Craig Lindvahl At The Commercial Caffeinated Breakfast

Photo of author and trainer Craig Lindvahl

(Above: Author and trainer Craig Lindvahl)

One of the more storied traditions at the NAR Expo is the Commercial Caffeinated Breakfast, a bright and early gathering of NAR Commercial members to meet, network and learn while the coffee and carbs flow freely. This morning was no exception as commercial folks from around the country closed in on the Rivergate Room at the Morial Convention Center to hear the good news.

The preliminaries included a shout-out to Jean Maday, ‎NAR’s Director of Commercial Real Estate Development & Services on her recent RCE certification. Always a fixture at the Breakfast along with NAR Commercial VP Jan HopeJean took a well-deserved bow for this key milestone in her service to NAR and its commercial membership.

Craig Lindvahl: Things You Wish You Knew Yesterday

Breakfast speaker Craig Lindvahl is an educator, author, filmmaker and passionate advocate for the development of local communities. In his talk to the commercial membership, he laid out the classic problem of talent drain from small towns as younger people (we’ll call them millennials here) look around their communities and conclude that no opportunity for them exists, that any chance to grow lies elsewhere.

In Lindvahl’s view, this isn’t because no local opportunity exists. It’s because it’s hidden to kids.

“Kids aren’t stupid.  They’re ignorant,” quipped Lindvahl to a laugh in the room.  Clarifying, he pointed out that being ignorant is just not knowing, where being stupid is being ignorant on purpose.  And kids, he said, tend to be ignorant about business and economic development going on locally, and about the people that work and build these businesses.

This is to be expected, he said, because schools don’t teach about local business at all, let alone provide any hands-on experience in those businesses that leads to real understanding about the responsibilities that go with entrepreneurship. So Lindvahl stepped up to do just that.  He created CEO, for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities, a program of the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship, at which Craig serves as Executive Director.

In a fascinating run-down of the CEO program, Lindvahl described the process of working with high school juniors and seniors on and in real businesses. Meeting for 90 minutes each day on the site of a real operating business, kids do real work, and make real connections  with real business mentors.  They develop their own business plans — each write two to three plans a year, says Lindvahl — and all for one reason:

“[The kids] come to see their local town as a place of opportunity, not a dead end.”

At the close of the session, NAR Commercial handed out free copies of Craig’s book “Things You Wish You Knew Yesterday” and left the assembled with a lot to think about concerning the role of education, opportunity and business in home-town settings.