Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Innovate for good; not just for green

The world has some problems. We turn on the news each night and are bombarded with challenges facing every society. From problems facing our own education systems to AIDS and starvation abroad, it can all be overwhelming if ingested too quickly.

Just the other morning I was driving to work in silence as I often do. Driving is a time when I can clear my mind of all the clutter and think about things that would normally be pushed out by all of the other stuff that squeezes its way in between my ears each day (it gets pretty crowded in there. . .if you don’t believe me, just ask my fiance ;)).

Anyways I was driving and thinking about the problems of the world, really I know it sounds silly. . . but I was. I was thinking about how we as humans could ever possibly solve those problems. World hunger, disease, poverty, failing education systems, you know, the usual. And I remembered something that Bill Drayton, the innovator who made the term “social entrepreneur” popular said.

“It’s the combination: big idea with a good entrepreneur: there’s nothing more poweful. That’s just as true [for] education and human rights as it is for hotels or steels.”

I had read about social entrepreneurs in the past and I thought it was pretty cool. People using business skills and contacts to make a difference to people other than the shareholders of their company. But it wasn’t until this car ride that I really realized what could be accomplished with this new “social entrepreneurship.”

It was definitely an “aha” moment . . .although I tend to think I have abut ten of those each day haha.

Entrepreneurs see problems, and then fix them. So what if there was a whole class of entrepreneurs that saw the problems facing the world, and even when there werent huge profits to be made; they solved them?

“”Most people don’t want to see problems,” said Bill Drayton. “Once you see a problem and keep looking at it, you’ll find an answer.”

I feel like I am a mini-entrepreneur now, working my way towards being a real one. And the more I look at the problems I want to solve, the more I realize I want to innovate for good, not just for green.



Sweet Republic – 9/11 was Catalyst to Leave Banking, Become Entrepreneurs

A free scoop of ice-cream to all first responders as a thank you on 9/11 may not seem that unusual or special – until you hear the story behind the scoop.

Jan Wichayanuparp and Helen Yung own Sweet Republic, an ice-cream shop in Scottsdale. But they weren’t always entrepreneurs in the Arizona Desert, in another life; they worked for Citi Group as investment bankers in New York City.

Like many Americans, the tragedy of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 prompted them both to take a good hard look at where their lives were headed.

“9/11 was one of those events that affected everyone,” said Wichayanuparp. “It made me re-evaluate and think, is this really what I want to do?”

Wichayanuparp was in 7 World Trade Center when five hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center and shortly after, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower.

She was evacuated from her building and later that afternoon, it collapsed from the weight of the debris.

Being so close to the towers that were hit and inside the third tower to collapse was an experience she’ll never forget, said Wichayanuparp.

“You have to take advantage of every moment and every opportunity you’re given in life. Because you never know when it all ends for you.”

In all, 2,977 people lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. It was an event that affected all Americans in some way, causing everyone to stop and look at where they were headed and why they were going in that direction.

After witnessing the attacks on the World Trade Centers first hand, Wichayanuparp and Yung decided that it was time for them to change direction, and do so in a big way.

In 2002 Yung left her job as a banker to attend Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts school in Sydney, Australia. She then worked in a restaurant in Berkley, Calif. and began developing her own unique culinary style that included incorporating local ingredients into her food.

Wichayanuparp continued to work as a banker until the pair met up again in Hong Kong and decided to move to Scottsdale, where Wichayanuparp had family, in order to start their ice-cream shop.

“I have always been passionate about food, and I think that is where this stems from,” said Wichayanuparp.

Sweet Republic opened its doors in 2008, seven years after the events of 9/11. Now, the story of how the two ended up selling ice cream in Scottsdale is well known to employees and regular customers at Sweet Republic.

“9/11 was the catalyst for the owners to leave banking,” said Benita Sebastian, an employee at the shop. “They were so close to the World Trade Center when it happened. It still gives me chills when I think about their story.”

They have been holding the “first responder appreciation day” every year since the shop opened.

“I heard about it the first time four years ago when they started doing it,” said a paramedic enjoying his free scoop of ice cream on Sunday. “It’s just nice that they recognize some of the sacrifices that people make as we all recognize the sacrifices that were made that day ten years ago.”

Wichayanuparp and Yung have a special appreciation for the men and women that risk their lives for others every day.

“We got evacuated from the tower, and these were the guys going in when we were running out,” said Wichayanuparp.

7 Hobbies of a Highly Effective Entrepreneur

Would you rather crunch numbers in a boardroom or on a beach? Launch a marketing strategy from a formula or from a work of art? Win customers over with ‘customer acquisition strategies’ or with personality?

Entrepreneur Sam Calagione says if you have a choice, who wouldn’t choose the latter?

In his book, Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Beer from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft BreweryCalagione shares his views on business and entrepreneurship mixed in with some very entertaining stories about how he has built his brewery over the past 15 years. Many of the stories that Calagione shares come from experiences he had outside of his business, doing things that seemingly had nothing to do with his brewery – and yet ended up having a profound effect on his company.

Calagione explains to his reader that most of the aha-moments, exciting new ideas, or innovative concepts that have helped his brewery grow at an astounding rate have come not while in the office in front of a computer screen, but rather while he was taking part in one of his many hobbies outside of the office.

“Ultimately, Whatever your hobby is, it will in some way impact your business, either by directly contributing to it or by giving you some time away to recharge and gain a clear perspective,” Calagione said.

The truth is, being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mean endless work days and sleepless nights worrying about your next big project or how much you have on the line. You can actually still have fun . . . even in the beginning stages of your business. But that doesn’t mean you can just pick up any old hobby and be in business. There are definitely some hobbies that are better for the entrepreneur than others.

Here I have taken the liberty to list just seven of the hobbies I believe can make you a highly effective entrepreneur. Enjoy.

  1. Be an artist. Whether you are capable of creating something visually appealing or not, art is a great way to open your mind to new ideas. You can draw, sculpt, or even do some graffiti art (just wear your running shoes and stay away from gang turf ;)). Whatever you choose to do, you’re bound to be feeling more creative when you’re done and a little more creativity is something we can all use every once in a while.
  2. Play a sport: Entrepreneurs are known for their competitiveness, and what better way to nurture the spirit of competition than a good ‘ol fashioned pick up game. Whether it’s basketball, tennis, racquetball, soccer, or the always popular golf, getting out of the office for some friendly competition is sometimes just what we need.
  3. Get into nature. Try and take some time to go on a hike, go fishing, kayaking, or just send some time being quiet in nature. The hectic life of an entrepreneur can be draining and the peace that comes when outdoors enjoying the beauty of God’s creations really is priceless.
  4. Write. Write anything that has nothing to do with your business, and do it often. Not only does writing things down help you remember important experiences, it may also be a wake up call if while trying to do so you can’t find much to write about other than your work.
  5. Read. This may be one of the most important hobbies that anyone could ever pick up. Read often and read on a wide variety of topics. You will find yourself making connections from your reading to your business that you had never thought of before.
  6. Be a chef. Cooking is an activity that requires careful planning, yet a willingness to improvise and go with the flow. Sounds like a metaphor for starting a business if i’ve ever heard one (and I have). It also brings us closer to our families and allows us to appreciate the simple things in life, like a good – or bad – home cooked meal.
  7. Volunteer. Taking the time to go out and do something for someone else, without asking anything in return is a simple way to maintain perspective in everything we do. It’s not only a good hobbie to have and a way to stay grounded, it’s the right thing to do.

So go, be well rounded entrepreneurs that find inspiration for their business in many places and while becoming a better person. Your office will still be there when you get back, I promise.

Money and Oxygen

“Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the “gotta have it” scale. “
-Zig Ziglar

Money and Oxygen. They both let you breath. They both let you live. They both let you sleep soundly and enjoy life. Money and Oxygen are both pretty dang important.

Each and every day both of these essential parts of life in this world surround us. Each day we breath in and out. And we earn and spend money. The difference is we all breath the same air in the same way. Money isn’t so simple.

The other day I walked a mile in 117 degree heat in slacks and a long sleeved button up shirt. Why did I do that? Money. I wanted to save it by not paying for parking and hopefully someday make it as a result of the meeting I was walking to.

You see, I was going to meet with people who have money, to ask them how they got it. I am young entrepreneur and I find myself asking people that in a number of different ways quite often.

I started learning about money when I graduated high school and decided that I was going to find a way to make a little extra cash. I started racking my brain for ways to do it. I had a lot of fun jobs and I made some money doing them but I wanted to do something on my own. I wanted to do something exciting and innovative and rewarding. So I finally decided on something that was going to make me rich . . . I was going to clean toilets.

Really, that’s what I decided. I listened to my dad complain about how much the cleaning company that cleaned his office overcharged him and finally said wait a second, just fire them and hire me! It took some convincing but soon he was fed up enough to hand me the keys and let me give it a try.

And it really was exciting. I cleaned his office for a while and then I decided to go find someone else who was fed up with whoever was cleaning their offices. My philosophy was less is more and I was young and stupid enough to charge next to nothing for my toilet scrubbing services. I found more clients and cleaned more toilets. I even made a little money.

It wasn’t always fun and it was never easy but I learned more cleaning toilets than I felt like I had learned in all 4 years of high school. I went from business to business begging them to give me a chance. And to be quite honest, most of them said, “ummmmm no.”

But each time one said yes I was motivated to find another. Each time one said no . . . I was even more motivated to find someone who would say yes.

That was my first experience with business, sales, marketing, accounting, and hard labor- well not my first experience with hard labor, that was pretty second nature to me by the time I was 16. But the most important thing I learned by cleaning toilets was you can make money in a million different ways. Anyone can do it if they think it through and go for it.

That’s what I want to talk to you about. Ways to make money and what to do with it once you have it. We will look at how other innovators and entrepreneurs are doing it and find other new and exciting ways of doing things for ourselves.

So get ready and take a deep breath . . .