Outstanding Young Iowan

There are individuals in all our communities who quietly go about the business of making a difference with no thought to recognition. Now is the time to provide that recognition. The Iowa Jaycees are pleased to announce we are accepting nominations for the Outstanding Young Iowan (OYI) Award, recognizing people ages 21 to 40 making an impact in a variety of fields, including business, political, academic achievement and humanitarian efforts. This is the highest award given by the state organization to a community individual, not necessarily a member of the Jaycees.


This annual award is designed to recognize those individuals who have demonstrated a unique impact to the community. By nominating an individual from your community, you have the chance to say “thank you” for making the community a better place, to network for future collaborations, and to inspire other communities with incredible ideas.


OYI nominations are due September 1, 2017 and the nominator will be notified by September 6, 2017 with instructions to inform the individual and information to collect by September 10. Awardees will be recognized September 30 as part of the evening banquet at the upcoming all-state convention in Waterloo, September 30th, 2017.

Through an intense judging process, up to 3 individuals will be honored as recipients of the Outstanding Young Iowan award.Those receiving the recognition are truly accomplished in their fields and/or in giving back to their communities.  These individuals represent the best of the best and individuals we should strive to emulate in our everyday actions. Each Honoree has shown a commitment to hope, reminding all Americans that no problem is too difficult when handled with grace, ingenuity, courage, and determination.

Continuing our efforts to support Veterans

Throughout 2015, the Iowa Jaycees have been working with various community partners to learn how we can better support Veterans in our communities. On this Veterans Day, we are excited to announce that this effort will continue in 2016 through a pilot program with Paws & Effect, a Des Moines, Iowa-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and others.

“The development of a statewide relationship between the Jaycees and Paws & Effect is one that will yield many benefits to both organizations,” said Raymond Ropa, a Cedar Rapids Jaycees member, himself a veteran. “Now, veterans have another resource to welcome them as a service dog team, helping remove the obstacles to access and making for a smooth integration into the community.”

Local Jaycee chapters will work directly with service dog recipients, providing support through the “Passport to Civic Leadership” program, empowering each veteran to take an active role in both improving themselves and their communities. Additionally, funds raised through Paws & Effects’ annual July fund-raiser, “Tables & Tails,” will be used to provide community classes about service dogs and access rights. During the event, business owners contribute a portion of one day’s proceeds.

“Business owners, managers, and employees are often at the front lines of protecting the rights of service animal handlers,” said Erin Flage, 2016 State President-Elect. “When you see a trained animal working in a restaurant, retail business, or office space, you can rest assured the business knows the law.”

Read the full Press Release.

Self-Assessment for the Year

Conceptual diagram written on black chalkboard blackboard

The end of the year is a great time to take a look back at how you performed during the previous year. Did you meet most of your personal and professional goals? What did you do that worked out well and what could be improved upon? Using this information can help your prepare for the upcoming year and help you better understand how to most effectively use your valuable time. Here are a few tips that will help you focus and get the most out of your self-assessment.

  1. Study your successes. If you’re like most folks, you’ve already done some analysis on the goals that you didn’t accomplish. Instead of drowning yourself in what you could have done differently, spend more time looking at what you did right. It will help you in the next step.
  2. Have a plan for your evaluation. It’s not enough to simply make a list and check off what you did well versus what could be improved. Make notes about the specific successes and look for patterns and processes you can apply to upcoming projects.
  3. Admit your mistakes. To avoid repeating past difficulties you have to understand what you can improve on. Having a sense of the mistakes you made during the year will assist you in analysing and planning better solutions if these challenges arise again during 2015.
  4. Be objective about yourself. Remember, you are the only person who will be reading this self-assessment – unless you choose to share it. Thus, there’s no value in embellishing your accomplishments. Be honest about your progress and you will begin with a truer overall evaluation.
  5. Look for new connections. Think about local expertise in the areas you need to improve, then go out and make the connections. You set yourself up to learn some new skills, and you directly address your biggest areas of need.

Taking the time to review 2014 from your perspective can go a long way to ensuring an even better 2015. Using December as a time period to review the previous year will help you prepare in advance for the New Year, and help you hit the ground running in January.

Do you have any suggestions to share regarding self-assessment? Your idea could help your fellow Jaycees – so share them! Our Facebook and Twitter pages are always open.

Your Thanksgiving Primer – Fun Facts You Should Know

Pumpkin pie

As we move towards the end of 2014, we come to the beginning of some folk’s favorite time of year – holiday party season! As active young citizens, we know how to logistically plan and execute a great event. But once the decorations are up, the food has been ordered, and the guest list finalized, how do you make sure that you’re on top of your best mingling game? The answer is simple – have a few key holiday facts ready to go as conversation starters. Not only will you build on your reputation as a knowledgeable person of obscure facts, but you may end up as the highlight of the social evening.

Here’s a few easy to remember facts about Thanksgiving to get you started:

  • The first t.v. dinner was introduced in 1953 when Swanson ordered too many frozen turkeys…about 26 tons worth. In true crisis management solution mode, they cut the turkeys into slices, added some trimmings, repackaged, and presto – dinners that would change our society.
  • Benjamin Franklin unsuccessfully lobbied for the turkey as America’s national bird. In comparison to the bald eagle, Franklin noted that the turkey was a, “much more respectable bird.” Probably not as good eating, though.
  • While Black Friday may be retail’s biggest day, merchants are not alone. National plumbing giant Roto-Rooter reports the day after Thanksgiving as their busiest time of the year. The connection is fairly obvious.
  • Only male turkeys, called toms, gobble. Female turkeys, named hens, are more inclined to cackle.
  • Approximately 280 million turkeys are sold for Thanksgiving. This equates to about 7 billion pounds of meat with a total costs in the neighborhood of $3 billion.

As you sit down with family and friends this holiday, remember to appreciate how fortunate we are to be involved with an organization that not only improves us as individuals, but also works to build a better future for all in our community. Take a moment to be thankful for 2014 and look ahead to a brighter 2015…and don’t be afraid to drop a few interesting Thanksgiving facts.

What do you have planned for the Thanksgiving holiday? Are you spending it with friends? Family? An intimate gathering or a big party? We want to hear about your plans on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Why Be a Jaycee?

Thumbs up

Recruiting can seem like a challenging endeavor for anyone coming up through the Junior Chamber ranks. When we look at recruiting, we need to think about how we ourselves may purchase the things we hold dear in life. In other words, what is the value versus the cost. In order to understand this, let’s break it down a little.

Costs of Joining the Jaycees:

  • Membership Dues – This is typically the first cost we encounter, and in recruiting, we often believe it is the hardest to overcome. However, if we look at common consumer spending habits across the United States for people within the 18-40 demographics, nothing could be farther from the truth. At an average of $55.00 annually, membership costs are significantly lower than what the demographic pays monthly in phone bills, coffee, eating out or bar nights, etc. Why do all of these seem more essential than a Jaycee membership?
  • Time Commitments – This is one that comes as potential members know the organization (or at least think they know the organization), or they might know current active members in the organization. How many of us have posted about how stressed we are about an upcoming project, a board position, or other? Many times, people perceive the “work” and “time” as much more significant than it is, or at least has to be.
  • Other Financial Costs – This can include events, conventions, donations, etc. Again, these costs are all voluntary, but can lead to an expanded Jaycee experience.

Value of Joining the Jaycees:

  • Networks – Whether personal or professional, the networks within the Jaycee family should be valued above the cost of membership alone. There is something powerful to know that you are in an organization that crosses international borders, with more than 220,000 members globally. Getting involved helps us to create these connections, and build lasting friendships.
  • Training – The type of training that the Junior Chamber provides can be a very costly endeavor in the professional world. Don’t believe me? Google “Leadership Training” or “Project Management Training” and see for yourself.
  • New Experiences – Ever had the chance to meet the President of the United States or a Fortune 500 company? What about learning about other cultures? Traveling? Running Projects? The opportunities and experiences that you can get through membership are limitless!

These are just a few examples of the benefits of joining the Junior Chamber movement. When we look at recruiting we need to remember our own purchasing behavior, and we can get a pretty good idea by asking a single question: Does the product have enough value to overcome the cost? Current members and alumni will be the first to tell you that our product (membership) value far exceeds the cost! To be effective in recruiting, we need to demonstrate the benefits of membership. We can start working together here. How have the Jaycee impacted your life? Share your story!

Interview with an Entrepreneur

If  you’ve ever wanted to move on from your nine to five job, and chase the dream of starting your own business, there’s some great motivation in an article from senior writer Catherine Clifford at Entrepreneur.com. She recently interviewed John Schnatter, the founder and CEO of global pizza giant Papa John’s about how he got started, the best ways to motivate employees, and what it takes to create a culture of entrepreneurship.

Some of the highlights of the interview include Schnatter’s thoughts on:
How to grow a business…”You have to have three things. You have to have a passion for what you are doing, you have to be the best in your class, and you have to have a business model that works…And that starts with passion. It’s all about attitude. If you think you can, you are right. If you think you can’t, you are right. And so we are very keen on having people around us that have a great attitude, that have a can-do spirit. That starts with passion.”
Motivating employees…”I don’t think you can control people. I don’t think you manage people. I think you give people a direction, you give them the resources, you lead by example. They get it right, you say, ‘atta girl.’ And they get it wrong, you say, ‘not good.’ I think you give yourself that culture and you have that culture of entrepreneurship, that culture of tinkering, making mistakes, honest mistakes, and you support your people with rewarding them when they do things right.”
How to stay competitive…”You have to constantly innovate. The market dynamics force you to get better. The marketplace is not going to let us slip on quality, or slip on taking care of our people. Yeah, we get better every day. We wake up every day and try to get better. And have fun.”
As the premier organization for the development of young professionals, the Jaycees can help you network with the resources you need to plan for success, and evolve your creative ideas into an organization that reflects your individual passion and goals. Take advantage of the experts in your local chapter to assist where you lack specific knowledge and motivate yourself by learning about entrepreneurs like John Schnatter – you can achieve your dreams.
Tell us about yours. We’re always listening on Facebook and Twitter. We want to hear from you!

Happy Fourth of July

Most folks look forward to the Fourth of July holiday for a number of reasons – a long weekend, BBQs with family and friends, and to celebrate a minor historical event called the American Revolution. As you get together with your friends (other Jaycees included) to toss your favorite food on the grill and crack open a few of your favorite beverages, take a few minutes before you hit the parade or ball game to share a few of these little known facts about the mid-summer holiday.
Some historical:
  • The stars on the original American flag were in a circle so all the colonies would appear equal.
  • Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey as the national bird, but was overruled by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who pushed for the bald eagle.
  • The first official Fourth of July party was held at the White House in 1801.
  • Firecrackers were a big part of the early Independence Day celebrations. The horses were not amused.
  • July 4th only became a national holiday in 1941.
Some food-related:
  • Almost 90% of American homes have an outdoor grill.
  • Over 150 million hot dogs are consumed on July 4th alone.
  • About 700 million pounds of chicken are purchased in the week leading up to the holiday.
  • July 4th is the biggest beer-selling holiday of the year.
  • Americans spend about $11 million on popsicles to enjoy during the celebration.
And some for the trivia fans:
  • Approximately 41 million Americans will spend the holiday at other people’s homes.
  • The US imports about $3.6 million of American flags each year, most from China.
  • One out of eight signers of the Declaration of Independence went to Harvard.
  • The total population of the United States in 1776 was about 2.5 million.
  • There are more than 14,000 fireworks displays across the country every July 4th.
Now that you have your facts straight, tell us what you’re planning for the holiday, and afterwards, what was your most enjoyable memory from this July 4th weekend. A special event? Spending time with family and friends? Eating? Share your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter pages. They’re open for the holiday!

Global Trends in Human Capital

As the workplace continues to grow to include a more global perspective, it is increasingly necessary to evaluate elements of successful business growth on a larger scale. No longer is competition limited to local players, it can now include the entire world. Consequently, smart organizations are looking at global trends on key issues such as regulatory practices, environmental stability, and perhaps most important, human capital.

The global consulting firm, Deloitte recently published a comprehensive study entitled, Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the 21st Century Workforce that, “…reveals the findings of a global survey of more than 2,500 business and HR leaders from 90+ countries – one of the largest talent management surveys of its kind. The survey results paint a clear picture of the challenges and opportunities organizations face in cultivating the talent needed to grow.”

The information provided by Deloitte is broken down into easily useable sections including:

  • Relative urgency of human capital trends
  • Readiness for human capital trends
  • Top 5 human capital trends
  • Capability gap by human capital trend
  • Capability gap drill down
  • Respondent demographics

Users can check out the demographic profile of the companies that participated in the survey, and leverage the information to evaluate and plan within their own businesses. As an organization dedicated to the personal and professional growth of its members, the Jaycees are committed to learning and understanding the latest trends to assist in this personal development.

As you check out the wealth of information that Deloitte included in its report, do not miss the Top 10 Findings – a breakdown of the key survey results, with additional analysis by the survey authors. For example, here is Finding 1: Leadership, retention, HR skills, and talent acquisition are the top global trends in perceived urgency. These sound very similar to the skills an individual can learn through the Jaycee trainings and chapter resources.

We would like to hear your thoughts on the future. Share on our Twitter and Facebook pages what you think will be the most critical skills for young professionals as they enter an increasingly complex workforce.

What Does Your Workspace Clutter Say About You?

Every office has one: the guy or gal that always seems to be just a step or two behind, frazzled, messy and has a workspace that’s cluttered. This co-worker could be producing the most amazing work and still, their reputation is going to remain as the messy, unorganized peer. Is that person lacking organizational skills?

If your desktop hasn’t seen the light of day in a while, you might want to consider improving your organizational skills – not only for your own sanity, but to start doing damage control on your poor office reputation. Getting started is the hardest part and this is where the seasoned vets at the Jaycees come in.

First, you need to physically organize your space. Every paper on your desk should have a home, whether that home is a folder, filing cabinet or outbox. Have any Post-it notes that have lost relevance long ago? Trash ‘em. Any crumbs or coffee cup rings on your workspace? Clean it ASAP. Once these tasks are complete, it will be a little easier to think.

Next, it’s necessary to get to the root of the problem: why are you so darn messy? Are you lacking in time management skills? If this is the case, be sure to allocate yourself just a few minutes every day to help you keep a clean space.

Finally, it’s time to delve into your digital disorder. If you haven’t been diligently deleting unimportant interoffice emails (ahem, reply alls) or work-related items that are no longer important, it is time to clear that clutter as well. This will help cut down on time when you actually need to find something in your inbox. And this is where you can get the extra time you need to organize daily! Funny how things work, right?

Just remember that you are not decluttering just because it isn’t easy on the eyes. Improving your organizational skills will undoubtedly help you in the workplace AND it will give your co-workers and boss a much better impression (hello, promotion!). Do you have any organizational tips of your own? Visit our Facebook or Twitter pages and let us know!


Improving Leadership Skills through Education

As members of a professional organization like the Jaycees, we tend to cultivate different skills through our social interactions with each other and in the workplace. However, is there a certain point we reach that we can no longer just count on these interactions to improve our skills? While we one never stops improving, one of the most effective ways to improve leadership skills is through education.

What is your leadership style? The best way to start improving your leadership skills is to understand the best way for you to lead. There are many quizzes out there that can help evaluate your dominant skills and determine how they help or hinder your leadership abilities. (Educate yourself here to find out the areas in which you need assistance.)

Learn more about communication. We don’t doubt that most Jaycee members are able to effectively communicate with one another, but how do you fare on providing one-on-one communication? Are you able to take nonverbal cues from peers/coworkers/team members that could influence your effectiveness as a leader? Communication is key when it comes to becoming a better leader so make sure that you are aware of what is required of you.

Be motivating. How do great leaders get their team to spring into action? Motivational leadership, that’s how! Check out some great tips to help yourself learn a little more about how to inspire those you lead here.

Consider continuing education. If you are interested in making a career out of being a great leader, perhaps you should consider furthering your education, With an additional bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, one can become a ninja-level leader.

One great thing about being a member of the Jaycees is that we never stop learning, whether we simply listen and learn from our peers or we take the time to fine-tune the skills that we wish to improve. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Jaycee, contact us today!