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By Jesse Coombs

Hi Everyone,

As a graduate of the Masters of Business program and a resident of Corvallis OR, I was invited to be the opening speaker of the Spring series OSU Entrepreneurial Program.

What a great event! At first the organizer was concerned, because this was the first sunny and warm day in months of Oregon rain, and this might adversely affect attendance. Yet as we met students they all said they were looking forward to coming.

When I arrived I was first taken on a tour of Weatherford Hall where the students of Austin Entrepreneurship Program live. This hall has quite the history! Even before the entrepreneurship program the Weatherford students were demonstrating these skills by changing the structure of their rooms to have meeting areas and tucked away beds in attic space, painting their doors to fit their personalities and even tapping into the heating system to create the first sauna on campus. And of course all of this was done with out permission of the university. Heck, radical change rarely comes with the approval of the people in charge.

After the tour we all gathered at the 5th floor boardroom for the Fellow’s Dinner. WOW, we did not have to worry about attendance. The room was packed with all seats taken and people even in standing in the hall outside. I was humbled. They told me this was the biggest turn out they have had yet. The students, organizers and I enjoyed a very nice meal and conversation as I was asked a lot of questions focusing mostly on kayaking and real estate. It seems the students were most interested in finding out how to be financially independent and get paid to do something you love. Me too! After running over on the allotted dinner time, because we were having such a great time talking we moved to our next event, the Fireside Chat.

This room was a bit smaller than the Fellow’s Dinner, and we still had a packed house turn out for the Fireside Chat. Here the students and organizers wanted to see some of Hotel Charley as well as ask many more questions about kayaking and real estate. I was happy to oblige and use the questions as my opportunity to offer my advice on:

  • Making decisions with integrity
  • Following your passions and doing everything with focused effort
  • Getting a mentor for your goals
  • Taking small steps toward large goals
  • Your emotions are your own doing, so you mind as well be having fun
  • and much more

Again we ran over on time as the talk was very interactive and fun. I truly enjoyed it. We took a great picture of everyone at the Fireside Chat which I have included here. Many of the students after both talks thanked me for speaking and inspiring them and wanted to talk about their passions.

Four of the students invited me to play racquet ball with them. I haven’t played in many years, but it sounded like fun. I got my gym clothes and met them at the University Recreation Center. They were surprised that I had my own pass. What they didn’t know was that I make use of this resource every chance I get as a kayaking instructor to rock climb, work out and enjoy the student atmosphere. We played racquetball for 2 hours with everyone winning some and losing some. It was great fun, and I was very glad to hold my own.

I spent the night relaxing in the Weatherford suite for guests using the internet and enjoying the fresh campus air. In the morning I joined several students and organizers for breakfast and more talk of ideas and goals. The whole event was great for me, and I was glad to hear that the students really enjoyed it. I got a great framed picture, thank you card and email for being their guest. Here is email Carol of the College of Business sent:

It was a pleasure to have you speak here at Weatherford. The students really enjoyed your events. I’m even inspired by what you have done so far with your life (career, kayaking, and your foundation).

I truly enjoyed this speaking engagement and am impressed with the Austin Entrepreneurship Program’s accomplishments. To learn more about AEP feel free to visit this link:



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