Entrepreneurs show students how to answer the ‘role’ call
“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” — Proverbs 11:14
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Students in the Colangelo College of Business at Grand Canyon University often get guidance from entrepreneurs and other community leaders who share advice about best practices in the workplace.
Wednesday morning, at the latest session of the CCOB Dean’s Speaker Series, they got a valuable lesson in what the worst practices look like — and the benefits of correcting them.
In a strikingly honest assessment, Kyle Brown of the Camelback Society, a group of Christian entrepreneurs, told the story of how he came to realize he was leading his employees down the wrong path and needed to be a better role model.
“It’s been a life-changing thing for me,” he said.
Brown, vice president of sales for Trinity Capital Investment, has founded or co-founded five startups in his 12-year career. He said he had created “the worst company culture ever” at one of his ventures before attending a one-week leadership institute that was part business, part faith.
“It changed my whole idea of how I thought about my employees and my investors,” he said.
He immediately “changed everything” about the way he managed — to the overwhelming disapproval of his employees. Every single one of them left, but he said that was a good thing because it enabled him to turn the culture 180 degrees toward things like a prayer session every Monday — a feature that even drew praise, he said, from a non-Christian employee.
“You’re the leader. Everyone follows you,” he said. “I vowed to love my employees, and that has led to more loyalty and more productivity. Our new culture was focused on giving them opportunities to succeed.”
Brown was joined at Wednesday’s session by Michael Barth, a GCU graduate who helped create the Zoyo Neighborhood Yogurt chain and now leads the residential department for an Arizona flooring company.
Barth told the students to “be open to anything that comes your way,” which he certainly has practiced. That also applies to joining the Camelback Society, which has grown from six to 60 in five years.
“It’s all about being accountable to each other,” he said. “We do life together. But it’s funny how all of my best friends now are in the Camelback Society.”
Dr. Randy Gibb, the CCOB dean, said he first learned of the Camelback Society after GCU President Brian Mueller spoke to the group and was impressed by its ethics and mission. “He told us we should get to know them,” Gibb said.
Now they’re regular speakers on campus. Gibb said this was the sixth time Camelback Society members have met with CCOB students, and Brown and Barth spoke to an MBA group last summer.
Their candor showed students how important it is to be open-minded about opportunities.
“I thought I would become a sportscaster,” Barth said. “The jobs I wound up in were totally random.”
“I fell into being an entrepreneur,” Brown said. “I didn’t plan on it.”
But once they got those roles, they knew where to find guidance — both on Earth and in heaven above.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected]