Getting To Know…@mikeschmitt

This week’s “Getting to Know” features Mike Schmitt.  I first met Mike through Twitter and have come to appreciate his selfless and humble attitude.  If there was ever someone to model what Jesus Christ might be like today, it’s him.  What he does with CommuniD BBQ is amazing.  I asked Mike to share what CommuniD BBQ are meant for:

CommuniD BBQs happen every Saturday in Detroit and once a month in Flint and Mt. Clemens. They are put together by an organic network of churches, community groups and individuals from across Southeast Michigan called elevate Detroit. At CommuniD BBQs anyone is welcome to come as we share an afternoon and a meal together. It is not an opportunity to volunteer or to go “love on people”. It is a chance to share love with others and allow them to share love with you. It is an opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together, get to know each other and be people together.  We are all beautiful images of a creator God.

The video below (originally shared on Dan Sadlier’s blog) show’s Mike in action.

Mike was also kind enough to answer my questions and I am so glad he did!

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
From my past: Mom. As she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, her husband and my dad of 25 years left her and our family. As literally our world and lives fell apart, she never questioned God’s goodness and never lost her joy. Her faith, trust and love for Him was inspiring to myself as well as everyone who knew her. As a testimony to her faithfulness, there were hundreds of people at her funeral and the procession went on for over a mile and a half.

Currently: Tony Stallwarth. There is a video called Homeless Karaoke ( The way Tony talks about people in that video has strongly shaped the way CommuniD BBQs have been formed since almost day one.  I have had the chance to meet and talk with him a couple times now. His vision of the Kingdom and love of people is inspiring and transforming.

Guilty dessert pleasure?
Crème brûlée. But there is no guilt in anything that good. It simply must be heavenly.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone?
Don’t spit into the wind. And if you want to change the world, you won’t.  But what you can do is change the world for one person at a time.  Together, if we all do what we can, the world will be a very different place.

If you want to keep up with what Mike is doing, you can follow him on Twitter at @mikeschmitt.  Check out his blog, Shoes For The Hopeless, and if you want to follow what is going on with CommuniD BBQ, check out the Elevate blog and “like” the Elevate Facebook page!

I’d like to leave you with these verses from 1 John 3: 16-18:

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.  So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?  Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

Now that you’ve read that, think about Mike.  He lives out God’s love every day.  Get to know Mike.


Getting To Know…Nikki Stephan

Today’s Getting To Know carries with it special meaning.  Today I’d like all of you to get to know Nikki Stephan but after Saturday, it will be Nikki Little as she walks down the aisle with her soon to be husband, Mike!  I met Nikki a couple of years ago when I started really engaging on Twitter.  After a few tweet exchanges, we met in person at one of the many social media events here in Detroit.  Since then, it’s been great getting to know her more as she has changed jobs and now is about to embark on a new journey as a wife.  Check out Nikki’s blog, Essential Elements and follow her on Twitter.  If you’re really interested to see how the wedding is going tomorrow, follow the #littlewedding and #kikisreception hashtags on Twitter to join in the fun!

For now, get to know Nikki!  Happy Friday everyone!

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
 I can’t choose between my dad and Mike (soon-to-be hubster), so I choose them both! My dad is influential because he’s been there for me through everything. We’ve dealt with some tough times throughout the past 5 years, and he did everything he could to keep me strong. I admire him very much. I would not be the person I am today without his love and support. Mike is influential because he understands me better than anyone ever has or ever will. He is everything that I am not, and he makes me a better person simply by being my other half.

Guilty dessert pleasure?
Hmm, it’s hard to choose one dessert, but I would have to say cheesecake. Or, the butterscotch pudding dessert at the Woodshop in Clarkston. It’s amazing!

What is one piece of advice you’d give someone?
Think of every mistake as a learning opportunity. You grow and become a stronger person with each mistake. Find a way to learn from every failure.

Favorite childhood memory?
Playing cards and eating waffles with my grandma when I was little. She used to watch me in the summer when school was out, and she would always give me waffles for breakfast and play card games with me all day long. I’m pretty sure she let me beat her most of the time!

Getting to know…Bryan Fenster

Bryan and Cara Fenster

I can’t remember when I first met Bryan Fenster but I know that it was on Twitter!  Obviously the Detroit connection helped and as we continued talk it was great to hear about his passion for Detroit and his desire to come back home from Chicago.  Well guess who is moving back to Royal Oak, MI at the end of the month?  Yup!  Bryan and his wife, Cara, will be back in the D!  Make sure to give them a warm welcome and maybe help unpack a box!  You can find Bryan on Twitter at @bryanfenster.  You can also check him out at Detroit Nation and his blog.

Here is getting to know…Bryan Fenster!

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
Without a doubt, my Bubby (my Dad’s Mom), who happens to be my lasting grandparent.  Her name is Lily Fenster.  She personifies the passion, loyalty, and essence of family I strive to hold and pass on.  However, this came at the ultimate price for her.

She came from a town outside of Warsaw, Poland, born in 1926 (or so we think).  She escaped the ghetto she was held in with her parents and five sisters, and sought refuge on a farm.  She lived and worked with a family who took her in under secrecy.  She ended up losing her whole family, who perished during the holocaust.  Thankfully, she was able to survive and met my Grandpa (who was the only survivor from his family) after Poland was liberated.

Given the atrocities she’s weathered and coming to this country with literally nothing, supporting my Grandpa with the family business he started and raising three children in Detroit and ultimately, Oak Park, it’s a miracle to me.  She is the strongest, most courageous and resilient person I know.  Not only all of this, but she is still able to smile, laugh, love, and dance!  Yes, dance!  She listens to music from her day and dances in her condo, which I think is fantastic.  She still has vigor and wants to live to the fullest.  I am quite awestruck by her.  I could write a novel, really.  Ha.  I love her dearly, and her life lessons have definitely shaped me.  Without a doubt, she is the most influential person in my life.

Guilty dessert pleasure?
This is a great question.  The mood needed to be lightened!  Wow.  So much great desserts out there.  I’d have to say an M&M Flurry from Dairy Deluxe (best ice-cream in Michigan…hands DOWN) or a good ol’ fashioned bumpy cake.  Sorry, that seems kind of boring.

What is one piece of advice you’d give someone?
Stay true to your roots, be active in your community, listening is sometimes more important than anything else, and be your authentic self.  There you go…FOUR pieces of advice 😉

Favorite childhood memory?
This could be very lengthy!  I was blessed with an incredible childhood, a very privileged one.  Summer’s growing up in Huntington Woods were pure magic.  I have a few favorites: The ice cream social at Burton Elementary (Go Blue Jays!) was a highlight for us kids.  Concerts in the park before 4th of July fireworks was THE social event of the year for every 4th and 5th grader.  Rolling blading up to Val Jones park for pick-up roller hockey was a favorite, and block parties on York Street between Hendrie and Harrison.  Were.  EPIC.

Getting To Know…Ryan Knapp

Last week I started a weekly post called “Getting To Know…”  As I mentioned then, I really wanted you to get to know some of the influential people in my social circles.  I also wanted the people I feature to go a little deeper and get to know them a little more personally.  Many of these folks are successful business men and women but I know that isn’t what defines them…so why not ask them questions non business related and see how they have been influenced!

This week, I’d like for all of you to get to know Ryan Knapp.  I first connected with Ryan when he was featured on Gini Dietrich‘s Spin Sucks.  When I saw that he was a soccer fan, I knew I had to get to know him!  You can find out more about Ryan and his passions by going to  I will admit that it’s a little hard to really get to know someone by answering only four questions but that’s the beauty of the comments!  If there is more you’d like to know about Ryan, feel free to comment!

Ryan Knapp

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
My wife.  She is always pushing me to be the best I can and she challenges me like no other person in the world.  While she may not be too happy when I’m taking on loads of new projects and responsibilities, she constantly remains by my side and often gets the short end of the stick for it.

Guilty dessert pleasure?
Ice Cream.  I eat a small bowl every night while watching Daily Show/Rachel Maddow.  We always have a stockpile of various kinds in the freezer.  I’m a huge sweet tooth.

What is one piece of advice you’d give someone?
Find what works for you.  I’m completely guilty of not doing this.  In the world where you can google every question or find the answer to just about anything, we tend to do what others have done before us and not find what works best for ourselves.  When we cannot trust ourselves to make good decisions or to find the best way to solve a problem, we cease to be who we really are, and that is a true shame.

Favorite childhood memory?
This may not be a favorite, but it is something that will stick with me forever.  My father passed away when I was 14 years old from brain cancer and kidney failure.  He was a mechanic and worked in a warehouse all his life, something that most people nowadays wouldn’t be caught dead doing.  The thing that struck me when he passed away was the amount of people he had touched throughout his life.  The line for his calling hours stretched one block outside of the funeral home and the funeral itself had to be moved to a larger church because the medium size church was standing room only.

Seeing the outpouring of support taught me you can have a huge impact on others no matter what your job is or how much money you have.  We think of influence as something which is only reserved for those who have power, but the ability to be kind and help others in our daily lives has a much greater impact.