Ted Gonder and Moneythink

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I had the opportunity to spend a little time with Ted Gonder a couple of weeks ago.  This is a guy you need to know about!!!

 

nv1dgcgjqrihv52g7bjhHe’s a member of the resident’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans and has served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, advising the Obama Administration on immigration policy for foreign entrepreneurs.  He also worked with the Kauffman Foundation and the Chilean government on transnational entrepreneurship initiatives, and published research with MIT Press and McKinsey.

 

His work has been featured on MTV, and the Wall Street Journal, and has spoken at the White House, the U.S. Senate, New York Stock Exchange, and TEDx.

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He is the executive director of Moneythink, an exciting initiative providing financial education to young people.  Among the startling facts on the Moneythink website are these:

 

•          More than half of U.S. adults have subprime credit scores

•          The average U.S. borrower carries almost $11,000 in credit card debt

•          39% of U.S. adults have no non-retirement savings

•          33% of U.S. adults do not pay their bills on time

 

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His innovative model uses college and university students as mentors who provide the financial skills for students in schools around the country.  Thirty universities in ten states around the country participate in the program.

 

Ted recognized that financial literacy is a critical part of preparing young people for life.  I love that he took his concern for young people and took action.  He is an incredibly dynamic young man, and his approach to teaching has value far beyond the financial how-to’s covered in the program.

 

Like CEO, what Ted does is life changing for both mentor and student, and has an impact on the trajectory of all their lives.

 

Ted told me that Moneythink and CEO share an approach that is “transformational, not information”.  How I wish more people understand the power of that!

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Check out Moneythink’s website as well as Ted’s personal site.  I know you’ll be as excited about his work as I am!

The CEO Network is Growing!

We’ll have more than a dozen CEO classes this fall, spread throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota.

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We brought all of our teachers together recently to learn more about facilitating a CEO class.  It takes a major league teacher to facilitate a CEO program, and fortunately we have a major league group to do it.

 

 

 

 

IMG_2784We spent time learning about True Colors, the fabulous personality assessment that changes the way our students view themselves and others.  It’s cool to see high school students change their views, recognizing they need people around them who are different from themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0877We did teambuilding exercises that facilitators will use with their students, and explored the methodology CEO uses to allow students to guide and “own” their own learning.  CEO classes typically involve students from multiple districts, and it’s critical they feel comfortable in the class.

 

 

 

 

 

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CEO alumni shared their passion and enthusiasm with the group, along with specific guidance for working with young people in this transformational environment. They shared what they felt were the most important aspects of CEO, and answered a myriad of questions from our teacher/facilitators.

It’s important for our teacher/facilitators to bond.  They’re on the front lines of a revolution in learning, and they lean on each other as they work in this transformational experience.

2014-2015 is going to be a fantastic for CEO students all through the CEO network.  Best of luck to all our new programs!

 

A CEO Business Comes Full Circle

CEO is a very intense experience, and it transforms everyone who participates in it. It’s so exciting to watch as students learn by doing. They leave CEO with knowledge that can’t be learned any other way. It’s even more exciting when they take what they’ve learned in CEO and build on it.

 

IMG_20140608_0001Keith Sutterfield, CEO ‘10, is a recent graduate of Eastern Illinois University. He started a video production company while in CEO, and has carried on with his work during college.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back of Business CardJust last week Keith launched Sutterfield Media, a full service video production located in Effingham. It specializes in corporate video and video for not for profit organizations for use in training, marketing, and fundraising. Sutterfield Media assists its clients in communicating their message online through their website, social media, and broadcast.

 

 

CEO is not just a transformational learning experience, it’s a long term effort in economic development. More and more economic developers understand the importance of growing local businesses, and CEO produces young people who understand the entrepreneurship isn’t something one studies, it’s something one does.

Keith’s experience in CEO provided him with experience, knowledge, and a network of contacts. “My experience in the Effingham County CEO Class opened my eyes to the great business community here in Effingham. When deciding to start my own business, it only made sense to come home to this community to do so,” he says.

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“Before CEO, I did not consider entrepreneurship as a possible career. I can point to few other experiences in my life that have had such a permanent and meaningful impact on my future.”

 

 

 

 

photo-1Keith is a terrific young man, and all of us in the CEO community are very excited about having him back in Effingham. “This community shaped me into the person that I am, and I’m really excited to come back and be a part of it. It’s both exciting and terrifying to be starting out on my own fresh out of college, but I feel very lucky to be pursuing my passion so early in life.”

 

 

 

That’s what CEO is about, and everyone in the CEO family congratulates Keith and wishes Sutterfield Media the very best!

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CEO Alumni in Action

I had the opportunity over the past few days to catch up with a few of our Effingham CEO alums.  It’s such a privilege to watch these young people take their CEO experience and use it to alter the trajectory of their lives.

 

IMG_0852Mariah Story is currently a student at the University of Alabama, majoring in marketing specializing in sales.  She hopes to attend graduate school in London, then acquire experience working for a company before starting her own business.  She’s currently interning at Agracel, Inc., through the Effingham CEO internship program.

 

 

IMG_0854Molly Higgs is major in Culinary Arts at Vincennes University.  She started a cupcake business while in CEO, and plans to use that experience to launch her own restaurant later in life.  This summer she’s working for the Firefly Grill, one of the most respected eateries in the Midwest, working under renowned chef Niall Campbell.

 

 

 

 

IMG_0842Lexy Teichmiller continues to expand her business, A•T Avenue.  She has a busy schedule of shows, and has added fashion shows to many of her events.  Customers obviously look to Lexy for ideas on clothing and accessories, and she is quickly developing a reputation for her taste and ideas.    I ran into Lexy the other day while she was conducting a photo shoot for a new line of fitness wear.

Spreading the message of CEO

IMG_3333I just spent an incredible week on the road with Molly Niemerg and Amelia Winters, two of our CEO alums.  It’s such a privilege to share our passion and vision for CEO with people around the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0821 IMG_0825We started the week in Omaha, NE, with a great meeting at the Gallup Organization operations headquarters.  In addition to Todd Johnson, Joe Daly, and Glenn Phelps of Gallup, we were joined by Craig Schroeder of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, Gregg Christensen of the Nebraska Department of Education, Dusty Reynolds from the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and Val McPherson, a local community leader.

 

We learned more about Gallup’s Entrepreneurial Strengths Finder, an exciting new assessment tool that helps identify entrepreneurs, and talked about how something like CEO can help give budding entrepreneurs the skills and networks to be successful.

 

 

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetWe then spent a very enjoyable evening with Tyler Gerhking in Willmar, Minnesota.  Tyler will be the CEO teacher for the Kandiyohi CEO class this fall.  All three of use feel like he’s going to be an all-star.

 

 

 

images UnknownAfter a long drive, we then had the opportunity to present CEO to a large crowd at the South Bend Career Academy in South Bend, Indiana.  If the crowd we talked to is any indication of the caliber of the business community there, CEO would be a great addition to their community.

 

images-1We also had the opportunity to meet with the staff of this very innovative school.  They totally get what we do in CEO, and share many of our educational philosophies.

 

 

 

As always, when people meet the “products” of our work, they’re anxious to start a CEO program of their own.  There’s just nothing like seeing the results of what we do.

Being with our students reminds me that our CEO classes are wrapping up their year with successful trade shows.  Students are reluctant to see their experience come to an end, and they realize what a family they’ve become as they’ve made their way through this transformational time in their lives.

CEO graduates are now part of the CEO family, and they’ll now join the growing network of CEO alumni and investors.  Many of them will continue the businesses they started while in CEO, many will start new businesses, and many will connect with investors and alumni across the CEO network.

All of them, though, will wonder how they’ll get along without a CEO class to start their day!

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

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CEO students from Effingham, IL and Washington, IN had the opportunity this spring to spend a little time in the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds.  They met with some of the senior leadership of the Reds to learn about the business of baseball, and then job shadowed several people at the ballpark.

IMG_0788The Reds organization is full of entrepreneurial thinkers and doers.  You see that spirit everywhere in the ballpark. The elevator operators, who ride up and down all evening helping fans find their way around the park, are consistently happy and friendly.   In the stadium club, situated above the first base line, the people who prepare and present the food are engaging and helpful.  They’re anxious to please and go out of their way to make sure people enjoy the game.   Even the folks who take care of trash in the Stadium Club are proactive, engaging with fans and offering to take care of plates and other trash.

 

 

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I’m biased, I suppose, because I’ve produced several documentaries that focus on behind-the-scenes activity at the ballpark in Cincinnati.  That work, though, has allowed me to see behind the curtain and determine that the Reds way is real.  Employees there are committed to creating the best possible experience for fans.  It’s true of the good people who clean the stadium in the middle of the night, the groundskeepers, the ushers, and the thousands of people who make sure there’s plenty to eat and drink.  It’s also true of the players.

 

 

 

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Todd Frazier, for instance, is a great ambassador for the Reds, and all of baseball, through his attitude and approach both on and off the field.

 

I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with hundreds of people who work there, and the Reds are a terrific example of how to do things right.  I’ve seen it from top to bottom, from people who are visible during a ballgame and people you never notice.

 

 

It’s unbelievable that the Reds have opened their doors to our program, and our CEO students couldn’t have better role models.

CEO Success Story

Entrepreneurship education has been around for more than 30 years.  In a great article written for Time magazine, Dr. Cathy Ashmore talks about why we’re so bad at it.  She’s right-without real life experience, entrepreneurship is just another subject, and the goal is the same as any other class.  Students try to figure out what the teacher wants, and by turning out work that reflects that, a good grade is the reward.  Hardly entrepreneurship, you know?

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Vince Higgs and Christopher Schultz are great examples of two CEO students who see beyond that game.  They had big ideas when they were students in the class, and their business reflects those big ideas.

Their first business, VISTO, provided customized kits that converted vehicles to run on a blend of CNG (compressed natural gas) and diesel.  During their first couple of years in business, they partnered with two of our class investors, traveled to China for a world expo, and consulted with people from all over the United States.

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They morphed their process from CNG to propane, which is much more readily available as a fuel, and eventually discovered that the real opportunity lies in providing the tanks used for the conversions.

 

 

 

 

 

liberty logoFrom that discovery came Liberty Team Tanks, which now has customers all over the country.  Both Christopher and Vince are in college, but while they spend part of their time learning about the theory of business in their classes, they also spend a great deal of time in the day-to-day realities of running a successful business.  They deal with suppliers, customers, distribution and warehouse issues-all the things business owners deal with every day.

 

I’m sure it’s sometimes difficult for them to pay attention in class as they listen to lectures about business.  I know there are days when they can’t wait for class to be over so they can get to the real work of running their business.  I’m just as sure that they’re learning much more in class than many of their peers.  Vince and Christopher are able to connect what they’re learning to real world issues in ways most of their contemporaries simply can’t.

They feel that CEO brought them together, gave them the idea and skills to approach investors for help and partnership, and taught them to be open to ideas and opportunities that have helped shape their current business.

It’s exciting to see these young men grow and learn.  It’s rewarding to watch as they navigate the roller coaster journey of starting and running their own business.  The best thing?  They’re living examples that CEO works.  When you combine real world experiences, regular contact with successful professionals, and a network of people who can provide guidance and mentoring, amazing things happen!