January 2011 Member Spotlight

Welcome to the Young Emerging Professional’s Member Spotlight, where each month YEP will sit down with one of our members and see what they’re up to. Over the next several months we will introduce you to the YEP Team. These folks are the heart and soul behind our events and our mission

On tap for January? 

Andrew Venditti from 203 Communications, LLC.

YEP: Happy New Year Andy! Tell us a little about 203…

AV:  We are a marketing firm with a strong focus on web development and photography. The two may seem odd inside one company, but they actually compliment each other quite well…nothing compliments a well designed and programmed website better than striking content. We pride ourselves on providing our clients with unique, custom solutions built into a strong marketing plan that we help them develop to achieve their goals. We like to immerse ourselves in our clients business, and become part of their team, not just an outside vendor.

The company began almost accidentally. Dan Zaniewski and I are both Seymour firefighters (Dan is actually the Captain at Great HIll Hose Company). One night at the firehouse  one of our fellow firefighters who owns a company asked us if we could work together to help him with a solution for his site. Knowing I had the design acumen and marketing experience (as I was the Director of Marketing for a nationwide manufacturing firm for about 5 years at the time), and Dan was a super programmer, working for a 40 billion dollar company, it was only natural for him to ask people he trusted and knew could do it.

Once that project was completed, he ended up sending us a referral, we decided to incorporate, and haven’t looked back since.

In late 2009 we decided to officially start 203 Photography as a subsidiary of 203 Communications, LLC. This decision was fueled by the fact that we were seeing a call for photographic services that were outside of the realm of “marketing”, such as weddings, events, portraits, and sports photography.

Photo Courtesy of Arnold Gold / New Haven Register

YEP: What does 2011 have in store for 203?

AV: We’re approaching 2011 as our year of growth. What started off as a side job has really progressed in to a profitable, successful company. This year we plan to move out of our home offices and into a corporate setting within the first quarter. We’re also looking at the possibility of hiring more help. We’ve been very busy lately, and in order to keep up this pace, and expand further, we’re going to need help, or risk burning ourselves out. We’re very excited at how our first month is going. It’s great to see people spending money again. I think we are already seeing the economy start to come back to life as people loosen the purse stings a bit and start to get back in to “spend money to make money” mindsets. We’re hoping that the trend we’ve seen here in the first month continues, and our working towards ensuring that momentum. In January alone we were featured in the New Haven Register, and on national television shooting a URI vs. Xavier game at the Ryan Center on ESPNU.

YEP: As a YEP Board Member, what can you share about your YEP experience?

AV: I’m honored to be part of such a great group of hungry, motivated and talented young professionals. I’ve found that networking is essential to growing a company. It’s not the only element, but one of the most important. Not only do you achieve exposure for your business, but you also get to keep your finger on the pulse of regional trends, industrial and technological trends, and see what works and what impedes growth in others businesses. Being a part of YEP has helped to get our business to where it is, and like anything else in this world, you’ll get out of it what you put in.

YEP: Any New Year Resolutions?

AV: Yes. We plan to make this the year that we not only move into an office, but get busy enough to where we need to hire developers and designers. We plan to also focus on growing the sports photography side of our business. We’d love to get to be shooting pro sports before the end of 2011. We’re also hoping to focus a bit more on shooting weddings this summer. Typically we shoot 4-5 a year, because we don’t actively market the service, I’d love to double that number this year!

YEP: Good stuff Andy. We would also like to acknowledge all the hard work you guys did getting the YEP website up and running. We’re hopeful that the site will continue to evolve and become the source for all young professionals living and working in the Lower Naugatuck Valley. All the best to you, Dan and 203 for a great 2011!

New Year Resolutions – Who Needs ‘Em?

New Year Resolutions – Who Needs ‘Em?

2011 is here! What new year resolutions have you made? Just over  a week into the new  year – are you still on track or have you already given up?

You know what I’m talking about: “I’m going to lose weight;” or “I’m going to get organized;”and “I’m going to enjoy life more.”  The list goes on and on.

May I offer a suggestion? Forget new year resolutions. Let’s face it; we are creatures of habit. We are who we are – so why try to change who you are for a few weeks, only to be disappointed?  Don’t get me wrong, I won’t argue against the benefits of living a healthy, active lifestyle. I think I read that something  like nearly 70% of adult Americans are either overweight or obese. Obviously exercising regularly is extremely important and should be incorporated into everyone’s routine.

My real problem with resolutions and pledges is the fact that they always tend to be focused on things we don’t do well as individuals or that we’re not naturally good at; in other words , the negative. Could it be that the real reason many of us fail and abandon our resolutions by mid-January is the anxiety and negative feelings we get when we think of the things we know we want to change?  For instance, “I’m going to lose weight this year,” may bring up negative thoughts and feelings about not being able to fit into that favorite pair of jeans, or perhaps, it makes you wonder how people perceive you. Perhaps we recognize that the things we want to change or do differently are things we know we’re not that good at (e.g. being organized) and we go on to realize that it’s just too hard to overcome? Or maybe it’s just not exciting enough for us? So I say, forget ‘em – who needs resolutions?

The important thing is to acknowledge that there’s something you would like to work on and do a better job of in 2011 and beyond. You don’t need the stress and anxiety of a new year resolution and the disappointment that comes along with it once you’ve abandoned the pledge. What you do need is a plan, and the right tools to help you work your plan.

I’m paraphrasing a bit, but Charlie Dowd, former General Manager of the now debunked New Haven Ravens, once told me that the key to success is having a good, well thought-out plan and the preparation that comes along with working that plan.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin

Keep things simple, but substantive; challenging, yet attainable. You need to be specific, so define the plan and get going!

Ok, so now what?

Mark your calendar, because YEP wants to help you become a better you in 2011 and beyond! YEP invites you to Network You, a special evening with business and personal coach, Kim Kasparian – the Success Genie, and YEPs very own, Earl Wheway CFP® of MorganStanley SmithBarney as they provide some insight, tools, and strategies you can take away to get you started on building the right plan for you for a great 2011. This FREE event is open to ALL business professionals and will be held at Il Palio, Five Corporate Drive, Shelton CT on February 10th 5:30-7:30pm.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” – Tony Robbins



Dan Onofrio has a senior leadership role at Environmental Data Resources in Milford, is an owner of Rita’s Water Ice in Bridgeport and is one of the founding members of the Young Emerging Professionals. Connect with Dan on Linkedin and Twitter.

Business After Hours: Network You

When: Thursday • February 10 • 2011 • 5:30PM– 7:30PM
Where: Il Palio • Five Corporate Drive • Shelton, CT

Network You
Forget what you’ve been told and welcome to the new world of networking. Join us to learn how to step-up your success in 2011.  

YEP invites you to a special evening with business and personal coach, Kim Kasparian – the Success Genie, and YEP’s very own – Earl Wheway CFP® of MorganStanley SmithBarney as they provide some insight, tools, and strategies you can take away to get you started on building the right plan for you for a great 2011!

Whether you are a young professional just starting your career or a seasoned professional looking to build your business in today’s world of networking, this event is for you and is open to all.

Register in advance for this FREE event

Sound Tigers Networking Extravaganza

When: Tuesday • January 25 • 2011 • 5:00PM – 7:00PM
Where: Arena at Harbor Yard • 600 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers and YEP are teaming up to invite all area business professionals (young and ahem…mature) for an evening of networking from 5pm-7pm in the Tiger’s Den. The Sound Tigers will be facing off against the Albany Devils immediately following the event. We are asking you to bring a can of soup for the CT Food Bank. With the holiday season over and a few cold winter months remaining the CT Food Bank really needs our help!

Please visit www.SoundTigers.com/group3 to register and enter code: Network
$20 per person includes ticket to the game and light stadium fare. Cash Bar.

This event is open to all CT Business Professionals

December 2010 Member Spotlight

Welcome to the Young Emerging Professional’s Member Spotlight where each month YEP will sit down with one of our members and see what they’re up to. This month we caught up with Matt Burke, Co-Owner of Scholar Painting, LLC.

YEP:  Hi Matt, tell us a bit about Scholar Painting?

 MB: Scholar Painting LLC is a full service interior and exterior residential and commercial painting and pressure washing company, based out of Seymour, CT. My partner, Vaughn Butler, who has a background in Business Administration, and myself, who has a background in Civil Engineering, were childhood friends, both with backgrounds in house painting. We started out performing small jobs in high school and while in college, we decided to start a professional painting business. We founded Scholar Painting LLC in 2008. Since 2008, we’ve grown from performing residential jobs to painting large commercial condo complexes and retail stores. We have built a hardworking team comprised of skilled and experienced professional painters and project managers, including specialists with knowledge of technical painting materials and techniques. We strive to complete a great looking project on time and on budget. Our goal is to be Connecticut’s number one house painting company, measured by our consistent level of client loyalty, brand integrity, highest quality, and professionalism.


YEP:  You guys have teamed up with YEP when the group first kicked off; what interested you about the group? And how has the group helped your business?

MB: We first joined the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce in 2008, wanting to get to know the business owners and entrepreneurs around the Valley area. We believe getting involved with your local chamber is an excellent way to network in the community. Most of the people who helped our business get off the ground, we met through the Chamber and the YEP group. We feel members of the YEP group have the same business ethics and goals that Scholar Painting has. When we heard about the YEP chapter, we felt it would be helpful to meet and network with other people in the business community in their 20’s and 30’s to lead one another to become as successful as the veteran business people in the Chamber. Since joining YEP, we learned that there are other young professionals just as Vaughn and myself that are looking to take risks and chances in business to thrive in his or her position at their companies. We believe that the harder you work and the more you learn now, it will pay off in the future and later in life.

YEP: When you guys aren’t painting what do you like to do for fun?

 MB: There are not many times when Vaughn and I are not doing something for the business, as there is always something that can be worked on. However, when we do have time “off the clock,” Vaughn enjoys reading and playing sports and I usually like to do outdoor activities such as jet ski or snowboard.


YEP: Cool – where do you ride and what’s been your favorite mountain to board?

 MB: I usually jetski in Lake Housatonic and Lake Zoar throughout the summer. Lake Zoar has a nice sandbar where boaters and jet skiers hang out at on weekends. When I get bored of the flat water, my buddies and I get together and launch of the coast off Niantic and Old Saybrook to ride the waves in the Sound. Since I am still a novice snowboarder, I prefer smaller, easier mountains to ride such as Bromley in VT and Sugerbush in MA. Otherwise, a good mountain that usually gets the best out of me and my board is Okemo, VT. Sometimes it takes my buddies 3 times to go down while I am on my first run at Okemo.

YEP:  Future Aspirations?

 MB: Our future aspiration for Scholar Painting LLC is to eventually have several crews with managers around the state. Vaughn hopes to get his M.B.A. and I would like to get my P.E. (Professional Engineering) license in Civil Engineering. With those accreditations and experience, our goal is to expand Scholar Painting or establish another company in Commercial Property Management and Maintenance.
YEP: Any interesting facts about you or the Scholar gang you would like to add? 

MB: In our first year with Scholar Painting, we teamed up with Than and Paul from CT Homes to perform painting on three of their flip houses featured on A&E’s “Flip This House” TV series. We experienced how three months of hard work is squeezed in a 1-hour timeslot and saw what really goes on behind the scenes. Heres a tip for everyone: Camera crews and paint do not go well together!

YEP: It’s the Holiday season…what would you like Santa to bring you this year?

MB: I have always wanted a 2-stroke gas powered blender. I already have a desk lamp made out of car parts, so I thought a blender with a motor would be a good complement and would make for some pretty good cocktails. I saw one in a Hotrod Magazine so I am going to put that on my wishlist for Santa!

YEP: Interesting, well, we hope you get what you wish for. Happy Holiday!

The Spirit of Giving Thanks

Abraham Lincoln once said:  “The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.” I couldn’t help but think of this quote as I was coming in and out of my food coma this Thanksgiving. As you know, Thanksgiving is the one day a year when we go out of our way to spend time with those we love and are close to, giving thanks for their support, trust and friendship. The Thanksgiving and Holiday season is our reminder to acknowledge these wonderful people: our family and friends.

 I also got around to thinking that a new year is already upon us.  This made me reflect on the past year — and what a year it has been. I’m sure I speak for many when I say that this year has been a roller coaster type of year, a year full of ups and downs, and certainly a year that had its fair share of stresses; but hopefully one that also provided times of joy, excitement, and accomplishment.

Again, this time of year makes it easy for us to think of the individuals we’re grateful for that stuck by us, especially during the turbulent times. And what about the people that we may not necessarily think of regularly?  You know, our colleagues in and out of the office, the vendors and companies we collaborate with to meet deadlines and finish projects on time, or perhaps the young guy or gal that serves our coffee just the way we like it at the diner or coffee shop each morning, getting our day started on the right foot? I’m sure the list can go on and on.

Thinking back on my year and of all the people I have met casually as well as professionally, I can’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to have been introduced to them. Whether it was the simple hello and smile in the hallway or the more in depth encounter at one of the many networking events this year, I’d like to think that each person has touched me in a positive way – and for that I’m thankful this holiday season.

Today it’s easier than ever to show our appreciation to the people who have touched us in one way or another. Traditionally, there’s the formal thank you letter and card or there’s the casual phone call, email and now social media connection to say how grateful we are for their friendship, service or encounter. There’s really no excuse, with all the tools we have, not to acknowledge these people; not only today and during the Holiday season where it’s front of mind, but throughout the entire year.

As young business professionals it is especially important to recognize those who have had an impact on our lives — even those whose influence is simple or “small” in nature (e.g. morning coffee). As we pave our way through our careers it’s these simple acts of acknowledgement which will differentiate us from the crowd. I encourage you as you look back at 2010 and set goals for 2011 to incorporate some kind of relationship-building strategy in both your personal and professional lives. Pay it forward with a strategy that is genuine to you. The tools are there–find the one that works for you.

Remember what Abe told us:  “The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships”; and, may I add, the relationships we keep.

Here are just a few suggested readings on the topic to get you started:

Appreciation Marketing – How to Achieve Greatness Through Gratitude – by Tommy Wyatt & Curtis Lewsey

Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results – by Jack Mitchell

The Thank You Economy – by Gary Vaynerchuk

Dan Onofrio has a senior leadership role at Environmental Data Resources in Milford, is an owner of Rita’s Water Ice in Bridgeport and is one of the founding members of the Young Emerging Professionals. Connect with Dan on Linkedin and Twitter.

Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 5k Road Race and Food Drive

The YEPs will be running with a little extra purpose in this year’s Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 5k Road Race and ask that you do the same. The YEPs are asking those living and working in the Lower Naugatuck Valley to get in the spirit of the Thanksgiving Holiday and help put food on the table of those less fortunate by dropping off a non-perishable food item for those in need this holiday season.

Whether you are running in the race or not we encourage you to support this worthy cause by dropping off an item from the following list:

All items donated will benefit the Spooner House and Valley Food Bank.

If your company or a group of you would like to combine your items, the following is a list of items needed for a Holiday “Basket”: Holiday Basket 2010

For the convenience of those running in this year’s race, YEP has coordinated the following drop-off times in conjunction with runners picking up their race packets:

Sunday, November 21st: Noon-3pm at the Farmers Market – Canal Street, Shelton

Wednesday, November 24th: 4pm-7pm at the Farmers Market – Canal Street, Shelton

Visit http://electronicvalley.org/derby/hullrace/index.htm for additional information on the Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 5K
If you are interested in learning more about the Young Emerging Professionals or would like to volunteer and help YEP with this event or future events, please contact Dan Onofrio: yep@greatervalleychamber.com.

Spooner House is operated by Area Congregations Together, Inc. with the mission of providing food, shelter and support services to people in need. All of our energies are devoted to helping our clients establish a self-sufficient living situation. We recognize the dignity of our clients, we give them our respect and we deliver our services without proselytizing. www.act-spooner.org

November member spotlight

Welcome to the YEP Member Spotlight where each month YEP will sit down with one of our members and see what they’re up to. This month we catch up with Dan L’Altrella, Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist at the L’Altrella Lending Group in Shelton and one of YEP’s original founding members.

YEP: As one of the original members of YEP – what was it about the group that made you want to be involved?

DL: I love everything about networking and meeting new people. The reason for me getting involved with the YEP group was to get more involved with peers in my age group. I was also looking to help out in my community and become more involved in the Valley.

YEP: What’s the best thing that’s happened since you’ve been participating in the group?

DL: The best thing that happened to me with this group is that I met some great people who have helped me grow my business. I have meet some people I would never been introduce to if I wasn’t a part of this group. Only good things have come to me with the YEP group.

YEP: You were recently selected as one of CT’s top mortgage professionals by CT Magazine – what do you have to say about that?

DL: I have been in the mortgage business for 7 yrs and I have treated every client like they were my family. I have never lied or taken advantage of anyone. I have always been taught to work hard and keep my nose clean. Because of this I was extremely excited about being selected as one of Connecticut’s top mortgage professionals. It means the world to me and my family.

YEP: When you’re not selling mortgages what do you like to do for fun?

DL: When I am not working I enjoy playing golf or spending time with loved ones. I love to watch my New York Giants or New York Yankees in my spare time. I also enjoy participating in fantasy football. It makes me feel like I am an owner of a sports franchise.

YEP: Ah, the Yankees….let’s not go there right now. But Fantasy Football – that’s interesting. What’s the name of your team? And would you say your GM skills are like the New England Patriots or the Buffalo Bills?

DL: FICOKing and I am more like the Patriots. I am very passionate about fantasy football. I have been a fan of football since I was a kid and played ten years of it growing up. I know the game pretty well. I won at least one championship in the past four years.

YEP: Future aspirations?

FICOKing: I look forward to becoming more successful and growing my business to a level I never thought was achievable. I also look forward to having a family one day and having kids of my own.

YEP: Anything else you want to add?

FICOKing: I have a Maltese/Yorkie named Boozer who is the toughest 13 pound dog around. I also love to watch movies in my free time

YEP: Movies eh? Rudy or the Natural?

FICOKing: Rudy; but I prefer Program (old football movie).

Thank you for your time FICOKing and let us know how you make out this season.

Isn’t It Your Time To Emerge?

Dan Onofrio

Isn’t It Your Time To Emerge?
Welcome to the Young Emerging Professionals (YEP) website and our first blog post. I’m honored to be the first to post on this site. As chairman of YEP it is my hope that you find value in what we have to share with you from both a professional and personal development perspective as we grow the YEP network and evolve this website.

My Story
It was just over three years ago that I relocated back to the Naugatuck River Valley. Like many of us who live and work in the area, I grew up in the Valley. Having been away for nearly five years it felt good to be back. If you were to ask me when I had left if I thought I would end up back in the Valley – I would probably have responded with a resounding “not a chance”. You see, growing up I was fortunate to have shared many wonderful summer vacations in Europe visiting my relatives. Inevitably, at the end of each summer vacation abroad, I would be disappointed returning to the “dull” life here in Connecticut and the Valley. Continue reading Isn’t It Your Time To Emerge?

Pink Night Celebration

When: Thursday • October 21 • 2010 • 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Where: Hotel Sierra • 830 Bridgeport Avenue, Shelton, CT 06484

Pink Night
Please join the Young Emerging Professionals for a special evening in support of the
Campaign for Breast Wellness at Griffin Hospital. Not only will you be helping a great cause,
there will be delicious food, a “You-Pick-It” Auction, music, cash bar, networking and more.
Plus your ticket automatically enters you into the door prize drawings for an iPod Touch or
Flat screen TV compliments of Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and AquaServe.

Pink Night is open to all! Tickets $30 per person.
RSVP by Tuesday, October 19th via greatervalleychamber.com online calendar of events or call 203-925-4981 for more information.