Big News for Lodestar Solutions Clients: Enhancements to Our User Groups and Library!

Lodestar Solutions User Group
Lodestar Solutions User Group
Written by Heather L. Cole, January 11th, 2024

A Fresh Chapter for Our Exclusive Community!

Dear Valued Lodestar Solutions Customers,

We're thrilled to announce some significant developments that will elevate your experience with us. As part of our commitment to providing top-notch service and resources, we are upgrading our Private Client Only User Groups and moving our extensive Library of Prior User Group Recordings. These changes are designed to enrich your engagement with our community and enhance your access to valuable information.

What's New?

  • Upgraded User Groups: If you're a Lodestar Solutions Cognos or IBM Planning Analytics customer, you're invited to our unique, educational community. This exclusive group is where innovation and learning converge.
  • Quarterly Sessions: Every quarter, our team hosts two specialized sessions – one for IBM Planning Analytics and another for Cognos clients. These live, 2-hour sessions via Teams are packed with essential updates on Cognos and Planning Analytics, "Tech Talks with Ted," insights on "What's Working Now," and strategies for "Charting Your Success."
  • Immediate Application: Our sessions are designed to provide you with actionable information that can instantly elevate your use of IBM Analytics products.
  • Networking Opportunities: Alongside learning, we offer valuable opportunities to network virtually with peers from various industries. This is your chance to share experiences, exchange ideas, and build professional relationships.
  • Recording Library: Can't attend a session? No problem! We record our sessions and store them in a members-only library. This ensures you never miss out on valuable insights.

Important Update: Moving Our Library

Starting January 15th, 2024, we're moving our User Group Library to a new, more accessible location. This transition is part of our ongoing efforts to enhance your experience and provide seamless access to our resources.

  • Existing Members: Keep an eye on your inbox! We'll be sending you new login details to access our revamped User Group Library.
  • Not a Member Yet? If you're not a member but are interested in joining this exclusive community, reach out to us at Even if you're not currently a Lodestar Solutions client, we're happy to discuss your licensing, renewal, or service needs.

Why Join Our User Groups?

Being a part of our user group offers numerous benefits:

  1. Stay Informed: Keep up to date with the latest developments in Cognos and Planning Analytics.
  2. Practical Insights: Gain knowledge that can be immediately applied to enhance your use of IBM Analytics products including IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos.
  3. Peer Networking: Connect with professionals from various industries, share best practices, and build a supportive community.
  4. Exclusive Access: Enjoy members-only resources, including our comprehensive library of past sessions.
  5. Certificates: Because more companies are tracking the continuing education of team members, Lodestar Solutions will be offering certificates for all attendees who join our user groups live. This is a great way to show your boss you are a lifelong learner.

Invite Your Co-Workers!

We encourage you to invite your colleagues to join this thriving community. It's an excellent opportunity for your team to stay ahead of the curve, learn from industry experts, and connect with peers.

Your Next Steps

  • Existing Members: Look out for our email with your new login details.
  • Interested in Joining? Contact us at
  • Spread the Word: Encourage your co-workers to join and benefit from our community.

Note: User Groups are for Lodestar Solutions, clients only.  Clients are employees of any organization that either has purchased licensing, support renewals, training, or implementation services within the last year.

We are excited about these changes and confident that they will add significant value to your experience with Lodestar Solutions. Your growth and success are our top priorities, and we are here to support you every step of the way.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Warm regards,
The Lodestar Solutions Team

To learn more about all Lodestar Solutions has to offer, check out our website and latest blogs - Lodestar Solutions

Gratitude Beyond the Feast: Reflecting on Thanksgiving Blessings

Gratitude Beyond the Feast: Reflecting on Thanksgiving Blessings
Gratitude Beyond the Feast: Reflecting on Thanksgiving Blessings
Written by Lodestar Solutions Team Members, November 2023

Heather Cole

As the season of gratitude approaches, I find myself reflecting on the abundance of blessings that have enriched my life throughout the year. Foremost among them is my incredible support team, a mosaic of love, encouragement, and inspiration. My heartfelt gratitude extends to my husband, cherished family members, steadfast friends, and invaluable colleagues at Lodestar Solutions and Heatherized.

Pine Marten

This year has been marked by the joy of shared moments with loved ones, as friends and family gathered in various locations to revel in the beauty of nature. From encounters with Morrie the moose to the peculiar pine marten that resembled a charming blend of raccoon, fox, and squirrel, we found solace, inspiration, and the space to challenge each other creatively.

What I treasure most about my support network is their unwavering spirit of growth. Friends, family, and team members alike embody a relentless pursuit of improvement, challenging not only me but the status quo itself. Their belief in finding a better way serves as a constant reminder to seek innovation and push boundaries.

Beyond the human connections that grace my life, I find immense gratitude for the role of artificial intelligence (AI). This transformative technology has liberated precious time that would otherwise be consumed by tasks like crafting blogs, marketing content, and persuasive emails. The efficiency brought by AI empowers us to focus on serving clients, elevating the skills of analytic professionals, and delivering heightened value to our respective enterprises.


In the tapestry of gratitude, there is a special thread reserved for my steadfast companion, Ozzie, my 13-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever. His enduring presence, marked by slow but cherished walks, serves as a poignant reminder to appreciate each day with the old man Oz. 

As we gather around tables laden with the warmth of Thanksgiving feasts, let us carry this spirit of gratitude into the coming year. May the blessings of companionship, innovation, and the simple joys of life illuminate our paths. Wishing you all a fabulous Thanksgiving and a year ahead filled with endless possibilities in 2024.

Mike Bernaiche

It is that time of the year when we talk about what we are thankful for.  But as I sit to write this, maybe we should be talking about what we are thankful for all year long, not just the week of Thanksgiving.  In this crazy world filled with war, hate, and uncertainty, maybe expressing our thanks more often will give us that warm feeling that you get during this week.  I’m going to commit to giving thanks each day.  Will you join with me in this endeavor?

Since we are writing this blog, I will provide all the things I’m thankful for.  I’m thankful for the God I serve and his grace and forgiveness.  The thanks I have for my wife has no limits.  Our kids have all grown and with that comes change in the house.  We are navigating these changes together and have grown stronger than ever.  Speaking of my kids, I’m so very proud and thankful for them.  They continue to grow into incredible young adults with amazing hearts. 

I’m thankful for all our family.  As our parents get older you realize that you should savor each moment with them.  I’m thankful for our friends many of which we play softball with.  It is so much fun and such a great time playing with them throughout the year.

I’m blessed by our clients and business partners.  Without all of you, I wouldn’t find the joy in what I do.  I really appreciate my coworkers and Heather Cole.  Working in an environment like this provides such peace in my work life.

I hope you will join me in this season of reflection to give thanks today but in every day of the year.  Thank you for a great year and I pray you have an amazing holiday season.

Christina Vandeveer

“Thankfulness is the quickest path to joy.” – Jefferson Bethke

Finding joy in our world sometimes can be a discipline. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of work, meeting deadlines, and hitting sales quotas. Or maybe it’s family, kids’ sports schedules, extra-curricular commitments. All of these are good things, but it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in our to-do lists that we forget to find the joy in what we are doing. I’m not sure who first penned this quote, but I’ve heard it said many times that if the devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy!

This November I’ve been trying to share something I’m thankful for each day as a way to remind myself of all I truly have to appreciate in my life. God is such a faithful God, and his abundance of goodness in my life is so evident to me.

I am so thankful for my church family. As seasons of life change, friends can come and go. But my church family has always been there. I’m thankful God has provided me with such supportive people in my life.

Christina Vandeveer

I’m thankful for my three boys, Lucas (6), Cooper (5), and Hunter (2). They definitely keep me on my toes! They are so busy, and each with their own different personalities. They will go from driving me absolutely crazy one minute, to making my mom heart well up with tears as they sing worship songs the next. My life was so dull with out them! I am so thankful to be their mom.

I’m thankful for my husband of 9 ½ years, Richard. He works so hard for us and at the same time supports me and makes sure that I have the time I need for me. When I told him I wanted to start a side gig, he was in full support! Even if that means it takes up more time. He sees me for who I am, supports my need to always want to be busy, and yet helps me slow down when I need to. God sure gave me the right partner!

2023 has been a busy year and a year of growth. I am hoping to carry this practice of thankfulness into 2024. I have big goals, and I know if I only focus on what is left to be done, not all that has been accomplished, and my blessings, then those goals will feel unreachable.

Lodestar Solutions is Thankful!

Lodestar Solutions is Thankful
Lodestar Solutions is Thankful
Written by Lodestar Solutions, November 23rd 2022

Every year we gather around the table with our family and friends and give thanks for all that we have. This year the Lodestar team has so much to thankful for, and below is just a little piece from each of us at Lodestar Solutions.

Heather Cole

Many of you that follow me, know I do “what’s my number” and “3 gratefuls” every day.  But at Thanksgiving I like to look back at the year to give thanks.  This year there is so much to be thankful for, but I’ll list a few of the top

1. My family – Without them I would not be whom I am today.  My 80 something parents are doing well and very active, especially mom the pickleball champion.  My husband Gary is extremely supportive of my crazy goals and makes me laugh every day.  And I can’t leave out the boys, our two golden retrievers that emit their super chill vibe.  But more importantly they have my back.  I always know in good or bad my family will be there.  This is so important because without their safety net, I would not have the courage to try new things, take bigger risks and be willing and able to fail.  Guess you could say I fail because of my family and that’s a good thing.

Louie and Oz
“You are the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With” - Jim Rohn

2. The Lodestar Team – I am so thankful for our amazing Lodestar Team and Partners.  Their energy and commitment to serving our clients are unsurpassed.  Their positivity infects all our clients and makes work fun.  According to Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  And I am grateful I get to spend my time with the Lodestar Solutions team and clients.

3. Finally, I am grateful for Mother Nature.  Although she can show her furry, she provides such amazing events and views.  I cherish her imagination and creativity as often as I can.  Watching her spell bounding sunsets and sunrises, climbing her majestic peaks, or witnessing the first snowfall energize me.  When I am stressed, upset or just feeling down, I go outside take a hike and immediately feel better.  Mother Nature seems to put everything in perspective.  I just wish more of us could respect and honor her more. 

So, I guess you could say I am thankful for FAMILY across the board.  My immediate family, the Lodestar Solutions Family and Mama Nature, all inspire me, challenge me, and most of all make me feel grateful!

Mike Bernaiche

As I inch close to that magic birthday of 50 years old, I find myself thinking about things vastly different than I did even just a few years ago.  As I think about things, I also find myself being thankful for more and thinking about trivial things less.  When you boil it down, I’m really thankful for so much but here are the top things I’m thankful for this year.

1. Family – I have an amazing family and wife that I cherish every day.  Casey is an incredible wife and mother.  Our kids are all adults now, with 2 in college and 1 who entered the work world after graduating college last year.  Yes, we are basically empty nesters now.  While that is strange, I’m so very thankful our kids are doing well, and our relationships are incredibly strong. My parents and in-laws are getting older, and I appreciate all the time we get to spend together.  Finally, my dogs are aging as well and I’m thankful I work from home and get to spend time with them each day.

2. Health – As I mentioned, I’m approaching 50 this year and my health is generally good.  Yes, I take a statin for cholesterol and had that “wonderful” test you get when you approach this age.  Folks, go get a colonoscopy, it is so important and can identify something that is so treatable if caught early.  Overall, my family is healthy.  What I’m most thankful for in this category is that someone chose to give the gift of life through organ donation.  My mother-in-law was in kidney failure and through someone’s tragic loss, she received a new kidney almost a year ago and is doing really well.  I know this is an individual decision and I encourage everyone to make it known if you wish to be an organ donor and save a life.

3. Lodestar – Having a job that keeps you fulfilled and gives you purpose is a blessing.  I enjoy the daily grind of work and it is because of the people I work with every day, both internal and external.  Really Lodestar could be categorized under family, because that is how much I care about the people I work with. 

I wish each of you a very thankful Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season!

Christina Vandeveer

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1.

1. Faith - I know that my blessings come from my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I am so thankful for his goodness in my life. I’m thankful for my church family that supports me and my little family.

2. Family - This year has flown by.  Navigating life with 3 boys, now 5 and under has been well….insane!  However, I know the days are long, but the years are short.  Our boys are Lucas (5), Cooper (4) and Hunter (18 months).  I am so blessed to have such a supportive family that partners with me to raise our boys.  And I couldn’t do any of this without my hard-working hubby.  One of the things I appreciate the most about him is no matter how long of a day he may have had at work as soon as he walks in the door, he jumps into dad mode.  He truly enjoys doing bedtime with our boys and he rocks at it!  He is never too tired to read them their books at night and hear all about their days. 

3. Friends - The street I live on is called Calvin Ct.  And all of us on the street have named ourselves the, “Calvin Ct. Crew.”  There are 17 kids under 7 that live on the street plus many older siblings.  These people aren’t just my neighbors, they are my friends.  From the constant asking each other what house our kids are at, to the late-night mom time hiding in the hot tub from our kids.  I know these friends have got my back.  They have become my village and I and so grateful for them.

4. Sports!  Did you know my husband and I met through church softball?  It’s such a fun story and I love every detail of how God used softball to bring us together.  But whether it’s playing softball with my husband or going to watch our littles play whatever they are feeling this month, currently it’s basketball and baseball, I love it!  Playing a sport and exercising teach discipline and teamwork and these are so valuable for my kids to learn.

Along with playing softball I am thankful for my local gym that I attend.  I may not make it every day, but the days I do make it are better because of it.  The encouragement and challenge that I receive from the coaches and members makes me a better person and momma.  Whether it’s trying to do the heavier weights or working on my boxing form.  I’m thankful for this consistent positive in my life.

We all have many things we can be thankful for, and those were just a few!  We at Lodestar hope you know that we are thankful for our clients and hope that you have a fantastic holiday with your friends and family!

What are You Going to Accomplish this Year?

What are you going to accomplish this year
What are you going to accomplish this year
Written by Heather L. Cole, January 6th, 2022

Happy New Year.  With the new year we have the opportunity to recharge and reset so we can accomplish amazing things personally and professionally.  At Lodestar Solutions we encourage all our team members and clients to have written goals or outcomes they want to achieve.  So, what are you going to accomplish this year? 

I thought I would share secrets I have learned to accomplishing big bodacious goals. 

1. You Must Write Down Your Goals

Studies have proven that when you write down your goals and view them daily you are more likely to accomplish them.  One study done by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California found you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a daily basis.  See blog, This Is the Way You Need to Write Down Your Goals for Faster Success.  

2. Organize Your Goals

I am a big fan of using sticky notes that I put on boards by month, so I focus on when I want to accomplish the goal by.  I also use different colored sticky notes depending on if it’s related to health, charity, personal or business.

When you write down the goals include a reason why.  This helps inspire you and motivate you.  If your WHY is not big enough you probably will not accomplish your goals.

3. Tell People Your Goals!

Yes, as scary as it can be, share your goals.  But remember if people laugh or mock you, they are jealous you have the courage to think and act boldly.

Last year I decided I wanted to own a small beach condo to escape and relax.  I put it on my board and told people I knew that owned beach condos.  Three months after putting the sticky on my board, a friend texted that there was a condo in her building about to go up for sale.  I contacted the seller and we agreed without involving real estate agents, in one of the hottest markets I avoided a bidding war.  

4. Time Blocking

Block out time on your calendar every day to take one action that gets your closer to your goal.  Just one.  The action can be as simple as researching on the internet.  But make it part of your daily routine.

Maybe it would help if I provided an example.  Here’s some common goals I am seeing in our clients.


  •  To get a raise so you can save more money for your kid’s college and your retirement.
  • To work remotely 3 days a week so you can coach your kid’s soccer team.
  • To get more support for your Analytics projects within the company so your work gets noticed and your ideas get heard.

Visualize Your Result

Let’s take a minute to break these down.  Your big WHY appears to be your family.  So, every day with your first cup of coffee visualize yourself and your family when you accomplish your goals.  What will you do?  How will you feel?    

I know it sounds a little crazy, but I often start my day poolside visualizing accomplishing my goal and it inspires me to take at least one step daily toward my goal.

Daily Steps

Daily deliberate action is where the magic happens!  In the book Peak:  Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool share their research on how all of us can apply the performance principles practiced by the world’s top performers.  One of the key take aways I received from the book is that we must engage in daily deliberate practice.  Here’s a link to a short video explaining the concept in this book. 

 How you show up and play daily is a key differentiator in people that accomplish their goals and those that say, “One Day I will…”.  

Steps don’t have to be massive, although massive action will get you there faster. Let’s take the goals above.

Getting a Raise

If you want a raise here’s a few steps you can take.  You just need to complete one a day.

  •  Start by creating a list of your accomplishments in the last year.  Where did you add more value than your peers?  What ideas did you implement…?
  • Research the current salary for your role in other companies on or other sites.
  • Schedule a meeting with your boss to ask what it would take to get to the next level
  • Research approaches for asking for a raise
  • Write down a list of why your firm might say no, and a response to the reason.

Working Remotely 

If you want to continue to work remotely and your firm is moving people back to the office, you will need to influence your company to allow you to work remotely.

  •  Create a list of the projects or accomplishments you have had while working remote during Covid.
  • Research other firms in your industry that are allowing their people to continue to work remote.
  • Talk to HR to understand the reasons or motivation for requiring people to come in daily.
  • Research your organizations values and initiatives.  Are they trying to reduce global warming?  See if the organization’s initiatives can help support your request to work remote.
  • Read a blog or book or watch a video on persuasion. CAlididi.
  • Write down a list of why your firm might say no, and a response to the reason.
  • Schedule a meeting with your boss to ask to work remotely.

Goal of Increasing the Support of your Analytics Projects

  •  Create a list of areas you think could benefit from better Analytics.  These areas must either make or save the company more money!
  • Research what other companies in your industry are doing with analytics.
  • Read the companies 10K and ask what the strategic goals are of the organization.
  • Read a blog or book or watch a video on persuasion.  CAlididi.
  • Identify a single area, dashboard, reports, or project you would like to get support and funding for.
  • Create a list of the benefits to the company if they did the project.
  • Create a list of costs in resources, time, and tools needed.
  • Create a Return-on-Investment analysis.
  • Write down a list of why your firm might say no, and a response to the reason.
  • Schedule a meeting with your boss to get their support.

Just one a day!  That’s the secret.

Similar Steps Different Goals

Did you notice anything?  Yes, the steps for getting what you want at work, are all similar.  2022 can be the most amazing year of your life.  But you must take ACTION!  Start with a list.  “What are you going to accomplish this year?  ‘’

If you need help or have questions, put a comment on this blog, or reach out to us at  You might also want to check out our video on the power of expectation setting.  

At Lodestar Solutions, our goal is not just successful analytics projects, we want you, our client to be personally successful too!

Happy New Year!

Heather and the Lodestar Team.

Lodestar Solutions is Thankful

Lodestar Solutions is Thankful
Lodestar Solutions is Thankful
Written by the Lodestar Solutions Team, November 18th, 2021

This week we are going to take a brief time out from our normal value driven IBM Cognos and coaching blogs.  We at Lodestar Solutions have a lot to be thankful for both personally and professionally.  Please take a moment and read our thoughts below.

Heather Cole

2021 Started out as a year of hope.  The vaccine was being released and I think we all hoped that life would return to “normal.”  But what is normal?  Despite the fact for many of us the world might not have gotten back to where we wished I believe there is still a lot to be grateful for! 

I am thankful for being asked to speak at various virtual events.  I love inspiring people and missed the stage.  I am grateful I have been able to surround myself with amazing individuals remotely like our clients, the new global Artificial Intelligence Data Analytics User Group for which I am a founding member, my fellow high-performance coaches and of course my family and friends.  I love being around people that challenge me to think bigger and act bolder.  On a personal note, my husband Gary was given his green card, so I get to keep him.  We also added a new furry to our family, Louie.  But most of all I am grateful my family and friends have been safe during this uncertain time.


Mike Bernaiche

Thanksgiving is always a great time of the year to really sit and take stock on what you have to be thankful for.  As I write this, I’m thankful for so many things both professionally and personally.

In a time when many have had to change their career path due to the pandemic, I’m blessed to have a stable job and work for a company that provides so many opportunities for growth and development.  I work with the best clients, peers and team members a guy could ask for. 

Mike Bernaiche

Personally, I’m so thankful and blessed by my family.  My wife is an amazing partner in life and the best wife and friend a person can ask for.  My oldest daughter is a senior in college (yes, I’m starting to feel old) scheduled to graduate in May 2022.  We had another daughter graduate high school in June and she is now in college working towards her future goals.  Our other daughter is now a senior in high school and is applying to a number of colleges and is very interested in political science as a major.  My wife and I are basically empty nesters now and we are so very proud of our children and how successful they are at such young ages. 

In a time where Covid is still a major issue, we all have health and happiness and for that I’m forever grateful. 

Christina Vandeveer

As the year draws closer to the end, I feel I have a lot to be thankful for. In May my husband and I welcomed our 3rd boy to the world, Hunter Thomas Vandeveer. We rescued a four-year-old Boxer named Clark. We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. We have overall had good health as a family, getting through COVID together at the end of my pregnancy. I am thankful for my work with Lodestar Solutions, being able to work from home and be a full-time mom to my three boys and still contribute to the work force. I am able to have such valuable time with my boys when they seem to be getting so big too fast!

As I reflect on the year, I am reminded how easy it is to forget what I have to be thankful for and sometimes focus on the struggles the year has brought. 2021 has not been easy, we are still battling the pandemic and are living in a world that can seem so full of anger and loss. It sometimes is easier to just succumb to the weight of the world than to try to find the joy in every day. My encouragement to you and reminder to myself is to not take one day for granted. We are not promised tomorrow. We have to choose each day how we will live. We can complain about what we don’t have or choose to focus on all we have to be thankful for. I am thankful for so many wonderful people that make a difference in my life for the better every day and I pray that I will choose to do the same. Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving!


Recent Lodestar Solutions Blogs

Thank You

As you can read, we have a lot to be thankful for at Lodestar Solutions.  Thank you to all our clients for an amazing year.  We sincerely appreciate you and the relationships we have developed.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Finance’s role in Post Pandemic Planning: Why it is Imperative that You Reset your Strategy, Processes, and People

Finance’s role in Post Pandemic Planning- Why it is Imperative that You Reset your Strategy, Processes, and People
Written by Heather L. Cole, October 7th 2021

The world has changed.  If we learned anything from the Pandemic, it is that our organizations must be able to respond quickly.  For many the old methods of strategic planning, financial planning and operational planning are not flexible enough.  Finance teams were sent scrambling to run scenarios in Excel.  What we discovered is that organizations must become more agile.  It’s imperative that organizations reset their strategy, processes and train their people in new methods and approaches that will enable rapid responses to market and world changes.  Today I’ll introduce Finance’s role in Post Pandemic Planning:  Why it is Imperative that You Reset your Strategy, Processes, and People.


A more detailed discussion will take place on Wednesday Oct 27, 2021 at noon eastern where Heather Cole, President of Lodestar Solutions is teaming up with Financial Executives International for a webinar.  Registration required and CPE credit available.

Click Here To Register 

The Planning Process is Broken

Strategic Plans are Not Communicated

For the last 10 years while I have been running seminars, and training classes I always ask the question, “How many of you can clearly articulate the strategic goals of your organization?”  And I pause and look for a show of hands.  Guess how many hands go up?  On average it’s less than 4% of my session attendees.  But the scary part is these are people whose job it is to deliver data, analytic and planning solutions to their organizations.   So, if the people creating and administering the business intelligence solutions and planning template don’t know the strategic goals, how are they expected to give the executives what they need? 

Try this test.  Contact a few co-workers and ask them to articulate the strategic goals of the company.

For some organizations the executives struggle to find time to even create the strategic goals and plans.  This will be a topic of another blog.  But for now, we have established there’s a communication problem. 

Reference Point:  Here’s an interesting blog by Gartner,  Reset your Business Strategy in Co-Vid 19 Recovery. 

Operational Plan Not Measuring What Matters

The operational plan, the process of planning strategic goals and objectives to technical goals and objectives.  The goal of the operational plan is to improve the day-to-day actions and processes of your business.   For many organizations what they need to focus on daily is very different than it was two years ago.  However, many are still using the same templates.  If you have not paused and examined what is important to daily success in the Post Pandemic world and determined how the measure what matters, you may find that your teams are not doing what you need them to do. 

Reference Point:  A great must read book is, Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth By John Doerr. 

Finance teams are in a unique situation to add more value in the transformation to Post Pandemic Planning.  They understand the value of the strategic plan, financial plan, and operational plan.  They often work with every department on the budget process, and they understand what makes money for the organization.  I believe that Finance must play a big role in becoming agile. 

For more information on why Finance needs to step up, see our blog, Finance Must Lead Transformation Before Someone Else Does.

Agile Planning Processes

Post Pandemic Planning must include an agile planning process that can respond rapidly to market and world changes.  But what exactly does that mean? 

Post Pandemic Planning must include a connect between the strategic plan, the financial plan, and the operating plan.  The process must be flexible enough to allow team members to do “what if” or scenario modeling.  For years thought leaders like me have been emphasizing the need to have all the moving parts of planning connected.  Marketing plans should lead to Sales plans, which connect with the production schedules and inventory.  The sad reality is most companies don’t have connected plans.  But the Pandemic has created shortages in staff and supplies we never anticipated.  So, in Post Pandemic Planning we must connect all our plans. 

How to Create a Connected Post Pandemic Planning Process

After over 25 years in the Performance Management and Planning industry, I have learned there are three areas that organizations faulter on that impede their success in creating a truly connected planning process. 

People in Planning

They call this time the Great Resignation.  Attracting and retaining talent is harder than ever.  However, many organizations are just missing the clues when it comes to talent.  In this Post Pandemic world people are reassessing what matters most, and they are finding it’s not money.  Talented people are valuing family time, work flexibility, and thought-provoking work of MEANING!  That’s correct they want to know their hard work is valuable. 

I believe that finance team members that are part of the planning process need to be heard.  Stop doing things the way you have always done them and think differently.  Let the planning team members voice their ideas and implement change.   The fastest way to start this is to host planning meetings that are facilitated by a skilled facilitator and update your processes.

Reference Point:  Here’s an interesting article in Forbes, Facilitation Skills Might Just be The Best Kept Leadership Secret. 

Train Your People

The second issue I see is that too many organizations fail to give their teams the proper training.  They just think finance professionals should know everything about leveraging data and finding insights.  Guess what?  WE DON’T KNOW IT ALL!  Investing in your finance teams, by teaching them advance analytics skills, agile methodologies and how to facilitate meetings is a huge step not just to have a more skilled team, but it will help you retain your people too.

Reference Point:  Here’s an interesting blog by Indeed, The Importance of Training Employees: 11 Benefits.

Find the Right Tools

The third area that many organizations can improve on to see better results in their Post Pandemic Planning processes is to have the right tools.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Excel.  But organizations that are considered mid-market or larger should not be doing their planning processes in Excel.  Excel is not scalable.  Excel is extremely flexible but to do proper scenario modeling in Excel in a connected planning process, is very time consuming and difficult. 

Your teams need the right tools.  Not securing robust planning tools is like asking your lawn service to mow your acre lot with a weed whacker. You can do it, but you shouldn’t.  You need the right tool for the job. 

At Lodestar Solutions we believe IBM Planning Analytics (TM1) is a fabulously flexible, scalable tool for mid-market and larger organizations.  For more information on Planning Analytics contact us at  And watch our video on Planning Analytics on YouTube.

Today I just shared a few ideas on Finance’s role in Post Pandemic Planning:  Why it is Imperative that You Reset your Strategy, Processes, and People.  But this is just an introduction.   On October 27th, 2021 at noon eastern I will be hosting a webinar with Financial Executives International were we dive deeper into this topic and provide proven methods for you so you can transform your Post Pandemic Planning processes to become agile, and responsive to change.  You will discover the benefit of a connected planning process where Strategic plans are connected to Financial and Operating plans.  Where various business units share information and create a collaborative planning process.

What you will learn in the webinar:

  •  What’s broken in the planning processes and how to fix them.
  • How to empower your team in a way that not only retains talent but attracts it.
  • Why the ability to rapidly model various scenarios is essential to resiliency.

About the author, Heather Cole is an Executive High-Performance Coach and Analytic Advisor who coaches US organizations how to leverage data and analytics, empower teams and experience substantial growth.  Heather is a two-time bestselling author.  Additionally, she is a founder of the global Artificial Intelligence Data and Analytics User Group (AIDAUG) and a board member of Financial Executives International.

How the IBM Teaming Agreement for IBM Partners Really Works

How the IBM Teaming Agreement for Partners Really Works
How the IBM Teaming Agreement for Partners Really Works
January 21st, 2021

In our last blog we discussed the IBM Teaming Agreement process and how beneficial it is for IBM Partners and their clients.  Now we will share how the IBM Teaming Agreement for IBM Partners really works.  This is information Lodestar Solutions learned the hard way and is the process we use for teaming with other boutique IBM software partners to add more value to our clients.  If you are an IBM partner that sells software other than Analytics, we want to connect with you.  We are looking for IBM software partners that are experts in their niche.  Contact

Not an IBM partner yet but looking to become one.  Check out IBM partner world.

Before we dive into the Lodestar’s partner teaming process, let’s give a little refresher.

What is the IBM Teaming Agreement for Partners?

The IBM Teaming Agreement Program was launched by IBM in May 2020.  And, I think I can say, we all missed it because, well the world was changing.  For over 16 years I have owned an IBM Business Partner firm and have been hoping IBM would figure a way to allow boutique business partners like Lodestar who specializes in IBM Analytics to partner with other boutique partners that have other areas of expertise, like security.  My clients know I don’t know everything, but they also know I am very connected with other experts.  So, they come to me seeking advice on areas that I am not the expert.  I love to connect clients with other IBM Partner firms, so they benefit from the best resources available.  In May 2020 IBM, led by John D’Arco, approved a new IBM Teaming Agreement Program that allows two partners to work together to better serve IBM clients, especially the mid-market.  The partner that has the client connect can team up with a partner that has a different expertise and sell the client IBM software products that are out of their usual area.  See our earlier blog on the benefits of this.

The Process of IBM Teaming

After our last blog was released several people reached out to us to learn more about partnering with Lodestar Solutions.  Even some IBMer’s called asking how it works, so below I share my notes on how the IBM process works for partners like Lodestar that want to partner with other experts and boutique IBM resellers.

The Players:

  1. An opportunity is discovered by an IBM Partner that is outside of their approved brands.  This may happen when an existing client expresses, they need help with IBM software products that the partner does not typically work with.  We will call the originating partner or lead Partner, Partner L.  Partner L finds a partner that has expertise in the IBM software products and services the client needs.  This partner we will call the expert partner or Supplying Partner, Partner S.   Partner L and Partner S agree to work together to win the deal and provide services to the clients benefit.
  2. Partners enter a Letter of Understanding as to who does what work and the distribution of proceeds.  This is not an agreement; this is between the partners.  At Lodestar Solutions we drafted our own version of a Letter of Understanding and are happy to share with our Partners.

Involving IBM

3. Partner S needs to send IBM an email requesting a Teaming Agreement Document with the following information:

a. The subject line must be "Teaming Relationship".
b. The legal name, CEID and Distributor Partner S sending the request. 
c. The Product Family for the teaming relationship. Note IBM will tell you they need the IBM software products but it’s really the product family.  And the contracts they send will most likely state any IBM Software in Passport advantage, so I am not sure why they ask.  The rules for system are different. This blog covers software only.
d. The legal name, CEID and Distributor of Partner L who will participate in a teaming relationship. 
e. An employee contact name and email of the participating Reseller.
f. Identify who is the Lead BP and Supplying BP.

4. IBM will send both partners a copy of their respective teaming agreements to sign.  There are two documents for each program and could be four if you want reciprocating agreements.

5. Signed Teaming Agreement is sent to IBM for acceptance.

IBM Deal Registration:

6. Partner S will register the opportunity in MYSA to receive approval for CVR margins including Solutions if appropriate.  Partner S will have to have an approved solution, and contracts and invoices for services should reference the solution.

7. Partner L sets up a discovery call with the Client and Partner S and explains the relationship with Partner S.  Beginning the sales process where both firms work together. 

a. Both firms should be able to show two-way communication with the client and document their sales process to be able to meet IBM sales audit standards.

Obtain a Special Bid:

b. IBM Partners work together on the configuration and request a special bid from IBM which is sent to IBM Partner S.  Bid request must reference IBM Partner L and their CEID in the comments or justification section and show the client as the end user not IBM Partner L.

8. IBM Partner S sends a copy of the quote to IBM Partner L with any special terms, so that IBM Partner L can provide a quote to the client and include terms. 

a. Note the price the client is quoted by IBM Partner L to the client MUST match the entitled price IBM quoted for the client and the quote should reference any IBM approved solutions that will be provided.

Order is Processed.

9. Client sends the PO to IBM Partner L for processing.

10. IBM Partner L sends a PO to IBM Partner S for the entitled price less agreed upon margin that IBM Partner S and L agree to for IBM Partner L’s sales efforts.  This should have been agreed to in the letter of understanding (LOU).

11. IBM Partner S sends a PO to their VAD for processing.

12. IBM Pays IBM Partner S any CVR payments.  

a. Note IBM has no visibility to IBM Partner S.  IBM Partner S and IBM Partner L decide how to the share the transaction margins and incentives in the LOU and do not have to disclose it to IBM.

Service Agreements.

13. IBM Partner L sends the client a services agreement with a detailed SOW that includes that the services are being provided by IBM Partner S a subcontractor of IBM Partner L, and that the services include IBM Partner S’s IBM approved solutions.

a. Note IBM Partner L can provide their services invoiced as a line item.  If an IBM Product requires Reseller S to provide associated services for that Product to an End User, Reseller S provides those services to the End User and may invoice those services to Reseller L.  Reseller L must invoice those associated services to the End User referencing Reseller S as performing those services. 

Notes from the CVR Team:

Notes from the CVR Team

14. Client signs IBM Partner L’s service agreement

15. IBM Partner L and IBM Partner S sign a SOW for IBM Partner S to provide services to client.

16. IBM Partner L provides detailed billing to client so that if IBM decides to do a sales audit on IBM Partner S’s sales transaction, IBM Partner L can provide the details to IBM Partner S.

a. Services should reference who is doing the work (IBM Partner S) and any IBM approved solution included.

Yes, that is a lot of steps, but the most important thing is to know that if you know the steps it’s not difficult.  The IBM Partner Teaming Agreement works even if the IBM Partners use different distributors or VADs. 

Renewals Under an IBM Teaming Agreement

In the future the renewal will be assigned to IBM Partner S as the incumbent because in IBM’s eyes they acquired the software from the distributor.  But we learned that as long as IBM partner L provides an email from the client asking them to quote the renewal in the future year, they can quote the renewal. 

In Conclusion

Lodestar Solutions is looking for IBM Software Partners that specialize in all areas of IBM software!  We want to help you grow your business and introduce you to our clients.  We are discriminating as we only want to work with the best in their area of specialty.  Are you the best?  Are you looking to grow your IBM Software business?  We shared how the IBM Teaming Agreement for IBM Partners really works.  Now we ask you contact us and share your details.  We can all grow through partnering and better serve our clients.  Email us at

When IBM Partners Work Together the Clients Win

Benefits of an IBM Teaming Agreement
Benefits of an IBM Teaming Agreement
January 14th, 2021

IBM Teaming Agreement Program allows IBM Partners to Work Together for the Benefit of the Clients.

Last month I received a distressed email from one of Lodestar Solutions’ longtime IBM Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics TM1 clients.  They were desperate to find an IBM Guardium expert because they recently had a system issue and when they called IBM support, they were told they would not help until they upgraded IBM Guardium to a currently supported version.  The client knew Lodestar was not experts in Guardium, but they trusted that we had connections with other boutique IBM Partners that were experts in Guardium.  In May 2020 IBM launched a new IBM Teaming Agreement Program that allows IBM Partners to work together for the benefit of the clients.

Why You Might Need an IBM Teaming Agreement

If you are an IBM reselling business partner and you specialize in a specific area, your clients may approach you asking for help with another IBM software product that you do not typically support.  Maybe the client has a question or needs support on IBM Security software licenses like Guardium, but you are not the expert on Guardium and not authorized to sell it.  You have a few options.

1. You can call IBM and have them handle it.

You could turn to IBM to connect them with the client but if you have strong relationships with your clients like we do, the client may say they want to buy it from you.  Additionally, if they were rejected by IBM support, like our client was, for not being on a supported version, they may want to work with someone they know and trust.

2. You can scramble to get your IBM certifications for the new product family.

You can take the steps to get your IBM certifications and add a new product to your IBM Business Partner Agreement.  But this can take a lot of time and may not be in your business growth roadmap.  Here’s more information on IBM certifications. 

3. Sell the licenses to the client at list price.

A while back IBM changed the rules and now allows IBM partners to sell software and support that is not in the category or brand family that they are certified to sell.  The problem with this is the margins are very low and even worse you can’t get a special bid to help save your valuable client money.   At Lodestar Solutions, we pride ourselves on getting the best value for our clients and would rather tell the client to buy from someone else then lose their trust in our commitment to getting them the best price.

4. Enter an IBM Teaming Agreement with another Partner to serve the client. (NEW)

Historically IBM did not allow reselling partners to buy IBM software from another business partner and sell it to their client.  If you did not have the certification for the brand family you are trying to sell, you could not buy it from anyone other than your value-added distributor (VAD).  

But in May 2020 IBM launched the new IBM Teaming Agreement Program that was designed to empower two boutique partners that are specialists in their specific niches to partner together, get the best price for the client and work together to solve the clients’ issues.  This change was huge!  Too bad they forgot to tell anyone it existed!   

What is the IBM Teaming Agreement Program?

Lodestar Solutions recently discovered that IBM now allows partner to work together if they sign an IBM Teaming Agreement.  The agreement consists of two IBM contracts that are signed by the two partners that want to work together.  By signing the agreements and submitting them to IBM, the IBM Business Partner that has the product expertise can sell the software and services to the Business Partner with the client relationship.  Without the teaming agreement in place, I believe it is still a violation of IBM partner channel rules for one partner to sell software to another that is planning to resell to the customer, but I defer to IBM on this. 

Benefits of IBM Teaming Agreement

The IBM Teaming Agreement Program offers several benefits to both partners, the client and IBM. 

The benefits to the clients:

  • The clients get to work with a partner they have a long relationship with and trust.  
  • The partner that will sell them the software is already an established, authorized vendor in their procurement system.
  • The client and the partner may already have a Master Service Agreement in place and any new services can be provided under a new Statement of Work, saving time going through legal review.
  • The client will still get the benefit of any promotion or a special bid offering a discount on the software.
  • The client will have an improved customer buying experience by purchasing multiple IBM Products from one BP.
  • The clients will benefit from the higher service level they get from boutique partners that choose to focus on a specialized area, and therefore higher level of expertise.

The benefits to the partners:

  • The IBM Business Partner with the close relationship with the client is viewed as the trusted advisor that can connect the client with other boutique partners.
  • The two business partners can create a profit-sharing agreement to be rewarded for their efforts.
  • The partners may qualify for all IBM CVR margins available including engaged/solutions as long as one has the correct IBM Certifications.
  • Both IBM Partners benefit from growing their businesses by sharing their clients.

How Does the IBM Teaming Agreement Process Work?

Candidly discovering how the IBM Teaming Agreement process works, was painful for me.  I spent hours talking to several IBMers and Ingram Micro team members, but I believe we finally were able to put all the parts together including CVR, registration, legal documents…  Now that we know the process, we are shocked how easy it is when you have a checklist of the process, which Lodestar created.

Call to Action – Connect with Lodestar Solutions

Now that we discovered the process, Lodestar is looking for other IBM Business Partners to create Teaming agreements.  We have fabulous connections with our clients, and we are happy to introduce boutique partners that are passionate about adding value to clients!  If you are experts in any of the IBM software portfolios we want to connect.  To learn more about us go to our website.

Maybe we will share the details on how the program works in our next blog…  email me at to start the conversation.

Lodestar Solutions Reflects on 2020 & Goals for 2021

Lodestar Solutions Reflects on 2020 and Goals for 2021
Lodestar Solutions Reflects on 2020 and Goals for 2021
December 31st, 2020

Every New Year I take the time to reflect on what our Lodestar Solutions team accomplished, what we learned, and then set goals for the new year.  This year I thought it would be fun for some of our team members to share their experiences and would love to hear yours too!

Heather Cole -

Biggest Accomplishment 2020 –

Personal - On a personal side I have to say my biggest accomplishment was having one of the first Zoom Weddings.  Gary and I were returning to the US when the world shut down.  He is English and was scheduled to head home to the UK when his flights were cancelled repeatedly.  The realization that if he left, we had no idea when we would see each other again was just the nudge we needed.   Since we have family and friends all over the world it was perfect as everyone could attend. 

Work Related -  I have to say my biggest accomplishment was figuring out how to pivot to better serve our IBM Cognos clients in the new COVID world.  Lodestar Solutions worked hard to help clients do more with the resources they had and software they owned.  We revamped our user group to be virtual.  We got creative and found new ways to help clients save money on their support renewals and licenses.

Learning Experience – This might be more of a reminder then something I learned about the power of reaching out to people and just showing you care.  I started sending more cards in the mail and calling people that popped into my head just to say hi.  The add by ATT to reach out and touch someone should be recycled.  Everyone is missing the personal connection, so it is even more important to get on camera just to say hi. 

Goals for 2021 – 

Say No More - For 2021 I am going to say “no” more, and only say yes to things that are in alignment with who I strive to be.

Volunteer More - I am committing to leading at least 3, Ready for Jobs programs where my husband and I teach youth that age out of foster care how to map out their future and interview for a job.  We are always looking for job coaches if you want to join us.

Random Act of Kindness - At least once a week I will do a random act of kindness.  It can be something as simple as paying for someone’s coffee at Starbucks or leaving flowers on a neighbor’s doorstep, because the world can benefit from even a little more kindness don’t you think?

Automate more – As for a business goal, I want to automate more processes, so Lodestar Solutions runs even more smoothly.  The first thing I will overhaul is our partner program and contract process.  Think about your life.  Is there a repetitive task you must do that could benefit from automation? 

Mike Bernaiche -

Biggest Accomplishment 2020 –

Personal - As I thought about this one, my thoughts went to, “what a year!”  As March hit and COVID started spreading to the US and shutdowns started, life changed in many ways for many people.  Me included.  However, I look back and think it was a blessing in disguise to spend more time with my family, to slow down and be thankful for what I have in my life.  Yes, I missed out on playing softball, coaching basketball, and going on vacation.  All things that are very important to me.  Yes, I struggled some days but honestly, I am just so thankful to work, have an amazing wife and family and slow down and re-prioritize my life.  This pandemic will end and so many in the world will have lost so much.  I think it is important to step out of your own mind and see the big picture.

Work Related - In the COVID world I had to learn to be as agile as possible.  Learn to shift and add more value to our wonderful Lodestar Solutions clients.  I shot videos to provide more info, we created a virtual user group that has been extremely well received and I tried to provide more and more value. 

Learning Experience - I think my learning experience is a combination of personal and work related.  Things in my personal life that I thought were “everything” are just things I did.  They were not everything.  I do look forward to playing and coaching again but now I believe those things will be a part of my life, not my life.  From a work standpoint, adding more and more value is what matters. 

Goals for 2021 -

Learn from Lessons Learned – It is one thing to learn the lesson, it is another to continue to grow based on those lessons and not step backwards.  I am committed to striving to add value and prioritize my work and personal life in 2021.

Senior Year – My middle child is a senior this year.  Her year has been rough starting in March due to COVID.  She is in virtual school, missing out on sports seasons and senior type things like homecoming, football games and just hanging out with friends.  My wife and I have committed to making this best of this year for her.  It is tough and I feel awful for her, but we must stay positive and make it the best we can.

Random Act of Kindness – I am going to steal from Heather on this one, but I feel it is so important.  In this very divided world, I think it is more important to show kindness, compassion, and love.  I will commit as Heather did to a once-a-week random acts of kindness.  I will ask Heather to keep a journal of hers and I will do the same for mine.  Check back towards the end of next year to see all of our random acts of kindness!

Christina Vandeveer -

Biggest Accomplishment 2020 –

Personal – This last year has gone by so quickly and yet so slow at the same time.  Due to COVID I had to adapt many things for my family.  Childcare was shut down, and my husband (works for UPS) went to mandatory six day work weeks.  For several months it was just myself and our two boys, ages 1 and 2 at the time.  I had to learn how to create a sense of normalcy for them when everything had changed.  That didn’t stop once summer came, it really has continued through this whole year.  It has been a struggle, however I am proud of how I have grown as a wife and work from home mother during this last year.

Work Related – Working for Lodestar Solutions has been one of the biggest blessings of 2020 for me.  It has allowed me to still contribute to my family, while being able to stay home with my kids and raise them.  While I have missed having childcare, I haven’t missed a moment with my kids and that is a huge win!  I am happy with how I have been able to juggle learning new ways to help out clients and new ways to juggle work and home.

Learning Experience - I have learned a lot about myself this year.  I am a very social, active person and those were all the things that had to stop in 2020 with COVID.  So, I learned to adapt.  One of the biggest things I discovered is if I am happy and whole, I am a better mom, wife and employee.  So, I stuck to my daily exercising as much as possible.  I found accountability in my gym/coaches and neighbors.  We made goals and stuck to them.  I learned that if I really focused, despite all the negative in the world I was happier.

Goals for 2021 -

Family of 4 to Family of 5! – Our family is expecting a little one at the end of May 2021.  We are excited and slightly terrified but so filled with joy for this blessing!  Looking forward to growing and adapting even more as a mom of three. #teamgirl

Love in Action – One of my love languages and strengths is acts of service.  I feel the most alive and closest to God when I am serving others.  Just because the year flips from 2020 to 2021 doesn’t mean the struggles of today won’t be here tomorrow.  My goal is to face those challenges with hope, and to make sure I find ways throughout the year to do what I know fills my cup.  Plans I have are to continue to serve on my church’s mission board and run the youth basketball league for kids in 1st-12th grade.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  We here at Lodestar Solutions hope it will encourage you to leave 2020 with hope for 2021 and be ready to have your best year yet.  Remember, if you need anything in regards to software licensing we are here to help, email us at  To stay up to date on all our blogs click here.  You can also subscribe to our mailing list by clicking here

Thankful Thoughts from the Lodestar Team

Thankful Thoughts
Thankful Thoughts
November 25th, 2020

As the Lodestar team is preparing for our end of year we wanted to share some Thankful Thoughts with all of you.  2020 has been a different year for everyone.  You could describe it as tough, frustrating and exhausting.  But despite the challenges that have been thrown at us this year, we all have much to be thankful for in 2020.

Thankful Thoughts from Heather Cole

Heather Cole

2020 was a year of change. As whole I agree with the rest of the world it was not a good year with COVID, but I like to turn lemons into lemonade and as a result I think 2020 has been one of my best years ever! Yes, crazy right? But not all the effects of the COVID world were negative. And I like to always focus on the positive.

Therefore, I am grateful for:

  • COVID making me realize what is important in life! Friends, family and health!
  • The fact that despite several family members getting COVID everyone is healthy and thriving.
  • COVID giving me the nudge and maybe the courage to get married and doing it on zoom.
  • Having the most amazing husband, who was willing to put his career and gypsy soul on hold to marry an American and apply for a green card.
  • COVID motivating our organization to provide even more value to our clients, especially in struggling industries. See our previous blog on adding value.
  • The amazing Lodestar Solutions team members, partners and clients.  They show up with positive attitudes every day and make the magic happen.
  • Zoom for keeping us all connected. Heck even my almost 80-year-old mother is a zoom expert now, she wasn’t going to miss the wedding.
  • Finally, I am grateful for the best clients in the world! You guys inspire me, challenge me, and make me a better person!

So, how about you? What are you grateful for?

Thankful Thoughts from Mike Bernaiche

Mike Bernaiche and Family

2020 has been an unprecedented year for the world. Icons of different industries have passed. This includes but not limited to - NBA star and his daughter, Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Black Panther Actor, Chadwick Boseman, TV stars Alex Trebek and Regis Philbin, original James Bond, Sean Connery, legendary guitarist, Eddie Van Halen and congressman and civil right icon, John Lewis. 

Along with these losses the United States has lost 250,000+ citizens to the COVID pandemic and the world has lost over a million more and growing daily. People continue to worry about their jobs, the economy and their health and loved ones as the pandemic surges. With all this tragedy, it is important to take a moment and think about what you are thankful for. Here is my list of thankful thoughts. 

I’m first and foremost thankful for my faith that I can lean on through tough times. I’m thankful for my wife and children. My wife and oldest daughter were both sick throughout the year with COVID and they have both recovered well. With preexisting conditions, I was worried for many weeks. Thankful that Lodestar Solutions is a company that is agile and shifted accordingly to changing economic conditions due to the pandemic. (See our recent blog, 5 Tips to Hosting a Virtual User Group).

We have all had to change what and how we are doing things and Lodestar is having one of the best years in its history. I’m thankful for a boss that cares not only about clients but employees and provides us with opportunities to grow and improve. I’m thankful for good friends, a roof over my head and food on my table. Was this year different because we stayed in and didn’t do a whole lot outside of the home, yes. Was it stressful at times, yes. Do I realize that I’m fortunate that my family and I have weathered this storm pretty well, YES.

My wish and prayer for all during this holiday season is to sit back and be thankful for what you have, be considerate and helpful to those who may be going through more difficult times and that we come together as a people to beat this pandemic.  Let’s get back to the gatherings, the fun, the sporting events, and concerts, back to work and back to as much normal as possible.

Thank you for your support of Lodestar over the years. All of us at Lodestar are incredibly thankful for you.

Thankful Thoughts from Christina Vandeveer

Christina Vandeveer and Family

2020 has been a whirlwind of a year for my family and me.  This was my first year not working outside of the home and being a, “work from home mom.”  I embraced this new role as I was able to spend more time with our two boys, ages 3 and 2 and work.  I had childcare two days a week so I could still “adult” and then have intentional time with the kids.  And then… COVID. 

For many this forced families to work out of their homes.  Husbands and wives split time caring for their kids and working.  I watched as my neighbors all took lunch breaks together from work or virtual school and enjoyed time together as families.  That wasn’t the case for our family.  You see, my husband Richard delivers for UPS and when everyone was forced to stay in, he was forced to stay out.  The Christmas “peak” season ended and a short while later it’s like it began again.  Online ordering skyrocketed and he was pushed to mandatory six-day weeks again.  His mom moved in with us for the first two months of quarantine to help give her some companionship, and me! 

The craziness of Richard’s work never really slowed down, and now we are back into the holiday, “peak” season once again.  It would be easy to sit here and complain about being stuck at home with two toddlers and another baby on the way, #teamgirl!  Or stress about time away from my husband.  But that is not what I am going to choose to do, I am going to choose to be thankful!  Here are some of my thankful thoughts:

  • The love and grace of my Heavenly Father.
  • My family, that they live close by and we work as a team to weather the storm of life together.  They are my best friends!
  • My gym, TRVFIT Fitness in Pinckney, Michigan.  They have come up with creative ways to keep us engaged and still reaching our health and fitness goals even when we can’t meet.  I lost 20 lbs. during quarantine and competed in my first ever exercise competition.
  • My husband and his work ethic and love for our family.  We are a team, and I couldn’t choose a better one!
  • UPS, for going out when others need to stay in.  For providing a wonderful job for my husband.
  • COVID forcing many of us to slow down.  I was able to truly connect with my neighbors this year and form new friendships because I wasn’t distracted with the busyness of life.
  • My job at Lodestar Solutions and the opportunity it provides me to still learn and expand my knowledge outside of my at home, “toddler world.”
  • Co-workers and a boss who value giving back to others!  See our previous blog, Lodestar Gives Back.
  • Our clients.  Often you are the only adult interaction I may have in a day and I appreciate our conversations.

Long story short, 2020 was tough.  But I have so much to be thankful for.  My encouragement to you is, don’t rush off into 2021 without taking a moment to focus on all the good that did come out of this past year.  If you look, you will find it!

Let’s finish 2020 strong together.  Lodestar is here for all your IBM Licensing needs. Contact us at