Impact the World by Sharing Your Time, Talents and Treasures


What would you do if you had an extra $25 million? If you’re like Pierre Lassonde, you’d perform a massive act of philanthropy and donate that money to an institution of higher education, like, say, the University of Utah. And this would probably be just one of the multimillion dollar gifts you’d given to colleges and universities across North America.

A native of Quebec, Pierre earned his MBA at the University of Utah in 1973 before going on to have a successful career in the mining industry.

I attended a luncheon at the University of Utah today where Pierre was honored and the Lassonde Studios— a new building he’s contributing to— was unveiled.  

The Lassonde Studios will be one of the most unique buildings on any campus in the United States and will combine living and working space for as many as 400 student entrepreneurs.

If you check out the building concept video you’ll see that this $45 million building, slated for completion in 2016, is as beautiful as it is innovative. It’s a fitting design to host a unique program that will bring together students from all backgrounds and interests, from humanities and arts to science and engineering, from medicine to business and more.

In addition to being impressed by this project, I was touched by Pierre’s comments today as he shared a few things he’s learned during his career.  

His first rule of business is to say “Thank you.” He advises that if you’re asked to give a speech, make sure it’s no longer than ten minutes.

He said that entrepreneurs often don’t actually start with a vision, they start with an idea. As they explore and move towards their idea it commonly becomes a vision, but the vision doesn’t usually come at the beginning.

He encouraged entrepreneurs to start small. Failure is likely, he said, and when you fail, you’re going to lose money. By starting small you’ll lose as little as possible, but you’ll learn a lot. Your success will grow as you go.

He said that all good things take five years.

For Pierre, what it all leads to is giving back. His three T’s of philanthropy are Time, Talents and Treasures, and it’s important to share all three. And we don’t have to wait until we’re successful before we can share our three T’s. That’s something we can do today.


Why I Love Entrepreneurs

Larry H. Miller and the US flag from EnergySolutions Arena

Larry H. Miller and the US flag from EnergySolutions Arena

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their vision.” -Ayn Rand

I often think that entrepreneurs are an enhanced breed of human being. Just as vampires have heightened senses or superheroes possess superhuman strengths and abilities, entrepreneurs have unusual vision, unnatural fortitude, and a tolerance for risk, uncertainty and ambiguity that’s fascinating and inspiring.

Living well is an art, our lives are our masterpieces, and business is the ultimate creative medium. And entrepreneurs are the ultimate artists. Entrepreneurs show us that business, at its best, is where capital, creativity, hard work and passion combine in potentially limitless ways to positively impact the world.  

I was reminded of this today when I saw a gift that Paul Swenson, owner of Colonial Flag, gave our family. It was the US flag that flew from the rafters of the EnergySolutions Arena from the time the building opened in 1991 until June of 2013.

The flag was folded and framed, and accompanied by a photo of my (now deceased) dad with his hand over his heart during a National Anthem and a plaque that reads, “During that 22-year period more than 30 million guests looked to this flag, many with their hand on their hearts, during the National Anthem. No other US flag flown in Utah even comes close to having been the focus of patriotic expression as has this flag.”

I’m grateful to Paul for his thoughtful gift, for my dad and his indefatigable entrepreneurial drive, and to my mom for being his partner through all those years.

I’m also grateful for the freedoms of the United States that allow for the full expression of the entrepreneurial spirit, and to all who have served and sacrificed to ensure these freedoms exist.

And I’m grateful for the entrepreneurs who pursue their passions and visions despite innumerable and unforeseeable obstacles, and in so doing inspire, advance and serve all of us.

Live free and create!