Saturday, March 05, 2011

50 Years Old And Still Incubating Startups

I wonder how many entrepreneurs and business startups can be traced back to their founder’s service in the Peace Corps? Last Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, but I ask this question because it has surfaced recently in three separate discussions with or presentations by entrepreneurs such as downtown Durham’s Ari Zandman-Zeman, Owner and Founder of Rubberbanditz, and Joe Colopy, CEO and Founder of Bronto.Capture

Over the years I’ve come across numerous business executives who honed skills in the Peace Corps including members of the governing boards for whom I served as a DMO executive in Anchorage, Alaska and Durham, North Carolina.

The Peace Corps was founded March 1, 1960 by then President John F. Kennedy and his brother-in-law, the late Sargent Shriver; and to-date 200,000 Americans have served in 139 countries. The average age is 28, which according to National Geographic is the average age of the earth’s 7,000,000 inhabitants this year.

Some 14% serve in business/information communications technology sector but I’m sure the 27% in education, 22% in Health, 13% in environment also learn entrepreneurial skills.

Both going out and returning, my recent cross-country road trip took me through Butch Cassidy country in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. The actor who played Butch’s sidekick in the 1969 classic Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Academy Award-winning actor, director, producer, developer and environmental activist Robert Redford, is citied in an article this month as one of those people for whom “service is the rent we pay for living.”

I believe the original quote by Shirley Chisom, the first African-American woman elected to Congress, is “service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.”

Apparently service in the Peace Corps also pays dividends. Click here to learn about joining the Peace Corps.

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