Big Idea Blog
You’ll have to forgive me for adding another one to the pile, but the point of how invaluable internships are cannot go missed. I was in Washington, D.C. for ten weeks this summer with the National Corn Growers Association, and the first three weeks were a major adjustment. I didn’t express that sentiment in my first two blog posts—I’ve always been outgoing, curious, and adaptable; overall, these feelings were a first.
Despite the unease of acclimating myself to D.C., the culture, transportation, verbiage, and even the swampy weather, I knew with confidence that this internship was something I wanted, and needed. Following dreams of being an artist and a fashion designer (circa 2001), working in public policy in the agriculture industry has long been an interest of mine. I interned with a risk management firm last summer, and can’t say enough good things about my experience with the firm and the producers we worked for—I received invaluable mentorship that summer and learned more about risk, hedging tools, and relationships than the classroom could ever teach me. However, I still had a yearning for policy work. I knew that if I didn’t get policy experience under my belt I would be holding myself back, and letting myself down. Lucky for me, I had another summer left before graduation (December 2017) to pursue policy. Some may find my sentiment exaggerated, and sure, I could jump into a full-time position in public policy when I graduate and figure it out then, but an internship first provides a few advantages.
Internships are a low risk, high reward environment. You are able to immerse yourself into a company, their culture, and daily operations, without a long-term commitment. Eight to twelve weeks, that’s your only obligation. While that is a simplified notion and there are many more pieces to an internship, such as proving that you are an asset to a team, you can use it as a time to explore if the company and the field is right for you. If not, no harm, no foul. You can follow through on your commitment and leave on strong terms, whereas if you jumped into a job straight out of college that wasn’t the right fit, leaving may be a little more awkward, and you may be faced with thoughts of unease and uncertainty, between fight or flight.
Secondly, you are getting paid to learn. For most new positions, it takes time to operate in autonomy with confidence. In my experience from the two internships I have held during undergrad, I didn’t feel like things truly “clicked” until my last 2-3 weeks. The majority of the summer is an exciting, fun, and yet huge, learning curve. You have to ask a few more questions, tasks take you a little bit longer to navigate, and you’re still sorting out what exactly your role is. Most companies recognize the return from having interns, that’s why they continue to recruit, and then support them through the learning curve each summer. However, I want to reiterate this point to parents that are hesitant to support their son or daughter through an internship and students who don’t really have interning as a priority, and any business owner that has entertained the idea of developing an internship program: The personal and professional growth that can be achieved by interning is invaluable and irreplaceable.
Third, internships are an opportunity to see how you handle adversity. This adversity can come in a variety of forms. Perhaps it is a series of challenges that come with moving 1,400 miles away from home. Perhaps it is the challenge of micromanagement, or on the flipside, navigating autonomy. Maybe you have to recognize your own abilities and ask for more responsibility. Are your daily tasks not lining up with the job description? Or, maybe you are trying to succeed but the company’s structure and communication habits are restricting that. Some of these points are my own, others come from the experiences that peers have had. Bottom line, these are challenging waters to navigate, and I know that I will be able to hit the ground running much faster, in my first full-time position, than if I had never interned during my undergrad years.
Interning has helped me reflect on my interests, identify what I value in a company, and also to develop expectations for myself and what I am able to contribute to a cause. Culture, engagement, and autonomy are priorities of mine when considering future employers. From one internship to the next, I was able to reflect and identify what I think I did really well, but also set new standards for myself and identify how I thought I could perform better Round 2 (this summer with NCGA).
I by no means have it all figured out, and don’t think that I ever will, but I assure you that because of internships, I am more excited than nervous, or unsure, to graduate in December. So, thank you Nebraska corn farmers, Nebraska Corn Board, and National Corn Growers Association, for supporting internships and taking the time and resources to invest in me this summer. Your support helped me to intern, and knowing I had the support of family, friends, and advisors, I was able to take advantage of a summer of growth.
“Do I really need accountability?” Derek asked me.
“Why do you ask?” I replied.
“I mean, shouldn’t I be able to hold myself accountable to my healthy eating goals? This is something that really matters to me, so I should be able to do that myself, don’t you think?” Derek continued.
“Well, I don’t know,” I said.
Healthy eating, we were learning, was a critical issue for Derek.
When he ate well, he felt good about himself, which made him happier, which helped him do better work, which fueled everything else in his life. But when he didn’t, his energy would spiral downward. It was like a kind of switch—the one activity that would change his energy from vicious cycle to virtuous cycle.
In this particular coaching conversation, his energy was low. (Not surprisingly, healthy eating hadn’t been great either.)
We learned that the only time he’d successfully stuck to healthy eating was through outside accountability, whether through a trainer, coach, or otherwise.
Today, he was questioning the power of accountability.
Well, I don’t know,” I continued. “Accountability is a part of every successful behavior change story I’ve every heard, and every proven behavior change system I’ve seen. But we live in a culture that expects you to do it yourself. And if you can’t, there’s something wrong with you.”
“Yes, yes!” Derek replied.
“But, really, we are social creatures. We rely on people for everything we do. I think we’re tricked into thinking we can do things ourselves, but really we just lose sight of just how much help went into it,” I said.
Let’s think about a simple example—you reading this article. You’re reading this on some kind of device, which needs to be powered. Somebody had to find out how to generate the electricity, invent wires to supply the energy, invent the power grid that gets it to you (thanks Nikola Tesla), build the power plant and energy grid that supplies it to your location, and all the tiny parts that had to be designed, built, shipped, and installed to get the energy from the building to your device.
All of that work. Just to power your device. It would take a lifetime to do yourself.
But you don’t think about that. You just plug in your phone, tablet, or computer and expect energy to start flowing.
So when we attempt something simple like changing a habit, reaching a goal, or getting one more client, we expect to do it on our own. And it’s OK to expect that. It’s just that, more often than not, it’s inaccurate.
The truth is, you can’t do it on your own. By time you got dressed this morning, you relied on hundreds, maybe thousands of people. You likely never meet them, but they helped you.
Honestly, the word “accountability” doesn’t quite capture the real power of partnership.
Something incredible happens when you become vulnerable and open yourself to help. When you let someone in, their mere presence changes the game. Your new future gets anchored in another person, and in your relationship. Through their support, the future becomes more likely to happen.
This change is especially tangible if you’re trying to stop a destructive behavior. There is a redemptive power of having someone walk alongside you, rescuing you from your unwanted behavior. Someone to help you be more compassionate with yourself when you inevitably mess up.
But building that accountability is risky. The risk of vulnerability. The risk of a failed partnership. The risk of not changing. (Often, these risks are well worth the potential rewards.)
Later that meeting, Derek and I established accountability around his goals. And then he texted me last week: “Hey coach, Just thought I’d let you know my eating is going really well. I’m in a good space thanks to you. Makes me really happy to have some discipline again…Working together is much better than going it alone.”
So, do you need accountability? No.
But does it help a whole lot? Yes.
Where are you already getting help, but may have lost sight of it?
Where don’t you have accountability, but could benefit from it?
Courtesy of Coach Cam Personal Coaching LLC
I opened my eyes the morning of December 19th and quickly shut them again. I rolled to my back feeling every vertebrae in my body protest this movement. I slowly swung my feet to the ground while investigating the bruises found on my shins, knees, and elbows. It was the morning after my first ski attempt. The combination of my clumsiness, dislike of all things cold, and my need for speed that has earned me my infamous nickname of “Ricky Bobby,” really hindered my skiing abilities the previous day. I searched the dark room to see three of my best friends sleeping peacefully. I knew when they woke up they would be energized and excited knowing we were hitting the slopes yet again today. I swallowed my fear and anxiety and tried not to trip on my swollen ankle on my way to my suitcase. I layered up in every piece of clothing regardless of whether or not it had already been worn. I filed through inspirational quotes stored in my phone trying to find some motivation to help me carry on with the rest of my skiing experience. The one thing I could cling to is that the ski resort closed at 4 pm and it was already 8 am, so that meant the torture could only last eight more hours—tops. What a thought full of hope…
The experienced skiers decided that they wanted to try some blues (medium level slopes) that day, so they left me with my friend Michelle, who had not been skiing since early childhood. We stuck with the greens, the easiest level. We were probably ¼ of the way down the mountain when we found ourselves laying in a drift by a sign that had two arrows pointing opposite directions. One arrow was pointing towards a black (the hardest level slopes) path, the other arrow said “Free-Style Course.” While that initially sounds incredibly scary, we decided it had to be easier than the seemingly impossible black slope. The skiers on both sides of us were flying and zooming past us with such expertise and ease we were horrified!
To say we were scared is to lie. In that moment Michelle and I looked at each other with no hope. We had an understanding in one look that this would end badly. We scooted ourselves towards the “Free-Style Course” and found ourselves facing a “Caution” sign. The sign continued to tell us that the path was only to be taken by professionals and that death could likely occur. Something odd happened at this sign. Michelle and I could do nothing but laugh. We found ourselves struggling to stand up and for the first time since we got on the mountain, it wasn’t because of our questionable skiing skills.
The more we laughed, the more hopeful we were. That’s when a ski patrol realized Michelle nor I belonged on either of these slopes and hurried over to us. She informed us that we would have to go down a small black hill to get us back down to a green slope. That’s when the grit came in—we knew that the next obstacle surpassed our skiing skills in a painful way. Hopeful tears filled my eyes. I guess the tears could’ve been from the sight of the “small” black hill. Regardless, we skied, or rolled, (it’s debatable) down the rest of the black where we finally saw a green arrow. We took a deep breath, and laughed our way down the rest of the mountain with a decent amount of ease and a whole lot of fun.
My mentor, Kayla Schnuelle offers us some perspective on this by writing, “purpose creates the vision but hopeful grit supplies the passion and perseverance to achieve our goals and tackle the barriers.” This is exactly what we experienced on the top of Copper Mountain. The purpose of our adventure was undoubtedly getting down a mountain in one piece. We both envisioned us skiing into the nearest Starbucks for the much needed hot cup of coffee. We knew that this would take both passion (in the form of enjoyment) and perseverance. The barriers are pretty self-explanatory. Kayla’s idea of hopeful grit is the exact presence of why I am convinced hope is something that is not only beneficial in the lives of leaders but essential. We all have aspirations, goals, and dreams. I encourage everyone to regularly imagine where they want to see themselves in the next year, the next five years, and the next ten years. It creates hope, which in turn gives us emotional fuel and focused energy to take the steps and create a plan that will get us there, God willing.
I also had the opportunity to bounce some ideas about the simple word “hope” off of Dr. Tom Field, the Director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program. He says that hope is recognizing that with hard work, sweat, and grit, and a power bigger and greater than ourselves we will reach our potential and have a journey worthy of our hearts and even our lives. The opposite of hope he says is “despair and doubt, it’s giving up and giving in.” He reminds me that hope is the “precursor,” it is the step before the plan.
Kayla and Dr. Field reminded me of another detail. We can’t talk about hope without talking about faith. This doesn’t have to be a faith in God, but I know this is my strongest case for why hope is not only a nice thing to have but a “must” thing to have. Please relate the following lines to whatever fills your own heart. My favorite prayer goes “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” The counteraction and the struggle against despair, darkness, hatred, injury, and doubt can be summarized in one word and that one word is none other than HOPE. This is not only a Christian principle, but rather, a human principle.
Lastly, I need to give thanks to my new friend, Mr. Shawn Koehler, District Sales Manager at Bayer CropScience. He challenged my thinking during a business and industry visit that was scheduled to network on the topic of Nebraska FFA and current agricultural happenings. He believes that there are more powerful things to pursue than hope, like preparation and the ability to inspire. This is an idealism that I plan on applying to a lot of aspects of my life. Because of our incredibly insightful conversation, everything I had ever incorporated with hope was challenged. For that, I couldn’t be more grateful.
His ideas on hope and leadership taught me so much about my personal leadership style and ways that I can work towards improvement. Often times, words like “hope,” “faith,” and “belief” are thought of as fluffy and feel-good. Indeed, if these words are used lightly they can be dangerous, deceiving, and ineffective.
Serving as a Nebraska FFA state officer has shown me that the most valuable conversations are ones that challenge you. Every person you meet not only knows something that you don’t but has lived another life that you will never be able to live. The potential in this fact is endless and limitless. Thanks for reminding me of this, Mr. Koehler!
I would love to keep the conversation going, if you have any thoughts, ideas, or arguments on the complex word “hope” email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll end with this: love to hope, hope to plan, and plan to serve to the best of your abilities.
Do you remember the first time you took the first step in something big? I do, I was eight-years-old. I had watched for many years my cousins showing livestock and I could not wait for my turn to be able to have my own show calf. I worked very hard on my first show heifer and was excited to show her at the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic. As show day approached, things started to change. I no longer wanted to show my heifer. Even to the point of when it was my turn to exhibit my heifer I told my parents, “I can’t do this. Why can’t Blake show her for me?” Blake was my eighteen-year-old cousin who had just won the Nebraska State Fair that previous year. My parents wouldn’t budge. I kept telling my parents “I have never shown before. I don’t know what to do.” They made me take that first step into that ring and I never looked back.
I have looked at this analogy many times as I made decisions throughout high school and my first year at UNL. When I decided to start my marketing business, I had very little previous knowledge of Social Media and Multimedia. I surrounded myself with people who did that business very well and knew I had a niche in the Cattle Market. I knew cattle and cattle genetics. That pushed me to take my first step.
As entrepreneurs, we have many opportunities to take our first steps. Whether that first step is writing down a business idea to building the business idea that you’ve had for a little while, I encourage everyone to take that first step and push themselves into the ring. One of my favorite quotes is, “The first step toward getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” - Chauncey Depew
As we get close to summer break, I encourage everyone to take that first step and do something extraordinary!
I strike a dissonant chord with blogs because one cannot experience the lessons learned by reading alone. Instead of simply reading, I want you to feel the Engler community’s experience musically. Please listen to one of my favorite songs, It Takes a Village, by Joan Szymko, before reading further. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVShZWwIrU4
There are many great individual entrepreneurs in the world. Their voices and ideas ring out proudly like the opening male vocalist in It Takes a Village. However, when a second voice – a second set of ideas – is added to the mix, the tone of the song changes. A hauntingly beautiful harmony ensues.
The same can be said of Englerpreneurs. There are many individually gifted people involved in the Engler program, but the strength of the program comes not from individual success. The Engler pillar of partnership and the collaboration of many individuals inspires greatness collectively.
Engler rallies and events like 3DS – organized by Engler’s directors and officer team – set the stage for collaboration and action. Similarly, the entire choir answers the call of the first singers, conductor, and instrumentalists. They seem to repeat the initial lyrics (lessons), then build on them with a stronger voice.
Later when the choir breaks into “hey hey hey hey-ah,” they represent the beautiful chaos of the entrepreneurial process. From idea generation to product development to the final sale, there are Englerpreneurs active in each segment of the process. The beauty of the Engler program is that we can learn from those farther along in the process and vice versa, resulting in a beautiful round. You can hear a harmonious example of this cyclical learning at the middle and end of It Takes a Village.
With so many different parts going on at once, you may ask yourself how these individuals work together so well. Fortunately, there is a simple solution in both vocal performance and the Engler program. The vocalists feel the rhythm of It Takes a Village internally and by pounding their chest in time with the music. If only one vocalist did so, the beat would not be strong enough to be heard above the chaos. It would fall apart. However, all participants work together to establish and maintain the beat throughout the song, demonstrating the power of community in achieving an objective.
Englerpreneurs are comparatively endowed with a fire in their belly – the heartbeat of an entrepreneurial song. By quickly identifying this fire in new Englerpreneurs and rallying its potential, the Engler community works as one to achieve common goals.
It takes a whole community to raise an Englerpreneur. It is all our burden to motivate and teach each other. We can all share in the joy of entrepreneurial success!
Two hours into the trek, I was covered with sweat and my legs felt like rubber, but I was loving it. My teammate and I had decided to hike the tallest peak on the island and the path led us right through the middle of the jungle.
At one point it hit me; never did I imagine I would be hiking through a jungle in distant southeastern Asia. I mean, this thing looked like I was in the Jungle Dome at Henry Doorly Zoo. It was crazy. I was really in the middle of the jungle. And did I mention this trip was entirely free?
Steve Jobs said in a speech, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."
I thought about this quote as I was hiking through the jungle. How did the dots connect for me so that I ended up here? It started with a flier on the wall. I had been working with my teammates for a couple months on a new project called FarmAfield. We thought there was a way to create a new marketplace in agriculture to let people from all over the world invest in farms. While we were working on this, I was on campus, passing through the Gaughan Center when a flier on the wall caught my attention. It was from the Thought for Food Challenge, a startup contest focused on companies that innovate in agriculture or food.
I didn't know anything about the contest, but after digging into their website, I found that the finals of the challenge were held in Switzerland, and I thought that was pretty cool. So I put together an application in two days and sent it in. I had read that over 400 teams apply for the challenge from around the world, so I thought little of ever hearing back from them.
Then I get a very unexpected phone call in my dorm room inviting FarmAfield as a finalist. I'm pretty sure it woke me up from a nap. Our team flew halfway around the world and we met outstanding entrepreneurs from many different countries all working on startup companies; it was crazy (we even went skiing in the Alps afterwards)!
We didn't win the contest, so when we returned home, we all thought we were pretty much done with that adventure. The Thought for Food Organization had some contacts with a few online news sites, and asked if one could do a write up on us. We agreed and a short article was published by the Food Bytes website describing our marketplace. It was very nice for the organization to share the article, but we never thought it would go anywhere.
And then I got a sketchy-looking Facebook message from some guy named Chai from Thailand. He found our article in a Google search, liked what we were doing, and invited FarmAfield to speak at the first annual Smart Startup Thailand conference. I was convinced this was one of those 'Nigerian Princes asking for me to wire him some money' or "join this pyramid scheme"' type of things. My friends told me I would most likely be kidnapped if I went. However, I did some more research and was about 80% sure that it was real.
That being good enough for me, a teammate and I jumped on a plane, flew halfway around the world again, and ended speaking at a startup conference in Thailand. Afterwards, we visited a few beautiful islands and finally went hiking in the jungle.
The path to get to the jungle seems somewhat unreal to me. Just that Chai from Thailand found us in a random Google search is astounding to me. The lesson here? Always be building something.
When I look back at how my dots have connected thus far, I realize that none of these would have happened without first starting FarmAfield. I never expected to be traveling the world when we started building our business, but because we were building something, the opportunities showed up, and I'm confident that as we continue to build, more opportunities will show up.
You have to be building something to start seeing those opportunities. You don’t have to have all the answers, we sure didn’t and still don’t. You don’t have to have the expertise or knowledge. You don't have to have a special connection. You just need to start building.
Then, maybe you'll end up halfway around the world talking about an enterprise you are passionate about. I've got some suggestions if it takes you to Thailand.
Just start building and get ready for the adventure it takes you on.
Build- perhaps the most difficult and time consuming pillar of the Engler Experience. Most people have passion; everyone can aspire to something, however, it takes the best of the best to have the courage and grit that is required to build an enterprise. To “build” takes the best partnerships of mankind, the most effort, and more strategic planning than any other endeavor in the world of entrepreneurship.
Take a moment to compare the pillar of build to the endeavor of climbing Mt. Everest- the most challenging and respected climb in the entire world. Base camp of Everest is located at 17,000 feet above sea level, higher than anywhere in the continental United States; most likely higher than anywhere you have ever been. This base camp is the ideation process of entrepreneurship. By aspiring to and planning your venture, you are already reaching higher than 99% of the people in this world.
On the Nepalese side of Everest, there are four major camps that are located above base camp. Camp one, at 21,300 feet, is the stage of researching and consulting with your mentors about your business venture. Sherpas, the mentors of the journey that most climbers cannot survive without, almost always guide those who attempt Everest. Find your Sherpa in your journey of entrepreneurship, and do not be afraid to rely on them when you hit your breaking point.
By the time you hit camp two of Everest, you’ve got an adequate feeling of the journey ahead of you. You’ve got a plan laid out, which comforts you at times, but you are more excited and intimidated at the same time than you have been in your entire life. Brace yourself, because the next parts of your journey will get rocky.
You continue your climb upwards against the odds of human nature and ability. At camp three, the only thought in your mind is to turn around now before you risk it all. Camp three is desolate, many climbers do not make it this far, and those who do are not who you expected. You expect the most confident and able climbers to make it this far- but what you cannot measure is the willpower and grit that is needed to get this far. Now, you’ve got your time, your reputation, and your own money on the line after you leave camp three. There is no turning back now.
Camp four: the most desolate gathering of human beings in the world. These individuals are different in nature- they have one goal in mind and will not stop until they reach it or fall while trying. Camp four of Everest is on the verge of the Death Zone at 26,000 feet, where the air is so thin that you will slowly die without supplemental oxygen. For the entrepreneur, this oxygen is your team, your financial support, and your inner fire to reach the summit. Without all of these resources, your journey will not be a success.
Past camp four, your journey into your business launch is literally “fly or die”. You’ve got limited time, limited supplies, and the only thing pushing you forward is that flame inside of you that is reaching for the top. There are two major “steps” on the route to the top of Everest after camp four. These steps are sheer rock shelves that are seemingly insurmountable, and can be compared to the risk of going all-in on your business launch. You must plan your route with exact precision, but be ready to pivot in any situation. These rock shelves are equipped with mounted ropes and ladders to assist you- but you better know how to use them. These ropes and ladders are your mentors, your funds, and your resources, but without an inner drive to overcome these obstacles, these resources will not be enough. Be prepared, because climbing these steps will be the most difficult and risky moments of your life.
So here you are, a thousand feet from the top. You are absolutely exhausted, on the verge of breaking down, and are questioning everything you have done to get this far. The only thing in front of you is a narrow, winding ledge of rock and ice, and that fire in your belly is the only reason you push forward against all odds. Choose each step carefully, do not rush yourself but do not idle in place, and you will reach the summit.
You’ve now accomplished what is seemingly impossible. You are at the summit of Mt. Everest, the highest place on the planet that only few have accomplished. Many have failed next to you along the way; many have given up and turned around. This is your business, and no one knows it better than you. But make no mistake in understanding that your climb is not over yet…
Atmosphere! What do you surround yourself with?
The atmosphere when 90,000 people sound like 900,000 on game day at Nebraska, a nervous room of 5,000 excited, worried, anxious new freshman students, or moments before an intense 72 hours at the Engler 3 Day Startup weekend all have the same adrenaline-filled feeling. Being around different atmospheres can determine the reactions to events, shifting a person’s paradigm, and potentially driving a person out of their comfort zone.
I have concluded that Engler as an organization has its own atmosphere developed by the kind of people who take part in the events. Whether it be in the classroom setting, at an Engler rally, or a group of Engler students getting together for an evening at Coop’s Corner, there is a tension in the air. Some of the building blocks of the tension are constructed from ideas ready to be brought to reality, students with the same passion and grit coming together, and a “fire in the belly” that builds character.
Some people may see tension as a negative attribute in a situation, but it’s the thought and direction taken that can transform it into a positive. Just as people see failure as negative; if one is taught to fail fast, fail forward, and fail cheap, it can become a positive outcome. The tension in the atmosphere of the Engler program creates the attitudes of the students and helps as a driving force for them to become leaders and more importantly entrepreneurs. So, what is it you will surround yourself with to create a strong atmosphere in order to be successful?
“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.” ~ David Bly
This quotation has been a model for me and is now something I carry throughout my life. I stumbled across this quote my senior year of high school when a teacher assigned us to find a quote that we could use to explain ourselves. I chose this one. When we want to make an impact on someone’s life, it is important to make sure our intentions match up and are compatible. Then we can better see how our own experiences can be integrated into theirs to form one new team that can work together towards a goal. This idea plays into the word that has so much meaning and power, GRIT. Grit is courage and resolve, the idea of strength of character.
My experience with grit is portrayed through the purpose of the backbone. The human body has 206 bones at adulthood that all serve a significant purpose and are used at different times of activity. For example, the human jaw, the mandible, is what allows us to talk and communicate our thoughts and ideas. Our carpals, bones in the hands and wrists, help us to have the strength to swing a hammer or conduct an orchestra. But one of the strongest and most important parts of the body, and the one that connects the central nervous system, is the thoracic vertebrae or the backbone. The backbone is composed of 33 individual bones, each of which serves a unique and different purpose. This is true grit. It is the ability to work together and share true passion.
Entrepreneurship is a shared passion. An entrepreneur is someone who will go above and beyond to make a difference in something they have a passion for. We all have a vested interest in making a difference, so why not share a passion? God created the body to be able to form together and work together. When we partner together, we can create grit. We are able to put a backbone into an idea and make it become a reality. Being able to go above and beyond for a project and making it a passion and never giving up on it is why the University of Nebraska’s Engler Entrepreneurship program is breeding success. The program is nurturing entrepreneurs and building enterprises that encompass true grit--all with the idea of making a difference.
I had it all planned out. My senior year was going to be a year all about enjoying my time, really committing to the things I was passionate about and finally starting my own business: Buffalo Bartending.
Buffalo Bartending was an idea that I had been tossing around for some time. I saw that most college students know nothing about bartending and just order the cheapest, terrible tasting drinks at the bar. I was going to create a company that offered quick, fun, cheap classes teaching college kids about different types of alcohol and how to drink it. I had a business model worked up by the time that August rolled around and was ready to start really working on it.
But then things got busy.
First it was just class, but then it was a couple weekly organization meetings, then it was a part time job, then it was an impromptu trip to the movie theater, then it was a few more obligations that I said yes to. And before I knew it, I was back to the regular college-kid schedule of just trying to get to my meeting and wanting the next weekend to get here.
My business idea went nowhere and my senior year flew by very quickly. And many of the college students I talk to now are doing the same thing. Having been through this, my suggestion is to focus more on starting something, instead of just getting involved in a huge number of organizations or wasting your time away. I really wish I would have started my Buffalo Bartending business. Part of me still really wants to - I think it's the 'fire in your belly' that causes the desire to start something of your own. But when we run the regular college-kid schedule and fall into the same bad habits, we never give ourselves a chance to live out a dream of starting our own venture. So I've listed a few resources and philosophies below that could help you avoid this common time trap.
1. Block your time. Get your calendar in front of you and block off 2 hours everyday. These two hours become your time to think, innovate and get real work done. I've found these are crucial to actually making progress on my business goals. I like using the Pomodoro Technique to manage this time chunk -http://pomodorotechnique.com/ This is hard, and I'm not very good at it yet, but we've got to find a way to fiercely protect our time. If you let other obligations or people control your schedule, you'll always find yourself working to fulfill their mission, and not your own.
2. Don't go it alone. This keeps you accountable and motivated. Pick out a group of 2-3 people who want to build this with you, and make sure you are all focused on a similar mission. A goal becomes 50% easier to accomplish when you tackle it with a partner at your side. (Not scientifically proven, but that's what my experience has taught me.)
3. Pick one big thing. Based upon The One Thing by Gary Keller, pick one big thing that would make everything else you do easier or unnecessary and attack that thing each day. This may seem impossible, but it makes a huge difference for you when you can find that narrow of focus.
Use these tips, and don't repeat my mistakes. If you live your life in college a little differently now, you can live your life much differently later. I'll end with a quote from Seth Godin that sums up what I'm trying to get across.
"The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something at all."
So get going!