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The Comprehensive Impact of an Entrepreneurial Mindset

March 3, 2020 Jill Wegenast
Clifton Taulbert speaking to students at Central High School

The Center for Free Enterprise hosts speakers and events for students in the College of Business, the university, and business people in the community. Past guests have included economists, authors, and CEOs on topics ranging from immigration and leadership to cryptocurrency. But sometimes, a guest speaker’s message is so important that it needs to be shared beyond the walls of the College of Business.
Such was the case in February when award-winning author and entrepreneur Clifton L. Taulbert visited Louisville. Taulbert, now the President and CEO of Roots Java, a national coffee supply company wholly owned by African Americans, has written several books about his experiences growing up in the Mississippi Delta in the 1950s. And although he spoke to a large crowd at the College on “The Comprehensive Impact of an Entrepreneurial Mindset,” he had an especially relevant message to share with an even younger audience. As a result, the Center worked with Louisville’s Central High School to bring Mr. Taulbert’s message to its students.
The interactive session brought Taulbert together with seniors in the school’s Career Pathways program, intimately sharing his life story and experiences. He captivated the group as he spoke about growing up in the Deep South during the time of legal segregation—how he took the lessons learned from working on his Uncle Cleve’s ice truck to become a successful entrepreneur, business exec, and author. Taulbert stressed the importance of having the right mindset, goals, imagination to succeed in an uncertain environment.
Uncle Cleve taught him about responsibility, ethics, and hard work—lessons Taulbert has carried with him all of his life. He talked to the students about seeing “beyond his cotton field,” a metaphor he uses to encourage students to look beyond their current situation and dream of what can be. Taulbert encouraged the students to “win where you are standing, no matter where that is,” noting that each success in life, no matter how small, builds on the next success. He assured them that starting now to develop personal brands will help them succeed in life, no matter what they choose to do.
For more information on Clifton Taulbert’s visit to
the University of Louisville, including photos and a video of his talk, visit the Center’s Media Room.