2013 Autumn

A No-Sweat Approach to Networking by Julie Schumacher

We describe Forth as an everything-but-networking experience. Are connections made? Sure as heck they are. But it's not the start or end goal. For many working in the arts or creative fields, networking is not always something we're super comy with and may just actively avoid. It's why we turned to Lisa Henderson of Hatch to help us understand just how to network when networking is on tap. Here are her no-sweat networking tips. How do I know they're awesome? That's me below learning the secrets of the master.

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When you are going to network, make the most of it. Read on for Lisa's tips.

Truth: I used to get really anxious about “networking opportunities”. Truth: I sweat a lot when I get nervous. Seriously, I have a gray blazer that may never recover. Lie: I never over-share with people I just met.

Two years ago, I decided to leave my corporate job to start my own consulting company focused on helping people launch their own start-up. I loved defining my own path. I loved working closely with my clients. I loved the work we created together. I loved everything…everything except networking.

You see, I thought the only approach to networking was attending some large conference in a hotel banquet room with 200 people all wearing black suits and everyone force feeding their elevator pitch.

Every time I came home from one of these events I was:

  • completely drained
  • overwhelmed by the amount of work I would have to do to convert my leads into clients
  • annoyed that I had to take more sweaty business clothes to the dry cleaners

One day, I thought to myself “If I just did this work for free it would be so much easier to get clients." So I started doing that – offering my knowledge for free:

  • I was a guest speaker for graduating seniors at Illinois Institute for Art
  • I was a coach at Chicago Start-up Weekend
  • I taught free marketing classes at the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship
  • I did pro-bono projects for entrepreneurs at Illinois Institute of Art

A couple amazing things happened: I was extremely happy AND I ended up finding a lot of people who wanted to pay me for my services


All of this happened because I changed my perspective; instead of pushing my services, I needed to provide value. This translated into a few tactics that have made networking no sweat for me.

One-on-One Networking

Focus on helping the other person as much as possible. Ask lots of genuine questions. Find out who that person is professionally and personally.  Be a connector (open up your network to them, tell them about events that may be helpful for them).  At the end of the conversation two things will happen:

1)   They will ask you about yourself and you will get the chance to tell them about your profession in detail.

2)   They will not ask anything about you, but you can throw in a quick pitch based on a specific need they spoke about.

One-to-Many Networking

Remember that no one wants to listen to a panel speaker who is speaking in generals. Tell lots of stories. Provide details in your answers. Give away lessons you have learned. Share valuable insights. If you provide value for free, people will come back for paying for more.

20140220_FORTH-36Alright, now you have no more excuses. Brush off those business cards and get out there. Lisa is my no-nonsense, no-sweat networking mentor and her unconventional approach is just what the unconventional workforce of today needs. If you want to learn more about Hatch, head here. If you want to read more about Lisa's favorite things, head to her 4xForth

Phyllo Flat Bread x2: Asparagus & Spring Onion, Grilled Grapes & Fennel by Kelly Allison

Today's recipes build on the theme of unusual pairings, and continues in the tradition of creating a variety of seasonal toppings for my go-to flat bread. As I've noted before, the base for this recipe is a no-fail crowd pleaser. And it's a blank canvas, so you can create any number of variations to suit your palate, the season, or the theme of your event. Substitute any combination of cheeses, and top with whatever inspires you. I've not done it (yet), but I'm sure you could even create a sweet version for breakfast or dessert. grilled asparagus and spring onion flatbread


1 package thick (country style) phyllo dough
1/2 c olive oil
1 bunch tender spring asparagus, washed and ends trimmed
1 bunch spring onions / bulb onions, washed, ends and tops trimmed
1 bunch parsley
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh marjoram
6 oz emmentaler cheese
10 oz goat cheese
2 eggs
salt & pepper to taste
Toss asparagus & spring onions with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Prepare your grill by greasing the grate & preheating to medium high. Carefully lay the asparagus & onions across the grates, and grill until bright green and char marks appear (2 minutes per side).
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Preheat oven to 350º. In a small bowl, mix together shredded emmentaler, 8 oz goat cheese, eggs, minced garlic, chopped parsley, and salt & pepper. Line a large baking tray with parchment, and unroll the phyllo dough onto a flat surface. Carefully place one sheet of phyllo on the parchment and brush with olive oil, repeat with a second layer. Top phyllo with 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Repeat this process, alternating phyllo & cheese mixture.
Keep a damp towel over the unused phyllo stack to prevent tearing. Brush the top layer of phyllo with olive oil & top with grilled asparagus & onions. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until phyllo is golden brown. Gently puncture any air bubbles that cause the phyllo to rise, to let the steam escape. Just before serving, sprinkle the top with goat cheese crumbles & minced marjoram.
Season with salt & pepper to taste. Remove the parchment & flat bread to a cutting board & cut diagonally into
diamond pieces. Can be served warm, or at room temperature.


grape fennel flat bread


1 package thick (country style) phyllo dough
1/2c balsamic vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
1 bunch red seedless grapes, washed
1 bulb fennel, sliced thin, tops discarded
1 bunch fresh thyme
large handful of chopped walnuts
a hearty chunk of Parmesan, shredded
small log goat cheese
8 oz ricotta
1 egg
salt & pepper to taste
Wash grapes thoroughly and dry carefully to keep grapes on the vine. Mix together balsamic vinegar & olive oil, and marinate the grapes for up to 3 hours.
Prepare your grill by greasing the grate & preheating to medium high. Lay the grape vine atop hot grates, and grill until soft and char marks appear (2 - 4 minutes per side).
Sauté fennel with thyme and olive oil on medium heat until fragrant & tender, about 5 - 8 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350º. In a small bowl, mix together shredded parmesan, ricotta, egg, salt & pepper.
Line a large baking tray with parchment, and unroll the phyllo dough onto a flat surface. Carefully place one sheet of phyllo on the parchment and brush with olive oil, repeat with a second layer. Top phyllo with 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Repeat this process, alternating phyllo & cheese mixture.
Keep a damp towel over the unused phyllo stack to prevent tearing. Brush the top layer of phyllo with olive oil & top with fennel & grapes. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until phyllo is golden brown. Just before serving, sprinkle the top with walnuts and goat cheese crumbles.
Season with salt & pepper to taste. Remove the parchment & flat bread to a cutting board & cut diagonally into diamond pieces. Can be served warm, or at room temperature.

2013, an instagram retrospective by Kelly Allison

We three Forths take so much pleasure in planning each of our seasonal salons. From the basic thematic elements, to the cuisine, to the way we set the table -- every detail is intentional. Our hope is to create a rich environment that is welcoming, nurturing, and inspiring all at once. Through the lens of Instagram, we're able to see how our welcome is received. Thank you to all of our guests, for joining us on this first year's journey, and to all of our insta-photo contributors, for cherishing the details with us.

S P R I N G  S A L O N

instagram feed

Instagram contributors (in no particular order)  mrudbergvicelightadeleyoungstepbrightlykallisonphoto


See the rest of the seasonal retrospectives after the jump.


S U M M E R   S A L O N

forth chicago instagramInstagram contributors (in no particular order) paigeworthy, lepapierstudio, refindjoy, kellitaylor, stepbrightly, kallisonphoto


A U T U M N   S A L O N

forth chicago autumn salonInstagram contributors (in no particular order)  nimblewell, johanna_wh, estera_style, manamica, odevron, shannoncologne, wellturnedwords, stepbrightly, kallisonphoto


W I N T E R   S A L O N

winter instagram feedInstagram contributors (in no particular order) soniaroselli, lepapierstudio, odevron, jessicamjacobs, mrudberg, paigeworthy, estera_style, alikucz, kellitaylor, annetruppe, shannoncologne, rachelalcorn, wellturnedwords, stepbrightly, kallisonphoto

Autumn 2013 by Lisa Guillot

Our Fall salon focused on what it takes to own our awesome and be proud as peacocks. Participants lounged in a jewel-toned, Moroccan-inspired studio while sampling autumn's harvest flavors.


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Forth Follow Up: Devron Enarson shares her experience and studio space by Lisa Guillot

A big warm hug to Devron Enarson for sharing her beautiful studio space with us for our Forth Chicago Autumn Salon. And another big hug for opening up and sharing her experience with us. forthchicago-Devron-Enarson "Hello! I am a woman. I am a business owner. I have a studio space." Strange words for me to see put bluntly in print, but they are truth, and those three truths are also what brought Forth Chicago into my studio this autumn for their quarterly salon.

I met the lovely Kelly Allison earlier when she had rented my studio for a photo shoot. She approached me about letting Forth use my space for the autumn event, and also to see if I would like to attend. I knew scarcely more about Forth Chicago than what I have so far shared with you about myself, but I certainly liked Kelly and try to live life in a carpe diem sort of way so I said yes. Why not? At the very least I would get some Prosecco out of the deal and, ya know, we are always supposed to network, right?

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So, the day arrives, the “Three Forths” show up (shout out to Kelly, Julie and Lisa!) and the event is underway. At this point I’m simply enjoying the wondrous world that has been created in my studio. The beautiful photos from the evening speak for themselves. This is certainly something close to these ladies hearts. The food, décor, their genuine attentiveness and excitement as people begin to arrive to fill the room they have created with its final ingredient, women. Really great women. From all of whom at this point I am learning names, occupations, all very similar to my “woman, business owner, studio space” truths.

Ok, Forth Chicago is certainly impressive so far. I’m definitely past the point of any regrets of saying yes to this as I realize that I am surrounded by some exceptional people and I am having a great time (The Moroccan soup shooters didn’t hurt either). But there’s more to this, right?


Forth Chicago Autumn event 2013

Oh yes, there is more. As we sit down for the evening to share with each other around the theme “owning your awesome” something truly crazy and magical begins to happen. Very impressive blunt truths about each of us women begin to unfold into complex and meaningful stories. We start to go beyond the blunt and peek into the ever more complex, wonderful, scary and under charted world of who we are as people. We all get vulnerable.

Wow! It’s one thing to plan something like this and a completely other thing to have it work, particularly in a room where most of us know each other very little or not at all. I can’t believe that this many professional women exist who crave a business environment that is all about nourishing and supporting each other!

Forth Chicago Autumn event 2013I’m sitting in the circle and am one of the last to share, (which I’m excited about since I now realize that I will be able to really share). I look down at the light bulb bracelet I have wrapped around my wrist from the goodie bag given out at the beginning and realize that it is the perfect symbol for what I’ve experienced. Something has clicked. Because I DO believe it. I DO believe that there are women who crave an environment where they can both be challenged professionally but also be free to be known. I DO believe that as women we are charting our own future where we have less pressure to conform to a business mold and more freedom to do business how we want, integrating all of ourselves into what we do and making our businesses and our lives better because if it. I also believe that Forth Chicago has found a way to make space to encourage that to happen and I’m a very lucky girl to have been a part of that magic this autumn.

Devron Enarson, Dev Photography. Chicago, IL.

A million thanks to Dev for sharing with us, and thank you for opening your heart and space to the Three Forths and all the Fall participants.

Autumn Forth: Moroccan-Inspired Savories by Julie Schumacher

Before the Autumn event, we met at my house to plan.http://instagram.com/p/eKvuoZQi3-/

Lisa was bringing the ever-so-new baby Lina while my daughter Lo loomed as a potential toddler Krakatoa, her high energy blur visible in Kelly's Instagram.

I wanted it to feel special since we three Forths don't get much time together outside the events and work. And we needed to show Lo & Lina, the next generation of Forths (along with Kelly's lovely Willa) how it was done. The challenge is that I didn't have time to overhost like I usually do. So, I went to two recipes that have saved my rump on numerous occasion.

As we sipped and supped and chatted, we decided to use those two dishes as a delicately spicy jumping off place for the salon's food, which led naturally to decor. The spices of the middle east and North African meant jewel tones and peacocks and floor seating became the orders of the day.


The wonderful thing about working with Kelly & Lisa is that they make things more. More beautiful, more interesting.

Kelly took a soup I just serve in bowls and suddenly we had single serving shooters with lemon wedges. The chickpea dish was extra-smushed so it would sit on the gluten free crackers she found and served out of a mason jar.


Chilled Moroccan Tomato Soup, adapted from Epicurious

    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 (14- to 16-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained and juices reserved
    • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (14 fluid ounces)

*I use vegetable broth

  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • Garnish: lemon slices
Cook onion in oil with spices in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Coarsely chop tomatoes and add to onion mixture with reserved juices, broth, honey, 1 tablespoon parsley, and 1 tablespoon cilantro, then bring to a boil. Transfer soup to a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and cold water. Cool soup, stirring occasionally, until cold, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste, then stir in remaining parsley and cilantro.
Now, to make this extra awesome, I puree the living hell out of it and encouraged Kel to do the same.


Pomegranate, Chickpea, and Mint Crostini, adapted from Real Simple

  • 1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, from 1 small pomegranate or Trader Joe's serves de-seeded.
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 small baguette, thinly sliced and toasted (this is how I've traditionally served it)

In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, mint, scallions, oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Serve with the bread.

The rest of the flavors, and even the conversation that followed started, like so many good ideas, from taking time and space to be together.


Autumn Forth: Sweet Things, Cinnamon & Spice Edition by Julie Schumacher

For the Autumn Salon, I had the spices and scents of Fall on the brain. There's something so divine about cinnamon and nutmeg. Mid-September isn't usually chilly so it needed to be something fall-ish without being pumpkin everything (partially because I'm not super invested in pumpkin flavors, which I realize is an unpopular statement). Below are two recipes I picked because they embody that sweet, spicy feel of fall. One is an old family favorite, one is a new favorite.

I often think of doing something super sophisticated but I knew for this salon I wanted to make my mom's applesauce cake. It's been a beloved recipe of mine for a very, very long time. The applesauce makes for a super moist cake and cream cheese frosting has to be one of the best thing invented ever. Applesauce Cake

Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cups walnuts (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts (if using).

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown, and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely.

For the frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated.

Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

Apple Sauce Cake

And, a new favorite is the donut muffins.

I've made 'em before and knew they were fast and easy. The buttery spiced coating is beyond awesome if a bit indulgent (and totally canceling out the "baked" donut aspect of the recipe). You'll need a mini-muffin tin but, hey, that is something worthowning.


Baked Donuts