One of the cornerstones of the City Startup Labs’ training program is the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program. The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI) created this program on the basis of a book written by the Pulitzer Prize nominated author Clifton Taulbert‘s work, “Who Owns the Ice House? Eight Life-Lessons From an Unlikely Entrepreneur.” This work, co-written by Gary Schoeniger, CEO of ELI, delves deeply into who is the entrepreneur and why. It does so through the insights of Taulbert’s Uncle Cleve, who’s mother-wit gave a teenage Cliff the foundations for being the success he became in life. It’s serves as the road map for a journey of discovery into the real substance of what it takes to run an enterprise.
I had the pleasure of attending the latest facilitators training for The Ice House Entrepreneurship Program, at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, MO. It was especially gratifying being at Kauffman, as its the epicenter in the pursuit of entrepreneurship. With the Foundation’s support this program was given the lift it needed to become the leading source for rethinking what it is to be an entrepreneur. Heretofore, we often have considered the profile of an entrepreneur as the maverick and the gambler, willing to risk it all in pursuit of the big payday. That’s been reenforced recently with the likes of the VC-backed Silicon Valley mega-hits like Facebook, Google and Groupon. However, the picture that the Ice House paints is far different. Yes, the entrepreneurs among us are often mavericks in their willingness to think unconventionally and be risk takers, but more often than not they’re a lot like Uncle Cleve, in their steadfastness, belief in themselves and a a connection with an inner guidance system or knowingness.
The Ice House Entrepreneurship Program is designed around eight core lessons; Choice, Opportunity, Action, Knowledge, Wealth, Brand, Community, Persistence, each of which have been gleaned from Uncle Cleve’s tutelage of young Cliff.
These lessons are at the heart of why this program was chosen to be one of the basic modules for City Startup Labs. Before anyone can accept the challenge of being a business person, they need to know that it starts with their mindset. That gives the new entrepreneur a running start. Without a mindset that is open to both the challenges and the possibilities, the rigors and the relish, the hard work and the unfathomable imagination and creativity required to run a business, they’re basically dead in the water.
As City Startup Labs looks to bring inner-city young men of color into the entrepreneur’s fold, knowing what it takes to not just to make of go of it, but to be successful, is crucial to their education as businessmen. The Ice House Entrepreneurship Program will be just the preparation they require.