Tag Archives: work ethic

Strike Zone and MVP4Life

March 14, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Learning life skills through baseball.” This is the tagline for MVP4Life, a new nonprofit organization aimed at keeping Omaha’s youth in school and helping them succeed in life. MVP4Life has joined forces with Strike Zone Omaha to form school programs, camps and clinics, coaches’ clinics, and the Upper Deck League.

The goal of MVP4Life is to instill a sense of work ethic and teach kids about the importance of contributing to the community. It’s not just about baseball. It’s about producing a rewarding program that encourages kids to work together.

Joe Siwa and Teri Cissell, partners at Strike Zone Omaha, realized the need for after-school programs in the community. It was Cissell who thought up the idea behind MVP4Life. As the nonprofit’s director, she has been working hard on the program for about a year and a half and says it’s almost ready to launch. “We have it where we want it to be and now want to hit the ground running,” Cissell says.

Over eight weeks, the school program will teach life skills to fifth through eighth graders. The goal is for students to graduate from MVP4Life with a set of essential life skills. “This is a full-circle program,” Siwa says. “Everything is connected with helping these kids become more productive citizens in life. We are giving them that foundation to live upon.”

“We’ve put a lot of thought into this and have really built a strong program,” says Cissell. Cissell and Siwa have created a complete curriculum based on the HOMERUNS life skills: Handle diversity, Overcome challenges, Make good decisions, Encouragement and leadership, Responsibility and respect, Understand and accept situations, Nurture self-esteem and confidence, and Stay focused on personal goals.

“Research shows that if kids are kept in organized school activities, they do much better in school and in life,” Cissell says. “Douglas County Sheriff’s department did research that determined if we could keep just 10 percent of male students from dropping out of high school, we could save Nebraska taxpayers $65 million per year.”

The nonprofit also includes the Upper Deck League, a competitive league for college players in their offseason. These players mentor youth on how to be successful college athletes, as well as attend a leadership conference in exchange for playing in the Upper Deck League. Siwa stresses the importance of giving back to the community and hopes that these 120 college baseball players are passing on a strong work ethic to the kids.

“Our job is to get these kids involved and teach them how to listen to instruction, take criticism, and gain a work ethic. We want to put a desire into these kids…great things happen when you work hard,” Siwa says.

The program will begin in the Omaha Public Schools and filter out to the rest of
the community.

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Creativity, Ingenuity, and Work Ethic

February 25, 2013 by

The United States is like no other place in the world because of the environment we maintain for providing incentive for those willing to think outside the box. As I travel, talking to individuals who have taken a crazy idea all the way to a profitable venture, I am struck by how few of us even know about what these Americans do.

Here are two examples which you will never see on even The Science Channel:

First, there is a small division of a larger American company that uses patents developed in Star Wars labs to make possible that which was impossible just a few years ago. A small research team has developed the ability to use lasers to destroy incoming missiles, airplanes, or even mortar rounds—instant, accurate, and very powerful lasers to heat and destroy in order to make us safe from these threats. In accomplishing this task, an idea emerged that a spin-off use of this kind of technology would be easy. As they say, tactical to practical.

This small division uses powerful lasers to hammer metal into complex shapes and to stress metals in a manner that extends their useful life fivefold.

What if the U.S. military purchased a fighter which cost $350 million…a fighter that, after a mere 800 hours of flight time, risked having the mounts securing the wings fail and the wings fall off? What if these mounts could easily be made many times stronger, and last many times longer, by hitting them with powerful lasers?

What if a large, multi-national aviation company determined that the aluminum frame for their aircraft would begin to fail after just a decade of use? What if the use of a powerful laser could extend the useful life of these frames fivefold?

What if the U.S. nuclear power facilities learned that the steel reaction chambers were being harmed by the radiation in a manner that failure was likely? What if these steel chambers could be strengthened by hitting the surface with powerful lasers, thus extending the useful life greatly?

These and many more equally fascinating problems are being solved by this small group.

Another example…There’s a unique American metal-working company that is capable of pressing hot alloys into complex shapes using pressures of 5.2 million pounds. The press weighing in at 5,300,000 pounds with three of the heaviest components weighing almost a million pounds each. Aerospace industries so rely on this company for its unique capabilities that they require back-ups for each of the press components to be kept on-site, so that any component failure can be quickly replaced. There is no other press like this in the world.

Wouldn’t you consider these companies something to be heralded by the media? I, for one, find this infinitely more interesting than what fashion some actor prefers.

These two companies, and the hundreds of other unique American companies, cause me to ask, what is so different about the United States that entrepreneurs are willing to risk all to chase their dreams? Profit, of course. The ability to bring a great idea, or capability, to market and be compensated for the passion, perseverance, and hard work it takes to overcome the myriad of obstacles every entrepreneur faces daily.

So, when I hear the Occupy Wall Street types and short-sighted legislators say that the capital gains income tax rate should be the same as ordinary income, I want to scream out that we only need to look at what’s occurring in France now that their long-term investment tax rate is 60 percent. If we remove the profit incentive, we will remove the incentive to innovate, create, and work as hard as it takes to overcome the challenges of a new business venture.

Any views and/or opinions present in “The Know-It-All” columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of B2B Omaha Magazine or their parent company and/or their affiliates.