Schwartz graduated in 1994 as an industrial technology major. He worked at IBM and several other national corporations before quitting in 2008 to begin a personal investigation of the success secrets of today’s entrepreneurs.
Schwartz has written several books, the most well known called “50 Interviews: Entrepreneurs Thriving in Uncertain Times” in which he interviewed 50 professionals in a variety of industries to learn their secrets to establishing a successful business. Schwartz refers to his profession as an “authorpreneur,” because his career combines both author and entrepreneur.
“The people I’ve talked to are so passionate about what they do, and it’s been a really interesting journey,” Schwartz said. “Many of them said that no one had ever interviewed them like this.”
Schwartz’s speech will share some of the insights he has gained through his interviews. Then he will interview two entrepreneurs to show the audience some of what he has learned. The guest entrepreneurs include Michael Rowley of the Straight Down Clothing Company and Kyle Weins of IFixIt.com, a website for online repair manuals.
Entrepreneurship club president and business senior Luke Richter said the club is lucky to hear Schwartz speak. Schwartz usually charges for his speeches, but he said he is happy to come back to his alma mater and speak to a group of future entrepreneurs.
“Brian has interacted with so many different people and really has a lot to share with us about finding and creating the right career,” Richter said. “It should be a great learning experience, even for people who don’t plan on starting their own businesses.”
The Entrepreneurship Club has nearly 150 members from several colleges. The club’s mission is to be a source of networking opportunities and support for students in every field of study. Club adviser and industrial technology professor Jonathan York said the club has been inactive for the past several years, but this year some of his students came to him asking if it could be revived.
Since being rechartered the club has been very active. In addition to hosting guest speakers the members have participated in two business competitions this year — the Cal Poly Venture Challenge and Innovation Quest, both of which give the students opportunities to interact with business professionals.
“We really encourage our members to take advantage of the opportunity to network with real professionals as well as with each other,” York said. “It’s important for students to be able to see what the real world is like before they get there.”
Schwartz said he had some trouble finding the right career after graduating from Cal Poly. However, he said the interviews he has conducted to find what makes a successful and rewarding career have been a fulfilling and valuable learning experience.
“My speeches are really about what I know now that I wish I knew then, and so much of it has come from the interviews I’ve done,” Schwartz said. “I’ve really come to learn that your career can’t be about money or power — it has to be about a calling and finding something greater than yourself.”
Schwartz’s speech will be held in Building 52, room B05 at 7 p.m..