From the editor:

Bright ideas

Nov. 22, 2017

Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam. The sound echoed through my house a few weeks ago. What in the world was that noise coming from the woods behind the house? Then I remembered seeing the kids from my neighborhood carrying wood planks down the street a few hours earlier. I peered through the trees and there they were – a group of kids building a fort.

They weren’t playing on tablets or shooting things in a video game. They were outside, in the damp weather, using hammer and nails and building a fort. I have to say, it warmed my heart. In today’s world where the latest, greatest technology seems to be pulling kids away from getting outside and exploring, it was super cool to know these kids still had a sense of adventure, a bright idea and the desire to build something with their hands.

While I know that scheduled playdates, electronics, organized sports and other activities are the current trends for kids, it’s nice to see that some things haven’t changed. I always feel that way when I see summer lemonade stands appear in the summer. Even if I’m in my car, I make a point to stop and pay for a cup. I figure if a kid has the spirit to try a popup business venture, even if it’s watery Kool-Aid in a paper cup, the least I can do is encourage that initiative in a budding entrepreneur.

When you think about it, almost all kids are mini-entrepreneurs at some point in their lives. Lemonade stands, babysitting, lawn-mowing, dog-walking, shoveling, selling crafts – they’re all little businesses. They start with an idea (usually centered around earning money for something special the kid wants). That spark ignites a plan. Flyers, talking to neighbors, posting on websites – it’s all marketing their wares or services. Before they even realize it, they’re entrepreneurs before they even get a driver’s license.

Then, somewhere along the line, many of them grow up and fall into a more traditional line of thinking. They take the classes they’re told to take, they work at jobs where others tell them what to do, they study subjects that will land them jobs, they stop thinking differently and the entrepreneur spirit dims a little.

Luckily for Spartan students, the entrepreneur spirit shines bright everywhere on campus. Here, no matter what you study, the entrepreneur mindset is part of the equation. Spartans know that it’s not just a skill, but a way of thinking that promotes innovation no matter what area of study and a way of working that creates partnerships and opens doors. That’s why no matter if a Spartan undergrad is studying music, business, engineering, plant biology or anything else, they can also pursue a minor in entrepreneurship.

Check out the cool MSUTODAY FEATURE: Innovation is a Spartan state of mind, featuring audiograms of Spartan innovators talking about their work to learn how an entrepreneurial foundation creates opportunities for exciting careers and professional success.

It’s not just Spartan students who are crafting careers based in entrepreneurship. MSU researchers and professors from all across campus and beyond are incredible innovators making exciting advances with practical applications that will improve our world.

Bruno Basso is a University Foundation Professor of earth and environmental sciences in the College of Natural Science. He’s doing super cool work with crops and drones to improve growth management. It’s so cool, in fact, he was honored last year with the Innovation of the Year award by MSU's Innovation Center. He’s highlighted in the MSUToday Feature, but you can check out more about this Spartan standout in the short video FACULTY VOICE: Innovator.

Alex Marx is one of the students included in the feature. He’s a co-founder of Land Grant Goods, an herbal tea start-up completely run by MSU students, with fellow student Bethany Kogut. I’ve tasted their teas and honey and they’ve got a seriously good thing going. Check out the short video STUDENT VIEW: Land Grant Goods, to learn more about this impressive entrepreneur.

No matter what a Spartan does, he or she does it with a creative outlook, a pioneering spirit and fierce dedication. Bright ideas and the ability to turn those ideas into practical solutions are just part of a Spartan’s DNA. Nothing stops a Spartan from leading a charge, doing something different, forging a new path and finding an innovative solution. Spartans Will.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photo by Derrick L. Turner