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MOVERS and SHAKERS Interview with Dr. Michael Goldsby



MOVERS and SHAKERS Interview with Dr. Michael Goldsby

Tell us your name and a little about yourself.

My name is Dr. Michael Goldsby. I’m the Chief Entrepreneurship Officer, Executive Director of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute, Stoops Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship, and Professor of Management at Ball State University. I’m also the co-owner of Mind2Momentum (M2M) with my co-author, Dr. Rob Mathews. I’ve authored four books, including our latest, Entrepreneurship the Disney Way, as well as forty research articles, and I’ve performed in the Great Courses video series. I also enjoy triathlon, weight lifting, rock climbing, and golf.

What exactly does your company do?

My university think tank, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute, promotes the development of people who aspire to achieve the most they can in life (movers and shakers, you might say). We focus on entrepreneurial approaches; for example, what it takes to move an idea from your inside your head to make it happen in the real world.

That’s how Rob and I developed our system of Mind2Momentum. That’s the big challenge: how do you take your big ideas and make them real? We also help people as they move up in the world. Success brings its own challenges, and we discuss the personal side of achievement; the costs and tradeoffs of making things happen and becoming more successful.

What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge has been corralling and focusing all my ideas. I’m a big-picture person. In Gallup terms, my number one strength is as a “Learner.” But I had to develop strong execution skills. Books like David Allen’s Getting Things Done, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits and Gary Keller’s The One Thing all really helped. It took me about three years to master the discipline of being selective about what I commit to yet also leave room for exploration. Once I do commit to an idea, I am very disciplined about doing it well and ahead of schedule if possible. My personal brand is being “productively creative.” Knowing your strengths and building on them is a great way to live. I guess I’m a bit of a modern-day Aristotelean. I appreciate Arete: excellence.


What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?

I wish I had listened more to my elders. They have so much wisdom and expertise. But I was determined to figure things out on my own. I didn’t realize how much easier it would have been to talk to someone experienced before I took the first step with whatever I was curious about. It’s a much more efficient route. Fortunately, I did listen to some very influential people, but I should have cast a wider net. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become better at asking questions, listening and seeking people out. When you look at many people who found success at a young age, I think they tended to do that. You can learn something from everybody, and every place can be an adventure if you’re open to it.


Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?

As far as historical figures, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and the people they surrounded themselves with. They mixed creativity and execution and made the seemingly impossible or unforeseen happen. The process of writing about them has influenced my own approach — and taught me about the tradeoffs that often happen in the pursuit of excellence and creativity.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Aside from my Mom, Dad and my Uncle Hugh, who all instilled a great work ethic and self-belief in me, professionally it’s Dr. Donald F. Kuratko of Indiana University and Dr. Min Basadur of Basadur Innovation. Don has mentored me from Day One as a professor and scholar: my career wouldn’t be what it is today without his support, advice, and encouragement. We still work on projects together, and I’m always learning from him. It’s an honor to hold Stoops Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship position, which he held at Ball State fifteen years ago.

Min has really helped me advance my thinking on innovation and creativity. He’s a genius. The methodology he’s created for complex problem solving is the best ever developed, period. He’s blended professorship, research and consulting into practice, and that’s the mindset I have towards my work. Don taught me how to dream big and reach your goals, and Min taught me how to look at the world in new ways and redefine problems into actionable steps to get results. I’m blessed to have both of them in my life.

What do you see as your greatest success in life?

That’s a tough question. In athletics, I’ve completed eight Boston Marathons and an Ironman triathlon. If I could ever get my golf shots to fly at a trajectory like Ben Hogan’s, that would be a great success. I’m really enjoying golf right now. I’ve climbed rock faces and looked out on the Rockies, which is pretty cool.

In my profession, I’m very proud of the book Rob and I co-wrote, Entrepreneurship the Disney Way, the result of ten years of research and hard work, and a labor of love. Creating “The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit” for the Great Courses was a great experience that promoted my work to a worldwide audience. Jim Collins wrote me a letter to say he enjoyed that course: it’s now framed and on my office wall. I’m a big fan of his work and work style, so that was great validation.

If I had to name my single greatest success in life, it was when I was a young man working with my Uncle Les on his golf course. He had a cow pasture on his property, where we all used to play “pasture golf” with makeshift tee boxes out of buckets and flags planted in the field. If you got the ball within two feet of the flag it was “in the hole.” One day Uncle Les had a Field of Dreams moment: if you build it, they will come. He bought a backhoe, dump truck, bulldozer, and a PGA Guide to Golf Course Construction, and built a nine-hole course with the sweat equity of family and friends. Before I pursued my doctorate, I worked for him. When it was time to expand to eighteen holes, he let me design and layout the new nine. Dreaming up what those holes could be, seeing them in my mind and picturing the terrain was an exciting project. Then, being able to play holes I’d designed was so satisfying.

I have friends at Disney Parks and Resorts who do the same with the hotels, attractions, and restaurants, and that golf course design experience helps me understand what they must feel. That was my own little version of what Walt Disney did with Disneyland and Walt Disney World: he saw orange orchards and turned them into world-class resorts. If I could go back in a time machine, I’d figure out how to do more projects like that in my life.

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