Webinar Recap: Who Cares? The Data Behind Voter Apathy

tnt_logo-britton-01The North Texas Commission’s Topic: North Texas Webinar Series presented by Verizon continued on October 14, 2015 with the NTC’s Britton Cunningham, as she discussed voter apathy in Texas and nationally.

Who cares?

Statistics show that the Presidential election years drive abnormally high numbers to the polls. In off years, and especially in local elections, like the ones held in May, rather than November, here in Texas, voter turnout can be low.

In this month’s Topic: North Texas webinar, Britton discusses WHY voter apathy, or the feeling of not needing to vote, exists, and covers key insights including:

  • Deep-dive into the millennial generation
  • Compare and contrast various demographics
  • Dissect voting trends in Texas and the U.S.
  • Discuss opportunities for engagement

About the Presenter

Britton Cunningham is the NTC’s Marketing Events Manager and “Millennial-In-Residence.” A Plano native, she Britton-Cunningham-headshot-outdoors-2015graduated from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, where she studied strategic communication and consumer behaviors.

While at Missouri, she worked on research projects about Millennials and Gen Z and was asked to present on her findings at the International Media Conference in Seoul, South Korea as only undergraduate speaker at the event. After working in advertising as a consumer profiler, she joined the NTC team and now presents key insights into statistical data on the next generations to city councils and corporate executive teams.

For the full details from the webinar, watch the presentation or view the slides below. For past webinar recordings and details on future webinars, visit our webinar page HERE.

Webinar Recap: Build Your Brand & Executive Presence

tnt_logo-britton-01The North Texas Commission welcomed Valerie Sokolosky from Valerie and Company as she discussed Executive Presence as a leadership strategy and an essential tool for building long-lasting business relationships that result in revenue growth.

About the Webinar

In order to compete in the current business environment, research shows that executives must be clear about how they are perceived as a strong brand. As a certified PCC executive coach of 25 years and one of only 20 Master Brand Strategists worldwide, Valerie shares Best Practices from real-world experiences taken from her Blue Chip list of client companies and helps you answer questions about brandyour brand as a company and as an individual.

Questions to consider before you watch the webinar:

  • How can you strike a balance between projecting the right professional image but still be your authentic brand?
  • What brand attributes are you and your team known for?
  • What’s the message you want to give to others?
  • Do you know how you and your team are perceived by your clients (internal & external)?

About the Presenter

 Valerie Sokolosky has earned respect in her field as a sought after consultant in more than 60 Fortune 500 companies. An author of eight books, she founded her leadership development valfirm 25 years ago specializing in developing emerging leaders and those in the C suite to have a strong executive presence and personal brand. Valerie holds distinctions including one of 20 Master Brand Strategists worldwide and an ICF certified executive coach.

As a trusted advisor, she is relied upon in companies that are focused on developing their leaders. One of her greatest joys over the past eight years coaching Partners in one of the big 4 financial services firms to build their brand and exude their executive presence.

For the full details from the webinar, watch the presentation or view the slides below. For past webinar recordings and details on future webinars, visit our webinar page HERE.

Webinar Recap: Social Entrepreneurship – Innovative Thinking to Build a Better North Texas

tnt_logo-britton-01The North Texas Commission’s Topic: North Texas Webinar Series presented by Verizon continued on July 8, 2015 with Suzanne Smith as she discussed social entrepreneurship and innovation on a global and regional scale.

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurs take ideas, either new or existing, and come up with innovative, creative ways leverage them to make an impact on social issues. Whether it’s a local problem or a global issue, the goal of a social entrepreneur is to be a part of the solution, to make a difference. Social innovation requires a social enterprise – the business model behind the change which requires these entrepreneurs to get creative.

“Don’t fall in love with a solution. Fall in love with a problem,” Smith said of creating a social enterprise, of which the end goal is to go out of business by fixing the problem you aim to solve.

Smith discussed various social entrepreneurs, including North Texas’s own Mary Kay and their impact on the world of social innovation. She also presented the idea of social impact bonds which allow states to research and develop ideas to make change in key challenge areas like workforce development and at-risk youth.

The Prison Entrepreneurship Program was used in Smith’s presentation as a prime example of social entrepreneurship, a program recently covered in our Topic: North Texas Webinar Series. Criminal Justice, along with early childhood development and regionalism as a whole were the three things Smith stated could have the biggest impact on North Texas, if people began to think about them in an innovative way. View the recap and recording on Topic: North Texas | Rethink Prison HERE.

About the Presenter

Suzanne Smith (@snstexas) has a deep belief that everyone is a changemaker.  As a serial social entrepreneur, she strives to harness the powerful force of organizations, including nonprofits, foundations and socially responsible businesses, and individuals, especially students and young entrepreneurs, to maximize SSmith_WEBPIC-200x300the potential of the social sector to create real, scalable impact.

Social-Impact-Architects-Logo-300x56In 2009, Suzanne founded Social Impact Architects to reshape the business of social change. She combines her MBA know-how with two decades of experience as a nonprofit innovator to serve as a consultant, advisor and thought partner. She is also a highly sought-after public speaker at conferences nationwide and teaches as an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas. Suzanne also authors Social TrendSpotter (@socialtrendspot), one of the sector’s top blogs according to the Huffington Post.

Suzanne holds an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where she was selected as the CASE (Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship) Scholar and now serves as a Research Fellow and on their Alumni Council. Nationally, she was selected as a member of Peter Senge’s Society of Organizational Learning and Young Entrepreneurs Council. She also served on the national board of the Social Enterprise Alliance and is currently their Senior Policy Advisor.

For the full details from the webinar, watch the presentation or view the slides below. For past webinar recordings and details on future webinars, visit our webinar page HERE.

Webinar Recap: 7 Steps to the LinkedIn Profile You Deserve

tnt_logo-britton-01The North Texas Commission’s Topic: North Texas Webinar Series presented by Verizon continued on June 24, 2015 with Lisa Van Gemert as she presented seven steps you can take to develop the LinkedIn profile you need and deserve. Lisa’s presentation included a handy worksheet you can download HERE, and the YouTube recording of the webinar along with the slides can be found below the recap.

About LinkedIn


LinkedIn is the calling card of the professional world, and your profile speaks volumes about you and your company, whether you’re ready for it or not. Lisa will show you how to take your profile from simply good to all-star in a few easy steps. Even if you are a complete newcomer to LinkedIn, you’ll learn everything you need to make a profile that truly stands out.  Learn to represent your company better and control your digital footprint by leveraging the tools available through LinkedIn.

 Before You Begin

Make sure to turn off your activity feed before you begin updating your profile. If you leave it turned on, all of your connections will be notified every time you make a change. To turn off this feed, select to Edit Profile and toggle the Notify Your Network? button on the right side of the screen to No.

Step 1: Make a Strong Photo Choice

Choose a photo that:

  • is recent
  • has a clean background
  • follows the elbow rule
  • puts you in a professional light
  • is taken from the correct angle (face your audience)
  • is high quality (not fuzzy, etc.).

Step 2: Create a Clear Header

Create a heading that:

  • includes your name and critical designations (If you have a common name, use your initial or a professional designation as part of your name.)
  • does not have links or phone numbers
  • takes advantage of suggestions
  • uses vertical lines or symbols for dividers
  • shares if you are job seeking (“seeking opportunities to…”)
  • conveys the people you serve, how you serve them, and
  • where you serve them (“Focused on ER nursing in the DFW Metroplex”; “Advocating for clients in the State of Texas”; “Navigating tax law for mid-sized companies in Fort Worth”)

Step 3: Customize Your Public Profile Link

Create a link that:

  • has between 5 & 30 characters (shorter is better)
  • is professional/associated with you
  • uses your initial or role to separate you if you have a common name (e.g., linkedin.com/in/johnmsmithcpa)

*This is essential. If you do nothing else, do this.

Step 4: Include ALL of the ways to Reach You

Have a fleshed-out contact list

  • follow the Platinum Rule (Make sure you can be contacted in the way the people want to contact you.)
  • allows you be seen in as many places as your clients or your company’s clients find people
  • create separate email account just for it if you’re worried about spam

Step 5: Maximize Your Summary

Make your summary a conversation.

  • max 2,000 characters
  • practice in Word
  • use the first person
  • business casual tone
  • no links
  • avoid industry jargon
  • use formatting/headings
  • Do you have something you can give away?
  • include a favorite quote

Step 6: Connect

How to get connections:

  • have a complete profile
  • see who’s there that you already know and connect
  • view your connections’ connections
  • send personalized invitations, not the stock ones
  • join groups
  • share content through social media (use Hootsuite to schedule your posts)
  • put links to profile on business card/website/everywhere

Step 7: Perfect Your Profile

Make your profile as complete as possible:

  • include work samples like Slideshare and Goodreads and your blog
  • add a background image
    • 1400 x 425 pixels (find free open source images at Pixabay.com)
    • Click Profile at the top of your homepage.
    • Click Edit background, which appears above the top section of your profile.
    • Click Change Image to select a new image, or Remove Image to remove the image.
    • Click Save
  • throw in your industry jargon in the Skills & Endorsements section
  • keep Experience sounding personal, not like a resume

To download Lisa’s Checklist with all 7 steps, please click HERE.

About the Presenter

Tactical, practical, fun, and inspiring, Lisa Van Gemert has addressed audiences around the world in groups large and small. Lisa is a member of the National Speakers Association and serves as Chair of the Gifted Plus Division of the Texas Association for the Gifted. A teacher and school administrator prior to coming to Mensa and consulting, she uses the experiences she gleaned in schools and her journey through Giftedland to help all teams learn how to accomplish their goals effectively while still loving it.

Using a combination of neuropsychology, pedagogy, humor, technology and sheer fun, Lisa Van Gemert shares with businesses, schools and conferences worldwide how to do what they do better. Lisa is the Youth & Education Ambassador for Mensa, as well an international speaker on issues of neuropsychology & education. She is an expert consult to television shows, writer of award-winning lesson plans, and author of the children’s and teachers’ guides to the National Book Festival, as well numerous published articles on social psychology and pedagogy.

For the full details from the webinar, watch the presentation or view the slides below. For past webinar recordings and details on future webinars, visit our webinar page HERE.

Webinar Recap: Ozone in North Texas & Opportunities for Improvement


Kicking off the Topic: North Texas webinar series for June, Chris Klaus of the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) discussed the state of North Texas air quality and what can be anticipated for 2015. Also, companies and organizations were presented with opportunities to participate in air quality efforts including the upcoming Clean Air Action Day on June 26.

The Dallas-Fort Worth region has been working to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s ozone standards since the early 1990’s. While air quality has improved, federal standards continue to get tougher and the region still faces many challenges. In order to continue making progress toward new ozone standards, leadership from the business community will be essential to air quality improvements.

What Can We Do

With rising greenhouse gas emissions from large diesel engine vehicles, off road transportation such as trains and planes, and other area sources, the number of efforts to cut those emissions is also rising. The Transportation Department of the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) new comprehensive website, found HERE, allows people in North Texas to see current and predicted ozone conditions and plan around them, for both business and personal use. NCTCOG is also encouraging people to cut emissions by carpooling through the new website, by creating a comprehensive database of ride share systems throughout North Texas.

Clean Air Action Day

Clean Air Action Day is just around the corner on June 26, 2015. In this webinar, Chris discusses businesses can engage with various efforts throughout the region. These efforts can include changing modes of transportation to and from work, changing your Friday night plans or taking a weekend at the lake to cut electricity use. To document those efforts and review the results of past Clean Air Action Days HERE.

About the Presenter

Chris Klaus has been on staff in the Transportation Department of the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, since July 1994. He is a Senior Program Manager managing the department’s Air Quality Planning and Operations activities, which respond to federal air quality requirements and work towards reaching attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.


For the full details from the webinar, watch the presentation or view the slides below. For past webinar recordings and details on future webinars, visit our webinar page HERE.

Webinar Recap: Rethink Prison


For every 10 people that are released from prison, it’s expected that four will be back behind bars within three years; that’s a recidivism rate of 40 percent. How can we reverse such a startling statistic?

In our May Topic North Texas webinar, Natalie Baker and Bryan Kelley of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) brought light to the recidivism issue and how PEP has become part of the solution. Also, hear the breath-taking stories of Natalie and Bryan as they walk through life in prison and the positive impact PEP is making both inside and outside of prison walls.

The “Cost” of Incarceration

Our country has a prison problem. One out of 100 Americans is in jail or prison today—a total population of 2.3 million, which is equivalent to the size of Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano combined. One out of 15 Americans will go to jail or prison in his lifetime.

For many, prison is “out of sight, out of mind.” But it becomes everyone’s problem when prisons continue to bloat with repeat “customers” who understand their role in society—steal, kill and hustle. For those who would rather focus on preventing crime by working with at-risk populations who have never committed a crime, consider this: prisons are the largest concentrated pools of future criminals. That’s a conversation starter for real crime prevention solutions.

The driving passion of PEP manifests itself in a progressive nonprofit solution that is single-handedly changing the way private institutions and state governments view correctional facilities. This passion is based on the idea that prison inmates—especially former gang leaders, drug dealers and those with violent offenses—have a massive reservoir of untapped potential. PEP seeks to redirect these men into legitimate enterprises, leveraging their proven entrepreneurial skill-sets to inspire an even deeper change.

 The Prison Entrepreneurship Program

With over 1,400 applicants every year, PEP selects 100 men to go through their rigorous programs. Participants work diligently over the nine months to comprehend and dissect business strategies and create a full business plan for a realistic new business venture. The program brings in volunteers from the corporate world to hear presentations, network with the men in the program, and to later serve as possible mentors and/or investors after their release. At the end of the nine months, participants earn a certificate in entrepreneurship from the University of Baylor.

About the Presenters

PEP-Baker_Natalie_PhotoNatalie Baker is PEP’s Executive Relations Manager for the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.  In her position, she is responsible for managing a portfolio of major and prospective supporters, coordinating monthly events, meetings and public presentations throughout the Greater DFW area and assisting with the management of all in-prison events that PEP offers throughout the year at the Sanders Estes Unit in Venus, TX (about 35 miles south of the DFW metroplex).   A former practicing attorney, she recently served four years in the Florida state penitentiary, enabling her to better advocate for the men in the PEP program, as well as voice the importance rehabilitation plays in a prisoner’s future.

PEP-Kelly_Bryan_PhotoBryan Kelley is currently the Re-Entry Manager for the Dallas branch of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. Bryan leads a re-entry team that literally picks up PEP participants at the prison gate upon release and ensures that they continue their journey of success outside prison walls. In his role as such he wears many hats: life coach, counselor, property manager, family liaison, recruiter, fundraiser, speaker, disciplinarian, cheerleader and part-time house mom. He will soon add teacher and character coach to his repertoire by leading the character development portion of the program inside the Estes prison unit. What’s more, Bryan is a product of the program himself, having spent nearly 22 years behind bars, he was released in 2014 and now helps his PEP brothers traverse the very steps he took just a few short months ago.


For the full details from the webinar, watch the presentation or view the slides below.

Webinar Recap: The Startup Ecosystem


On April Fools Day, the NTC eschewed practical jokes for a practical discussion on the North Texas startup ecosystem. The Topic: North Texas webinar series presented by Verizon was joined by Trey Bowles of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center to get the big picture on startups and how they interact with the economy.

The Startup Ecosystem

Having a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem is good for the strength of an economy. It promotes innovation, builds jobs, and is fancy. But, this ecosystem isn’t exclusive to the tech geeks, coders and entrepreneurs, it’s something that all organizations and stakeholders can and should play a role in.

Just some of the examples discussed:

Cities can help support co-working spaces and integrate entrepreneur support into their economic development plan.

Businesses can support workers who want to try and start their own businesses knowing that an employee that has experience leading a company is going to be a better employee.

Businesses can help give affordable services to entrepreneurs to build early relationships with emerging companies.

Schools can support entrepreneurs by providing the education and connections and research needed to make a biz successful.

Media can try to highlight these companies.

About The DEC

The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (The DEC) serves entrepreneurs in the Dallas area, providing a location where they can receive training, education, mentorship, promotion and access to capital in order to encourage and equip the entrepreneurial community to start, build and grow their businesses. Facilitating a culture of entrepreneurship and giving before you get the DEC connects new and old entrepreneurs with a vibrant, collaborative environment. For more information on the DEC, CLICK HERE.

About Trey Bowles

In June 2013, Trey launched the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (the DEC), a central location for entrepreneurs to learn how to start, build and grow businesses through training, education, mentorship, promotion and capital investment. As Co-Founder and CEO, Trey leads strategy, vision and drives the overall planning and development efforts for the DEC. Trey serves as the Chair of Startup America: Texas Region and as an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at SMU.


For the full details from the webinar, watch the presentation or view the slides below.


Webinar Recap: Connecting Industry to Every Classroom



The Topic: North Texas webinar series presented by Verizon continued this month with Christine Saba from Nepris, an online portal that connects industry with classrooms, to discuss education and the growing gap between education and workforce.

Filling the Education Gap

With the exponential growth in technology and the role it plays in daily life, more and more jobs require STEM degrees and/or experience. The projected job growth for the current decade, 2010-2020, is an astonishing 62 percent for biomedical engineers, 32 percent for software developers and only and average of 14 percent for all occupations combined. It’s estimated that only 33 percent of these high tech jobs will be filled by U.S. workers. Companies have stepped up to help fill this gap and contributed $2.3 billion during 2011 alone. Not only do these companies bring a real-world perspective to what students are learning in the classroom, but they are making education more relevant. When high school dropouts were polled, 47 percent said they dropped out because they just don’t see the relevance of school.

For industries to make an impact in the classroom, it requires more than money. Professionals need to play a role in the classroom. However, the roadway to the classroom is full of speed bumps – it’s time consuming, connections have to be made with individual schools and classrooms, the right classrooms have to be found to ensure relevant content, it has to work into a convenient schedule and many others. The great news for industries is that Nepris has done the research and taken the time to build a platform that can easily connect these two sectors.

Watch the presentation or view the slides below and get an overview on the education gap in the U.S. as well as an introduction of the services provided by Nepris.



Topic: North Texas | Connecting Industry to Every Classroom from North Texas Commission

Webinar Recap: RAK Free Trade Zone



On Wednesday, February 18, the Topic: North Texas webinar series presented by Verizon welcomed Nadia Rinawi all the way from Germany to talk about the RAK Free Trade Zone in the UAE.

Traditionally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been viewed as a gateway to not only the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets, but also those of the surrounding countries and regions, like Iraq, South Asia and East Africa, which have a steady demand for infrastructure development projects and growing middle classes. One of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is only a 45-minute drive from Dubai.

RAK Free Trade Zone is one of the fastest-growing, most cost-effective free zones in the Middle East and rapidly emerging as the preferred business hub in the region. It provides an excellent infrastructure, a tax-free environment, customized business solutions, hassle-free procedures, value-added services and all the facilities that you expect from a world-class free zone. Over 500 US companies already registered in RAK Free Trade Zone.

Watch the presentation or view the slides below and get a market overview about the United Arab Emirates and the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah as well as an introduction of the services provided by RAK Free Trade Zone Authority.



Topic: North Texas | RAK Free Trade Zone from North Texas Commission

LEED Certification and AFV Preferred Parking Signs

Website Banner Ad-Parking Signs-01

Yesterday, the North Texas Commission (NTC) rounded out the 5th year of the Topic: North Texas Webinar Series presented by Verizon with a detailed look at LEED Certification and preferred parking for alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). The EPA rated Dallas as #7 in the country for total number of green buildings. Also, Dallas is one of the first cities in the country to implement a comprehensive and mandatory green building code. Under the city’s Green Building Ordinance, all new projects must meet minimum requirements for the Dallas Green Construction Code, or be LEED Certified. Robert Kent, former Director of Public Policy for the North Texas Commission and now director of The Trust for Public Land Dallas office, joined us at the NTC office to discuss the AFV preferred parking program he established. For a full video of the webinar, please view this link. For the presentation slides, check out the NTC slideshare account.

About LEED

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the nation’s premier green building certification system. Administered by the U.S. Green Business Council (USGBC), over 57,ooo commercial and institutional projects are currently participating in LEED, comprising over 10.5 bullion square feet. Currently, the USGBC offers five rating systems for LEED, including:

  • Building Design & Construction
  • Interior Design & Construction
  • Building Operations & Maintenance
  • Neighborhood Development
  • Homes

Projects seeking LEED Certification earn points within various credit categories, such as Location & Transportation, Sustainable Sites, Energy & Atmosphere or Materials & Resources. The more points a project earns, the higher it’s level of LEED certification:

  • LEED Certificated – 40-49 points
  • LEED Silver – 50-59 points
  • LEED Gold – 60-79 points
  • LEED Platinum – 80+ points

Alternative Fuel Vehicles for LEED Certification

AFVs are cars, trucks and other automobiles that run on fuels other than traditional gasoline. They could be electric, natural gas, hydrogen, bio-diesel, ethanol or propane. The USGBC offers AFV-specific points towards LEED certification within the Sustainable Sites Credit Category.

SSc4.3: Alternative Transportation—Low Emitting and Fuel Efficient Vehicles

  • Option 1: Designate 5% of spaces in your parking lot as “preferred parking” for low emission or fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Option 2: Install AFV fueling stations for 3% of site’s total parking capacity
  • Option 3: Provide low-emission or fuel-efficient vehicles and preferred parking for 3% of your building’s employees
  • Option 4: Institute a fuel-efficient or low-emission vehicle sharing program for your building, and provide preferred parking for these vehicles

NTC AFV-Preferred Parking Program

Through a grant from the US Dept. of Energy and the NCTCOG, the North Texas Commission is offering free “AFV-Preferred Parking” signs to businesses, municipalities, and other places-of-work in North Texas. If your organization is interested in the NTC AFV-Preferred Parking Program, please go to ntxgreenparking.com to request the number of signs you need OR call the NTC at 972-621-0400 and ask about the parking program.

AFV-Preferred-Parking-Sign-NTC-01About the signs:
• Dimensions: 12” x 18”
• Material: 63-mil high-intensity reflective aluminum
• Stand dimensions: 48” tall with 14” base plate
• Cost: FREE!

Benefits of signs:
• Count toward LEED 2009 SSc4.3 points
• Parking space listed on Juxt smartphone app
• Help reduce air pollution
• Support your employees with AFVs