Young Professionals of Milwaukee Celebrates Its Third Birthday, Looks To The Future

Young Professionals of Milwaukee Celebrates Its Third Birthday, Looks To The Future

Kimberly M. Simon, left, and Charletta D. Flowers, right, who work for Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls, enjoyed networking with Gail E. Holmes, who works for the Energizer Battery Company in St. Louis.

On Tuesday, August 17th, 2004, the Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM) threw an elaborate party at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater to celebrate their third birthday.
The group had a lot to be proud of. In the past year, 218 volunteers put on 29 different events. Most recently, the group hosted a three-day conference to highlight the “best practices” of running an organization for young professionals which allowed YPM to achieve a membership of 3,381.
The mood at the party was light-hearted and optimistic. It began with a poetry slam competition, in which Mayor Tom Barrett read a poem he had written called “Milwaukee’s Brewing All Over.” After Barrett left the stage a man who called himself “Milwaukee’s Fairy Job-Mother” pranced across the stage. Dressed in a pink tu-tu, Milwaukee’s Fairy Job-Mother waved a magic wand and recited an uplifting poem about Milwaukee’s potential for future job creation.
Winners of YPM’s civic-minded poetry contest recited verse praising Summerfest, Lake Michigan, the Milwaukee Art Museum, beer, cheese, brats, and youth culture. The city of Milwaukee was praised for combining a “big city feel” with “small town zeal.” The evening’s main event was a speech by a 51-year-old futurist named Watts Wacker.
According to Wacker, a futurist’s job is no so much to predict coming events, but to help people envision the kind of world they would like to have. Once this vision is achieved, the futurist helps people figure out how to get there.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett reads a poem he wrote.

Wacker encouraged Milwaukee’s young professionals to think about the kind of place they would like Milwaukee to become, and to imagine the things they can do to bring about that future. He asked the audience to envision what success looked like, and to think about whose opinion mattered, to them. “The fastest route to self-esteem is to stand up for what you believe in,” Wacker said.
Futurists strive to understand the current social agenda, and to make predictions by extrapolating out from the current zeitgeist. “Study the newspapers,” Wacker instructed. “What is it that is driving people’s discussions?”
Wacker told Milwaukee’s young professionals that a person can influence the world by participating in the events going on around them. Every person has a professional life, a personal life, a societal life and a political life. Only one in three young Americans votes, but all Americans are influenced by the outcome of our elections. Although many young people would like to ignore some aspects of their professional, personal, societal and political lives, Wacker believes that this is impossible. “You are in it,” Wacker said. “You can’t escape.”
To drive home his point that participation matters, Wacker shared a quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs,
comes up short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows the great enthusiasms,
the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end
the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst, if he fails,
at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
who neither know victory nor defeat.

Teresa Esser is a contributing columnist for the Wisconsin Technology Network and author of the book, The Venture Café. She can be reached at .
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.