Saturday, October 26, 2013
sponsored by

Keeping millennials in the community

Schultz and Lindvahl discuss a new generation of entrepreneurs

Send a link to a friend 

[October 26, 2013]  The baby boomers are retiring, the Gen X'ers are aging, and next on the horizon are the millennials.

The millennials are the group of people born between the years of 1982 and 2002, who are now entering the workforce.

Monday evening, Jack Shultz, author of "Boomtown USA," and Craig Lindvahl, founder of a CEO program in Effingham, spoke to a relatively large gathering in the auditorium of Lincoln Community High School about the millennial generation and how to help keep them in their home communities.

During the one-hour presentation, the two speakers took turns talking about the various aspects of the new generation of young professionals as well as the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities program that was founded in Effingham County by Lindvahl.

The innovative program works in conjunction with community high schools. Lindvahl began the program in Effingham County, but it quickly spread to five additional areas in Illinois this year. Next year, six more communities will take on the program. Lindvahl and Schultz shared that if the Logan County community and educators are interested in implementing the program locally, it would not be available to them until 2015.

Schultz spoke early about the millennials. He said first off, all these are young people who watched the bottom fall out for their parents in the most recent recession. It altered their attitude toward careers and has made them "free agents" in the workforce.

He said their careers are not necessarily going to be money-driven. These are the ones who are going to find their own path and become their own bosses and grow their own futures.

And the question becomes, where will they grow? Will they stay at home or will they move on? He offered an example, using the very well-known success story of Bill Gates.

Gates began his business in Albuquerque, N.M. With a struggling young company, he found himself in financial straits early on. He approached various lending institutions in the community as well as the local economic development program, seeking only $35,000, and was turned down by all of them. With no lenders or investors, he turned to his father for help.

Gates' father did agree to help him, under one condition: His son and the team of professionals who made up his company would have to relocate back to Gates' hometown of Seattle. Gates agreed to the terms and the rest is history.

Schultz talked about this to drive home the fact that the community of Albuquerque missed a golden opportunity to bring thousands of jobs to their area through Microsoft.

Lindvahl spoke next about how we stifle our children. He said that in kindergarten every child is excited about everything. He noted, "If you ask kindergartners to talk about nuclear physics, every hand will go up." He said the first-graders will also be anxious to answer and participate, but by second grade they are losing their curiosity; they wait to be told what they are supposed to think and do.

Lindvahl said the process continues throughout their education, and they become brittle. By high school and college, these same youngsters have a skewed sense of responsibility and fairness. They have taken on the attitude that they are not responsible for their failures or their own lack of knowledge, and when they fail a test, they think it is because the test was not fair or not graded fairly.

Schultz spoke about the late 1800s, when the world began to change rapidly. That's when the telephone was invented and more. Technology in that age moved quickly. He said this new generation is seeing the same thing. Showing a photo of the 2005 election of a new pope, there was one visible cellphone. In the 2013 election, the crowd was a mass of cellphones recording the event.

He said that in the 1950s, the telephone was a place in the home. Today the phone is a thing that is mobile and attached to young people. He said over 80 percent sleep with their cellphone beside their bed. He also noted that if you ask these young people what on their smartphone they could most do without, they will answer "talking" because they much prefer texting.

Schultz said there is a paradigm shift in economic development. Economic development is going to continue seeking new business but is also going to nurture existing business, and a new concept will be growing young entrepreneurs in the community.

Schultz and Lindvahl both talked about some of the remarkable young people they are finding through their programs.

Schultz told about a 17-year-old student who, when his community grocery store closed, borrowed money and reopened the store and made it successful. He worked at the store himself before going to school. Because the education system understood the importance of the store, they looked the other way when the young man came in late to classes. He continued to run his business, and over time he even expanded and now owns multiple stores.

[to top of second column]

Schultz also talked about a young man from Effingham named David Orr. Orr began his own online business called Fruper. Schultz talked to Orr about how he is making his business a success. Orr said he offers one special "Fruper Dooper Deal of the Day" every day.

Schultz said he questioned how anyone could make money doing that, and Orr was happy to give an example. The young man had cleaned out his parents' garage, was bagging up unwanted items and selling "Sacks of Crap" for $9.95. He promised there would be something great in every bag. In three days, Orr sold 1,500.

David Orr was only 15 years of age. Today he is a university junior and was one of only a handful of young entrepreneurs invited to meet Warren Buffett face to face.

Schultz talked about how the CEO program changes the attitude of young people. He said that at the beginning of a class with 25 high school students, the students were asked how many believed they would return to their hometown after college. At first, only three thought they would. By the end of the class, 21 of the 25 students believed their hometown community had something to offer them as young businessmen and women and said they would come home to start their careers.

The CEO program was described by the speakers as a Junior Achievement program on steroids. The classes are offered in conjunction with the local high schools, and students do earn two credits toward graduation. Each class is 90 minutes and includes work-study on setting up a business. Then the actual businesses are established and run by the students.

In the course of the program, students talk with bankers and investment firms, attend business meetings, and hear from over 100 guest speakers. They participate in an internship program and host their own trade show, where they introduce their companies to the public.

Of the program's 110 recent graduates, 109 are in college and one is a Navy SEAL.

During the question-and-answer session at the end of the presentation, Jan Schumacher of the Logan County Board asked how the program could be set up in Logan County.

If the county wants the program, it will have to be in conjunction with the high school. There will be a need for approximately 30 to 50 financial investors at $1,000 each.

Patrick Doolin asked what the biggest hurdle would be to setting up the program. The speakers responded that one big issue is getting the schools on board. Schultz said there is a division between educators and entrepreneurs that needs to be addressed, and it will come with the two parties connecting with each other and developing a mutual respect for one another.

He added that a big step toward achieving that would be for the business community to show more respect for educators, and instead of criticizing them, ask the question: "What can I do to help you?"

Another interesting comment made by Schultz was that if kids want to start their careers away from home, that's OK. He said that many young people want to get out into the world after college, but they also want to come home when they start raising their families. To drive home his point, he asked Patrick and April Doolin when it was that they decided to move back home and become local entrepreneurs. April confirmed their desire to come home came with the arrival of their first child.

Schultz said there was nothing wrong with letting young people leave. He said to go ahead and send them out, but then bring them back home with something to come home to.

Finally, because the program is not available until 2015, the question was asked what we can do in the meantime. The answer was to invest time in getting to know the young people in the community.

Lindvahl and Schultz encouraged business and community leaders to reach out to the high school and college students, talk to them at every occasion, encourage them, and let them know they have value in the community.

There was to be a short reception after the presentation, and Schultz suggested that they start that communication on that very night. He asked how many high school students were in the audience and encouraged the local leaders to reach out to those young people during the reception and start getting to know who they are.

The evening ended with Andi Hake making closing remarks about the Young Professionals Network and other initiatives the Lincoln/Logan Chamber of Commerce has taken to promote keeping young business people in the community.


< Top Stories index

Back to top