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Poole Podcast Season 2, Episode 2: Hard Truths, Mistakes and Lessons in Entrepreneurship, with Mike Glennon and Professor Jon Carr

When former NC State quarterback Mike Glennon founded his virtual coaching platform Emulate Sports, he quickly learned how difficult it was to get a startup off the ground. But he also learned how much potential there was to make money – if the startup was successful. Today, Glennon and Jon Carr, professor of entrepreneurship, talk about the hard truths of entrepreneurship, and how the clinical model at the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic is helping students to “fail-safe” to better prepare them for their next chapter.

Jenny: So Jon, we’re going to start with you. the entrepreneurship community at Poole college has been thriving for the last several years. And your role as a professor and department chair, what are some of the trends that you’re seeing in the entrepreneurship space and how has COVID impacted that? 

Jon: Well, I, I realized that there there’s been a lot of change that’s happened as a result of COVID and some of these things have been, in some respects, very negative with respect to startups and what startups experience. But in some instances it’s opened up some opportunities to we’ve obviously seen a stronger and stronger emphasis on, on better products and services to meet the specific needs of people, particularly in a COVID environment. 

So we’ve had, you know, startups companies that have really tried to emphasize how to reach people now that they’re no longer sort of in the work environment, the physical work environment that we’re often used to. so it’s created a lot of pressures in terms of trying to hire good people and create organizations that can really thrive. 

But it’s also created a, you know, a lot of opportunities for remote work and to create options for people to engage what’s known as hybrid entrepreneurship, which is sort of doing the kinds of side jobs and side experiences that sometimes people don’t get a chance to do where they’re working full time for somebody. So that’s, I think some of the key things that we’ve seen. 

My own hope is, is that we will learn from this experience. And I suspect the startup community is, is best positioned to find out how that’s going to unfold, because they’re oftentimes reacting to the opportunities that are created in these types of circumstances. 

Jenny: That’s interesting, cause when I, so I’m going to pivot to Mike for a minute, because when we initially had our back and forth about coming onto the show, I asked you about Emulate Sport, and you said, well, we’re kind of taking, we’re taking a break with it for a little bit. And I was curious to know, well, one I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about it and kind of how it came to fruition, but I, after you gave me that response, I thought, well, I wonder if COVID impacted that, like, if that had something to do with kind of pumping the brakes. So do you mind sharing some insights on that?

Mike: I can start with the whole history of it. So in 2018, I played for the Arizona Cardinals. The quarterbacks in the room were Sam Bradford, Josh Rosen, myself, and a private squad quarterback was a guy named Chad Kanoff. So Chad went to Princeton and I, you know, People may not realize we spend a lot of time together in the quarterback room. 

You know, a lot of times we’re talking football, other times we’re just, you know, talking about whatever. And I remember one time Sam Bradford said, one day, I’m going to start a company, and Chad, I’m going to hire you to be the CEO. So fast forward about two years, or maybe it was a year whenever COVID hit, I was sitting at home and there was an app that was becoming very popular called Cameo. 

And for those who aren’t familiar Cameo is basically celebrities doing a video message saying, happy birthday, congratulations, what have you. And I’ve had them approach me about joining Cameo, but Cameo never really, I didn’t have much interest in that. It feel the gratification of telling someone happy birthday and charging money. 

But I thought, well, if I could watch a quarterback throw a ball and give him evaluation, I would enjoy that because I’m helping the guy, I enjoy talking about football. It would give me a sense of accomplishment knowing I could help somebody. So the first person I thought of was Chad, so I reached out to Chad and he said, I’m actually doing this exact, you know, I have a private quarterback coach that I sent him videos. 

Cause it was kind of during quarantine when no one was interacting, and he’s sending me video commentating on what I’m doing. He’s like, and if I was a kid, I would have loved to be able to have a coach, an NFL quarterback coach me. The idea was to have a quarterback, send us throwing motion, and then we evaluated. We thought our best chance was the quarterback market because that’s where our expertise was, but we knew to scale it we’d have to get in other sports in other industries, so our first one was golf. 

The more brief version would be, I quickly learned how difficult it is to get a startup off the ground. But it was a great learning experience. It kind of sparked an interest in me for venture capital, entrepreneurship itself, you know, just, it was fun to do. And, you realize how much money can also be made if you’re successful. Now, the success rate is extremely low. so we kind of went through this process of, we created a website.

We had different app developers’ kind of look to price it out. And we realized what the investment in that would be. Then we looked into kind of brings someone on with us. I would serve as a CTO to create this, you know, be the engineer behind it. So then actually we got to a point where we applied for Y Combinator and we got an interview with Y Combinator, they ultimately thought it was the industry, or the market size wasn’t big enough. They’re looking for billion-dollar industries and they didn’t feel this was a billion-dollar industry. Which to me, I was like, I mean, that’s fine. If this is a couple of hundred-million-dollar industry, we’ll take that. 

Jon: Yeah. 

Mike: Long story short, I was in the middle of football season. Chad was out of football. He kind of needed a job. So he ended up getting a job in consulting, I believe with. Deloitte And the timing just didn’t all come together. And you know, I guess to kind of died on the vine, I, you know, I don’t know if it’s completely dead, but we haven’t worked on it in months now. but at the very least, you know, I, I barely put anything into it other than starting a bank account in LLC and, creating a website on a Squarespace. So the learning experience was great for me, to see entrepreneurship. Very briefly what it takes to get a startup going. And then, like I said, it kind of opened my eyes to venture capital and that whole world 

Jenny: It’s interesting. You, you pulled a lot of points out in that, Mike, that I want to ask Jon. We get a lot of students that come through our entrepreneurship program and the hard truths have to be told a lot of times cause you, you just alluded to that, Mike, that you were like, you know, it wasn’t as successful as we thought it was going to be. 

It was harder than we thought it was going to be. So a lot of times people look at entrepreneurship and think it’s this flashy sexy thing, but to your point, more people fail than they do succeed. And so, you know, Jon. What are we teaching our students in the classroom to be better prepared for what Mike just explained, kind of that roller coaster of, you know, managing expectations and, and hopes and dreams for something that you’re so passionate about? 

Jon: Yeah, I, I thought it was just very interesting Mike, to hear your story about Emulate and sort of the same kinds of challenges that you faced, are the challenges that we see at Raleigh Founded, we see with our own students launching their own, their own businesses. And I think that that’s one of the things that we try to emphasize. Our clinic model, particularly at the undergraduate level is, is actually designed around having students confront these types of challenges in what you might call a safe environment, right? 

They’re in a position here as students to get the kind of support that they need to understand and learn things without making very expensive mistakes. And so we, we would like them to learn some of these kinds of things or be exposed to it if possible. The Andrews launch accelerator is a beautiful example of this. We want to have startup companies go through the accelerator and if they’re going to fail, let’s fail fast. 

Let’s get out, but we’ve got opportunities to also give them the advice and support to help them overcome some of those points that you mentioned in your own story about, and I think that it’s the engagement approaches that we use with the clinic and with other parts of the of what we do here on this campus are designed to kind of tell some of the hard truths, but more importantly put our students in a position to learn from others who have been through this same experience. 

We have a very well-developed mentorship program, for example, where we have very successful people in the entrepreneurship community provide feedback and insight and counseling to our students. we have, obviously the clinic model itself, we have activities in the entrepreneurship garage and the Entrepreneurship Alliance is heavily involved in E games and opportunities for students to learn about what works and doesn’t work. 

What I loved about what you talked about was this idea of, you know, things like capital and cashflow are scary terms sometimes for our students, and our goal is to help them say help us here. We’re here to work with you. We’ll help to give you that shared working space and exposure so that you can try to learn from some of these experiences. It’s great. Great, great story you had 

Mike: Yeah, and I think something else I took from it, those students could probably benefit from was I would kind of like cold email people in the venture capital world and some of them wouldn’t respond and some would, but I was like, what do I have to lose? And there was like, this is another story I was driving around north, so I live in Raleigh full-time in the off season. I was driving around North Hills and I saw this beautiful Red Corvette, brand new in the back of the license plate said FanDuel, you know, it, the sports betting app. 

So I’m thinking either someone won a lot of money on FanDuel and bought this car, or it’s someone that works for FanDuel. So just out of curiosity, I wrote like

FanDuel NC state on Google. All of a sudden, I see that the CEO of FanDuel is an NC State graduate, and I just looked this up last night. He’s no longer with him. He’s now with Fanatics, but I was like, you know what? He might be a fan of NC State football. I’m going to reach out to him. 

So I reached out to him, we had an hour-long conversation. He offered some advice and, you know, there was just a great connection. So I’m sure there’s tons of alumni out there willing, you know, willing to help. And I saw that was a great lesson for me is to not be afraid of someone telling you no. Don’t be afraid to reach out because like I said, the worst that can happen is you don’t get a response or they just saying no 

Jon: Right. And what’s interesting too, is, is like with our mentorship program. it’s so funny when the students get together, it’s sort of like a junior high dance. You know, the students are over here and the mentors are over here and somebody has to open up the door between them. But once they get a chance to realize that the mentors get as much out of this as the students do. And it helps the students realize that, you know, they have great ideas and there’s nothing wrong with reaching out and having confidence in yourself to do this. Our goal is we, we realized Mike, we realized that we don’t want students at the age of 20 to 21 launching companies, unless they really got, you know, got what it takes. 

But what we want to do is give them those skills and experiences, that sort of mindset, so where they could, you know, when they become in their late thirties, potentially launching a company, knowing some of the experiences that they had helped them. The average age of a first-time startup person is about 38 years old. 

So, you know, we want, we want students to have this exposure and to them to use their experiences, to maybe launch something down the road, but in the meantime, or they can use these, these skills in their own work life. Great story. 

Mike: Thank you. 

Jenny: I have a question; this goes back to Mike on this one and it is centered around your personal brand. And you know, please disclose what you feel comfortable with. You don’t have to disclose if you don’t want to, but you know, a lot of, kind of what we teach in Poole college is encouraging students to work on their brand, their personal brand and think about that throughout the duration and the world we live in with social media left and right, that’s, that’s more important than ever. How have, you know, since you graduated from NC State, you’ve obviously had a professional career, how have you worked on your own personal brand and perhaps how did you leverage that when you were going through this entrepreneurship experience? 

Mike: I would say there’s kind of two different ways that I would say I’ve or in respect to promoting your brand, there’s kind of the social media stuff, and then there’s just the general life side. So as far as the social media side, I guess they 

kind of go hand in hand with, I’m going to get at. Social media and being an NFL player, there’s opportunity to make money on social media. and to, to be a, a, I guess, an influencer, and put out Instagram posts, something on Twitter, for companies. And I just had never really taken that approach and I probably have lost out on some money, but that was just a more personal thing that I wanted to be more than just the football player. 

If you looked at my Instagram, I don’t think there’s one picture of me throwing a football. I’m not extremely active on Instagram, but I just want to be more than that. I didn’t want to be a you know, strictly viewed as a guy that throws a football and they recognize me by my jersey. And with that, I, I probably did lose out on some money, but that was, that’s just a, kind of a personal choice, which leads to more, I just want to be a good person and make kind of connections organically. 

And let my character be my brand, if that makes sense, rather than having a portrayed brand on social media. That, that just wasn’t important to me. Some guys, it is important too, and they make a lot of money on it. But just me personally, it never really attracted me. 

Jenny: Do you find that in the world that you’re in now, and especially when you’re thinking about these entrepreneurship opportunities, are you ever going back to something you learned while you were here at Poole? There are other pieces that you carry with you? 

Mike: Yeah. I think there is, I mean, so the past few weeks I’ve been kind of shadowing, I guess, a real estate investing firm, because I think it’s something I may be interested, and they’re pulling up these Excel spreadsheets and they brought up a mezzanine financing and I was like, wow, I haven’t heard of that term in 10 years. 

And you know, we’re going over balance sheets, income statements. I’m like, ALE, Assets equal Liabilities plus Equity. I’m like, that’s what I learned in the big auditorium in Nelson Hall. so. You know, it’s kind of all comes back to you.

It’s, you know, every day in football, you’re not thinking about assets and liability and equity and mezzanine financing. 

Um, but it is kind of, you know, now that I’m starting to think about more life after football and preparing for that next chapter, I’m sure, you know, it’ll take some adjusting. But there’s definitely a little bit of flashbacks of what I learned. And w while I was in the College of management at NC State. 

Jenny: Jon, what do you think are kind of the top two or three things that you’re making sure that our students are leaving with once they graduate NC State, if they are truly looking at doing something entrepreneurial down the road, what are you hoping that they take with them? 

Jon: Obviously they need to have some domain or content knowledge. They need to understand, like you mention, that word mezzanine means something, right? So there’s this mezzanine thing. Well, we want our students to have the kinds of content knowledge that’s important for the industry space that they’re going to work in. 

So if you’re in supply chain or if you’re interested in understanding the world of supply chain, you want to make sure that you’re really, really familiar with that content. And that covers all, all across this University. But if you take those three pieces and you put these three pieces together, you’re going to position yourself as a graduate of NC State to do a lot of great things. 

Our model was thinking do for a reason, right? We’re not just going to give you the domain knowledge. We want you to do things too. And so we hope that this entrepreneurial orientation is one of those pieces that help you do that kind of stuff. So what do you have? You have three circles linked together. Content and domain knowledge. 

You’ve got a, an orientation towards work and you have the conscientious work ethic and the doing mentality that employers need. And then that third little piece is that creative, a way to understand how to make decisions in uncertain and maybe unusual environments. This is what employers want. Domain knowledge. They want to have people that have a work ethic, so they’ve done things think and do, and to me, that third piece, the ability to be creative and to be able to have confidence such that you can help support and add value to whatever work or work that you do. Those are the three circles in my opinion.

So we do our job at the Poole College. We give you the domain knowledge, we give you the opportunity to understand that demonstrate how to do, how to work and work hard. And then you have that wonderful way to add value to whatever you do. And maybe it’s, as you’ve done in your career Mike you’ve added value as a football player to a variety of different organizations, right? 

Our students can do the same sorts of things, they can add value. Know and understand how you can add value. When you have those three pieces in your pocket you’re a very, very employable and very valuable employee, no matter what it is. And maybe it’s a startup and maybe you’re working for a bank, or maybe you work in for NC State. Or maybe you’re working for the New York Giants. It doesn’t matter. You got those three pieces in your pocket. You’re going to be successful. That’s our goal. That’s our goal to push towards. 

Jenny: Mike, I would ask you just in your opinion we’ve had entrepreneurs on this podcast and they’ve given all sorts of responses as, as things, that they feel are a must to be successful in entrepreneurship. And Jon is kind of teaching or explaining to us kind of the academic foundation that we’re hoping students leave Poole with. 

But what would you say are a few of the things that, you know, to be successful, these are the things you have to have? For example, we’ve heard curiosity, we’ve heard grit. what would you say would be a couple of things? 

Mike: Now when, when you were asking the question, the first where they came to mind was grit, which, you know, I always feel like, kind of gets associated with football and like the grittiness. it was good you used it, but just from kind of like, you know, relatively short experiences, it is full of ups and downs. 

You know, you’ll be lying in bed at night thinking, man, I got this million-dollar idea that you know, all this crazy stuff. And then the next day you’re like, what are we doing? Like, this is never going to work, blah, blah, blah, blah. And you know, some days I’ll be so excited, I’d be wake up in the middle of the night, thinking of ideas. 

And then next, you know, another week goes by and like, well, why am I doing this? so I think it’s just the abs and the flows and, you know, having that perseverance to push through the good days, the bad days. You know, if you truly want to do it, then you got to commit to it and it’s going to take a lot of work. a lot of discouragement that you’re going to have to get through. And a lot of times being told no. But I think if you have the passion for it, you know, it might not be everything you hoped and dreamed up, but you can have a very successful career doing this and learn a lot of lessons along the way. 

And I think, realize that. As we talked about it, these things fail more than succeed, but just cause you know, it might not work. That doesn’t mean, to me, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a failure, you know, like you failed, you definitely took something from it along the way, and you just got to find a kind of your next, next step in the journey and what you’re going to do next and take those things and, and learn from it and move on to the next venture. 

Jon: You hear a lot, you know, go pursue your passion, right? Well that’s just half the conversation. It’s really pursuing your passion. It’s also creating your passion. And to me, I think those two pieces go hand in hand, the challenges 

that you’ve seen. are also part of the process where you’re creating opportunities for you to pursue the things that you want to do. 

So it’s not just pursuing that passion out there, like it’s like you don’t have any control about what that passion is. You get to create that, and I think it gives people some individual ownership about what they do so that when they face the hard times in their lives, when they face the difficult times in their employment situations, when they have a difficult time with their families and friends, understanding the fact that you have the ability to overcome that, that you have individual agency to help make that change happen, then that’s how this works. And it works the same way, whether you’re in an entrepreneurial startup, or if you work for Wells Fargo. 

Mike: Yeah, I think, and just to build on that and you know, me more of my experience in the work industry is in football. You know, when I started my career, I was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I envisioned I was going to be with them for over a decade, starting quarterback, win Superbowls, and that’s just not the way my career has gone. 

And I’ve been on now, six teams in the past six years. And I think a lot, the reason why I continue to be employed is because of my professionalism. You know, the NFL is a small fraternity, but I think. And they talk and people know that what they’re getting out of me from that aspect, I think just having a you know, being a pro is what we say in the NFL, but being a pro is as an entrepreneur, as a business person is just doing things the right way, put in, you know, being a hard worker giving your all, treating others with respect, being a

good teammate knowing your role and all of that, I think goes a long way in all aspects of, of life and in business. 

Jenny: So, let me pivot really quickly to the both of you and ask this question and, and definitely Jon, from your perspective as an academic and maybe what you’re seeing in research and, and Mike, just what you’re seeing as you’re kind of starting to kick the tires a little bit more on these entrepreneurial ventures. 

Where do you see startups in the next five to 10 years? What are you seeing out there as potentially challenges that could prevent this kind of environment? Or what are some of the things that are driving people to kind of push through and move forward? I mean, we were fortunate here in the Raleigh area that we have a very entrepreneurial environment, but that’s not like that everywhere. So what do you foresee as maybe kind of what might be some of the roadblocks for, for future entrepreneurs? 

Jon: I think about some of my own startup experiences and the success, successful ones I’ve had and the ones where I, I barely got out alive, and I think about those experiences sometimes and say, what would that be like now? Right, and so I think that there’s a number of challenges that, that we’re going to be confronted I think in the next several years. 

Probably the most difficult challenge is finding good talent and finding people who have that, that work ethic and that professionalism and that, that interest in adding value that Mike alluded to in his own experiences with the NFL. It’s, you know, the, the talent question is going to be a very, very big deal here in the next five or 10 years. Another issue and Mike, you alluded to this as well. the challenges of scaling businesses nowadays are going to be much more difficult to do I suspect because of the way we work now. 

And then probably the last one that I think about is, it’s becoming more and more difficult to differentiate yourself. And differentiating what you do as a startup company is a very, very key thing. The value proposition that you offer your customers is becoming a much more finely tuned thing that has to be looked at and looked at very, very carefully. So those are three, I think, very, very big pieces that are going to be challenging for the startup community and, and, and I think our country in general over the next several years. 

Mike: Obviously I’m not the expert in that Jon is on entrepreneurship, but I do subscribe to some like kind of daily newsletters from venture capital. And I guess this can be a pro or con, and that I feel like every quarter, they’re saying

more money has been invested in venture capital than ever before. So I guess the good side is that people are investing in it. 

The bad side is the competition must be fierce out there. And I’m wondering if there’ll be somewhat of a bubble where, you know, some of these things, you know, if all this money to getting poured in to it and it doesn’t work then what effects that will have. And again, I I’m, I’m no expert, but I’ve found it interesting that over the past few years I’ve started paying more attention to VC, it seems like all it is more and more money is getting put into. 

Jon: I would add something to that. we know there’s a great database that tracks venture capital investment and those kinds of things. In the US it’s sort of very different than it is like in Europe. For example, Europe venture capitals is everywhere, but it’s very, very, very, very carefully, invested. Here in the United States I think something like 20% of all companies that receive venture capital are cash positive after five years. That’s a really bad success rate, and some of that is because people are trying to hit the home run right out of the shoot. Maybe they’re not doing the due diligence that they need to do, but if you want to talk about a business opportunity, Mike, whoever’s able to increase that 20% level with some kind of a, you know, some kind of tool or insight. 

That’s going to be a very, very successful business. And so yes, chasing investment can be a consuming thing for startup companies when sometimes maybe the best thing to do is focus your attention on how you add value to your customer segments. And then like, let it go from there. We, we, we teach our students all the time, your ownership of your company is your, your treasure. That is your treasure. And you want to make sure that you put your S your, when you give up ownership, provide that a venture investment opportunity for somebody, that you know that they’re coming on as not just an investor, but as a partner and as a friend and as a mentor and as a colleague, and I said networker to help make that work. 

Jenny: Mike, are there any other, are there teammates or former teammates that currently have a side hustle business that you just think is awesome? That would be a question to you. And then Jon, is there anybody that, you know, that’s graduated from Poole that you just think of has been incredibly successful or a neat concept that you love to give a shout out to? 

So I’ll let Mike start.

Mike: Yeah. there are a few guys that are involved in different kind of investment aspects. And the one guy that kind of jumps out that people will know is Larry Fitzgerald. Larry Fitzgerald is an angel investor himself; he’s heavily involved in venture capital and he was kind of the one that encouraged me to reach out to other people, and he’s connected well in Silicon Valley. so he’s definitely one guy and another guy people wouldn’t know as well, but he’s a former first-round pick, won the Super Bowl with the Giants and was my teammate with Chicago Bears, this guy, Prince Amukamara, and he is real estate. He does Airbnb’s on his own. 

So he will buy a property renovate them and then do an Airbnb. And he lives in Phoenix, and we talked from time to time, and I know that market is very hot, especially with COVID tons of people moving to the Scottsdale area. So those are two guys that kind of jumped to mind, there are some guys that do a lot. NFL just, as Jon was saying, there’s tons of resources in the NFL that they offer us. Some guys take advantage of a lot of guys don’t. so I would encourage people take advantage of those resources that that NC State has. But it is, you know, it’s fun talking to guys about business. 

Another guy would be that went to NC state. I don’t believe he was in the college of management. he was a teammate of mine at NC State, and then also with the Buccaneers and then this past year with the Giants for a little bit as a guy named Ted Larson and we’ve shared stories. He’s about to go back and get his MBA at Duke, but we’ll, we’ll talk business kind of life after football. So there’s a handful of guys that I kind of talk outside of that, you know, different conversations in football with. 

Jenny: Thank you, Jon, did you have anybody you wanted to mention as far as what you feel? I mean, I know there’s a lot, so it might be kind of hard to choose one. 

Jon: Yeah. Think it’s difficult to, to kind of picks one person in particular. but I always think of the things that you know, w we know that students have great ideas and students have ideas that oftentimes are based upon their own experiences, right? And so a Ricardo who did Casalú is a rum based hard seltzer business, and he’s an engineer. And so he wanted to design something that’s really created for the Latino community. 

They, they know what they like and they know what they enjoy. And a lot of times they try to create something around what that might be. So Casalú an example of that, but there are others as well. I, I guess I would say that to me.

the fact that we have so many successful students that we’ve got such committed people to support what we do in entrepreneurship Chip Andrews, who has been a very passionate supporter of the Andrews launch accelerator is somebody that really cares about NC State students and helping them create opportunities to pursue the what they want to do as successful startups and businesses. so, but there are many, many, many others. 

We have a very, very well-developed research commercialization office. Mike, you may not have known about that. and the Wolfpack investor network, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that at all, but the Wolfpack Investor Network is a 

big part of how we invest in the commercial level technologies that come out of the fantastic engineering and sciences efforts that we have on this campus. So we are one of the top research commercialization universities in the United States, and couple that with the Wolf pack investor network, WIN, right, with WIN you’ve got a fantastic opportunity to maybe look at some of these types of potential investments. 

And obviously we’re, we’re, we’re very, very proud of the fact that the Poole college has been a supportive piece to both the Wolfpack investor network, as well as the office of research commercialization. So watch what, Mike’s going to get online right now and start looking up… 

Jenny: I know, I’m sitting here thinking I’m like, we know I’m thinking we might be having some Mike Glennon appearances. Poole College of Management, right. 

Jon: But we’ve had millions of dollars invested by NC State alumni in NC State commercial technology. And so it’s another great way in which we, we take care of the pack. 

Jenny: So, let me ask a couple of quick, final wrap-up questions. One’s kind of a fun question, and then one’s kind of just a question really, for insight, for both of you. You know, Mike is, you know, as a product of Poole college, we really try to make sure that we give our students the best possible experience and the tools so they’re successful when they graduate. Thinking back to your own experience, I’d love to hear from your perspective as a student and an alumnus, and then Jon from a, from a faculty and hey, you’re a dad. You had; you had a son graduate. 

Jon: Oh, yeah.

Jenny: What would you say would be like one or two pieces of advice that you would give to a student right now that might be thinking about their future, just in general, knowing what, you know, in the past that you both have been on. 

Mike: Yeah, I think, well, first off I want to say I could be wrong. I think I was in the first graduating class of the Poole College of Management, cause I remember at the graduation, they kept saying, this is the cool Poole school college of management. was 2011, I believe. And I think I would just, if I could go back, I mean, I was busy with football and all that, but I, I kind of, you know, and I always get those emails about a speaker coming to speak. 

And I never took advantage of, of that and I kind of wish I would have done them to educate myself to, you know, shake hands, network, get to know people. so That’s one regret I do have. At the same time, kind of talking out of both sides of my mouth, cause I would say, you know, enjoy college some of the best time of your life. 

If I could go back, I’ll go back tomorrow. so yeah. Enjoy school, go to class, you know, but at the same time, enjoy yourselves on the weekend because those four years go back quick. And there’s nothing quite like college. 

Jenny: What about you, Jon? What are some nuggets that you give your students? 

Jon: Well, first of all I think that our college is really, you know, and I think universities in general are trying to encourage students to have some global experiences At NC State and in the Poole College, a lot of our students are still sort of first-generation students that are from North Carolina and have been North Carolina and it’s not really traveled maybe too far. And I would say, first thing, first things you should consider is give yourself, or try to do what you can to have some kind of global experience as a student. It’s been my experience that our students that have done a study abroad programming that we have, and it’s everywhere in the Poole College. 

You come back as a changed person. You come back with a very, very different understanding of how the world is, how people in the world are you know, interact and cultures and experiences that they never forget. So enjoying yourself in college is a great thing. And that’s a great way to give yourself some global exposure as a student.

The second thing I’d say is, is you get out of it, which you put into it, right? And so you have fantastic opportunities to engage all sorts of different ways on the social side, on the academic side embrace your experiences here in college. Believe it or not the faculty and the staff, everybody at this University since I’ve been here, sees this as a, as a place to help support students in their student experiences. And we’re here, right. We’re here, which leads to the third point. 

The third point is, is that resources are here. And so if you’re interested in an internship, if you’re interested in getting to network more, if you’re interested in trying to get career advice, if you’re interested in finding some way to connect to somebody at another college, to do a design and a to do some kind of social entrepreneurship or some kind of social experience, or to have some impact on the community. These resources are here, they’re here for students to, to, to, I hate to say, take advantage of, and so to me, I think that was one of the key things that, that I, that I would recommend. 

My son, who obviously his father encouraged him to do lots of things, right. He was going to be an entrepreneurship minor. He had no choice in that, but he had other choices as well. And the fact that he had an internship, the fact that he had a global experience, the fact that he pursued things in the college outside of 

those classes, made his experience a very powerful one here at NC State. 

Jenny: Alright. I know I’ve taken a lot of your time today and I really appreciate it, but I, I always like to end these podcasts with this fun question. And we kind of talked about it a little bit before, but it applies to both of you. And I know you’re at different stages of life, but remember our students are college age, right? 

So they’re 20, 21 22. Go back to when Mike was 21, 22, Jon, when you were 21, 22, 

Jon: Oh boy. 

Jenny: You could go back to that version of yourself, what would you tell yourself? And what piece of advice would you give yourself at that time, knowing the life that you’ve lived, what would you go back and tell yourself at that time? 

Mike: I think I hit on it earlier. Like I’ve, I’ve, you know, to this one, I’ve been extremely fortunate. I got to live out my dream playing in the NFL. You know, financially it’s has been great for me, but I really mean it. I mean, I think the

best years of my life were when I was in college. Just the friends you make I met my wife there, there’s just no time like it. 

And NC State, you know, I’m forever grateful for that experience because of. Yeah. I just look back with such great memories, friendships created there. And like I said, met my wife there now with three kids. So I, I don’t know what advice I would give myself. I think it would just be to enjoy this because it goes by so quickly. 

Jon: I would, I would echo that a lot and add even another thing. I always one of the great regrets I did was I kept telling myself I got to pursue this and I got to be aggressive about that. And I’ve got to push, push, push, push, and I pushed myself too hard not stopping to realize, you know what I’ve got, you know, I’ve got something really special happening to me right now. 

And I, I tell students this all the time, for example, like with global experiences, you know, well, it takes a lot of money and it’s expensive to do a study abroad. And I, I tell them, I know that, but you know, you won’t have this time for a note for another many decades. And you got the rest of your life to pay for this. 

Please take advantage of the things that you have here in your university experience, slow down, let yourself have the, the time to do and enjoy and create those connections. And, you know, Mike’s got lifelong friends from his college experience and I do too. And they know a lot of stories about you, I bet Mike, right. 

And my friends know a lot of stories about me too, and that’s what helps keep us together. And they had been friends for all these decades. So slow down, enjoy it, right, and realize you’ve got the rest of your life to work. So make sure you grab this and hold onto it, take advantage of it. That’s what we’re here for. Learn how to be a person that can be proud of your college experiences. 

Jenny: That’s great. That’s great advice from both of you. Thank you.

Jon: You bet. 

Jenny: And thank you both for joining us today. I know that. It’s very busy, but I think there were a lot of really strong nuggets of advice in here. And I think students can definitely walk away with having a better understanding. And I think, you know, for me, what I heard is that you know, don’t be afraid to try. You’ll probably fail, but that’s okay. And really think about enjoying the ride along the way too, because that’s just as important, so, well, thank you both. Yeah. 

Jon: Wonderful. Wonderful.

About the Poole Podcast

The Poole Podcast is a think and do conversation about the relationship between academics and industry. Each episode will share research and ideas from inside the classroom from our incredible NC State faculty and explore how it’s being translated into practice. Released every two weeks on Monday.