Earn a FREE MBiA at DreamBank

99.9999% of the time I agree wholeheartedly with the maxim, “You get what you pay for.” Cheap shoes don’t last. Fast food will feed, but never delight. An education you don’t pay for usually comes with a hard-sell pitch for some kind of highly caveated proprietary system that “will pay for itself ALMOST immediately.”

Yeah, right.

But occasionally the maxim is proven 100% wrong. Madison is home to a great example of the exception that proves the rule: American Family’s DreamBank.

Free happens

If you’re like me, you’ve probably walked past the pale stone building at the corner of Pinckney and East Washington and asked yourself, “I wonder what that’s all about?” then kept on walking. (Don’t want to mess with the circular flow of the Farmer’s Market, after all).

But then, on the recommendation of a friend, I checked out one of their free presentations and was promptly hooked. “Free” can either mean no cost = no quality, or something openly shared with no expectation of return. DreamBank enthusiastically embraces the latter definition and wants to help anyone with any kind of dream to achieve it. Of course, there’s only one way to prove it.

Step one: Attend a DreamBank event.

After meeting with Chris Rudolph, DreamBank’s business accelerator program director, for a primer on all things DreamBank, I attended a presentation entitled Small Biz: Start Attracting Business, Stop Chasing It with Neil Mathweg. Now, if you’ve ever met or heard Neil, you know he’s a whirlwind of ideas and energy. The man brought all that passion and shared it with an audience of about 30 people. I left there with my head spinning — and with a list of immediately actionable ideas. The cost for that master class on marketing: $0.

DreamBank is part venue, launch pad, MBA program, and ‘you can do it’ soccer mom

I work in marketing, and have for nearly 25 years. I know why American Family is doing this. Corporate good will and all that, and I could not approve more. A natural cynic at heart, I check that cynicism at the door every time I attend a DreamBank event. Chris and his team carefully curate their programs for quality and relevance. No monetary transactions of any kind are allowed between the speakers and their audiences — you can’t even buy their books after the talk. However, something far more valuable is transacted at each and every DreamBank event: real connection to new people, ideas, energy, and inspiration. By attending DreamBank events, I feel like I’m getting a free education, and earning a real-world MBiA (Master of Business in Actuality) degree.



Eclectic offerings? I'll say

Just look at any week on their packed program schedule. From feng shui to Facebook lead generation, there is literally something for everyone. Pro tip: Chris tells me the lunchtime yoga fills up super fast, so get there early.

Who’s DreamBank for? Anyone with a dream

Who can get something out of a trip to DreamBank? The better question is, who can’t? I’ve met retirees, solo-entrepreneurs, small (and not-so-small) business owners, students of all ages, stay-at-home moms and dads with strollers and a blog — you name it. Each comes to DreamBank for their own reasons, but we all leave with the same thing: a personal battery recharged with inspiration, energy, and a heaping helping of, “Yes, I can!”

Full disclosure: I love this place

And I’ll be speaking there in July, because the DreamBank idea is infectious. Open up, share what you know best, and make connections based on positive energy. Try it once and you’ll be hooked. I know I am.

D.P. Knudten is chief collaborator for COLLABORATOR creative.

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