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CEO Focusing On Soft Skills


Do You Know How To Introduce a Guest Speaker?

Mrs. Bev Soltwedel

CEO was honored to have Bev Soltwedel, a lifelong learner, mentor and ambassador in our CEO family instruct the class on "How to Make a Wonderful Introduction". She is a member of the Effingham Toastermasters and has earned her Advanced Communicator and Leader Bronze Award.  

Mrs. Soltwedel shared with the class the four main parts for “How to Introduce a Guest Speaker”. First, you need to prepare and learn information about the speaker. Second, the purpose is to inform the audience of the topic and how it is relevant to gain their attention. Third, is to practice, practice, and practice. Fourth, present with engaging body language where you stand tall and smile as you scan the audience. The students are introducing our speakers throughout the coming year. This preparation will provide them opportunities for future speaking engagements, if asked to speak on behalf of CEO or for future opportunities in their life.

We want to send out a warm Thank You Mrs. Soltwedel for an outstanding presentation in preparing our students. She ask them to step out of their comfort zone on the second day of class and they responded well to the request. Several mentioned that this push gave them confidence to now ask questions in class and to meet others they did not know. It starts with tiny steps when it comes to growing one's confidence. The outcome is you have to start being "Uncomfortable with being uncomfortable" as Cade Walsh shared in his journal this past week. 


CEO Has Many Personality Types

Having awareness of your personality trait is of such great value to you in business and in life. In CEO the students took a personality test over the summer and in the first week of class we discussed their individual results. We took this a step further and had them share their outcome with their classmates. The initial relationship building that has resulted from this information has bonded this year's class in a whole new light.

The students found out if their most prominant trait was dominant, extroversion, pace/patience or conformity. This provides the student insight into their basic/natural self - traits, interests, communication style and key action tips they should lean into for building successful relationships in their lives. 

Having this prior knowledge about their classmates provides them the tools to work together well when they start building their class business.


The Art of Conversation

Mr. Bob Schultz

When we have the gift of Bob Schultz attending class personally to talk to the students, we know that our week in CEO is going to be extra special. Mr. Schultz started out the class by saying, "You will never have a class like this in your lifetime". That the soft skills alone were worth $100,000, if implemented them into their everyday life. That could be four semesters of college!

Also, the power of a smile to another person can impact them in ways you will never know and challenged the class to make that a daily goal to make others smile throughout their day.

Mr. Schultz is a wonderful story teller and provided a great example of using the structure of a house to build a conversation around and how to use these tools to encourage conversation with someone you just met. He also covered the SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) with the students, so when they go on Business Tours they have questions from this tool to ask business owners. 


Leadership and Teambuilding at American Obstacle

Are you familiar with the Robert Frost poem that says Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference?  

Effingham CEO spent the day deep into the woods at American Obstacle bonding and developing their team. The day was spent building teams with each group strategizing the best way to get their team to stay afloat in a canoe exercise, experienced a huge man made spider web challenge where had to get all their team members through without touching the web in a set amount of time and team laser tag.  The variety of activities lead to deep discussions on working as a team and getting the most out of their CEO journey. 

These moments of teambuilding and sharpening leadership skills brought new insight such as everyone on the team might have the answer, but may not all arrive at the solution the same way. Isn't that the way companies tackle business issues as they grow and build their companies alongside their employees? Out in the woods the students learned about themselves and their teammates through failure and experienced success in meeting the challenges set before them.  A few teams did not want to get back on the bus until they had another attempt to master the challenge. Many participants shared that the day at American Obstacle provided a great experience working as a team and they left with a stronger bond with the class. 

The day was possible thanks to an Endowment from the Siemer Milling Company. We are grateful for the Siemer Milling Company's commitment to providing grants to organizations implementing programs that challenge and inspire youth to develop leadership skills.   


Student Journal Highlights for this week

I first started off the week with just the people I knew from my school. As the week went on I saw myself stepping out from my school friends and going to talk to other people from different schools. Within the short week, I saw myself step out of my comfort zone and try something new for a change.

Alex Deters

Alex Deters
Wednesday, August 23, 2017Learn More About Alex

"Mrs. Soltwedel also covered the topic she spoke on very well. Since introducing a speaker and making a speech ourselves is something that we will all do sooner or later, I believe the activity we did prepared us well. She was a wealth of knowledge that knows how to prepare students for public speaking. It would be quite hard, knowing how each student learns, and how comfortable they are in front of people. This falls right into finding out our personality types. Knowing this about ourselves and our peers will make our class stronger. Being able to work with each other's strengths will be a positive asset. This was shown on a small scale at the team building day. Towards the end of the day, my team knew each other well. Even if we didn't know each other's personalities, we could tell who was stronger in which area. I also believe this day was great at making people get out of their comfort zones. I think this is one of the best ways to grow as a CEO student and as a person."

Bryce Lohman

Bryce Lohman
Monday, August 28, 2017Learn More About Bryce

"I enjoyed Mr. Schultz and his presentation a lot. He made communicating seem easy. He told us to take advantage of every person we meet in CEO because we won’t have another opportunity like this one. He said, like Mrs. Soltwedel, that a firm handshake, smile and eye contact is the best first impression. He also said to end a conversation with a handshake, eye contact and a smile."

"When Mrs. Soltwedel announced that we as individuals were introducing people within five minutes, my head started spinning.  Before presenting in front of the class, I was so nervous, but looking back on it, I am glad that Mrs. Soltwedel pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I feel more prepared now with all the notes she gave us. It really made me self aware as I was presenting and her tips helped me control my nervous ticks.  Mrs. Soltwedel did an amazing job presenting and I will definitely be using her tips and tricks to help me accurately introduce an upcoming speaker."

Jake Brandt

Jake Brandt
Monday, August 28, 2017Learn More About Jake

All of the aspects we learned throughout our first week we were able to put right to the test at american obstacle. While we were doing things that seemed like games, we were truly using our skills to build as a team and as individuals. It was shocking to see that so many things leadership camp has taught has been used in the same fashion in CEO. It was also shocking how many opportunities will arise from just being in the CEO class. I have already made some amazing connections and been offered some amazing opportunities. I am looking forward to what the rest of the year with CEO has to offer!


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The manner in which the CEO program is funded is critical to its success and sustainability. All funds raised are used exclusively for the Effingham County CEO Program. To participate, a 3-year $1000 per year commitment is required. Business Partner Investors commitments of time and energy are also critical to the program's success. Contributions may be tax deductible, as our organization is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.

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When we are not touring local businesses, we need a place to host the class. During that time, the 40 CEO students and their Facilitator would meet at your site where they would also have guest speakers and guests from the community attend. Hosting requires a facility with internet access and adequately accommodates up to 45 people.

We are looking for people to share real-life stories about the concepts of running a business, from strategic thinking, product development to marketing, and cash flow management. Also, sharing your personal successes and failures are what recent classes have enjoyed the most.


If you are interested in participating in any of the above programs, use our contact form to send us a message


Marianna Hemmen - Effingham County CEO

Marianna Hemmen

About Me

Marianna Hemmen attends Teutopolis High School and is involved in basketball, softball, along with math club, volunteens, and National Honor Society. Outside of school, she is currently waitressing at Cracker Barrel. In her free time she loves spending time with her family, friends, and her dog, Manny. Marianna plans to attend a four year university and major in business.

“CEO is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am extremely happy to be apart of this year's class. I look forward to learning more about the businesses in Effingham County and building skills that will help me now and in the future. I am excited to meet new people and create new relationships.”


Learn More about Marianna

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