Rick Smedberg Takes the Windy City by Storm
The last thing Rick Smedberg expected when he signed on as a Virdian Associate was that he’d choose to move nearly 1,100 miles to sign up new customers, yet he couldn’t be happier with the decision.
His story is one of opportunity, faith and determination, and shows how one Associate is chasing his dream far from home … and succeeding.
“I’ve been a volunteer for the Cape Cod [Mass.] Baseball League for about 15 years,” Smedberg recalled. “It’s the No. 1 summer college baseball league in the country, with ten teams total. We’re always trying to figure out where the money’s coming from to support the league, and we were getting frustrated with declining revenues.”
Then Smedberg got a call from Associate Brian Giblin, talking about Viridian coming to Massachusetts. “I listened to his pitch and he mentioned the fundraising aspect of Viridian,” Smedberg said. “That’s how he got my attention; I saw how this could help the league and then I realized the opportunity on a personal level.” Rick Smedberg joined as an Associate with Viridian on November 1, 2010.
“I started to build a network of Associates in advance of the Massachusetts launch. I had the beginnings of a head-start on the business, but then the company decided to delay the rollout,” Smedberg said. “They announced this at Momentum, but at the same time also announced a pending launch in Illinois. I could see the potential for success in Massachusetts and thought, ‘That’s it; I’m going to Chicago.’”
Smedberg, who spent 20 years as a Navy pilot, retiring in 1994, has a thriving business in Massachusetts called AutoQual, which repairs the interiors of used cars for auto dealerships. “I have three great support people in my life,” Smedberg said. “My wife, Barbara, who understands me completely, and the two employees who run my business. Because of all of them, I was able to pick up and go to Illinois.”
And that’s just what he did. Smedberg emptied out one of his work vans, loaded it with supplies, and drove to Chicago over Memorial Day weekend. “I’ve got a room in a house with three guys I don’t know, am up and out by 7 a.m. and don’t get back until about 10 at night. I’m out every day meeting people,” he said.
Smedberg says he is already enjoying success in Chicago. He also said he’s fortunate that his personal connections who know someone in Chicago, “have reached out and connected me with friends of theirs out here.” These are people he refers to as ‘fuzzy contacts.’ “Unlike warm contacts, these are people who have been referred by a friend,” he said. “It’s a great contact to pursue. One person removed is a ‘fuzzy contact.’”
A big reason Smedberg is doing so well is “I like the product,” he said. “It’s something people are going to consume regardless. I’m not selling anything; I’m just an educator and facilitator,” he explained. “For me it’s a very rewarding proposition.” And, he said, his enthusiasm for the residual fundraising program remains strong.
Like most Viridian Associates, Smedberg is driven not by one “Why” but by several “Whys” that define his passion. “The biggest Why for me is the financial part,” he said. “I like being able to make some money and have it as a sustainable business. I can see the profit potential.” But, he said it’s not profit for profit’s sake that really keeps him going. “If I can get a different revenue stream in addition to my business, it will help me enjoy my grandkids. I won’t have to worry about income,” he said.
Another of his Whys is much more personal. Smedberg’s son Peter is an Army officer, currently serving in Afghanistan. Like any parent would, he worries constantly, and will continue to do so until his son’s deployment ends in March 2012. “Going to Chicago helps me relieve idle ‘brain time,’” Smedberg said. And he’s putting his time in the Windy City to good use.
“I’ve got some very strong possibilities out here,” Smedberg said. “It’s happening in Chicago.”
Green Racetrack Coming Up a Winner via Viridian
You wouldn’t usually think of an auto-racing track as a particularly “green” area, but the exception to that rule is Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, CT.
The 1.5-mile track is actually set in a park, with fans sitting on various hillsides watching the action under a canopy of trees.
“My brother Michael and I approached the Park and signed them up as an Associate,” said Viridian Associate Jeff Fitting. But officials at the track, which is owned by racing legend Skip Barber and is known as a longtime ‘green’ facility, had a better thought.
“Their idea was that the money they’d earn back by signing on new members and Associates on their own would help green the track even more,” Fitting said “They wanted to add more trees to make more shaded areas. The whole concept initially was to work together: a green company and a green track.”
The concept of sustainability is perfectly aligned with the goals and mission of the Park, according to Renea Topp, the organization’s director of marketing. “Lime Rock Park is not your typical racetrack with grandstands,” she said. “It’s literally very ‘green,’ set in Connecticut’s hill country, and people enjoy coming here, as it’s a great drive up. We pride ourselves on keeping it beautiful.” To that end, Topp saw an opportunity to keep the park’s green efforts moving forward, paid in part by utilizing Viridian’s fundraising opportunity.
“We have a total of 15 electric meters here,” Topp said. “We’ve already noticed our own huge savings at the track.” The monthly income the Park earns from signing up new customers is applied toward their ongoing greening work.
Topp added that the Fitting brothers have prompted track officials to put in even more effort toward its goals. “For example, we invite the local Boy Scout Troop to come in and recycle after an event,” she said. “After our Memorial Day weekend races, they picked up 27,000 bottles and cans.” Up next, the Park plans on adding solar energy to its buildings. “We’ve always been a green facility,” Topp said. “We’re just taking it to the next step.”
While the program has yet to be fully realized, great progress is being made toward the end vision. Jeff and Michael Fitting, along with Viridian Associates Jenna Marzullo, Terrie Walker, Michael and Patti Sinclair, and Kat Wynne-Brown, set up a booth at the track’s midway over Memorial Day, and interest was high. “Those prospects we spoke to were extremely enthusiastic,” Jeff said. “They all seemed very interested, as we discovered a lot of people are into the whole green idea.” The day was so successful that the group signed up about a dozen new customers.
The group hopes to return to Lime Rock Park for the next series of races, on July 8 & 9. That series is the American Le Mans North American Grand Prix, which is a green series. Topp explained that in the event, the racers “go the hardest they can while leaving the least amount of carbon footprint, by using ethanol fuel and other green measures during the race,” she said.
Viridian’s influence is also being felt on a more personal level. “Jeff and Mike urged us to get more involved,” Topp said. “So our employees have signed up, and we’re now encouraging fans to bring their bills to our events so they, too, can sign up on the spot.”
And Topp is already looking down the road. “We want more trees,” she said. “Some of our older trees have been around for 50 years, are near the end of their life and need replacing.” So the track’s first goal is to raise money to plant trees. “We’re talking now with local arborists,” Topp said. “We plan to start planting next year.” It would appear that with Viridian’s help, the greening of Lime Rock Park will continue for years to come.
Viridianís Guide To Surviving Summerís Energy Demands
Even though summer means long days and more sunshine, it also means you’re using more energy. But, by using our summer energy-saving tips around the house, you don’t have to break the bank to pay your energy bills. So sit back, cool down, and save some extra funds for fun this summer:
Air your clean laundry: Between heating, cooling, rinsing, tumbling and spinning, it should come as no surprise that your washer and dryer use a LOT of energy. If going clothes-less isn’t an option for you this summer, try following these tips to reduce your laundry energy costs:
- Air-dry your clothes. The good thing about extra sunshine and hotter weather is that it’s almost like having a dryer outside, except it uses a whole lot less energy. If you don’t have a clothesline, use a drying rack outside or in a sunny spot in the house.
- Wash full loads of laundry to avoid multiple small loads. Always rinse clothes in cold water to save on heating energy.
Disconnect and relax: If it’s plugged in, it’s probably using energy. Even if it’s turned off!
- Unplug the extra fridge. We aren’t suggesting you deplete your stash of Otterpops or icy cold beer for the dog days of summer, but unplugging the under-used extra fridge you have in the garage, basement or man-cave will save a LOT of energy.
- Unplug all of your electronics when you go on vacation. Cable boxes, DVRs, chargers, and TVs all use a lot of energy, even when turned off. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a recent study shows that DVRs are extremely inefficient in their energy use, costing consumers approximately $3 billion in energy costs per year.
Stay cool, not cold. Just because you’re uncomfortable, there’s no need to turn your house into a walk-in freezer.
- Turn UP the thermostat. It’s no surprise that air conditioning is a huge expense. If you have central air, keep your thermostat as high as you can. If you have a window unit, always unplug it when you’re not using it.
- Pull down the shades. Keep the shades down during the day to keep the sun from coming in and heating up your house. Open up the windows on a cool night instead of running the AC.
Travel efficiently: Vacations might be a luxury, but fuel costs certainly are not.
- Use the fly vs. drive calculator to calculate and compare the estimated cost AND environmental impact of flying vs. driving to your summer getaway.
- Carpool with other vacation-goers, or find out if you can take a train or bus to your destination.
If so, be sure to stop by Viridian’s “V House” at 1610 North Honore Street in Chicago, headquarters for our Illinois rollout!
- FREE daily meetings Monday through Thursday, at 2 pm and 7 pm
- RSVP for any meeting at www.vhouse.info (RSVP required)
- Register you and your guests to attend an informative Viridian presentation at the V house
- Network, meet and mingle with fellow Associates and have all your questions answered afterwards.
Begin building your Illinois network and invite your prospects to one of the following FREE events, as our pre-launch extravaganza continues!
Thursday, July 7 from 7pm - 9pm
Hyatt Regency O'Hare
9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue
Special Guest Speakers:
Bob Ulrich, VP of Associate Development
Meredith Berkich, VP of Viridian Network
Thursday, July 21 from 7pm - 9pm
720 South Michigan Ave.
Special Guest Speakers:
Robert A. McFadden, Network President
Bob Ulrich, VP of Associate Development
What a pleasure it is to watch as the Viridian community expands into new and growing markets! Last week I met with hundreds of Associates and guests at a packed Illinois pre-launch event, and also visited with many of you at Viridian’s stunning and “green” home base in Chicago. Plus, last month I met even more of you in our growing New York market. As I experience firsthand the energy and excitement in these new markets, I am reminded of each stage of growth we’ve had at Viridian and what it means to lead a company that continues to surprise me in such wonderful ways.
Our dynamic growth strategy in both our new and current markets continues to produce impressive results. With hundreds of new Associates ready to build their Illinois business, it is sure to be a significant building block for anyone involved there. However, for me, perhaps the greatest win is to see our vision begin to take shape in another market.
As our community of Associates grows, our message of sustainability is spreading. The dedication and actions of Generation V become stronger during each new phase of expansion. As we continue to hit our ambitious milestones and make such an incredible impact on the environment, we are making waves in the industry, doing things that others have never done. Consequently, now some are starting to follow, as we are seeing more and more competition in the marketplace. But we’re staying ahead of our competitors because of each of you, because of the authenticity of our mission, and because of the community of belief you have built.
Our value proposition makes us a leader in a crowded marketplace, but it is our Associates and our community that continue to propel us forward. Whether you are in our first market and are one of the few who believed early on and helped spearhead our earliest efforts; or are one of the dynamic many who helped us smash our early growth goals in all our existing markets; or are one of the hundreds of hopeful new members of Generation V preparing to make our new markets our best yet, I thank you all for representing who we are, for your passion and your commitment. I look forward to working with all of you to carry our dream of power with purpose into your own lives and the lives of countless others.
Michael Fallquist, Viridian CEO
Editor’s Note: It is by learning from others that we improve our own abilities. In the words of John F. Kennedy: “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” To that end, each issue of VLife will feature tips from our leaders. This month, we feature one of the newest members of the Associate Leadership Council and newly ranked Partner, Joel Brizzi. His short and to-the-point insights offer great wisdom for all. Here’s what he had to say:
- I believe in leading by example
- Leaders should always try to have more guests than their team, and always have more personal customers than their team.
- Never ask anything of your team that you don’t or won’t do
- Always be the best on your team, and your team will follow
- Finally: Never…ever…EVER Quit!
The ALC is fortunate to have Joel Brizzi onboard. He is admired by his team and by many others with his upbeat attitude, motivational character and impeccable leadership. Thanks, Joel!