Dr. Fred Kiesner
Honored to be teaching entrepreneurship since 1968!
Proud to be teaching at LMU since 1974!

CRAZY LIKE A FOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Fred Kiesner
Conrad Hilton Chair of Entrepreneurship
Loyola Marymount University
One LMU Drive
Los Angeles, California 90045
310-338-4569, fkiesner@lmu.edu
Teaching Philosophy Video Link: http://fredkiesner.com

Fred Kiesner was an entrepreneur in the import/export business, running a small country newspaper, and as a freelance writer and photographer! He began teaching courses in how to start your own business while an entrepreneur, in 1969. A heart attack in 1972 encouraged him to switch to a full-time career as an educator at Loyola Marymount University in 1974! He is still proud to be a full-time entrepreneurship teacher!

Adapted from an article of the same title published in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Volume 4, Number 1, 2003, pp 77-79. Copyright c 2003 IP Publishing Ltd. Used by permission


Why is this chapter number one? Because it is your editor’s belief that the single most important ingredient for success in an entrepreneurship educator and developer of winners is the persona that they project to their “customers”, the entrepreneurs!!!!! Hopefully this article will stimulate you to think about the image your customers have about you, and your methods!

Have you ever met a boooooooring entrepreneur!

You can call them a lot of things, but boring and uninteresting are not adjectives that normally fit the entrepreneurial creators of the future, in any way at all.

No way, no how!!!!!!

You can call them passionate, weirdo’s, failures made good, successes made into failures, nuts, out of control, unorthodox, impatient, quirky, creative, innovative, action oriented, unique, outlandish, rule breakers, trouble makers, irreverent, winners, oddball, extrovert, eccentric, way-out, cool dudes, characters, controversial, non-conformist, etc. etc. etc. But absolutely positively never ever never never call them boring!!!!!

The above descriptors are all terms that are regularly used to describe entrepreneurial types! We could add many dozens more of exciting and passionate words to this list. Clearly the entrepreneur is not a “normal” person – and if that is the case, then clearly they should not be treated as a normal person in the classroom!

They are special, and they need to be treated in a super special manner by academia, coaches, mentors and those who guide them, or we will lose them totally as our customers.

Thus, if you accept the premise that entrepreneurs are different and unique, then frankly, if you are going to teach, consult with, train, develop, help, or build entrepreneurs, you must, simply, gain their trust and interest!

How do you do that?

Damned if I know, cuz it is different for every single person. Nobody can do exactly what I do, nor should they. And without doubt, I certainly can’t copy and be like anyone else if I am to be truly entrepreneurial.


What I can tell you, is that one way of teaching that works well for me is to get into the entrepreneur’s minds, by being like them, by being entrepreneurial in how I teach!

The following are a few words that I have often heard used to describe me, and my teaching methodologies (hopefully sometimes in an affectionate manner), by students at my own University, and in schools throughout the world where I have taught. Here they are:

I am passionate, a weirdo, a failure made good, a success made into a failure, nuts, out of control, unorthodox, impatient, quirky, creative, innovative, action oriented, unique, outlandish, rule breaker, trouble maker, irreverent, a winner, an oddball, an extrovert, eccentric, way-out, cool dude, a true character, controversial, non-conformist, etc. etc. etc. But absolutely positively never ever never never call me boring!!!!!

Does this sound familiar? If so, maybe you will get my point (Hint, Hint, look back above in this article to the fifth paragraph). A teacher of entrepreneurship must be an entrepreneur! A teacher of entrepreneurs must be “one of their own” if they are to have a tremendous impact on the future entrepreneurial leaders of the world.

You want to teach entrepreneurship? You had best totally infuse the entrepreneurial spirit into your class, your personality, your being, and your life!

Translated to street talk, this means you must KEEP ENTREPRENEURS AWAKE! They have fast minds that wander quickly, and if you don’t keep them riveted totally on you, as their teacher, and what you are trying to impart to them, you will rapidly lose them.

You must become totally entrepreneurial in everything you do – please refer to the adjectives above, again, for a refresher course in what that means.

In my view, you must become an entertainer, through and through!

This is obscene blasphemy to many academic teachers. How awful! Do you mean to say teachers should entertain their audience, especially if they are entrepreneurial characters?

You bet! No other way to do it.

We often hear how successful entrepreneurs dropped out of school – mostly because they had things to do, and places to go, and felt school was adding nothing to their preparation for their destiny. In short, they were booooored and didn’t want to waste any more time with booooooring professors and the often petrifyingly booooooring academic book learning methodology.


Are entrepreneurs born, or are they made! There ain’t no answer to that one, and it doesn’t matter anyway. I personally believe it is a little bit of both sides! Entrepreneurs have some inborn genes that make them different, but we can hone and develop their talents to help them to be better entrepreneurs, and better able to achieve their potential.


I believe with all my heart that we can train entrepreneurs, and be of tremendous value to them. But, to do it, we must get by their impatience, their quirks, and their weirdiocity!

We must get their attention. With a racehorse you can perhaps do that with the whip, and a few sugar cubes. Nice idea, but all that does for entrepreneurs is create angry, fat people.

The best advice I can give you? Don’t fight em, join em!

Yes, be entrepreneurs, be like they are, and entertain them. Don’t whip them and beat them to death with the normal dull classroom methodology! Don’t blunt their minds with sugar coated, mostly worthless recitations from dull, dim-witted textbooks.

Be an actor or actress – and every now and then you can slip in some incredibly useful words of wisdom in while entertaining them with good stuff. Actually, with a little practice, you can actually impart knowledge and useful information while being entertaining!

Now there is a startling revelation and concept!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE TRUE WORD! A PARTIAL, INCOMPLETE, AND STILL GROWING LIST OF “HOW TO’S” (Warranteed to work for exactly 33 seconds for you. They work for me, they might work for you, try them)

Now I am going to be like the accountants and give you a warning that what I am about to tell you might probably be wrong, that I can’t guarantee it is correct, and that it will work for me, but probably won’t do it for you. In short, here is a bit of a capsule look at what works for me, in teaching in the classroom, and in seminars and one on one consulting:

1.Turn them on! Get them excited!
2.Get them excited! Turn them on!
3.Refer to # 1 and #2 regularly, and intermix #1 and #2 constantly. Stir constantly, adding new excitement daily, hourly, and by the minute!

Well, good folks that is the formula that works for me.

You say you want more specifics? Ok, here goes the good old college try!

Passion and excitement are the key words! Some times I scream and yell at my students to make a point – not in anger, but rather in passion! I sometimes even swear and am a bit profane (as an old army sergeant, and an Irishman, this comes naturally, but I never ever use the real bad words). I have even been known to tell a slightly off-color joke or two, but mostly my jokes are just plain fun and often so bad they are good! At other key moments I am soft and serious, and speak in a whisper (neat technique for gaining the attention of those whose minds wander).

Be totally, completely different from anything else they have ever seen or met! Have the Huevos Rancheros (look it up in a Spanish dictionary, and then use your imagination). Every thing I do, every fiber of my body screams to be different! An example, my personal email address is not my name, it is “himself@frazmtn.com”. If you can’t respect yourself enough to be different and a bit odd, and poke fun at yourself, how can you ask your students to respect you as somebody they can learn from?

Don’t be part of the herd!

Have Fun! Often I do crazy things in the classroom to make a point! My students never know what I will do next, and thus they never miss class, and they are always watchful of what is going on. In the process, they tune in, not out! I have a whole closet full of costumes, wigs, silly things! One day I might wear my Willie Nelson wig (goes well with my beard and gray hair and awful voice). Another time I might go in my head to toe yellow chicken costume with orange panty-hose (I am famous on campus for wearing orange panty hose – the costume was a gift of that entrepreneurial great Stew Leonard, who always knew how to get the attention, and achieve the results he wanted).

Students who come into my office are wowed by a weird assortment of strange pictures of me – for example, as Santa Claus sitting on the President’s lap (of our university - a Jesuit Priest, at that. I certainly would never sit on the lap of President Clinton, or President Bush, I don’t take this weird stuff that seriously)! There is the picture of me as a hippie, teaching in the sixties and seventies (my God, we wore awful clothes then), and the picture of their Prof. as an idiotic looking seventeen year old in the army, trying to look macho and heroic! I love the picture the students did of me, digitally, transposing my head onto Arnold Schwarzenegger's body (close, but doesn't quite fit right). In short, show them that you can be fun as a Prof., and that it is OK to have fun in business, and as an entrepreneur, so long as you also work like hell!

Early in my career I quickly learned that if you can’t make fun of yourself, and make others happy, and not take life too seriously, then life just isn’t worth living!

Feed them a constantly changing mixture of jokes, and tiny bits of good and useful information in a constantly fast moving, always exciting, always passionate series of one-act plays that illustrate your subject and the point you want to make. One might call my lectures and teaching disjointed – but I plan it that way – you can’t teach and lecture from the book, therefore don’t let your teaching methodology look like, or act like, you are regurgitating a book!

Get under their skins – get in their minds! Make them think, test and fail, not memorize and regurgitate! Let them know you are one of them – an oddball like they are! A good entrepreneur believes nobody else is anything like them, and they love being different. They also totally respect others who think and act in that manner! So, does this give you a clue as to what you must be?

Force them to discover themselves and their strengths! The most important single assignment I give my students is a “self-assessment” assignment (presented in a later chapter). They must review their lives in the past, identify their experience, failures, assess their present strengths, and then set their road-map for the future, setting a target of activities and actions they must take to make their life special and of great impact! It forces them to dream, and DREAM BIG!!!!!

I am convinced that at least 50% of the ingredients for success in the world of entrepreneurial endeavor are composed of a total and unflinching belief on the part of the entrepreneur that they are good, and that they have something to add to the world. Sadly we seldom “teach” this in school – rather we often value conformity, being bean counters, and specializing in working in the shadows of others, rather than creating a new shadow.

Entrepreneurs make themselves great, it doesn’t happen by accident!

They must then embark on a serious and thoughtful discussion of who they are, and why they are here on this earth in my self-assessment– surely it can’t be to just have fun and party!

Then they are encouraged to dream the dream and predict the future – telling themselves who they will be, and what they will achieve in life! I do this with little sections of the assignment such as forcing them to write their own obituary (dreaming of what will be said of them at the end of their fruitful career - wow, does this get you thinking of where you have been, and what the road ahead must be if you are to have real impact), and they must also write their own seven or eight word epitaph – what few words will be put on their tombstone that will sum up the essence and core of their life and their accomplishments!

Toss out the book – when teaching entrepreneurs, the book, if you do use one, is only a reference source, the place you go to get a few ideas you can build upon, change, and improve. Yes I have a book for my classes, two of them, in fact. One is a serious book that my students can refer to when they are stumped about how entrepreneurs might do something. The other is the Dr. Seuss book “Oh The Places You’ll Go”, a wonderful book children of all ages should read! It makes them think about who they are, and where they can go. Frankly, the Seuss book is much more useful in getting entrepreneurial students to understand what their role is in the world than any textbook.

Trash can the tests and the traditional papers! Every single thing I do in the class has practical use in getting my students to know themselves and their inner power! Reading classical textbooks, memorizing timeworn techniques is a waste of time. What the textbooks have in them is just a basic summary of what has happened, and what worked yesterday. Use that as a reference mainly, and a basic foundation for building future success – and never make students memorize material for tests! What works changes much too fast – and if it works today, it probably won’t work tomorrow. What you must teach them is to think, experiment, try, and fail, and try again!

Yes, teach them to fail! Failure is the life’s blood of the entrepreneur! They grow from it, they learn from it, they succeed from it! I don’t wish my students “good luck” at the end of the term! I wish them many many failures, and one more success than their failures! Then they will be very big winners in life!!!!! Perfectionists and bean counters are the archenemy of the successful entrepreneur. Teach them to fail fast, fail often, and fail spectacularly. That is the fodder and manure from which magnificent successes are built!

Be a story teller, not a “lecturer”! Those who dream of changing the world can get involved in stories, especially if they have a powerful point that they can use and apply right away!

Every single thing you do in your teaching and your classes must have a value to the entrepreneur. Every story you tell must teach them something they can use and apply tomorrow, or even tonight. Storytelling is an immensely useful tool to impart knowledge. Tell them stories about the entrepreneurial winners and losers of the world – but I seldom have guest speakers in my classes! I like to make the points of the stories quickly, and an entrepreneurial winner/speaker wants to take the whole period to convince the audience they are great. They are, but time waits for no man, and for my students, every minute is important.

I do bring living entrepreneurial winners to the campus for special monthly seminars and presentations. This works!

I also demand that my students go out and find an entrepreneur in the field they are pursuing who is a big big winner that has had an impact on changing the world, and their field. They must interview them, and then give the class a brief, two page summary of what their minds are like (not a history lesson of what they did, an in depth study of what makes them tick). Boy, does this work in teaching students how to make cold calls, how to get close to the very best, how to gain the attention of potential mentors, about rejection, and most of all, it teaches them that they are just as good as their interviewees and entrepreneurial role models, it is just that they are still in training, and a few years behind on the time line of their inevitable success!

If your students can stand toe to toe, and eye to eye, with great entrepreneurial winners, you will marvel at how they leave the encounter with a much stronger belief in their own future and pride in what they are made of.

Exult and cheer with your students at their victories!

Cry with your students and share their defeats! Be a shoulder for them to lean on, and a powerful role model for them to emulate! Be someone they can touch, hug, and learn from and with!

Be truly an entrepreneur! As a teacher of entrepreneurs, your product is the future success of your students! Build the best products you can!

I like to start off the first chat of a course or seminar by telling my students that I am still an entrepreneur, that I am still in the manufacturing business, that I manufacture the future yuppies and winners of the world!

Please note, I did say CHAT above. You must talk with your customers from the heart and soul, not as a lecturer! When they leave my classroom, I want them to think they have each just had a one on one chat with me, no matter how many people may have been in the class or seminar.

Be you! Don’t be me. Don’t be anybody else! Develop your own style. Test constantly what strengths and innovative ideas and methodologies you have in your guts, heart and soul, and then try them out. Don’t be afraid of failing, yourself. It only hurts for a little while, and wow, do you grow from it!



Will this junk work for you? Probably not, at least not in the exact form it does for me!

It has worked for me! I have had a wonderful and productive and exciting life teaching entrepreneurs throughout the world (Ireland, Singapore, China, Russia, France, Eastern Europe, etc.). I have taught at the biggest schools (UCLA and the U of Michigan) and at the small schools (LMU and junior colleges). I have had wonderful victories and honors, and my products (students) are winners in life all over the world!

Most of all, I have had an incredible amount of fun hanging out with successful entrepreneurial types, and helping them to fulfill their destiny!

My fervent prayer is that what I have written here will inspire you to experiment just a little bit on being entrepreneurial in the classroom. Once again, let me repeat the formula or description of what you must be to be successful as an entrepreneurial educator:

You must be passionate, a weirdo, a failure made good, a success made into a failure, nuts, out of control, unorthodox, impatient, quirky, creative, innovative, action oriented, unique, outlandish, a rule breaker, trouble maker, irreverent, a winner, an oddball, an extrovert, eccentric, way-out, cool dude, a true character, controversial, non-conformist, etc. etc. etc. But absolutely positively never ever never never let yourself be called boring!!!!!

Be an Entrepreneurial Teacher!!!!!

You can be!

You must be!

Will you be?

Honestly check the answer here, please: ___ Yes! ___ No.

If you answered yes, send me an email with news about your victories and defeats, and victories in creating tomorrow’s entrepreneurial leaders and winners!


© 2007 Fred Kiesner
All Rights Reserved
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