Personal Stories of America at Work

Category Archives: Innovation

Gluten-Free Cottage Industry Provides Opportunities for Foodie Entrepreneurs

Last week I went to a fund-raising event at the Alameda County Community Food Bank. There I met a couple who started a new granola company just five months ago, and are already experiencing considerable success! Gluten-free granola, anyone??

As reported in the New York Times, this couple isn’t the only group hoppin’ on the gluten-free wagon: “As long as there have been jobs, there have been fantasies about leaving them. Often this involves escapes to pretty settings (the proverbial bed and breakfast in Vermont), or fitness nirvana (ski instructor)…”

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molly | June 10, 2011 | Entrepreneurs, Innovation, Small business | 2

5 Myths of Entrepreneurship

With the economic plunge of the last several years, many professionals either have made the leap to running their own businesses or have thought about doing so. What it’s like to live in the shoes of a successful entrepreneur who makes a living helping other entrepreneurs? Enter Jim Horan, CEO and founder of The One Page Business Plan. During our interview with Jim, we cleared up some misconceptions about entrepreneurship.

Myth #1: Entrepreneurship is a lonely business.

Horan says that an entrepreneurial support group was one of the keys to success for starting and building his business. When he was invited, his host emphasized that this was a place to give to others, not to take from them. “I am stunned by the generosity of the entrepreneurship community. It is amazing what entrepreneurs will do for each other for free. I think it’s because people who are successful in small business are incredibly grateful.” Horan says, “The really successful entrepreneurs I know are always asking, ‘What can I do to help you today?’”

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molly | May 24, 2011 | Entrepreneurs, Innovation, Small business | 4

One Page Business Plan Author on How to Reinvent Yourself after a Lay-off

Jim Horan is a former Fortune 500 CFO who invented The One Page Business Plan and reinvented himself as successful entrepreneur. The One Page Business Plan is called “an out and out winner” by Tom Peters, author of Thriving on Chaos and co-author of In Search of Excellence. His book is recommended by Oprah Magazine.

The Working Chronicles: What has been your career journey?

"I think we’re all capable of doing a lot more than what we have done."

Jim Horan: I was fired from my job as a CFO on April 1, 1990. April Fool’s Day. It turned out that the joke was on me—I was unemployed for two years and then underemployed for the next three to five years as I explored entrepreneurship. But it ended up being absolutely the best thing that could have happened. I discovered a whole series of talents I had no idea I had. I think we’re all capable of doing a lot more than what we have done.
While looking for a job, I found myself becoming a consultant. I began to work with small businesses and discovered that business plans are not understood by damn near anybody.

Out of that came the idea of The One Page Business Plan.

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molly | May 17, 2011 | Entrepreneurs, Innovation, Job Search, Publishing, Small business, Unemployment | 0

How One Immigrant Launched a Successful Business from Her Dorm Room

Russian émigré Aleksandra Efimova launches two ballet businesses from one humble beginning

"They believed in me, so I started showing ballet shoes and selling them to local dance schools.”

Lucky growing up with 420 square feet

I’m an accidental business owner, surprised by my career path because it’s not what I thought life had in store for me. Growing up in the Soviet Union, I lived a very average life. I was born in 1977 and at that time, the Soviet Union was promoting equality—everyone lived in very similar conditions. The leaders of the Communist Party were living a more privileged life, which the majority of people didn’t even know about. Our apartment was 420 square feet and had three rooms, including the living room—way more than most of the other neighbors. Five of us lived in our tiny apartment: my mom, dad, grandparents, and me. We felt very, very lucky.

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molly | March 22, 2011 | Entrepreneurs, Innovation, Small business, Women | 1

Leadership Guru Jim Kouzes on Soul-Draining Jobs, Leadership and the Millennial Generation

Jim Kouzes and Jamie Woolf

Jim Kouzes is coauthor of the best-selling and award-winning book, The Leadership Challenge, with over 1.8 million copies sold. The Wall Street Journal has recognized Jim as one of the twelve best executive educators in the United States. His new book The Truth About Leadership, was published in August, 2010. Jim spoke about work and leadership with Jamie Woolf of The Working Chronicles.

The Working Chronicles:  Many people today find themselves in soul-draining jobs. What advice do you have for people who are looking to make their work more fulfilling?

Jim Kouzes: In order to grow to become the best you can be, there have to be three conditions: you have to have passion for something, you have to have a purpose on which to focus that passion, and then you have to persist. This is why I don’t like the advice that says, “You are going to have five different careers in your life.” That’s BS. You’re not. You cannot become the best in five different things in your life. You can get good at five things, but you can’t become the best. It will take you five years to get good, and ten years to become world-class competitive. And then, because everything is changing–new technologies, new techniques, new methods, new challenges–you’re going to be learning all over again. So you have to look at what you have passion for, what purpose you want to serve, and how you’re going to persist.

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molly | March 08, 2011 | Education, Innovation, Leadership | 0

How a Reluctant Chinese Engineer Designed a New Life in the US

Engineer Duo Wang builds a bright career following the darkness of China’s Cultural Revolution

Loneliness sparks creativity

I was born in Manchuria in 1957, the son of intellectual parents who were from wealthy families. Seven years before my birth, the Communists seized our property and labeled us enemies of the people. In later years, my father was jailed, tortured and exiled. Because this bad family background, I was ostracized from society at a young age.

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molly | February 22, 2011 | Education, Entrepreneurs, Government, Innovation, Job Search | 6

The Career Gypsy

Singer/artist/designer Phoenix Normand opens his next act after calling it quits on YouTube

"If I’m not busy, I feel like I’m not doing anything with my life.”

“Phoenix Normand often has two careers going at once and sleeps four hours a night. His resume captures an eclectic mix of positions as executive assistant, graphic designer, singer, dancer, songwriter, actor, office interior designer, and real estate agent. A self-proclaimed gypsy, he says until recently he attracted new opportunities as if by magic. He posted a YouTube video, ‘Today is the first day of the rest of my life…today I am quitting my job, in the middle of a recession.’ Phoenix’s most compelling question at the moment is what to do with his life.”

- Chronicler Sherry Jordana

A hot mess

My professional realm is a hot mess right now, and it would be so nice to get back on track. I’m getting a little long in the tooth and floundering, to be honest with you. I’m starting to question myself. I can’t figure out what it is. Maybe I’m in a midlife crisis.

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molly | December 14, 2010 | Entrepreneurs, Innovation, Musician, Unemployment | 1

The Working Chronicles

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