Growing Up with a Start-Up
Discussion: Growing Up with a Start-Up
Growing Up with a Start-Up
In the summer of 1970, a college senior named Paul Orfalea opened a store near the University of California, Santa Barbara, campus. He called it “Kinko’s” after his own nickname, and, with his partners, he sold college school supplies and around-the-clock copying services for students. After twenty-five years, Kinko’s had grown to 1,200 stores and 23,000 employees, and Orfalea privately and lucratively sold it to FedEx.
Over the many years that Orfalea ran his start-up, his business became amazingly profitable, but also imposed enormous stress on him and his founding partners and coworkers. As he put it, “I don’t hide the fact that I have a problem with anger.” Since selling the company, Orfalea has spent many years mending relationships with those who worked most closely with him while he was building it.
What contributed to the tensions Orfalea felt while managing this burgeoning enterprise? Long hours, of course, but also the need he felt to sustain his initial success, to make each year more profitable than the last. Entrepreneurs often believe they are only as successful as their last quarter’s profit and are driven to exceed it. Orfalea also felt that he alone was equipped to call others to account and veto what he felt were bad business ideas. Anger became a chief enemy he battled.
“In my mid- to late-forties,” he said, “I struggled increasingly to manage my own emotional nature. Sometimes I felt I’d created a monster. The monster wasn’t Kinko’s, it was me.” Orfalea acknowledged the anger and resentment that he often felt toward other longtime staff at the company, which overpowered the respect that he knew he owed them. Consequently, he directed comments and actions at his colleagues that he has spent many subsequent years attempting to redress. All in all, he has labored diligently to repair friendships that he admits were frayed by his behavior alone.
“02-01-10” by blisschan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
After reflection, Orfalea now offers these recommendations to prospective entrepreneurs:
- Do not give way to your anger in the midst of the frustrating turns business inevitably takes.
- Do not take that anger home with you, either.
- Finally, try to be the person you most genuinely are, both at work and at home.
It took Orfalea time to learn these lessons, but they are worthwhile for any would-be entrepreneur to ponder.
- What price would you be willing to pay to pursue an entrepreneurial career?
- What price would you demand from your partners in the business?
- How long could you let work monopolize your life?
- In your opinion, was Orfalea right to manage Kinko’s the way he did as it grew?
- Were the worries, anxieties, and bad moods he experienced inevitable? How would you avoid these?
Source: Byers and Stanberry, pg. 270.
Remember in this discussion forum you should respond with substantial detail to this topic early in week 1 of the module. This will be your “initial post.” For your initial post also bring in information from at least one background source or your own research to help inform your classmates. Cite the source.
Then by week 2 of the module, you are to respond to the posts of at least two of your classmates. Your responses should have depth of critical thought and not simply agree or disagree. For each response also bring in information from at least one background source or your own research to help inform your classmates. Cite the source.
Each post should be about 250-300 words.
Discussion posts will be assessed according to the following criteria on the discussion rubric:
Quality of initial posting (first discussion only): Initial posting reveals a clear understanding of all aspects of the treated discussion question; uses factual and relevant information; and demonstrates full development of concepts.
Quality of Responses to Classmates: Responds to the required number of students and to the professor, if appropriate. Demonstrates analysis of others’ posts; extends meaningful discussions by building on previous peer posts and offers alternative perspectives.
Reference to supporting readings/information literacy: Refers to and properly cites either course and/or outside readings in posts, as required.
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