‘Top 20’ moves on to businesses

FAIRMONT – As part of the goal to have Fairmont become the first “Top 20 Community” in the nation, the next series of presentations targeting businesses and parents will be held Jan. 14 and Jan. 24.

Top 20 refers to the idea of positive thinking and behaviors. While “Top 20” has been used among teachers and students for the past couple of years, the business community is on deck.

“It was framed for the schools, grades 7-12 directly from the Top 20 facilitators, but it’s good for adults and for companies to get this message,” said Fairmont Police Chief Greg Brolsma, who is involved in the project. “For students to understand, parents need to hear this same language. After the presentations in November, that was when the business committee kicked in. It was picked up and designed other sessions, making it a cool community language.”

The idea has taken off with area businesses. Originally a seminar for 125 adults, the event has been expanded to three seminars, and nearly 350 people are registered.

“It grew into a problem, so we offered up three sessions,” Brolsma said. “The sponsorship and the committee started to make that happen. They were so enthusiastic that it was an easy thing to get people to become a part of.”

Committee members include Brolsma; Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce President Bob Wallace; Presentation College director Traci Lardy; Dr. Marie Morris, chief medical officer at Mayo Clinic Health System-Fairmont; Connie Hines of Minnesota Work Force; Len Bakken of Weigh-Tronix; and Michael Riley of Profinium Financial.

“It was a good fit for the Chamber to promote a more positive attitude,” Wallace said. “Attitudes have a significant impact on the business community.”

“One thing it addresses is emotional intelligence,” Riley said. “It gives people skills to help deal in work situations and conflict, and help look at it in a positive standpoint. It’s also helping to broaden the community, all these people working together to make it a more positive atmosphere. And we’re the first in the country that is going community-wide with this movement, and it’s being created as it moves.”

“When I attended the parent meetings, I liked the philosophy,” Hines said. “Being employed at the Work Force, where we serve the public, I realized this is important in serving your customers, but also in working with your employees. It makes the Work Force a place you want to go. We also can use this with businesses we work with, helping with behavior situations they run into with employees.”

“The beauty of it being community-wide is that we employ so many parents, it’s an opportunity to develop their own potential as better parents and employees,” Morris said. “So it’s a win-win … How the thought process leads to more optimistic and positive solutions. So we’re excited for our employees to go.”

Along with the three business seminars, there will be two parent presentations that are free and open to the public on Jan. 14 and 24. Both start at 6:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

“Ideally, it’d be great if the whole community could come, but I know that isn’t realistic,” Wallace said. “But I would like to see this planted into the community as an ongoing process.”

Because “Top 20” has become a fixture in the schools, there is a good chance the movement will continue to grow.

“The school is on board for discussions,” Brolsma said. “And now we have this network of adults that can be tied in. I’ve been hearing personal stories on how it’s affected people since they’ve attended trainings. It’s been fun for me, because I thought I already did a lot of this, but recognized that I still have some growth to do. But seeing the officers demonstrating Top 20 thinking has been great … It’s not about the 20 percent of people who are positive all the time. It’s about that we all are 20 and 80, and learning how to function in the top 20 more.”

“A lot of people tend to ask what’s in it for them,” Bakken said. “All entities want to have something tangible as a result from this. But you’re going to see increased employee productivity, and a positive atmosphere.”

“I’ve been to seminars where it’s all ‘half-full’ positivity fluff,” Hines said. “But this talked about conflict, learning from your mistakes, and feeling uncomfortable and that it’s OK to feel uncomfortable. Because if you’re not uncomfortable, then you aren’t learning.”