Monthly Archives: November 2020

52. Andy Stoll

The Iowa Idea: Andy Stoll

“Creativity is the synthesis of diverse elements.”

In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I sit down Andy Stoll.  Andy is a serial social entrepreneur and producer and has co-founded six entrepreneurial-focused organizations and currently serves as a Senior Program Officer in Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation. His career has focused on building pioneering programs, communities, classes and events to help entrepreneurs and creatives turn their ideas into reality.

Andy’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal and his portfolio of projects includes collaborations with AOL Founder Steve Case, Microsoft Founder Paul Allen, and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

We dig deep into creativity, networks, collaboration, and what it means to innovate and be an entrepreneur in the connected age.

Through Andy’s work in building creative and entrepreneurial ecosystems, Andy has noticed four patterns of the connected age

  • The democratization of creativity
  • The individual has been globalized
  • Networks are replacing hierarchies
  • Geography does not have a monopoly on good ideas

It was an honor having Andy join me on the show. I really appreciated Andy’s stories and perspectives. I thank him for sharing his time and insights. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Andy

Andy Stoll is a serial social entrepreneur and producer and has co-founded six entrepreneurial-focused organizations and currently serves as a Senior Program Officer in Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation. His career has focused on building pioneering programs, communities, classes and events to help entrepreneurs and creatives turn their ideas into reality.

Stoll’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal and his portfolio of projects includes collaborations with AOL Founder Steve Case, Microsoft Founder Paul Allen, and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

Andy is a sought-after speaker on leadership, creativity, entrepreneurship, communities and travel, and has been a featured speaker at SXSW, numerous TEDx events and more than 50 American universities — including serving as the 2013 Commencement speaker for the University of Iowa’s College of Liberal Arts.

Stoll served as an adjunct faculty member at Cornell College; has taught courses at The University of Iowa; has served as a Global Facilitator for Startup Weekend, and completed a 4-year, 40-country solo trip-around-the-world.

Andy holds two Bachelor’s Degrees in Media Production and Business Management from The University of Iowa and a Masters Degree in Media Cultures from The City University of Hong Kong — he also moonlights as a photographer, sometimes chef and occasional cooking class instructor.

Credits

Episode produce by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/)

The Iowa Idea Podcast music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

51. Don Smithmier

The Iowa Idea: Don Smithmier

“Culture became everything.”

In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I sit down with songwriter, musician, and serial entrepreneur Don Smithmier. As is the case with many guests, we have to talk about Cheap Trick and Don shares his story about meeting the pride of Rockford, IL. Don and I met about 20 years ago when we worked for a pre-IPO educational start-up, Capella University, founded by Iowa native Steve Shank.

Don has had a hand in creating, building, and launching seven startups spanning education, music, and journalism that have attracted $150 million in funding and created more than $1 billion in enterprise value. An active musician and songwriter, Don has recorded 7 albums which included several hits on the national Billboard charts. As a performer, he has shared the stage with stars ranging from Willie Nelson to Miranda Lambert to Cheap Trick.

We dig into the connection between musicians and innovators, as well as Don’s journey as a musician and tech leader. Don shares his insights on building successful corporate cultures, how he has used the Entrepreneurial Operating System, the power of culture, and the importance of values. We discuss creativity within constraint and the importance of collaboration. I appreciated Don sharing Steve Shank’s advice that “nobody gets the full deck of cards in life.” It’s important to understand what cards you possess and what cards you don’t. You have to find those that have the cards you don’t.

It was an honor having Don join me on the show. I thank him for sharing his time and insights. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About Don

A serial entrepreneur, Don has had a hand in creating, building, and launching seven startups spanning education, music, and journalism that have attracted $150 million in funding and created more than $1 billion in enterprise value.

Don is presently the Founder and Executive Chairman of The Big Know, a provider of branded health and wellness education for the Netflix Age. He also leads the Digital Product Studio for West Monroe Partners via their acquisition of GoKart Labs, a Minneapolis-based digital product lab he co-founded in 2009 that was twice listed among Inc. magazine’s fastest-growing private companies.

Don spent the first 14 years of his career as a pioneer in online education with Capella Education Company where he held executive leadership roles in marketing, technology, and business.

An active musician and songwriter, Don has recorded 7 albums which included several hits on the national Billboard charts. As a performer, he has shared the stage with stars ranging from Willie Nelson to Miranda Lambert to Cheap Trick.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and his MBA from the University of Minnesota. He currently serves on the board of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.

Credits

Episode produced by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/)

The Iowa Idea Podcast music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).

50. The Mads

The Iowa Idea: The Mads

In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I sit down with comedians Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff wrote and performed on the Emmy nominated, Peabody award-winning TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000. Trace played Mad Scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester and Crow T. Robot, while Frank played the lovable bumbling evil henchman “TV’s Frank.” Today Frank and Trace continue the tradition of MST3K style movie “riffing” live.

We discuss their journey into comedy, writing, and acting. I appreciated how Trace and Frank talked about the importance of iteration and collaboration as they honed their craft, especially when Frank noted he learned slowly at how to be a good comedian. From an innovation perspective, I enjoyed hearing how they’ve been able to pivot their live show in a time of the pandemic. We also talk about the earnestness and authenticity that can be found in “bad” movies.

As my friend Bill would say, I hope you’re wearing steel-toed shoes because we’re dropping a lot of names in this episode.

It was an honor having Trace and Frank join me on the show. I thank him for sharing his time and insights. I hope you enjoy the episode.

About The Mads

THE MADS

Comedians Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff wrote and performed on the Emmy nominated, Peabody award-winning TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000. Trace played Mad Scientist “Dr. Clayton Forrester,” and Frank played his lovable bumbling evil henchman “TV’s Frank.”

Today Frank and Trace continue the tradition of MST3K style movie “riffing” LIVE.  It’s pretty simple: two guys armed with microphones, a boat load of jokes, a less than good movie, and you, the audience.

FRANK CONNIFF & TRACE BEAULIEU

FRANK CONNIFF is a comedy writer and performer who began his TV career writing for the Peabody Award-winning Comedy Central series Mystery Science Theater 3000, where he also played “TV’s Frank,” the bumbling, yet lovable mad scientist sidekick.  He then went on to be a writer, producer and actor on the ABC TV series Sabrina the Teenage Witch and was a writer and producer on The Drew Carey Show on ABC, The New Tom Green Show on MTV, and the satirical series O2BE on the Oxygen Network, where he was also a cast member.  He was head writer of the animated Nickelodeon series Invader Zim, and also was a writer and producer for the Air America radio network, where he provided material for on-air personalities Rachel Maddow, Marc Maron, Lizz Winstead, Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, and Randi Rhodes. He was a writer and performer on Viewpoint with John Fugelsang on Current TV, and on Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell on the FXX network, and he also writes and performs on The Jimmy Dore Show on Pacifica Radio. He is a former co-host of the Sirius XM radio show, Tell Me Everything. In his spare time, he writes, produces and directs original musical comedy radio plays for his scripted podcast, Podhouse 90, and writes and performs in “Cartoon Dump,” a monthly stage show in NYC.

TRACE BEAULIEU is a comic actor, writer, and performer. He was a founding member of the Emmy-nominated, Peabody Award-winning, cult hit show, Mystery Science Theater 3000. In addition to writing, occasionally directing, designing and building sets and props, Trace performed the puppet character Crow T. Robot, and mad scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester. He repeated these roles in the 1996 film version of the show, MST3K: THE MOVIE. Trace wrote for ABC’s America’s Funniest Videos for nine seasons. He played a recurring character on Freaks and Geeks, and has had cameo appearances on The West Wing and Arrested Development. For six years, he toured with the original cast of MST3K in a live movie riffing show, called CINEMATIC TITANIC. His most recent acting work includes the voice of A.R.T. the robot on Paul Feig’s OTHER SPACE, Dr. Sam Lodgpole on the web series VERMIN and Jonah Ray’s creepy uncle Pete on HIDDEN AMERICA season 2. His voice can be heard on the Adult Swim series TIGTONE.

Links

Frank’s Latest Book – https://www.amazon.com/Youre-Ruining-Dystopia-Everyone-Conniff/dp/0578786125/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2I4LNJXFGYEBL&dchild=1&keywords=you%27re+ruining+the+dystopia&s=books&sprefix=You%27re+ru%2Cstripbooks%2C180&sr=1-1

The Mads Live – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-mads-the-brain-from-planet-arous-live-riffing-with-mst3ks-the-mads-tickets-126141595909

Credits

Episode produce by Spark Consulting Group (www.inspiredbyspark.com) in Iowa City, with support from Executive Podcast Solutions (https://www.executivepodcastsolutions.com/)

The Iowa Idea Podcast music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).