School’s out FOREVER.

Sad. That’s how I feel. I’m still a ten page paper away from complete freedom, but that’s so scary. Complete freedom really means complete responsibility. Once I turn in that ten pager; that’s it. I’m an adult with a college degree who needs to figure her s*** out. If there’s anything that has taught me about responsibility, it’s my entrepreneurial class. One of the reasons I look up to young entrepreneurs is the fact that they are, in almost every sense, free. They set their own schedules, create their own projects and make a living from their passions. What sounds more perfectly free than that?

In reality, what I will take away from my entrepreneurial class is this: It takes total responsibility for yourself to live a free life. Even if you aren’t your own boss, life takes a lot of hard work, grit and facing what you don’t want to do.

Wherever I end up, I am now realizing I will get out of it what I put in. I also want to stop using the term ‘hard work.’ Instead, I will use the term ‘quality work.’ This is another piece of advice I received from the young entrepreneurs in Nebraska. These people do what they love, put a lot of effort into it and never deliver something that’s less than fantastic work. The local entrepreneurs are successful because they’re quality workers.

All in all, this class has taught me a lot about where I envision myself heading. All of the young entrepreneurs I spoke to had similar stories: they always knew they wanted to work for themselves but just didn’t know how or what to do. The rest was just a learning process.

I feel similar to these people. I don’t know if I want my own business yet, but I definitely envision myself working on a small team producing quality work. I can’t wait for my learning process to start. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty. I can’t wait to see an idea I have become a reality.

Who knows where I will end up. That’s really scary. But, from this class I’ve learned that through complete responsibility for yourself, quality work and treating life like a classroom, everything works out for the best.

Cheers to the class of 2013. Can’t wait for one last summer.




Stephen Colbert takes on the founders of Snapchat



Snapchat ensures that photos like this don’t last longer than ten seconds (I know, I would screenshot this too, people).

If I were to have anyone in the world insult my young life’s wildly successful work, it would be Stephen Colbert. The founders of the insanely popular photo chatting app for iOS and Android, Snapchat, are my age and will probably be bagillionaires (that’s right) by the time they’re 30. But, Colbert still manages to knock them down a notch, or even two.


The founders of the app, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, appeared on the ‘news’ show recently to discuss the popular app. Colbert asked questions we all were itching to know. He compared today’s popularity of building an app to starting a band. Funny because it’s true. Building an app, a very entrepreneurial concept, is a lot like starting a band. It’s a team effort that works towards a common goal. A goal that once was landing a record label is now landing an investor. What once was a quest for money, fame and chicks, is now a quest for money, fame and chicks, just with a touch of technology.


Although it’s an awesome way to communicate with friends, Colbert does make some valid points. Like what is the point of sending a photo for ten seconds? But, the proof is in the pudding – over 150 million Snapchats are floating around today. People love this app and the love is spreading. The founders are looking towards the future for what will come next. It’s a new, fresh idea that cools kids are snapping up everywhere.


How does Colbert end the interview?  With the best line ever: “Are you guys making a profit? Or does that disappear after ten seconds too?”


For some reason, I couldn’t insert the link, so here it is:


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Entrepreneurship: Fleeting fad for youngins who can’t find jobs?


No. Totally not.


The Head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the Business School in Imperial College in London, Professor Mike Wright, says that ‘entrepreneurship and innovation have become increasingly important since 2008.’ He also gives credit to the younger generations who see business opportunities and make it work. He doesn’t seem to think that youth entrepreneurship is a trend, instead; Wright considers it a good thing. In a recent interview done by the college news website, the professor explains that young entrepreneurs aren’t a fleeting fad, but with the right advice, something that can grow the economy.


One thing that young people are doing is recognizing growth opportunities. Even in my own life, entrepreneurship has kind of snaked into my way of thinking. With popular TV shows like Shark Tank or even Bar Rescue, I find myself evaluating a business idea, considering what works and what doesn’t and whether or not there’s a market for the idea all in the condescending tone of Jon Taffer (It’s fun to do and makes you feel smart). I always have paid attention to branding efforts, but now it seems to stick out to me more than ever. Although Professor Wright suggests young people are successful entrepreneurs, he still thinks youngins need to make smart decisions.  He says to look before you leap, understand what the market needs are and ask if we really do need another cliché sandwich cafe on this street corner? We need to ask ourselves what it really means to be an entrepreneur.


A good idea is essential, but an entrepreneur needs tenacity. You’ve got to recognize problems and know how to solve them. Many entrepreneurs refuse to adapt, don’t listen to advice and let the dream drive them. Configure resources to make your dream work.


The cost of putting together a business has fallen. Young people, especially tech-savvy young people, have the flexibility to pounce on a low-cost idea. It’s always vital to have role models and emulate them. One’s got to be realistic, but retain that youthful energy. Another thing to consider is that entrepreneur endeavors aren’t an individual thing – there’s an always a team behind it. Just like Professor Wright, I hope we can extend this trend of young people organizing and creating successful businesses.

Now, watch these Evian babies, because one day they might just grow up to be entrepreneurs.


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Hello, Hello Holiday!



On a recent field trip with my fellow JRM 599’rs, we checked out Hello Holiday, an online clothing store located in Omaha. I really loved the advice that founders, Sarah Lorsung-Tvrdik and Megan Hunt, had about startup communities, women who kick butt and clapping in people’s faces. Here are the three things I learned from the lovely ladies at Hello Holiday:


  1. 1.    Put your heart into it. One of my favorite moments of the night was when both girls talked about how scary and emotional it is to run their own business. I realized in that moment, that creating a small business is totally the equivalent of having a child. Both women talked openly about late nights, sleeping in the store and the cry-fest that is owning a business. Those ladies are two of the bravest people I know. They realized a dream, made it happen and have no shame loving it openly. It’s cool to love what you do that much.
  2. 2.    Put your back into it. I also loved when both owners discussed how Hello Holiday came to be. It was always a dream and, more so, a process. It took months to formulate a plan and then months after that when the original plan didn’t work out. It’s really inspiring to watch two young people who’ve realized a dream through hard work and originality.
  3. 3.    If you’re a businesswoman, own it. These ladies are fighting every stereotype of a woman there is. Not only do they own a full figure-friendly clothing store, they are strong, strategic thinkers who aren’t afraid to tell people that they love/have real emotion for what they do for a living. They’re supportive of each other and are constantly reaching out to the women who support them. It’s just a circle of love between staff and customer because of this refreshingly non-stereotypical duo.



All in all, I learned that I’m not the only one who wishes she could clap in peoples’ faces to get their attention. Check out Hello Holiday. Not just for the cute clothes, but to learn about these amazing women.


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The elevator doors are closing in….

This week in my Entrepreneurial Media class, we had to deliver elevator pitches to our class. Normally, I brush off public speaking like it’s no big deal.

This. Time. Was. Different.

So, I had been preparing for this one-minute speech (sounds easy, right?) all afternoon and finally class time rolled around. I thought I was going to nail it. I even had worked over the parts I stumbled on over and over again. I thought it would go flawlessly. Even if it wasn’t flawless, I knew I would be able to recover.


Here’s where everything goes hazy.


As I gave my pitch, I was not the informal, confident Maddie I know; I was very nervous, trembling and giggly, but not my usually giggly. This is not something I am used to feeling. To my surprise, the entire class was feeling the same way I was. Was it a full moon? Were we all just not used to seeing each other in a professional environment?


Here’s what I have concluded: elevator pitches NEED to be relaxed, informal and confident. Otherwise, they come off as rehearsed, pitiful and make me nervous. The biggest thing I learned is that confidence sells. If I were legitimately pitching my idea or even just in a meeting, I need to take a deep breath and ooze confidence.

For that matter, every part of life calls for this. We need to act consciously and carry ourselves confidently in about everything we do. I think this assignment was actually practice for the real world.

To put it simply, life’s a pitch.

But, guess what?…


Midterms are over.  GO JAYS!


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Meet the Pros: Collaboration, brainstorming and inspiration

It’s every young creative’s dream: asking questions to seasoned professionals, rubbing elbows with the best in the biz and a free breakfast.

Can you guess which young creative speaks limited French, loves free breakfasts and recently jumped at the opportunity to attend such an event? This moi!


 I learned awesome techniques from even more awesome professionals at this year’s Meet the Pros event in Omaha, NE. While I Live Tweeted the event, I also took real notes and thought I would put them in blog form for all of you who would appreciate some highlights.


Here are the top three things I learned for Meet the Pros 2013:


  1. Brainstorming. This is often the most difficult step in formulating a plan, developing an idea or even a brand. Stephanie Jarrett from Bulu Box, a local startup, gave some awesome tips that I have already started to implement in my own brainstorms. One way to warm up the brain is mind mapping. She says to begin with a central thought that relates to a problem statement then see what thoughts develop from that. Don’t stop. Keep the thoughts coming quickly and get as many as possible in a limited amount of time. This keeps you thinking and gets all of the bad or easy ideas out of your system so that the really epic ideas surface soon after this process. Trust your first instinct, but never your first idea. Pretty cool, huh?
  2. Collaboration. As we all know, collaboration is vital to the creative process and in the business world. One speaker, Stefan Mumaw from Callahan Creek, compared the creative process to improv comedy. In improv, all actors can never dismiss an idea. They must work from it. In the creative and startup communities, this is vital. All parties must pivot, develop and morph ever-changing ideas and work with each other all the while. I love the fact that my future career is in any way related to this.
  3. Inspiration. Just being in the same room as people who are successful freelancers, entrepreneurs, copy writers and so much more was inspiring. Every once and a while, young people need a reminder that you don’t have to have everything figured out by graduation. Many of these professionals said they are still improving themselves, working towards their goals and learning new things. As my own graduation date creeps closer and closer, I am realizing that it’s okay that I am still improving myself, working towards my goals and learning new things because that will never stop being apart of my life. All in all, Meet the Pros was a fun event because it helped me to realize that with a little brainstorming, collaboration, inspiration and hard work, I can accomplish anything I can think up.
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Tom Haverford: Entrepreneur Extraordinaire?


Warning: This post has A LOT of Parks and Recreation clips, so TREAT YO SELF.


It’s safe to say I learn many of life’s valuable lessons by watching my favorite TV comedies (For example, Liz Lemon taught me to never follow a hippie to a second location). So why not take a business lesson from the world’s least responsible entrepreneur, Tom Haverford from NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Tom’s farfetched ideas are not only hilarious, they have unintentionally taught me three important ideas that (obviously) apply to startups.


  1. Do business with people you trust. Throughout the series, Tom eventually learns this lesson, but there are bumps along the way. Jean Ralphio, Tom’s best friend who earns all of his money from an insurance lawsuit after he “got hit by a car and got paid.” In all seriousness, eventually Tom decides to ditch the pathetic Jean Ralphio and take his business idea, ‘rent-a-swag’ seriously. Tom is also a notorious networker. He takes the time to get to know the people in town and uses these connections to help create his idea.
  2. Work hard. Just because you have an idea, even a great idea, doesn’t mean you don’t have to formulate a plan (you can’t just print your own money). Especially with startups, you have to anticipate changes, pivot, strive for longevity and have backup plans. A great idea is only as good as the strategy behind it.
  3. Be passionate. This is where Tom Haverford excels. He may just want to create a signature scent and call it “Tommy Fresh,” but he’ll be damned if his dream doesn’t come true. His ambition is actually really inspiring


The point is, although Tom Haverford is a fictional character, his antics made me think about my own entrepreneurial skills. I learned how valuable community and networking is when you are creating something from scratch. I also learned that some people are meant to be a friend and not a business partner. Finally, it takes a lot of guts to bring an idea to life and I respect the fictional Tom Haverford. I respect the heck out of him.


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Darn It: An idea I wish I would’ve thought of

Along with all the other inventions I wish I would’ve thought of (Netflix, the Ipod and for that matter, really any Apply device), a tip of my hat goes to the creators of MindMixer. The startup that connects communities and helps them build new ideas through effective online engagement.


That’s what I look like when I say, “Darn it!”


Working as urban planners, the founders, Nick Bowden and Nathan Preheim, saw a gap with the existing model for civic engagement. They realized the process was limited. Because community meetings (where citizens had to physically show up at a specific time and place) were the only option for civil engagement, a limited group and number of people were involved in community planning.

MindMixer provides citizens with access to share ideas, solve challenges and interact with community leaders at any time, from anywhere. MindMixer encourages anyone and everyone to join and submit their ideas in a structured discussion on their simple, easy to use website. After submitting an idea, the idea can be viewed by the rest of the community. Other community members have an opportunity to provide feedback as well.

This startup is perfect for those who want to support or contribute, but don’t have time to be at the meetings that make these important decisions, so pretty much every demographic. The website allows the government to respond with updates, questions and ways to fund the idea.

The startup began in 2010 and now serves over 250 organizations nationwide and over 300 ideas have been implemented They do a fantastic job of updating the users and engaging in both social media and print media.

I’ve always been fond of this startup because they saw a gap that needed to be filled and ran with it. Before this website, 78% of US citizens had never attended a town hall meeting. Now, it is possible to share your ideas with a click of a mouse. MindMixer is inspiring because it has longevity and provides a service communities really need.

The best ideas are the ones that upset me because I didn’t think of it. Let’s just say MindMixer makes me pretty mad.

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For me, one day becoming my own boss is a dream I am currently working towards. I have interned for two years now in formal work environments while still trying to do whatever freelance writing jobs I can get my hands on. Freelancing is ideal for people who are just trying to get their foot in the door and even more ideal for someone who eventually wants to become his or her own boss.


Colin, a freelance photographer and designer recently visited my entrepreneurial class. I have to say he did his time in order to work for himself successfully. He wore many different hats in order to prepare himself to work independently. I am currently in a stage of self discovery- just entering the real world. I looked at Colin’s determination and passion for what he does and decided that it could be years before I am at the place I want to be. His visit was reassuring, inspiring and a little scary. Freelancing is a great option to get a feel for what you are or aren’t passionate about and always a way to become stronger at what you do love.


Another key to freelancing is just because you’re working alone doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate with others. Especially in such a creative field, Colin stressed the importance of working with other people, bouncing ideas of them and listening to their problems to solve your own. Freelancing doesn’t have to be a lonesome path, it’s important to work with others to come up with even better ideas.


Look at the first part of the word freelancing- free. I think that through freelancing you can obtain a certain amount of freedom. Although freelancing takes a lot of self-control and hard work, it gives you a freedom many other career paths cannot.Image

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Filling in the gaps…



Gap. Not something my friend, Adie, had after she got braces (that’s her above and the picture was used with her consent). Not just a store that I think has cute denim and sweaters. Gap. A word that holds a lot of meaning for journalists, entrepreneurs and those who are realistic enough to consider themselves both.

Since I started reading Entrepreneurial Journalism: How to Build What’s Next for News by Mark Briggs, I can’t get the concept of gaps out of my head. The entrepreneurial spirit begins by examining everyday life and seeing what’s missing. Ever since this occurred to me, I have been looking at my life and trying to find those gaps. Besides a handheld donut maker (how great would that be?), I’ve been thinking about what gaps need to be filled in the media realm.

When I took a feature writing class, after class discussions about how every person has a story, I started examining my everyday life for stories. Again, there was a gap- I just needed to fill it as a reporter. It’s kind of a comforting idea. Just like reporters used to and still look at everyday life events to create something, so do entrepreneurs. This is reassuring to someone who is just now coming into this changing and unidentified media world. It’s this common thread of curiosity and a passion to make things better that ties journalists and entrepreneurs together.

Entrepreneurial Journalism is a scary concept. The fact that no one has the simple title of a traditional reporter or editor is scary. However, the nature of the journalism world isn’t changing. When there’s a gap, we are going to try to fill it. Try to understand what’s missing and change it. Whether it’s a way to tell a local news story or an app dedicated to dog lovers, where there is a need for information, that gap will be filled. The way we share information may be changing, but with these gaps comes opportunity. Gaps are exciting. Not scary.

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