Voices of Vision: Celebrating a Milestone of 100 Episodes with En Factor’s Most Inspirational Entrepreneurial Journeys

Four years ago, I launched a new podcast, the En Factor®, with the intention of sharing and archiving stories of how an entrepreneurial mindset can shape people, organizations, and communities.  After several decades of teaching entrepreneurship and of studying the way ordinary people create extraordinary lives and organizations, I was excited to find a new platform for sharing these inspirational stories with my students.  Earlier this year, we passed the 100 episodes mark and in 2024 my goal is to find ways to share these stories more widely. 

Over the past few years, I have used these episodes not only to inspire but to also ignite meaningful conversations about the highs and lows of an entrepreneurial journey.  Lessons learned and questions still being asked about personal passion, finding opportunity, new venture creation, new product or process development, brand building, marketing, financing, and failure are among the discussions these stories have inspired.  My students tell me repeatedly how much they enjoy the ease and accessibility that learning through podcasts brings.  (I call this Podagogy® which I will be talking about more in the coming weeks). 

As we approach the new year I thought it would be fun to share some of my student’s favorites in case you are new to the En Factor® or new to using podcasts in your classes.   But, please, don’t limit to just these 10.  They are all worth a listen and there is something to learn from each one! And don’t forget you can use my Episode Explorer to find your own favorites for any classroom topic.

Benson Riseman

Why:  Inspirational story of someone raised by a single illiterate mother, who through a career of hard work and an entrepreneurial mindset, built the first pre-paid debit card company that is now a $1.25b company traded on NYSE. Benson’s story shares many life lessons that resonate with the students.

Dr. Jacqueline Darna

Why:  Story of a health care professional who knew nothing about business but who, through her passion for helping others overcome nausea, created a simple product that is now sold in CVS, WalMart, and most retail outlets.  Jackie’s story emphasizes the power of networking and the importance of building a brand.

Edouard Carrie

Why:  Native Haitian, Ed Carrie, is the founder and CEO of the first professional managed waste facility in his country.  While he was home during holiday break, Ed experienced the devastating January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He came back determined to find a way, through entrepreneurship, to help clean up.  After learning about recycling through an internship with a classmate’s family business, Ed did just that.  His company is not only cleaning up the country, but also the water nearby, while providing income for literally thousands of Haitians.

Captain Sandy Yawn

Why:  Students may know Captain Sandy from the hit TV show, Below Decks.  Captain Sandy says she was headed down the wrong path when a captain took her under his wings and gave her a chance.  After years of training and experience, Captain Sandy is one of the top superyacht captains in the world and a TV personality.  Her story of courage and resilience can inspire everyone. 

Martika Jones

Why:  As a professional classical musician performing in New York, native Mississippian Martika, couldn’t stop herself from pursuing a startup.  After moving to Tampa and completing a master’s degree in entrepreneurship, Martika and her husband not only started a company, but also had a painful failure when their business with a 3rd partner didn’t work out.  The two of them were able to restart and are even stronger today with not one but two amazing companies.  This is a great story of resilience and partnership lessons.

Jeff Civillico

Why:  Jeff is a performer and had one of the top shows in Las Vegas for more than 10 years.  The lesson Jeff shares is that he didn’t wait for someone to pick him, he decided to learn the business of producing his own show and in the process became not only a top entertainer (juggling is his primary art) but also a savvy entrepreneur with some great lessons for anyone how wants to pursue their passion.

Danny Mastranardo

Why: Danny and his brothers started a skin care company that made it to the TV show Shark Tank and received funding from Barbara Corcoran.  This story is the classic entrepreneurial journey.  From starting a business in the kitchen (literally) with family, to resilience and overcoming loss (one of the brothers was in a fatal car accident), these young men built a brand locally then nationally and now sell their own brand as well as supply products for many of the top natural cosmetic brands through a white labeling strategy. Students love this story of a young man who gave up a successful job to pursue his dream of working with the people he loves.

Lisa Druxman

Why:  As a new mother, Lisa was looking for a way to stay fit and build friendships with mothers.  She soon figured out she could turn this into a business that would allow her to spend more time with her new son.  Twenty plus years later, Fit4Mom and Stroller Strides are still going strong with over 1000 locations in the US.  This is a great story of franchising and lessons learned about licensing vs franchising.

Frans Johansson

Why: This conversation with book author and entrepreneur, Frans Johansson, about opportunity recognition is one that resonates with students as they are trying to find their own entrepreneurial path.  He provides some interesting ways to generate creative solutions and find opportunity.

Sam Chason

Why: Sam started his company as a student in college to pay his tuition, a story that will resonate with many students.  Sam says his school-teacher parents couldn’t afford the school he wanted to attend so he took on the responsibility and started a business that not only paid for his school but is now a thriving business on campuses nationwide.

As we stand on the cusp of a new year, full of potential and promise, it’s the perfect moment to reflect on the multitude of lessons these entrepreneurial stories have imparted. The En Factor has been more than just a podcast; it’s been a journey into the heart of what drives innovation, resilience, and success. Whether you’re a seasoned listener or just discovering these narratives, each episode is an invitation to explore the entrepreneurial spirit within. So, as we bid farewell to another year and welcome the adventures that lie ahead, I invite you to join me in continuing to seek inspiration, to ask the probing questions, and to apply the invaluable insights from our guests into your own ventures. Here’s to another year of learning, growing, and transforming the world through the entrepreneurial mindset. Remember, every story has the power to motivate someone out there – perhaps that someone could be you.

Oh, and if you’re an educator, be sure to get on the list and check out the guide I’m developing for how to use the podcast in your classroom.

Thanks for listening!

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