Monday, March 16, 2020

Accidental Influencer | Mindy Rees, Hope on the Horizon

Mindy Rees
“I never intended on sharing anything,” says Mindy Rees. “For three years, the only people who knew he was sick were family and close neighbors.” After deciding to seek answers at the Mayo Clinic, Mindy finally posted on social media that she needed the prayers of others to help them find a diagnosis. That's when the flood gates opened and people were interested in their story and how they could help.

Soon after her husband Wyatt's diagnosis of ALS (amytrophic lateral sclerosis), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Diesease, Mindy said she would post short but powerful updates, and it was at that time a friend encouraged her to start a blog. Blogging was popular then. Her friend said, “every time you post on your page it means a lot and people would like to know more.” Mindy said, “I realized that I liked to write and it was helping me to get all of these feelings out.”

The December after starting her blog in 2017, East Idaho News visited them with a surprise from Secret Santa. They told the story and then directed people to the blog who were interested in learning more about their story and about ALS. Mindy felt like it was perfect timing as the blog was already set up and going when they suddenly had the spotlight directed toward their story.

“There's nothing special about us,” Mindy Rees says as she relates the journey of her family and their challenges with ALS. “I started realizing it was helping other people. You don't realize how other people are going through something hard and saying ‘if she can do it, I can do it.'” Mindy explained that the blog helped her to visualize her blessings and think about all the positive in her challenging circumstances.

Mindy has been positive throughout this journey, “I'm naturally positive, but I saw so many other people going through things and so I never thought ‘why me'. I knew my own capabilities and I knew I could do it. This [disease] doesn't make Wyatt any less of a husband and father. I was determined that I would try to make things as normal as I could.”

Wyatt did not have a diagnosis for three years and there was no resources to help him. “I had to figure it out,” she says, “there was no one there to help us.” Mindy feels that her life experiences living on a dairy farm and being a gymnast taught her tenacity and problem-solving. “I've always had the attitude of if I'm going to do this I've got to figure it out.” That problem solving was what got her through when she had to get him in and out of cars and showers and other things they had to problem solve along the way. “I realized what I was capable of doing, I can do this.” Once they received his official diagnosis things got easier, resources were there and adaptive equipment gave him some freedom.

Despite the challenges of being a caregiver Mindy never considered placing Wyatt in a care center. “We all have our own threshold of physical, emotional capabilities of caring for somebody. My kids were little and even though they didn't have their dad in a normal way, they could run in after school. Everything we did was in my bedroom. I hope for my kids they saw that taking care of each other was how [we] loved each other,” she explained. The kids helped with caregiving activities including suctioning, feeding, and keeping blankets on him.

“The thing that gets you down the most is when you start feeling like you're the only one that knows what this is like. Even when you are at your lowest point or when you are going through something hard you have to be strong enough to still reach out and find somebody. I still had to reach out and find my tribe,” she said about others going through trials. “I had to find people I could relate to. You form a relationship and you get support.” This is another thing that the blog did for her, it helped her find her tribe. “When he passed away it was a sigh of relief. I'm not going to let this keep dragging me down. Yes, he's gone. Yes, it's hard. But he's better now,” she said.

Mindy recognizes that she made plenty of mistakes being a caregiver especially with not taking care of herself. Looking back she's not sure she'd do it differently. She does admit that it took a toll on her and she could have been more emotionally healthy but there are no regrets in how she took care of him. “I know I did my very best. I did all that I could do.” She sees how every situation is different and each caregiver has to do what is best for them and their loved ones.

Mindy's future includes nursing school, something she's always wanted to do even before Wyatt got sick and writing a book. Mindy starts school in the fall. She's recently started on the book. “I think it will help me in my healing.”

Mindy recognizes that ALS will always be a part of her life. During this journey, she has met many people and has great empathy for other's struggles. “I hope it makes me a better person. To not judge, just love people for who they are.” She believes that the lesson in this journey is to be a more loving and compassionate person and to teach her kids that although life isn't fair you shouldn't give up and there is always hope on the horizon.


You can find Mindy's blog at

To learn more about ALS visit the ALS Association website at

Ball Ventures announces plan for paid sick leave

In accordance with recommendations released Friday by Idaho Governor Brad Little, Ball Ventures, LLC, affiliates and partners announce plans to extend paid sick leave to employees who may contract COVID-19. Although Idaho does not require employers to pay workers who take a sick day, Ball Ventures management agrees with the recommendation from the governor and will take steps to help employees who may contract COVID-19 or employees taking time off to care for family members who contract the virus.

“The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. They are our most valuable asset,” said Ball Ventures CEO Cortney Liddiard. “With the uncertainty of this unprecedented week, we hope to lessen the stress on our employees by extending paid sick leave to those who may contract COVID-19, as well as to employees who may need to care for ill family members without the additional concern about their next paycheck. As the governor says, it’s just good business practice.”

The announcement included affiliates and valued partners, including Tommy Ahlquist, CEO of Ball Ventures Ahlquist Development; Rusty Townsend, CEO of B&T Hospitality Management Services; Mario Hernandez, CEO Teton Auto Group; Ed Castledine, CEO of Saltzer Health; Rory Williams, COO of Sunterra Springs; and Mike Vickers, CEO of Rexburg Motor Sports. Collectively Ball Ventures, affiliates and partners employ over 1,200 people in Idaho and more than 650 people outside the state.

No employees of Ball Ventures or affiliated companies have tested positive for the virus, but the company is taking this opportunity to be proactive and plan various scenarios that may lessen the
impact on communities in which it does business. This proactive planning includes implementing a work-from-home policy for employees for whom their job duties permit, in order to contribute to containment efforts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

INL's Dawn Scates named one of Idaho's Women of the Year

Dawn Scates
Dawn Scates, a distinguished scientist at Idaho National Laboratory, has been named one of the Idaho Business Review's 2020 Women of the Year. The 50 honorees were evaluated on criteria including leadership experience, professional accomplishments, mentorship and community service. They will be recognized at a March 11 gala, where an overall Woman of the Year will also be announced by the judges.

Scates joined INL in 1999 upon completion of her master’s degree in physics from Idaho State University, distinguishing herself with her work ethic and developing one-of-a-kind gamma spectroscopy systems to evaluate nuclear fission products and support the development of sustainable domestic energy sources. Refusing to be limited to one area of research, however, she has expanded her responsibilities by taking on a leadership role and is currently the manager of four Nuclear Science and Technology labs at INL.

Well known for her willingness to mentor junior staff, Scates is committed to helping her team members develop into sought-after researchers. “I love helping individuals become the best they can be,” she said. Scates emphatically believes in the power of strong mentors and credits her own childhood influences with starting her on the path to a career in the sciences.

In addition to facilitating the professional development of her employees, Scates also participates in STEM outreach activities within the Idaho Falls community. She enjoys performing demonstrations at local schools to awaken a desire in children to understand scientific principles. “Once I even brought a horse to a sixth-grade class to discuss laws of physics. That was a very popular visit,” she recalled. “I think it’s important to realize that science is all around us every day. I love seeing young people’s faces light up when they learn and understand a complex process and then in their own words are able to relate it to real-life circumstances. To me this is success.”

A mother of two teenage daughters, Scates is guided by an unwavering belief that leadership comes through our actions rather than just words. “You have to lead by example,” she said. “People mirror what you do, and I want to help develop the rising generation.”

Learn more about past INL Women of the Year winners here and here.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Owning Her Future | Christine Garner, Teton Smart Security

As Christine Garner was growing up, planning for her future was not on her mind. The child of Vietnam War refugees whose mother adopted end-of-the-world beliefs, Christine never believed that a college education or a business would be her reality. Overcoming obstacles early in life set her up to overcome the challenges that business would bring.
Christine Garner

Teton Smart Security is a commercial security company started in 2011. Christine admitted that she didn't have the entrepreneurial spirit, and starting their own business was a scary prospect. She talked her husband, Sean, who had security experience, into going back to school to get an electrical engineering degree. She was working at the time and they started having a family. Christine said this is when things changed for them. “I wanted to be home with my little boy,” she said, and so she told Sean she'd support him if he really wanted to start the business. Sean dropped out of school and started the business.

“Sean was so great at the technical, and I jumped in doing sales, and what we found was that we had no business experience. It's a whole other world. The business took a life of its own. It was terrifying because we didn't have the knowledge,” she said. “We went to the school of hard knocks.” Three years into the business their accountant advised them that they had two options. Either they close the business and get jobs, or figure out how to make the business work.

“I thought, there's no way our marriage would survive our business failure, but I didn't know what to do.” This is when they turned to the Small Business Development Center and were paired with David Noack, who changed their business and their personal life. “It took a lot of work,” she said, but after working with SBDC they were able to turn their business around and now it's thriving.

Her own journey inspired her to create a business called Envision Your Purpose. It is a purpose-driven vision board workshop. Christine guides attendees to discover who they are, where they are in their life, to identify their purpose in their life, to identify their goals and align that with their purpose.

“I used to be a skeptic. Just because you see something doesn't mean it's going to happen unless you work for it,” she said. “It's an empowerment tool that you use to visualize how to get closer to your goals.” This tool worked in their own business and they met revenue goals they never thought they could achieve by using it.

Christine's childhood helped shape her to overcome challenges. When she was 8 years old her mother moved them to Idaho because she believed that the West Coast was going to be destroyed by an earthquake. Christine's life became about survival and she lived in fear. When she was preparing to graduate from high school she convinced her mother to complete the FAFSA application for college tuition assistance. She says this is what changed her perspective. “I said, 'I can't live this life, I have got to plan for my future as if I'm going to live. I'm going to live the best life that I can, come what may,'” she said.

Christine and Sean have inspired their son to carry on the entrepreneurial spirit. He requested a snack shack for his sixth birthday and started Jojo's Snack Shack, where elementary kids come and pick their faviorite treats. “He loves it, and it's so fun.”

Her advice to other business owners is to read eMyth and Start With Why. Really understand your purpose for wanting a business. “Become educated, become more so you can be a great asset to your business,” she advised. “I would encourage anyone out there who has a purpose in them that they want to share with the world that they become clear and decide how to share it. Get clear.”


For more information about Teton Smart Security check out their website at
For more information about Christine's Envision Your Purpose workshops visit her Facebook page at

Monday, March 2, 2020

Emotional Decluttering | Shelly Shumway, Life Empowered

Shelly Shumway

“I want [my customers] to have hope, to be able to get rid of the things that aren't them, so that they can shine through in their God-given gifts and talents and know whey they are here.” Shelly Shumway says of her work.

Teaching mindset and connecting the body and mind are the core of her process. “The body is designed to heal itself emotionally and physically,” she explains, and she feels that you have to work on both to really heal.

Family comes first, and Shelly is able to most of her work at home while being a mom to her five children. Because of technology, Shelly is able to use video conferencing to hold group coaching sessions as well as visit with her one-to-one clients. Shelly also teaches at conferences and retreats from time to time. Her dream is to be on a big stage and really impact multiple lives at a time.

Shelly's journey started about a decade ago with her own battle against anxiety and depression while trying to be the best mom and wife for her family. “I thought, why am I not okay? Why am I not okay being a mom and taking care of my kids at home?” she said. She read books and hosted a book club, and about five years ago she attended a seminar where she had a vision of her future being on stage teaching others. At that time she just knew she had to create a career around her passion.

She says her success is because she is willing to learn and then share what she has learned. She believes she's a shortcut to that education for her clients. She is a conduit of the information and then she teaches it to those who are open to learn. That, combined with an innate gift of listening and really hearing, has provided her clients with just word of mouth and no marketing. Her demographic has become women entrepreneurs who are interested in growing themselves personally. “I love them, because that's where I am,” she says. The people she serves are a lot like her. “They are influencers, and I see what's holding them back,” she says.

This journey has not come without challenges and one of those was overcoming her own self-doubt and fear. She also had to push through the limiting beliefs of her extended family, who could not understand why she would want to work and felt there would be a negative impact on her children. She explained that she had to work through the “mommy guilt” and other judgments that she was feeling in order to go forward. “It wasn't them changing at all, it was all me. I was able to give myself the permission, and it didn't matter what anyone else said,” she said.

One of the bold moves she made to calm her own fears was to join a beauty pageant. “Pageants were never on my radar at all. I didn't think it was a reality for me. I grew up shy and socially backwards,” she said. After listening to the advice of a friend who told her that the pageant would be a great way for her to grow, she decided to give in and applied. She used emotional tools and other methods of her own to prepare for the pageant and that whole process actually helped her create one of her current courses. She didn't place in the pageant but understood why she had to take the journey. “It was a tool for other people to have hope,” she said.

Shelly's advice to anyone looking to go into business for themselves: “When you first have a dream, keep it to yourself for a little while and let it germinate in the soil a little bit. Take care of it, don't necessarily tell your family about it yet, even if you have a great relationship with them. Well-meaning family sometimes squash our dreams and they don't even know they are doing it.”

Shelly also believes in finding a mentor and following their direction. She also has embraced her children into her business, even including her 3-year-old in her coaching calls.

Her clients have respected the fact that Shelly is a better coach not having to worry about interruptions or apologizing for her kids being present. “We don't have to separate, they can be one. Get rid of the judgement,” she says.


To redeem the offer that Shelly has for you, please go to

If you'd like more information on Life Empowered, visit her Facebook page at You can joing the  Emotional Decluttering group on Facebook at