Women Paving the Way in Minnesota

gooseberry-falls-347369_960_720It is always fascinating to see how much the environment in which a person grew up influences their career path and beliefs. Here are just a few examples of women from the great state of Minnesota who are making a difference in the business world based on their own personal experiences.

Judy Austin Figge, who was recently inducted into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame is a registered nurse and CEO of Prairie River Home Care, Inc. Following her sister’s brain surgery, Figge cared for her while leading a company called In Home Health which she founded and managed until 1996. Figge and her colleagues at PRHC also cared for her father who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. These personal experiences led her to understand that patients do better and are happier in a home environment. She has built her healthcare business with this understanding, while also recognizing that certain patients do need a hospital environment for their care. PRHC specializes in the care of those with complex long term home health care needs. It is a $30 million company and provides services to nearly 1700 clients in eight branches.

Sheryl Corrigan’s views about science, government regulation, and the environment were all greatly influenced by her time growing up on the St. Croix River in Stillwater, Minnesota. As the environmental, health and safety director at Koch Industries, she has spearheaded countless projects to protect the environment and to keep employees and communities safe. As she explained, “Tipping that canoe started me on a path that led me to where I am today. It shaped my values and beliefs. People, natural resources and the environment are all connected and dynamic. We make life better for all by using our resources responsibly to make the things that we all need. That’s what environmentalism is to me.”

Finally, as a third example, Marya Hage was raised by a single mother after the death of her father when she was only two years old. The positive example set by her mother, getting an education during the Great Depression and providing for the family, set Hage on the path to become an entrepreneur and a community leader. She started Meridian Services in 1980 when she saw a lack of organizations providing assistance to people with difficulties living independently in her community. After 9/11, she provided mental health services to firefighters, police officers, search and rescue crews, and others at the request of the Pentagon!

These are just a few examples of the women in Minnesota who are having a huge impact through business. And whose upbringing and background have had a major impact on how they run their businesses and where they put their energy and their passion.

The Resurgence of Ancient Art

Ancient art is making a comeback.  This has been happening for a while, in a variety of fields. Denver Art Museum’s newest exhibit features the ancient art of samurai, with Japanese suits of armor.  Some of the 140 objects being exhibited date back 900 years. Then there is the “Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity” which is joining the trend of bringing antiquities to modern day art.

Co-owners of antiquities art gallery Phoenix Ancient Art, Ali Aboutaam and his brother Hicham Aboutaam, have seen the resurgence of ancient art in recent times through various exhibitions. One of them was the Mnemosyne mentioned above, that as Hicham said, has sought to “cultivate an environment in which antiquities are appreciated in a modern context.”

It is not just gallery art that fuses the modern with the ancient.  Indeed, some sports have been doing that as well. Perhaps the best known one is yoga which, according to the Yoga Journal stems from the word “yug” (translated as to hitch up from Sanskrit). It is believed that it was developed by Patanjali, who lived more than 2,000 years ago and is known as the father of yoga.

Modern art collectors who are taking an interest in antiquities seem to be especially attracted to Cycladic art that come from the third millennium BC era on the Cyclades islands.  According to Antiquities specialist at Christie’s, Alexandra Olsman, “When the pieces are abstracted and have clean, more-modernist lines, the contemporary or modern art collectors are more drawn to them.”

Antiquities art is quite the financially successful investment, too.  In December of last year, Christie’s sold its Cycladic marble female figure from this time period for a staggering $87,500; a figure that was substantially above its pre-sale $50,000-$70,000 price estimation.

But how does an antiquities novice start the buying purchase?  According to archaeologist and American University of Rome president, Richard Hodges, the most important aspect is to “obtain an ironclad guarantee from the seller proving the legality of work they own.  Be sure the piece has a provenance with documentation of ownership that dates before 1970.”

Hear from Hicham Aboutaam of Phoenix Ancient Art about the rise in interest in antiques with modern collectors.

The Ultimate Slumber Party

alcatraz-52912_960_720The Daily Mail recently put together an awesome list of places where you can have a slumber party. And no, we don’t mean at your Aunt Sally’s house. These are amazing locations where you are actually allowed to sleep for the night. Here are a few:

If you love the idea of a night at the museum, you can actually enjoy it now. The Natural History Museum in London offers their Dino Snores event where you can sleep over and enjoy special events for guests.

If you love Chelsea football, then why not spend a night in their stadium? This is available for children aged 5-10 and the package includes a tour of the stadium including the dressing room, a chance to meet the Chelsea mascot and a chance to sleep in the Chelsea FC Museum.

If you’re not too faint of heart, you can enjoy a night on Alcatraz Island in what used to be a prison. In San Francisco, you can take a tour, enjoy dinner and then sleep in one of the D-Blocks! Interest in this activity is so high that they have a lottery process and applications are accepted each year from November 1-30 for dates the following year.

See the whole list here.

A Grape a Day Keeps the Eye Doctor Away

grapes-449678_960_720While many people enjoy grapes and probably think they are good for your health – it might be surprising to learn just how good for your health they actually are. Researchers at the University of Miami have found that they can actually reduce the risk of going blind later in life.

The researchers found that the fruit protects against a chemical process that is called oxidative stress, something that releases harmful molecules into the retina. As Professor Abigail Hackam of the University of Miami explained,

“Adding grapes to the diet actually preserved retinal health in the presence of oxidative stress in this study.”

The research was published in the journal Nutrition and was based on a study with mice who were either fed freeze-dried whole grape powder or a regular control diet. With the grape enriched diet, both retinal structure and function were preserved.

As the professor explained, “These results are very exciting and build on the growing evidence that suggests a very real benefit for grape consumption and eye health.”

Certainly, many studies have shown the benefits of eating grapes, but none have focused before on eyesight.

Get a Great Sleep…in the Air with Woollip

aeroplane-147495_640If you’re a frequent traveler, this might be the perfect product for you. A father and daughter from Paris have invented a travel pillow called Woollip that offers a more comfortable sleeping position for flying.

The idea of the device is that the passenger can lean on the seat-back tray and it will support their head and upper body as they lean forward. The idea for the pillow comes from the portable massage chair that many airports provide and that shopping malls often have.

Diana Levy, the 21 year old business school graduate, and her father Franck had the idea after sharing a long, uncomfortable flight. They worked on the concept for 18 months with many designers, pilots and physiotherapists to create the right prototype.

When it’s deflated, the device can be rolled into a small bag and it weighs as little as a smartphone. They are starting a Kickstarter Crowdfunding campaign on March 18, which is World Sleep Day, to raise money to get it started.

Can Coffee Fight Off Multiple Sclerosis?

cappuccino-593256_640A rather strange article recently published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry shows that large amounts of caffeine just might help you to prevent multiple sclerosis. Two studies were conducted. One from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, looked at 1620 adults with MS and 2788 without the disease. The second study, conducted through Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and the University of California, Berkeley looked at 1159 people with MS in the US and 1172 healthy people.

Everyone was asked about their coffee consumption and how long they had been drinking coffee. The researchers then extrapolated out the coffee intake at and before the start of MS symptoms in those who developed the disease, compared with those who didn’t.

What they found was that the risk of MS was consistently higher among those who drank fewer cups of coffee every day – in both studies. This was even after taking into account other factors. In the Swedish study, they found that those who drank at least 900ml of coffee every day had a 28% to 30% lower risk of MS than did the non-coffee drinkers. In the American study, they found a 26% to 31% lower risk among those who drank more than 948ml daily at least five years prior to the start of symptoms.

As they concluded, “Lower odds of MS with increasing consumption of coffee were observed, regardless of whether coffee consumption at disease onset or five or 10 years prior to disease onset was considered. In accordance with studies in animal models of MS, high consumption of coffee may decrease the risk of developing MS.”

Certainly, more studies are necessary. But, as Dr. Emma Gray, head of clinical trials at the MS Society said, “While more studies are needed in this area, we welcome any research that offers new insights into risk factors for MS.”