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Reaching into the past to create the future.

Gary Schoeniger, Founder and CEO, The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Tech Town’s 2010 FastTrac to the Future conference in Detroit, Michigan. More than 700 experienced and aspiring entrepreneurs gathered on the campus of Wayne State University to participate in what will become the future of Detroit’s economy.   

The conference kicked-off with a keynote from Pulitzer nominee Clifton Taulbert, who reminded us that long before the term “entrepreneur” became popular, the concept still existed. In his speech Taulbert emphasized the importance of cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset - a mindset he gained from his Uncle Cleve - an unlikely entrepreneur who defied tradition as the owner of the icehouse in Glen Allan, Mississippi during the height of legal segregation.

He described some of the timeless life-lessons he learned from his Uncle Cleve and the mindset that enabled him to rise above his circumstances and re-invent himself to become what Time Magazine described as one of our nation’s most outstanding entrepreneurs.

Mr. Taulbert described the mindset that empowered him to transform a job loss into a life changing opportunity. He described the mindset that enabled him to help introduce StairMaster exercise equipment to the world. He also described the mindset that enabled him to endure countless rejections before being nominated for the Pulitzer prize.

Mr. Taulbert’s story reminded us all of the power and the simplicity of an entrepreneurial mindset - a mindset that we can all embrace.  After all, entrepreneurship is, at its core, about solving problems for other people.

And, in the 20th century, in Glen Allan, Mississippi, everybody needed ice.



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