Posts by Sue Reardon


We recently had the chance to sit down with Suite Spotte member, Mike Lambert to learn more about who he is and what he’s up to. When we say that Mike is one of the smartest and nicest guys around, that’s not an exaggeration. Read on and we’re sure you will agree.

Suite Spotter Mike Lambert and his family vacationing in Italy.
Mike Lambert and his family vacationing in Italy.

Tell us how you got to where you are today professionally?

My brother made me an entrepreneur.  He had his own businesses for awhile, and I would help him out on the side.  We finally stumbled on something with one of those side projects, and the rest is history.  Two months later, I gave my notice and joined him.  That was 16 years ago.

Then in 2016 I met fellow Suite Spotter Jennifer Conroyd, Founder of Fluid Running, an app-based, fully coached, deep water running workout. That was the start of what was to become an amazing business collaboration.

What is the most rewarding part of the work you do?

With Fluid Running, we reach out to people who are in pain with an injury or condition, or lost hope in making it to a race or marathon. We give them an option to keep exercising or training through it and they recover quicker.  It’s great to find someone on social media, tell them about our product, and have them tell the world how much it helped them.

How and why did you get involved with Fluid Running?

Fluid Running H2Go Team at Chicago Innovation 2018
Nominee Reception

At the Suite Spotte weekly entrepreneur “hot seat” lunches, I would listen to Jennifer talk about how Fluid Running works, and helps so many people. I began to think how great it would be for my Aunt down in Florida to use it.

I approached Jennifer with an idea to make it into a DIY product, and we set off to make it happen.  Less than a year later, my Aunt became one of the first users of the Fluid Running H2Go system, and she loves it.

What brought you to Suite Spotte?

I had been working in a coworking office in the city for a couple years before we moved to La Grange in 2014.  My expectation was to jump on the train to go to an office downtown.  When I took a chance on searching for one closer, I was surprised to see one in downtown La Grange.  I booked a tour right away, and have been here since.

With all the innovation you’re driving at work, what do you like to do when you’re not working?

With three little girls, I spend a lot of time with the family.  We like to travel, and often go to Italy where my wife is from.  I enjoy golf when I can, and make it to my fair share of Cubs games every summer.  I love hanging out in Wrigley and other parts of Chicago.

If I were to speak with your colleagues, what three words would they use to describe you?

Helpful, tech savvy, and a good listener. (Yes, yes and yes. We can give you a whole list of examples of all three of these characteristics in action here at Suite Spotte. Instead we encourage you to come to Suite Spotte and meet Mike.)


Thanks for sharing a little about yourself with us Mike! This post is a great example of the collaborative community we’ve built here at Suite Spotte. Members exchange ideas, feedback, and referrals all the time. People join Suite Spotte initially for the space, but stay for the community. Take the first step to achieving your #suitesuccess. Book a tour today!

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You can say “Good Morning” to a fellow coworker each day and spend time together in the kitchen waiting for the microwave to warm up your egg and bacon biscuit sandwich; yet you may never really know how awesome they truly are.  

Over the next few months, we’re going to dig a bit deeper into the lives of our Suite Spotte members in Forest Park and La Grange. It’s going be fun learning about and sharing their amazing talents and little known factoids.

Fatenah in Arabic garb

In honor of International Women’s Day, we bring you a recent conversation we had with Suite Spotter Fatenah Issa, who we are blessed to work with here in Forest Park.

Let’s start with your background.  Tell us:  Who is Fatenah Issa?

I’m the daughter of immigrants. My family is originally from Baghdad, Iraq. So basically I grew up between two cultures that tended to be more out of sync.  I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.

My father came to the US on a student VISA in 1957, went back to Baghdad and married my mom in 1969, then brought her to the States. They were here the rest of their lives. Their names are commemorated on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor.

I follow a vegan lifestyle.  I’ve been vegan for 9 years and vegetarian 13 years prior to that.  This is incredibly important to me from all avenues: health, animal rights, environmental issues, as well as just trying to save the planet!

What about your work life?  Tell us about the professional you.

 I am an instructional designer, which is a fancy way of saying “educational architect.” I currently work for Orbis Education, an OPM (outsourced program management) firm that specializes in partnering with universities across the country to help develop health sciences programming.

What’s your favorite thing about your work?

There are two actually:

I love to learn and I love to share! I’m constantly investigating new research and best practices to bring the best student experiences to online higher ed courses.

I thrive on discussion.  So having members of my team available to “talk shop” and brainstorm is key for me.

In costume for the Newberry performance — Ouled Nail garb

Pick three words that best describe you.

Curious, humble, caring     

When you unplug from your instructional design work, what do you do?

There are several things I love to do to help with the work-life balance.

I study Middle Eastern dance at Pineapple Dance Studio right here in Forest Park. We learn a variety of dance styles and get the opportunity to perform.

The last major performance was at the Newberry Library, where we performed choreographies similar to what would have been performed at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Here’s the blurb from their site.

Threatened by a fearful Dalek, a gold metal monster

I’m also an avid Doctor Who fan! I’ve been a fan since I was 8 years old. Not only do I enjoy watching but I help run conventions. One where I’ve helped run for close to 15 years in the registration department is Gallifrey One, a Doctor Who convention that has now been running for 30 years! The link is to the staff list, where I’m named under the registration team.

I’m an Ambassador for the Sugar Beet Food Co-op in Oak Park. During the warmer months I volunteer my time to help run the Sugar Beet table at the Oak Park Farmer’s Market.  I also help promote various events there via social media.

Flotsam, Jetsam, and Duncan — the overlords

Lastly, I’m just a very happy cat mom. Three furry overlords run my home (I just pay the mortgage…they run the place really 🙂 ).

What’s your favorite thing about being a member at Suite Spotte?

The atmosphere that Sue has created in the space is just incredible. It’s a lovely alternative to working from home (which by the way is less than a 10 minute drive for me).

Also, the other members are super friendly.  Even though we stem from different industries there are challenges we all face, which helps when I need to brainstorm.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

My gut reaction to this question is that the day honors our voice, our contributions to the world, as well as reemphasizing the dire need for equality. The work continues to ensure gender equality. We’ve come so far. At the same time there’s still work to be done.

 

Thank you Fatenah for sharing your amazing life with all of us. You are smart, talented, delightful, and have the best laugh ever!!  Stay tuned next month when we delve into the life of another Suite Spotter. Happy International Women’s Day! #BalanceforBetter

 

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Guest Post by:  Alissa Lozano

Imagine walking into a business not knowing that your future aspirations will be fulfilled there. That is exactly what happened to CPA Ebe Osaigbovo when he walked into Suite Spotte.

Always an aspiring entrepreneur, Ebe started SWM Planning (Smart with Money), offering financial-related services, including income tax filing, credit building, and financial planning. Through SWM Planning, Ebe helps his clients establish savings goals and plans by offering savvy tips and advice on budgeting, and techniques for making saving a priority.

SWM Planning Founder, Ebe Osaigbovo

Understanding that achieving your dream often requires extraordinary effort, he maintains his full-time job at the moment, while continuing to build his business. In the next year, Ebe plans to serve 100 financial clients and 250 tax clients.

His marketing strategy is focused on “word of mouth” and referrals. When it comes to his business, Ebe puts his all into it. He understands that a reputation for not only understanding the ins and outs of finances, but being dependable and trustworthy are critical to his success.

I asked Ebe what advice he has for someone thinking about starting a business. He says, “Have a plan, do a lot of research, and treat your clients like gold!  If you set a clear goal and stick to it, you can achieve anything.”

No doubt, Ebe is on his way to great success. He says that Suite Spotte is one of the big reasons he can stay focused on his goal. Also meeting with his clients at Suite Spotte gives them the right professional impression about his business, and shows just how important they are to him. For Ebe, his Suite Spotte membership is a wise investment.

I was inspired by Ebe’s drive and professionalism. It was also interesting to learn how Suite Spotte helps him to succeed. Learn more about Ebe and SWM Planning and check out Suite Spotte to get and stay motivated. Book a tour online at SuiteSpotte.com


Alissa Lozano is a student at Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park IL. She is interning at Suite Spotte this summer to learn more about entrepreneurship from people who are actively building  their businesses.

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Guest Post by:  Alissa Lozano

 

Ever hear the saying “partners in crime”?  When Suite Spotte members, Jennifer Depakakibo and Lis Martin, first came to Suite Spotte, they were running separate marketing businesses; however, frequently collaborated on client projects. They soon realized they could do much more by combining their businesses into one. That’s what led to the creation of Statement Communications, a creative marketing and branding business.

Statement Communications Partners Jen Depakakibo and Lis Martin

Jennifer is a designer and has a strong creative side. Lis on the other hand, is an experienced writer. “A writer and designer are like peanut butter and jelly”, Lis said to describe their business collaboration. Together they offer a variety of marketing services, from website development to designing marketing collateral for clients, which includes digital brochures, special reports, and ad campaigns.

Like many business partners have learned, combining two businesses has its challenges. However, Lis and Jen really believed that the new business was the smart thing to do. And they were right! Since they decided to “take the leap and do it”, their positive outlook has paid off.  Statement Communications continues to grow not only because of their combined creative talent, but also because of their focus on developing strong, trusting client relationships.

Statement Communications’ offices are at Suite Spotte in downtown Forest Park, IL. When asked why they chose Suite Spotte, Lis said, “It’s an amazing place to run a business. Suite Spotte supports developing entrepreneurs who are working to realize their vision.” Jen added, “The member community here is outstanding. Everyone helps each other and really wants to see each other succeed.”

Talking with Lis and Jen convinced me that Suite Spotte is definitely the “spotte” to go to get the support you need to grow your business. For more information book a tour online at SuiteSpotte.com.


Alissa Lozano is a student at Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park IL. She is interning at Suite Spotte this summer to learn more about entrepreneurship from people who are actively building  their businesses.

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All you accountants out there, read no further or cover your ears for what I’ve got to say to my fellow business owners.

Every check, credit card transaction, or cash purchase you make for your business shouldn’t be viewed purely as an expense. I’m not talking accounting principles here, I’m talking mindset.

If you treat all spends the same, you will likely miss out on doing things that will have a far greater impact on your business growth. Some expenses are smart investments.  If lumped in with printer cartridges and copier paper, you’re not giving them a fair shake.

My mentor is the one who opened my eyes to this many years ago. We talked a lot about what I needed to do to grow my business.  I would immediately respond – “I can’t afford that!”

That’s when I learned about my huge blind spot. The decision was not whether I should spend the money on my business, but whether I should invest the money in my business.

That shed a whole new light on expenses. Investments were the workshops that gave me the knowledge I needed to stay competitive and growing; and, mastermind groups to get me out of my own head; and coworking. Yes, I worked from a coworking space before I started Suite Spotte because I got so much energy, ideas, and inspiration from other members. These were some of the investments I made to take advantage of the growth opportunities I was then prepared to create. And still do today to keep growing.

Sure, money was often tight. But somehow, I found a way. Whether it was by asking for a workshop fee as a Christmas or Mother’s Day gift from family instead of the fresh flowers or new sweater I usually got.  I’ve also been known to sell off some “vintage” items that had been stored away. Or cooking for a month instead of picking up something quick and pricey a few days a week. Or even postponing an upgrade to the latest cool phone. Be creative! The money is there. If you really want your business to grow, you will find it.

The next time an opportunity comes your way that will help move your business forward. Step up and invest in YOU!

 

Find out more about what you should invest in for your business from the experts at the Rocka Million Weekend.

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