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Thursday
Apr172014

Latina Empowerment Conference

Tuesday
Apr152014

New O-vations™ Website from Group O Aimed at Supporting Enterprise Reward Solutions

Gregg OntiverosMILAN, IL — Group O announced today that it has launched a new website for its O-vations™ service offering – which is aimed at helping world-class organizations optimize the design and operation of enterprise-scale reward programs. 

Available at http://ovations.groupo.com, the new site highlights Group O’s end-to-end solutions across the entire reward lifecycle.  Key services range from program design and management, technology integration, operations and communications, value-added services, and reporting and analytics.  Group O issues millions of rewards annually across hundreds of customer loyalty, rebate and employee recognition programs. 

“Group O has been a leader in helping major clients reduce costs and improve results through reward programs for some time,” said Group O CEO Gregg Ontiveros.  “Our customers appreciate that we can support anything from a single need to turnkey service across their entire rewards ecosystem, all while providing a single point of contact.” 

O-vations supports a variety of reward types, including customer rewards – such as rebates, customer acquisition, loyalty programs, promotions, holiday gifts, etc. – as well as employee recognition – including safety, spot awards, wellness, incentives, and more.  Group O clients can choose any type of reward that best fits their audiences – such as prepaid reward cards, mobile rewards, certificates, discount codes, promotional items, lifestyle merchandise and more. 

“With O-vations, the value of the rewards interaction goes well beyond the initial transaction,” said Ontiveros.  “We can use our connection with customers to help deepen their relationship with our client – whether it’s collecting opt-in email addresses or even up-selling products and services that fit their profile.  Our clients are impressed at the results we’re driving.”

 

For more information, visit http://ovations.groupo.com

 

About Group O
Group O is a diversified business process outsourcing provider specializing in marketing services, business analytics, supply chain operations and strategic packaging solutions.  A Corporate Plus member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (nmsdc.org), Group O is an NMSDC National Minority Supplier of the Year honoree and is recognized as a Top 5 Latino-owned Business by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  Headquartered in Milan, IL, and with major operations in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Texas, Group O is one of the largest Hispanic-owned companies in the United States and employs more than 1,400.  To learn more, visit www.GroupO.com.

Sunday
Apr132014

Finding the Courage to Take Risks and Crack Open the Box

Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis is the President/CEO of the Executive Women’s Success Institute If you want to make big moves in life, you have to take risks.  But taking risks isn’t easy, and it puts most people in unfamiliar territory.  Unfamiliar territory can, in turn, often feel dangerous and cumbersome.  The human mind loves familiarity, as familiarity usually means safety in some form as well as access to resources.  This love of familiarity is literally hardwired into our brains and with good reason.  During our evolution, those who could remember where water holes and predators were located, well, they had a better day! 

Tossing all of this familiarity aside and deciding to take risks and think outside the box can be very difficult and feel scary.  Yet, it is critical that you realize that this is exactly what you may need to do to reach your career or business goals.  Taking bold and decisive action at the right moment in time may be what separates you from the fulfilling life you want and living a life that is less than what you dream.  Oddly enough, walking away from the security of the known and into the insecurity of the unknown is likely what you’ll need to do to achieve your goals and happiness. 

Step One-Just How Big of a Risk Are We Talking About Here? 

Risks are not "one-size fits all" affairs.  If you are not accustomed to taking any risks at all, then even a small risk may seem huge.  Keep this fact in mind as you move forward.  

You need to first think about what the risk is you are contemplating and then measure that risk against reality.  Will your business or livelihood go “down the drain” if you fail?  Or is the risk in question a minor or medium risk move?  Understanding the difference can go a long way towards helping you decide just how cautious you need to be.  The greater the potential downside of failure, the greater your preparation must be, period! 

Step Two-What Motivates You? 

Finding the courage to take risks and think outside the box often comes down to motivation.  If you want or need more courage to take the steps you need to take to be happy, then you need to step back and think about what motivates you.  Fully understanding what it is that motivates you will help you get the courage that you need.  You can use these motivating factors to help you zero in and stay focused during times of weakness. 

Step Three-What Are the Consequences of Inaction? 

In many situations, the consequences of not taking bold action are so unpleasant especially over the long haul, that you are left with no option other than to act.  If you can’t imagine not taking bold action and changing the course of your life, then you should have all the motivation and thus all the courage you need.  So don’t be afraid to think big.  Then go ahead and plan meticulously to make the most out of your out of the box thinking. 

Step Four-Great Planning Means More Courage 

Courage is all about confidence.  Do you want more confidence?  Then plan and plan well.  The more you plan, the more confidence you will have! 

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis is the President/CEO of the Executive Women’s Success Institute (www.exwsi.com) in Maryland. She is a career strategist, speaker, trainer, consultant and the author of Finding Your Best Inside: How to Persevere and Become the Person You Are Meant to Be and Playing from the Blue Tee: Women in the Federal Government. Reach her by e-mail at info@exwsi.com.

Friday
Apr112014

From The Rough

Produced by Former Pitney Bowes Chairman & CEO, Michael J. Critelli

Film Opens Nationwide April 25


From the Rough, a film based on the inspiring true story of Coach Catana Starks, the first woman to coach an all-men's collegiate team will open Friday, April 25, 2014.

The film was produced by Michael J. Critelli, former Chairman and CEO of Pitney Bowes and a leading advocate for diversity and the advancement of women in business. Critelli's son, Mike, wrote the screenplay.

From the Rough is based on Coach Catana Starks' seemingly insurmountable journey to inspire a team of young athletes profoundly enough for them to believe in themselves and become champions – in their own lives. The film's title, From the Rough, is derived from the term referring to an area of the golf course outside smooth terrain and is fitting for a film that deals with overcoming the uphill challenges that life places in our path.

Critelli discovered Starks' story more than nine years ago and has been dedicated to bringing it to the screen ever since. Critelli has been a leader in communications as CEO of Pitney Bowes for eleven years and Chairman for twelve years. He has been an advocate for diversity (as member of the National Urban League board of trustees from 1997- 2010 and Chairman from 2002-2007). He also was a member of the Board of Catalyst from 1997-2010, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women in business and a recipient of numerous awards for diversity and inclusion. A seasoned entrepreneur, Critelli is the CEO of the start-up business the Dossia Service Corporation.

"I believe what makes us successful is that one teacher, that one coach, that one mentor who at the right time, said something or did something that changed the course of our life and put us in the right direction," says Critelli. "This film is an effort to celebrate everyday heroes, and for me, this story isn't about golf, it's about the essence of what makes people successful in all walks of life."

Michael J. Critelli, Producer, From the Rough 

THE CAST

The film stars Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson, Oscar nominee Michael Clarke Duncan, who passed away in 2012 (this was one of his last films), and Tom Felton, best known for his role as Draco Malfoy in the "Harry Potter" film series.

Henson, who portrays Coach Catana Starks, says she was attracted to the film because it dealt with actualizing one's dreams, even against the odds. "What I hope people take away from this story is that you can do anything you want to, you just have to believe in yourself," says Henson. "When you hit obstacles, you have to get over them and keep dreaming."

Catana Starks overcame many obstacles and silenced many naysayers to bring her team to an all-time record championship season.
"I want this film to inspire women to do whatever they want to do," says Starks. "I want them to believe in themselves and go out there and try new things and don't give up!"

Her "can do" approach to sports and life served Starks well during her challenging early days as head coach of Tennessee State University's (TSU) first-ever golf team. TSU is an Historically Black College or University (HBCU) and offered Starks few, if any, African-American golf students to recruit. "I originally started my team with two injured football players, a woman and a few others," recalls Starks. She later recruited international students for the team all the while being tasked with training and inspiring her underdog team of multi-cultural young golfers to win games, and eventually championships. It was a challenge for which Starks was uniquely suited.

"Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, I was a sickly child who had asthma," recalls Stark, "but my grandmother and mother encouraged me. The doctor said 'I couldn't,' and they said 'Yes you can!'" And she did. Starks swam, became a lifeguard and later taught collegiate swimming. She played baseball and golf. She even played the saxophone, an instrument heavily dependent on breathing. She became such a stand out that when her high school bandleader made cuts, Starks became the only female musician in the band. Overcoming obstacles became her way of life. "Nothing bothered me," says Starks. "If I wanted to do something, I just went on and did it."

Things worked out exceptionally well for many of Starks TSU student alums. For example, Sam Puryear became assistant golf coach at Stanford University and the first African-American to coach a major conference golf team, at Michigan State University. Puryear is currently director of golf operations at Queens University in Charlotte. Adrian Adams and Sean Foley, her first international students are both doing well; Adams owns an investment firm and Foley went on to become Tiger Woods' swing coach.

Catana Starks also earned her Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration from Tennessee State University.

Principal photography took place in New Orleans with director Pierre Bagley at the helm. The crew shot for nearly six weeks on location in and around the city at its public park, at English Turn Golf and Country Club, at the TPC Course (at which there will be a PGA Tour tournament on April 24-27, 2014), and at the Union Passenger Terminal where the upstairs became transformed into the set of TSU's athletic department. A veteran filmmaker with long history of work with the Urban League, Bagley tells this slice of life story of transcendence from a most unexpected vantage point – golf. "I have never played a hole of golf," shares the director, "but this isn't a golf movie. Golf is a metaphor for life."

 

ABOUT COACH CATANA STARKS

  

Dr. Catana Starks is a history maker in the field of American sports having distinguished herself as the first African-American woman to coach an all men’s team at the collegiate level. A native of Mobile, Alabama from the Trinity Gardens area, Starks was previously a former swim coach at Tennessee State University, which is also her alma mater. During her tenure at Tennessee State University, Starks became chair for Human Performance and Sports Science where she continues today. Her unprecedented career as golf coach at the university included forming its first ever golf team and coaching many young men who went on to successful careers in and out of the field of sports. Among Starks’ former students include: Rob Reed, now head football coach at Tennessee State University; Sam Puryear, Director of Golf Operations at Queens University in Charlotte after having served as Michigan State University’s head men’s golf coach- the first African-American in its history; Robert Dinwiddie, an All-American golfer at TSU and a current member of the European Tour having achieved three consecutive Top-10 finishes in South Africa; and Sean Foley, the swing coach for golf icon Tiger Woods.

Starks’ years of hard work and unwavering dedication were further realized when she led the Tennessee State University Tigers to the National Minority Golf Championship, with the all-time best score record for the tournament.
Catana Starks also earned her Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration from Tennessee State University. She advocates for the reduction of inmates prison sentences for those whose drug-related incarceration occurred early in their lives.

 

ABOUT THE CAST

 

TARAJI P. HENSON (Catana Starks)

Taraji P. Henson earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress

opposite Brad Pitt in David Fincher's THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON.

Taraji is a 2011 Emmy nominee for Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries for Lifetime's

TAKEN FROM ME. She starred as Detective Joss Carter in the highly rated J.J. Abrams

crime drama PERSON OF INTEREST for CBS opposite Jim Caviezel and Michael

Emerson. Taraji starred in the major hit THINK LIKE A MAN, which opened to #1 at the

box office and just completed THINK LIKE A MAN, TOO. She will next star in Sony's

NO GOOD DEED, opposite Idris Elba, which opens in September 2014.

 

 

MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN (Roger)

Every character actor who has ever been typecast dreams of a role that will transcend

the clichés of his or her image. For Michael Clarke Duncan, that breakout role also drew

on the hidden truth of his own personality, and the results were spectacular. Duncan's

big break came with a role alongside Bruce Willis in ARMAGEDDON. Bruce Willis

later recommended Duncan to director Frank Darabont for THE GREEN MILE, a film for

which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role

as John Coffey. Duncan collaborated with Bruce Willis on three subsequent films:

Alan Rudolph's BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, THE WHOLE NINE YARDS, and

the noir blockbuster SIN CITY.

 

TOM FELTON (Edward)

Tom Felton is an English actor and musician best known for his role as Draco Malfoy

in the HARRY POTTER film series, adaptations of the best-selling fantasy novels

by author J.K. Rowling. For his role as Malfoy, Felton has twice won an MTV Movie

Award for Best Villain, a Teen Choice Award, and has been nominated for a People's

Choice Award and a Young Artist Award.

 

The film’s trailer can be viewed here (insert hyperlink)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB2rxYqhGsM&feature=share

 

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