Union County CEO Program Hosts Informational Meeting At The Brick House Grill


Union County CEO Program Hosts Informational Meeting At The Brick House Grill

ANNA—On the evening of November 10, 2014 the Union County CEO Program hosted its “Dine With a Purpose” event at The Brick House Grill.  After light appetizers and drinks, the crowd was addressed by advisory board chairman Rollie Hawk and four students participating in the program.

CEO—short for Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities—is a high school education program that takes twenty students out of county schools for two hours a day to learn about business, entrepreneurship and life.

“Much of school at this point is about memorization and regurgitation.  We have educators here tonight and I don’t think they are any happier about that than the rest of us,” Hawk pointed out early in his presentation.  “One of the central ideas in CEO is let’s teach students how to think instead of what to think.”

Hawk sees the CEO Program as a way to take young people’s natural desire for freedom and independence and to channel it into entrepreneurship.

“I’ve met very few people in my life who never dreamed of starting their own businesses, of experience that sort of freedom and control of their own destinies.  So why don’t we have more people starting businesses?  It’s partly because every time one of us has a business idea, we have ten people around us telling us why it will never work,” explained Hawk.  “With CEO, we want to take young people—people who haven’t yet learned to be scared to dream—and teach them that you can do this and you can do it here and now!”

“Most of you in this room have probably had the experience of succeeding at something that other people said you couldn’t do.  Maybe you weren’t even sure you could do it.  Once you succeed like that, that’s a feeling that very little in this life can match,” continued Hawk.  “That’s something that CEO can provide to students.”

Towards the end of the presentation, students in attendance addressed the crowd.  Samantha Smith and Kaitlin McWhorter of Cobden High School, Mason DeLashmutt of Anna-Jonesboro High School and Hunter Levan of Shawnee High School each took turns introducing themselves to the business owners and community leaders in attendance.  Each described their CEO experience so far and the need for this program in the community.

“I’m more impressed every time I see these kids in action,” bragged Hawk.  “They give me a lot of hope.”

“When we weren’t able to find a teacher in time to have the full class this year, a lot of us were ready to curl up and cry.  But then something happened that gave us hope,” said Hawk.  “These students had reached out to the staff at the Midland Institute and Midland ended up offering to provide a modified program with monthly student meetings led by their own staff.  These students took control of their own lives and destinies.  Those are the beginning signs of the kinds of self-actualizers that this community needs.”


Southern Illinois Electrical Cooperative Hosts Union County CEO Class Meeting

SIEC1DONGOLA—The  Union County CEO Program held its second class meeting at the headquarters of the Southern Illinois Electrical Cooperative.  At that meeting, the class continued its study into various facets of entrepreneurship with a presentation and activities geared towards learning about different personality types and how they interact and impact businesses.

SIEC2The class session started with Susan Hanfland from the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship administering a True Colors examination of the students and CEO advisory board chairman Rollie Hawk.

TrueColors“These kinds of self-studies are always an interesting combination of confirmation and surprise,” said Hawk.  “With True Colors, there is a series of inventories that lead you to a set of scores in four colors, usually with one strongly defining you.  In my case, I scored the highest in the room on green and the lowest on gold.  That really put me in my place because it tells me I’m a very analytical thinker but not always the most organized.  Guilty, as charged.”

SIEC3After completing the inventory, everyone filled out name badges showing their scores in each color.  They learned the strengths and weaknesses of each of the color personality types and how each best functions within a business environment.

Following the True Colors inventory, students were given a tour of the Electrical Cooperative’s facilities.

SIEC4“This is another classic example of what we were told would happen in CEO.  Suddenly these buildings that we’ve driven by much of our lives become more real,” explained Hawk.  “There are all of these huge operations taking place just beneath the surface in our community that we never even realized.  We’re very appreciative to SIEC for opening up their operations for us and hosting the class meeting.”

Union County CEO also made a presentation at a recent Locally First event by the Union County Women in Business at Anna’s Main Street Center.  Both Hawk and student Clare Bunyan spoke on behalf of the program.

“Clare stole the show, as far as I’m concerned,” said Hawk.  “She spoke very clearly and with power and sincerity about the influence CEO is already having in her life and the importance of expanding the program.”

In the coming weeks, Union County CEO will be having its third class meeting at Lambdin Farms and also hosting an informational event at The Brick House Grill at 6:30PM on November 10.  Business leaders interesting in attending can contact Hawk at rhawk@unioncountyceo.com or (618) 925-2470.