By Nicholas Bainbridge
Editor in Chief
Dr. Nido Qubein hosted a panel of successful entrepreneurs on Sept. 21 to offer practical insight to students on what it takes to be successful. Qubein emphasized that while academic instructors have a great deal to teach students, there is always something that only an active participants in the field can convey.
Kelly Mcarthy is the co-founder and CEO of Infusion Capital LLC, an investment firm that specializes in trading stocks of smaller companies. Despite not graduating from college, she was drawn to speak at High Point University partly because her daughter attends the school.
Ryan Gilbert, an HPU graduate, is the co-creator of Crate Systems LLC, an organization that stores college students’ belongings during the summer for an easier experience when moving back in at the beginning of the next semester.
Qubein’s guests had a wealth of knowledge to share, and he urged listeners to heed their advice, saying that he connected himself to successful individuals and learned from them to achieve his own goals in life.
“Who you spend time with is who you become,” Qubein said. “When I wanted to become a professional speaker, I found the people who were good at it and listened to them.”
A prominent message of Mcarthy’s was how life can transpire in unexpected ways if one seeks out advantageous opportunities, which is why you one should always work hard and seize opportunities to discover where they lead.
“I never saw myself as an investment banker,” said Mcarthy. “When I was 17, I started selling cars, not because it was what I wanted to do, but because it was the fastest way to money. It was through this that I met this stockbroker, and he saw how good I was at selling things and said that I should consider being a stockbroker myself.”
Mcarthy also expressed the importance of determination in achieving success in life.
“I grew up in a single-parent household,” said Mcarthy. “My mother instilled in my brother and me that we should always work hard and remember that we can do anything we set our minds to. When the stockbroker told me that no one would hire someone without a degree, I did not let it stop me.”
She recounted how, rather than going to a university, she researched the stock industry and discovered what she actually needed to do was pass an exam to receive accreditation. She studied for the test and was officially certified as a capable stock trader. Mcarthy then quickly became one of the fastest-growing brokers in the industry.
She mentioned that she has continued to apply this tenacity throughout her career, such as when she convinced investors of the non-lethality of tazers by allowing herself to be tazed on stage.
Mcarthy’s last lesson for obtaining success was that people should take advantage of what makes them unique and sets them apart from their colleagues.
“I was doing quite well for myself, and it probably did not hurt that I was a woman,” said Mcarthy. “Almost all of my colleagues at the time were men, but in most households, women make the majority of financial decisions. When I called a home, I was able to get the wife onboard faster and made a lot of sales because of it.”
Gilbert also shared his experiences and acquired knowledge with attendees. He explained his diligence in finding a need in the community and forming a business that met the demand. Gilbert noticed that many of his peers struggled to transfer their things across the country each year. Many of them wished they could leave their belongings in High Point. His solution was a storage business that held students’ things near campus during the summer. This business concept led him to winning HPU’s Annual Business Competition. The competition allows aspiring entrepreneurs among the HPU student body to present their business plans for the chance to earn start-up funds.
“We wanted to have a service where we pick up students’ belongings and store them,” said Gilbert. “Then, we bring them back when they return to campus.”
He also expressed the importance of individuals with different assets coming together to supply the company with everything it needs to be a success.
“I work with my partner, an older gentleman who has been my mentor for the past few years,” said Gilbert. “I bring the youthful energy and passion to get things done, and he has the business experience.”
The young entrepreneur also discussed the importance of keeping one’s idea proprietary. Otherwise, a competitor could arise and intrude on the market that a smaller company worked to establish. Early into his business career, Gilbert took measures to prevent this from happening.
“We wanted to keep it so that our company was doing something others could not,” said Gilbert. “Early on, we went through a long patent process and got our papers in order.”
Dr. Qubein has hosted several life skills panel before and will continue to invite successful entrepreneurs to HPU for future talks.