Who has inspired you? My teacher…

This post is dedicated to one person that gave me that one chance to teach. Dr. Summer Smith Taylor…I am thinking of you, where ever you are tonight.

In 2001, I entered the MAPC Graduate Program at Clemson University. Dr. Summer Smith (now Taylor) was one of the many faculty on staff in the Department of English and the MAPC Program. She was a part of my graduate thesis committee and sat through my final oral examinations. When I was a student, I think I she and I were the same age…but I remember her unbelievable intelligence and technical writing knowledge she brought to my educational experience.

After graduating from the MAPC Program…I returned to the world of broadcast television. Dr. Taylor kept up with me and my career. She always wanted me to come back to Clemson and take part in many of the advisory boards. When Sarah and I moved back to Anderson, SC…she asked if I would be interested in teaching a class while pursuing my entrepreneurial endeavors. WOW, teaching on the collegiate level is a different beast….but she encouraged me. She pushed me to take on the challenge and gave me free reign to take that little business writing class and take it into an entrepreneurial direction. Dr. Taylor had tremendous faith in my abilities.

These last few months, Dr. Taylor has not been around. She has not even been on campus this semester. Dr. Taylor has fallen victim to a terrible disease…ARDS or Adult respiratory Distress Syndrome. It is the inflammation of the lungs prohibiting the exchange of gases. Dr. Taylor is very sick…and just recently, the doctors have not seen any brain activity within the last two weeks. She is currently in the ICU at Greenville Hospital System. This highly intelligent woman probably will not return to the walls of Clemson to do what she loved so much…to teach. Dr. Taylor was and is my teacher…she inspired and challenged me to teach on the collegiate level and I have not looked back since.

Just a few months ago, she was taking part in her everyday life…inspiring her students…inspiring future teachers. I am not sure what will come of her and her illness. I am not sure if she will recover? I am not sure if we will recover. She has been a staple in the Clemson community for so many years. She is a thought leader…and I am thankful that she inspired me to think…beyond!

If you would like to read more about Dr. Taylor and her condition, click here for her CaringBridge site.

Is it Social or is it Hybrid…Entrepreneurship that is?

So I have been doing some research looking for companies and individuals engaging in this new trend of Hybrid Entrepreneurship. Yes…those who want to solve a social problem as major initiative, yet they do not want to be a non-profit. They want to generate profits and create a sustainable change, social progress. I found this student in New York City with similar thoughts.

Yes…we feel ya my friend. This is a conversational trend, Bloomberg Businessweek wrote about this trending topic in 2009…the idea of turning a profit solving a social problems. Here is a story about the Greystone Foundation…click here to read and watch. Are they Hybrid? It sure did lead to an interesting class discussion in my ELE 499 class at Clemson.

So what has brought about this trend…this need for sustainable change. With the trends of “going green” to “sustainability,” organizations are realizing that the world of running “not for profit” business models is not a one-size fits all. Back in 2004, some were still calling it Social Entrepreneurship. Click here to listen to Randy Komisar and his interview from Stanford’s Entrepreneur Corner. But there are those that do not feel like it fits into that model nicely.

Defining Hybrid Entrepreneurship

This semester, I have been teaching a new class at Clemson in the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurship. The whole point of the class is to explore, define, articulate, and showcase an emerging entrepreneurial area known as Hybrid Entrepreneurship. Late last year, I wrote about this new emerging area as I was preparing to teach this class…you can read about it by clicking here.

So…the class is compiling case studies and examples of what we define as Hybrid Entrepreneurship. But before we can do that…we have to define as a baseline. So below are four definitions from four groups of students in this class:

  • Improving a social condition with the intent of making profit through traditional and untraditional business methods.
  • An entrepreneurial endeavor with  goal to provide social change. The business has to generate profit but cant give all profits to charity. The product or profit can provide social change and must be disclosed and included in the business plan.
  • One whose focal point is to bring about positive social change or create awareness of a social problem while making a profit.
  • Organization or individual that is driven by a social need, but operation runs with a double bottom line of profit and social.
So if you take each of these four definitions and place them in a word cloud, this is what you would find.

Can you think of any companies that might meet these criteria?

Hybrid Entrepreneurship at Clemson – What?

So I have been asked to join the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurship at Clemson University as a lecturer. I have been teaching Business Writing in the Department of English for the past two years…so this is going to be a fun challenge. It is funny how things happen, people you meet, and how planets align. After meeting with Dave Wyman this morning, he is the Interim Director of the Spiro Institute…we have a great plan for this class.

If you are interested in the curriculim of the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurship, CLICK HERE and you will see the class I am teaching: ELE 499 – Executive Leadership and Entrepreneurship III provides an opportunity for high-potential students to participate in an entrepreneurial field experience such as starting their own businesses or participating in a special project.

So what is Hybrid Entrepreneurship? Hmm…well this will be part of the introduction to this class. But, let’s try to define.

If you look at the triangle above, you will see the three points entitled Entrepreneurship, Cause/Passion, and Profit/Discipline. If you look at Wikipedia, it defines the word “entrepreneur” as a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome. Bottomline, the person(s) see a need, take a calculated risk to bring this idea to market with the sole purpose of gaining a return or profit. The other point of the triangle is “Cause/Passion” where someone has the desire and the passion for a “cause” and solves a social problem. And the “Profit/Discipline” point is where a person(s) gains some return from this idea using some defined discipline. Hybrid Entrepreneurship falls right in the center of this triangle.

Some would say that this sounds like Social Entrepreneurship? Hmm, well one again Wikipedia does a good job! Social Entrepreneurship is defined as someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change. Whereas business entrepreneurs typically measure performance in profit and return, social entrepreneurs assess their success in terms of the impact they have on society. While social entrepreneurs often work through nonprofits and citizen groups, many work in the private and governmental sectors.

Social Entrepreneurs tyically have the goal to take the “profit” that is generated from the venture and re-invest back into the cause. Making a profit is not the ultimate goal but a byproduct of the greater good for the cause.

Some people think that Hybrid Entrepreneurship to be similar, if not the same, as Social Entrepreneurship. Hybrid Entrepreneurs are ones that  have the same social responsibility yet have no problem with making a profit, and are willing to disclose this part of the purpose.

So…what is the purpose of the class? Well, to teach students about Hybrid Entrepreneurship and find opportunities/projects in the community to help solve problems and create business ideas to solve these problems.

Here is the fun part about this class…we will be using video and social media to document and track the projects in this class. The class will be structured to achieve a couple of goals:

1) We will be taking requests from community organizations that have some “problem” that needs to be solved…they have a need. These organizations will submit a request and the class will pick 5 to 6 different problems/issues to analyze. We will invite these organizations to the class to make a 10 to 15 minute presentation and the class will make an assessment then recommendations. Then the presenting organization will select the best recommendations during the class session. We will do this over a four week period.

2) The next part of this class will be dedicated to finding a social problem and solving this issue. The natural part of the first section of this class. The students will be exposed to local organizations and their problems through the above presentations. This will create a natural dialogue…to look for other similar ideas to solve. OR, they can pick from one of the presentations. This project will be to find, research, and solve a problem…then present in s a final presentation using video and presentation slides. The students will have to document this process using video (probably flip cams) and online properties like Twitter and Blogs.

The goal of this class, to explore the idea of Hyrbid Entrepreneurship through research and praxis. I LOVE IT!

I would love to hear from you? Have any examples of Hybrid and/or Social Entrepreneurship? Please share!

Much of this blog was based on information from Will Marre, check out his site by CLICKING HERE.

It is all about a Thank You Note!

So today I found a little surprise in my mailbox, a thank you note. Well, there was more than just one thank you note…two. Below you can read the thank you note from one of my students. The note was not to me.

I teach Business Writing at Clemson. It is my goal to teach students more than just how to write, but how to use writing to build relationships. I teach them to think like entrepreneurs. I teach them to think about building career relationships. This thank you note is not only just a representation of a student thanking and praising a teacher, but using the knowledge learned in the classroom. Today, I am the student! It has come full circle!

There are so many times if we wonder if we are making an impact, but tonight…this one student made me shed some tears. I love teaching! Thanks Kelly!

Read below!

Sometimes we creatives are not good leaders? Are we?

We are visionaries!
We are creative and we are strategic. We have passion and willingness to work infinite amount of hours to execute an idea. But sometimes, it is hard to lead. Seriously! This is by means no admission that I have not tried or will try again to successfully lead a group with a common mission/goal. It is a self-reflection that I realize that I was not pre-disposed to be a natural born leader. I think? We just believe in tomorrow’s human capital!

We generate great ideas!
We live in a world that beats to many different drums. We feel our path and not objectively understand how to get to the final resting place. But we understand that the path is so much fun. Our ideas do not come to us during a planning session, they happen in the middle of the night when we least expect. They happen in the shower or when we are screaming down the road at 85 mph with the windows down. But the logical side of our brain knows and understands that we must capitalize on that very moment of true epiphany. We must implement the creative thought right when it pops in our brain. You will find us running through the house stark naked to jot down the idea, draw that vision, create that master piece. We will cut across five lanes of traffic under creative transcendental inspiration, just to get to the side of the interstate to jot it down. We are passionate about our ideas.

We need implementors!
We need help. We see the vision and can articulate the vision, but we rely on those who have the expertise to help us implement the vision. The vision is clear in our head…so clear we can almost reach out and touch it. But, we need those who can decipher our vision into a palatable final product. Yes, we can be technicians of our trade, but as practitioners we understand to rely on those have the technical expertise to make the final product shine!

We like living within our creative freedom!
We know when to turn on that perfect song to get us into a creative rhythm. We like to spread our wings and let the emotion of the story influence the direction. We get so in-tune with our creative thoughts that those looking in have a hard time communicating with us during the moments of inspiration. We can see the lips flapping, but the words just do not register. We are in the zone. We are in the place where we so connected with our big “T” truth, that it only makes sense to us. It feeds our ego and separates us from others. We love our passion.

Structure is a necessary evil!
We understand that organization is the one thing that still keeps us human. It is that calendar or the to-do list that brings us back to reality. It is that assistant that is so OCD about keeping structure, that we knew when we hired them…it was necessary for not only our mental sanity but to ensure we kept our business thriving. We find value in the other side of the brain, just sometimes it is hard to make it happen.

Our minds rationalize differently!
We articulate our thoughts verbally so that we when hear ourselves say it out loud, we can then find the holes in the idea. We speak in tangents and outliers that ultimately have meaning to the bigger story, but we have to rationalize it in our own brains just to get to the final point. We chose to take the road less traveled because sometimes we do not like to feel mainstreamed. We like the opposing argument, just to argue that position with out any pre-disposition…because we can! We like a-typical. We want to be in the minds of those we are trying to influence, so we can understand how to truly create and influential piece of creative. We are flat out manic!

We do not create on a timeline!
What is a timeline…oh, that thing that keeps us on task. We just cannot force our inspiration…it just happens at 3am when the dog happened to lick our face and that is the one little thing that made it all click. We procrastinate because we work better under pressure, knowing we have to deliver the best thing since sliced bread in the next few hours. It is like a drug…the ability to create a masterpiece in a tight timeframe knowing inspiration will hit us at that an unknown moment. Then we deliver and sleep like no tomorrow.

We lead by example!
We lead from our hearts, our passions, and our past experiences. We want to create a community of ideas, bring people together with a common vision, and allow them to create more pieces of fine art. We have been down that road before. Living the dream with bad bosses, bad corporate structure…and it is our hope to make it a little better for those that will lead us to the next millennium. Why, because we believe in our future. We believe we must give back because those we are trying to inspire will be the ones who decide how our legacy(s) will live for the next millennium.

Teaching is fun…especially when NetworkBash is involved!

I have a few passions in my life, my lovely wife, my family, teaching, and telling stories. The semester is about to begin at Clemson and I teach Business Writing. It is listed by the registrar as English 304 and housed in the Department of English as an Advanced Writing class. This is actually kind-of funny, I enjoying writing…creating a story that resonates with an audience. But I am not the most technically/grammatically proficient when it comes to articulating my thoughts. I get emails all the time from people reading my blog criticizing the way I write. Well…I write in an conversational tone, mainly as a stream of consciousness. I write to articulate my passion…passion is the key word.

Regardless…I am getting excited. Extremely excited. The semester is getting ready to begin. I get to put away business twice a week, and work with the next wave entrepreneurs. ENGL 304 is set-up to help students articulate thoughts and ideas using business communication to tackle the business world. If you look at the boiler-plate syllabus, we are supposed to teach students how to write proposals, memos, resumes, emails, etc. But…this ENGL 304 instructor will be working with students to learn how to use these tools to become business leaders. I am teaching how to become thought leaders and build business relationships using these tools.

My ENGL 304 class also has the sole responsibility to execute three events this semester,  NetworkBash 2010: Ignite, Excite, Engage! Three events strategically planned to allow students to build career relationships. Three events:

NetworkBash 2010
Ignite: September 8, 2010
Excite: October 6, 2010
Engage: November 4, 2010

Three events, three opportunities, three great ways for students of ENGL 304 to build a great connection point for other Clemson University students, engaging and having real conversations with potential employers. We have partners both financial and strategic. We work with the Michelin Career Center, Clemson Alumni Association, and the Advanced Writing Program. Our financial partners are to come, but last year we worked with the Consortium for Enterprise Systems Management, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, CH2M Hill, Immedion, and Tiger Properties.

So the point…each event will have an individual theme, bringing students and employers together to build relationships. Not to talk about a resume, but to learn more about each other, ultimately helping students learn the value of connections and relationships.

NetworkBash: Ignite (9/8/10) is designed to prepare students for the Career Fair put together by the Michelin Career Center on September 15, 2010. Students will interactively learn interview skills, how to pitch themselves, and ultimately how to get beyond the resume.

NetworkBash: Excite (10/6/10) is designed to allow students to learn how to use different Social Media techniques and technologies to build relationships.  This will be a discussion around different Social Media(s) and how they can help each of them open the door to career relationships.

NetworkBash: Engage (11/4/10) will be coordinated with the Clemson Alumni Association the Thursday before the NC State Football weekend. Alumni can can come into to town a day early (before the football game) and spend time with students networking, sharing how they built the relationships that helped them professionally.

The best part about these events, ENGL 304 students helped design and will help execute these events. They will use Business Writing as the fundamental technique to put on an event that ultimately will benefit their long-term goals.

This event was a product of a group of students in the Spring of 2009. One day I was teaching the class how to use Twitter to create a clear and concise elevator pitch (take their pitch and write it in 14 characters). One student looked at me and said, “this is great but I need to get a job and I am not sure how to get in front of the right person to use these skills.” So we decided to begin putting together an event where students and professionals could come together and network. Not just using the typical resume interaction, but really network and have a conversation that build a relationship. Here we are and this will be the third iteration of NetworkBash. I am excited! I am passionate…this is why I teach.

Because an educated world is a better world!

Have you read the words to the script from the video above. If you have not watched the video…you should. Ignore the fact it is a University of Phoenix promotion, but look and listen to the words and the pictures. Seriously, take 60 seconds and watch and really listen…focused listening.

Now…read the words:

it is 2010 and everything is different
different jobs
different challenges
different opportunities
so why would universities stay the same
what if an education could adapt for the time we live in
and i am not just talking about 2010, but beyond it
adjusting curriculim to serve ever changing job markets
hiring faculty who are still working in the fields they teach
and using new technologies to enhance learning
if an education could adapt to the way the world works today
could that same education help the world to adapt
to work better tomorrow
university of phoenix
because an educated world is a better world

Now…watch the video again! It is 2010 and we are faced with so many challenges, right here in our in our neighborhoods, right here in our states, in this great nation. We are in a place where we are trying to find new ways to innovate, and it is finally that time! We can really invest in our educated future. Yes, I said our “educated future.” It is that time, to find new ways to invest in the next wave of entrepreneurs.

University of Phoenix has figured it out. Now I have heard many seasoned, accredited academics look at the University of Phoenix and critique “quality” of education. But, let’s burn down the ivory tower and let’s talk about education that is going to retain and sustain tomorrow’s leaders…today.

It is my prediction that Clemson University is going to essentially become a private institution within the next five years. Now I know that Clemson will not be able to claim it’s private nature, yet over 90% of it’s funds will reflect private dollars. Universities like Clemson are going to have to become more market driven. The funding arms that will keep the doors open will demand talent driven success and a return on their investment…human capital.

It is time…it is time to invest in initiatives and programs that are going to innovate and inspire the next wave of entrepreneurs, the next wave of leaders, the next wave of human capital. Look at the initiative of the Consortium of Enterprise Systems Management, “To facilitate and create a pipeline of talent that will support the future of IT.” How? Change the discourse in the world of K-12 and higher education that the world of IT is cool.

Look at the Call Me Mister Program, with the sole initiative to empower African American males to become elementary education teachers here in South Carolina. These are the goals and initiatives it takes to create a pipeline of talent for tomorrow’s demands. We not only need to continue to empower those who will teach our children, but those who will pave the path for our smarter communities.

How do you write? How do we educate?

I was walking through a little thrift store today and noticed something…and it struck me. A pencil sharpener…remember those days? I remember when I was a kid and it was this time of the year. Mom would load us up in the car and take us to the store for school supplies. We had a list of items from our school sent home informing the parents what supplies we will need for the coming year. Notebooks, paper, pencils, crayons, etc. created havoc in the local store where moms and dads were loading up children’s school bags.

I remember getting those brand new pencils. They were freshly packed and un-sharpened. They came in all different types of colors; red, blue, yellow, and green. Sometimes you could buy them with your name on them, especially if you had a common name like Bobby. Remember the first pencil you pulled out of the pack and you could go sharpen the pencil for the first time. It was more fun to sharpen the pencil than actually take part in the classroom exercise. I even remember some of my teachers started the day with the whole class in line, sharpening our pencils before starting the lesson.

Do they still have pencil sharpeners in classrooms? Some schools, maybe…if the buildings have housed generations of students. They are still probably on the walls or bookshelves, well because they have become nostalgic reminders of our yester-years. Public education is changing faster than the technology that is leading the way. Dollars are decreasing, teachers are being laid off, classrooms getting crowded, and some of the best and the brightest are loosing site of the age ole testament…education shapes our future.

Just a few months ago, I bought an iPad from Apple. The new wave of the future when it comes to personal and business computing. It is not only a computing tool but a business class communication tool. As a college instructor at Clemson, we are being challenged to find innovative ways to engage our students and still conserve if not cut costs. I have made a vow to try to teach the whole class this coming semester using just the iPad. I am not sure if I can execute this plan, but I am going to try.

Today’s teaching tools are technologies that are shaping the way we teach and the educational process of our future. At the end of last semester’s class, I asked each student to write a thank you note  to one person that has shaped their future. I asked them to hand write the note, with their signature, and hand write the envelope. Some students were perplexed with the assignment, either not understanding the purpose or the means to execute the assignment. The hand written note is so much more powerful that an email. Think about those hand written notes you receive in the mail. I am hate throwing them away, so I have a place for each one that I receive.

Writing a hand written note takes time, effort, dedication, and thought. If you are writing a two page letter and it is pen…you better chose your words carefully. It is hard to go back and fix something. We now are surrounded by spell check and other grammatical word fixing mechanisms…you know the red and green lines under a word or sentence. They use those colors so we feel annoyed until we fix the error. But they become our crutch. I am a poor speller; by the mere fact that I am not only an educated individual, but one that depends on technology.

So what is the balance? How do we still teach our next wave of leaders, our new knowledge economy how to think like practitioners and not as technicians.  How do we teach them to evolve with the technologies and not be so dependent upon a tool. How do we teach to creatively write and allow the tools to facilitate the process instead if dictating the process.

If we are going to have a bigger and brighter knowledge economy, we have to compete on a fundamental level…in our education system. Yes…it takes dollars, but it also takes a commitment to tomorrow and knowing our past. There are days where I wish I could have a pencil sharpener again, bringing the fun back into the creative process. But I sure do like the iPad as well. But, we have to find the middle ground between age old technology and new innovation to set the stage for tomorrow. We can’t just go lay-off old teachers just because they are going to retire eventually, but we can’t just lay-off the new teachers because of seniority. We need to be selective in who is teaching in our public schools, ones that are going to inspire the next creative class of human capital.

I will leave you with this…have you ever heard of the Call Me Mister Program, housed at Clemson University? The sole purpose of this program is to empower and educate young African-American males to be elementary school teachers here in South Carolina.  To put more African-American males in leadership roles to become role models for our young students. Imagine the opportunity to change the face of South Carolina by changing the image of African-American males from the years of oppression this state has witnessed. Now that is innovation. It did not take technology…it took vision.

Building Career Relationships Goes Beyond the Resume

When I think back over the course of my career…the one thing that I can say is that I have never gotten a job because of a resume. Every job I have gotten has been based on a relationship….the resume was a formality in the job hiring process – HR required it for my file.

As I work with students and other professionals, it has been my philosophy it is not what you know..it is who you know. When teaching on a collegiate level especially in a business writing class; i do not teach how to write a resume…I teach how to build relationships to get the resume in the right hands.

It is my belief that that the hand shake is today’s resume in the business world. During a recessionary time period, employers are being flooded with resume’s after resumes. Even a janitor job in Ohio received over 700 job applications…WOW. In a slumping economy, it is important to find ways to separate yourself away from the pack.

Think…does two pieces of paper listing your job history, education, experience, and qualifications accurately represent your abilities, personality, and willingness to be a vital part of an organization? Why do you think so many employers want to interview the person before they are hired. Imagine if you spent just as much energy when applying for a job figuring out the name of the hiring manager or decision maker, then put yourself in a position to meet them and shake their hand.

Some say that the origin of the hand shake came from Medieval Europe where kings and knights would extend their hands to each other and grasp the others’ hand as demonstration that each did not possess a concealed weapon and intended no harm.

The hand shake communicates lots of different non-verbal cues but ultimately it is a product of relationship building.

Why do we spend so much time building a resume. Well, it is an educational/professional process to organize our background, qualities, education, honors, etc. into one place. It is a snap shot of who we are and what we represent professionally. It is tremendous exercise to go through the process of compiling a resume. This forces the job seeker, to organize thoughts so that when we meet with other professionals…this writing process has organized our thoughts. It is a starting point for conversation and can be a reference when filling out a job application. It is my opinion that the resume is not the “end all be all.”

There is more to a job or joining an organization than the ability to organize our resume. We should spend just as much time, actually more time building career relationships as we do putting together a resume. We should be teaching students and professionals how to network, make “elevator pitches”, shake hands…ultimately building relationships.