What’s Your CAUSE?


Editors note: It seems like when you start to join organizations, a snowball effect starts to form and you simply cannot stop joining and making a difference. It’s so true though, the feeling you get when contributing to something bigger than yourself is truly amazing. As everyone knows, when you start to get very busy, you can only pick one or two of the best organizations to be part of.  CAUSE is the staple of all organizations in that it is fit for everyone, so taking a look at what these people do for the school and the community, was a no brainer. As always, if you like what I do, feel free to follow me on social media @LOUIEZMICH. Hope you all enjoy!

 CAUSE, we see it everywhere, you smell it on Thursdays and join us on events such as the Social Impact Summit, but what is CAUSE? (And what is the Social Impact Summit, you say?) CAUSE is the Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs…I hear the typing right now, “Why Unreasonable?” Well, Gerorge Shaw, said it best…in fact it’s his quote: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” This is the foundation of CAUSE, and this student run organization is anything but reasonable when it comes to establishing itself as  the top dog in fundraising and community contribution.

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 Who are those people selling glorious pizza on Thursdays? CAUSE, the idea was simple, CAUSE wanted to offer pizza to students, that seemed to be the only thing that student count not manage to receive when studying in Barsema. This was the idea that sparked the prestigious phenomenon that fills the atrium with hungry people and smells that intoxicate. The students at CAUSE hand make the Pizza Pros’ pizzas on Thursday mornings at 9:45am sharp and literally top, spread, and bake all the ingredients by hand and personally deliver the pizzas to Barsema Hall to sell them promptly at 11am. Only challenge? Staying in stock! The weekly fundraiser is from 11am-1pm, and the organization almost never makes it past 12:30pm, as the demand is just too high. CAUSE has even maxed out Pizza Pros’ ovens at 24 pizzas, and we still cannot keep enough on hand. Sounds like people need to order up right when they can. Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:photo2-e1406646253633.jpg

Besides having long lines for their fantastic pizzas, CAUSE goes way beyond fundraising. CAUSE is most definitely leading the charge in donations around the world. This year, CAUSE has decided to do donations a little bit differently  by donating 50% of profits from pizza sales each month to a helpful organization of the student body’s choice from around the world. This month, CAUSE is donating their proceeds to Nicole Swedlow and Entreamigos! (Pictured below). CAUSE is also doing something amazing, and offering a scholarship to qualified NIU students at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Simply a testament of how powerful and large this organization is becoming.

The truth is, CAUSE is about sharing and increasing the impact in the community. Going beyond NIU is simply another facet of being unreasonably bold. It’s like a pond ripple effect and CAUSE is making a big splash. Expanding out to other Universities and schools over time, just feel like the only way to move forward that would fully satisfy everyone’s hunger in this organization. It really is amazing to think that something that literally started as pizza sales in the atrium has blossomed so much that the thought of expansion is now a legitimate idea being discussed. Who knows, maybe down the line, high schools and universities across the country could have their very own CAUSE!

Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:Selling+CAUSE+Pizza.jpgCAUSE has become, over time, it’s own Social Entrepreneurial business. The meetings are run like a business, finances are conducted like a business. When said plan becomes a hit, the only thing an unreasonable person would think, would we be to go and get more people around the world to care and help out with others. The leading factor in the outreach is by far the success of the Social Impact summit.

The Social Impact Summit was started in 2013 and had the goal in mind of combining students, professionals, and professors with expertise in the social space into one large summit where networking, startups and entrepreneurs could thrive. This is the big time, this is what the entire team works for through the year. The Summit is held every April in the Barsema Alumni Visitor’s Center and consists of a full day of keynote speakers combined with breakout panels and a networking lunch giving opportunities to students just like you who want to make a difference. The entire event is funded by the pizza sales and companies willing to donate. This is amazing, companies are willing to sponsor a completely student run event because that’s the kind of people they want! Innovators, risk takers, and people who just simply get things done. Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:Social+Impact+Summit.png

The Social Impact Summit also goes a step further and conducts their annual “Pitch With A CAUSE” competition. This is a competition for anyone who has an idea for a business that makes a positive social or environmental impact. It basically is Shark Tank but for NIU, literally. There is a panel of professionals in this field, who work together to ask questions and pick a winner for the grand prize of $1,500! People from around the world come to pitch their cause. No joke, a group from Hungary came last year, simply wonderful! The day is full of wonderful things for everyone, good food, and great organizations to network with and sometimes purchase goodies from, not to mention the keynote speakers who will most definitely catch your interest. April should be your go to month to really jump start your career in a fantastic direction.

Innovate. Impact. Be unreasonable, that has always been the model for CAUSE and never straying away from that model has brought ample success. When asking a CAUSE member, “What does CAUSE do?” you will never get the same answer, simply put, we do so much. CAUSE never puts down a new idea and not only has become its own pizza business, but has also become a networking powerhouse and central hub for innovation and excellence from speakers to donations.

Thank you all for letting me try to express exactly what CAUSE does, and maybe this sparks your interest in something else to join. If you’re interesting in joining, feel free to stop by Barsema Hall Room 219 on Wednesday’s from 5-6pm and don’t forget to go to http://www.niucause.com for all the updates on what is going on in the CAUSE world, and as always, hope to see you on Thursday’s for pizza!

As for now, as always this is Louie telling you to stay awesome and do something to change the world!

Thank you everyone,

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~ Louie

Mastering the art of note taking

Editors note: Hello everyone, Louie again. I figured the beginning of the year would be a great time to talk about the power of taking good notes in class. The quality of your notes greatly reflects on how well you do in class, and with classes getting more and more difficult as you get closer to graduation, there’s no better time than to brush up on your note taking skills. After taking a whole seminar over the summer on note taking, (I know, riveting). I wanted to share some information I had learned. As always, I hope you enjoy, and feel free to reach out to me @LOUIEZMICH on all social media.

 It seems simple enough, but taking notes that are efficient and effective is not a simple task. If you’re anything like me, professors talk so fast and everything seems so important, you end up writing so much down but never getting it all because your hand can’t write that fast. Note taking doesn’t just begin when you sit down in the classroom; it actually begins before you even go to class.

1. Read beforehand.

Unfortunately, you heard me correctly; you will have to read the book before you go to class. The reason for this, simply put, is your brain cannot function and comprehend brand new material when you’re being lectured simultaneously. Think about it, how many times have you been extremely focused in class and never had your mind wonder at all? Odds are, not many, so when you’re in class you want to have some idea of what is next to come.  This way you can write down topics that clear up what you didn’t understand before you came into class, and not write down concepts you already understood while reading before hand.

Now, before you go to class you do not have to read the entire chapter word for word, but what you should do is the following.

  • Read the first and last sentence of every paragraph, and make headers for each new topic in your notes.
  • Read and understand every bolded word.
  • Read the entire summary at the end of each chapter.
  • Make note of concepts and words you didn’t understand before the lecture.

See, that’s not too hard to do, but it is exponentially important before you go to class to have this mental mindset in place. You will never be caught off guard if you follow those steps because you will know what is coming, and have an idea of what is being talked about before you listen in on the lecture. This is also helpful because if you do doze off, or your mind wanders, you will know right where your place was in class as marked by your notes.

2. 24 Hour “Shot Clock.”

Now that you did all this preparation before class, it is crucial that you get into a routine (foreshadowing for the next post) of reviewing your notes no more than 24 hours after lecture. This is very important if your goal is to learn and comprehend the information. Unless you’re trying to memorize something to then forget it later, you what to actually learn the material from class. By going back and re-reading your notes, you still have a mental image of the lecture in your mind. Research published in the Teaching of Psychology Journal in the ’80s concluded that students were messing up on their tests not because they’d taken bad notes, but because they weren’t re-reading them before the exams. If you have the opportunity, and choose to record your lectures, make sure you follow along in your notes as you re-watch the lecture. This act of visiting your notes within 24 hours of your lecture is a great way to remember what you were thinking as you were writing in class. Make sure you ingrain that information in your head while it’s still fresh, that way the next time you have class, you will have already reviewed the material. By the time of the exam you will be able to recite your notes without looking at them. Which means no more cramming either.

3.   Be OCD with your notes, and be creative. 

You want your notes to be as professional and organized as possible. It will not benefit you at all if your notes are all over the place. You need to be able to sit down again and again and know exactly what you wrote down and when. Simple things like headings, dates, and titles are perfect with keeping on task with your notes. Your notes should have a variation for your own style, but should look slightly organized like this:

How to become a better person                             09/02/2015

  • Read good blog posts.
    • Louie Zmich has great ideas
  • Go to a great college
    • Northern Illinois University has great degree programs

Why becoming a better person is crucial in life

  • Better people have more friends
    • Studies show, this is because people will like you
  • Better people, are healthier people
    • You wont be stressed about how people don’t like you


In order to become a better, healthier, and more popular person, you must be enrolled with NIU and read Louie’s blog posts.

With notes like these, all joking aside, you will be more organized and know right where your thoughts were on every topic. You also want to include pictures in your notes as well. Drawing releases a lot of your creative side and inspires your mind to capture the thought better when something is drawn out. Make an image on paper to enhance the idea that you are trying to capture in your notes.

 4. Take Breaks.

The typical meeting format of continuous talking and     simultaneous scribbling might not be ideal for optimum note taking. It turns out that everyone might not listen and write well when trying to do both at the same time. The Journal of Educational Psychology researched lecture structures and found that incorporating periodic short breaks greatly improved the quality of notes taken. One way to approach this would be to have little moments of quiet writing reflection in between meeting agenda items. Wouldn’t that be pleasant?

I think it’s time for everyone to stop cramming before exams and to start being prepared before the exam date comes around and sneaks up on you. Even though that is a loaded statement, hopefully if you follow these tips you will eventually be a master note taker. Everyone has had that feeling of accomplishment when walking out of a lecture actually understanding what went on. You feel secure and ready for the exam, and that was just after one lecture. Imagine having that feeling all the time because you were ready before, during and after the lecture by being prepared and great at marking down your lectures.

I hope this has been some help to you, and hopefully this year has been made a bit less stressful by the power of note taking.

As always, thank you and don’t forget to be awesome today,


Bring It! Center – Charge Up and Refuel

Editor’s Note: This article was written to introduce and inform students on the various resources available to them on campus. This week we are highlighting the Bring It! Center, one of my personal favorite rooms on campus that not many people know about. – Jacob Ferguson, NIU College of Business Marketing and Social Media Intern

Bring It! Center

The Bring It! Center is a place for College of Business students to come together to study, collaborate on group projects and receive service, support and training with technology. In the center you will receive:

  • Help with the Anywhere Lab
  • Help with the Anywhere Printer
  • Help with Wi-Fi
  • Help with Password Resets
  • Help with NIU E-Mail


The Bring It! Center is located near the Atrium in Barsema Hall Room 104.


  • The Bring It! Center will provide general support for any mobile device.
  • Food and drink are allowed on shared areas and each user is responsible for their own device and to keep the Bring It! Center clean.
  • The Bring It! Center does not provide support for desktops or any hardware repairs.
  • A waiver must be signed by students or faculty members before they can work on your device.
  • Mobile devices are not to be dropped off for repair.
  • No misconduct, including but not limited to arguments among group members, loud talking, loud music or any other distractions that disrupt the other groups or students studying.
  • Please be courteous to your fellow students.


Last week I began a short two-part series about contributing factors to my success as well as my failures.  This is part two of that series and below I will highlight practices that have resulted in personal failure from my perspective.  I hope you can learn something from my mistakes and maybe take some time to self reflect as well.  Cheers!

Always present yourself in a manner suitable to meet someone new.  I dress slovenly on Mondays because I sit in an office and work on a computer.  However, what happens if a representative of a company I’d like to work for comes in to visit the dean in the office I work at?  It’s happened more than once and I continue to fall back on bad habits.  If only I would’ve taken the extra half hour to clean up before leaving my apartment, who knows how many more connections and opportunities I could have had in my academic career?

Forgetting to leave time for myself.  I used to have hobbies that included running, lifting weights, biking, and swimming. I took on so much in school that I left no time to pursue these activities.  Needless to say, I “let myself go” and caution others to leave time to take care of themselves before caring for the masses.  “When asked “What thing about humanity surprises you the most?”, the Dalai Lama answered:

“Man…. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Falling into a routine.

Spending time on the wrong things.  I spent a lot of my time early on at NIU trying to make other people happy.  I took myself out of my way to offer an extra hand, brain, and set of eyes to people and more often than not, I was left with minimal if any reciprocation.  You have to understand that like in the stock market, there are certain investments you don’t make because there is little to no ROI.  Although you’re not losing your life savings in the stock exchange of life, you’re investing your time in these people and projects.  Time, as I understand it, is the most important thing you can give; unlike money, you can’t get it back.  Make sure you’re spending your time on the right people and projects otherwise you’ll find that frustration, stress, and confusion may find its way into your heart…and believe me, no one needs that.

Being busy.  There’s a friend of mine at the college of business who never refrained from challenging me to be better.  Regardless of the conversation, this individual always made me feel like what I was doing wasn’t good enough and although this sounds depressing, I welcomed the motivation.  If I had a surplus of free time, he’d ask why I wasn’t busy.  If I was busy, he’d tell me that there was a difference between being busy and being productive.  Really think about that for a second……go ahead, take your time.

Being busy vs. Being productive.  How profound and self explanatory.  I’ll leave it at that and let you make of it what you will.

Again, these are just a few points that I can recall from my experience at NIU.  Now we’ll ask you…what has contributed to you failing and what could you do better?  Leave your input in the comments below! 2.0out


Making Waves with CAUSE

With all the news lately about NIU CAUSE  and their upcoming Social Impact Summit, we took some time to interview Sophomore Rob Willer to figure out what all the fuss is about. 

What is CAUSE?

CAUSE stands for the Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs.  The organization is a bit complex and for the sake of brevity I’ll provide this link to their about page rather than reciting all their motives, goals, and projects ( http://niucause.com/about-niu-cause).

How did you get involved?

Well there’s a few reasons.  My old CA (Zach Fiegel)  is the current president of Cause.  He had talked to me about the organization a few times before but one day in class I was talking to a few students who were in the honors program.  They mentioned the Cause meeting that night and they invited me to come.  I wanted to get involved in the actual business program and I thought this was my chance.  Zach pointed to me in a meeting and asked if I had any thoughts on a certain topic and I thought that was really cool.  Since then  I took over the role of Social Media, then treasurer and now I help wherever I can.

So what exactly is your title/duty in the organization?

Treasurer, pizza maker, pizza seller, promoter, social media…you name it.

We’ve been hearing a lot about the upcoming Social Impact Summit.  What’s that all about?

A lot of organizations have been putting on these conferences lately and they involve schools and businesses around their area. We thought, all of these other schools and groups are doing it, why can’t we?  We really want this to be an opportunity to students and businesses to network as well as promote awareness of a socially responsible mindset.

The website states that there are three goals in mind.  To Educate students and social practitioners about the applications of social entrepreneurship, to Inspire students and social practitioners to find ways to enlarge their societal and environmental impacts or just plain get started in the social space, and to facilitate Networking among students and social practitioners who are passionate about making a difference and changing the world.

Who is coming out?

We have two keynote speakers, Chuck Templeton and Megan Kashner along with numerous other companies and social incubators.  Over 130 students are coming out as well and you can still register at NIUCause.com and click Register Today!

1st annual implies that it will be a recurring event….any details on next year’s summit?

One step at a time…we’re putting the final touches on this year’s event but we hope that in this next month once we’re done reflecting and taking a breath, then maybe next year we can hope to get some new businesses/speakers and reach our goal of 250 participants.

Was orchestrating this event more work than you thought?

Definitely, but it’s been very rewarding!  It’s been nice to interact with a bunch of these companies online as social media guy for NIU Cause and get them all together in the same place.  I see lots of the companies that are participating tweeting about how excited they are.  It really feels great that there are  people out there that are as excited as we are.

What skills did you develop from this?  What lessons did you learn?

Teamwork: at first there was just four of us going out to find sponsors for the event.  Then we started dividing the responsibilities out to more members to get more people involved.  You get a little overwhelmed at the beginning because you see all these people so involved but it’s actually pretty easy to find a place, just ask questions during meetings and jump in where you can!

How can students get involved?

Come out to one of our weekly meetings on Tuesdays from  5-6 pm in BH 227.  There’s no application… just show up.  Students can also follow us on twitter @NIUCAUSE  or on facebook for more updates!  http://www.facebook.com/NIUCAUSE

Rob also writes for CLNS radio and the Northern Star.  Keep an eye out for his articles online and in print as the baseball season gets underway!

ITS Helpdesk: Another Hidden Treasure

My computer is getting older, it’s four years old to be exact, and with age comes inevitable problems.  Programs crash, blue report screens  plague my existence, and slow, buggy processes make finishing assignments a massive undertaking.

"Contrary to popular belief, screaming at the computer DOES NOT make it faster"

People have suggested taking my over-sized paperweight to major tech companies or local computer shops but who wants to pay $100 or more to fix a computer when you could buy a decent NEW one for south of $500?!  Unfortunately I can’t justify purchasing either at the moment because I have other priorities.

"Priorities? He must mean Toppers and Keystone." -Nick's dog Baci

I thought my situation was hopeless.  My computer bugged out, I couldn’t get wi-fi in my own apartment for indefinite patches of time, the internet was slow, and moderately sized programs would crash all the time.  I even had problems with Internet Explorer!

"...then again, who doesn't have problems with IE?"

I had used every  “10 ways to fix your computer” article and video that YouTube and Google had to offer.  I was reaching the end of my rope, until a good friend of mine opened my eyes to the NIU Information Technology Services (ITS) Helpdesk.

What’s the ITS Helpdesk you ask?!  Well I’ll tell you.  It’s a magical place where students like you can bring your computers and phones to get them worked on and optimized.   Oh, and did I mention that it’s free!  What the literal…?! O.o  Why did nobody tell me about this earlier!  As soon as I learned about the Helpdesk I brought my computer in the same day.  I dropped it off, got a ticket, and went on my merry way.  It took no more than a day before one of the workers called me back and told me the “operation” was done.  They cleaned it up, added some software, and even uploaded an intranet package so I could access my work emails from home!  So many headaches from the past year and a half could’ve been avoided if only I knew.  So many paper rewrites, system restores, and file backups could be erased from my memory.

"Now if only I could erase MIB II from memory too"

So now I’m sharing this knowledge with you.  This hidden treasure on NIU’s campus should be shouted from the rooftops because if it can revive my computer, who knows what they can do for you.  Check them out at http://www.its.niu.edu/its/helpdesk/index.shtml and don’t let your computer problems stand between you and a good grade again!  2.0out

Hidden Treasures: Starved Rock

A lot of you have heard about a nice state park called Starved Rock but many people don’t know a lot of the hidden joys that the park or the surrounding area has to offer.  Starved Rock is mainly a summer hangout for people to visit.  There are miles of trails to hike, numerous canyons to discover and a atmosphere to think, picnic, and to enjoy the company of friends or a significant other in.  You could even take a day for yourself to melt into the colors, sounds and serene landscapes, away from the rush of college.

"Yeah, kinda like that..."

After a nice summer rain, you will be fortunate enough to catch the water careening off the cliffs from above and your ears will be treated to the sounds of the bubbling brew below.  Once the summer months pass and the cold sets in, people tend to stray away from outdoor activity but some real beautiful scenes occur at the park once the deep freeze comes.  The waterfall becomes a living painting, a powerful rush of water frozen in time against the quiet backdrop of winter.  You may even catch a glimpse of climbers scaling the frozen waterfalls during your early year visit.

"I have no words"

For  those that enjoy wildlife viewing as much as I do, Eagles are a common sight from the overlooks at Starved Rock. The bald eagles winter here because even when the river is encased in ice, the churn from the dam leaves a small portal open to the water below.  It is the only place for miles where they can catch a fish.  Because of that, you can see more eagles than you’ve seen in a lifetime in a single day with the right set of binoculars, some really warm clothes, and some good old fashioned patience.

"You don't have to plan a road trip to see natural beauty, it's right in our backyard!"

The town adjacent to the park is Ottawa and it can be just as fun to discover as Starved Rock.  History buffs can relive the Lincoln-Douglas debates which occurred there some 9 score and 5 years ago while adrenaline junkies can get their fix with Sky Diving companies that operate just outside of town.

"Or you can get two birds with one stone"

There’s lots of quaint shops as well if you’re going with the family.  You can pawn off your mother and grandparents to the local antique shops while you and the siblings hike through canyons and jump out of planes.  Whatever you do, if you haven’t gone I urge you to make it out to starved rock.  Even if you have been, explore it in a different season and surprise yourself.  It’s incredible to see how vastly different the same place can be at different times of the year.  Make it a day trip, camp out near the park, or shack up in a cozy cabin, either way I hope you will make it a point to give this hidden treasure so close to NIU a visit. 2.0out

Beat the Winter Blues

It’s the middle of Winter at Northern Illinois University and unless you’re Canadian you’re probably holed up in apartments and dorms, waiting for the warmth of spring to wake you from a grizzly bear like coma.  Like many of you, I subscribe to that hibernation approach.  I stick my head in my comfy bedsheets and wait for the cold to lift so I can properly enjoy the outdoors I love so dearly.  The winter blues, or cabin fever, is a common term used to describe the moderate to emo feelings that people might get during this cold season  known as winter.  Although I don’t usually talk about it, I’ve known for a long time that I suffer the effects of Season Affective Disorder and it’s always around this time that I get somewhat depressed.  I’ve taken some proactive measures this year to try to side step those feelings and I’m happy to say that these steps have been fairly successful!  So for those of you who are feeling the effects of winter but are hesitant to talk about your state of mind with others, I thought I’d share some tips on how to get well from someone who’s going through it with you.

Step 1: Get a Natural Daylight Lamp

"It's sort of like the Pixar lamp, only this one won't stomp on you"

Much of the negative feelings attached with winter, come as a result of sunlight deprivation.  There are lamps out there designed to mimic the natural rays from the sun.  People often treat themselves with these lights for periods of a half hour or more to help trick their minds into thinking it’s sunny!  That little placebo effect can go a long way!  This is one of the better investments that you could make to help get you out of the funk.  I don’t use the word “investment” lightly either.  These lights, depending on which model you get, can get very expensive.  So please frame this purchase in your mind as “an investment in your well-being and happiness” rather than a quick buy.    I recently purchased one myself and I turn it on when I get home from classes and work (bear in mind by the time I get out at 5 PM the sun is already setting over the horizon).  After exposure to the light, I’ve noticed marked improvement in my productivity and mood.  Maybe it is all mental, but if that’s enough to take your mind off winter, I’d say go ahead and do it!

Step 2: Take Vitamins

So we’ve talked about the placebo effect that the sun can have on your mood but what about the actual physical effects?  When we expose ourselves to the sunlight we unknowingly absorb a number of vitamins from the suns rays.  In winter, when the sun is not as prevalent, the lack of vitamins can literally lead to a minor deficiency which actually messes with your mood!  Who knew!?  So after I came across this research, I took it upon myself to purchase the recommended Vitamin D3 and Vitamin B12 tablets.  I’ve found that taking one each day provides a profound pick me up!  Just last week I was sitting around in the afternoon feeling kind of down; I couldn’t figure out why.  When I looked back on the events of that day I remembered that I forgot to take the vitamins.  Perhaps that was just my mind playing tricks on me, but either way I should probably take some daily vitamins anyway.

Step 3: Eat and Drink Fruits

Nothing can bring back thoughts of warm climates and good times like a good fruit shake, a citrus fruit, or a banana.

"Remember that one time it wasn't -20 degrees?!"

Not only are you receiving tons of vitamins in each serving but you literally have to try not to smile when drinking or eating one!  Go ahead.  Try it!  I dare you!

Step 4: Exercise

Exercise does a number of things to make you feel better.  It increases circulation, increases hormone production such as endorphins and adrenaline, and is a proven stress reliever.  The recreation center is free for students so why not go lift some weights, walk on a treadmill, or shoot a basketball?

"Because shirtless outdoor plyometrics just isn't my style..."

I can speak from experience and say that these small steps have gone a long way in helping me break through the fog of winter.  As long as this article helps one person smile I feel that I’ve done my job.  Thanks for reading and if you have any other suggestions or tips, please feel free to add to the conversation in the comments section!  2.0out

Tom Kneifel: Student Turned Author

The following post was written by Senior Marketing Major Tom Kneifel.  

Listening to all of my friends talk about being seniors and what they plan on doing after college really made me reflect on what I have done in the past few years. Every now and then I would reminisce with my roommates about all of the great ideas we had or adventures we went on while at NIU. After a while I realized how much we had done together and I had one of those “I should write a book” moments. Eventually it became an e-book entitled “40 Ways to Have More Fun and Freedom in College”.

I began the project by researching how to become self-published by selling an e-book. I knew I wanted to sell it electronically because of several reasons. The first reason is that in order to publish a book online it costs almost nothing besides the time to write the book. Also, I knew that my target market was a younger crowd who is very technologically savvy. The book needed to be easy to access from anywhere and e-books allow that.

The hardest part about writing the book was choosing the subject. After that I was surprised on how easy it was to become self-published. I downloaded an e-book from amazon.com which gave me step by step instructions on how to format a word document and upload it to their site. I then had someone make me a cover photo and that was it.

While I was looking all over amazon.com all I could find were books on how to study better or how to get into college. I chose to write a guide with ideas that a college student would want to know.  Things like putting a refrigerator in your bathroom or how to become a super-fan aren’t going to be found in the average college guide. If anything I wanted to inspire students to spice up their day to day lives and do something fun.

It took me a while to get enough courage to actually submit the book to amazon.com. I went through so many drafts in order to get the formatting correct. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Luckily I had a great group of people help me proofread and give me feedback. Sitting there staring at the computer screen I realized that I just had to go for it. What a rush it was to see something that I created on a website that can be seen by millions of people across the nation. I knew it was real when I got my first five star review. Someone took the time to buy my product, read it, and actually enjoyed it. That was an amazing feeling.

Marketing my book has been one of the on-going challenges for me. I get to apply the skills I learned in my sales classes to a real life scenario. I have to earn every sale by advertising on social networking sites and word of mouth. I am not looking to get rich off of this small e-book but I am definitely learning many things along this journey.

Check out Tom’s new e-book “40 Ways to Have More Fun and Freedom in College” on Amazon.com.  If you’re feeling extra generous, write a review and let him know what you think!

Diamonds In The Rough

It was at about this time last year that I was just rising up from the trenches of UBUS 310.  Like the Chilean miners from a few years back, I triumphantly reached up to the surface and was immediately blinded by the light.

"Until I put on my designer Oakley Sunglasses"

Until that point I was lurking in the shadows of group work, presentations, and study sessions and now I could finally see the world in plain view.  There was so much opportunity surrounding me that I simply couldn’t see before.  Student organizations were recruiting just as they are now and although I had given them a half-hearted shot the semester before, I decided it was time to finally invest my time and money in something other than taco bell.

"Yeah, kinda like that..."

I got involved with a number of different organizations, 5 to be exact, and I threw myself at the prospect of doing something worthwhile for my university.  As time went on I found my niche and appropriately cut off the organizations that I did not see myself succeeding in.  By the end of the semester I had made connections in the remaining organizations, I had become highly involved and I got to know the faculty advisors.  I wanted to push further and knew that I wanted to do more in the following semesters.  It is at that point that I applied for positions with not one, but two executive boards.  I didn’t even really care which position, if any, I got.  I went in with an approach reminiscent of former Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader; hoping for the best but not expecting much of a result.  I just wanted the opportunity to stand out.  With a little bit of skills and some luck I landed positions in both the organizations I applied to.

"This is our year!" said Nader in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004....you get the idea.

There are people at this very moment beginning the same journey I just spoke about. These diamonds in the rough will begin to slowly float to the top and let their colors truly shine!  I can’t wait to see who the new class of hard workers is.  It’s odd, I don’t remember speaking on a casual level to the presidents of any student organizations until my spring semester was almost over.  These organizational leaders didn’t know me from a hole in the wall and now I am helping to manage the organizations they once spearheaded.  It just goes to show that you never really know who’s out there.  Will you be the next person to step up to a similar role?  Will you take the initiative to do something for your university and to do something that’s bigger than yourself?  I anxiously wait to see who rises to the occasion and what great ideas and vision they’ll bring to the next generation of NIU College of Business students!  Until then I’ll keep looking in the shadows.  2.0out