Northland Community and Technical College

Thief River Falls, Minnesota—

Q: What do you get when you mix a tour bus full of young entrepreneurs—including a 22-year-old late night talk show host—150 high school and college students, and a fantastic college and workforce development staff?

A: An awesome Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour event at Northland Community and Technical College on October 6, 2008.

Kirsten Michalke, director of workforce development at Northland College, opened up the day with an intro to the tour and the promotion of the school’s new Entrepreneurial Education Program. Michalke and her team promoted the event, sponsored by Northern State Bank of Thief River Falls, by reaching out to local high schools, colleges, and community members. Publicity included a college radio interview with Michael Simmons, co-founder of Extreme Entrepreneurship Education and bestselling author of The Student Success Manifesto: How to Create a Life of Passion, Purpose and Prosperity.

The first keynote featured Jake Sasseville, the voice of the late-night talk show The Edge with Jake Sasseville ( At the age of 15, Sasseville started his first show in Maine and now hosts an ABC affiliate show that reaches over 30 million households. Sasseville shared about the importance of having tenacity in pursuing entrepreneurial ventures. Despite hearing “No” again and again and again, Sasseville kept at it and managed to get sponsors like Ford Motor Company and to sign on as sponsors to reach the Gen Y market.

Another unstoppable entrepreneur—Ryan Shore—followed up Sasseville’s speech with his story of going from high school drop out to owner of seven corporations by the age of 26. Shore’s businesses include retail and online kiteboarding stores ( and a construction company focused on serving government foreclosure needs (

After hearing from these inspiring entrepreneurs, the audience members had the opportunity to brainstorm how they could solve problems in their community through an entrepreneurial idea generation workshop lead by Simmons. The day wrapped up with a panel discussion facilitated by Elizabeth Grace Saunders, professional speaker and trainer with Real Life E™ ( During this discussion, the crowd had the opportunity to ask Simmons, Shore, Sasseville, and three local panelists about everything from how they got the money to start their businesses to how they developed a business network. Darcy Harbott, native of Thief River Falls and founder of MWG Inc. and EPI, shared from his experience as an owner of everything from a real estate company to a Subway franchise. Matt Winjum and Arron Hendricks, owners of Rhombus House of Pizza LLC ( in the northwestern Minnesota, also shared their stories of opening and reopening pizza places and learning how to be successful along the way.

Students at Northland left the Tour event empowered and inspired to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams and create workforce opportunities in their region.

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