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Callie Brauel and a student give thumbs up gestures

Q: How is creativity important to your work as an entrepreneur?

A: Creativity is essential to entrepreneurs. Ultimately, the goal is to solve a useful problem that few people have tried to solve because it’s difficult or unpleasant. So what it requires is thinking differently — successful entrepreneurs often solve problems by creatively re-framing the question. It also involves many and frequent road blocks which can be discouraging. But a great entrepreneur uses those dead ends as a creative opportunity to change direction or focus in a positive way that results in a better outcome. I once heard this creatively described by a successful entrepreneur as “failing forward.”

Q: What gets your creative juices flowing?

A: Mostly nature, which is a terrific, patient and elegant problem-solver! I walk my dogs in the woods and use the time to let my mind wander and enjoy the quiet surroundings. Often, when a mind is disengaged — like in a shower — it recognizes a solution that was there all along.

Q: What’s your biggest “fail?” How and what did you learn from that experience?

A: Probably when reality fails to meet my expectations. Entrepreneurs tend to be big thinkers and that’s important when tackling really big, tough problems. And it’s easy to get impatient about outcomes! People and processes don’t always move as fast — or in the direction — that you want them to, so it’s important to learn to be open to letting things unfold at the pace they need to. You can’t rush a rose to bloom!

Callie Brauel (business/economics ’09)

Co-founder and U.S. board vice-chair, A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN), which provides young mothers in Ghana with a safe haven, educational and social services, and entrepreneurial skills through the sale of handmade products from recycled materials like plastic water sachets and glass bottles.


Published in the Spring 2016 issue | Features

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