This week I was privileged to speak at the San Marcos campus of Texas State University for their Business Leadership Week. I gave a lecture titled Entrepreneurial Successes in the Green Economy: Role Models and Innovations from the Latino Community. This lecture was really my best attempt at a one-hour summary of my 21 months working on this book. It was a very challenging task and one I was happy to take on.
I have been so eager to share the most important lessons from my book with college students looking ahead and wondering where and how to apply their newly-acquired business skills. Here’s what I learned tonight:
• The personal stories of the leaders in my book matter…a lot. They make the accomplishments and innovations profiled even more amazing. When the dots are connected between the entrepreneur’s childhood, obstacles overcome, cultural influences to preserve and reuse and their current sustainable businesses intent on changing the status quo, their full experience can be best appreciated.
• Explaining the status quo quickly before introducing the innovation was absolutely necessary. How can you appreciate “clean tech”, “energy efficiency” and “energy storage” when you don’t understand the horrible inefficiencies and antiquated nature of today’s electrical grid? I’m so happy I included the industry primer in each chapter of the Latinnovating.
• The “cultural foundation + educational credentials = positioned to innovate and lead” formula I created is an excellent summary of these 10 stories.
• That this message encouraging students to become environmental entrepreneurs was unique and much needed. “I needed to hear these stories so I can follow these footsteps to success,” said one junior.
• When I asked who was raised by their families to conserve, preserve and reuse resources, very few of the students raised their hands. As a result, one of the students felt compelled to apologize to me directly after the lecture. He said, “I want to apologize on behalf of our student body for our obviously bad parenting. We were indeed not taught these values.” It was a sweet gesture that he felt he had to say this. If you’re wondering, most of the Latinos in the audience DID raise their hands. This exchange served to strengthen my point above. It made those that raised their hands see that they are indeed positioned to innovate and lead sustainable business practices. It made the other students stop and think.
Questions I was asked tonight:
- How do you find these amazing people?
- When was your entrepreneurial spark?
- How do I bring green businesses to Latin American countries?
- How will the downturn in the economy affect those growth projections for Hispanic-owned businesses?
- How do I know if a business claiming to be green is really green?
I will answer these questions in the coming weeks. Thank you Brian, Arin, Janet, Federico, Dr. Smart and the entire staff of advisors who had a hand in making this a fantastic experience for me. I hope to return to San Marcos again soon and connect with more Bobcats on your beautiful campus.