Summer 2018 @ Invictus Kitchen - Data Models, Experimentation, and Exploration

IMG_2107.JPG

We have a new, improved set up for the Summer Cycle in our Invictus Kitchen. Here’s some of the main elevations you’ll be seeing in the coming 8 weeks:

  • Both sessions have been combined to create one, larger team of approximately 10 bakers on any given Saturday;
  • New teams will consistently pair instructors and bakers from week-to-week – these pairings are to propel skill development, but also facilitate social interaction and the all-important teamwork that is imperative in our kitchen;
  • New, improved and synthesized data metrics will continue to systematically track skill acquisition, yet elevate the breadth and deepen the detail of the data where we need it most; and
  • New layout of our physical workstations and use of the full Invictus Kitchen to maximize team efficiency and efficacy.

These improvements will elevate the kitchen to a whole other level! We have been thoroughly impressed with how well our bakers are doing and how quickly they are learning. It is an exciting prospect to think of how the new elements will propel things even further. As always, we welcome all of our Invictus Family (aka. You, the parents) into the kitchen to check out the new set-up and give us any thoughts, tips or feedback you might have. 

I thought a quick snapshot of what we’ve doing behind the scenes and how we have developed new specific goals for "Student X" would be helpful as we move forward into the new cycle. In true Invictus spirit we are ever-increasing the challenges on our bakers and building their skills towards real-world jobs. Over the past months we have been impressed with their progress in the kitchen thus far and working hard on answering the all-important question:

“What’s next?”

ae7X0cM4TnyuqFzvXpK5Yg.jpg

 

To hone in on the answer, our instructors pow-wowed and brainstormed. We did a ton of research, and picked the brains of savvy and successful culinary professionals. We asked them a myriad of questions to illuminate what they look for and expect to see in their best team members and employees. From this wealth of knowledge from the mouths of industry experts, we built a profile of the ideal baker/culinary employee and here’s what is exceedingly important: 

  • Teamwork – Functioning positively, effectively and efficiently in a team is paramount;
  • Multi-Tasking – working on multiple objectives in the kitchen at any one time is key to being able to accomplish everything needing to be done on any given day;
  • Accuracy – the quality of the work (and the work-product) is one of the most important indicators for success;
  • Reliability and Dependability – unlike in the office-based workplace, in the culinary world there is no “we’ll get it done tomorrow”, there is only TODAY. Whatever orders are placed need to be filled quickly no matter what, so if one baker does not show up for their shift, the whole team pays the price;
  • Problem-Solving & Good Judgement - Being able to recognize if and when a problem arises, and the ability to think through how to solve it is key. A good baker should fundamentally know the purpose behind the methods and how to adapt those methods when changes need to be made;
  • Communication – Verbal communication is not a necessity. There are many ways to communicate so that a baker can advocate for help when needed (i.e. physical communication or use of technology); and
  • Respect of the work environment – Cleanliness and organization are vital: clean up after each task and replace all equipment in its designated spot.

As you read those important profile components, it is reassuring to know we’ve been working diligently towards all of them. For the coming Cycle, I want to outline 3 main goals for Student X that will enable success in the culinary world:

Student X's Goals:

  1. Accuracy in measuring – introduction and mastery of using a digital weight scale;
  2. Working effectively and positively with teammate(s) and main instructor towards a common goal – Student X has been working incredibly well in his solo workflow, now we will fold in more team components throughout the process to build on his team skills; and
  3. Pacing and Consistency in work product – Student X is mastering the process nicely, but still requires instructor support to keep his pace and thus his product output consistent and improving over time. We will target his independence in navigating through each step in a more timely manner while enabling him to keep his high-quality work product. 

Alison Berkley - Invictus Co-Founder

Microsoft's 'Wish Machine Contest' Keeps on Giving to Invictus Enterprises: May 2018

During the 2017 Holiday Season, Microsoft's Wish Machine Contest was open to anyone with a "heart for others and a philanthropic spirit":

The Holiday season is often hailed as the season of giving. And giving doesn’t begin with possessing something to give; it begins with compassion, a love for others and a desire to give.
— Microsoft's Wish Machine Contest

Microsoft used four criteria to judge each entry:

  • Heartwarming — the wish much be inspiring, human and powerful because of the nature, intent and meaning behind the wish. (40 percent)
  • Philanthropic — The wish is inherently generous and considers that the greater good of others over oneself. (20 percent)
  • The wish aligns with Sponsor's mission to help people realize their full potential and achieve more. (20 percent)
  • Sponsor can determine a prize that can be reasonably provided within 2-3 months of the Contest end that fulfills the wish submitted. (20 percent)

Invictus Enterprises was fortunate to win the following during the Wish Machine Contest:

OUR WISH CAME TRUE: INVICTUS WINS MICROSOFT’S WISH MACHINE(S)

Microsoft is also doing pioneering work with SAP, JP Morgan Chase, EY, Ford Motor Company, and DXC technologies in hiring Autistic adults into their business units. This group has launched the Autism Employer Roundtable, which is a coalition focused on helping other companies advance their hiring approach for people with Autism. These are all VERY powerful steps for our workforce at Invictus Enterprises !! Technology in the kitchen, and now the potential for technology hiring. 

Microsoft wanted to come into the Invictus kitchen last weekend to see their technology in action in the Invictus kitchen, and we were very surprised when they:

  • Brought in such a large film crew for a feature film they are shooting, and
  • Microsoft donated 6 additional Surface Pros !!
  The Microsoft and Invictus Team with the new Surface Pros

The Microsoft and Invictus Team with the new Surface Pros

  More Surface Pros !!

More Surface Pros !!

Each Surface Pro “Kit” includes:

  • One Surface Pro, Type Cover, Carry Case, Bluetooth Air Mouse, Stylus Pen, and charger - all contained within a snazzy tech-friendly backpack. 

Thank you Microsoft, and now the tables turn back to Invictus Enterprises. How can Invictus empower our workforce inside and outside the kitchen? 

As our new program in partnership with the New York City Department of Education kicks off this summer, Microsoft’s gift to us was sublimely timed. We will be providing in-depth training in our production, packaging and shipping, and sales processes to District 75 transitions classes for students aged 18-21 years. All too often, the students and populations who would benefit the most from technology and the adaptive tools employed within, lack access to it. Now, we are equipped with the latest and greatest technology to share with our friends and soon-to-be trainees at the DOE – opening access to an entirely new group of students ready to learn all the skills they need to go to work! 

Technology is the bridge between our trainees and leading lives full of productivity by creating jobs for autistic adults. Artful adaptations are at the heart of Invictus – the use of specialized software and Microsoft Surface laptops emboldens our trainees and team members as they access, learn and master the production process. This generous gift of six Surface Pro kits (in addition to their original game-changing gift over the holidays) means that we can help more people to engage in work from which they would otherwise be cut off. It is the catalyst for opportunity -  where capable young adults can show the world what they can do. With this gift we can continue to empower the greatest workforce in the world. The campaign name is not lost on us: The #EmpoweringPossibility campaign and Microsoft Team came to our Invictus Kitchen and did just that, Empowered Possibility.  For this, we can not say thank you enough. Yet, we can and will continue on our mission to show the world what productive citizenry for all looks like. 

Stay tuned to the Invictus BeU blog and our social media feeds for updates on how our partnership with Microsoft continues to improve lives and put talented people to WORK! 

Now Hiring Instructors @ Invictus Enterprises

Invictus Enterprises is looking for Part-Time Instructors for our Introduction to Culinary- Work Readiness ClinicsWe have 4 remaining Saturday sessions to be held from May 5th, 2018 through June 9th, 2018. There is NO session on May 26th, 2018 - which is Memorial Day Weekend.

We are looking for Instructors for:

  • 10-1 pm Session,
  • 2-5 pm Session, OR
  • FULL-DAY (both morning and afternoon sessions). 

Invictus Enterprises is a 501c3 - providing job training and employment for people on the autism spectrum. Introduction to Culinary offers students with little to no experience in the kitchen, an overview of the basics of culinary in an environment that emphasizes learning new skills while also helping to create a product for one of our Invictus' micro-enterprises: grain free sweet potato dog biscuits. Using a one-to-one teaching method, along with modifications and physical guide templates, the students are eased through the basics of following a recipe, measuring, heating, safety and sanitation. Students build stamina, learn and practice basic culinary skills and develop the ability to work together to create a tangible product that supports job training for students on the autism spectrum. Each three hour session, is an artful blend of adaptive instruction, learning and social gathering.

Our program is expanding and we are looking for instructors who can join us. Our state-of-the-art culinary work-space is across from Grand Central Station. We are looking for lively, upbeat, positive people. Instructors don't necessarily need baking or culinary skills - but an interest in being in the kitchen helps. Experience and a passion working with people with developmental differences is a must. For more information, please reach out to molly@invictusenterprises.org

"Around Town" - Invictus and "No Bones About It" featured at Carousel 51

In a new series "Around Town" at Invictus, we will feature our PR, local news, and collaborations that Invictus Enterprises is working on.

Carousel 51 is the corporate website of Mike Sweeney who is the father of one of our workers, Dustin Sweeney. Mike's Blog focuses on "#SharedProsperity Blog: Jobs, Self-Direction & Housing for the Developmentally Disabled in NY State". In a recent post, the business model and vision of Invictus Enterprises was explained:


  Dylan, Mike, Dustin, Katie Sweeney, and Elena Nogara @ Invictus' Grand Central Kitchen

Dylan, Mike, Dustin, Katie Sweeney, and Elena Nogara @ Invictus' Grand Central Kitchen

April 2018 is "Autism Abilities Month" @ Invictus Enterprises

It’s not where you end up that matters, it’s how far you go!
— Susan "Momma" Myers
  Alison & Susan Myers

Alison & Susan Myers


An achievement is an achievement. For some of us, eating in a restaurant and talking in full sentences comes naturally. For others, these task are major accomplishments. This month, we want to acknowledge the awesome achievements of our Bakers.

April 1st is the first day of National Autism Awareness Month. Our goal at Invictus Enterprises is to move beyond awareness and to celebrate "Autism Abilities Month". Our Bakers have been working very hard at our "Work Readiness Clinics"

  Noa - The Artist

Noa - The Artist

  Sauren - Baker & Tech Guru

Sauren - Baker & Tech Guru

And our Sales Team has been "pounding the pavement" of Manhattan. 

  Oscar - Sales Manager

Oscar - Sales Manager

This month, help us to shine a light on accomplishments - big and small. Send us your pics and clips to celebrate your greatest accomplishments. Please send you clips and photos to alison@invictusenterprises.com

Here is our Baker Dustin Sweeney surfing and hiking on his down time from the kitchen. 

Staff Favorite Film: "Meet Oscar" - Invictus' Door to Door Salesman

"Meet Oscar" is my personal favorite film, as the film shows the breakthrough of taking our staff out of the kitchen and into the "Real World" to sell our "No Bones About It" dog biscuits door to door in Manhattan. This is really profound in the modern world of Amazon on-line ordering for everything. Oscar breaks all the modern rules, goes "old school", and is a charming salesman in the film. 

Invictus Enterprises does not work without the support of our growing community, and our friends have given us nothing but positive feedback about our videos which are all produced by Elaine Kavanagh of Sweet Beast Productions. We want to show our Bakers and Salespeople from all angles of the Autism Spectrum, and Elaine captures that magic in all of her films. Elaine has a love for telling stories that illuminate the ignored and overlooked, and her films show that nothing is insignificant. It also helps that Elaine is a Dog Lover!!

All of Elaine's videos for Invictus can be found on our Invictus Video Page, and Elaine's site is Sweet Beast Productions

 

 

 

 

Invictus Works - Artisanal Bakers and Parents Unite

Here's our newest video from Sweet Beast Productions - Hear what our Invictus Family has to say about our team and how much they love their jobs. We all have dreams for our children. We all aspire to love our jobs and wake up in the morning excited to go to WORK. Invictus empowers an as-of-yet untapped work force. Our team is seizing the day - showing what they can do and proving that having a purpose in life creates happiness. From our family to yours, here's to gettin' to work and being unconquerable! 

**SHAMELESS PLUG - Buy our biscuits at the Invictus Shop and keep our guys and gals up to their elbows in WORK!!! 

Saturday March 17, 2018 @ 1PM - Cycle of Work Readiness Clinic Celebration

  Team Invictus

Team Invictus

Team Invictus:

We are nearing the end of another successful Cycle of Work Readiness Clinics. Saturday March 17, 2018 will be our final session for Cycle 2, and we would love you to celebrate that milestone. There is much to celebrate: 

  • New skills,
  • Increased productivity, and
  • THE TEAM. 
Invictus Enterprises-logo-black.png

We are inviting our morning session to stay a little late and our afternoon session trainees to come a little early for a pizza/karaoke celebration from 1-2pm and all family and friends of the clinic are welcome! We will be bringing some pizza (obviously) and beverages for all to enjoy.  Any and all special treats you might be inspired to bring and share are also welcome additions. Please let me know if there are any dietary restrictions/preferences/allergies so we can be sensitive in our offerings and be sure all can have a special treat and great time! 

The FedCap Kitchen is located at 210 East 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

Also, we are thrilled to announce the dates for Cycle 3. We will return to the Food Arts Center at the FedCap Kitchen, starting up again April 14, 2018- for 8 sessions (through June 9th). We will send out more details next week- including our plans to evolve our program, build on skills and fortify our biscuit business! 

Much love and gratitude to all. 

xoxo

Molly and Alison

alison@invictusenterprises.com