Junto2015: The Year in Pictures

Posted by Catherine Jelinek on December 15, 2015
Running Junto operations, someone from our team is always in the room for every session, usually sitting in the back or to the side. From this prime real estate, we were able to observe and experience the third Junto year in action, and what a year it has been.

First Annual JuntoRetreat

This year we experimented with hosting our first retreat. About 20 JuntoAlumni and Tribe members traveled through a blizzard (some quite literally) to arrive at the Starved Rock Lodge in Utica, IL. It was a weekend full of mind-stretching learning sessions, winter walks in the woods and Junto bonding around dinner and a fireplace. Above - JuntoMentor, Bryan Jurewicz, follows behind a trail of “JuntoHikers”.


JuntoIII Orientation

JuntoIII began with an orientation led by JuntoAlumni from the first and second cohorts. It was the first time the JuntoIII had come together as a cohort. Above - they listen to Vera Kimmi and Steve Kreynin of Forte Group (JuntoII) share their experiences and lessons learned from the program.


JuntoIII Grand Opening, Mardi Gras Style

JuntoIII Orientation was immediately followed by the Opening Night Party. JuntoAlumni, Mentors, Instructors and Partners got together on Fat Tuesday for a Mardi Gras-fashioned party to welcome the third cohort into the family.




It’s not a Junto party without our beloved Alumni in attendance. Above - Steve Kreynin and Jesse McCabe from JuntoII and below - Todd Hext and Bobby Moynihan from JuntoI - chum it up.


Bent on Learning

With the program launched and in full-swing, JuntoIII Apprentices hover over their financial statements in the Cash Flow Management Class led by Adam Robinson of Hireology.


Meet the Mentors

Medtelligent co-founders, John Shafaee and Huzaifa Tapal, (top center) conclude their first Mentor Team Meeting of the year. All Mentors reach for their phones to schedule the next meeting, after having all devices tucked away for the duration of the two-hour session.


Junto On!

Raman Chadha of the JuntoTeam and Kristi Zuhlke, CEO of KnowledgeHound (JuntoIII) show up wearing the same shirt to a JuntoForum session. Kristi is proudly our first female CEO alumnus.


Dev Details

JuntoMentor, Chad Cooper (in baseball cap), shares his experiences building a development team, while his fellow Mentors - Craig Vodnik (far right), Mark Hattas (right middle), Ted Greene (center left) - and Earlybird’s team listen on.


Conscious Cohort

Animated discussions occur between JuntoIII Apprentices during an activity in the Leadership and Self-Awareness Class. To the left, Melissa Footlick and Joe Razza share ideas, while Dhiraj Patkar and Michael Patak collaborate on the right.


Forum Happy Hours

After a long session, the JuntoAlumni Forum meets at River Roast for a fun group dinner. This Forum includes a blend of participants from all three cohorts. Alex Sosnov, Mayank Vijayvergia, and Nikki Martin (on right) are from Junto I. Scott Palmer and Vera Kimmi (on left) represent JuntoII. And Huzaifa Tapal (center), co-founder of Medtelligent, joined in from JuntoIII.


Growing Wisdom

JuntoInstructor Jason Henrichs leads the class on Growth Financing, sharing his experiences and lessons learned financing several companies as an entrepreneur, advisor and investor.



Founders Dinner

In April we held our first Founders Dinner at Fulton Market Kitchen. We welcomed the founders from all three Junto cohorts together for a special dinner full of camaraderie with old friends and new.

Top: Paul Caswell (Weave the People, JuntoI), Raman Chadha (JuntoTeam) and Patrick Tannous (Tiesta Tea, JuntoI).

Bottom: Top row, left to right - Vera Kimmi, Mayank Vijayvergia (Briteseed, Junto I), myself, Steve Kreynin, Patrick Tannous, and Dan Klein (Tiesta Tea, Junto I). Bottom row, left to right - Jonathan Sheinkop (Music Dealers, Junto I), Paul Caswell, Raman, and Henry Vasquez.


Welcome Remo Picchietti

In late April, JuntoMentor, Remo Picchietti, joined the JuntoTeam. It was thrilling to welcome a dedicated member of the Tribe into our small team. Above we put our heads together in a team activity from the Brand Engineering Class.

Left to right: myself, Remo, and Caroline Rafferty.


Mapping a Customer’s Journey

The Medtelligent team plots the stages of their customers’ journey from the lens of the customer. JuntoInstructor, Jason Ulaszek led this fantastic hands-on Brand Engineering Class.

Left to right: John Shafaee, Mina Arsala, Dhiraj Patkar, and Abby Boler.


Digging Deep

The TopstepTrader team participates in the same workshop in the Brand Engineering Class. Above Michael Patak (left), Melissa Footlick (right) and Emily Erdman (standing) identify the different emotions their customers experience at each stage in their journey.


Calm Before the Shark

Spikeball launched their formal Advisory Board this year, which Junto helps manage. Above - Scott Palmer, COO (left) and Chris Ruder, CEO (right) walk back from a dinner with their Advisors after their first meeting. Held only two days before Spikeball aired on SharkTank, it goes without saying that May was a big month for this JuntoII company.


Join the Movement!

JuntoII friends rallied together, joining a community of over 200 Spikeball friends, family and supporters to celebrate the company's May 15th appearance on Shark Tank.


Entrepreneurial Empathy

JuntoMentor & Instructor, Gaye van den Hombergh, led JuntoIII through the Class on Leadership & Social Awareness, stressing the importance of empathy and reflection on how our habits and behaviors impact the productivity and health of our team and organizations.


A Fulfilling Board

ThreadMeUp leaders meet with their Advisory Board which consists of former JuntoMentors, Andy Annacone, Chad Cooper and Bryan Jurewicz (who, as of September, became ThreadMeUp's COO).


Junto Home Improvement

Starting in May the JuntoTeam finally had a real home base. We moved from Catapult’s shared space to one of their small offices with an amazing view. Raman and I took a Friday afternoon to paint and hang some important Junto artifacts. Couldn’t help putting the leather apron on first :)


Dedicated Hounds

KnowledgeHound leaders and their Mentor Team pore over the company’s plans for market expansion, soon after the announcing the close of their $1.2 million seed round of investment.


Topstep Team

The TopstepTrader leadership team (Melissa Footlick, Conor Meegan, Erin Clark and Michael Patak) poses with a few of their Mentors (Alan Yefsky, Cathy Carroll, and Kayne Grau) after a great Mentor Team meeting.



Lights, Camera, Spikeball!

Above: Chris Ruder hangs tight as the Windy City Live crew gets him “camera ready”. He was interviewed live and then demonstrated how to play Spikeball along with Scott Palmer and Michael Wald from the Spikeball team, along with Caroline Rafferty and me from the JuntoTeam. It was a blast!

Below: Chris, Scott, Michael, Caroline and I pose with the hosts of Windy City Live after playing Spikeball on the show.


JuntoIII CEO Forum

The JuntoIII CEO Forum - Andrew Parnell, Todd Hext, Kristi Zuhlke, Michael Patak and John Shafaee - shares experiences during a regular Forum session.



Live Loose!

Tiesta Tea (JuntoI) expanded to 1,000 additional stores in 2015, bringing their total to well over 8,000 nationwide. In select stores, they also began installing bulk tea walls like the one above.


Summer Celebrations

In June we hosted our Mentor, Instructor, & Partner Appreciation Night at Spikeball’s and ThreadMeUp’s offices.

Andrew Parnell of Earlybird hangs with John Shafaee and Trisha Cole of Medtelligent.


Erin Clark, Joe Razza, Melissa Footlick and Michael Patak enjoying the Appreciation Night party.



Being Bold

JuntoInstructor Brian Burkhart leads an engaging Class on Leadership Communications. He stressed the importance of being bold, clearly communicating what we believe, and aligning with those who believe similarly.


Michael Patak and Conor Meegan of TopstepTrader (left) discuss their company’s messaging with Andrew Soep and Joe Razza of KnowledgeHound.



Let’s Take It Outside!

By suggestion of JuntoMentor, Bill Houston, Medtelligent became the first Junto company to host a Mentor Team Meeting outside. Along with the engaging business discussions, they took in the beautiful, sunny July afternoon from the patio of Brehon Pub in River North.

Above John Shafaee and Huzaifa Tapal of Medtelligent listen in to JuntoMentor, Michael Burke (right).


Summer Nights

The JuntoAlumni Forum got together on a warm July evening for a group potluck.

Left to right: Huzaifa Tapal, Mayank Vijayvergia, Vera Kimmi, Nikki Martin, Alex Sosnov, and me.



Sales Leader

A great grin from JuntoInstructor, Rich Lyons, just after leading the Class on Building a Sales Team.



Down to Business

JuntoMentors, Tony Wilkins (center) and Mark Hattas (right) ask clarifying questions of the Earlybird team - Andrew Parnell (left center), Rich Hankison (left) - after reviewing their monthly company dashboard and listening to important updates.



First Alumni Instructor

Dave Dyson of Eclipse Telecom (JuntoI) became the first JuntoAlumnus to lead a class. In August he led JuntoIII’s class on Leadership & Self-Management.



Nick’s Pizza & Pub

JuntoIII attends their first field trip Class on Operations & Metrics led by Nick Sarillo and hosted at Nick’s Pizza & Pub.


Conor Meegan of TopstepTrader listens on as Nick Sarillo explains how his company uses open book management to build alignment and empowerment within the team.



The Medtelligent Team (John Shafaee, Shabbir Karimi, Trisha Cole and Lily Avelar) discuss how they plan to implement the concept of “Art & Science” from Nick’s Pizza & Pub.


The Earlybird leadership team of Vlad Jornitski, Andrew Parnell, Rich Hankison and Eddie VanBogaert chum it up after Class at Nick’s Pizza & Pub.



The Struggle

We hosted an event titled "The Struggle: Finding, Keeping & Leading Great Talent". Leaders from Junto companies and other growing startups came together to share their experiences with this challenge.



Breakfast with the Tribe

Several JuntoMentors and Instructors share a table at a Crain’s Small Business breakfast event this fall.

Left to right: Andy Annacone, Bill Houston, Kevin Turner, Tony Wilkins, Andrea Moran, Ed Fleming, Gaye van den Hombergh, and Jay Goltz. 



A JuntoHappy Birthday

Andrew Soep of KnowledgeHound celebrated his birthday with friends from JuntoIII during the class on Leadership & Relationship Management. His teammates, Kristi Zuhlke and Joe Razza, surprised him with balloons and donuts for the whole group.



Leading by Example

JuntoInstructor, Dan Heuertz led the class on Leadership & Relationship Management. Dan is a long-standing member of EO-Chicago and has participated in its Forums for many years, sharing his experiences with emotional intelligence and how it affects his relationships.



Sales Strategy

In our very first JuntoDay, Junto Mentor Dan Dal Degan led the session on Sales Process and Strategy, helping JuntoAlumni and others take their sales processes to the next level.



Growing & Scaling

JuntoMentor Craig Vodnik led the JuntoDay session on Scaling Operations, and drove home the very important lesson that growing a business and scaling a business are two different things.




Hanging w/ Alum

After JuntoDay, JuntoAlumni Patrick Tannous and Jonathan Sheinkop, both from JuntoI, get a chance to reconnect over dinner and drinks with the Tribe.



Marketing Tutoring

Ramzey Nassar and Bryan Jurewicz with ThreadMeUp sit down with JuntoMentor and Marketing Tutor, George Couris with Pepper Group. 



Culture Class

JuntoInstructor, Tom Walter, leads JuntoIII through the class on Company Culture, sharing experiences and lessons learned from Tasty Catering’s journey to becoming one of the most recognized businesses in the areas of culture and psychological health.

 The Tasty Tour


JuntoIII and special guests, Mark Murrell of GetMaineLobster (JuntoII) and Heidi Randall, get a tour of Tasty Catering’s culture in action.



The KnowledgeHounds pose for a team shot with their hairnets.



Tom Walter points out important cultural artifacts as JuntoIII listens on.



Lunch 'n’ Learn

The Tasty Tour wraps up with a delicious lunch with Tasty Catering employees who shared their perspective on the company’s culture with JuntoIII.


Final Medtelligent Mentor Meeting

Medtelligent Mentors share their appreciations for how the leadership team grew over the past nine months.



The Medtelligent team and their Mentors pose after the conclusion of their last meeting.

Left to right: Huzaifa Tapal, Bill Houston, Trisha Cole, John Shafaee, Kevin Turner, Mark Horita, and Gaye van den Hombergh.



Final TopstepTrader Mentor Meeting

A full house gathers for the last TopstepTrader meeting. TST leadership team Melissa Footlick, Erin Clark, Michael Patak, Conor Meegan and Tim Fry, listen to the lessons learned and final thoughts of their Mentors - Cathy Carroll, Alan Yefsky, Jay Rudman, Ron Repking, Kayne Grau, and Norm Alesi.



Final Earlybird Mentor Meeting

From left, Mentors Tony Wilkins, Mark Hattas, Craig Vodnik, and Chad Cooper (in blue) share final feedback with the Earlybird team - Rich Hankison, Andrew Parnell, Eddie VanBogaert and Vlad Jornitski.



Final KnowledgeHound Mentor Meeting

Mentors Bill Furlong, Andy Annacone and John Barnes share their experiences on the final question posed by the KnowledgeHound leadership team - Kristi Zuhlke, John Hess (by video), Andrew Soep and Joe Razza. 




The JuntoTribe and community gathered on November 17, 2015 for JuntoIII’s graduation ceremony and to hear talks from the four JuntoIII CEOs on what they learned and how they grew.

Above, Michael Patak, CEO of TopstepTrader shares, “I knew change was needed but I didn't know I was the one who needed to be changed.”



Welcome to the Leather Apron Club

Official graduates of The Junto Institute’s Apprenticeship Program, JuntoIII CEOs - Michael Patak, Andrew Parnell, Kristi Zuhlke and John Shafaee - join JuntoI and JuntoII as members of the The Leather Apron Club.




Leaders from Earlybird, KnowledgeHound, Medtelligent and TopstepTrader gather for a cohort picture. These amazing individuals and companies comprise JuntoIII and The Junto Institute’s newest graduates.

2015 has been a fantastic year for The Junto Institute. In a big way we have this group to thank for trusting us with their time and energy, and for pouring their hearts into growing as companies and leaders, making this third year a success.  

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