St. Joe CEO News Update

What Matters Most

By Iris Hammel

 Two CEO students called me today at 3:35pm.  Excitement and enthusiasm crackled through the phone. They had just secured their first business deal, finished celebrating in the rain in their suits, and couldn’t wait to call me and share the news. This is what drives my life. This is my payment.  Moments like this. Or moments when a student stays a few minutes after class and shares with me how CEO has changed the way they think about life and all of the possibilities they didn’t even know existed. Or when a student makes a connection with a guest speaker and starts to change their actions and starts to “walk the walk.”  Or when a student who has been driven to over-achieve their entire life and has never failed, recognizes that taking calculated risks and failing could lead to some really great things. This is CEO.

This is what hooked me from the second I spoke with Craig Lindvahl, Executive Director for the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship, over the phone less than a year ago.  When you talk to people who know CEO, are apart of CEO and have lived CEO, you can feel it.  Our students and the other 695 students who have been in a CEO program in the country have had this opportunity because of Craig.  Hundreds if students are gaining real world experiences, doing real work, and building networks with successful business people. Students are starting real businesses and, yes, dancing in the rain in their suits to celebrate first successes.

We received some pretty tough news on Tuesday during class. Craig shared with us in his weekly vlog that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer.  He brushed over his cancer news and went on to ask our students to continue all of the great work they are doing and to make CEO proud.

"Here's the thing, if people don't hear it from me, they only get a chance to be sad," he explained. "If they hear it from me, they go, 'He's OK. He wants me to be OK. He wants me to do something important with my life.'"

"I'm at peace with everything. I'm happy on the inside. I want to use this as an opportunity to teach, to make people better, to help them understand what's important in life. What matters. That's what I want to use with whatever time I have left."

It's a lesson for us all.

In Craig’s book, The Things You Wish You KnewYesterday, he gives us insight into those life lessons that really do matter most.  A longtime teacher, award-winning filmmaker and creator of the CEO entrepreneurship program, Lindvahl was named the EDN 2015 Citizen of the Year in January. His ideas, perspective and vision for developing future leaders and entrepreneurs is life changing.

“In my 35 years of teaching, students have come back and shared what they learned from me,” Lindvahl said. “It’s not the content from the course they remember. They remember the life lessons.”

Lindvahl shared that it takes seeking to understand others to be successful. He also believes very strongly in living a life beyond ourselves. Craig’s greatest lesson is a simple strategy; ask yourself each morning, “Who will be better today because of me?”

Our 23 students from seven different St. Joseph County high schools are not only learning about what matters most, they are living it everyday. They are cutting out the noise and are focusing in on what matters most. 

To me, these students matter most and investing in them has been the best business decision I’ve made to date. 

Thank you Craig and thank you CEO.

Every great teacher teaches the same lesson. How to be successful.

Quotes included in the article are from Author Interview: Craig Lindvahl by Jeremy Rinkel and from Craig’s blog Craig's book is available through




Ignite Michiana: The Future Burns Bright

By Cat Edmonds

Our time to shine. The energy in class is exhilarating. We are all very excited to begin the planning for our class business. These past few weeks have been packed full and it seems by the end of class each day, we could use another hour to get everything done. We began figuring out a topic for our class business through a SWOT analysis. This was eye opening; we never realized how difficult it would be to find research that was needed. We all now know what a great SWOT analysis looks like, which will be very helpful as we soon start researching for our personal businesses. After the SWOT analysis, we came down to an idea. The next step was large, writing a business plan. I don’t think many high school students can say they have written a business plan. This was a learning experience and tool we will all use over and over again in the future.  We all had the task to write a very detailed business plan so detailed that anyone could pick it up and start that event. From a high school student perspective this seemed impossible, but with the help of research and networking we were all able to fully accomplish this task. Thank you to Kevin Lockwood and Willow Wetherall who gave us tips on how to make a great business plan. One thing that Kevin said that stuck out was your business plan needs to be fluid and constantly updated. This will be helpful as we get deeper into our planning.

Through pitching our business plans to our classmates we came up with a class business in which we all agreed on. Our class business is going to bring to light the unique passions, talents, and perspectives of the youth in our region through Ignite style talks. We will be partnering with Ignite Michiana, which is extremely helpful. Willow Wetherall has been an amazing resource through this planning period, as she has put on multiple Ignite talks for our community. Accompanying these talks will be a silent auction, and some of the items will be from our school’s art programs and a percentage the money earned will be given back to these artists. After the talks, we will have an after party that will allow our community to network. We are very excited to see our class business evolve. Mark your calendar for the evening of February 25th for the Ignite Michiana: The Future Burns Bright event.  Tickets for the event will be available soon at

A Walk Through South Bend

By Jasmyne Schierbaum

 This Thursday the CEO class took a tour of downtown South Bend to learn about it's history with Steve Szaday a Preservation Specialist at the Historic Preservation Commission South Bend/St Joseph County. We learned about the role that the Studebaker brothers played in the number of churches there are downtown, and how South Bend was the model for a commercial downtown in cities. It is also interesting how the citizens of South Bend are utilizing old historical landmarks in new ways. For example, what used to be an old hotel, is now being renovated into subsidized housing for local artists. It is important, especially with the revival of South Bend, that students get to know more about the city and just how many opportunities that the city has for young up-and-coming businesses.

Pursue Your Passion

By Alyssa Bubik

On Friday we visited Just Goods, a local store that offers a wide variety of items of fair trade. From handcrafted bags and clothing to water bottles and books, Just Goods has much to offer. But aside from the many items, there is passion and hard work within the colorful and vibrantly decorated store. After learning about the history and how this business came alive, it was evident that pursuing what you love, and helping others along the way pays off in the end. Business is not always about making money and being on top. Just Goods demonstrates this through fair trade, eco-friendly items, and so much more. It is more than a store, but a place that gives others a chance to flourish while providing a variety of goods for the community. Throughout the many businesses’ we have explored, passion and hard work have been greatly emphasized, and Just Goods is another thriving example of this continuous theme.

Make Time to Give Back

By Trevor Backstrom

Katherine McManus, senior captain of the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team, came to the Pfeil Innovation Center on Monday, November 23rd to speak to our class. She spoke about making time to do things you love and to give back to the community. As the President of the Student Athletic Advisory Council Katherine is very busy between school and sports, but she still finds time to help out in the community because it is something that she loves. One of the most important things that Katherine does to make time to do the things she loves, is to get her class work done at times when the majority of students would watch Netflix or take a nap. By doing work during these small periods of time, Katherine is able to open up her evenings so that she can now spend that time helping out the community. Her message really showed us that you can always find time to do the things that matter most. You are never actually too busy to do something, you just have to make the time available in your schedule. Katherine’s message will stick with us throughout college and the rest of our lives as we look to spend our time doing valuable things that will enrich our lives. To learn more about Katherine and all of the ways she is giving back visit,

Experience Economy

By Madi Bargellini-Rogers

 Lori Allen and Dawn McCaskill from Beacon Health came and speak to us about Experience Design and the book The Experience Economy. When opening/owning your own business, you want to make people remember you. There are four key aspects that come into play when you want customers to choose you and to come back. You want to make their experience valuable, intuitive, delightful, and memorable. Our class was able to participate in a mini activity, where we had to choose impressions/themes, scenes/cues, memorabilia, and signature moments to make our business (in this case, a jewelry store) thrive. This class with Lori Allen and Dawn McCaskill will be a huge help when it is time to open our own businesses in May.  

Data Realty, More Than Just Big Data

By Zachary Biggs

This week we had the pleasure of visiting a very interesting company called Data Realty, where two influential individuals, Tracy Graham and Rich Carlton, spoke about what it takes to start and run a successful business. They focused on the idea of core values and shared with us the GRIP acronym. They talked about creating a mission and sticking to that, making sure that you and your employee’s are true to the company. This company doesn’t just store data for clients but they help that data become an opportunity for their client’s expansion. The use of their technology helps their clients see a return on their investment. This company made me realize that running a business is more than just making money, although that is very important, it is about growth, relationships, integrity, and passion.

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