of the first year. It was expensive. But, not having them could have cost me the business.

What happened next?
Well, we had the real estate crisis around 2008, the credit crunch, whatever you want to call it. It wasn't directly related to oil and gas but it hit that too. My business slowed down. But I thought it was also an opportunity.

How so?
Well, it's a funny story. Houses in my home town were affordable so I called a realtor. She didn't know how serious I was so she directed me to another realtor, Patricia Cornforth. As I said, houses were affordable. I bought my first three properties that day and that's how I got into real estate.

Since then, you obtained your Real Estate license and you and Patricia opened Guthrie Real Estate. You've since got your Broker’s license and rebranded as, Jameson Real Estate.
Correct.

A moment ago you said you found opportunity in a “down market.” Explain that and, what advice would you offer to others facing their own crisis?
It just seemed that there is an opportunity amidst every crisis. I've learned to look for them. When things get bad, I look for opportunities. Fortunately I’ve found them. But, if I had been scared I wouldn’t have even looked. So, just keep looking and working.

When things get bad, I look for opportunities.

Congratulations on the hard-won experience. At every stage of your business ventures you've been for your community. You were part of the founding team of Red Brick Nights and you invest in the local schools. Why?
There are a few reasons. In general, I love my community. It’s a hell of a place—unique even. I just want the town and the people to do well.

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Tell us about Red Brick Nights.
You know, there are a lot of community parties. But, Red Brick Nights is the only one that is centered around the community, Oklahoma artists, and the town. Also, it’s an environment that caters to families and kids.

How so?
North Church sponsors a great kids’ area. This is unique to Red Brick Nights. The music is curated by Justin Fortney and features amazing talent from in and around Oklahoma. It’s an event that’s big enough to feel electric and small enough for my kids to run and get an icee and come back on their own.

How did it start?
Guthrie has a tradition of community based festivals and is a sleeper community for musicians. We had a couple of ladies that started a monthly music event several years ago, Christie & Shirley Clifford and it unfortunately ended. A few of us had the idea to restart that and rebrand it and it just rolled from there.

Did the business community and other community organizations embrace the idea?
Absolutely. Without the support of Meghan Vance with John Vance Auto Group, The City of Guthrie, Long Hair Repair, the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce and a dozen other businesses we couldn’t pull it off. The business community sponsors it and our city government supports it. The entire event is only possible with the support of the businesses, volunteers and civic leaders.

What about Schools? You’ve invested in the local schools, public and private alike. Why?
I don’t care where you stand on the school funding issue. The issue aside, the problems aren’t the kids fault or the teachers. So, let’s just get some damn supplies into the classrooms. If we won’t invest in our own children, who will?

If we won’t invest in our own children, who will?

Enough said?
Enough said.

What made you get on the City Council.
I realized I can’t live in a bubble centered around me. So there are so many cool things going on in the Guthrie community and so many challenges. I just want to be involved and help our community move forward.

Thank you James. Any closing thoughts for entrepreneurs and difference makers?
If you want to leave things better than you found them, you’ve got to get involved with people. People aren’t easy. I’m not easy. But, making a difference isn’t easy either. Get involved with the people around you.

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Overview. How to use Made Possible By

Made Possible By is reinventing the sponsorship processes for community-minded companies. Using the platform will make sponsorship easier and more rewarding for your business and the communities you serve.

Here is how to use Made Possible By.

  1. Add the Made Possible By icon to your site right next to your other social media icons and then link the icon to your Made Possible By profile page. You can see examples at Plenty Mercantile, Eskridge Chevrolet and Orthodontic Arts. Just look for the icon next to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on the sites.
  2. When you receive a request, redirect the requests to your site and the Made Possible By icon.
  3. Once a sponsorship application is submitted you can track and manage all requests from a single location by signing in to your Made Possible By profile and select, "sponsorships."
  4. After you sponsor a project, event, or organization in your community, tell a brief story by publishing the story under "Projects" from your administrative view.

Sharing Your Sponsorship Participation

Made Possible By allows you to share the story and impact of your sponsorship by initiating a "Project or Event."

PROJECTS AND EVENTS: SHARING YOUR STORY OF SPONSORSHIP

Once you sponsor a "Project," or "Event" you may display a brief story of your sponsorship for perpetual awareness. Start by selecting "Projects" from the drop down menu after you have logged in.

CREATING A PROJECT OR EVENT

  • Select, "New Project"
  • Add an image or logo. The image type must be .png or .jpg or .jpeg
  • Share the details
  • Press, "Save"
  • Then, once you're satisfied with the draft, press, "Publish"

Accepting and Reviewing Sponsorship Requests

Once you have added the Made Possible By icon to your own website you may direct those requesting sponsorship to your site, and the Made Possible By icon. Your profile is where customers and your community learns more about you and your company in the context of community impact. They learn:

  • Who you are,
  • What you value,
  • Projects and events you have sponsored, and
  • May then complete and submit a request for sponsorship

Accepting A Sponsorship

When the applicant submits a sponsorship request, they will see a confirmation screen noting the application has been submitted.

The account administrator of your Made Possible By profile will receive an email alert notifying them of the submission.

Reviewing a Sponsorship

You may view and manage all sponsorship requests by logging in to Made Possible By. Once you log in as the sponsor administrator:

  • In the upper right corner, select the drop down, then select, "Sponsorships."
  • You will then see a table of historical sponsorship requests. To manage a request, select "View" on the far right of the table.
  • Once you select "View" you are able to track the details of the sponsorship request including: Accept or Decline; track contribution amount/details for cash, in-kind, and volunteer hours.

Once you've sponsored a project or event, make sure to share the story on your profile.

Components of effective sponsorship guidelines

Start with an annual and quarterly budget.

Have an objective. What do you hope to accomplish with your investment? You are likely motivated by one or a combination of any of these.

  • You want to help solve a community problem
  • You want brand visibility
  • You want to more deeply engage your employees and community by sponsoring what they value

Define the geographic area, community, causes and customers you serve. Does the project or event add value and awareness to the community and consumers you serve?

Does the organization have a promotional plan that brings awareness to the project, event and the sponsors?

Define your values and invest in the projects, events and relationships that align with your values and brand.

You may request metrics and benchmarks for the project or event.

  • Budget that outlines the use of funds
  • Promotional plan. how many people will the event serve and reach?
  • What other sponsors are participating?

Does the request support a nonprofit?

Once you have sponsorship guidelines, you may post them on your application by uploading a .pdf file.

How to graciously decline a sponsorship request

The community-minded companies Made Possible By serves have a common experience, each receives numerous sponsorship requests. No matter the size of your company there are always more opportunities to invest in your community than the resources available.

Often, you have to say, “No, thank you for the opportunity.”

Most don’t enjoy turning down a request however, with clear sponsorship guidelines and a plan it doesn’t have to be an awkward process.

Here’s how to review and decline a sponsorship request.

Does the request and requestor fit your sponsorship guidelines? Start with clear sponsorship guidelines. With these in mind you are able to evaluate each request efficiently and objectively.

Does the request fit within your budget? Determine a sponsorship budget and stick to it. The budget may be an annual amount or a quarterly amount you predetermine.

Also, It is appropriate to list a “maximum amount” for each sponsorship on your guidelines. Requestors, like any good fundraiser or event coordinator, will start “high” and graciously receive what you are able to offer. It is fair for you to offer what you are able, not what is requested.

Budget and plan for your recurring sponsorships and beneficiaries. You invest in events and organizations annually. Plan for those first.

Is the request redundant? You sponsor the organizations and events you value. As a result, similar organizations will approach you. In this case, just let the requestor know that you value their work, so much so, that you currently invest in similar organizations doing similar work and, at this time, you must allocate our sponsorship dollars to the organizations you're presently committed to.

Offer an alternate amount or an in-kind contribution. You do what you do really well. In some cases you may be able to offer services or goods instead of financial support. 

You may defer the request. If you truly value the organization and opportunity but can’t sponsor them consider deferring and ask them to request the next quarter or year for future evaluation.

Saying, “No, thank you" may not be easy. However, saying no to the many, good requests allows you to invest in the best ones--those that bring the most satisfaction and value to your company and your community.

Adding the Made Possible By icon to your site

Made Possible By inserts the process of accepting and reviewing sponsorship requests and your community impact into the world-recognized social media set.

Your web designer may find the icon, in appropriate styles, here.

With the placement of the icon, you may then redirect sponsorship requests to your Made Possible By icon, page and sponsorship application to save time and track all requests.

Directing sponsorship requests to your Made Possible By page.

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We serve companies that receive numerous sponsorship requests. Requests come from email, telephone calls, letters, and/or drop-in visits. Made Possible By streamlines these requests.

Redirect requests to your site, or Made Possible By page.

When you receive an inquiry, here's sample language to redirect the request.

"We would love to learn more! Would you simply go to our site, click on the Made Possible By icon next to instagram? You can learn about who we are, what we value and what we've sponsored.

If you think we might be a good partner, just complete the application for sponsorship and we will be in touch.

Thank you for thinking of us and the work you are up to!"

This simple redirection will save you time, allow you to simplify and centralize the sponsorship process.

You may access the Made Possible By icon here.

Made Possible By Site Update

It's been less than a year since we launched Made Possible By. It feels like just yesterday and forever ago--all at the same time. In the last 11 months, we've learned so much, thanks to the friendship, feedback and insight from our peers and customers across 3 states.

No August Lull.

We made the most of August (and the past 11 months) by listening to feedback and then designing and developing an updated problem-solving platform for our peers, the community-minded companies we serve.

Simplifying Sponsorship 

Community-minded companies across the country express similar challenges with sponsorship requests.

Made Possible By makes it easier for these companies to accept and review sponsorship requests then share the stories of those they support. You may learn more about how it works on the site.

The "Why" behind the solution

The vision is to equip every community-minded company to create and inspire impact in their communities with their peers, customers and the causes they love. Experience shows that we can have a greater impact when we share and support stories of impact together.

How

Just look for the Made Possible By icon on the sites of a growing list of community-minded companies. You will get the idea.

Special Thanks

Made Possible By is a start-up, as such, we rely upon the feedback and support of a community of visionary leaders and customers. They help us define the exact problems they want solved and help us refine solutions that meet their needs.

So, we'd like to thank Plenty Mercantile, i2e, Midtown Renaissance, Urban Teahouse, Eskridge Chevrolet, Hoboken Coffee, Orthodontic Arts, Levate, Cooper House Creative for helping us refine and grow Made Possible By. There are many more. These are just a few of the people we had long conversations with this past year.

We have a growing list of features that make sponsorship easier and more rewarding for all involved. Until then, we just want to say Thank You!

All our best,

Mike

A Visit With Conexa's Jason Ledlow, About Literacy, Business and Making A Difference.

When I first met Jason Ledlow, Founder of Conexa I perceived him to be an astute and scrappy entrepreneur. We crossed paths about 18 months later when Made Possible was invited to present at Oklahoma's EO Chapter on the subject of Consumer Engagement. Afterwards, we visited and I was left with the impression that amidst the start-up grind, here was a Founder that wanted to build a viable business while impacting people in meaningful ways. Later, when asked about Jason's commitment to people and making a difference, I responded, "He's authentic. He really wants to help kids read and help people."

What's the story behind Conexa?
A few years ago, I had a really good team at a company called UTPhone. We were looking for open space in the changing technology market and even changing demographics in the U.S. We realized there was a huge gap in the home internet market. We discovered that 90% of the kids 6th grade and below in Oklahoma City's Public School system speak Spanish in the home.

We were like, "Wow." Those people aren't being served well. So, we decided to offer a quality home internet service to them with a simple price structure and easy-to-understand terms. That was it, the starting point.

So, what have you been able to accomplish with Conexa?
I showed up at the kitchen table in a tie 3 years ago. Today, we have thousands of customers in 21 states and we're growing. We've been able to hire 17 people and have employees in 2 states. I'm very proud of the what we've done and the team's commitment to the company and their communities.

That's quite an accomplishment in just 3 years. Do you consider Conexa successful?
(laughing) Well, success is a moment by moment thing. In this moment, yes. However, we don't take it for granted. We show up everyday to deliver value to our customers and the communities we serve.

Speaking of customers, I've heard you comment on Internet service as more than just a product. Would you explain your thoughts?
Sure. The internet is a gateway to opportunity that no one should be without. Price, access, bandwidth--all of it--shouldn't be cost prohibitive, or restricted. It's a service that provides access to opportunity, information and so much more. That's why we use phrases like, "For Your Home." I could go on and on. It's just a rewarding product to provide because it does so much for individuals and families.

You recently distributed custom crafted, summer reading material to 600 students in Oklahoma City. Why?
As an entrepreneur, I'm a proponent of opportunity. Literacy and language is a key to both. I read with my kids to help them grow and I want all families to grow to their potential. This is about people, families and a brighter future.

Any other reasons?
Yes. I love to read and read with my kids often. Even with my involvement, it's hard for them sometimes to learn and stay motivated. This made me wonder, "I read with my kids and it's not easy. How hard must it be for some of these families that don't have the time I do or don't even speak English?"

With that in mind, what did you do?
We have a cartoonist on staff and a number of our staff speak Spanish. I just asked him to draw and draft a dual language reading primer that we could hand out to kids for their summer reading. Our team did a great job. Fantastic really.

We went on to partner with Oklahoma City's Lee Elementary to host a party, celebrate the kids and then handed out the books.

I was there and the event and the kids' enthusiasm was inspiring. How did the administration receive your offer?
They were thrilled. The material came at a time amidst massive budget cuts and they were ecstatic to work with us to celebrate literacy. More importantly, they wanted the kids to have access to the material we provided. We hosted the event May 20th. Since then, additional cuts have been announced specifically, textbook cuts. We look forward to doing more. Anything we do is helpful. Now, more than ever, we look forward to doing more.

More? What's next?
We envision a whole series of reading primers, coloring books etc. that we can hand out. Not just in Oklahoma, but in all the communities we serve. Our partnership and contribution to Lee Elementary is just the beginning. It will take time, but we're committed.

Thanks Jason. Any other community projects you see the Conexa team getting involved with?
Yeah. Due to a lot of personal experience, we're working with a Suicide prevention organization to help them do more of the good work they're about. I'll fill you in later.

Wow. Sounds personal.
It is. I'll tell you more later.

O.K. Changing directions, we've spoke at length about building a company. Any wisdom might share with fellow business builders?
Wisdom?! (laughing) I don't know about wisdom. I can share a few thoughts around my experience. Here they are:

First, sell. Just start selling. By, "sell", I mean pitch or share, your idea, product, or solution as fast as possible. And listen. Listen closely. The faster you start selling your idea the quicker you can adjust the value proposition. If you're lucky, you can generate revenue and that's the lifeblood of any start up. Put on a tie, share your product with the world, listen to customer feedback and adjust what you must.

Second, success is a moment by moment thing. It's never permanent. You have to keep working to move forward because, if not, you will inevitably go backwards.

Third, work hard and focus. Twelve years ago, I was given the opportunity to represent a broadband service provider and took it. The day after closing the agreement with the provider, I woke up, put a tie on and sat down at the kitchen table with my laptop and a cup of coffee by 7:30a.m. My wife looked at me and said, "What are you doing?" I told her, "I am going to work. I have a company to build."

I work better that way. I know some entrepreneurs wear flip flops. That may be great for them. But, I have to get in the right frame of mind to build a business and flip flops don't work for me. A tie does.

Finally, make others a priority. Help as many people as you can as you build your company. I'm grateful we're at a spot where we can do this. It's really the goal right? To build a business that's viable and support as many people as possible in the process.

Sounds like wisdom to me Jason. Thanks for sharing your story. We'll be in touch.
I look forward to it.

Friday Afternoon "Cheers!" to All You Doers & Difference-Makers

As we race to the finish line, we'd like to take a deep breath and say thank you and cheers to the local businesses that have really stepped into the #foodforAllOK truck movement. Now's your chance to join them by giving to this revolutionary, hunger-fighting solution. 

Initial Project Partners

  • A Good Egg Dining Group is providing staff to run the truck and maintain it along with chefs to prepare food for the truck, in other words, all-things-truck.
  • Whole Foods Market is providing the food, nutritional resources and volunteer manpower
  • First National Bank of Oklahoma is providing a capital contribution to help secure the physical truck
  • TruckIt OKC is providing a beta beacon technology package with the goal of providing geo-targeting service to RFBO clients in need of food access

Contributing Businesses Added Along This Journey

  • Roxy’s Ice Cream owner, Shane Muutz has agreed to do the complete truck fabrication with his father
  • Truck-N-Trailer Moore, OK has offered to provide near wholesale pricing on the truck purchase
  • Beck’s Garage offered lifetime truck maintenance including cost free labor and wholesale parts
  • Downtown Digital & Design has offered to do the exterior truck wrap gratis
  • Savory Spice Shop OK has offered any Food For All contributor a 20% discount in store
  • Black Scintilla has offered any Food For All contributor a FREE pair of sunglasses
  • Hoboken Coffee has offered any Food For All contributor FREE coffee
  • Territory OKC has offered to do a daily giveaway of annual home-delivered subscription for contributors as well as (2) tickets to their Makers:Series
  • Gold Plated is offering a delicious dining experience to lucky co-creators of the #foodforAllOK truck

And, 264 more and counting

There's scores of individuals and more businesses that have contributed. We'll introduce you to them near future. In Send a social media shout out to these Doers and Difference-Makers and join them!

ALL Together NOW!

We've come a long way but we've got to cross the finish line. We, all of us, can create a forever hunger fighting solution by working together. Give now. Make a difference forever.

 

Friday Solidarity

Collaboration and Solidarity

Happy Friday all!

It’s an AWEsome Friday in OKC and at MADE POSSIBLE. We're writing to say thanks to each of you!

Watching this #foodforAllOK project unfold is astonishing. The sheer volume of support is amazing and the way Oklahoma businesses are joining their peers in droves to champion a solution to hunger makes us proud to be from OKC.

YOU--the public--joining together with the Oklahoma businesses to help solve hunger is the lifeblood of the MADE POSSIBLE community. TOGETHER, impossible things become possible, like our community stepping up to build a HUNGER FIGHTING food truck.

We’re so excited to gather & celebrate. We will...but it’s not time yet.

Our Work Isn't Done.

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO FINISH THE JOB. WE ARE 50% TO GOAL WITH 14 DAYS LEFT AND IT WILL TAKE YOU, ALL OUR ALLIES, HELPING spread the word, encouraging friends to contribute and adding to the funding total so something great, something to forever impact this mission of solving hunger in OK can be created.

We know we can count on you and here’s how.

Be sure you’ve joined the DOERS wall then share this to encourage others to join you:

I believe in #foodforallOK so I gave & we need you too! Join this fight to solve hunger now https://madepossibleby.us/projects/food-for-all-truck

Thank you in advance, we can’t wait to celebrate 100% funded together and soon. We’ll be in touch in 14 days!

With Gratitude,

Your Made Possible Team

Chef Menu Tasting for Four

Hanging and tasting with your favorite do good chefs sound fun? You can, here's how.

ANY gift of $50 or more contributed to #foodforallOK Truck received by the 10/24 COOP Halloween Bash will be entered to win a Chef's Menu Tasting for 4.

Just, contribute & post with #foodforallOK tag to enter.

Details

Location: A Good Egg Dining corporate Test Kitchen.

Date: The winner will be provided 3 options on the date and time to choose from.

Time: We'll hang out for about an hour to taste and talk and just get to know one another.

Number of Attendees: 1 winner and 3 friends.

Specifics: 1 lucky Food For All Contributor will be invited to bring (3) additional guests to a preview tasting of proposed menu items for the rollout of the Food For All truck. This includes access to the private tasting room, dedicated Good Egg Dining Chef and server, non-alcoholic beverages and ingredients from Whole Foods. You will also receive a take-home shopping pass for your own Whole Foods menu re-make. Finally, you will get a behind-the-scenes tour of AGE's kitchen and a chance to visit with an AGE representative about the Food For All Truck.

Estimated Value: $300

Server testing & stuff

As we near the unveiling of Made Possible By, we're testing servers and how to manage our community's interaction online. Loader.io is proving helpful and Digital Ocean is just fantastic. It's just getting more simple (not necessarily easy) to connect in cyberspace. Also, shout out to Josh Larson for sharing more tech specs than you want to know about site traffic on Digital Ocean.

All about tangible results.

Servers aren't inspiring--we know. But, positive impact for people, the planet and the pursuit of happiness is. So, here's to tangible results. Here's to you, the Collective, a social action community.

Now, back to server review. Talk soon.

With gratitude,

Your Made Possible By team.

Countdown & About Page

We're getting closer every hour!

It's hard to believe that we had the #WhatIfOKC conversation just 7 weeks ago. We're so excited to launch our first, #makemoregood project with you and project partners in just a couple weeks. A stellar line up of partners and peers have joined the "US" and are committed to making a project for all of US, our community, real. They exemplify the MPB Collective creed of, "Do Right. Make Good. Be Real" 

Would you kindly take a look at the About page below (We see the typo, we'll fix it)? We appreciate your input as we march forward advocating your work for the people, the planet and the pursuit of happiness.

With Gratitude,

Your Made Possible By team

"About Page" Preview


Feedback Requested on "The Wall of Possibilities"

Please take a look at the screenshots below and share your feedback. This will be really helpful as we prepare to launch a meaningful way to connect folks that want to create more good together at MadePossibleBy.us.

Here’s the context

MadePossibleBy.us started with a vision of creating tangible outcomes in partnership with the global community that cares about people, the planet and the pursuit of happiness. When we coupled the mission of "tangible outcome” with the idea of “Community” it defined what MadePossibleBy.US is. It’s a Social Action Community built by you and you and you. All of (you) are the "US" that will make good things possible.

We're building a community to inspire & ignite people, brands and causes to make more good possible. Celebrating all the doers & makers!

Rather than push miscellaneious crowdfunding projects on a disconnected crowd hoping to find a right fit, we tested the idea of really listening to (you) and then collaborating around the projects (you) love. You have a voice that the world needs to hear. Because of you, the #WhatIfOKC conversation trended at the top of the twitter verse for 12 hours and informed our first social good projects! 

(you) proved the hypothesis!

Thank you for proving the hypothesis that people want to do more good together and want to share their ideas about how! Thank you for continuing to invest in the conversation and being willing to act. Your role in the equation ensures brand sponsor resources will join US which makes even more good things possible by US.

More Form and Function

To continue being thoughtful stewards of your ideas on community dialogue and thus tangible outcomes, we've created a Wall of Possibilities. It’s a place to share project possibilities, then discuss, vote and invite our friends to the conversation. When our community feels a project is meaningful, we’ll act—we’ll present the project to Partners and then all of US make them happen.

Here’s the screenshots.

Let us know what you like and how to make things better suit you. We’re working hard and thoughtfully to build something to inspire action and your input is valued, appreciated and we’ll do our best to deliver on your requests.

List of Possibilities from the Community

List of Possibilities from the Community

Detailed view

You'll see more detail and able to vote, comment by selecting a Possibility from the Wall Of Possibilities.

You'll see more detail and able to vote, comment by selecting a Possibility from the Wall Of Possibilities.

Here’s to you and your visions of making good sustainable, real and together.

With gratitude,

Your @MadePossibleBy Team

Collaboration

It's an idealistic word. When it works, we co-labor, co-contribute and cooperate. We get things done.

We're about making it work. With you and you and you.

We're moving the conversation from "I" and "You" to "US."

Collaboration is rewarding. It also gets results. That's what we're all after, results--real, tangible results. However, the quest for personal recognition pushes against the force of collaboration.

Focus on results. Results is something we can all celebrate and there's plenty of recognition for all to share in.

results come from listening, sharing and acting

Listen to your peers as they work through their #WhatIfOKC possibilities at facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Act by offering feedback and sharing your own #WhatIfOKC, #WhatIfBoulder, #WhatIfGuthrie and so on vision now.

There's no limit to the possibilities when we work together.