Kindness as a catalyst - how one haircut inspired Katie Steller’s mission to bring us together.

Kindness as a catalyst - how one haircut inspired Katie Steller’s mission to bring us together.

You know those days when you feel like the world is just heavy? That you can’t deal with another bad news story, and you begin to wonder how it will ever get better? On those days, it can feel that we are cogs in a machine that we have no power to change. So, many don’t try.

Yet, some make a small step to change something that matters to them, and they set in motion something far more significant than themselves.

From the outside looking in, Katie Steller is a successful hair salon owner. Look closer, and you’ll see that she’s using her talents (along with business savvy and a large dose of courage) to help the world be a more positive and caring place.

For most us, making the occasional donation at Goodwill can feel like a triumph (“The bags are no longer in my trunk! Yesss!).

We wanted to know: what does changing things really take? How does it feel? What choices do we need to make? How do we know that it matters? We talked with Katie to get a sense of how she’s reached this point in her journey.

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Making macaron heaven

Making macaron heaven

Nikkolette Krumheuer was a successful finance pro, checking all the boxes of corporate life. But something wasn’t quite clicking, and she realized she wanted more from her work. She turned to classic pastry as a way to create a different future, and more happiness in the world. Now, after five years of holding down her job while developing her macaron business, she recently decided to to “go all” as an entrepreneur.

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Distilling work-life choices - Nikki McLain’s pragmatic approach to building success

Distilling work-life choices - Nikki McLain’s pragmatic approach to building success

In 2017, Nikki McLain left her successful career in global meeting management to start a new kind of distillery with her husband. Having invested blood, sweat, tears and hours on bureaucracy, they’ve opened a truly unique destination.

Realizing this dream has required patience, persistence and pragmatism. And the journey is really only beginning….

We caught up with Nikki to learn more about her experience as an entrepreneur.

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How a career setback motivated Astrid Benedetto to double down on her passions.

How a career setback motivated Astrid Benedetto to double down on her passions.

Being laid off can really sting.

A feeling of betrayal, rejection and anxiety about “what’s next” can be a wicked combination. However, often a layoff can provide essential headspace for reflection and ideation and can often create the fire for creating something new and an opportunity to forger a new identity.

When Astrid Benedetto was laid off from Target, she took the opportunity to start her own business. A month later, she secured a dream corporate role as an inclusion leader with US Bank. Deciding that she was passionate about both paths, she developed each of them.

As an entrepreneurial novice and a mother of two, Astrid’s journey has not been easy. We sat down with Astrid to learn more about what she has learned along the way.

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From Dorset to Egypt - how the Lost Pyramid City of Giza inspired Claire Malleson to realize her passion.

From Dorset to Egypt - how the Lost Pyramid City of Giza inspired Claire Malleson to realize her passion.

If you’re a professional woman, your weekdays probably look pretty similar: Wake up. Coffee. Wrangle kids/partner/self out of the door. Commute. Meetings. More meetings. Commute. More kids stuff/gym. Dinner. Occasional “alone time”. Repeat.

Remember when you were in your early 20s, getting started in your career? Is this what you thought your days look like? Did you ever imagine a path different from that which others expected for you? Did you even have the chance to dream?

British-born Claire Malleson has a different story. Growing up in rural Dorset, she aspired to be in theater. But then, her instinct kept pulling her to an unusual passion - Egyptian archeology.

Thing is, she didn’t just dream it. She made it there. Now, she is changing again - still working within her passion, and this time helping the next generation.

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How Lara Cornell built a heart-centered career path and created community along the way

How Lara Cornell built a heart-centered career path and created community along the way

We had the privilege of meeting Lara Cornell, founder of Anahata Collaborative, as we explored unique, intimate spaces for our Buzz Sessions. Not only did we uncover one of the most creative event spaces in Minneapolis, we found an entrepreneur with a story of discovery, passion, community, and inspiration for those navigating career choices and changes.

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A Seat at the Table: demystifying what it means to be on a board

A Seat at the Table: demystifying what it means to be on a board

Women make up more than half of the US population and a larger share of the volunteer force, but we are still underrepresented on corporate and non-profit boards, despite the evidence of the correlation between increased business performance and women's board representation. We spoke with Passion Collective friend, entrepreneur and 360 Communities board member Stacy Richards on what it means to serve on a board.

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Buzz Session preview: how stage combat will awaken your courage.

Buzz Session preview: how stage combat will awaken your courage.

Making change happen needs a boatload of resilience, trust, faith, generosity and courage. And while there are plenty of self-help tools out there, sometimes they all seem a little tame. 

Enter Annie Enneking - renowned stage combat expert, Guthrie actor and musician. On September 21, she will lead a group of Passionados through a stage combat workshop. 

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Getting wild: REI's "Outessa" offers a new way for women to reconnect.

Getting wild: REI's "Outessa" offers a new way for women to reconnect.

As life gets busier, we often forget about the outdoors beyond a quick walk around the park at lunchtime on a good day. We find ourselves craving a bit of nature, or space to think on a mountaintop, or feel ourselves getting comfortable with the same old routines.

But something more than the schedule grind stops us. 

There's the anticipated discomfort of sleeping on the ground instead of the Sleep Number, the dollars spent on gear that may spend the rest its days in your basement after the expedition, and the thought of trekking "out there" alone.

Adventure brand REI has a solution - a 3 day, women-only retreat where food, drink, activities, gear and 3 types of accommodation are included in breathtaking locations - all with hundreds of other women wanting to reconnect with something bigger than their weekly routine.

Two Passionados (who are also coworkers at the University of Minnesota Foundation Investment Advisors) - Charlotte Schu and Dawn Peterson - visited the Kirkwood location (as "Fancy Campers" - i.e. glampers) - they shared their experiences with us. 

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Speak the truth: how speech pathologist Anna Lakin turned her love of acting into a second career.

Speak the truth: how speech pathologist Anna Lakin turned her love of acting into a second career.

Minneapolis-based actor Anna Lakin is also a speech pathologist. Or maybe it's the other way around....

She's passionate about both professions, and while she studied acting in her early 20s has reconnected with it more than 15 years later. We were intrigued by two seemingly different careers - how she chose them and how she manages to build both while also raising a family. 

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From projects to plants - how Clare Gardner Nieto created a new path that healed more than her career.

From projects to plants - how Clare Gardner Nieto created a new path that healed more than her career.

A year ago, Clare was one of those project managers that you'd consider your "right hand". She had the budgets, timelines, schedules, technicalities, clients, teams all under control. She was there before and after you. She was keeping everything together. 

Everything that is, apart from herself. 

Wracked with daily physical pain and a mounting realization that her unhappiness with her career was affecting not only her health but those she loved, Clare quit her job - her career - in December 2016 to practice herbalism. In a matter of months, she's gone from managing multi-million dollar technical projects with global clients, to 1:1 herbalism consultations and an expansive knowledge of "tinctures". And, she's happier than she's ever been. 

What does it take to take such a leap? And is it worth leaving the "big job" behind?

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How Claudia Phillips cheated death - twice - then refocused her life on building a business by healing others.

How Claudia Phillips cheated death - twice - then refocused her life on building a business by healing others.

Sometimes, we have a nagging feeling that we can do more, change direction, have a bigger impact, create a different life. But often, life gets in the way and we don’t get the time to change.

But other times, life slams into us and forces us to wake up.

Claudia Phillips was involved in an horrific accident that made her re-evaluate everything. Having survived two near-death experiences in a matter of weeks, and during months of recovery, she decided to refocus her life.

We met Claudia at Martha Stewart's American Made event in October 2016. We were inspired by her story of positivity, resilience and drive. Here it is. 

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Have baby, will travel: how one former advertising exec is inspiring families to travel the world.

Have baby, will travel: how one former advertising exec is inspiring families to travel the world.

The reality of leaving behind a career in the search for greater fulfillment often isn't rosy. 

We're told that life can be more precious when it's uncertain. Yet, we often feel that taking one straight path is the only way to go. It can take courage and a willingness to try, and try again, to move yourself in the right direction.

Susannah Cery knows the story. After working in advertising in London, she and her husband moved to jobs in Mumbai, India. When she became pregnant the couple decided to return to the UK and base themselves in Wales, close to family.

After realizing that they'd have a challenge building the careers they wanted in Wales, they were faced with a choice; return to London or search for jobs back in Asia. Susannah and her husband chose Asia, so with a baby in tow and a laptop to apply for jobs on the way, they set off on a backpacking adventure in South Asia in the hope of finding work. 

While they backpacked, Susannah started a blog as she learned about traveling with a small child. Families emailed her with travel questions though the blog, and she realized how little information exists about this topic, as well as how meaningful her help was to her readers.

After working for two years in Kuala Lumpur, they returned, once again, to England. As she considered picking up her job search again, Susannah realized that she no longer loved advertising and that the demanding hours were making it impossible to balance her family life. Another decision beckoned. 

So, Susannah drew on what she knew best and started an online community - "Our Tribe Travels" - for families who love independent travel. It's gone from zero to over a thousand members - and national press coverage - in a matter of months.

Susannah talked to us about her journey...

 

 

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How India is Leaning In: Rashmeet Kaur's view on the future for Indian women.

How India is Leaning In: Rashmeet Kaur's view on the future for Indian women.

You know those days at work when it feels you're going all Paula Abdul (two steps.....) It can be a lonely feeling and we sometimes think it's "just us". It's not. Women around the world are working together to support each other in creating success. It's just sometimes hard to feel that. 

So - we decided to help. Lean In India's Rashmeet Kaur reached out to Passion Collective recently to propose a partnership to help share ideas about how to positively impact women's opportunities. We jumped at the chance to create a global connection to women who are striving for many of the same things as us, every day, yet often, under more trying circumstances. 

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From Doctorate to Design Duchess: how a love of design gave Jessica Jones her real home.

From Doctorate to Design Duchess: how a love of design gave Jessica Jones her real home.

Our "should" thoughts often point us to expected paths, which can be appealing in a volatile world. And "expected" doesn't mean easy. We study, we work, we climb the ladder. We gather accomplishments and realize the hopes of those who raised and taught us. We know we are privileged and are proud of what we've achieved.

Yet, while on that path we feel that we're being followed by a whisper, telling us to pay attention to something we love. We dabble, play around with it, but then return to our expected lives, because that is what we know, and that is what we need to do at that time. And slowly, the opportunity to act on the passion fades away.  

It's hard to change - we have to shed expectations and recognize that our previous accomplishments don't need to define us, despite our efforts in gaining them. 

Oregon native, Jessica Jones spent 11 years in academia, striving towards a PhD in the History of Medicine (17th century French surgical medicine at that!). Yet, her love of design followed her and eventually, she acted on her instincts. Jessica went back to school to study fashion and realized that the world of design was her natural home. 

Known as the "Duchess of Whittier" (after her adopted Minneapolis neighborhood), her custom work is known for tailored, accessible sophistication and she's fast becoming one of the Cities' most sought after designers. 

We were intrigued by Jessica's story - often we hear stories of fast change, of "f&* it" moments - but this one was years in the making. 

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Buy the damn cheese!

Buy the damn cheese!

Recently, I started a full-time role after several years of consulting. An exciting opportunity, lovely boss, great company, huge potential — all that. Oh, and I had to go back to working FULL TIME. I suppose that’s the thing about the full time thing.

Being a strategy type, I knew I needed a plan to manage this time. Easy — I held a “family meeting” to explain that bin-emptyin’, meal cookin’ and floor tidyin’ was no longer going to magically happen, so please DIY (lots of head nodding ensued).

I rehired the cleaner. Reorganized my closet in “work” and “casual” sections (lasted one day.) Skimmed “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and promptly rolled up all of my knickers (if you’ve read the book, you’ll know.) I bought new bed linens (gonna need more sleep). Cut the hair into a shorter bob.

But the one thing I kept on doing was the bloody grocery shopping.....

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How art journaling can help you find yourself again.

How art journaling can help you find yourself again.

When we're ploughing through the week, knocking down action items and juggling schedules, all while trying to retain some semblance of a social life, creativity can be the last thing on our minds.

We can get to a point where we sometimes feel "empty", that we're pouring ourselves out into the world, but not replacing it with anything meaningful. 

So, our minds turn to "being more creative". Yes! That's it, you tell yourself, I need to be more creative! Then, our minds start whirling about what that means, we start and stop, or we don't start at all. We research, we write, or draw, then block ourselves with thoughts about what people will think of what we're creating. So we stop. And the cycle begins again. 

Artist DeAnne Olguin Williamson knows this, so she started "art journaling" workshops to help women kickstart a more personal - and realistic - type of creativity. 

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Deeds and words: how “Suffragette” inspires us to keep at it.

Deeds and words: how “Suffragette” inspires us to keep at it.

First, it’s the small details that creep up on you when watching “Suffragette”. You realize that you hardly ever see 1900s working class women with their wet, un-styled hair down in films (we’re so used to the trussed up women of Downton Abbey.) That a mother played the same games with her child as you do with yours today. That cups of tea were lined up for Suffragette meetings, fine bone china and all.

And then the gut-puncher realizations start. 

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