North Dakotan Entrepreneur

The quiet, flat plains of North Dakota are home to a new start-up company, Charpie LLC.  Named for his childhood nickname, Charpie LLC is the brain child of Matt Charpentier, a Fargo born and bred 25 year old graphic designer.  Charpie provides print, online and animation design for companies around the United States.  In business since March 2008, Charpie currently works out of his home, but recently bought an office in an office building in downtown Fargo.  He hopes to hire one to three people in 2009 to help expand his growing business which he’ll turn into an S-Corporation next year.  Charpie became involved in graphic design through the family business.  He has been able to combine his natural artistic ability and interest in technology to start an integrated media company – providing marketing for small businesses.  His main struggle is finding clients that will allow him to develop his portfolio by giving him projects that he is proud of and interested in.  This can be tricky since, as he says, “you still have to pay the bills.”  If you are interested in graphic design work by Charpie, check out his website at

State Flag of North Dakota

State Flag of North Dakota

Flag of the United States of America

Flag of the United States of America


I forgot about the nerves…

It’s been years since I was looking for a job, trying out for something, or turning in applications.  And in all those years, the first thing I forgot, which has come back in such force the past few days, is the nervousness and anticipation involved in waiting for others to decide my future.

A few days ago, I got an exciting email from Kiva telling me that they received my application and would like me to prove my technical abilities.  Zaz!  This should be no problem – I consider myself a bit of a “program” dork in that I know how to use most programs without actually programming.  And I LOVE excel!  This makes me very enthusiastic.  And then the next part of the email scared me – an interview.  As much as I love spreadsheets, I love talking in interviews, but it’s equally nerve wracking.  What if I say the wrong thing?  What if my French, which is looong underused is not up to par?  Agh!

In any case, I am really looking forward to this next part; however, I am currently in Barcelona until Monday and then I have a few days in Paris before I head to London.  So my time is spent in transition for the next two weeks.  I am going to try very hard to finish all of the pbjectives right away so I can sign up for the interview – I just don’t know when I will be able to finish.

In that vain, I am going to keep this short – just reiterate my excitement!! – and do a bit of research quickly before I head out to meet my friends…

Check list – one more crossed off. Applied!

Well, I’ve done it.

today i turned in my application to be a Kiva Fellow.  I am very nervous – I have never before applied for something that I wasn’t a “shoo-in” to get.  I am taking a huge leap of faith in myself and in Kiva.  I’m very interested to see what their response to my application is.  Are they interested?  Or do they cast it aside with the hundreds of other applicants?  In fact, I don’t know how many applicants there are.  On one hand, a lot is good because that means it’s a good program.  On the other hand, a lot is bad – I need to stand out somehow.

I have put a lot into this application.  For months, I have been planning my future:

Sept/Oct – German in Germany

Nov – Travel

Dec – Christmas with Family

Jan – Training for Kiva

Feb-May/June – Gone for Kiva

If this doesn’t work out, I am not sure what I’ll do.  I think I’ll go to Thailand and volunteer for a few months.  I need to do something worthwhile with my time.  I’m not sure if I will have other chances in my life to spend so much time doing a long project that is so worthwhile like this…

Actually, I just realized that I can make time for it.  I just have to research other programs that would interest me.  I’m not really interested in going somewhere and building a house.  I think microfinance is the way to go for me.

Mad Tasty

So fun!  I have been asked to be a guest writer on Mad Tasty, my friend’s food blog.  I will write a weekly column titled “Kitchen Katastrophe” because I am so horrible in the kitchen.  Check it out each Monday here:

Check list – Goals in life

A few months ago, my friend Regina and I went to PF Changs in Boston and made a list of our goals.  Here are some of the things I would like to do eventually in life:

  • Take CFA
  • Increase savings
  • Pay off credit cards
  • Update resume
  • Find a mentor
  • Write a book
  • Start greeting card business
  • Go to Asia
  • Paint a picture
  • Read all books I own
  • Enter Amazing Race
  • Take self-defense class
  • Learn how to swim the butterfly
  • Take Volleyball lessons
  • Grow wine collection
  • Volunteer more
  • Whiten teeth
  • Volunteer in a third world country
  • Take a hip hop class
  • Become a regular somewhere (coffee shop, bar, restaurant)
  • Travel to all 50 states
  • Learn to sail
  • Apply to grad school
  • Live in the following cities: Chicago, San Fran, London, New York, Tokyo, Sydney, Berlin, Montreal

Some of these I have already accomplished and are indicated with the line through them.  I have almost visited all 50 states – I think I have 5 or 6 left.  That is exciting.  So, my goal is to start going through and checking things off…

History: volunteering

This is my third or fourth blog, started so I can become familiar with WordPress, but also so that I can have a place where I explain what I am doing / planning on doing with my life and career.

You know how they say that people forget “bad” memories?  That’s kind of how I feel about leaving my job.  I know that I was unhappy.  And I didn’t wake up in the morning excited to get to work.  Growing up, I always dreamed about having an important job that inspired me to head to the office.  And every Wednesday I was going to leave work early to volunteer somewhere – tutor children, work with the elderly, feed the homeless.  Something.  I wasn’t doing that.  I started doing two volunteer projects – one was to go into classrooms around Boston to teach the students about the importance of saving, bank accounts, credit, etc.  It was a really great program and I love teaching and explaining things to people.  The second was that I got involved with an organization helping immigrants study for the naturalization exam.  I worked with a woman from Sudan who didn’t know how to read or write her native language, Arabic, let alone read or write her broken English.  To pass the exam to become an American citizen, she had to prove that she could read and write English and also answer basic questions about American history.  It was inspiring to work with her, but also very tiring.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to learn how to write for the first time at the age of 38.

While I enjoyed these projects, they didn’t make me feel better about my job.  And it’s very sad because I genuinely liked the people I worked with, but (and here is my point) there was something else wrong and now I can’t remember what was wrong.  I was incredibly unhappy.  But why?  People have asked me and all I can say is, “it was time for a change.”  Which is true.  I need to be motivated, excited, inspired and I can’t remember the last time I have felt any of that with great depth.

In high school I was heavily involved in Key Club – a volunteer organization sponsored by Kiwanis.  I held a position in my home club and also at the District level.  I volunteered nearly 200 hours every year – I organized and participated in dozens of projects including a senior prom at the nursing home, volunteering at the Children’s Museum, bake sales, car washes, telethons, etc.  I was so involved in the community and helping others.  When I went away to college I wanted to continue that so I got involved in Circle K – the collegiate version of Kiwanis.  I became an officer the first year and started to help organize projects.  While Vice President, my marketing doubled the organization’s attendance.  I volunteered at blood drives, fed the homeless, helped clean up Boston, etc.  I was busy and I enjoying it.

All of this changed when I moved to France as part of my degree.  1) I didn’t speak French very well at the time, so if I couldn’t really volunteer and 2) even if I had spoke French, there aren’t really any volunteer organizations in France.  So I didn’t.  And I don’t think I even thought about it – life was so different in France.  Different, but still great.  I loved it.

When I moved back to the US, I don’t remember thinking about volunteering again.  I went back to a Circle K meeting or two, but the location and times were inconvenient to where I lived.  It never occurred to me to try and get involved in some other way – I had a new job with a 3 hour round trip commute and at night I was exhausted.  I also hated my job from the first day and I was in no mood to try and help others.  I didn’t stay there long and I left to join the company where I worked for 4 years.  I had worked there before moving to France, so it was great to go back and see old friends and co-workers.  I fit in immediately and I was able to make a difference right away.  And so I worked a lot.  And again, I enjoyed it.  But I wasn’t doing anything to help others and I think I missed this.

New blogging software – fun!

Today is my first post in a long time on WordPress.  I used WordPress at work a few years ago – my colleague and I started a “forum” for the Relationship Management group at work.  However, he and I are in our 20s and the rest of our group is in their late 30s.  I think it’s because of their age that they weren’t as excited about using the forum as we were.  It only lasted a few months and he and I blogged the most.  I’m not even sure if others read what we wrote.

In any case, a LOT has changed in WordPress since then.  I have been keeping up my personal blogs on livejournal and blogspot and am very comfortable with their online software, but WordPress is definitely something else.  I started this blog as part of my application for Kiva, and I can see why they use WordPress – it’s very impressive.  I look forward to learning more about this program in the future…