UTC Executive MBA alumnus and CreateHere Co-Founder and Creative Strategist Josh McManus addressed more than 500 business students with a clear, challenging message, “do something big and do it with all that you have.   By taking risks and embracing failure, you’ll understand your potential, your gifts, and your abilities.”

Josh McManus

As the keynote speaker of the 14th annual Clarence E. Harris Entrepreneurial Forum, McManus told the group he uses his degree from UTC every day.  “The balance of theory and practical application serves me very well in my job of making Chattanooga better,” McManus said.

The 2009 forum tied UTC students to millions of young people in dozens of countries worldwide as they participate in Global Entrepreneurship Week, a time to encourage youth to think big, turn their ideas into reality, and make their mark. Small businesses—created and operated by entrepreneurs—are driving growth in the American economy, and President Barack Obama has said that small businesses are responsible for half of the nation’s private sector jobs.

Last year’s UTC forum generated an interesting exchange in a breakout session, when young women who are students in the College of Business heard from a group of women who own businesses locally.  “We are repeating this session,” said Dr. Rich Becherer, who holds the Clarence E. Harris Chair of Excellence in Business Administration.  “We want students to think about the glass ceiling and one of the reasons women become entrepreneurs in the first place, for a more flexible schedule to accommodate family life.  Then there is the issue of what happens when a woman’s business succeeds, she is making more money than her husband, and the duties they assume around the house change.”

Adelia Mosley, Real Estate Partners Chattanooga LLC, Lynne Goodman, Office Coordinators, Inc. and Merri Mai Williamson, Application Researchers, LLC, guided this year’s discussion from the female perspective.

Becherer called CreateHere a “best practices social entrepreneurship model.”  Becherer has known McManus since his undergraduate days and as an EMBA student, Becherer said he was “a visionary.  You could tell when Josh was in class he would set the world on fire.”

CreateHere’s social entrepreneurship mission strives to grow Chattanooga’s cultural economy through arts, economic and cultural development initiatives.

“In short, that means that I think and work just like a start-up entrepreneur but I’m driven by a bottom line that is not monetary.  My bottom-line is a better community,” McManus said.

CreateHere is behind the community visioning effort Stand, which collected more than 26,000 responses to a four-question survey.  It is the world’s largest community visioning survey.  CreateHere, a non-profit based in Chattanooga, was formed in 2007 “as an experiment in harnessing the economic potential of creative individuals.”

McManus admitted to the students what his resume did not reflect:  that he had failed on several levels, in business and in his personal life, but that he had learned from his mistakes.  He had some advice for them, including:

  • Quit watching TV, and, if you must, listen to what people are saying:  you’ll be amazed at how absurd it actually is.
  • Sell your car, buy a bike.  Fine a cause, find a solution.
  • Burn your tie.  Take over a company, start one of your own.
  • Buy local, think global.  Know your neighbors.
  • Think.  Show up.  Vote.
  • Know your city councilman, know what a city council does.
  • Take stock of your skills.  Use them.
  • Share.  Build.  Tear down. Improvise.
  • If your leaders don’t share your priorities, then find, equip or become a leader who does.
  • Find value in your neighborhood and celebrate it, really celebrate it.

Since 2007, the UTC College of Business has been listed among the outstanding business schools by The Princeton Review and Business Week magazine.  The Princeton Review features the school in the new 2010 edition of its book, “The Best 301 Business Schools.”

Forum speakers from left:  Adelia Mosley, Lynne Goodman, Merri Mai Williamson Josh McManus speaks with UTC business students
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