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Entrepreneurship & Rock 'n' Roll

Good afternoon innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.


This newsletter and podcast feature stories about the people – past, present and future – who change the world.  They make decisions and take actions enlivened by what I call The Entrepreneur’s Ethic.  The Entrepreneur’s Ethic infuses people, organizations and places where the future is created, and the world is made a better place.


One of the Entrepreneurs featured in my upcoming book, The Entrepreneur’s Ethic, is John Deere, the historic agricultural entrepreneur. Deere’s fame and fortune resulted from his work innovating the plow over decades, that most ancient of agricultural tools.

There are seven parts of The Entrepreneur’s Ethic. Deere’s work exemplifies Ethic 6: Enjoy the Edge. This is the truth-seeking-orientation of entrepreneurship.

Deere’s fame and fortune resulted from his work innovating the plow over decades, that most ancient of agricultural tools. Agricultural entrepreneur Zack Smith is bringing ancient agricultural ideas into the present time at his startup, Stockcropper.

Combining livestock and crop farming is ancient. A robotic barn with multiple species and a creative strip cropping method? That's new.


My interview with Zack followed a new format. We discussed three decisions: one practical, one principled and one weird. There’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, whiskey and Twitter stories you don’t want to miss.


We’re always looking for feedback on the podcast as it evolves, so let me know what you like and what you think can be improved.


Good Reads




Don’t Do It For The Money – Marc Randolf



Three Things I Think (I Think)


I was struck after my conversation with Zack Smith about three things that I think have changed.


1.     Agglomeration is not just an urban phenomenon – Economists use the term agglomeration to describe the benefits that come when firms and people locate near one another together in cities and industrial clusters. Zack talked about how Twitter and other social media contacts have provided him with a network of feedback and support from across the country and around the world. The closest towns to his farm are definitely not urban (Lake Mills, Iowa: population 2,241; Buffalo Center, Iowa: population 856) but he is connected to a much wider world using technology.

2.     Agriculture as a solution – Zack asked some tough questions about human health and agriculture, but he certainly isn’t alone in doing so. What’s changed, however, is how people like him scale their ambitions around their work and industry as a solution to problems. It’s an important shift from asking how agriculture can reduce problems to how it can become a solution. Whether obesity or carbon, this is an assertive and important change in narrative and action.

3.     Intentions to start something have changed – Two years ago, Amy Brandau at Iowa State University asked me to speak to a career seminar class for second year students about entrepreneurship as a career alternative. I had her ask a question of the class at the beginning. ‘I anticipate that at some point in my career I will start a business or farm.’ 78 percent of the eighty-five students in the class that day answered ‘true.’ “That’s high,” Amy said. “Really high,” I replied. Last year we asked the same question to students in the career seminar course. 75 percent replied ‘true.’ I can’t say exactly what’s going on either with students at Iowa State University of the population at-large, but something coming out of the pandemic has shifted. One of the articles above notes that applications to form businesses likely to hire employees has hit record levels two of the last three years. Something entrepreneurial is bubbling up to the surface, and I look forward to what’s coming.

Farm to My Table


It was the twentieth anniversary of an annual dinner we host for friends, Raspberryfest. Patti weaves home-grown red raspberries into a multi-course extravaganza. Raspberries, cucumbers, green beans, and tomatoes from our farm. Lettuce from Clayton Farms, pork loin from Berkwood Farms, goat cheese from Simple Life Farms, olive oil from Figueroa Farms, Bin 389 Shiraz from Penfolds and more…

Puff pastry with goat cheese, pistachios and raspberry sauce.


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