Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

From the Field: Africa Yoga Project

Empowering through the power of yoga.

Educate. Empower. Elevate. 

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Yoga entered my life a little over a year ago. Prior to opening my mind and heart to the possibility of creating inner balance and peace within myself, I thought yoga was only about stretching, chanting and wearing stretchy pants. Those stereo-typical views have completely evolved into views that understand that yoga is a way of life that encourages community, health and pure joy. Yoga is a mental escape, a tap into your inner pharmacy and a chance to use your athletic ability in ways you never imagined. The day I found out my paths would be crossing with the Africa Yoga Project in Nairobi, Kenya my yoga world changed forever.

Paige Elenson, co-founder of AYP, moved to Africa in 2007 to put her passion project into action. She saw an opportunity to pair her love for Kenya with her passion for yoga, and create a movement that has now affected thousands of lives across the globe. She started AYP with the goal of empowering the youth and women of Kenya to learn, contribute, and change their lives through the transformative power of yoga. Paige took a risk, took advantage of an opportunity and turned an ordinary dream into an extraordinary reality. AYP is housed in the Shine Center, which is a buzzing hub for yoga, dance, creative exploring, community and pure excitement for life. There is never a dull moment in the Shine Center, especially on Saturday mornings when 300+ yogis come together for a free community class followed by lunch and inspiring conversation.

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During my week-long visit, I could not stop thinking, why is this model of empowerment not being replicated in every athletic realm or community?  The Africa Yoga Project empowers impoverished people from the slums of Nairobi by extensively training them to be Baptiste Yoga teachers. These teachers then go out into their own communities six to seven times a week to lead free outreach classes. So, not only are the teachers being empowered, but the communities are also benefiting from the top of the line yoga instruction (trust me – some of the best teachers I have ever had) and mentoring, and the communities are then encouraged to possibly go through teacher training. Do the math, this model of empowerment is reaching thousands and thousands of people on a weekly basis and is only getting larger! Some of the people in the slums have never been encouraged, never been told they are important and have never looked at physical activity or wellness in a positive light. Witnessing AYP’s magic was incredibly inspiring because they are one of the few NGO’s putting their works into fast action – they definitely walk the walk!

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The most impactful experience I had while visiting AYP was when I went to two community outreach classes.

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My first outreach was with David. He is 24, lives in the slums of Nairobi, teaches yoga to his community six times a week and he practices yoga every day. I had the pleasure of meeting David’s family and sharing evening tea with them, I walked through his vibrant community and saw his amazing home, and I took the best yoga class of my life alongside fifteen other men in a rundown community center with no mats. I met David at the AYP Shine Center in a yoga class and I had no clue that he lives in poverty. He told me as we were walking back from his outreach class that he thinks being poor teaches people how to be happy and that his steady income from teaching yoga is enough because it brings him so much happiness to teach. I think everyone could let that sink in for a moment. When I asked David about his future and goals, he said he wants to go to EMT school but he cannot afford it…it is $966 for the whole entire 9 month program. My wish is that the world will stop worrying about having every single luxury and worry more about empowering others and getting people like David into EMT school. If that dream falls through, David said he is more than confident that yoga will take him to places he could never imagine…and I do not doubt that because he is one of the best yogis I have ever met.

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“Wake up to what’s possible.”

My second outreach was with Issac and Joyce. Issac is 27 years old and taught English in a primary school prior to teaching yoga. He basically volunteered as a school teacher and never made a paycheck prior to AYP. Joyce has been with AYP for a few years, only after being convinced to try yoga by her friend. She said she hated the idea of stretching and blew it off for awhile but once she started, there was no stopping. I visited Issac’s apartment where he has all the basic necessities and enough room to practice yoga at home. He was very proud to show off his home. Issac’s class was in a run down school room that smelt like urine, yet he was very grateful to have a space to share his practice with the seven women that came to class, and he was thrilled Joyce and I were there. One of his students is on the verge of joining the teacher training and Issac could not be more proud of her. During class, children from the school kept peeking in the window and were shocked to see a mazungu attending class. I felt very happy knowing that those kids were being surrounded by the positive energies of yoga and had great role models like Issac to look up to. Issac said he enjoys teaching children the most because it shows them that anything is possible. Issac’s joy was contagious and I look forward to watching him grow as a teacher, a mentor and a yogi!

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In closing, I want to say thank you Africa Yoga Project. Thank you to everyone who welcomed me with open arms. Thank you for the incredible yoga classes. Thank you for the inspiration. Thank you for your approach to empowerment. Thank you for connecting amazing like-minded people. Most of all, thank you for being you. The possibilities ahead are endless! Namaste.

From the field,

Lucas

* If you would like to help sponsor David’s EMT school costs, send me an email at turner.lucasj@gmail.com

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From the Field: Abide Family Center Visit

“Institutions are never a healthy environment for a child to grow up in. Every child deserves a family and every effort should be made to give them one.” – Abide Family Center

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Working internationally in the NGO sector has many wonderful benefits; one of those major benefits is being able to connect with many of the inspiring NGO’s in the field and the selfless people that run them. In the last two weeks I have been able to witness pure magic and action be incorporated into so many lives across East Africa. I consider myself lucky and called to share the stories I absorb through these fantastic organizations.

Through a common interest in Uganda, Kelsey Nielson, co-founder of Abide Family Center, and I connected over Instagram photos. “Great pic! Uganda is amazing.” “Let us know when you are in Uganda, we would love for you to visit!” “Hey! I am heading your way this week, can I visit Abide?” These are three examples of the comments we would leave on each others photos and by the amazing power of social media, we were able to connect and I was welcomed with open arms and a French Toast breakfast by the Abide family.

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The Abide Family Center is a buzzing place located just outside of Jinja, Uganda on a beautiful compound. When I entered the gates my eyes were greeted by a business class in session under a gazebo, mentoring meetings for young mothers under a shade tree, kids playing in a sand box and women learning how to sew yoga bags in a program called “Stitched Together”. The co-founders of Abide Family Center, Kelsey Nielson and Megan Parker, met while volunteering at various orphanages throughout Jinja, Uganda and saw a huge gap in the system. They explained that there is a big problem in the orphanages in Uganda because children are growing up in institutions while they still have family members living close by. Various reasons for kids going into orphanages include poverty, job loss, young motherhood, lack of resources or a basic no desire to care by the parents. Orphanage life is never an optimal situation for anyone. They knew that there had to be a way to lower the number of children in orphanages and re-connect them with their families. And with that gap in the system and opportunity for innovation, Abide Family Center was born.

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Abide Family Center exists to empower mothers and fathers, enrich children’s lives and provide tools to educate families to be self-sustaining. They receive referrals from the local government of families or abandoned children that need a helping hand. To those families or children, they offer top of the line mentorship, business courses on entrepreneurship to spark potential jobs for families, and professional case workers to assess needs. Abide is also full of amazing caretakers who make sure the children are surrounded by positivity in a safe learning environment. Throughout my time at Abide, I witnessed Ellen, a young teenage mother of triplets learn how to sew yoga bags while being provided emergency 3-month housing on the compound. In the standard orphanage system, she would have had to resort to putting her triplets in orphanage care because she cannot afford simple necessities like formula, proper housing, or basic care, all because she lacks support. Since joining Abide, she is making large strides towards being able to be a great mother for her triplets and to provide a bright future for herself and her children.

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I was very impressed by Kelsey, Megan and the rest of the Abide Family Center team. It is a small, yet mighty crew working towards phenomenal goals and they have been making a large impact on the families of Uganda in the short 7 months they have been in operation. The most inspiring thing about Kelsey and Megan is that they are still in their early twenties. They finished their degrees in the USA and knew that if they did not put their dream into action now, they never would. They are living examples of people who are not scared to raise the bar, step out of their comfort zones and trust in God as they devote themselves to creating better lives for the marginalized people of the world. They both live on-site in a very primitive set-up, take cold showers and gamble on if they will have power or not each day. It is people like this who remind me that anything is possible, luxuries are not always determined by the amount of things you have, and that sharing your skills with people that most need them is essential to living a fulfilled, happy life.

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Thank you Abide Family Center for teaching me a little bit about love, empowerment, action and most of all, family. Feel free to check them out at abidefamilycenter.org and if you feel compelled to donate towards their cause, go to abidefamilycenter.org/donate0.aspx. Also, make sure to check out their newest video!

#familiesNOTorphanages

From the field,

Lucas

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A New Perspective: Entrepreneurial Media

New perspectives. They are refreshing. They are inspiring. They are educational. Most of all they are necessary to grow.

Throughout the past five months I have been involved in a new experimental night class called Entrepreneurial Media. Every Monday night my traditional business views on entrepreneurship have been expanded into a journalistic and media realm of thinking. My professor, Dr. Carol Zuegner, saw an opportunity a couple of years ago after attending Big Omaha to incorporate a innovative and creative business planning class into the journalism curriculum. Being a business student, I jumped at the opportunity to take the class and surround myself with students who encompass the other piece of the puzzle to entrepreneurship. The students were mostly writers, reporters, designers and developers, and then there was me, one of three business students. The collaboration and thought provoking ideas in the class was outstanding I am very glad to have been a part of it.

Throughout the semester we listened to several speakers who are putting their ideas and plans into action and are achieving high success. My two favorite speakers were Jen Edney and Dusty Davidson.

  • Jen Edney, Edney Adventure Photojournalism
    • Jen Edney is a graduate of the Creighton University Department of Journalism, Media and Computing who perfectly exemplifies living on the edge. She took her passion of photography and sailing and has made an international business of it. Traveling all months of the year, she photographs sailing regatas all over the world and is one of the most respected professionals in the field. Jen has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, YACHT Magazine, CBS Sports and ABC Prime Time. Throughout her career she has shot in locations many people would label as paradise and spends a majority of her time in the water. One thing that sets her apart from other professional sailing photographers is her drive and hunger for adventure; she is known as a daredevil because of her willingness to shoot photos in the water while large vessels and sailboats move right in her direction. Along with her photography, she has created a new camera strap product made of military durability rope. Jen had a lot of great advice for us aspiring entrepreneurs and the thing that resonated with me the most was when she told us to never believe that you cannot turn your passion into a career. Follow her photos and expect big things out of Jen; she is just getting started.

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  • Dusty Davidson, Silicon Prairie News
    • Dusty Davidson is a University of Nebraska-Omaha graduate who co-founded Silicon Prairie News. After graduation he he spent some time working in corporate software development and found that he was not fond of the standard 9-5. So, alongside fellow Omaha innovator, Jeff Slobotski, Dusty took control of his drive to start something that excited him and could keep him in his favorite city, Omaha. They saw an opportunity to highlight the flourishing entrepreneurial scene within the Midwest. He explained that for many years there was this belief that tech startups could only be successful on the coasts, especially in Silicon Valley. With the advancement of technology and the excitement for entrepreneurship, the trends were shifting and creatives and innovators were finding large success with putting their ideas into action in cities like Omaha, Des Moines and Kansas City. In 2008 the idea for SPN became a reality and now four years later they have solidified a large presence within the entrepreneurial community. SPN is a content based news site that covers all things entrepreneurship. Their entrepreneurship conference Big Omaha is now one of the most prestigious and sought after conferences to attend in the country. Big Omaha’s success led into creating Big Des Moines and Big Kansas City. These three conferences make up the Big Series and are well worth attending. Dusty is a mover and a shaker and just co-founded a web hosting startup called FlyWheel. To say he is a go getter is an understatement. His best advice for our class was, “Try to get a job or start a career where your soul is not sucked through your nose.” SPN is growing at a rapid pace and Dusty is one of the leading entrepreneurs in the country.31348_0110

Credits: Photos from Jen and Dusty’s Twitter Account

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My New Journey of Adventure and Empowerment

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As many know, I have danced around with several possibilities as to what I should do after graduation. And, as some of you may or may not know, I am receiving my degree in Social Entrepreneurship in ten days and I am sort of an unconventional business student; I have no desire to wear a tie to work, I do not want to sit in a cubicle and I do not want to work for a giant corporation. So, to make these unconventional desires a reality I spent this past year connecting with as many like-minded people as I could to expand my knowledge of the social enterprise world. From road tripping to California with my best friend visiting socially driven companies in the fall, to becoming involved with Silicon Prairie News and the Big Series in Omaha, to living and working in NYC for a month, I have tried to put myself out in the world to take advantage of the endless opportunities and to initiate as many conversations as possible.

After many months spent procrastinating school work by looking at job opportunities, tweaking my resume over and over, and making tough decisions that could potentially affect my career, I have finally accepted a job offer! I am incredibly humbled, grateful and excited to announce that as of June 15, 2013, I will be embarking on a six-month volunteer journey with…

Krochet Kids International to Lima, Peru! 

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Krochet Kids International is a non-profit organization that I became a huge advocate for after visiting their HQ in the fall. I fully believe that they best fit and align with my life values, goals and desires. Krochet Kids mission is to empower people to rise above poverty. To make this mission a reality, KKi believes that all people can grow holistically and enrich their lives if given an opportunity. They employ women in Northern Uganda and Lima, Peru who have backgrounds filled with poverty, low wages, little hope, but have the potential to do great things in the world. They make handmade crocheted hats, scarves, shirts, headbands and other fashion items that are then sold all over the world. Krochet Kids pays a living wage, provides job training and growth opportunities, facilitates mentoring and education classes, and most of all provides hope within impoverished communities.

Kohl Crecelius, co-founder of Krochet Kids, explains more about KKi and talks about using your passion to make a difference.

Krochet Kids added their Peru location about a year and a half ago so I am very excited to use my entrepreneurial skills in my Production Assistant Intern position. I will have a hand in all things business related in the operation. I will deal with quality control, shipping, inventory, product development and get a little taste of everything Krochet Kids Peru has to offer. Alongside me will be three other Production Assistant Interns and a Photojournalism Assistant intern. We will all live together in an apartment in the Chorrillos District of Lima. I will be entering Peru right as their winter is beginning, so I will experience mild temperatures and a heavy fog called garúa. Aside from working, I am excited to learn Spanish and to learn more about Peruvian culture. Lima is a fairly large city so I will experience new foods, music, styles and people. Also, I may have the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu and the Amazon Rainforest. Even though Lima is a large metropolitan city, there are a large portion of citizens who live in poverty every day. I am eager to learn and see how the different demographics interact and how Lima is addressing the needs of the impoverished. To say that I am completely stoked to live in Peru is an understatement!

This is Jacque’s story, one of the women working with KKp. This video exemplifies the positive impact Krochet Kids is having in Peru.

As I mentioned above, this is a volunteer position. Am I nervous or concerned about not getting paid? No. I trust that everything will work out the way it is supposed to. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to go to Creighton University for the past four years, where we were encouraged everyday to live out the Jesuit teachings to be men and women for and with others. Service was a large influential portion of my college career, from going on service trips to West Virginia to volunteering as a mentor at a local high school. I feel called to use my skills and attributes in a positive way to make a lasting impact on people. There is no better time to answer this calling than when I am 22 years old without any attachments. I hope to grow more than I ever thought I could and I hope to challenge myself everyday.

This was part of my acceptance letter to Krochet Kids Peru…

Our hope and vision for these coming 6 months is that they will stretch you in a unique way.  From being immersed in a new culture, to learning the behind-the-scenes of what we do, to using- and growing- your skills and gifts for a cause you believe in, we want this experience to shape you for the future.  

You will be challenged.  You will challenge others.  Your worldview will be expanded.  And our goal is that by the end of your time with us, you’ll feel more prepared to take next steps toward your career and life dreams. 

Now that’s what I am talking about! Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way of finding my passion. I am excited to share this adventure with you! Follow this blog for all updates.

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Check out their products at www.krochetkids.org

* If you would like to donate to help me fund this journey, you can directly donate to me, or at www.krochetkids.org/donate. Write For Lucas Turner in the “write a note” section, and email nic@krochetkids.org to notify him of the donation on my behalf. All donations are tax-deductible. Do not feel obligated at all to do this. Thank you very much for your support!

Credits: Photos and Videos from krochetkids.org

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Movers and Shakers Spotlight: Sarah and Megan

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Two weeks ago, my little knowledge of boutique fashion was entirely stereotypical…

Pretty pink dresses. Big pink bows. Extremely expensive jewelry. Unnecessary pink accessories.

I meet Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik and Megan Hunt, co-founders of Hello Holiday, and my new fashion perspective instantly includes…

Extensive branding and research. Photos and packaging. Website maintenance. Still pretty pink dressesLate working nights. A whole lot more.

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I quickly realized that I was going to learn quite a bit from these women entrepreneurs in our two hours spent sharing ideas. Sarah, a fashionista and creative at heart, and Megan, a born entrepreneur, are the perfect example of complimentary business partners. With their similar professional backgrounds, they pull small business, fashion writing, modeling, crafting and design expertises altogether under one roof. If there was a textbook example of perfect balance in co-founders, I think I found it between Sarah and Megan.

Their e-commerce site, Hello Holiday, thrives off of the mission celebrating your arrival” and hopes that with every purchase, customers feel a sense of holiday or happiness. The co-founders fully believe in celebrating you and have built the company around encouraging their customers to reward themselves for those special moments, holidays, in life. “We want every customer to feel like they are a part of everything we do. We share their Instagram photos, celebrate milestones with them and make them feel important,” Megan explained. Sarah and Megan have built a phenomenal brand and know exactly who they are in terms of fashion and business. They have customers all over the country and internationally sporting their unique designers. Through their blog, excellent videos and social media reach, it is near impossible to not get a grasp on what they are all about. 

Things I appreciate about these two…

  • I appreciate their tenacity to highlight and feature local clothing designers in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • I appreciate their honesty about their strengths and weaknesses.
  • I appreciate their unique style.
  • I appreciate their willingness to share the Hello Holiday story with young entrepreneurs.

Expect big things from Sarah and Megan. Big things.

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“Do more. Be more.” 

– Megan Hunt, Co-Founder Hello Holiday

Credits: Photos from hello-holiday.com

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The Big Kansas City Feel

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“Learn the rules like a pro, but break them like an artist.” 

As I approach graduating from college I am constantly being approached by peers, family and friends about what my next move is. Many times the questions people ask are: Graduate school? Fortune 500 Company? Corporate training program? When I answer their questions with things like,  “work for a startup,”  “volunteer for a couple years,” or  “start my own business,” I am usually received with raised eyebrows and a sarcastic “good luck kid” attitude. I am not angry or blaming anyone for this response because to most people those options are so out of the ordinary that they sound heinous. However, this week I was surrounded by over 400 people at Big Kansas City who thought these options were brilliant and they challenged me to be more and to do more.

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Approximately a year and a half ago, I was so lucky to be introduced to the Silicon Prairie News team. This past January, I joined the team as the events intern and could not be more grateful for the opportunity to work with some of the best movers and shakers. Started in 2008 off an idea and an opportunity, SPN has pushed the envelope on covering the entrepreneurial world in the Midwest of the United States. They encourage start-up “can-do” attitudes to anyone who has ever had the urge to put their business idea into action. SPN has found great success right here in Omaha with their entrepreneurial and innovation conference Big Omaha. Big Omaha has brought in many inspirational and innovative speakers like Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos! and Neil Blumenthal, co-founder of Warby Parker to share their stories of innovation and creativity, and to challenge attendees to define their purpose. With the success of Big Omaha and the newly rebranded Big Des Moines, SPN saw the need for a Big conference in the vibrant start-up community of Kansas City. Being a Kansas City native, I was thrilled to see this exciting action come to my hometown.

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Big Kansas City has come and gone, and this inaugural event has set the bar high for next year. Helping plan and prepare for #bigKC has taught me so many invaluable lessons when it comes to entrepreneurship, event planning and building a brand. The amazing speakers made me think about how I am going to move forward with my ideas, and encouraged me to break through the normalcy mold that many fall victim to. My favorite speakers were Scott Harrison from charity: water and Jamie Wong from Vayable. I also enjoyed getting to know the emcee Jason Zone Fisher.

The attendees were definitely the furthest thing from normal, or was the venue since it was at the National Airline History Museum. I connected with so many unique people ranging from software programers to fashionistas to disc jockeys. Those three professions typically would not interact much, however at Big Kansas City it was not unordinary to see them picking each others brains about their latest idea or venture. The energy was contagious and it was almost impossible to have left the conference without gaining new perspectives and new outlooks on business. This was my second Big Series event and I can honestly say that I am a changed person from last week.

Three Large Take-Aways from Big Kansas City

  • Introverts are awesome! Being a natural extrovert, I typically do not flock to shy people. However, some of the neatest and most insightful people I met at Big KC were not the typical business folk who “ham” around the parties or conference. I learned to appreciate a calmer and more collective approach to conversation.
  • Treat your “business idols” like normal people. I had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite social entrepreneurs at the conference and also had the chance to talk one on one with them for about thirty minutes. When I found out I would be meeting with them, sweat start coming out of every pore in my skin and it suddenly got hot in the room. I frantically texted my sister with the news and was pretty much freaking out. When it finally happened it was not as scary as I thought it would be. I had a great, casual conversation that consisted of many insightful things and great advice. When it was all said and done, I had made a friend and a great connection. Remember, famous people put their pants on in the morning just like the rest of us.
  • Know the personal brand you want to portray. One of the speakers ironically gave the advice “to not take anyone’s advice” and I definitely had to ponder this one for awhile. I finally realized that many people are going to tell you how you should market your idea, how you should make your money or how to network. Essentially, if you have the drive to do something, it ultimately comes down to your decisions and who you are. When connecting with people at the conference we were encouraged to introduce ourselves and our story before going straight to introducing our business. The speaker who challenged us explained that you will lose your identity very quick if you do not separate who you are from your business idea.

As I move on into the planning stages of Big Omaha and I make plans for my future after school, I know that I will use a lot of things learned from Big Kansas City. I may be unconventional in many peoples eyes, but to myself and the entrepreneurial world I may just be on the right track. Here’s to hoping I make it out alive!

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Credits: Photos from siliconprairienews.com and #bigKC Instagram

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Movers and Shakers Spotlight: Andrew Norman

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“I’m just a liberal arts guy.” Listening to the stories of how a south-western Nebraska boy took his passion for local music and turned it into a lifestyle, made me believe this doer deserved a lot more credit than just being liberal arts savvy. Andrew Norman, a man of many trades, started the non-profit Hear Nebraska after recognizing a need to showcase the amazing musical talents planted right in the heartland.

Since its beginning, Hear Nebraska has gone from the typical business idea sketched on a napkin in a bar, to a full fledged non-profit reaching music enthusiasts all over the world. Discouraged by the lack of appreciation and recognition for Nebraskan bands and musicians, Norman and his wife set a goal to prove that Nebraska has a vibrant arts scene attractable to the younger people that were moving away from the Cornhusker state. With an emphasis on staying local, Hear Nebraska highlights shows, festivals and tunes coming straight out of our Nebraskan backyards. They have even represented Nebraska at world famous festivals like SXSW in Austin, TX.

Hear Nebraska has become a movement that Norman views as a lifestyle. Coming from a journalism background, he had never taken any type of business course. He literally learned the ends and outs of being an entrepreneur as he built his non-profit. At first, the plan was for Hear Nebraska to be for-profit, however with the lack of wanting to advertise and having little focus on profits, the best option was to become a non-profit. Norman did not even think of this possibility until he collaborated with another doer and they recommended the idea. He said that collaborating with other like-minded people in your community or niche is one of the most valuable tools you can use when starting your own business. Another useful tool he discovered along the way was interns. Hear Nebraska has had several editorial and multimedia interns, some of which have turned into full-time employees. Even with the growth of his non-profit, Norman has still found time to freelance and copyright to pay for the important stuff. He reminisced on the days of touring with a band eating cold Chef Boyardee and hoping that his volunteer developer would meet deadlines. He realized that his lifestyle needed a change and he has now found a way live comfortably while living out his passions.

One of the most inspiring things I took away from listening to Norman talk was his commitment to staying local. Too many times people rush to the coasts to chase their dreams. Andrew Norman’s story and Hear Nebraska musicians are prime examples of dreams coming true, right hear in Nebraska.

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Credits: Photos from hearnebraska.org

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The “Elevator” Pitch

Imagine yourself going about your business day after a long meeting. You may have just had your third cup of coffee and are daydreaming about 5:00. You press the up button on the elevator, the doors open and boom, there stands in front of you an interested investor, creative or entrepreneur that has been wanting to talk to you about your newest idea or venture. You start to sweat, your mind goes blank and before you know it you have babbled your way up to the 40th floor and you can’t even remember what you said as you shake the person’s hand with your sweaty palm and say your farewell.

This scenario is what many young entrepreneurs play out in their mind time after time as they develop their first few business plans. The elevator pitch has become one of the most feared parts of being an entrepreneur. People freak themselves out and end up selling themselves short in idea sharing conversations. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I have experienced the stressful babbling pitches, however as I have gained confidence I have begun to walk away from a short conversation feeling like I hit a grand slam. Here is my advice for the elevator pitch:

  1. It is a casual conversation. Do not all of a sudden put on an announcers voice or start using big words. People are impressed with genuine passion and knowledge of your idea. 
  2. Keep it simple and get your main points across. If people want to know the nitty gritty details, they will ask.
  3. Do not saturate the conversation. Allow the other person to share their ideas and if they ask you specifically about your business, then you can share your newest plans.
  4. Ask people what you can do for them before you expect them to help you. No one wants to listen to a pitch when they can tell you are just trying to use them.
  5. If giving a formal pitch in front of a crowd, do not stare at your presentation. You should know your facts well enough that you can engage with your audience.
  6. Relax, practice, take a deep breath, exude confidence and enjoy the world of entrepreneurial pitches. Also, do not forget to smile, this is fun stuff.

Not every pitch is going to be perfect and not every one will be a flop. The more practice you can get and the more people you can get in front of, the better off your presentation is going to be. It can be tough to take in new ideas or criticisms, but know at the end of the day your finished product will be that much stronger. Good luck!

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Omaha Fit Rate Inspiration

Omaha, Nebraska…The home of Omaha Steaks, Warren Buffet, Cornhuskers and the College World Series. That’s all there is in this Midwestern mecca, right? Wrong.

Omaha is also home to a growing and vibrant fitness community that has the potential to be one of the best in the country. Men’s Fitness Magazine ranked Omaha as it’s “15th fittest city” in 2012 and our yoga community has paved the way with it’s Yoga Rocks the ParkNot to mention, Omaha has gained national recognition for the Omaha Marathon and Half Marathon, many adventure races have made Omaha a must on their schedule and Omaha has been named one of the top cities for best overall quality of life.

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Being home to many health clubs and gyms for decades, Omaha has seen an increase in boutique studios and group fitness options. Community members are now enjoying the fresh comradery from the intimate settings of yoga, spin, boxing, Pilates and cross fit studios. Personable and motivating instructors are leading athletes through hour classes, offering very cost and time effective workouts and providing results quickly. Group fitness classes offer an aspect of fun and team for people who are intimidated by the gym or who prefer instruction. The standard is changing. These classes are encouraging health and fitness based off of how people feel, instead of worrying more about what you look like.

Omaha has an opportunity. Omaha Fit Rate is going to serve as an inspirational, informative and exciting place for all things fitness and positivity. Omaha is not only getting more fit and healthy, it is setting itself apart from other cities and will become the optimal place for exercise!

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Working Alone in a Like-Minded Community

As I set out on my entrepreneurial ventures and plan, plan, plan, through the wee-hours of the night, I sometimes ask myself if this is really the career path for me. Why not have co-workers? Is the corporate world really that bad? Doesn’t a large salary sound fantastic? These are a few of the questions I ask myself when doubting whether or not to be an entrepreneur.

Typically while I am doubting this innovative approach to a career, I have many times received a tweet mention, text or Google + hangout invite from a friend who may be working on their new website or launching a new product. Their excitement about their new idea or breakthrough is exhilarating, even at 2am and after three cups of coffee. This excitement reminds me that even though I may be working on a business idea by myself, I am not technically alone in my entrepreneurial spirit. The great thing about being involved with entrepreneurship is that you have access to hundreds of people within your community who are all very like-minded and have the drive needed to start something on their own. Websites like meetup.com highlight anything from  local coffee shop talks about quilting to workshops on wordpress. People are foolish to not tap into their social resources.

Many companies have started from two people meeting over coffee on a business “blind date” because someone knew someone who knew someone that was working on a similar project alone. Founders Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler of the indoor cycling phenomenon, Soul Cycle, are a prime example of this collaborative world. In a recent interview with Bloomberg TV, they speak about how they went from having two similar ideas about boutique fitness to operating over fifteen studios in New York City and Los Angeles, and they are only just beginning.

There is hope for the lone ranger who wants to be their own boss. I personally get pumped thinking of  the possibilities this world has for business. Throughout the past year my main goal has been to expand my network nationally outside of Omaha and the connections have already started to show benefits from New York to LA. Yes, I may have missed some parties or typical “college nights” but the other experiences I have had in the entrepreneurial community have definitely outweighed the typical experiences. Typical and the words freelance or entrepreneur definitely do not go hand in hand and is not a word in my everyday vocabulary.