The Social Lights Co-Founder & CEO Martha McCarthy reads Fast Company cover-to-cover.
Have you seen the annual list of the “Most Creative People in Business” or learned something interesting from a “30 Second MBA” video? Those are two notable features from Fast Company, introduced under the direction of its editor, Robert Safian. Please join us as we welcome Safian to the Opus College of Business as our 2013 Opus Distinguished Speaker, Thursday, November 14.
Fast Company has garnered a reputation for highlighting the “new” in business while honoring the “tried and true.” By presenting stories of the people behind innovative business thinking, the magazine gives hope to millions of workers, entrepreneurs and leaders that meaningful change is possible. Entrepreneurs in the Schulze School Lab often turn to the magazine for ideas, inspiration and guidance. We asked them and the entrepreneurship faculty to share some of their favorite Fast Company articles.
Since its creation in 2005 following a generous gift from Dick Schulze, the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship has sought not only to educate its students and program participants but also to engage them in such a way that they leave with both the tools to succeed and the tools to make a difference in the world. With many successful entrepreneurship alumni, such as Mason Thelen (serial entrepreneur and owner of Elicit Insights) and Ben Anderson (owner of Cinemotion), it is apparent that this practical and forward-thinking approach to business education has had a profoundly positive outcome for its students. With that in mind, it is easy to see why the Fowler Business Concept Challenge through the Morrison Center for Entrepreneurship has found such success among UST students.
Happy Love Your Melon Day! St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan has declared Tuesday, Oct. 22, Love Your Melon Day at the University of St. Thomas, joining Mayor R.T. Rybak and Mayor Chris Coleman who made similar declarations on behalf of the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
In celebration of its first anniversary, a team of UST undergrads is spreading the word about its class assignment, turned social venture, Love Your Melon. For each hat this student-run company sells, another is donated to a child battling cancer. In less than one year, more than 2,000 hats have been purchased, with an equal number going to young cancer patients.
Watch Zach Quinn, the co-founder of the non-profit on KARE 11 Sunrise »
Anyone can opt to be an entrepreneur, but the real question is who will be successful. At BeamPines we assessed many executives who, even when they were at the general manager level or higher, dreamed of leaving and running their own business. However, when given the opportunity, 90% of these executives opted instead to return to corporate life. Why? Since many of these executives had spouses, mortgages and children ready to enter or already in college, they worried about risk. So given an offer to take a high level job back in corporate with a good compensation package vs. the uncertainty of finding the right entrepreneurial opportunity, they usually chose the former.
The most famous entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg are unique. Brilliant, impatient and impervious to risk, they can’t even wait to graduate college before getting started. One of our clients, Bob Stiller of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, failed out of Syracuse twice before starting Easy Wider which became a big hit with people wanting to roll their own cigarettes. Once he sold this business, he took his profits and moved to Vermont where in 1981 he opened up a small cafe in Waitsfield, roasting and serving coffee. It was so good, demand for the coffee grew and local restaurants and inns asked to be supplied and Green Mountain Coffee came about. Doing very well, in 2006 he came up with the brilliant but risky idea to purchase Keurig, a manufacturer of single cup pods of coffee (the K cup). This gave GMCR a niche which enabled brought the company to new levels of success. The company’s stock is up 200% this year.
However, most executives don’t have the one “great idea.” To become successful entrepreneurs they need to either buy or start a business. They also need luck and the right timing. Here are three paths you might consider.
Would you bike to work if you could travel at highway speeds without breaking a sweat? Rich Kronfeld of Golden Valley would, and to do so he created a tricycle “sheathed in a carbon-fiber pod and powered by a battery and electric motor that promise speeds of 80-90 miles per hour, though Kronfeld says he’s only taken it up to 45 mph.” The pedals turn a generator, rather than the wheels, enabling the faster speeds.
The start-up was profiled in the Star Tribune last week and Mike Porter, a marketing professor who researches entrepreneurship here at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business commented on the company’s prospects for getting additional investors and producing the bike-car-combo.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of National Small Business Week. Although things have certainly changed since President Kennedy signed the first Presidential Proclamation in 1963, one thing that hasn’t changed is America’s entrepreneurial spirit and the important role that small business owners play in our economy and our communities.
Read more on the Small Business Administration blog »
A year before they graduated from the University of St. Thomas, Emily Pritchard ’11 and Martha McCarthy ’11 were guaranteed millionaires – in the eyes of a fellow entrepreneur, at least. As the only undergraduates, and the only women, to make it to the finals of the Fowler Business Concept Challenge in 2009, Pritchard and McCarthy’s concept for SnapSystem Bikes won rave reviews from one of the judges, who was so impressed by the uniqueness of the idea and the professionalism of their presentation, he felt sure he could make them millionaires.
Summer is here at last, it seems, and for many Minnesotans that means it is festival season. Lately I’ve heard Minnesota called the Land of 10,000 festivals, and it appears there’s something for everyone: art, beer, running, renaissance, Grand Old Day, the Aquatennial, the Irish Fair and, of course, the State Fair. Up north, Duluth has more than two dozen festivals. UST alumni have contributed a few to the mega mix of Minnesota festivals, like the Midwest Tomato Fest, now set for its third year on July 13.
How many festivals are there, actually, and what impact do all these events have on our state economy? MinnPost and Twin Cities Business recently sought to answer these questions and their article is worth a read. Here are a few snippets:
It seems that everyone is promoting being entrepreneurial these days. At SXSW, Bill Gates called for more entrepreneurs to enter the education space. Senators Moran and Warner say Washington, D.C., needs more entrepreneurs. Consulting firms Ernst & Young and PwC have employees pitch a new idea, and the winners get funded. Even well-known start-ups such as Google and Dell are taking a page from universities, and creating Entrepreneur-in-Residence programs to encourage more entrepreneurial knowledge and awareness in their companies.
So what is it that makes some people more entrepreneurial? The popular answers are they are risk takers, charismatic leaders who don’t fear failure and are highly motivated to succeed. I can’t argue with any of those; we can all name successful entrepreneurs who embody those characteristics. But can I create or increase those qualities in myself, or in the people around me? Unfortunately, I don’t think I can teach people to be bigger risk takers, to not fear failure or to be more charismatic.
Do you take time to keep yourself sharp? I often hear about strategies to “improve your business, improve your process, improve this, and improve that.” Enough about the process…what about you? What can you do to improve you? Think about how much the business world has changed over the last few years. When I started in business, computers were just emerging, there were no laptops, and cell phones were bigger than your head. Yes, it’s ridiculous to think about, I know. And even if you’re just recently entering the business world, technology marches on. As everything changes around us, if we don’t grown and also change, we’ll be left behind. So, what can you do to keep yourself continually educating? Here are just a few things that I’ve run across throughout my career, and found to be incredibly helpful.
Go back to school. If you can make the time commitment, consider going back to school. I had the benefit of completing my MBA right after my undergrad. While I was excited about this accomplishment, the down side was that I had no real world experience to apply my learning toward. I learned many things, but not to the extent I would have, had I pursued a similar path now. If you are interested in learning more about a particular topic or industry, and you have the time and financial ability, nothing says “continuous education” like going back to school.