Big Idea Blog


Intentionality by Emily Bledsoe

October 19, 2016

Intentionality has always been a word that I honestly never stopped to think about. You can intentionally do something, but what if you were to go out of your way every day and be intentional about your goals, with people, and with your time.

Engler has taught me that in order to build and establish your dreams, you must never rely on something to simply. . . happen. Enterprises do not just bloom out of an idea without being shadowed by pure passion.

So what does this have to do with intentionality?

Freshman year, Tom Field said something in my entrepreneurship course that I will never forget. He told us that being realistic is the most commonly traveled path to mediocrity. After thinking about what this meant to me, I decided to purposefully build a network of people who not only pushed me, but invested into what I loved doing.

For me, it took Tom’s words to understand the value of intentionally or purposefully reaching likeminded people. Going out of your way to deliberately increase interaction and purpose behind these interactions.

The Engler community has exhibited this purposeful interaction with conversations and will forever impact the way that I view talking with people. Potential partners, potential investors, or potential clients; every interaction should hold to this idea of intentionality.

Emily Bledsoe

Day in the Life of the Chief Learning Officer by Dave Lambe

September 29, 2016
Day in the Life

Morning starts early (4:30 AM), it’s going to be a good week! Over 160 boxes of flowers came in over the weekend that need to be processed, but, someone is sick and cannot make it to work today. A customer 90 miles away needs product as soon as we can get there, some product came in bad and needs credit, and we need more deliveries in one route because we can’t justify a drive to Grand Island with an order of only $150.00.  E-mail has a HUGE order on it from one of our best clients, a new client orders product for the first time, we are looking to hire another driver, and payroll is due today.  Time 6:00 am.  This really is a good day! I’m happy. This is what gives context for discussion in class about change, pivots, and resource allocation in a small business.  I actually enjoy this environment.

 UNL started this week, I am responsible for over 130 students this semester, the graduate students want to get into the course material right away and have their first assignment handed in by Monday evening, lunch with my TA to discuss our strategy for making the class experience this year better than last, piloting a new platform for course material- because I know it is coming, meet face to face with over 10 students discussing their business ideas, some need patents, some need partners, some need funding, some need coding, some need ideas, some just need to catch up from their summer internship.  Tom asks if I can squeeze two more students into a class, I set up a meeting about hydroponic towers with a colleague that could lead to STEM course material for high school educators, miss my meeting with Andrew but have a masters student that I need to connect with because of it, take on 5-6 more advisees to help out a colleague who is sick and out for a while, the department wants me to be on another committee. Time 7pm. This could give some credibility to my discussion in class about change, pivots, and resource allocation in an enterprise.  No better life than that of an entrepreneur, from making your own decisions about how you spend your day, to spending time with people you enjoy, to fulfilling your own aspirations and dreams, all while serving others and empowering enterprise builders.

– Best position on campus!

Dave Lambe

Passion by Jeff Hornung

August 25, 2016

Passion  -  You’ve got to have that fire in your belly

            Passion is an interesting animal; it can drive people crazy. Passion can defy all logic. Passion can even destroy an empire, nation, or company. However passion can provide immense openings for success and wealth building. It can also give courage and strength to those who need it most. But perhaps the most valuable thing passion can do is create.

            To have passion is to create opportunity. To follow passion is to act upon a burning fire within you; something that you yourself can’t even explain fully. Passion is hard to understand and even harder to define. This pillar of our program comes in many different shapes, sizes, forms. But one thing is for sure: Passion is alive within the people who recognize it.

            When individuals make decisions to follow their passion, they are making a choice to invest in themselves. When a group makes the decision to follow its’ passion, the members are making a choice to invest in a greater cause (one that’s often bigger and better than the group itself). Passion has the ability to make individuals and groups do just that; believe in something greater than the norm.

            PASSION – An undeniable (sometimes undefinable) fire within one’s self to align with a certain idea, concept, or action. Passion creates opportunity, becomes alive within us, and forces us to believe in a cause greater than we can ever imagine. So don’t try and define or capture passion, for it's already within you. Identify your fire – then set the world ablaze!

Jeff Hornung

Pirate Radio by Dr. Tom Field

August 15, 2016
Pirate Radio
The Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program is the active expression of hope. In a world of chaos and uncertainty, entrepreneurship is an idea, a concept, perhaps even a philosophical approach to life that embraces solutions, opportunities, and the innate capacity of human beings to use creativity, innovation, and sweat equity to build something of value.  Entrepreneurship is impossible without claiming accountability, accepting risk, and developing relationships that connect skills, experiences and networks in a meaningful manner.

My first entrepreneurial experience was actually driven by my friend Dan who at an early age developed a fascination with radio broadcasting.  In sixth grade, he built a radio station in his bedroom which allowed him to broadcast within about a four-block square area.  However, with a bit of innovative engineering he was able to boost the range to nearly half of the homes in our rural community.  My friend Rex and I were employed as scouts and mounted on our trustee three speeds complete with banana seats and equipped with a battery powered transistor radio we would test the limits of the broadcast and the strength of the signal.  We helped with scripts and programming while Dan in his most Chet Huntley voice would share the news, sports, weather, and assorted commentary with all who would listen.  As I recall, eventually Dan’s pirate radio enterprise either interfered with the local station or annoyed some of the citizenry and the FCC shut him down.  But the management at KGUC recognized his ambition and by the time Dan was a senior in high school he was the voice of media in Gunnison, Colorado.

Twelve-year old Dan was teaching us that an idea without execution was not nearly as much fun as actually getting to market, having a live signal and sending our voice onto the airwaves.  He was modeling the power of experimentation, of taking action, and of not letting limited resources get in the way of making stuff happen.  He didn’t see his bedroom – he saw his own version of the NBC newsroom; he liked music that the local station hadn’t yet embraced and thought he could do something about sharing it, and come hell or high water he was not about to settle for playing radio station when he could actually have a live broadcast.  

Tom Peters exclaims that the only way forward is to try things – lots of things and to engage in the experimental model of hypothesis testing – i.e. TAKING ACTION.  If you have the gleam in your eye and fire in your belly then go for it – leave the comfort of the harbor and set sail for the new land.
Tom Field

The Meaning of Partnership by Davis Behle

July 27, 2016
Partner is one of the most important core values to me.  I have always enjoyed meeting new people and building quality relationships.  College has been an incubator for many of these relationships to hatch.  I have built relationships centered around academics, entrepreneurship, faith, and my fraternity. However, I recognize that partnership is not just about building a relationship.  Partnership is analyzing the problem at hand and collectively working towards finding a solution or creating a goal. The challenge of working towards a common goal is becoming so focused on the goal that you lose sight of the relationship.  Within entrepreneurship, a partner is someone to bear the burdens of risk with and someone with whom to celebrate the joys of success.  This is someone who will not just get excited about the initial idea and the excitement of good times, but will stick it out and be someone to lean on in the tough and grueling times.  I have seen this difference between relationships and partnerships as I have started the journey of my own entrepreneurial pursuits.  It is an entirely new experience taking these strong friendships and figuring out whose passions and abilities could help the success of starting a business.  It becomes not just about whether or not I enjoy a person's character and personality, but figuring out how their personality and skills can complement my own while furthering the pursuit.  A partnership provides not only someone to collaborate and bounce ideas off, but also a connection into a whole new network of people.  
Davis Behle

Passion - Why Such a Big Deal? by Tyler Haun

July 18, 2016

Aspire. Passion. Partner. Grit. Build. Courage. These are the six pillars that Engler Entrepreneurs strive to live by.  Each is vital to succeeding at building enterprises that contribute value to agriculture and the community – which is Engler’s mission.  They all have earned a place as one of the six pillars.  That being said, there is one that really sticks out to me.  Passion.

Let’s step back for a minute.  As a college student, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked, “So, what do you want to do after graduation?”  I know exactly what I want to do.  I want to work in the beef industry. More specifically, I want to return to my family’s operation and feed cattle.  However, lots of students (perhaps even the majority) have no idea how to answer that question.  They say things like, “I don’t know yet”, “I’ll figure it out when the time comes”, or “I’ll take whatever job comes along”.  I feel sorry for these people.  So what’s the difference?  I believe the difference is passion.  I know exactly what I want to do after college, because I have found what I’m passionate about – feeding cattle.  Granted, passions may change over time, but I’d speculate that many college students have never considered – or searched for – what their passion may be. 

So why is this such a big deal?  I know in my own life, I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t following my passion.  If I didn’t care about my job, or don’t enjoy what I’m doing…it’s not worth working at.  I’m passionate about three things – Jesus Christ, family, and the cattle business.  These are three things that I consider worth living for.  If I don’t pursue these passions, I won’t be happy – and I probably won’t be successful.  I’m confident that if I do continue to live out my passions, I will have a very meaningful, joyful, and successful life.  Success can mean different things, but for me, success means making real change for the things I’m passionate about.  For example, my goals are to advance the Gospel of Christ, love my family, and improve the cattle feeding business.

I would challenge everyone to ask themselves, “What am I passionate about?”  Make a short list (maybe less than 5) of things that bring you joy.  And, most importantly, ask “What is worth living for?”  I believe that this is the single most important question you can ever ask yourself.  Once you figure that out, you will be well on your way to living an adventure, instead of a career.

In my opinion, the most powerful drive or motivation to succeed is passion.  Once you find your passion, aspirations of how to make a difference can be developed.  Passion drives the courage and grit that it takes to get it done.  When it comes to your idea, no one can build that enterprise as successfully as you can, because they don’t have your passion.  Passion is at the core of a prosperous entrepreneur.  Passion is what empowers us to make real change.

Tyler Haun

Courage by Haley Bledsoe

July 11, 2016
Chains rattled in the brisk wind as I pulled my body to the next level; my chest tightening as the elevation increased.  My palms perspire and my legs quiver as I look behind at my steps.  I see the thousands of stairs below, the mountains peaking through the fog, and the millions of steps ahead.  I was on Mount Huashan, China, the deadliest hike in the world.  I planned and mentally prepared myself for this… “I am ready for this, I am going to conquer this mountain.” Despite this  determined voice in my head, nothing could fully equip me for the image that I was experiencing; it was real. 

I looked around my surroundings as I reached the north side. People were scattered around the peak, resembling an ant colony shuffling to complete their tasks. I noticed the diversity; different ages, skin color, adults wearing business attire while others resembling Sherpas carrying twice their body weight on their backs. It was the most bizarre scene I had ever seen. In that very moment, I realized that I would never have a feeling like this again. I could never replicate my sense of adventure, fuzziness that was buzzing in my head, and heat on the tips of my fingers. I live a different life, a very different life. However, there is something so unique but similar in everyone:  C O U R A G E.

The pillar that stands tall in my life is courage. I believe it does in everyone, although you may not yet be aware of it. There is a secret ingredient in each person on this world that will make people curious and inch closer to the edge. It is what keeps them up at night and sparks a passion in their soul. Some days it is dull, but sometimes it is strong enough to spark a forest fire. I believe when a person finds their niche they will indeed need the courage to share their passion and vision with the world. The Engler community has offered this experience for me. I have found an inclusive environment that has provided a standard that is tall enough for me to strive for but still see.

When I look back, I wonder what it would be like if I hadn't taken that risk or dipped my toes in the water. One thing I know for sure, I have never regretted pursuing what I believe in my heart is worth pursuing, despite other people's opinions. Courage takes faith and perseverance. I know it's worth the persecution, ridicule, and....the view.

Haley Bledsoe

Aspire by Amanda Clymer

July 6, 2016

Merriam Webster defines the word ‘aspire’ as a verb meaning to want to have or achieve something. This word is also one of the six pillars of the Engler Experience. It is the desire of each and every person in our program. This pillar is representative of our culture, how we do things and is a part of my own personal journey.

When I think of the word aspire I think of our founder’s commonly mentioned quote, “you gotta have that fire in your belly.” It is the will and desire to achieve on some level that binds everyone in the program together. The program nurtures, challenges and equips those who aspire. The will to aspire is representative in these statements:

Engler Entrepreneurs know what they aspire to is the purpose or objective behind taking crucial steps in the entrepreneurial journey.

Engler Entrepreneurs are asking the tough questions and having purposeful conversations to solve problems and reach goals.

Engler Entrepreneurs don’t shy away from fostering new perspectives, thinking innovatively or immersing themselves into this transformative experience.

Engler Entrepreneurs know that aspirations are more than dreams, they are commitments toward contributing value to agriculture and communities.

This pillar does not stand on its own though. One must be backed by passion and courage. With a little grit and partnering an entrepreneur can build what they have aspired toward.

In my personal journey the word aspire represents who I am and a commitment I have made. I am very much a goal oriented person and my aspirations and the thought of the future is what excites me each and every day. As a freshman in Dr. Field’s introductory course for the Engler program I had the opportunity to set goals and think about what I aspire to be in life. My completed projects would end up being guiding forces for my time as a student here at UNL. First, I made a personal commitment to be a student first, a leader second. I knew many of the opportunities I would be given would be because I was a student and I wanted to be committed to my education. Next, I created a personal policy to be the best person I could be in both words and actions, knowing that you never know who is watching. Lastly and I think most importantly, I aspired to leave a legacy. I wanted to leave a legacy based on the type of person I was, the passion I had and the actions I had taken.

My time in the Engler program is a large part of how I am leaving a legacy at UNL. This is done with the past in mind of those who have influenced and lead the program for me. It is also focused on the future of the students in the program who will be keeping the American dream alive and well. In the large scheme of life I believe the program has created my legacy-driven mindset and laid the foundation for me to aspire towards what matters to me…helping others.

Amanda Clymer


June 27, 2016

What does it mean to partner?

How would you describe partnership?

We have many definitions today for the concept of partnership, but when I ask myself this question I think of a story Jesus told over 2,000 years ago.

There was a Jewish man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho and he was blindsided by an attack from bandits.  They beat him, stripped him of his clothing and dignity and left him for dead on the side of the road. I imagine he laid there in excruciating pain and despair waiting to die, knowing that his family and friends would be left to fend for themselves.  A priest and another man both came down the road at different times throughout the day.  I can only imagine the joy that abounded in the man’s heart when he saw them, hoping desperately they might stop.  Only to watch them move to the other side of the road and pass quickly by, eyes focused straight ahead.  Sometime later a Samaritan man came down the road, he stopped and diligently bound the Jewish man’s wounds and poured oil and wine over them; he loaded the Jewish man onto his donkey and took him to an inn.  When they arrived he found the man a room and paid the innkeeper for the room and told him; “Take care of him, and whatever more you spend I will pay for when I return.”

The Samaritan gave graciously of his time, energy and money – how different might the outcome have been if it hadn’t been for his compassion? The life of an entrepreneur is one full of risks, dangerous moments, lonely places, big wins and big losses and we find ourselves lying on the side of the road in deep need of help at times.  In the Engler program we believe in the Samaritan man.  We believe in pulling one another up from the side of the road and moving forward together. As a member of this program I can’t imagine how different my path might have been if it weren’t for the incredible partners I have been surrounded by here.

This is partnership and this is the Engler Program.

Ben Halvorson

You Have the Courage by Toni Rasmussen

June 15, 2016
You Have the Courage

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. -Winston Churchill 

Though Winston Churchill is known as the British Prime Minister who lead England through the challenges of WWII, he had previously worked as a war correspondent for a daily newspaper. While reporting about the Boer War in South Africa, he was taken prisoner. He escaped to Mozambique, a distance some 300 miles away from where he was captured.  

Imagine being in Winston Churchill’s shoes – try to fathom the fear and the unknowns in his journey of escape. So must entrepreneurs face uncertainty while dealing with doubt and even fear?  Will it work? Are people open to this? Am I absolutely crazy for even thinking this?  

The answer to these and many other questions are part of facing the unknowns. Ultimately it takes courage to make the shift from the known to the unknown.  Courage is not limited to any special class of individuals – it is not one of those “you either have it or you don’t” traits. It is not an innate state of being, rather it can be acquired by anyone.  But sadly many never take the step to let courage guide their steps.    

In entrepreneurship, courage is required to deal with risk and the potential of failure. Entrepreneurs are continually trying new things - failing at some, succeeding with others. Have an idea but worry that your courage quotient is too low?  Build your courage by taking the following steps: 

  1. Do the research. 

  • What's been done? What are the pain points? How can this be fixed? 

  1. Weigh the consequences with this risk. 

  • What happens if it doesn't work? How much am I willing to invest? 

Ultimately, you face the opportunity and ask yourself Am I meant to do this?  Is this my purpose?   

If yes, then make the leap of faith and take the risk. 

Having courage does not mean you morph from the tiny, yellow tabby kitty to a big, strong, prideful lion just because you visited the Wizard of Oz. Rather, having courage means you have faith in yourself, your abilities, the timing, and your choices. 

Imagine yourself as Winston Churchill in your entrepreneurial captivity - are you going to remain a prisoner of your own thoughts? Or are you going to escape to something with far greater potential?


Join Us!

Feeling that Engler fire? Ready to start this journey?

Learn more about how to join the program