Hoan is a limited liability corporation (LLC) with one owner and manager: me, Ian Michael Abston. Yes, my middle name is Michael. Hoan’s sole business purpose is to provide value to its members and help them elevate their games by organizing unique experiences and connections. Hoan contracts out ops management, logistics, member needs, event planning, design and spell-checking me (itself a full-time job) - currently this is managed by Ann Woelfel. Hoan collects membership fees from its 159 members. Hoan provides different rate structures to some members in the nonprofit world to foster a more diverse and influential group.
60% of our income is dedicated to programming. 27% accounts for staff (Ian & Ann). 3% goes to onboarding. Office rent and marketing each take 5%.
Hoan - I spend a lot of time creating programming and finding speakers, but my favorite part of the job is building relationships with members and connecting them with other members or community leaders. Here’s a breakdown of my time:
Hoan Group - 40%
Corporate Seminars / Public Speaking / Consulting through Millennian LLC - 50%
Lighting up a bridge - 10% (feels like much more )
Ann pretty much runs the rest of the show. She has been an incredible addition to the team and has done everything from event production and strategic operations oversight to newsletter creation and web dev.
In designing HOAN, it was my intention that if this was going to be the driving force of our cities, then it had to reflect them. As a leadership team, we are determined to identify key leaders in MKE from all backgrounds, and we continue our efforts to increase the current diversity we do have. And it's more than gender. To us Diversity means difference, and the more diverse we are, the stronger we are. It's the differences you see and those you can't see. So when we convene to connect, we aim to learn about each other's differences, seen and unseen, and learn from each other in ways that will make us stronger leaders. That will continue to be our focus.
Hoan is composed of 62 women and 96 men, with representation from several communities, nationalities, businesses and nonprofits.
The iconic Hoan bridge in Milwaukee which signifies we’re “bridging” different communities, sectors and generations of leaders in order to accelerate trust and change. Also, it’s not “HOAN” or “H.O.A.N” despite what you’ve seen from me and may still exist in materials out there. Sorry for the confusion. #Spelling.
This effort has no fiduciary relationship with the Hoan group, however several members have been involved as volunteers, funders or ambassadors within their companies. Four years ago when I was bringing the Milwaukee group together, Michael Hostad and I approached the grandson of former mayor Daniel Hoan—the namesake of the bridge—to ask his permission to name the group “Hoan.” He said yes. He also implored us to look into an abandoned civic project: lighting the Hoan bridge. We did, and were inspired to take action along with several other Hoan members who have been personally and professionally supporting the project, including my main partner Michael Hostad, Lori Richards, and Greg Marshall. I’m proud to say we’ll have the city-facing side lit up like a Christmas Tree in time for the DNC and yes...we’re going to throw a celebration and Madison is invited too.
I don’t know for certain yet. The size feels pretty good right now for the Milwaukee group and the goal is to grow Madison to 70 members by the end of 2021. The tighter the group is the deeper the relationships can grow rapidly. We plan for a 10% attrition rate which gives us an opportunity to introduce a small number of new members annually.
We've recently launched Forward48, a Hoan Jr. concept, in partnership with another organization to address a leadership gap in the 20 / early 30 year range and create a future flow of potential high performing members. I think succession planning in our community is often overlooked, so we have an opportunity to help elevate and mentor future leaders
New members are selected and on-boarded quarterly. In Milwaukee, I personally meet with them and connect them for an interview with at least one of the MKE leadership committee to see if they add a new spice to our soup, and how urgently we need that spice in our mix. In Madison, I rely on the leadership group there—namely Rachel Neill, Angela Russell, Craig Bartlett, Scott Resnick, Katie Boyce, Jeannie Cullen, Leslie Orrantia and Jason Ilstrup—to do the same. We prioritize diversity, ( mandated 50% diversity ) chemistry and insist that all of our members are positive, passionate, professionally accomplished and civically engaged.
Each new member fills out a survey, signs a confidentiality agreement, and gets a calendar of upcoming events. Next they are introduced to 3 current members based on their survey results and meet individually for lunch or drinks. Members are given a book, member contact info, history of events, and now they will be given access to our online portal.
Love it. Send me an email describing your nominee and why they would be in a good fit for Hoan. I’ll set up a time for us to talk via phone then nominees will be run past the leadership team of each city for further consideration. This group is built on everyone’s trusted network and great people surround themselves with people who push them. We would love to meet them. We look for diversity at every level, positivity, passion, leadership in their field and a strong commitment to community.
We have a waiting list. However, that doesn’t mean someone special won’t come along who we need in the group ASAP.
Not at this point. The LLC model provides the best level of flexibility for the management and growth of Hoan, but I remain open to all business models as we continue to evolve as an organization. Hoan's cause is connecting you all through unique, monthly events so that you get together and do great things that improve our communities.
It does: connecting you all through unique, monthly events so that you get together and do great things that improve our communities.
We identify, curate and connect leaders through exclusive, dynamic shared experiences that quickly create bonds of trust, create space for vulnerability and cultivate leadership.
We’ve thought about this...a lot. We’ve never come close to agreeing on a single mission. Rather than forcing a vote, I’m working on ways to empower more member-driven causes and ventures so Hoan will continue to act as a hub and springboard for addressing the small, or the hairiest challenges in our communities. I welcome the opportunity to meet with members who want to talk about how to leverage Hoan to help them address issues that are meaningful to them. I believe MKE and MSN already have several organizations focused solely on solving our biggest challenges, including segregation, homelessness and education. I hope our members continue to lead, energize and grow these organizations by using Hoan as a platform to build upon to make an impact in their community. I want to understand how I help members do that.
Our missions and memberships overlap, but we serve different core roles in our communities and different purposes for our members. After we have a public brand, look for increasing collaboration between Hoan and these kinds of organizations. We got our trademark “Change at the speed of Trust” from Julia Taylor, President of the GMC. Also, several Madison members are active Rotarians so we look up to these organizations a great deal.
I chose a small diverse group in Milwaukee to advise Hoan during quarterly meetings, and brainstorm ideas: Erickajoy Daniels, Nick Fallucca, Lori Richards, Matt Sabljak, DJ Hines, Jason Schultz, Tracy Johnson and Michael Hostad.
Madison’s founders are—Craig Bartlett, Jason Ilstrup, Jeannie Cullen, Scott Resnick, Angela Russel, Leslie Orrantia, Katie Boyce, and Rachel Neill. In the absence of a robust full-time staff, these groups help create our programming, connect with leaders, and onboard new members. These members serve on rotating two year terms on the committees.
In August of 2019, I leased (through an LLC) Jabari Parker’s then-vacant residence at 1727 N. Palmer. It was a unique opportunity due to the potential for revenue during DNC / Ryder Cup. With Covid-19 now top of mind we'll see what these events look like in the next year. Palmer is separate from Hoan so this won't affect programming. If you got to spend any time at Palmer over the last few months either shooting hoops or having a coffee or a frosty Miller Lite, I sincerely hope you enjoyed yourself!
This has been on our minds for over a year. We are limited to connectivity based on monthly events and we’d love to someday have a place to call our own to encourage interaction between members and their families and to host intimate gatherings. We’re inspired by places like the SoHo house and others that have created a “modern” vibe to a private club. We have been in conversations with many members for input as I’m not a real estate expert, as well as Hoan member Tony Janowiec from the Milwaukee Athletic Club.
Diversity- there are many communities underrepresented or not represented at all. Ensuring diversity across all aspects of what we do at Hoan is important. Bringing Milwaukee and Madison together regularly.
Increasing programming without compromising the experience. Coming up with fresh, engaging ideas that are value-adds for members.
Communicating about our group to the outside world—including business leaders and media—without compromising our confidentiality.
Taking all members' feedback into consideration, but only 1.5 people to pull it all together.
It’s true: we have plans to give the group a public facing website and some media coverage in order to get more community leaders engaged and increase our influence. However, our strict confidentiality policy is still in effect protecting all of our conversations and events; what happens in Hoan still stays in Hoan. Nor will members’ names be shared without individual consent. Also, nobody will speak on behalf of Hoan members’ as if to suggest the group has a consensus viewpoint on an issue.
A lot, I couldn't be happier. More than 160 of the most authentic, accomplished, intelligent and curious Milwaukeeans and Madisonians continue to enthusiastically volunteer their precious time and energy every month to get together and make magic happen, including new business deals, friendships, nonprofit connections, playdates, real estate transactions, therapies, dinner parties, cocktails, memories—even trips abroad that never would’ve happened. I’m amazed as MSN and MKE are small cities but people find people are able to find deeper connections through Hoan—”How did you two not know each other?”And now there are spinoff events happening... perhaps you’ve heard the rumors of Amanda Baltz’s Baywatch themed pool party? Pro tip: you can rent one of her cul de sac neighbor’s houses for cheap that weekend.
As I write this on April 8, CNN’s headline reads “America shuts down over virus fears.” The stock market had its worst day since the 1987 crash. It’s a humbling reminder that nothing’s for certain; life and business are unpredictable.
Related: I never expected Hoan to grow this quickly into two cities; I’ve been operating without a playbook since day one, but now I answer to more than 160 members—which means 160 different priorities and perspectives. Fortunately, this has been more exciting than terrifying because you are all generous, kind and forgiving. I will continue to endorse a lab mentality and experiment with new ideas. For example…What if we had a permanent clubhouse? What if members could form clubs around causes or interests? What if we had more health & wellness resources like Ami? Mostly, I’m thankful to be on this ride with you all. To infinity and beyond!