I attended a guest lecture given by Gregg Rosann. He is the founder of the Graduation Alliance, a company dedicated to helping at-risk kids complete high school and prepare for college or their careers. The first part of his speech was spent talking about his story. He did well in school and got a high-paying job in engineering after graduating. He had a good life by society’s standards, with a wife, child, nice house, and good job. Despite all of this, Gregg wasn’t happy and he felt unsatisfied with his life. His job paid well and it was enjoyable enough for him, but the life he led didn’t fulfill his sense of purpose. In his words, his current job didn’t “scratch [his] itch.” Gregg quit his job, even though he was told it was a very risky move considering he had a young child. He tapped into his passion to come up with a business idea that he was truly excited about. He launched Graduation Alliance, with funding from himself and from contributors. Gregg was passionate about helping at-risk kids, so he challenged that passion into a business venture. He saw an issue that he cared about and took action to provide a solution. The company has taken off since, and now partners with schools all over the country. Graduation Alliance puts students on track to receive a High School diploma. Career-ready pathways and specialized training in industries are also offered so that students can have the skills they need to get the careers they want.

The concept of “social entrepreneurship” was brought up on multiple occasions. Social entrepreneurs seek investment for their startup business that have a goal of improving social issues. Graduation Alliance is an example of this. Another topic in this lecture was the growth and development of businesses and how they change over time. When a business starts, the team is the most important aspect. During the middle phases, the business aspect is the most important. Once the business has matured, the business aspect is still the most important, but the importance of the team and the idea decrease. A business grows once the original founders move away and a new team is hired.

Gregg describes the ultimate goal of a business as meeting the “double-bottom line” – doing good while making money. A business that does good can’t go anywhere unless it is profitable, and a business that makes money won’t last long unless it has a strong purpose. I believe that the reason

Gregg’s business was successful in drawing in investors is that there were many people that shared the same passion as him and saw the good that his business would do. Gregg was very clear about his purpose, which is what attracted people to the company. Graduation Alliance continues to grow because of its dedication to its purpose of helping and doing good in the world.

Gregg also talked about his personal struggle with depression and how it affected his work life. Even when things were going well for him, he often had a hard time finding motivation. He encouraged all of us to seek help when we needed. He places a lot of importance on patience and self-care. I appreciated the advice he gave us because he focused not only on business, but on personal well-being, which is often devalued.

By Emmaly Anderson, Freshman Business Scholar