Enjoy the ride!

It’s hard to believe it’s over. It all went by so fast.

38914200_1889215644471878_4945278026683252736_oLast August, I packed up a van filled with my belonging and headed north, first on I-93 and then on I-89. I had come to Burlington to participate in a one-year, intensive MBA program. I had resisted graduate school and more formal education for a while, but something about this program spoke to me.

I soon found myself in a room surrounded by people who felt the same. We had come from different backgrounds, different work experiences, and from different areas of the country, a few from other nations.

What we soon found out is that we shared a similar feeling: that business-as-usual was no longer working and that it is time to transform and, if necessary, create businesses to respond to society’s challenges in a way that is more sustainable. That is, we need more market-based solutions to the challenges that face the world today.

In fact, it was a year ago today that I first met the other members of my cohort. They are, and remain, some of the most amazing people I’ve met. And I feel honored to have spent a year in a windowless room with them.

We began the year with a quintessential UVM activity: a trip to the university’s ropes course. In the first of many surreal moments this year, we also took turns looking at the solar eclipse that happened to be taking place that day. Then we played games to get to know each other, followed by other trust-building activities on the actual course. As I walked home that evening, reflecting on the experience and the first day of class, I remember thinking, This is going to be a wild year. Enjoy the ride.

We began by studying business foundations: finance, strategy, brand marketing, and organizational behavior. We learned about the sustainability challenges facing the world. But soon enough, we found ourselves exploring topics that get at the heart of those challenges: strategic CSR, entrepreneurship, innovation, supply chain issues, public policy, and community development. And before we knew it, we were applying what we had learned in the classroom with businesses and organizations with real world challenges.

I tried to go into this year with no expectations for the experience. My initial goals were only to work as hard as I could and enjoy every minute of it. We know not if we’ll ever pass this way again…or something like that.

So, my advice, both to this next cohort and anyone that happens to be reading this, is to enjoy every minute of your time here. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Soak up every moment of it. Take advantage of every opportunity. Enjoy the time you have with the people you’re lucky enough to share a room with. Learn from them. And approach it all with a growth mindset: your intelligence and talent got you here, but the world also needs more people who have a love of learning, that communicate effectively, that work well on a team, and that have the resilience to get across the finish line.

The time flies by. Before you know it, you’ll be saying goodbye and moving onto your next adventure. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be sitting here a year from now being thankful for every single minute that you got to spend with some of your new favorite people. Enjoy the ride. It all goes by so fast.

 

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are the necessary ingredients for any economy or market to flourish”

From the Efosa Ojomo of Harvard Business Review, six of the signs you’re living in an entrepreneurial society:

  1. Innovation precedes regulation, not the other way around.
  2. Entrepreneurs and innovators are richly rewarded for their breakthroughs.
  3. The government depends on the ingenuity of the innovators.
  4. Innovations are pulled into – not pushed onto — society.
  5. Work is becoming more modularized.
  6. The society is either prosperous or is on a clear path toward prosperity. 

Source: 6 Signs You’re Living in an Entrepreneurial Society

Entrepreneurism: “what Americans are doing for themselves in communities across the country”

This…this gives me hope…

At a time when policy consensus at the federal level seems impossible, a grassroots movement is sweeping the nation and kindling a radical transformation in how Americans grow their local economies. Cities, communities and regions are building “ecosystems” of entrepreneurial innovation to generate new businesses and jobs that America needs. It’s no longer enough to recruit businesses from other regions in a perpetual zero-sum game. Nor is it enough to construct buildings, infrastructure, airport terminals or other projects that require heavy subsidies. Instead, we’re witnessing the birth of a new model of economic development — one based on collaboration among entrepreneurs and innovators that elevates culture as a driver of economic growth.

These ecosystems are not only located in the coastal states most readily associated with innovative economies, they are emanating from the center of America. Midwestern cities like St. Louis are offering both hope and optimism for renewed economic growth. With the presidential race providing seemingly no new solutions, Americans should support and expand this movement, for it provides the best hope of revitalizing economies throughout the nation

Source: Communities Across America Are Harnessing Entrepreneurism to Drive Growth

“Every day of your life is an opportunity to create”

A good reminder:

The problem is that when we go for years (or decades) without flexing our creative muscles, they atrophy until, on a core level (even subconsciously) we stop believing that it’s even possible for us to create.

You can create change in yourself by building better habits. You can create change for others by pulling them up when they’re down and giving them opportunities. And you can create change in the world by leaving something behind that’s uniquely yours.

So, it doesn’t really matter if you feel “ready” or if you’re “sure” of yourself. Just ship the damn thing.

via Just Start Doing Whatever It Is You Can’t Stop Thinking About

“To push the status quo without having resources and comforts”

Good reminder from Ben Weinman of Dillinger Escape Plan in the article linked below about DIY, creativity, and responsible business:

Not only are good art and good business not incompatible, they are in fact nurtured from the same creative spirit.

To understand Weinman’s artistic and business approach, we must consider that Weinman grew up in New Jersey in the late ‘80s and witnessed the burgeoning hardcore scenes of New York and D.C. There, he learned about the business ethics and ideals that were a necessity in hardcore — do-it-yourself (DIY) — because no one will do it for you.

It was from the hardcore scene that record labels such as Dischord Records (started by Minor Threat’s Ian MacKaye) and Touch and Go Records (founded by the Meatmen’s Tesco Vee) sprung up to demonstrate that creative music and innovative business practices could go hand in hand.

As an example, Dischord Records was known for refusing to charge more than $10 for a record and $5 for a show, all while insisting on all-ages shows to make sure that young hardcore kids could attend. They also would not advertise in traditional outlets such as magazines, because many of those magazines ran cigarette and alcohol advertising that violated the straight edge ethic of MacKaye.

via Ben Weinman and the Business of Responsible Creativity

“There used to be too much land to settle. Now there’s not enough land to share”

Pretty fascinating article on American entrepreneurship, migration, and dynamism by Derek Thompson linked below:

American restlessness is written into the national DNA. In the 19th century, families moved toward opportunity, whether it came in the form of open, fertile fields or smoky urban factories. Americans didn’t just see their westward migration as a trivial preference for sun and space. They saw it as the important work of a nation, a Manifest Destiny.

But if Horace Greeley were alive today, his advice might be something more like, “Move back home, young man.” Americans today are strangely averse to change. They are less likely to switch jobs, or move between states, or create new companies than they were 30 years ago. In economist-speak, “the U.S. labor market has experienced marked declines in fluidity along a variety of dimensions.” In English: America has lost its mojo. Manifest Destiny has yielded to manifest dormancy.

Why are Americans stuck in place—and why are these stuck Americans less likely than their forebears to switch jobs and start companies?


Source: How America Lost Its Nerve – The Atlantic

What Can We Learn from Nashville about Building and Supporting a Music Community?

Looking forward to reading a new book, Beyond the Beat: Musicians Building Community in Nashville, which:

identifies the rise of three new types of musicians, or “artist activists,” who take a more active role in shaping their careers and communities: “enterprising artists” who are entrepreneurial and career-focused, “artistic social entrepreneurs” who combine music with a social mission to build community or maintain social spaces, and “artist advocates” who are remaking unionism for music and the arts (a few of whom are chronicled in the book). These three types of artist activists not only work to develop their own careers, but to support and help one another. In turn, they have created an inclusive peer community, strengthened the broader network of musicians, and bolstered the very fiber of Nashville and its music scene.

Also interested in reading about what the city of Nashville has done to support music:

Local public policy has sustained musicians and the industry in several ways. On the demand side, economic development has focused on music-themed tourism, museums, and festivals that attract consumers of music and related retail and hospitality services. On the supply side, the city has encouraged the development of affordable housing for musicians and other artists, as well as arts districts that provide studio, performance, and display spaces for performing and visual artists, and their fans.

Source: What Drives Nashville’s Music Industry – CityLab

“America has a shortage of job creators”

Here’s an interesting perspective on education and entrepreneurship, but Michael Ellsberg’s point about start-ups vs. small businesses is worth noting:

America has a shortage of job creators. And the people who create jobs aren’t traditional professionals, but start-up entrepreneurs.

In a recent speech promoting a jobs bill, President Obama told Congress, “Everyone here knows that small businesses are where most new jobs begin.”

Close, but not quite. In a detailed analysis, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that nearly all net job creation in America comes from start-up businesses, not small businesses per se. (Since most start-ups start small, we tend to conflate two variables — the size of a business and its age — and incorrectly assume the former was the relevant one, when in fact the latter is.)

If start-up activity is the true engine of job creation in America, one thing is clear: our current educational system is acting as the brakes. Simply put, from kindergarten through undergraduate and grad school, you learn very few skills or attitudes that would ever help you start a business. Skills like sales, networking, creativity and comfort with failure.

Source: Will Dropouts Save America? – The New York Times