The entrepreneurial spirit can spring from many different sources.

-Phil Coop 

Being an entrepreneur is a way of life, a way of approaching opportunities and challenges, and seeing the potential in all situations.

Mary McDonald

Entrepreneurship is the foundation of the American business world.

Michael J. Bruns


The Society of Entrepreneurs has elected four new members and officers of the Board of Directors.  The new officers are: President, Jay Martin; President Elect, Mary McDonald; Secretary/Treasurer, Andy Taylor and Membership Chairman, Bill Courtney.  The four new members of the Board of Directors are Bob Adams, Mike Bruns, Charles Ewing and Ellen Rolfes.

The Society of Entrepreneurs was founded in 1991 to foster the development of the entrepreneurial spirit and to recognize the contribution of entrepreneurs to business and the community.

Book Recommendations

The Society of Entrepreneurs sponsors a mentoring group that meets once a month for a group of 16 owners of established, growing businesses called the Insights Group. The group met today and discussed business book recommendations. Highlights from the list are:

Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet by Shep Hyken

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues by Patrick M. Lencioni

Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time by Rory Vaden

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan and Charles Burck

What books do you recommend?

Leaders Say No at Times

By Society of Entrepreneurs Member Dr. Mary C. McDonald published in The Daily News on 4/28/2016

Wise decision-making is a core function of leadership. Your job as a leader is to keep the main thing, the main thing. How do you achieve that goal knowing that there are times when everything seems like a good idea, everything seems important, achievable, a good decision.

People come to you with their ideas, their visions, their sales pitches pulling you in the direction of what is in the best interest of what they want. What do you do? If you’re a wise leader, you practice the art of saying “no.”

It’s complicated. Just saying no is not as easy as it sounds. A leader comes prepared with strategic thinking skills that lead to a successful “no”, while continuing to keep the focus on the “yes” to the things that are most important. A strategic “no” determines the clarity of what you can do. Steve Jobs knew why when he said, “It come from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track, or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it is only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

A successful leader knows how to manage current commitments, obligations, and expectations, while always keeping an entrepreneurial eye open for new opportunities. The leader is skilled at focusing on the main thing by saying no, while still maintaining positive business relationships, and keeping doors open for future opportunities. Here are a few strategies to keep in mind when honing your skills at saying no.

  • Listen. Active listening is important when gathering the facts needed to make an informed decision. Listening shows interest, and brings clarity. Listening affirms and respects the other person, even if the answer is no. Listening is the basis for future dialogue. “No, but I have the information and I’ll keep it in mind.”
  • Focus. Before making any new commitments, focus on the obligations you currently have. How could added commitments possibly rearrange the current priorities, or side track the forward motion of the business. Trust your instincts. If it doesn’t fit your business plan, say so.
  • Time. Sleep on it. Give yourself time to weigh all the possibilities, advantages, and disadvantages. Take time to seek advice from others. Take time to think.Will this request compromise your high standards? Will it put an added stress on you or others? Will it promote your core business? Thoughtful consideration before a “no” affirms the skill of your decision making.
  • Truth. The truth serves best. No is no. No should be simple and clear, with or without a rationale. Truthfully declining an offer leaves everyone’s integrity in tack.
  • Redirect. Say yes to something else. It is good business to do good business. If the request is something you can’t take on, perhaps you can give a lead along with your “no.” I’m saying no on this, however, have you considered talking to ___________ about this? Great leaders always encourage the success of others.

Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a National Education Consultant, can be reached at 901-574-2956 or

Creating A Culture Of Urgency

By Society of Entrepreneurs Member Dr. Mary C. McDonald published in The Daily News on 2/25/2016

President Lincoln once said, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” What amazing insight from someone living in an era we would consider as slow-paced compared to the frenetic pace of change in society today.

Regardless of what you consider the pace to be, the difference between success and failure in your business is how you execute your business plan. The ultimate failure is the failure to take action.

Procrastination is the foundation of failure, particularly when it comes to addressing the challenges that face your business. Creating a culture of urgency in your business that rewards decisive actions and encourages responsiveness and daring in addressing issues, whether those issues are the barriers to success, or the day-to-day problems, is a key factor in ensuring sustainability and growth.

It is certainly not the path of least resistance you are taking when you decide to decide. It is hard work to be able to quickly read situations, synthesize information and have the confidence to make a decision that will advance the goals of the business. It is particularly challenging when the situations that affect your business, whether they are global, national, or local, change rapidly and your pro-active response will make the difference between success and failure.

Staying competitive, ahead of the curve, or even surviving requires operating within a culture of urgency that is rooted in bold, informed decision-making.

Thomas Edison said, “The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do.” One of those things is addressing problems in a timely and decisive way.

True, there are some people who are serial incompetents and insist on squeezing their way around a situation that has become the “elephant in the room.” However, a full-grown, seven-ton elephant doesn’t usually make a sudden appearance. It enters the room as a 200-pound problem calf who stays, feeds on avoidance and indecision, and grows. The ability to recognize and address problems quickly and implement workable solutions is a hallmark of greatness.

In some businesses, the culture of “This is the way we’ve always done it” is the elephant itself. Just saying that things are going to change without any meaningful change taking place is at the root of unrealized achievement.

This is particularly true in established companies where success is connected more to the way things were than to the way the world operates now. By the time they realize their customers are passing them by, it is often too late to make the significant changes needed.

The real challenge in making a sense of urgency a part of your business culture is becoming comfortable living in the wisdom of uncertainty, and being able to monitor decisions and adjust quickly adjust to what is not working. Speed is a competitive advantage today and the ability to keep things moving promotes success.

Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a National Education Consultant, can be reached at 901-574-2956 or

How to Make Good Hiring Decisions


There are a lot of clever people out there working out the “perfect” recruitment process, putting potential employees through psychometric testing, a series of eliminating interviews, a neediness for a CV akin to running for presidency and more detailed than Webster ‘s. In reality, much of this can be dispensed with by trusting your own judgment and reactions. Oh, and just check they really do have the qualifications they say they have! Here are some thoughts on the process of a good hire for a small business.

Don’t make the process more complicated than it needs to be. This is especially important when you’re running your own small business. There isn’t time for umpteen dozen interviews to make sure he is the one or she is perfection. Too many interviews can actually intensify unnatural behaviors and end up giving you Artificial results anyway. Keep it simple!

Trust your judgment. Hire according to personality first, skills second. Unless you’re building rocket ships, many, many skills can be taught. However, personality cannot be reshaped no matter how many training courses you send this employee to. Even where skills are of the essence, you need to look for the personality fit as a key indicator of success. Only government and very large corporations can afford to carry people who know their stuff inside out but don’t care to communicate with anyone else on the planet.

Don’t hire against your better judgment. Once you get a feeling about a person, don’ t talk yourself out of it by admiring their  CV, their skills, their  phenomenal sales track record and ignore the aggressive stare, the quivering lip, or the avoidance of eye contact. Body language and personality have told you something; listen to it.

Ask your own team for their thoughts. If you can’t make up your mind, ask your fellow interviewers for feedback (which you should be doing as a matter of course). Walk the potential employee through your business and introduce him or her to existing employees. Ask these employees afterward how they felt when they met this person and use their responses to help weigh yours.