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Get miffed! Businesses are sometimes born out of anger and necessity.

I had the wonderful opportunity, a number of years ago, to invite and host Gordon Park’s visit to the university campus where I was teaching at the time. Gordon Parks was truly an inspiring photographer, musician, writer, and movie director … a 20ieth century renaissance man, by many accounts. On the second day of his visit, as the campus community gathered for his presentation, he shared with us a profound and unforgettable message: “I’m miffed,” he said, “that people think I had a choice. I did what I did out of necessity.” From that point on, I took notice and made sure that I listened to stories of the successful business ventures that grew out of anger and necessity, as part of my research interest in social responsibility.

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“It is the boss – the manager – the master in people’s lives who makes the difference in their destiny.” – Phillip W. Keller

I had the wonderful opportunity, a number of years ago, to invite and host Gordon Park’s visit to the university campus where I was teaching at the time. Gordon Parks was truly an inspiring photographer, musician, writer, and movie director … a 20ieth Century Renaissance man, by many accounts. On the second day of his visit, as the campus community gathered for his presentation, he shared with us a profound and unforgettable message: “I’m miffed,” he said, “that people think I had a choice. I did what I did out of necessity.”
 
From that point on, I took notice and made sure that I listened to many stories of the successful business ventures that grew out of anger and necessity, as a part of my research interest in social responsibility. I am passionate about hearing and retelling the stories of Salvatore Ferragamo, whose business grew from his skill as a cobbler with an interest in podiatry, which grew into a simple, yet ingenious invention to aid in the body's posture. As well, I am passionate about the stories  of the shrinking presence of small family businesses such as shoe repair businesses or the local tailor that require great talent and skill -- but have not yet, and might not ever -- grow into international corporations. And then there are businesses of a different kind of necessity, such as the story of Lily Pulitzer, who saw a spill on her garment as a design inspiration, rather than an embarrassment. In my research and in my coursework, I have encouraged my students, who will one day become public relations professionals, to seek out those stories and retell them.
 
Ordinary ideas can and do have amazing, and expansive growth. I encourage students to look around and think about what makes them uncomfortable or angry, and to dream about ways to change it. But with the belief that institutions and its leaders shape behavior, and as educators prepares its students for “what’s next?,” those nearing graduation are faced with the realization that the recent and lingering economic crisis has left many without the dream or hope of working in a collaborative world. It is, too often today, an indifferent world. So the secondary component to encouraging young people to dream is to encourage them to be compassionate, values-centered individuals who care about others. Their business’ longevity will depend on it.
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Keller, Phillip W. 1970. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondevan Publishing House, 17.
 
 

 

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Shane, thanks very much. I absolutely love your idea of having an immigrant mindset, and believe that it will be impetus going forward with the challenge.

I hope that we can encourage youth to put aside any inhibitions or doubts they might have and to take some informed risks as a result of the challenge. The curiosity that many of them have will lead them to the discovery of promising solutions to some of the world's greatest problems.

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