By Brian Brus
Courtesy of The Journal Record
OKLAHOMA CITY – Entrepreneurship relies heavily on interdependency and shared leadership to build a company that’s part of community, business leaders told Oklahoma City University students Wednesday.
That perspective represents a major culture shift from just a few decades ago, when fledgling entrepreneurs were more likely to be told to focus on clawing their way to the top and take no prisoners, said Bob Greve, director of the Love’s Entrepreneurship Center at Oklahoma City University.
“There’s more of an openness today, of sharing ideas, of developing relationships and helping one another,” Greve said. “That attitude is much more prevalent. You see it at special events like Startup Weekend and the large field of business incubators. It’s more of a spirit of friendship, that we’re all in this together now.”
The second annual Entrepreneurship Day highlighted several Oklahoma City-area business leaders, such as Giant Partners Chief Executive David Woods and real estate developer Marsh Pitman. Major sponsors included the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, i2E, Van Hoose Construction, and Dick and Jeannette Sias.
Steve Mason, president of Cardinal Engineering, has redeveloped about a dozen buildings in the metro area, including Coffee Slingers and the Iguana Mexican Grill restaurant. He urged attendees to appreciate the success of people in their communities and support their own employees with incentives designed from the bottom up – for example, by offering $1,300 to reach a physical fitness goal chosen by each worker instead of sending the staff to participate in a fun run. The level of commitment to the company will be much stronger, he said.
“Our net worth is not our net worth,” he said. “Our net worth is our families and our hobbies, what we did last Saturday. That’s what people really want to talk about. It’s what’s important to people.”
Mason said that by forming bonds with other business operators in the area, he creates a campus of sorts around Cardinal Engineering that’s at least as vibrant and comfortable as Chesapeake Energy’s landscaping and multiple buildings. Intrinsic value far outweighs any dollar figure in bookkeeping, and it actually helps a business thrive, he said.
Greve said the purpose of the annual event is to inspire and inform new entrepreneurs.
“We want our students to hear these stories and believe, ‘I can do that, too,’” he said.