Real Life Entrepreneurs Steal the
Show: Two New Reality Shows Depict Entrepreneurs Going After Their Dreams
One reason for the rise of an
entire new television genre known as "reality TV" is that the people in the
shows are one of us. There are no trained actors, no scripts. There are just
regular people rising and falling, triumphing and struggling, winning and
losing. Two new series one on television and one online - follow the true life
stories of aspiring entrepreneurs.
In a recent piece on National Public Radio about
ABC's new reality show American Inventor, the commentator posed the question
"Can it do for geeks what American Idol did for pop singers?" Given
that one of the shows' producers is infamous American Idol judge Simon Cowell,
it just might.
The show seeks to search for the next great
invention with wide consumer appeal. Finalists are chosen by a panel of experts
who will narrow down the initial entries to a group of finalists. Finalists will
each get $50,000 to develop their product, refine it, and take it to the next
The idea is to end up with one winner whose idea
will end up with the one million dollar prize and the chance to see their
invention become the next mass produced product like Cabbage Patch Kids®,
the George Foreman Grill®, Post-It® or Rubik's Cube®.
The show copies the American Idol formula of showing
the most bizarre contestants during the audition round, which of course helps
keep viewers entertained.
Some have complained
that the producers are rejecting some outstanding inventions for the sake of
comedy. While that is no doubt true, you can't help but be inspired by the
creativity, the drive, and the heart of these determined inventors. The
show airs on Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m Eastern.
Whether you're a fan of
reality television or not, if you want to ditch your job to do your own thing
you may want to check out the AOL Small Business site's online reality series
tracing real entrepreneurs efforts to start their companies.
Without giving too much away...
Two of the entrepreneurs
you'll meet there are 43-year-old Dan Kastor and 54-year-old Gary Kostlan. Dan
and Gary both worked for the same multi-national company. In fact, for a while,
Dan was Gary's boss. In the beginning both men enjoyed their jobs. But the
constant travel began to take a toll on their family lives.
One day the two former
co-workers ran into each other at, where else, the airport. They got to talking
over a beer and the conversation turned to the usual rant about workplace
frustrations. That's when Gary told Dan that he'd been thinking of hopping off
the fast track to spend more time with his family. He also mentioned a business
idea he'd code named the "Rocky Project" after the beloved family dog that had
recently died. But that's all he would say.
Like most business ideas,
Gary's idea didn't come to fruition until sometime after that chance meeting
with Dan. Fed up with his corporate job, Gary quit to start his own quality
control consulting company. When his first client sent him to California for
three months, he started thinking in earnest about the Rocky Project. So he
picked up the phone and called his old boss. That's when he finally told Dan all
about the Rocky Project...
Today the two men work as
equal partners but from their respective homes outside of Detroit and Cleveland.
And what is the Rocky Project? Well what do you get when you combine dogs and
ice cream? A winning combination for a business idea that has a lot of people
saying, "Why didn't I think of that?"
You'll also be able to follow
the entrepreneurial ups and downs of Keith West-Harrison and Andre
West-Harrison. Keith and Andre owned two businesses in hurricane ravaged New
Orleans a day spa and a bed and breakfast. As is often the case, sometimes
disasters bring unexpected blessings. The series tracks their efforts to
re-start their businesses post-Katrina and how the process spawned an entirely
new business and a whole new life.
The third business profiled
is former trolley tour conductor turned self-taught haute couture clothing
designer named Grace Edwards. When Grace's husband's job brought them to New
York City, she got a retail job at the high-end department store Henri Bendel. A
lot of people find retail boring, but it was here that Grace caught the fashion
bug. The fact that she doesn't sew did nothing to deter her new dream of being
not just a fashion designer but a household name.
Watch as the 50-year-old
mother went through the emotional ups and downs of racking up $30,000 in credit
card debt to launch her clothing line to the drama of having just two weeks to
get ready for a fashion show in Washington, D.C. Will Grace's company make it?
Can her husband afford to keep funding her creative pursuits? Will her new
partner, a guy who is actually working for free because he "knew from the start
that this was going to be a fun ride," stick around long enough for the company
to turn a profit? Roll over Guiding Light this is real drama!
To tune in to all watch
episodes of these real life stories right on your computer, read the ongoing
blogs from the entrepreneurs themselves, and see behind the scenes photos go to
This is the kind of "reality"
every aspiring self-bosser will want to be in touch with. If you don't have the
good fortune to be surrounded by entrepreneurs whom you can watch and learn
from, check this series out. If nothing else it will be a good reality check
about what it takes to go after a dream the good, the bad, the amazing, and
the utterly inspiring.
Learn how you can Fast Track Your Dream of working at
what you love on your own terms.
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About the Author
"Profiting From Your Passions®" expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger's, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman's Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.
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