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Speaking Freeley

By Margaret Pepe
Assistant Features Editor

Dr. James Freeley has been a professor at Post in the School of Management for the past 35 years. He currently teaches Organizational Behavior, Creating and Managing a Small Business, and Management Seminar. Along with teaching management courses, he also started a graduate program in Social Entrepreneurship. The program requires MBA students to “give back to society” by becoming consultants to local non-profit organizations and assisting them to become efficient in serving the needs of society.

Dr. James Freeley. Photo: Margaret Pepe
Dr. James Freeley.
Photo: Margaret Pepe

Freeley has studied the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs on Long Island. “You can come up with a great idea that works, but do you have the characteristics to take that great idea and move forward?” Freeley said. “You want to surround yourself with people who are strong in the areas you are weak in.” Freeley said that everyone should have a basic understanding of business, no matter what his or her career may be. “You have to be acquainted with marketing. A lot of entrepreneurs get so in love with their idea that they never ask the question: is there a market for the product? And if there’s a market: can I make a profit?”

“We live in an ever changing world and there are so many layers to business, both [locally] and globally. Having the ability to understand even the basics can open your eyes and your mind,” said Amy Brown, a freshman business administration major.

Freeley has had his entrepreneurship research featured on USA Today Online, Entrepreneur, and in a 2004 article of the New York Times. He has written a book, titled “Are You an Entrepreneur?” and has created a series of video documentaries in which he interviews CEOs, such as the CEO of JetBlue, and uncovers how they became successful. In his videos, he analyzes the thinking of successful entrepreneurs, and who they were before they became successful. “I wanted to get inside the thinking of the entrepreneur,” Freeley said. “Other people can watch the video and get a real sense of who and what this person is all about. What is their thinking? Why did they get into the business.”

The idea behind the documentaries was to find out the “nitty gritty,” “beyond Google” information. “One of the CEOs on Long Island said ‘growing up, I was so poor. I had to sleep on the kitchen floor.’ When you Google them, you don’t find out they had to sleep on the kitchen floor.” “My hope is to expose students to the idea that you can start your own business; that you don’t necessarily need to graduate and then go directly to work for a large corporation,” he said.

“It’s interesting to see where these people have come from and how they achieved their success,” said Jason Lampkin, a junior business major. “The documentaries go to show that you don’t need a Harvard degree to be successful; you just have to have a good idea and be willing to put in the hard work.”

“Dr. Freeley makes you think,” Brown said. “His class is an open forum for which everyone is involved. He’s made me look at life, work, business in a way that has me asking different questions and pay more attention to how things in business are structured and why.”

“You’re living in an entrepreneurial society,” Freeley said. “But in the media, it’s all large companies. So I say to my students, ‘okay its all-large companies, but if you trace them back, they all start with one person in their garage.’ Walt Disney: garage. Walter Grumman: garage. Steve Jobs and Wozniak: in a garage. Yes, we’re in a big business environment, but most of the companies today were started by entrepreneurs in a garage.”

As for the key to success, Freeley said, “We all come with certain skills, certain cultural backgrounds; if you work hard and keep learning with the idea that you work hard, eventually it will be beneficial for you.” “But luck determines what happens and what goes on,” he added. “It is an important factor in achieving success.”

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