Is it Social or is it Hybrid…Entrepreneurship that is?

So I have been doing some research looking for companies and individuals engaging in this new trend of Hybrid Entrepreneurship. Yes…those who want to solve a social problem as major initiative, yet they do not want to be a non-profit. They want to generate profits and create a sustainable change, social progress. I found this student in New York City with similar thoughts.

Yes…we feel ya my friend. This is a conversational trend, Bloomberg Businessweek wrote about this trending topic in 2009…the idea of turning a profit solving a social problems. Here is a story about the Greystone Foundation…click here to read and watch. Are they Hybrid? It sure did lead to an interesting class discussion in my ELE 499 class at Clemson.

So what has brought about this trend…this need for sustainable change. With the trends of “going green” to “sustainability,” organizations are realizing that the world of running “not for profit” business models is not a one-size fits all. Back in 2004, some were still calling it Social Entrepreneurship. Click here to listen to Randy Komisar and his interview from Stanford’s Entrepreneur Corner. But there are those that do not feel like it fits into that model nicely.

it don’t cost nuthin’ to be nice…

This story below was shared with me by a great friend, mentor, and tremendous entrepreneur! Thanks for sharing Leighton! I am not sure where this story came from…but it is one that should be shared so much more! I am not sure who to credit…but to the person that captured this story, here is to you!

At a Touchdown Club meeting many years ago, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant told the following story: 
I had just been named the new head coach at Alabama and was off in my old car down in South Alabama recruiting a prospect who was supposed to have been a pretty good player, and I was having trouble finding the place.

Getting hungry, I spied an old cinderblock building with a small sign out front that simply said “Restaurant.” I pull up, go in, and every head in the place turns to stare at me. Seems I’m the only white fella in the place. But the food smelled good, so I skip a table and go up to a cement bar and sit. A big ole man in a tee shirt and cap comes over and says, “What do you need?”
I told him I needed lunch and what did they have today?

He says, “You probably won’t like it here. Today we’re having chitlins, collard greens and black-eyed peas with cornbread. I’ll bet you don’t even know what chitlins are, do you?”(small intestines of hogs prepared as food in the deep South)

I looked him square in the eye and said, “I’m from Arkansas , and I’ve probably eaten a mile of them. Sounds like I’m in the right place.”

They all smiled as he left to serve me up a big plate. When he comes back he says, “You ain’t from around here then?”

I explain I’m the new football coach up in Tuscaloosa at the University and I’m here to find whatever that boy’s name was, and he says, “Yeah I’ve heard of him, he’s supposed to be pretty good.” And he gives me directions to the school so I can meet him and his coach.

As I’m paying up to leave, I remember my manners and leave a tip, not too big to be flashy, but a good one, and he told me lunch was on him, but I told him for a lunch that good, I felt I should pay. The big man asked me if I had a photograph or something he could hang up to show I’d been there. I was so new that I didn’t have any yet. It really wasn’t that big a thing back then to be asked for, but I took a napkin and wrote his name and address on it and told him I’d get him one.

I met the kid I was looking for later that afternoon and I don’t remember his name, but do remember I didn’t think much of him when I met him.
I had wasted a day, or so I thought. When I got back to Tuscaloosa late that night, I took that napkin from my shirt pocket and put it under my keys so I wouldn’t forget it. Back then I was excited that anybody would want a picture of me.  The next day we found a picture and I wrote on it, “Thanks for the best lunch I’ve ever had.”
Now let’s go a whole buncha years down the road. Now we have black players at Alabama and I’m back down in that part of the country scouting an offensive lineman we sure needed.  Y’all remember, (and I forget the name, but it’s not important to the story), well anyway, he’s got two friends going to Auburn and he tells me he’s got his heart set on Auburn too, so I leave empty handed and go on to see some others while I’m down there.

Two days later, I’m in my office in Tuscaloosa and the phone rings and it’s this kid who just turned me down, and he says, “Coach, do you still want me at Alabama ?”

And I said, “Yes I sure do.” And he says OK, he’ll come.
And I say, “Well son, what changed your mind?”

And he said, “When my grandpa found out that I had a chance to play for you and said no, he pitched a fit and told me I wasn’t going nowhere but Alabama, and wasn’t playing for nobody but you. He thinks a lot of you and has ever since y’all met.”

Well, I didn’t know his granddad from Adam’s housecat so I asked him who his granddaddy was and he said, “You probably don’t remember him, but you ate in his restaurant your first year at Alabama and you sent him a picture that he’s had hung in that place ever since. That picture’s his pride and joy and he still tells everybody about the day that Bear Bryant came in and had chitlins with him…”
“My grandpa said that when you left there, he never expected you to remember him or to send him that picture, but you kept your word to him and to Grandpa, that’s everything. He said you could teach me more than football and I had to play for a man like you, so I guess I’m going to.”

I was floored. But I learned that the lessons my mama taught me were always right. It don’t cost nuthin’ to be nice. It don’t cost nuthin’ to do the right thing most of the time, and it costs a lot to lose your good name by breaking your word to someone.

When I went back to sign that boy, I looked up his Grandpa and he’s still running that place, but it looks a lot better now. And he didn’t have chitlins that day, but he had some ribs that would make Dreamland proud.  I made sure I posed for a lot of pictures; and don’t think I didn’t leave some new ones for him, too, along with a signed football.

I made it clear to all my assistants to keep this story and these lessons in mind when they’re out on the road. If you remember anything else from me, remember this. It really doesn’t cost anything to be nice, and the rewards can be unimaginable.

Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant

Editor’s Note: Coach Bryant was in the presence of those few gentlemen for only minutes, and he defined himself for life. Regardless of our profession, we do define ourselves by how we treat others, and how we behave in the presence of others, and most of the time, we have only minutes or seconds to leave a lasting impression. We can be rude, crude, arrogant, cantankerous, or we can be nice.
Nice is always a better choice.

We are IT-oLogy

It is more than a building, it is more than a mission, it is more than a consortium of partners…it is an initiative. There is one thing for sure, there are lots of passionate people that believe in the future of IT. What is IT? Some define “IT” as Information Technology…others define “IT” as the discipline for tomorrow’s economic engine.

This past Tuesday (Feb. 8th), we gathered to see what all the hoopla was all about. Just across the street from the Statehouse in downtown Columbia, SC…there is a new sign. Not only a new sign hanging on the side of a building, but a new sign that there is a massive voice saying…”We Are IT-oLogy.” Yes…you do not hear people saying “I” … they are using the word “We”. It is a group of people, companies, partners, visionaries that are investing in the future…the future workforce for tomorrow’s Information Technology leaders.

Close to 250 people attended the open house for IT-oLogy. It was more than just an open house congregating the “whose who” across the southeast and Columbia…it was also the unveiling of a new name for this passionate initiative. IT-oLogy was brought to the forefront as the new brand for this growing initiative.  It is the initiative of the Consortium for Enterprise Systems Management. It was also the unveiling of the new website, aimed at attracting a younger audience to engage in an online experience, learning about a career in IT.

So next time you are in Columbia, SC…stop by and check out my friends at IT-oLogy. If you click here, you can find their new multi-million dollar facility, right downtown Columbia, SC.  They are just nice people…with a cool mission.

Defining Hybrid Entrepreneurship

This semester, I have been teaching a new class at Clemson in the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurship. The whole point of the class is to explore, define, articulate, and showcase an emerging entrepreneurial area known as Hybrid Entrepreneurship. Late last year, I wrote about this new emerging area as I was preparing to teach this class…you can read about it by clicking here.

So…the class is compiling case studies and examples of what we define as Hybrid Entrepreneurship. But before we can do that…we have to define as a baseline. So below are four definitions from four groups of students in this class:

  • Improving a social condition with the intent of making profit through traditional and untraditional business methods.
  • An entrepreneurial endeavor with  goal to provide social change. The business has to generate profit but cant give all profits to charity. The product or profit can provide social change and must be disclosed and included in the business plan.
  • One whose focal point is to bring about positive social change or create awareness of a social problem while making a profit.
  • Organization or individual that is driven by a social need, but operation runs with a double bottom line of profit and social.
So if you take each of these four definitions and place them in a word cloud, this is what you would find.

Can you think of any companies that might meet these criteria?

Can someone explain conversation?

The other night while interacting with folks in the #Blogchat community, one person asked: “Can someone explain conversation?” As I was watching this Twitter dialogue fly by…this update caught my attention. The context to this question, how to build a community of conversations on your blog.

Let’s define a conversation: “Informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.” Thanks

So how can you have conversations on a blog, you might ask. Well, to have a conversation…there has to be an exchange, a dialogue, two or more people have to engage in social discourse. People have to engage in conversation.

Before there is exchange of dialogue, there has to be the introduction of a thought. Someone must take the time to write something that invokes a conversation. So how do we write to engage in a conversation on a place like a blog? Well, we must write passionately. Some of the most successful blogs that I read are ones that write straight from the heart. They write about topics they are passionate about. These blogs are the written form of their advocacy. They have a reason to write, they have a strong sense of ethics.

These blogs have a system of measurement. When I mean measurement, they do not necessarily mean that they measure the number of clicks or actions. They measure something that quantifies what they write touches another person in a way that engages  a response. Whether it is clicking, referring, sharing, commenting, etc…they have some sense of measurement.

These bloggers/writers know who they are “writing for” or “writing with.” Hmm…what does that mean (writing with)? Well, they have determined in their mind who they are talking “to” or “with.” And as the conversation around this topic increases, the writing moves from a one-way monologue to a dialogue of conversation allowing a community to write with each other.

This blog has focus, a passionate focus. Each blog post has a passionate focus. With this focus to the overall message with each and every post, consistent writing follows. Consistent writing establishes and reinforces the credibility in this ever growing space, allow the search engines to index more words spreading the reach. This focus allows audiences to connect with content, and a relationship begins and grows. This blog is the type of community that mirrors a tight community like Facebook, but has the mass appeal of Twitter.

People engage with the passionate content and respond by returning to read more. Then…maybe they take the time to nudge over the hump and comment. They might even sign-up to subscribe to the blog, then reply via email. People read, react, and engage with the content of a blog. Passionate writing invokes a change, the change to see a point-of-view differently thus wanting to further the conversation. They reach out.

Conversations build and multiply. As more and more people respond and comment to passionate writing, community of conversations build in the comment section. People not only comment about the passionate writing of the author, but also respond to others’ comments below the post. Those who came to connect with the author of the post connect with other commentors…a community is building.

It all started with passionate writing. Someone writing from the heart, consistently. Conversations.

access to care…a simple idea?

According to, “According to the most recent data, roughly one in six South Carolinians has no health insurance. The number one reason they give for not having health insurance is that they cannot afford it.” also states, “And that’s a problem for all South Carolinians. People without health insurance are more likely to delay needed medical care until they become very ill. They are more likely to go without screenings or preventive care. Often, emergency rooms are a primary – and not always appropriate – source of care. In 2007, South Carolina’s hospitals provided $1.3 billion in services for which they were not paid. Businesses with insurance are paying increasingly higher premiums to underwrite the cost of care to the uninsured. High costs are forcing many small businesses to stop offering health insurance. Today, only 33 percent of private sector employees with fewer than 50 workers offer insurance to employees.

According to a survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 46.3 million Americans, or about 15.4%, did not have health insurance coverage in 2009, representing a slight increase from 2008. Nearly 60 million, or one in five, had gaps in insurance coverage over the course of the year, according to the survey data.

They are all around us. They might be you and I. From small businesses, entrepreneurs, and even big-box companies; millions of Americans do not have access to care because the lack of insurance. These Americans are all around us…for every five people around you, one does not have insurance. They are in our emergency rooms, free medical clinics, places that offer services when they have no where else to go.  This hurts, it breaks my heart. I know…I had no insurance for close to six months and it was stressful.

As one of the most prosperous countries in the world, we cannot even provide affordable health care to those in need. As I worked with the Duke Endowment and the NC Association of Free Clinics to produce the video above, so may are scared. They are scared of hospitals and doctors offices not only because of the medical outcomes that surround them, but wondering if they will be turned away because of the lack of insurance or resources to afford the services.

The system is broken and there is need of reform. There are those that abuse systems with programs like Medicaid and Medicare. But for those who abuse the system, there are those that are flooding the Emergency Departments everyday with simple needs that have lingered so long it has turned into critical medical issues.

Let’s think for a second, if one person could have access to high blood pressure medication, it could save a hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs and resources. That preventative care could keep that person from a serious heart attack, which leads to CCU and ICU care in a hospital. That care for an uninsured individual could run hundred of thousands of dollars, and could be prevented with access to simple medication. This is just one of the many examples.

Did you know that in North Carolina $167,629,250 in free health care services were delivered to uninsured patients totaling more than 200,000 patient encounters during 2009, thanks to the efforts of 6,200+ volunteer health care professionals and other community volunteers donating more than 262,000 hours of service.

So how can you help?

  • Volunteer your time to Free Medical Clinics in your area.
  • Give your money to Free Medical Clinics in your area.
  • Educate yourself about how health care reform is really going to impact you and the people around.
  • Share this story with others using Facebook, Twitter, and any other outlets that you have access.
  • Write your representative on the local, state, and federal levels to let them know you care.

To learn more, go to or

To read more about what the NC Association of Free Clinics is doing to help the uninsured, CLICK HERE to download their fact sheet.

Creative Approach to Storytelling

I have had numerous people ask me, what is your approach to your business…your creative approach. Well, I could talk or even lecture about my approach. It comes from years and years of experience, training, education, and teaching. So…here it is in two paragraphs.

Bobby Rettew, llc – Creative Approach to Storytelling
Storytelling has been and will always be the major focus of how we work with our clients. Every organization has a story to tell, so it is up to us practitioners to find and tell that story. We work with organizations to identify the audience, the purpose, and the delivery of each and every message. Then we create a plan that best identifies the message within the organization, and work with the organization to deliver that message.

We bring a documentary approach to production, looking within and allowing the individuals within the organization to become the voice of the message.  We have the ability to write and craft a traditional-style message, but we find that if the organization and its members are a part of the message, then the audience connects with the organization. We use the storytelling approach to building relationships.

teaching entrepreneurship…defining entrepreneurship

Teaching entrepreneurship is one of the biggest challenges I have under-taken in a while…but here I am teaching at the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurship. Little ole me with my little business teaching tomorrow’s knowledge economy. Sometimes it is kind-of frightening, but more so enlightening.

The one thing I am rustling with internally…whether entrepreneurship is a learned concept or is it embedded in our “DNA”? I worked for a great entrepreneur a few years ago who hit it big during the telecom days. He used to tell me that entrepreneurship is exercising and unleashing your God given, natural talent. He did not try to explain how to take an idea, leverage your resources, and bringing that idea to market. No…he talked about having passion for an idea and bring it to fruition.

Entrepreneurship to me is more about language and culture. Was I born with the innate ability to become an entrepreneur? Or was it a series of life experiences and connections that led to that point in time when I worked for an entrepreneur, and he unlocked the urge to seek entrepreneurship. Did he teach me entrepreneurship or surround me with that language, showing the opportunities when seeking out my own marketable interests?

The culture or entrepreneurship for me is about passion. What is the one thing that you love to do, the thing that gets you up in the morning and makes you tick. What would be the one thing you would want to do if the world was going to end tomorrow. What is your life passion? For serial entrepreneurs, they have evolving interests. They have numerous passions, one that leads to the next. But it is more than just language and culture, it is identifying that desire to bring an idea to market and acting on those impulses…taking the leap.

4G LTE Technology: The Good, the Bad, and the Hospitals.

4G LTE Demonstration Let’s just say I was amazed by the Verizon 4G LTE demonstration today at Verizon’s Corporate Office here in Greenville, SC. As I watching them describe and demonstrate the capability…I was thinking, man this is going to change the way we do business.

The 700 Mhz is where the LTE network will exist, the part of the spectrum that will penetrate walls and buildings further than any other part of the spectrum currently in use. Also, the speed of the 4G LTE network is just as fast as my home connection, if not faster than my Charter home network of 8 Mb/s download and 3 Mb/s. Yes…over a wireless connection! The demonstration test using showed the speed of the 4G LTE card in the laptop was running 14 Mb/s download and 8 Mb/s upload speed…THAT IS FREAKING FAST! Fast enough to do full 720p video calls over the wireless, mobile network…with plenty left over for the video grid demonstration.

My iPhone4 phone with 3G probably is running at roughly 2 Mb/s download speed and 0.3 Mb/s upload speed. So, in the next few months, the Greenville/Spartanburg area will see this new network released with a whole new set of devices tapping into this speed. Many of the major metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Charlotte, LA, New York already have access. 38 markets and 60 airports currently have this network. So what does any of this have to do with healthcare?

First…more connectivity to the grid. Devices will be a part of everyday life in healthcare.  From tablets in emergency departments to ambulances with streaming content/video back and forth, assessment of patient care during transport. This is just one of the areas healthcare will see this change. But here is another, hospital administrators will have a harder time restricting access to the Internet and social platforms.

Yes, many hospitals have been debating whether to “open up the pipes” to employees, allowing them access to Internet sites and social outlets. Two major concerns, bandwidth and employee performance. Well guess what…the hospital’s Internet and  Social Media policy just became harder to write and enforce. LTE technology not only provides speed but also hospital building penetration with the 700 Mhz spot on the spectrum. Yes…it can get through more think walls.

These devices are going to become even more necessary, as a part of the connected network for making diagnoses. Also, who is going to provide these devices to healthcare professionals? Will the hospitals pay part of the bill, splitting it with the professional. Then which part of the content created on the device is owned by the hospital? Then, can the other part can be used for personal reasons?

But let’s put aside the concern over hospital employee productivity. How about the patients and patient families. They will have access to the these devices, speed, network, and the spectrum. Now, they can get online, post pics, maybe do some video over Skype. But with this upgrade to LTE technology…more pictures, videos, and information will be shared inside the walls of the hospital. How about patient privacy? How about the media outlet that dresses up in street clothes, walks into a hospital, and streams video content from inside the walls of the hospital. Now, these are extreme cases to consider…but access to the network and speed will no longer be an issue. And hospitals are not the only major organizations facing this change in accessibility and connectivity.

Yes…LTE technology is going to force us to rethink…A LOT! I know I am going to re-think my current AT&T plan, but it looks like they will be releasing their own LTE network. How about our home Internet providers? Especially given the comparable speeds. And many business will be rethinking their internal policies, what employees can do while at work and what devices they can use.

This is my craft…

I was talking with a close colleague and friend tonight as we were working on a project, and we were trying to articulate the craft of visual storytelling. I was telling him that I have a friend here in Anderson, SC who is constantly introducing me to new people, and he uses my tag line, “This is my friend Bobby Rettew and he is a storyteller.” Then he follows-up with the phrase, “I am still trying to figure out how a storyteller makes money.” Well, Cordes Seabrook…this post is for you.

The craft of visual storytelling is tough to define…it is years and years of experience telling rich stories for broadcast television outlets across the country. It is years and years of judging and critiquing products for the National Academy of Television, Arts, and Sciences; Associated Press, National Press Photographers Association; and other local, regional, and national organizations. It is years and years of producing and leading teams of storytellers to produce shows, long format production, and numerous commercial spots for television and online distribution. But most of all…it is all about letting our stories tell themselves.

Telling compelling stories is not only understanding the mission of the project, but completely understanding the audiences you hope the message will compel to make action. It is understanding that the beginning, middle, and end is just the frame work for connecting the message to the audience; but weaving layers or messages tied together with a single red string.

The search for the red string is one of the hardest parts of the process…but once found, it makes the production to create the final product move increasingly faster. I was having dinner with Bob Dotson of NBC one night in Charlotte, and he explained to me that anyone can tell a story. But those who tell compelling, rich stories tell ones with layers and layers of messages…each connected with a single red string that crescendo at the right time, allowing the audience to full see the message through the subject(s) eyes and ears.

The approach I use aims to stay away from writing voice-over or track for someone to speak. Voice-over that connects all the sound-bites. The craft starts from the very beginning, with the interviews. The construction starts and continues during the shooting and interview process. This is the time to collect sound, great interviews. These interviews are collected in a way that tell the whole story from beginning to end. Each person interviewed has their own story to tell, adding to the the bigger picture of the final product. So it is the burden of the storyteller to guide each subject through an interview, so each person tells each piece of the puzzle. During this process, finding that one theme, idea, moral, ethic…the red string that connects all the pieces is crucial. Then while writing, we connect all the pieces using the red-string…to connect all the dots.

The red-string can be a person’s story, a subject each person reveals, an event that takes place…whatever is chosen, it has to make sense for the audience to grasp. Then using all the other elements, interviews, broll, natural sound, and music to fill in the gaps…guiding the audience through this visual timeline.

Visual storytelling is a craft…it is one that is hard to teach, articulate, and reproduce. This craft is also fraternal, you know when you meet another person that shares this same passion. We believe in the ethics of this moral enterprise, protecting the voice of the subjects that we so carefully provide as a platform to deliver a message. We are advocates for the people(s) voice…the voice of those who know the story the best. It is our ethic to properly represent that voice and bridge the gap between message, audience, and the subjects’ voice. If we are not careful, our writing sometimes de-humanizes the words they speak.

The business of this craft…to find those who believe in the craft and final value in advocating for the subjects voice. This visual storytelling enterprise closely represents that mission of word-of-mouth marketing, but we just provide a visual medium to communicate their message. We advocate for their message…because deep down inside, the audience wants to hear a story from those they relate. The audience relates to people that they can identify with, those whom they could see themselves replaced in the monitor or television screen. If that is achieved, and we can make the audience see themselves in the screen saying the powerful words…then we have achieved the goal of the craft. Visual storytelling is a craft…it is my passion.

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