The first blind person to host a weekly TV show, a former marketing executive for the Washington Redskins, and a businessman who built a company to more than 100 reps and $170 million in revenue were among the former Missouri Valley College students who returned to campus this week to serve as speakers for the Fifth Annual Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship.
They were joined by entrepreneurs from the Netherlands and others for the three-day symposium of presentations and breakout sessions for students.
One institute speaker, Judy Redlich, who was involved at MVC in drama and had a weekly radio show, is the manager of Joni and Friends Gateway of St. Louis. It is an international organization that helps churches start disability ministries. “Only 10 percent of people with disabilities go to a regular church,” she said, adding that it is not easy for them to get or be there. Services from the organization can include work in areas of accessible parking, signing for the deaf, and large-print bulletins.
Redlich is the first blind person to host a weekly TV and has produced and hosted about 760 TV shows. She continues to produce and host an Internet radio show called “Cry Justice” and advocates for disability rights. Redlich was accompanied to the lectern by her seeing-eye dog. Redlich said there are rules involving seeing-eye dogs that people should remember: “You don’t talk to, or touch, or feed a seeing-eye dog because the dog is working as a service animal.”
She told the students to work hard at everything they do, have a spirit of excellence, and find themselves some good role models. “Be willing to get out of your comfort zone when it’s time, be flexible, and your attitude makes a difference,” she said.
Another speaker, William Welter, MVC alum from 1966, is the owner of Welter and Associates in Las Vegas. He knew and worked for Ray Kroc, who developed the McDonald’s fast-food restaurant chain; Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Dave Thomas of Wendy’s fast-food chain.
During his tenure at Wendy’s, he led the famous marketing campaign that involved the “Where’s the Beef?” TV commercials.
In advising students about business and entrepreneurship, Welter said the priority should be the number of people you please each day and the employees you have. “I’d rather count smiles than straws.”
He said that losing is sure to happen if businesspeople ignore their customers, cover up their mistakes and blame others, and just copy their competitors.
Institute speaker C.J. Narise, the CEO for Team Services LLC of Glenwood, Maryland, said football was the reason he came and stayed at MVC. A 1981 MVC graduate, Narcise said he always knew “sports would be a calling for me” and eventually worked as a marketing executive for the Washington Redskins. His current company has business partnerships with the Jacksonville Jaguars and others.
“Be prepared for what you wish for,” he told the students and others at the presentation.
Institute speaker Ratana Tshibanda, founder of RT Productions of Kansas City, is a fashion event producer. “Information is key to producing a successful fashion show,” she said, adding that she has to know the audience and history. “Fashion is about history repeating itself. The trend for now is the ‘70s revival.”
Tshibanda said 90 percent of her business comes from repeat business or referrals. One-third of her business is with bridal shows. “I enjoy what I am doing. I love even the hard work. I love all the details. When a client says it was great and fun, I know I succeeded,” she said.
She advised the students, “Don’t be content with average. Most people are average. The ones who will get the jobs are the ones who will strive beyond expectations.”
Other Maastricht Institute speakers were Maikel Beerens, founder of Xilloc Medical of Maastricht, the Netherlands; Wynand Bodewes, senior lecturer of Entrepreneurhsip at Maastricht University; Mitch Maurits, starting entrepreneur in tech web and research in Maastricht, the Netherlands; Dane Miller, former CEO and co-founder of Biomet, Inc., of Warsaw, Indiana; Rocky Reininger, managing director of Real Growth Funding of Thousand Oaks, California; and Benoit Wesly, president and CEO of Xelat Group of Maastricht, the Netherlands. Wesly helped in starting the annual Maastricht Institute of Entrepreneurship.