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Jeff Harmening '89

November 10, 2011

Jeffrey Harmening ’89 was presented with the Robert C. McDermond Medal for Excellence in Entrepreneurship as he delivered his lecture titled “Lucky Charms are Magically Delicious (and a couple other things I’ve learned).” In addition to the free box of cereal each student received, Harmening began his lecture by saying that he was not going to tell students what they should do rather he would discuss the things that he has found valuable. His power point presentation was comprised of only 10 slides, with each slide displaying an image affixed with a short phrase.

The first image was of thousands of ants following behind one leader. He explained that leadership means you have to always keep marching, otherwise, you will get run over by all the ants behind you. Next, a person golfing in the rough demonstrated that mistakes happen. Harmening told students that when they make a mistake they should simply try to get back to the green grass, and never make the same mistake twice. One of the other more memorable images was of grown men rowing a boat together. He explained how his experience as President of Delta Upsilon during his time at DePauw taught him just how difficult it is to get an entire fraternity of 20-year-old men to row together!

Just like fraternity life, business is a team sport, and the job of a leader is to cultivate the skills of all the participants, not manage them. Also, leadership begins with trust: both the employees and the employer need to have a mutual trust. He said that the best piece of advice he ever received was “What do you do when no one is looking?” The problem of doing nothing with your extra time means that nothing is happening. One thing he did tell the students was that they need to effectively manage their time and innovate in order to stand apart from all the other ants marching.

The Robert C. McDermond Medal is named for the 1931 graduate of DePauw who endowed the Center for Management and Entrepreneurship and the Management Fellows Program. It is awarded to individuals who have played a key role in the formation or growth of an entrepreneurial business venture and/or assisted others in establishing entrepreneurial businesses and who have displayed creativity and innovation in entrepreneurial leadership.