The Motor City Is Revving Its Engine

While it feels like it has been a long time coming, there are some very exciting things happening in Detroit right now. The last few years have seen a steady progression of mostly good news and economic progress, and, as anyone who lives and works in this great city can personally attest, it feels like we have reached a tipping point where the future looks very bright.

The bottom line is that Detroit is a great place to do business right now, and plenty of businesses are growing with the city, not in spite of it. We are seeing new partnerships with and between anchor institutions in Detroit—and there is a growing sense that everyone in the business community here is truly committed to seeing the city grow. Here at Powerlink, and at many of our civic and business partners, that commitment is clearly evident.

There is a fresh wind in the air and a new hope that is already beginning to translate into new business opportunities: companies large and small—including some big national and international names—are moving their businesses to the Motor City. There are also a lot of new companies and strong businesses that are looking at Detroit as a viable and profitable place to do business—Quicken Loans is a sterling example of that dynamic.

Just because the future is looking brighter, however, doesn’t mean we need to ignore the lessons of the past. Far from it. It’s critically important that the new administration continues to do things differently and operate more efficiently. If that keeps up, more businesses will want to do business with the city—and that will translate to more positive momentum in the city.

While the bankruptcy was not our finest hour, I suspect that the long-term structural implications will actually be a tremendous positive for Detroiters. The bankruptcy discharged Detroit from a number of obligations that it held in the past, and enabled the City to redesign and streamline its budget. I know that many in the business community see it as a fresh start—a clean slate—that will help the city build new partnerships and make it a better place to grow our businesses.

Categories: Business Success

Entrepreneurship Never Gets Old (Part 2)

In my last post I talked a little bit about some of the challenges and advantages that come along with being an entrepreneur “of a certain age.” Today I’d like to give some specific advice to prospective entrepreneurs who may be starting later in life. Some of this I learned as a result of failure, and some as a result of success, but hopefully you can benefit from my experiences and integrate these ideas into your own entrepreneurial adventure.

Be Selective When Choosing Your Team
The older you get, the more friends you have. People have a tendency to rely on the folks they know and are close to. As an entrepreneur, that might not necessarily be the best fit for where you want to go. The result is that you might be faced with some difficult personal and personnel decisions.

Do a Brain Dump
When you start a new adventure, you have to approach it with a fresh passion, and that means letting go of many of your preconceptions. What worked before might not necessarily work with a new business. Frequently, we go to strategies and tactics that have worked for us in the past. It’s human nature—we go with what works! If it’s not your dollars and cents on the line, however, you need to take a different approach. Don’t fall into the trap of recycling yesterday’s approach to solve tomorrow’s problems.

Act Bold, Not Old
As a more mature entrepreneur, you are likely inclined to not be quite as aggressive and to be a little too risk averse. After all, a mistake at 50 is not like a mistake at 30: we only get so many chances to reboot and start all over. There is an awareness there that you need to get this right, and that can lead to an overabundance of caution. Because you still need to succeed, and success rarely (if ever) comes from making safe choices. You need to be smart, but also strategically aggressive.

Embrace Technology
Later in life, it’s critical to be familiar with new technology if you want to be successful. The reality is, you need to be thinking about the next generation—not just today’s technology. There is a learning curve, and you need to retrain your brain to learn and to look forward. When you do that successfully, even as an older entrepreneur, you can learn to not only recognize the important trends that are out there today, but you can begin to get a feel for what comes next—and that is when you can really do some big things.

Categories: Business Success

Entrepreneurship Never Gets Old (Part 1)

When you think of an entrepreneur, there is a tendency to picture the stereotype of a young and energetic go-getter taking the world by storm with big ideas and bigger accomplishments. While there are plenty of young businessmen and businesswomen out there doing exciting things, I’m pleased to report that you don’t have to be young to be an entrepreneur. I’m living proof of that. While you can start a business and become an entrepreneur at any age, I’ve learned that there are some challenges and advantages specific to doing so when you’re a little further along in life. For anyone considering taking the lead in your career, here are some of the challenges and advantages that I’ve seen in my journey:


  • You have to be mentally prepared for the challenge and the activity of running a business. Depending on what industry or discipline you came from, that can be difficult to get used to. No matter what you do, it’s going to be fast paced, which can also make for a difficult transition if you aren’t used to working at that speed.
  • The older you are, the more set in your ways you can become. When you transition into entrepreneurship, you are almost certainly going to be asked (and expected) to do things very different than you are used to. Adjusting and adapting isn’t always easy.


  • With age comes experience, wisdom and perspective that you didn’t have when you were younger. You’ve been able to see the broad landscape of life, the world and all kinds of people. You also tend to be able to read personalities a lot more accurately, and are consequently oftentimes a better evaluator of people.
  • While there are always exceptions, I’ve generally found that when you’re more mature, you also have more patience. Patience with people and processes, and patience with mistakes. You tend to get rattled less easily. You can be more relaxed, dealing with things calmly and thoughtfully even in a time of crisis.
Categories: Business Success

Putting it into Overdrive

I was fortunate enough to have an article published on the EO Overdrive blog, an online publication of the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO). In the piece, entitled The Business Case for Diversity, I make several points that I have articulated more than once in this space, as well.

I discuss what diversity actually means, correct some misconceptions about diversity, explain how and why diversity has been such a core value for us here at Powerlink, and ultimately make what I think is a compelling case for the very real and tangible value of diversity in a professional environment. If you are interested, I encourage you to visit EO Overdrive and read the blog post in its entirety, but the gist of my argument boils down to one thing: perspective.

At its heart, diversity is about sharing and learning from a range of different perspectives, especially with those that come from different cultural backgrounds. As I wrote in the blog post:

“…a focus on diversity can help me surround myself with people, perspectives and insights that will expand my horizons—opening up new opportunities where I may not have looked before.”

I truly believe that “diversity drives business success” in no small part because of how our diverse workforce here at Powerlink enables us to connect and communicate with clients and professional partners in ways that would not otherwise be possible. To me, one of the great values of being a part of an organization like EO is the opportunity to share some of our thoughts and insights.

It gets to the heart of what entrepreneurial organizations are all about—energy and input and the free exchange of ideas—and speaks to the importance of sharing knowledge and best-practices with peers.

Categories: Business Success

Powerlink Supports Walsh College, Helps Raise $107,000 for Scholarships

At Powerlink, we believe in entrepreneurship. That’s why we not only support and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit among our own team, but also among others in the community. One organization that truly supports this mission—and that I’ve had the privilege of working with for many years—is Walsh College. As a graduate myself, I know the critical connections the college makes for students, bridging the gap that often exists between the worlds of higher education and business.

In addition to serving as a trustee on the Walsh College Foundation board, for the past 2 years, I’ve been the co-chair of the Walsh College Wine Gala, a fundraiser for student scholarships, and was thrilled to see this year’s event raise $107,000. It’s an event that, year after year, continues to have a very positive impact: providing financial help for students and bringing the Walsh community closer together.

We support the event both through a financial contribution from the company, as well as leveraging our network of friends and business partners. It’s a benefit to everyone in the business community here in Detroit to encourage and nurture the next generation of employees, business owners and entrepreneurs—and I know our investment in Walsh College will be a big part of our region’s continued growth and success.

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility