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Posted By Megan Ballard, Monday, October 13, 2014

#NACCE2014 Lunch Panel: From Mindset to Meaningful Action

Submitted by Braden Croy - Syracuse University

Lunchtime Panelists: Julie Lenzer Kirk | Earl Gohl | Jon Robinson | Timothy McNulty

This discussion will revolve around entrepreneurship ecosystems and building vibrant communities.  No one owns the ecosystem and every member comes to the ecosystem for different reasons.  However, this diversity is critical to building strong business

What role do you see yourself playing in an entrepreneurship ecosystem and how does the ecosystem work with community colleges?

Julie: as a recovering entrepreneur, ecosystems are extremely important to me.  In my role at the federal government and as a founding member of Startup America, I find ecosystem to be vital.  There’s a lot of thought leadership happening right now with what ecosystems need to be developed.  Ecosystems move up the hierarchy of needs:

  1. Basic infrastructure

  2. Technology infrastructure

  3. Business support

  4. Engines of innovation

  5. Connected ecosystem

The government helps fund every aspect of this hierarchy.  The government is a catalyst to what community’s needs, especially communities in need—economic distress.  However, now the government can help with seed funds, technology purchases, and program developments.

Earl: Appalachia runs from Alabama to New York and could be considered one of the great next investment opportunities of the century.  The area has everything and every type of entrepreneur.  Huge potential in education, health care, energy, etc.  It will be vital for diverse partners to help facilitate, finance, and grow entrepreneurial ecosystems.

The community college structure throughout Appalachia is critical to its ecosystem.  These colleges are important technical training and stepping stone institutions for students and potential entrepreneurs.  Poverty is a serious is in Appalachia though.  Strategy has ebbed and flowed to reflect the political whims.  Residents and leaders have taken over and defined the region from a grassroots movement.  These communities are incredibly engaged and committed to working together to build their own ecosystems from the ground up—they’re taking their destiny into their own hands.

Jon: The Kauffman foundation tries to operate in the top three slices of the ecosystem’s hierarchy of needs.  The organization is an evangelist for the prosperity of communities, it’s a leading resource for research, and helps with the specific performance of various entrepreneurship assets.  It does a little myth-busting as well, to show what truly helps entrepreneurs grow.  The Kauffman Foundation also has numerous educational programs and curricular opportunities for colleges and communities to leverage.

Put simply, Kauffman is a catalyst for collaboration; both regionally and nationally.  Helping to create that patchwork quilt.

Tim: If you’re dealing with communities facing radical changes, community colleges are a key anchor everyone can rally around.  The ‘maker movement’ is becoming a critical aspect of the modern education and method for preparing students for 21st century jobs.  Hundreds of thousands of campus space has been devoted to the construction of maker spaces.  Community colleges have played a critical role in growing the maker movement and empowering students to build in new ways, with new technologies, and generating new companies.

Maker spaces have attracted some major corporate collaborations and helped bridge the gap between 2 year and 4 year institutions.  We have the chance to work together to develop entirely new tools for makers and entrepreneurs.

What are examples of successes or failures to developing ecosystems and what is the specific role of the community college?

Earl: It’s a challenge because there’s no finish line.  There’s lots of goals and mileposts, but just because you’ve completed one project doesn’t mean you’re done.  You’ll spend your career working on new and old programs.  However, that process helps you community grow best.  It will always be an ongoing process.

Julie: Forget about thinking outside of the box; here is no box.  It’s important to look at the synergies across the community, no matter size or scope.  It doesn’t have to be just a university thing, everyone needs to be involved and helping to find those gaps.

Jon: many times community colleges are the most collaborative institutions in an ecosystem—no ego and no need for credit.  However, this means you’ll have to deal with very large egos from larger, more brand conscious institutions.  Community colleges can at some level be considered the most democratic organization in an entrepreneurship ecosystem.  Many organizations are rent seekers, looking to extract some sort of value from the entrepreneurs they say they’re trying to help—the community college isn’t like this.

Vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem s are entirely about talent, human capital.  Very few institutions outside of community colleges can say they are solely focused on developing human capital.  If you really want to help you entrepreneurs, you have to get off campus and find where the entrepreneurs live.

Tim: The opportunity space is huge for community colleges.  The direction of technology is towards democratization of access.  Things like Kickstarter make it so easy for an entrepreneur in a rural area to find supporters and sales.

Community colleges are key intersections for communities to help entrepreneurs find tools.

Julie: failures in ecosystems have happened because of ego.

Jon: you really have to work to keep egos from creeping in and destroying an ecosystem.  It behooves you to focus on tools not credit.

Heather: the role of the community college should be as a voice and as a leader.  They can unify because of a lack of ego.

What would be your ask of community colleges and what would you like community colleges to ask from you?

Jon: The Kauffman foundation is looking to you, the people in this room, to help entrepreneurs.  We need help testing our hypotheses and communicate to us what entrepreneurs are asking for and what type of help are they looking for.  We need sample size and lots and lots of data.

Julie: we’d like to see good projects come from community college projects.  We have money and are eager to fund your projects.  November 3rd is the deadline for EDA grants—apply!

We’re looking to develop a mentor protégé program.  We want to be the catalyst for your community.

Tim: The most critical thing we can do together is break down the silos and break down the barriers.

Earl: My ask—be bold, don’t hold back.  Be engaged in your community and when other people have sharp elbows, have sharp elbows yourself.  The opportunity is now and community colleges are critical to helping build the future workforce.  We are becoming an entrepreneurial nation, community colleges can be the leaders and the center for this national change.  With your ideas and our help we can put together some pretty great community structures.


NACCE Lifetime Achievement Award…

…and the honor goes to John Chemaly!

“Some people enjoy being an employee, an entrepreneur enjoys being an employer.” ~ John Chemaly

A man with a good spirit and good heart.  John knows how to get the audience laughing and applauding with this short anecdotes.  Only 60 something, John believes he still has many accomplishments ahead of him and opportunities to help his fellow entrepreneurs.

John takes us on a journey 12 years back, recounting moments with his daughter and family.  A man who plays the tough love thing but is never heartless or uncaring.  He cares deeply and is truly grateful for what Middle Essex Community College has given to his daughter, other students, and the community around it.  The college has given hope and opportunity, but most importantly, it’s given possibility to those who could never find their way before.

A small world indeed.  Pat, an employee at Middle Essex, was unexpectedly brought up on stage and it turns out her son works for Trinity.  John truly loves this college.

The time fast approaches when the majority of jobs will only require an associate’s degree and community college certificates.  We have the opportunity to make that future vibrant and prosperous.

John disagrees with the freedom to fail.  A true entrepreneur has the mindset—failure is not an option.  In his own companies, john has zero appetite for failure. 

The definition of value is doing more with less.  Everyone wants more for less in a quicker period of time.  Community colleges embody the definition of value.  They have figured out affordability, access, and employability.   

You can teach accessibility and affordability, but you can’t teach passion. Being an entrepreneur is like being in love.  It’s a feeling of, “I can do this.”  Daily being able to look your business in the eye and saying I can do this.

Tags:  12th conference  NACCE2014 

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Posted By Megan Ballard, Monday, October 13, 2014
Updated: Monday, October 13, 2014

#NACCE 2014 Morning Session 10/13/14

Submitted by Braden Croy—Syracuse University

Heather will be missed dearly as President & CEO of NACCE. 

She will certainly be remembered for her dedication and service to the organization.  We look forward to meeting her possible replacements who are here at the conference with us now.  Dr. Massey has laid out a wonderful plan to find, interview, and onboard Heather’s replacement.  As her true character shows, Heather will stay around the help train and transition the new CEO and organization.

#NACCE 2015 has just been announced for October 11 in Houston Texas.

Lee Lambert will be stepping up to the podium in just a few minutes.  His CV is much too long to reproduce here, but we can certainly say he’s a wonderful speaker to have.

Blue, green, brown, and yellow

Water and trees traded for desert and sunshine.

What does it mean to embrace and entrepreneurial mindset.

Two words and one acronym.

Don’t be afraid of… salt…

Will a college education become the modern day equivalent of salt?

Everyone needs access to salt (education), wars were fought over salt, but it has become common place.

Everyone needs access to education, however, it has become too expensive.  We MUST bring down the cost of education or else an entrepreneur will step in to equalize the market

Demographics, globalization, technology, and lack of government support has put us into a VUCA world.

The real question becomes, how will be replacing our aging population?  Millennials are the most diverse generation of young adults and their potential is huge.  They have never been without the internet and their potential is huge.

Poor nations and poor communities are becoming rich.  95% of all customers do not live in the United States.  However, we must develop a cultural competency which allows us to access those markets.  Technology has allowed us to democratize and access markets we could never before tap.  Can colleges use this new access to keep their business models sustainable and growing?

This access may also be a double edged sword.  Great access means cheaper programs.  Simple economics—supply and demand.

Is curriculum your intellectual property?  It should be marketed outside of the United States.  Leverage your curriculum to expand internationally.  Take curriculum to markets in which you specialize—i.e. automotive engineering, go to China.  Train the train to help foreign universities teach to the American standard.

Use technology to keep the costs affordable.

One course, many sections.  Start a new section every Monday at Rio Siloto College.

Cocheese College, right here in Phoenix is stepping up to advance unmanned aerial systems. 

Dr. Srasvathy has given us all a common language to speak about entrepreneurship and starting businesses.  You can find more about Effectuation and the 5 key principles at

“You must trust the dots will connect in your future” ~ Steve Jobs


We will now be welcoming Dr. Shari Olson to the stage.

She is an entrepreneurial president who exemplifies effectuation in action at the collegiate level.  She fully understands that at times you must set your affordable loss and budget wisely so she can cover those risk taking opportunities which might not pan out.  As any great entrepreneur knows, you will never be successful 100% of the time, you just have to be successful 51% of the time.  Key to her success has been forming partnerships both on campus and off campus.  Diverse stakeholders who believe what you believe will always help you achieve your greatest successes.

She deserves the Entrepreneurial President of the Year Award which has been given to her.

Dr. Olson had humble beginnings in a dairy farming family and community.  From a very young age she was given tremendous responsibly and handled it deftly with grace and caring.

Who doesn’t love a good dog story and picture?  Family runs deep with Dr. Olson’s dedication to her college, her faculty, and her community.

Her best mentor never let her go into the red.  Keeping careful watch on the bottom line and justifying every purchase is an invaluable skill for every entrepreneurial president, faculty, or staff.

Through the Learning Studio, Dr. Olson is giving her students every possible opportunity to succeed as entrepreneurs.  Collaboration, community involvement, and support networks will help students start their businesses.

We owe it to our students to help them explore their entrepreneurial passions.

“Always, always, be happy doing what you love.” ~ Johnny Cupcake


This conference wouldn’t be possible without the support of our amazing sponsors.  Check them out on the website and learn more.


We welcome to the stage, the woman, the myth, the legend… Dr. Saras Sarasvathy!

Oh the places we’ve gone… in only one year. 

Entrepreneurs came up with effectuation.  Saras understands that she was a student of her entrepreneurs.  They taught her just as she now teaches us.

What is it that people learn while they’re building multiple enterprises?  What about along the way when they experience failures, heartbreak, and lower lows?  Simply stated, they learn effectuation.

It’s not all about chasing resources, it is more about working with what you already have.  Those things you can control to co-create the future.  Every successful entrepreneur has followed that basic premise—you can only control what is within your power.

The real question, however, is how.  How can you work with what you have and co-create the future?  We’ve heard the principles in many ways but Saras has given us a common, uniting, language.


  1. Bird-in hand: you already have enough within your control to change the world.  Look at scarcity not as a bad thing because you already have enough.

  2. Affordable loss: focus on controlling the downside, not imagining the upside.  Believe you can live through the worst case scenario.

  3. Crazy quilt: control the downside and leverage greater resources by brining diverse stakeholders onboard.  Find people who already want to go with you—start with why.  People who pass the ‘choose me’ test.

  4. Lemonade: if life throws you lemons, make lemonade.  Even when something negative happens there are ways to turn those bad things into opportunities.

  5. Pilot in the plane: the future is within our control.  We can co-create the future.

So what can we do today to get started?

Start with who I am, what I know, and whom I know.

What can I do which may create some value?

Interact with other people.  Get them to put some skin in the game.  Get them to help define and build the vision.  The future is about what WE, as a group of dedicated stakeholders, can do together.

Build effectual stakeholder commitments to urge people along and develop great programs.

The final product may never be fully visible, however, by minimizing downside risk, no one will lose more than they are able to lose.  Thus reducing the cost of failure holistically.

Taking effectuation into the classroom, or the dean’s office, is doable.

We are dreamers with wholesale ambition, but we become demoralized because of small retail action. However, all of those small actions will build into a very large something.  WE can only solve world hunger or poverty by taking small steps.  It’s fine the dream, but take small bites first.  Action, even the smallest step, will build into something great.

The only criteria we should think about when evaluating business opportunities, instead of massive economic upside, is whether we are happy, even if everything fails, doing the smallest task.  Other people may be as happy, or even happier, doing those tasks with us.  We should seek to partner with other hero’s.

The common student misconception—Steve Jobs wouldn’t ask for help or partners.  Simply stated, not true.  Steve has never found someone to say no or hand up the phone when he asks for help.  People who dream will never pick up the phone, successful entrepreneurs won’t be scared to pick up the phone and ask.

So what should we, our students, our communities be asking for?  It isn’t just about asking for money or resources or tangible things.  Entrepreneurs need much more help than can be provided by capital.  Mentorship, tacit knowledge, relationships, enthusiasm, we should be asking for equal buy-in from everyone involved in our entrepreneurs’ lives.

The Grameen Bank is a perfect example of asking and doing without being constrained by ‘what is’.  Learning along the way and asking for help from clients and supporters.  Why not ask people, in rural, poor regions, why are things the way they are?  Can we, should we, build a business around giving money to women, who have never touched money before?  Only through asking women, men, and village leaders, could Unis actually answer this question.  Proven time and time again, of course you can find opportunity by asking potential customers.

Asking is the only way to solve our world’s problems.


Saras is throwing a curve ball on stage.  In the spirit of effectuation, members from her workshop/master class yesterday will step up to the plate to ‘ask’ the audience.  What will they ask, we’ll have to see…

4 colleges will be given three minutes to make the ask…

Everyone is readying their phones, laptops, and notepads to help these intrepid entrepreneurs.

  1. Seminole State College of Florida

    1. A college of 32,000 students.

    2. Their second year of attending #NACCE Conference

    3. In the fall of 2013 they kicked off their entrepreneurship programs with 50 students and have now reached 300 students.  They have their bird-in the hand, they’re building their crazy quilt, and they’re learning from their failures.

    4. Their students want to be part of the process and the institution wants to go global.

    5. No ask for money here…

    6. They want some sort of collaboration with schools around the world.  They want to help these international institutions teach American/Western entrepreneurship.

    7. “Knowledge and collaboration without action is hallucination”

  2. Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell

    1. Looks like they’re bringing up the whole school on stage

    2. “Get an education that’s out of this world” ;-)

    3. President has his arm twisted by his trusty advisors to join the #NACCE2014 conference, he’s sure glad he came though.

    4. The college and community are having trouble adjusting to entrepreneurial, institutional change—leave things lie.

    5. They’re looking for an entrepreneurial mentor to help them make that change.  The benefits are endless for mentor and community

    6. Pay it forward

  3. Feather River College

    1. Representing the new world of work—the impending massive workforce shift we’re bound the experience if we haven’t already.  50% of the workforce will be entrepreneurial, freelancers, small businesses, and high growth companies.

    2. How do we prepare students for the future of workforce dynamics?  This is not a trend, it’s a global reality.

    3. Effectuation method can be applied on an individual basis.

    4. They would like NACCE to create the new workforce as a key topic area.  Prepare students for all the challenges ahead.

    5. 530-410-1182

  4. Prairie State College

    1. Located in an area known for manufacturing.

    2. Many manufactures have an aging workforce and can’t see a stable pipeline of educated, technically trained, graduates.

    3. A makerspace could solve all of this.

    4. 3D printers, CNC machines, etc. are exactly what students need to learn how to use.

    5. 2,000+ sq ft space identified.

    6. They have their crazy quilt identified (wow is it a long list of excited partners) and are ready to pull the trigger.  They need everyone’s help though.

    7. They want us involved in any way, shape, and form.

    8. 708-912-0418 or

Heather has one last ask… For those who had an ask, please let us know how it went.  We can all learn from this little exercise.

Time for some awesome breakout sessions.  I’ll keep you updated and expect more info to come.


Tags:  12th conference  NACCE2014 

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