Alum-turned successful author dispenses entrepreneurial insight

Maddie Liotta, Staff Writer

“For every 10 pregnant women that don’t follow prenatal care, we lose 1 million dollars,” Michael Dermer ’90 said. This statistic, which pulled Dermer into the entrepreneurial industry, inspired him to start the company IncentOne, which rewards people for healthy behavior. 

Students and faculty who gathered in Academic West, on Sept. 19, know Dermer for his novel, “The Lonely Entrepreneur.” He was able to use his 10 years of experience of heading a company to become an entrepreneurial coach and write a novel on his methodology for how to fix the flawed judgments entrepreneurs often make when under huge amounts of pressure.

Dermer’s belief that “the difference between success and failure is your ability to change perspective in the struggle,” would serve as the foundation for his novel. He argues that not giving entrepreneurs the skills to deal with this struggle is a guarantee of their failure.

With many aspiring entrepreneurs in the room, Dermer was able to offer “basic survival skills” and cited creativity, mindfulness, and a willingness to hear criticism as the essential abilities for an entrepreneur to possess.

“Everybody that shows up to investors says, ‘We’re awesome, my thing is awesome.’ When investors ask about the thing, refer them to a third party …Go to the investor table and tell them what you don’t think you’re good at, and how you’re planning on improving your weaknesses,” Dermer said.

Some of the other pearls of wisdom that can be found in Dermer’s coaching lessons include: “don’t evaluate your life in the middle of the fight… find playgrounds where nobody else is playing… and why build a rocket when NASA has plenty.

He closed with the firm statement,“Being an entrepreneur is not just a point in time—it’s an identity.”

The talk resonated with both students and faculty.

“I thought [his talk] was very insightful into how entrepreneurs see themselves and their daily struggles. Nobody really talks about that, and how they get blinded by their work and it’s hard to pull themselves back,” Matt Geiger ’19 said.

“I have to say, the whole time he was speaking I was turning around and looking at my colleagues and identifying with many of the things he was talking about—that entrepreneurial mindset,” Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering Erin Jablonski said.

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