Author gives message on entrepreneurial mindset


Author and entrepreneur Gary Schoeniger speaks at the Kent State University Student Center Ballroom Thursday, September 5, 2013. Photo by Yolanda Li.

Brandon Koziol

Freshmen saw their Common Reading book, “Who Owns the Ice House?”, come to life Thursday as co-author Gary Schoeniger gave a speech on the minds of entrepreneurs.

“My hope is that you’re going to leave here tonight with a slightly different view of the world,” Schoeniger said. “Part of my message is that entrepreneurship is a big word, means a lot of things to a lot of people. Hopefully some part of my message will resonate with you, and you can find your place in this conversation.

Schoeniger, an “internationally recognized thought leader in the field of entrepreneurship education,” told students how anyone could use the entrepreneurial mindset to become successful in their life. The co-author and entrepreneur explained how he started his first business in 1987.

“I was dead broke. I was unemployed. I had nothing,” Schoeniger said.

In his battered Dodge, Schoeniger started cleaning people’s gutters on top of a borrowed ladder. He then built off his small cleaning gig to create a multi-million dollar company. Schoeniger said he had adopted an entrepreneurial mindset and stressed the important, relatable skill that it gives you: the skill to be a problem solver.

“If somehow I could teach entrepreneurship to another human being, that’d be powerful,” he said. “Never in a million years did I think my first test case was going to be a 16-year-old punk.”

Schoeniger used the story of 16-year-old punk, Jason, to show the power of an entrepreneurial, problem-solving mindset.

At first, Schoeniger explained that Jason was foster child whose mother was in and out of jail and father was unknown. Schoeniger took custody of the high school dropout and helped him come up with the idea to start cleaning construction sites. Jason worked for $20 an hour, and soon, he had two of his friends working for him at $20 an hour. Jason went on to become a decorated marine and graduate of San Francisco State University. He now works in Afghanistan, designing and implementing foreign policy.

“Like Jason, not all of you are going to run out of here and start a business – but he owns his life; that’s really the message,” Schoeniger said. “You don’t need to start a business to embrace these entrepreneurial ideas; entrepreneurship is a mindset.”

Schoeniger went on to highlight the eight lessons presented in his book, including recognizing opportunities, putting your ideas into action and building your brand. Most importantly, he focused on the fact that most people complain about their problems; entrepreneurs fix their problems.

“I hope that students utilize the eight life lessons that are described in the book, and they’re able to take charge and go forth with and entrepreneurial mindset,” said Meghan Cisar, the assistant director for student success programs.

Monica Hermann, coordinator for student success programs, brought Schoeniger’s message full circle, relating it to all students.

“You don’t have to be going into business, or be a business major,” Hermann said. “All of these lessons can be applied in different parts of your life.”

Contact Brandon Koziol at [email protected].