Milken Center For Advancing The American Dream public
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Start Small, Dream BIG

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Start Small, Dream BIG

Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream

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Small businesses comprise over 99% of the companies in America and, before COVID-19, they provided nearly half the jobs in the country. Small business is one of the most trusted institutions in American society today (67%), far outstripping big business in measures of public trust (25%, Gallup, 2018). Small businesses and their entrepreneurial founders exemplify the values associated with the American Dream: they believe in free enterprise and the strength of their own vision, they work hard ...
 
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“Open banking” may seem like a complicated concept, but entrepreneur Jorge Ruiz insists that at its core it’s very simple: it allows people better access to more financial services. Through his company FinConecta Ruiz builds open banking infrastructure that supports this access for people around the globe. Today on Start Small, Dream BIG Jorge Ruiz…
 
Pilar Carvajal has more than 20 years of experience in the senior living industry. She entered the space with a mission to provide excellent care and has proven that better care and better resident outcomes can enhance profitability. Pilar's company, Innovation Senior Management, is designated as a certified Women Business Enterprise from the Women…
 
Twenty years ago, Judi Henderson-Townsend started a side business renting mannequins from her backyard. Since then, Judi has built the only Black-owned mannequin company in the country, Mannequin Madness. In honor of her business success, Judi, also known to many as “The Mannequin Queen,” received a Special Achievement Award from the Environmental …
 
Following a successful career as a media executive, Fran Dunaway founded TomboyX with her wife to address an unfulfilled need: good and more comfortable underwear. Since 2015, Fran has used her years of experience and knowledge to raise the profile of TomboyX, and its inclusive, gender-neutral underwear, particularly its boxer-brief style, to disru…
 
“What was your 2020 supposed to be like, and what did it end up being like, through to the present?” That’s the question Michelle Fishburne asked more than 300 people as she drove across the U.S. in an RV, collecting stories of Americans’ lives during the COVID-19 pandemic for her oral history project, Who We Are Now. Listen in as Michelle discusse…
 
Elizabeth Isele is the Founder and CEO of The Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship. She is an expert storyteller, speaker, and author. Her work celebrates the global impact of entrepreneurs in the longevity economy. Longevity economy entrepreneurs are the fastest-growing portion of the economy powered by individuals over 50 years. Eliz…
 
“It's the responsibility of capitalism to not just build great businesses, but to have positive impacts on the communities that we work in.” At 23-years-old, Rajeev Singh co-founded the leading global travel and expense management firm, Concur. After 20 years working at and scaling the business, Rajeev left in search of a new endeavor that would gi…
 
“We knew we wanted to create a company that would provide not only economic opportunity for the women we were serving but also all the wraparound support so that it would help them transition to a life of independence.” Rebel Nell is a jewelry company on a mission. Co-founder Amy Peterson started the social enterprise as a means to support women tr…
 
“She [my mother] really wanted for me to understand the value of hard work and the value of a dollar, and she instilled that in me at a very young age. At the age of 12, my mother gave me her checkbook and told me to balance it every two weeks when she got paid. So, that really was the first beginning step of my financial education.” On a flight to…
 
“One thing that is super important in marketing is making sure that, once you have a value proposition, you activate that image in every consumer touchpoint. If you think about packaging, the messaging, the product, the website, the brochures, everything has to talk to that specific segment with that specific value proposition.” Throughout his year…
 
“The American Dream to me is very simple. America owes me nothing but the opportunity to participate in a free enterprise. That is the American Dream.” Former Marine Andy Williams knew that he wanted to bring the problem-solving mentality he developed in the armed forces into his work as a civilian. Andy found his new challenge in affordable housin…
 
“The snacks that they had at the food pantries were not as nutritious as I would've liked, and they also contained things that my children were allergic to. And so, I started thinking about what would help satiate my husband's appetite, but would also taste good to my children. After speaking with my aunts, I came up with a recipe for a granola bar…
 
“I got really invested in sausage-making because I felt like there was an opportunity there to really expound on that sustainability angle of sausage making and see how far I could take it.”- Cara Nicoletti. Sustainability has been at the core of Seemore Meats and Veggies since Cara Nicoletti first thought about creating a sausage company and follo…
 
“…if it's a problem for our customers, we are going to be with them. We're not going to be on the sidelines, noticing that it's a problem and do nothing. We're going to be experimenting and using sort of our entrepreneurial gift to see if we can't come up with something to make things better.” Jeffrey Brown is a fourth-generation grocer and the Fou…
 
“I think [values] lead to the culture, and the culture comes from the people that you hire. And so, bringing your values to your work is making sure that the folks you hire hear the values that you have… From our perspective, trust is everything.” While growing up without running water and using an outhouse in rural Kentucky, Kyle Green learned the…
 
“…we need to remain vigilant about ensuring that as we grow and as we grow profits, that we continue to keep in mind the question of who benefits from those profits and how it is that a more inclusive form of corporate governance can both drive growth and positive impact in a way that I think some more traditional corporate organizations are still …
 
"I like the people. I love food, you know, I mean, but who doesn’t? Whether it's a Michelin star meal or a small meal at your home? What I love was the community -- really brilliant people, creative, interesting, driven from all different walks of life that came together.” In this week’s episode, we return to hear MCAAD president Kerry Healey speak…
 
“So, my grandmother saved my father's life before they even knew each other. And that's what faith and destiny is about. That's why I believe that anything's possible in life-- that you never ever give up, miracles happen and when you have a chance to bring your humanity to the moment, you do it.” One of the greatest lessons Alan Lazowski learned f…
 
“Anything is possible as long as we can make dreams come true for other people. And, I think at the end of the day, that's the business we're in… we're making dreams come true for businesses, for enterprise, for nonprofits, for our team and, I wouldn't have it any other way.” Shezad and Hussain Manjee, two brothers moved to the United States with t…
 
"You can do it… you really can. I mean, you don't have to be a victim of your circumstances. Whatever you can come up with, whatever passion you decide to store down in your belly, you can make it - or whatever big idea you have in your brain - you can make it come true. And I think that it's just a blessing to be in a position where you can inspir…
 
“What we've really discovered is our new calling in this COVID space. We are really purveyors of local pride and, people who buy our boxes, aren't just buying it for this functional need of feeding their families, but of course that is important. They really believe and supporting small business and making sure that their communities look the way t…
 
“I realized that most busy professionals struggle with eating clean - not because they don't know what to eat, but it's the time, right? Your time, your life, your health. That's kind of the mission statement as to how to DeliverLean evolved was to create a model that focused on transparency of ingredients, not diet food, just healthy food, and mak…
 
“For us, we came to Miami not knowing one single person here, launching a business in an industry and education technology that we hadn't been in before -- with a business plan in hand, a coworking space rented, and a website up. And here we are, six years later, with nearly a thousand graduates, maintaining amazing jobs support, working with over …
 
“The immigrant talent that we brought on board is just part of Miami. It's not the exception; it's the norm. And, there's a big luxury to that. There's a big drive and different perspectives, different sensitivities that, really when it comes together and if harnessed in the right way, something very powerful can resolve from that.” Seth Cassel, a …
 
“The sky is the limit here. I really think so. If you put the work in, if you aren't afraid of giving it your all, I think there's a good potential in each and every one of us to reach goals that we set up.” After a diverse career in Sweden, Sassa Akervall, CEO of Akervall Technologies, moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she founded her mouthguard…
 
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“... probably the riskiest thing I ever did in my life was to go out there and start laying down whiskey, not knowing what it's going to taste like four or five years later.” Our guest, Kaveh Zamanian, took his family “down the rabbit hole” when he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a bourbon entrepreneur. Kaveh shares his story from growing u…
 
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