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We Are Feeling Fit

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
IT Resource has teamed up with Northern Physical Therapy to provide a Corporate Health and Wellness Program for ITR employees and significant others. With many data and number driven minds on our team, having endless fitness applications at our fingertips is great motivation. We’re halfway through our fitness challenge and would like to share 5 tools and applications that we personally have found to be most successful in shaping an overall healthier lifestyle.
Lose It: This app flows seamlessly between your phone, tablet, and computer. It determines your daily calorie allotment by tracking food and drink, and it will adjust calories based on the amount of exercise performed. Plus, it's customizable to your specific goals and pace. A popular feature is it’s built-in scanner which lets you use your phone camera to instantly add food to your daily log. We can attest that to date, the scanner has successfully and accurately recognized every item we scanned. The ability to easily scan food and drink keeps you on track. Seeing how many calories you have consumed and how many you have left for the day makes it less likely that you will go over. 
Fitbit Flex: A few members of our staff have purchased the Fitbit Flex wristband and have had great success with it. This wireless activity and sleep tracker is worn on your wrist, making it a constant reminder to stand up or walk around. You can install Fitbit on your computer and set goals and easily check your Flex to see how close or how many steps away you are to your daily goal. Another valuable feature is that it tracks how many hours of sleep you get and the quality of sleep. The sleep tracker is very useful because it makes you much more cognizant of how many hours you are actually sleeping and how many times per night you are being awoken or not sleeping soundly. The Fitbit Flex also has an app you can download to your phone and tablet that syncs with the device, and It also integrates with other fitness apps like MyFitnessPal.
MapMyFitness: This app allows you to choose an activity like running or biking and the app creates repeatable workouts and routes. Over time, you can see your performance statistics which will tell you areas that you did well in and areas you need work on. You can even base your workout or route upon current weather, traffic and elevation and the GPS capabilities give you the ability to check your pace. You can receive stats during your workout so if you begin to slip on speed, it will alert you pick up the pace! Other tools like Fitbit, Garmin and MyFitnessPal can sync and import into MapMyFitness to create a multi-platform workout tool.
MyFitnessPal: This is a popular app that’s free for the phone, tablet or laptop. It logs calories, water intake, exercising and weight/measurements. The food database is particularly impressive including over 3 million different foods and growing. The simplicity of the mobile app makes it desirable for people on the go. It provides visual aids including graphs of your daily calorie breakdown, percentages of carbohydrates, fats and proteins that you have consumed and percentages of your respective goals. There is also an option to add friends or colleagues to share progress and keep each other accountable. 
Garmin Edge GPS and Garmin Connect: This GPS allows you to track fitness activities such as bike riding or running. The GPS is very accurate and works anywhere around the world. It tracks your distance and provides data on current speed, average speed, last lap, etc. While monitoring the history of your activities, it also provides additional data such as heart rate, calories burned and cadence. The Garmin Connect app syncs with the GPS and gives you access to charts, graphs and instant data on your health history.

So there you have it - our lineup of the best fitness apps and gadgets. Here's to getting healthy and staying fit...now get out of your chair and get moving!

Have a BBQ Dinner With Us

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Grab some friends and come on down! We’re celebrating summer and giving a nod to our favorite customers and friends. Bring your family or colleagues and join us on Thursday, July 31 from 4-8pm, at IT Resource.

We promise there will be a great BBQ dinner, refreshing libations, the best live music by Funkle Jesse, and fantastic conversation.

Register now by visiting www.itrw.net/rsvp or call 616.837.6930. We’d love to see you and the gang here!

Women in Tech :: Grow. Learn. Succeed.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014
In an industry of constant change and evolution, Amanda Regnerus has at times found herself lacking the confidence that she would be able to make the change or learn at the pace that was needed to keep up with the IT industry. Her admission to those fears may come as a surprise, considering Regnerus is the Vice President of Marketing at US Signal Company, a global technology enterprise.

“Each time I had those fears, I realized my apprehension was unnecessary. What I began to do is look at the evolution of technology as a challenge to grow, learn, and take my career to the next level,” said Regnerus.
Grow. Learn. Succeed.
It seemed a common theme among each of the women I spoke to. After all, you don’t rise to the top, like Regnerus did, without learning valuable lessons and taking advantage of challenges along the way. Regnerus, along with all the women featured are in the field of technology, an industry predominantly filled with males. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, in 2012, just 18% of computer-science college graduates were women, down from 37% in 1985. Despite the decline, we’re seeing great efforts to encourage young women to jump in head first.

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) programs are becoming so popular that even the Girl Scouts have an agenda dedicated specifically to the cause. Nicole Johnson, a Systems Engineer with Cisco, believes in the power of mentorship and focusing on attracting young minds and retaining women in the industry. She goes on to say that it’s never too early to help a young girl see the vast options that STEM fields provide. “By simply speaking about your own successes in a STEM career, you can help open doors. They can’t be what they can’t see, and this is the first step. You never know what the influence will be,” says Johnson.

Breaking into the technology field at an early age can certainly help eliminate many of the barriers that come along with an ever changing field, however, that constant evolution is what draws so many people to the industry in the first place. Patti Phillips, Mid Market Account Manager at Cisco, can’t imagine doing anything else. “The technology industry is so exciting, it’s ever evolving and dynamically expanding, so it keeps me on my toes.”

Aside from the positive efforts that STEM programs and mentoring have created, there is also encouragement for women to consider leadership roles in technology from a financial perspective. Women-led hi-tech startups achieve a 35% higher return on investment, and when venture backed they generate 12% more revenue than male-owned tech companies. However, they represent only 3% of tech start-ups. This is according to the study “Women in Technology: Evolving, Ready to Save the World,” which surveyed 500 women in the technology sector and was conducted by Lesa Mitchell of the Kauffman Foundation and Vivek Wadhwa, who holds titles at both Stanford and Duke University. 

Coming off the heels of a recession, it may be assumed that good jobs are still hard to come by, but this is far from the case in the field of IT. “There is a misnomer out there that we have or can quickly find the talent companies are looking for in an ever-changing environment,” said Becky Puckett-Wood, Managing Director with Experis, a division of Manpower that places candidates into IT roles. “With the continuing technical advancement of industries, the talent pool dwindles faster than the colleges can keep up on the current technology trends to keep the pool full for the market,” she explained.

“Whether you are male or female, the technology industry moves fast. Being relevant takes an investment in listening to IT challenges people are facing and staying educated on the latest technology trends. It’s a moving target and I think people may underestimate the time and investment in continued learning,” says Johnson.

Misconceptions About Technology
The perception of technology has come a long way over the last decade. It’s no longer “not cool” to be a female techie, says Deidra McClelland, CEO of The Skye Group, a marketing communications firm. “Science, math, engineering and computers are subjects and industries that young girls and women can definitely handle just as well as their male counterparts.”

Long perceived as a group of “geeks” writing code all day, the scope of technology is so vast it can literally be considered the very heart of a business.

“For many organizations the biggest misconception about IT is that it doesn’t deserve to be in the C Suite. But in reality, IT intersects all of the top business expenses - HR, payroll, inventory, materials, operating expenses, etc.,” explains Carrie Borchers, Director of Sales for IT Resource, a midwest leader of information technology services. “There are manufacturing facilities that have 24 x 7 operations with factories producing goods on machines that cost a million dollars. Yet, they balk at spending less than 1% on their IT infrastructure. What happens if those million dollar machines can’t connect to the network? IT is a key business driver and it belongs at the board room table.”

While businesses may not understand the importance of a solid IT infrastructure, the realm of technology doesn’t have to be mystifying, says Phillips. “It really involves listening to a customer, understanding their concerns and helping them solve their problems with the right solution and the right resources at the right time.”

Rising to the Top
Working in a field where females are the minority, and overcoming the challenges that come with the territory are just part of the daily grind for these women. At the end of the day they each felt the challenges they faced were no different than woman leaders in other fields and industries. They each make efforts to help other women (and men) succeed, whether it be in technology, or any aspect of business for that matter. Rising to the top of the corporate ladder is never an easy feat, but the lessons learned along the way have been instrumental in getting these women to where they are today, and in supporting and mentoring others throughout the process.

“One of the challenges I’ve turned into an asset is knowing my own weaknesses and building a team around me that compliments those. By doing this I’ve been able to build a team that makes me stronger and more well-rounded as a leader, in addition to helping my employees rise to their full potential, all while driving results for the company,” explains Puckett-Wood. “It’s a win, win, win if you can get the right team.”

“Along the way, never forget to stay true to yourself,” explains McClelland. “If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t and this may go into the category of female intuition - it does exist.” But most importantly she reminds us to have fun. “At the end of the day, if you aren’t enjoying what you do, you need to move on and find your passion.”

It’s a Balancing Act
While finding passion in your career is instrumental advice, it often comes with a price. Bringing home stacks of work, getting out the laptop after the kids go to bed, then waking up tired to do it all over again may sound like a familiar situation. That was the life Regnerus led before she learned to be present where she is. By working smarter, not harder, Regnerus was able to separate her work life from her home life and eliminate the overwhelming feeling of trying to be all things to all people all of the time.

This way of life was not unique to Regnerus. Each woman I spoke to indicated that there is a balancing act that needs to take place in order to be your best in each given situation.

The word “guilt” was routinely suggested as one of the feelings that women in general are uniquely good at. “Many of us feel as if no matter how hard we try to balance, we may be paying more attention to one area of our lives at the expense of something else,” says Borchers. “I haven’t figured out the balance yet. This is an area I refer to as the battle I will always fight, but never win. Meaning, I achieve balance when I am intentional. You have to make time for what matters and respect those commitments.”

Phillips makes it a priority to “unplug” on a regular basis, volunteer, and practice yoga which helps keep her centered and balanced physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. But for McClelland, she feels as though she can never completely “shut it off,” but she is learning. A former boss reminded her that the house wouldn’t burn down if she was gone for a week. It was that vacation that made her realize just how important that little bit of “me time” actually was. You can only do so much in a day’s time. “Impact what you can today, and work on the rest tomorrow,” added Puckett-Wood.

Women do wear many hats when it comes to a career, a home life, and social commitments, but Johnson kindly reminds us that “at the end of the day, we only have one head for all those hats.” She says “I use my calendar and a daily to do “hit list” so I focus on my key activities and I am able to enjoy my home life after. Women tend to want to do it all, so it’s important to let go of feeling guilty for some things you couldn’t fit in and let other people share your load when needed. I try to live in the now, but remember that it’s the “life” I have that supports my success in my work.”

A Special Thanks to Our Contributors
Follow them on Twitter to keep up with the latest tech trends.
Carrie Borchers :: IT Resource Director of Sales :: @csborch or @itresourceinc
Nicole Johnson :: Cisco Systems Engineer :: @tech_nicole
Deidra J. McClelland :: The Skye Group CEO :: @skyegroupgr
Patti Phillips :: Cisco Mid Market Account Manager :: @cisco
Becky Puckett-Wood :: Experis Managing Director :: @experis_us
Amanda Regnerus :: US Signal Company Vice President, Marketing :: @aregnerus

Programs For Women
There are a variety of programs available for women who have interests in technology. Cisco has programs to create communities for diversity both internally and for the general public. The internal networks develop a community within Cisco of peer women from all backgrounds. They also hold an annual global event for women which has motivated members to do more local meet-ups together. 

The public women’s group, called Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CEWN), provides a forum for all women in IT to network, motivate, and empower each other through energizing and engaging events held during Cisco Live and sustained through ongoing events throughout the year. This helps women bring similar events to their workplace, helps build pipelines and retains women in technology.

In addition, the Michigan Council for Women in Technology (MCWT) is a strong statewide group, and Davenport University has led many efforts to facilitate events for women in technology.

About the Author: Andrea Snyder is co-owner of STUDIO3TWENTY, a West Michigan based marketing firm specializing in consulting, writing, graphic design, and website development. Find them online at www.STUDIO3TWENTY.COM, or @studio3twenty.

Click here for a downloadable version of this article.

Save The Date :: BBQ Bash

Monday, June 30, 2014
IT Resource is throwing a BBQ Bash and you're invited! Save the date and watch your inbox for details to follow.

Families and kids are encouraged to attend! Along with great conversation, guests will enjoy a super BBQ dinner, drinks, LIVE music and mingling, so stay tuned for details to come. Save the date because we'd love to see you and your family here!

Free Coffee :: Just Share Your Ideas With Us!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Our goal has always been to use our blog as a way to create a trusted resource for our readers. You'll often find us talking about the latest technology trends and products, informing you of sales and incentive programs, and of course, sharing company news and tidbits. The numbers are showing us that our blog has been well received, as our traffic continues to grow each month. 

Giveaway Details: Win a Starbucks Gift Card!

We always listen to what our customers and readers are saying, and we've generated quite a few blog posts based on those discussions. But, we've never formally asked for your input, even though we've always wanted it! So here's your chance to interact with us, and maybe even win a cup of joe in the process. All you have to do is tell us what you want us to write about in a future blog post. Maybe you want to know more about hybrid clouds and how they work, or how about what we think about the latest operating system. Heck, maybe you want to know what we had for lunch yesterday. Whatever it is you want to know more about - just let us know!

Leave a comment on this blog post or on our Facebook page with your idea for a future article and we'll pick 5 winners at random on July 31, 2014. Each winner will get a $5 Starbucks gift card!


*Limit to one entry per person on the blog and one entry per person on Facebook. Winners will be notified electronically.

Weight Loss Challenge :: The Results

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pounds have been shed, dress sizes have been lost, and we’re feeling good! We have reached the end of our weight loss competition and are reluctant to announce that we were defeated by our competitors, GCI.

Although we were hoping to win, everyone is still very thrilled with how much weight was lost individually. It certainly makes for a healthier ITR team!
Here are a few of our office participants. Pictured from left are Hans, Mike, Todd, Andrew, Lori, and Denise.

In an effort to make things as fair as possible, weight loss was measured by percentage lost. GCI came in at an average of 9.1% while ITR had an average of 8.3%! Everyone who participated agrees that it was very beneficial and a great way to start out the year.

Along with the competition with GCI, we also had a competition among those in the office. Here’s our biggest losers: Denise Sabo, 3rd place, Lori Brandt, 2nd place and Todd Hekkema for the 1st place win! Congratulations to everyone who participated!

Becoming the "Smallest" Winner

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The start of a new year brings about resolutions for many of us, and one of the most common goals in our office is to shed a few pounds. We've done the weight loss contest in the past, but this year the stakes have been raised and we're ready for a challenge.

Our friends and customers at GCI have joined us in our efforts and a challenge has been issued. Which company can lose the highest percentage of weight? In this case, we're hoping to become the "smallest" winner. We've got a nice cash pot up for grabs, and of course bragging rights.

How are we going to lose the weight?
We're taking it back to the basics and using diet and exercise. To be fair, we've done this challenge for the last few years and more often than not, we lose the weight, then put it right back on after the challenge. Losing weight and keeping it off is hard work, but this year maybe things will be different. We've learned a lot from one of our customers who recently lost 80 pounds by changing her diet and exercising. Janis Kemper from Northern Physical Therapy has been on an amazing journey and she recently shared her story, which is an inspiration to all.
 
Got any tips?
Our challenge runs through April 4, 2014 and we'll be sure to keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, if you have any tips for us - awesome healthy recipes, great exercise routines that have worked for you, or just some encouragement, we'd love to hear from you!

Happy Birthday IT Resource

Friday, November 08, 2013

It was 14 years ago this month that IT Resource opened its doors and welcomed customers. What started as two partners working from a small west Michigan based office has turned into a full scale operation with over 20 employees, each of whom possess a wide variety of certifications in a number of technology fields.

We've partnered with some of the best companies in the tech industry: Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, EMC, and HP, just to name a few. And while we've grown, built, and migrated over the years, the one thing that hasn't changed is our commitment to our customers. Because of your loyal support, we've been able to flourish, and for that we thank you.

We're looking forward to a long lasting relationship with each and every customer and friend who made this possible. Here's to another 14 great years!

Tee Time

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Our annual golf outing took place last week and as usual, we had a fantastic showing of customers, friends, and vendors there to join in the fun.

Deidra McClelland of The Skye Group and It Resource's Molly Reid are ready to get started.

Justin Graeff and Carrie Borchers prepare to head out.

Golfers listen to a few announcements by Gary and Leo  - don't forget to look for the prize holes, and as always...have fun!

Tim Felstead looks forward to a day on the course and Andrew Watson gets the job of sitting on hole 17 to be a witness in case anyone makes a hole-in-one and wins the car from Fox Ford!

A big thanks to our marketing team, Andrea Snyder of STUDIO3TWENTY and Kim Helmers who planned our entire day.

Leo's foursome is beating the heat. Pictured here are Mike Kounelis of Skillman Corporation, Dan CLeary, Leo Reap, and Courtney James of Skillman Corporation.

It Resource's Carolyn Martin wants to make sure the putt goes in so she checks it carefully. By the way, she does make it in :)

Thanks so much to everyone who came out - we had a wonderful time and can't wait to see you all again next year!

Women in Technology: Turning the Tables

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

When it comes to women in the workforce, society and the media traditionally place them in nurturing or social fields such as nursing, teaching, or administration positions. With time and a savvy business acumen, that stereotype is changing as we are seeing a shift in women joining fields that are traditionally held by men. June is National Women in Science and Technology Month, it celebrates the roles females play in what is traditionally considered an industry dominated by males.


In the United States, only 20% of jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are held by women. As technology begins to take over every aspect of our personal and business lives, it only seems natural that more women would, in one way or another, find themselves embracing the field, and allowing their own career paths to lead them towards technology.

The Tables are Turning
“When I was growing up there was a scarcity of women in leadership and highly visible positions in STEM, other than women teaching science and math and even then, the men outnumbered the women in those departments,” explains Carrie Borchers, Director of Sales at IT Resource. “Today, we have Meg Whitman (Hewlett-Packard CEO), Marissa Mayer (Yahoo! CEO) and Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO) all over the news so it will be interesting to see if this plants seeds of opportunity in young minds.”

As more women fall into the technology field, whether it be on purpose, or by way of a happy accident, we will see more of a shift. Amanda Regnerus, Vice President, Marketing, US Signal Company, explains that historically woman have worked in help or service industries. “I'm sure statistically, there are less than 20% of jobs in the service industry that are held by men. As time goes on and we continue to move toward gender equality in the workplace, these numbers may even themselves out.”

Perhaps another reason we see such an unbalance in the workforce is because of the gender roles created by media and other family members. Kim Helmers, Sales and Marketing Assistant at IT Resource explains that if women follow the career paths of other females in their lives (sisters, mothers, etc.) who held positions in healthcare or retail, they may have a lack of interest in the technology fields simply because of what they were exposed to at home.

Is Gender A Barrier?
Being the minority in your field can come with its own set of struggles, but the outcome is directly related to how you handle the situation. Lori Brandt, Help Desk Manager at IT Resource, fell into technology, then followed up her self-learned knowledge with a related college degree in the field. She explains that she feels her degree validates her knowledge, but the path didn’t come without resistance. “I don’t feel that I had many struggles once I made the decision to base my career in technology. Doors were always open to me, but they did not open on their own. I had to make the effort to go to the door and open it.”

Most of the women I spoke to did not see their gender as being a barrier for their success in this field. In fact, a few even pointed out that it’s not so bad being the minority. “When I go to an event or environment when there are one or two women and 50-60 men, it’s a lot easier for people to remember me, as opposed to one of the many ties and flys,” said Borchers.

Along those same lines, Regnerus indicated that she thinks it’s a great opportunity to be a part of a field that is always evolving, growing, changing and continually challenges you to learn new things. “I love the field of technology and don't look at my gender as a barrier.  But, that's just me, I don't really look at anything outside of myself as a barrier to success.”

I began to see a common trend among these women. All successful in their own right, and each understanding the skills it takes to succeed in the workforce. Molly Reid, Senior Account Executive at IT Resource, explains that in a field that requires a plethora of skills to survive, she is happy to be someone that can critically think to handle problem solving, decision making, and  analysis for her customers. “I love to see a client that has a problem, get it resolved and know that the engineers and I helped so that they can focus on making their business thrive,” says Reid.
Abundant Opportunities In An Ever-Changing Field
Whether women are interested in technology in college, or fall into the career later in life, there is always opportunity for them to thrive in this ever-changing field. Catherine Lazarock is the owner of Symplicity Communications, a Grand Rapids based telecommunications company. She encountered a lot of criticism when generating her start-up, but she believed in what she was doing and seven years later she is running a successful business. She recalls how she stumbled upon the technology field and how it changed her career path. “My background was public relations and marketing and a job change brought me to the door step of the technology industry.  I like to think that I was pushed off the cliff,” says Lazarock. “This industry is so exciting, with fast, evolving products and a huge market, what’s not to love?  I literally can go anywhere in the world and sell technology services.” 

Women Can Make A Statement
Given the hurdles and challenges these women have faced, would they recommend this mostly male field to up and coming females? Sarah Van Elderen, Marketing & Event Coordinator, US Signal Company, says young females should not be afraid of joining a field where they are the minority. She indicates the most important thing to remember when selecting a career is to find something you love. Van Elderen says she came from a techie family so she had always been interested in the field, but it wasn’t until she landed at US Signal, which she describes as a “right place, right time” situation, that she embraced the technology field as a career. “I came in as a Pricing Analyst with no telecom experience, and learned everything about telecommunications, network services, and cloud hosting from the ground up,” says Van Elderen. “My biggest accomplishment is more of a general feeling of success. When I look back to four years ago when I started at US Signal, it’s amazing to me how much I have learned and how much I have grown.” But, VanElderen explains, there is a flip side. “My biggest struggle has also been the amount of information I have had to learn. Because technology is always changing, there is always new information to learn.”

While there will be struggles, when you enter an ever-changing industry, Lazarock says “Embrace it!  There are so many opportunities for women in technology. Because it is dominated by men, women can truly make a statement, and quickly, within this industry. Because we are the minority, naturally we are going to stand out if we create a solid niche and move forward with strong integrity.”

The advice and beliefs that each of these women shared was not simply related to the technology field. As successful business women, they all think on a global scale, which translates across many platforms when it comes to advising other young women.

A New Image For “Tech Geeks”
Technology is an industry that’s here to stay, and the image of the lone “tech geek” working in the basement is being overtaken by a new wave of intelligent, up-and-coming people who are paving the way for this flourishing industry. This field is changing the way we think, the way we live, and the way we work.

“The term “girl geek” is actually somewhat of a compliment to me. In recent years, the term “geek” doesn’t have so much of a negative connotation anymore. A geek is now someone who is incredibly intelligent and ahead of the game on technology,” says Van Elderen. “To be referred to as a girl geek would make me feel as though I’m part of the inner circle of technologically savvy people in this era. I don’t think I have reached girl geek status yet, but I hope I’m on my way!”


Contributors:
Carrie Borchers, Director of Sales, IT Resource