Fed up with outsiders’ misconceptions about their home state, Andrew Norman and his wife, Angie, created Hear Nebraska. What started out as a way to change the way people think about Nebraska quickly became a thriving website and enterprise. Andrew recently visited my Entrepreneurial Media class to talk about the organization.
What struck me about Andrew’s story was that, despite the organizations success, Andrew has never paid himself. This speaks volumes about Andrew’s personality. His intent was not to make money off of the site, but to make Nebraska a globally recognized cultural destination. To this day, his passion is what keeps him going.
Reflecting on Andrew’s presentation, I can’t help but notice the similarities between his life and mine. Specifically, I was able to identify with Andrew when he talked about having his stories reviewed at work. Andrew said it was sometimes difficult to get back stories that were heavily marked with edits. However, rather than feeling discouraged at the sight of the red ink, Andrew learned how to use his boss’ feedback to improve next time. Andrew also said he makes every effort to answer his own questions at work before asking for help, constantly searching Google and other pages for answers. This is something I have been trying to do more at my internship. While it is sometimes easier to ask for help, I think there is tremendous value in finding out things for yourself.
The biggest lesson I learned from Andrew’s story is this: Don’t be afraid to be afraid. A great deal of Andrew’s success can be attributed to the risks he took along the way. He overcame his fears by constantly challenging himself and never taking the “easy” way out. Early in Andrew’s career, for instance, he turned down a high-paying job for one that had more opportunities for learning. As it turns out, his decision helped him overcome his fear of interviewing people and become a better writer. These skills have helped him with his entrepreneurial endeavor, making it easier to ask community members for donations.