Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Finish Line

Tonight is it.  This is my last outstanding assignment for my last class of this semester.  I have been through ups and downs.  I have panicked and rushed to meet deadlines.  I have submitted assignments while driving in the car to different cities.  But I have finished this semester.
Things haven't been easy for me this semester.  A lot of changes in my goals in life happened while I was taking this course.  The thing that has been amazing to me has been that each time that I seem to be wrestling with something, the lessons in this course have perfectly fit those situations and I have come out of each week excited to continue on my journey to success.
As I reflect upon my journey, I can't help but think about the talk from President Thomas S. Monson titled, "Finishers Wanted."  This talk was highly appropriate for this week's lesson because it talks about finishing what you started.  This course may have finished, however the road to success has just begun, for me.
As I sit here, I am thinking about my 5 beautiful babies asleep in their beds.  My success depends on how well each of them turn out.  I have many ambitions.  I am involved in this fundraising capital campaign for the Noyes Fine Arts Foundation and have taken on a role as Executive Director for the Katy Children's Choir.  Both of these things are amazing.  I am working in an industry that allows me to mix my love of music with my love of business.  However, my success in life will not depend on how well I do in these positions.  My success will depend on how well my children turn out.  If I fail as a mother, nothing else will matter.
Taking this course as a 36 year old woman gives me different perspective on things.  I feel as though I have a better understanding of who I am.  This course really makes you dig into who you are, what your talents are, what your goals are and what you are willing to do to get there.  I feel that because I have already had to figure out who I am, my path in this course has been easier than it would have been had I done this when I was 18.
Jim Ritchie has made regular appearances in both the reading and the videos required for this course.  I have learned a lot from him.  This week he encouraged us to think about who we want to become in order to become peak performers.  He then made statements of "I am" when listing the qualities of a peak performer.  The statements are as follows:

I am financially self-reliant
I am physically fit
I am identifying my skills and talents
I am a product of what I eat
I understand the value of humor
I am a leader
I am creative
I am mentally tough; I don't complain
I am a communicator
I can motivate without depreciating others
I am like the great enlightened masters of history

These "I am" statements felt as though they came straight out of my journal.  Every item on this list is something that I am constantly striving to achieve.  Jim Ritchie states that successful leaders have these qualities.  I am striving to be a successful leader, and I am trying to teach my children how to be successful leaders.  I feel as though I am on the right path.
For those students who take this course in the future, I recommend that you take the time to truly reflect on who you are when completing the assignments.  Writing my own personal code of ethics and "I will never" statements came at a perfect time for me when I was making a big decision.  Being able to instantly use what I had written gave me direction at a time when I needed it most.  I feel as though I have been put on the path that I am supposed to be on and that I am well on my way to the rest of my life.
The goal now is to cross that finish line.  Right now, at the beginning of my journey, the finish line is but a dot in the distance, but every day it gets closer.  Some days are drudgery, and some days are exciting and fun, but each day that I complete with another step towards my goal of achieving success is another day that I get closer to that finish line.  Even though the path that I have chosen is not the path that I would have seen coming when I was 18, I love that this is the journey that I am meant to be on.
Life is crazy and hectic and there are so many options.  This is why the Introduction to Entrepreneurship class has been so fantastic.  It has helped me take all of my options and aspirations and narrow them down to one focused goal.
 I want to be involved in something that is bigger than myself so that when I die, my children will have a positive legacy left behind for them.
That is my finish line.  When it comes, I want to be ready.  That is why I am putting one leg in front of the other and am working tirelessly at achieving my goal.  It is for my family and my children.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


This week in my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class, we learned about the journey of the entrepreneur.  My favorite quote came from an article called, "Recognizing and Shaping Opportunities" by Lynda M. Applegate and Carole Carlson.  The quote is as follows:

Many people believe that entrepreneurs develop brilliant new products while tinkering in garages, emerging only when they have a terrific product that is ready to sell to eager customers.  But that myth is often shattered by reality.  Indeed, few blockbuster business ideas start out as a brilliant insight that reveals large, uncontested markets.  Instead, they are usually identified over a period of years by people who are tightly connected to varied sources of information-especially information gleaned from dense networks of relationships that span traditional industry boundaries.

I believe that this is true.  I believe that being an entrepreneur is more than just developing and launching a business.  Being an entrepreneur is a way of life.  It takes someone to see a need that isn't being fulfilled before the customer even knows that they are missing it.  It takes someone who constantly strives to better themselves and the lives of those around them.  It takes people who want to change the world.  Not everyone can be an entrepreneur which is why the rewards, if successful, are high.  

One of the things I love most about the entrepreneurs that I have been privileged to know is that they find a way around the "no".  They have a vision.  If someone tells them they can't succeed, the entrepreneur asks why, figures out a different solution and continues on their path.  I love people like this.  I continuously work to be one of these people.  My children will tell you that in our family I have a saying, "A problem presented without a solution is called whining."  I can't remember who originally said this quote or where I found it, but it completely sums up the lessons I am trying to teach my children. 

I believe that the difference between being an employer and and employee is how you approach problems.  An entrepreneur will see a problem and then come up with multiple solutions to the problem, finding one that ultimately works with the best result.  An employee comes across a problem and then tells someone that there is a problem.  There is no ownership or thinking outside of the box.  
I want my children to be leaders.  I want my children to be successful, in both life and in the endeavors that they pursue.  I believe that if I can teach them to be the problem solvers instead of the problem observers that I will be handing them some of the tools necessary for them to be able to accomplish anything that they put their minds to.

Going back to school at the ripe, old age of 36 has been an incredible experience for me.  Because I have more experience than I had at 18, I am able to better see how the lessons I am learning in my classes can be incorporated into my everyday life.  I love learning something in class and then being able to immediately reference it in a board meeting or in a business proposal.  I love that I was able to make a life-changing decision while I was participating in this class because it really helped me to study out the two different opportunities in my mind and was able to guide me to the path that I firmly believe that I was meant to be on.  This course has helped me to be able to overcome some obstacles that had been standing in my way, and I am so glad that I have been able to blog about it weekly, even if it is only my little sister that is reading my blog posts. (Thanks Jenna!)

Oh, and before I end this post, I wanted to share a little power point presentation that I had to do for my Business 211 class.  My group was involved in a business simulation where we had bought a piece of a company that had been divided by the government from being a monopoly.  We then had to make business decisions to grow that company and we had to make decisions to increase our Return on Sales, Return on Equity and Return on Assets.  Because we faced many obstacles in this simulation, and because I stayed up until 4 am last night finishing it, I thought I would share this little power point presentation with you.


Click HERE to See Project

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Two Opposing Sides of Business

In my Introduction To Entrepreneurship class this week we learned about becoming a change maker. I believe that this lesson was very different from the previous weeks because it really made us study two opposing sides to business.  On the one hand, we had to write a book report on "A Field Guide For A Hero's Journey" by Jeff Sandefer and Reverend Robert Sirico which is literally a workbook full of stories and inspirational antidotes created to guide the reader as they begin a journey to change some aspect of the world.  This is applicable to both business and personal growth.  We also studied a talk about Entrepreneurship and the Law of Consecration which teaches us that we should be striving to be successful so that we can make the world around us a better place.  We studied Microloans and how Muhammad Yunus created the program in order to help end the world epidemic of poverty.
Then we studied an article called, "What's A Business For?" by Charles Handy which was printed in the Harvard Business Review.
This article spends most of its time stating what is wrong with capitalsim in the United States.  It provides facts and figures that prove that companies are inflating their profits and that CEO's of companies are having a disconnect with the rest of their employees as they strive to create wealth.  This article spells out the doom and gloom for the American Economy if something does not change quickly.  Handy states that virtue and integrity are so vital to an economy because without it society breeds mistrust and contempt.  Employees do not trust their employers, stock holders set unrealistic expectations of profit sharing and the economy becomes inflated to the point where it will collapse.  Charles Handy states that the "real justification" for the existence of business is for people to accomplish something collectively that they would not accomplish separately.  There is, according to this article, a disconnect between this philosophy and what is currently happening in the United States.  Charles Handy proposes that Americans take a look at what is happening in the companies in Europe and try to model themselves more like these companies.  One example that Handy gives is that in Germany the right of the employees is to have half, minus one, of the seats on the supervisory board.  This gives the employees the ability to have a say in the decisions that the board of directors is making.  By having ownership in the company, the employees are responsible for the outcomes of the company and end up having an emotional investment, as well as a financial investment in the company.  This causes greater accountability when reporting profits and losses and a greater desire to improve the company as a whole rather than simply increasing profits.   Another example of a way to improve the American economy is for employers to invest in people's lives.  He gives a European example that there are seven-week annual holidays, legally mandated parental leaves for fathers and mothers together, growing use of sabbaticals for senior executives, and working weeks of fewer than 40 hours.  All of these put together allow the employees to work smarter rather than working harder.  They have found that the employee's ability to produce increase because the employee is well rested, better rounded and has time to develop who they are as a person which then turns into a better contributor for a company.
So why did we have to study these seemingly opposing articles?  After spending most of a day being submerged in "A Field Guide For The Hero's Journey" and ending with "What's a Business For?" I realized that it made me decide the kind of entrepreneur that I want to be.  I want to be someone who is regarded as having integrity and honesty.  I want to create a name for myself that is synonymous with high morals and standards.  I want to truly make a change in the world and I know that I do not need to do something big in order to do it.  I simply need to remember who I am, surround myself with the best people, set up ethical guardrails and consistently work towards my goal of making the world a better place.  I want to be a change maker.