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Steve Mariotti
Steve Mariotti is the Founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and an advocate for entrepreneurs worldwide. His latest book, An Entrepreneur’s Manifesto, makes a convincing case for the power of entrepreneurship to combat poverty, terrorism and totalitarianism.

Widely considered a leading expert in education for low-income youth, Mariotti left a successful business career in 1982 to become a Special Ed teacher in such New York City neighborhoods as East New York, Brooklyn, and Fort Apache in the South Bronx. Frustrated at first by his rowdy classrooms, Mariotti discovered he could reach and motivate even his most challenging students by teaching them how to run a small business. This experience inspired him to create NFTE in 1987 to bring entrepreneurship education to low-income youth, and empower them to create their own pathways out of poverty.

Over 600,000 young people have graduated from NFTE programs since. NFTE operates in 22 states and 12 countries, and has used the entrepreneurship education curriculum Mariotti developed to trained more than 11,000 teachers worldwide. NFTE runs programs in the U.S., South Africa, Ireland, Israel, Belgium, China, the Netherlands, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom, and is opening new programs in the West Bank and New Zealand. NFTE was the subject of the film Ten9Eight: Shoot for the Moon, about which Tom Friedman wrote in the New York Times: “Obama should arrange for this movie to be shown in every classroom in America. It is the most inspirational, heart-warming film you will ever see.”

When he founded NFTE, Mariotti discovered there were no textbooks available for teaching entrepreneurship to young people, so he wrote groundbreaking textbooks for NFTE courses, including the Golden Lamp Award-winning high-school textbook Entrepreneurship: Starting and Operating a Small Business (now in its 11th edition), and the junior college textbook Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management. Mariotti is also the author of the popular Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business. In total, Mariotti has authored or co-authored 34 books, textbooks, workbooks and manuals related to entrepreneurship. Approximately 1.2 million copies have been sold or donated worldwide, including to prison programs like ITEM (Inmates Teaching Entrepreneurship and Mentoring), which Mariotti co-founded with Joe Robinson in 2004.

Mariotti is the recipient of numerous awards including the Bernard A. Goldhirsh Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the National Director’s Entrepreneurship Award from the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Association of Education Publishers’ Golden Lamp Award, the ACE/Currie Foundation Humanitarian Venture Award, and America’s Top High School Business Teacher. The math curriculum he created for NFTE was voted Best in Category for High School Students by the Association of Educational Publishers.

Mariotti has been an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations for eleven years. He has been an attendee and speaker at the World Economic Forum for nine years, where he, Daniel Rubuzzi and three other educators presented their landmark policy paper “Educating the Next Wave of Entrepreneurs.” In 2013, Mariotti traveled to Southeast Asia as a U.S. State Department guest on a mission to spread entrepreneurial education to youth from emerging economies. His Huffington Post columns on the Cambodian genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979 were credited by the Cambodian press as key to continuing the trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders, most of whom were convicted in 2014. He is a featured speaker at conferences and seminars such as the Aspen Ideas Festival, and at such universities as Harvard, Columbia, Yale and Babson College.

After attending high school in Flint, Michigan, Mariotti received his B.B.A in economics and his M.B.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Mariotti began his professional career as a treasury analyst for Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, where he was the youngest senior analyst in Ford’s history, and assisted legendary senior VP of Ford Finance J. Edward Lundy from 1975-1979. While at Ford, Mariotti drafted, with the help of anti-apartheid activist Leon Sullivan, Ford’s initial policy statement against apartheid in 1978. Mariotti left Ford in 1979 and moved to New York City to start his own company, Mason Import/Export Services, in New York City.

Mariotti has also studied at Harvard University, Stanford University, Brooklyn College, Babson College and enjoys attending lectures on physics the Institute for Advanced Studies in his current hometown, Princeton NJ. His hobbies include collecting rare books, chess and long walks.

Entries by Steve Mariotti

(Re)Starting Up In Search Of Impact: One Female Entrepreneur Tackles the Home Care Industry

(0) Comments | Posted October 6, 2015 | 10:04 PM

The fine line between entrepreneurship and most business startups, and that of social enterprise, often comes down to the mission of the business. A social enterprise, by definition looks to fill the social and economic gaps not being met by current businesses.

But what about those business startups with the...

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What Every Voter Should Know About Public Choice Theory

(8) Comments | Posted September 29, 2015 | 8:42 PM

...and Why It May Determine the Next President

If you really want to understand the unfolding presidential race, check out a little-known economic theory called "public choice." Public choice theory argues that economic self-interest is the driving force of politics. According to public choice theory, people will vote for the...

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The Entrepreneur's Bill of Rights

(0) Comments | Posted September 25, 2015 | 11:43 AM

In my new book An Entrepreneur's Manifesto, I have proposed an Entrepreneur's Bill of Rights, modeled on the great amendments to our Constitution that have helped preserve and extend liberty and prosperity to more and more sectors of our society since the founding of our Republic.

I believe the values that the Entrepreneur's Bill of Rights expresses below are timeless and should be enjoyed by every entrepreneur--in every industry, class and country. Today, youth entrepreneurship education is booming and is at the core of the philanthropic programs at Microsoft, Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs, Koch Industries, Citibank and MasterCard. What better time to begin to define what it means to be an entrepreneur and the rights all entrepreneurs should enjoy.

Truthfully, we are all entrepreneurs! Whether we work for ourselves or someone else we are selling what we own - our time and expertise. As Steve Jobs laid out so clearly in his 2005 commencement address at Stanford, we all have unique knowledge and creative impulses that we can use to develop a business or move our careers forward. We just need to know that we have the right to be entrepreneurial in all that we do.

The Entrepreneur's Bill of Rights

1. The Freedom to Create
We take our creative freedom for granted, but there remain barriers to basic entrepreneurship both in the United States and around the world. These include legal barriers, as well as commercial ones like complicated tax codes and subsidies that skew resources and make it difficult for entrepreneurs to respond to market forces.

A more profound barrier, however, is the psychological limitation inside the minds of potential entrepreneurs. When I first began teaching in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, in 1982, I discovered that my students had no idea that entrepreneurship was an option for them. They did not perceive any alternative to a future of low-end, low-paying work in an unwelcoming job market. No wonder the local drug dealer was a hero!

I founded the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship in 1987 to tackle and change this mindset--but what we really need is a national shift in consciousness. Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial principles should be an integral part of every public school's curriculum starting at the pre-K level. The consistent message of those lessons should always be that everyone has the right and the unique talent to create a business.

2. The Right to Disrupt and Destroy
Every entrepreneurial idea is a revolutionary act, a pebble thrown into the pond that creates ripples. The pebbles thrown by Henry Ford, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos changed the world. But don't underestimate the power of a new corner deli or marketing website. They disrupt the status quo, too, because they challenge the current market dominators to improve and compete--or step aside.

Austrian-American economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the term "creative destruction" as a core concept of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs must have the right to disrupt and even destroy other businesses, in order for real growth and progress to occur.

One could hardly blame, though, a young entrepreneur today for fearing that his right to "destroy" - to offer a service or product that upsets the existing balance of market forces - is under attack. Look around us. Banks that make bad loans are bailed out; car companies that fail to adjust to changing tastes and foreign competition receive taxpayer dollars to keep them going. Entrepreneurial start-ups struggle to get a foot in the door, while giant competitors wield their influence when regulations are written or laws are passed.

If the entrepreneur has a better idea than the established interests, he or she should be able to take them on. And it should be a fair fight.

3. The Freedom to Fail
We must de-stigmatize failure. I am devoted to reducing the rate of failure among rising generations of entrepreneurs. I want to help them work smarter, faster and better at job-creation as the best way to raising global living standards. But failure must always be a part of the equation.

Some of the world's greatest fortunes were built by entrepreneurs who had suffered as many as a half dozen, painful failures. We want to reduce the failure rate of our entrepreneurs, yet at the same time acknowledge that a nation without commercial bankruptcies lacks dynamism. A failed entrepreneur will be smarter on his or her next startup.

In his important new book Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse, Thomas E. Woods Jr., a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, gives a devastating analysis of how our refusal to honor the "right to fail" undermined the housing market, crashed the stock market, tanked the economy and ran up bills that will take decades to pay off.

Woods writes that the longer Wall Street banks are subsidized, "the more they drain capital and resources away from fundamentally sound firms that could put those resources to much more productive use from the consumers' point of view. Keeping such firms alive via government bailouts discourages rather than encourages capital formation and economic recovery."

4. The Right to the Fruits of Your Labors
If we want to see the coming entrepreneurial revolution succeed, it is imperative that governments correctly incentivize their tax codes. Currently, these tax codes sometimes unfairly favor existing businesses or industries, or place undue burdens on job creators and entrepreneurs.

"Tax and regulation are key levers for improving a country's business environment," according to the 2013 Ernst & Young G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer. "Countries that offer favorable tax rates, simplify procedures and provide entrepreneurial support will more likely enjoy high numbers of startups. In turn, these ventures become significant creators of jobs and tax revenue as they progress up the growth curve."

Worryingly, the United States currently ranks 13th out of 20th in the EY tax and regulation survey, trailing such countries as Saudi Arabia, Japan and Russia. We must simplify our tax code and enable our entrepreneurs to enjoy the fruits of their labors so they will be inspired to great things.

5. The Freedom to Collaborate
The entrepreneur is sometimes stereotyped as a loner; an obsessive who cares only for the next big chance. In my experience, the opposite is true. An entrepreneur by necessity must be a social creature. You can't understand the market if you don't understand the billions of individual customers who make up that market.

In any start-up business that grows beyond the founder, the entrepreneur must also be a manager and a mentor. Thomas Edison, often portrayed as the classic loner-genius was in fact a world-class collaborator. He managed a vast team of innovators and created some of the largest commercial organizations in the country.

We must develop incubators at our universities and in our high schools to bring entrepreneurs together with scientists and other potential collaborators. We must encourage and support the freedom to collaborate, if we want to see a boom in entrepreneurship and global economic growth.

6. The Right to Seek New Opportunities
There's no question that the winners in the forthcoming entrepreneurial revolution will be those nations most welcoming to those with new ideas--wherever they come from. While researching An Entrepreneur's Manifesto, I came across so much data that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that immigrants are a vital source of entrepreneurial energy for a society.

An analysis done by the National Foundation for American Policy in 2011 found that, of the top 50 venture capital-backed companies in the country, just under half were founded or co-founded by immigrants. The immigrant-founded companies in the survey employed 153 people and were adding workers at the rate of 27 employees a year.

Immigrants are by nature people seeking new opportunities in a foreign land--they tend to be brave and entrepreneurial, often starting businesses and opening up new streams of customers beyond their country of origin. From DuPont to Procter & Gamble, from Google and Yahoo! to eBay, the U.S. economy has long profited from the entrepreneurial efforts of immigrants.

All people should have the right to seek new opportunities. All the world's governments should have the wisdom to protect, not whittle away, that right.

7. The Right to Be Different
Entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes, and personality types, from all walks of life and every corner of the globe. As long as you can create something that fills a need and finds a market, you should have the right to pursue that dream.

We all have our talents. We all have our challenges: I struggled with dyslexia as a child in school, overcoming my troubles with reading with the patient help of my parents. Richard Branson turned his dyslexic frustrations into the multi-billion-dollar Virgin Group.

I know what it's like to start a business and then to watch that business fail. When I was mugged in the 1980s, I felt traumatized and in need of counseling.

I was very nearly a failure as a teacher, too, before entrepreneurship saved me. I can't run a marathon, can't throw a football 70 yards, and can't dunk a basketball. But, the market doesn't care.

8. The Right to an Entrepreneurial Education
Trade may be a basic instinct of the human spirit, but entrepreneurship is not a weed that grows wild. My restless, unmotivated Boys and Girls High School students had no idea of the power of entrepreneurship and no conception that they actually could start their own business. But when I held a watch up for them one day and led them through a lesson on buying low and selling high, you could almost see the ideas sparking. I didn't plant the seed, but I moved it away from the hard and stony ground where it was close to dying.

Owner-entrepreneurship education empowers young people to make well-informed decisions about their future, whether they choose to become entrepreneurs or not. Disadvantaged youth are seldom let in on the connection between ownership and wealth creation; but an entrepreneurial education can change all that.

I have written an award-winning high-school textbook on entrepreneurship, as well as books for junior high and junior college students. My most heartfelt wish is for our nation's public schools to add entrepreneurship education to the curriculum, starting as young as kindergarten, so our kids grow up knowing how to participate in our economy.

9. The Right to Solve Problems
Entrepreneurs are the world's great problem-solvers. We don't have all the answers to what should be done in the next 20, 50, or 100 years to promote entrepreneurship because we don't know yet what many of the questions will be. But we do know this: the Entrepreneurial Revolution will reward the agile and the imaginative, the visionaries and the problem solvers.

Tomorrow's entrepreneurs deserve an economic system that encourages and rewards them for solving problems, and does not stymie their creativity with red tape or oppressive tax codes.

10. The Right to Prosper
The entrepreneurial revolution may be the first revolution in history without winners and losers. Everyone will benefit from an increase in entrepreneurship globally.

I strongly believe that if we encourage the entrepreneurial mindset worldwide, starting with the education of our youth, and our governments are disciplined enough to get out of the entrepreneur's way and let market forces be felt, the global economy can put itself on a path for an unprecedented leap forward. If we can do this, I believe we're on the cusp of an age of unrivaled creativity and broadly shared...

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From a Refugee Camp to a Royal Court: A Cambodian American Story of Capturing the Crown

(0) Comments | Posted September 12, 2015 | 6:36 PM

Since my visit two years ago, I remain fascinated by Cambodia and its many tales of impassioned survival, particularly by its young and rising entrepreneurs. Emad Rahim taught me about the stories of survival from victims of the Khmer Rouge. And he also introduced...

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Calling for a Revolution -- the Entrepreneurial Kind

(0) Comments | Posted September 3, 2015 | 10:15 AM

The purpose of this article is to start a revolution. A non-violent one, based on voluntary change in civil society.

The etymology of revolution leads us back to revolere, Latin for "roll back" and was most commonly used to describe the movement of the planets on their circular axes. From...

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Putting Your Positive Thoughts in High Impact Social Enterprise Action

(0) Comments | Posted August 25, 2015 | 11:07 AM

An interview with High Impact Social Entrepreneurship (HISE)
expert Mike Caslin, PART TWO

An entrepreneur is anyone who undertakes a business--be it small or large; alone or with a team. He or she sees an opportunity for a product or service and then brings it to...

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Putting Your Positive Thoughts in High Impact Social Enterprise Action

(0) Comments | Posted August 25, 2015 | 10:48 AM

An interview with High Impact Social Entrepreneurship (HISE)
expert Mike Caslin, PART ONE

Social entrepreneurship gets thrown around. A lot. Countless are published tips for social entrepreneurs, talks are given about the social good, and I too have had the privilege to write about the incredible...

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15 Films Every Entrepreneur Must See!

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2015 | 9:46 PM

Movies are magical. The good ones hold you captive in a great story, to a different time and place, and then bring you back home. In two hours, they leave you changed, having learned new things and lived a different life. I am a movie buff. I love how a...

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How to Get From Here to There: Part II, Education, Entrepreneurship and Wooden's 'Pyramid of Success'

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2015 | 5:16 PM

Part Two, Education, Entrepreneurship and Wooden's 'Pyramid of Success'

What accounts for the varied approaches individuals use in business, careers, and their own aspirations? In Part One of this piece, I described what one psychologist teaches us about individuals and their motivation to meet their...

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How to Get From Here to There: Part I, Entrepreneurship and Maslow's Hierarchy

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2015 | 9:00 AM

Part One, Entrepreneurship and Maslow's Hierarchy

Understanding what motivates people's decisions and how people can find success is one of the keys to building a successful community.

In 1947, a brilliant psychologist named Abraham Maslow built on the work of his predecessors to create a chart of hierarchies, known as...

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The Magic of Taiko for American Audiences

(0) Comments | Posted May 25, 2015 | 12:41 PM

A few months ago I had the privilege of introducing readers to a Japanese drum ensemble whose enduring sounds have performed for over thirty years and today counts 35 talented performers in its troupe. Kodo is credited with popularizing the Japanese drum taiko style around the world--their magic...

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'Failure Is Only a Resting Place' (Part Two)

(1) Comments | Posted May 13, 2015 | 10:02 AM

Starting and running a business is without a doubt a life-changing experience. And failing your business start-up can be a jolting change. In fact, an astounding 70% of Americans cite fear of failure as the main roadblock for starting up a business (Source). One of my personal heroes,...

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'Failure Is Only a Resting Place' (Part One)

(0) Comments | Posted May 13, 2015 | 9:46 AM

My life's mission has been to bring entrepreneurship to students of all ages by inspiring them and giving them the tools they need to succeed. When I started NFTE, I had the simple goal to teach students math, marketing, and communication so that they could launch an idea into a...

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7 Fundraising Strategies I Used to Raise Millions

(1) Comments | Posted May 6, 2015 | 3:07 PM

Got a wonderful idea you know will change the world for the better? Fantastic! But to get any idea off the ground, you need one thing: money.

I founded the nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) in 1982 on a public high school teacher's salary. I've been chewed out,...

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3 Steps to Bring Justice and Peace to Baltimore

(7) Comments | Posted May 1, 2015 | 10:41 AM

For starters, let's stop calling Baltimore's angry young black men "thugs."

I don't condone the actions of rioters or looters. It's terrible that police officers were hurt and businesses were destroyed or damaged. Having worked as an educator with inner-city youth for over thirty years, however, I can attest...

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8 Steps Government Can Take to Help Small Business

(0) Comments | Posted April 20, 2015 | 1:16 PM

Last fall, Hillary Clinton was widely mocked for declaring, "Don't let anybody tell you that it's corporations and businesses that create jobs." Kicking off her presidential campaign in Iowa last week, Clinton sang a different tune, positioning herself as a champion for entrepreneurs and noting that her father, a textile...

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The Independent Gallery That Succeeds in the Era of Internet Shopping

(0) Comments | Posted March 24, 2015 | 2:52 PM

There are several challenges to starting up a small business. Finances are tight. Customers do not know you, or your product that well. You compete against the big guys.

Kathleen Maguire Morolda knows all of those roadblocks well since she started her art gallery over 30 years ago. She has...

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John Whitehead: A Life of Integrity, Service and Kindness

(0) Comments | Posted March 11, 2015 | 4:02 PM

Entrepreneurship is the engine of our economy, but its true purpose lies in building community. Through the businesses we create, we become of service to our community and the world. John C. Whitehead, former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs

One of America's great heroes and advocates for at-risk youth died a...

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Design With a Spiritual Connection: Michael Landau on Navigating the World of Synagogue Architecture

(1) Comments | Posted March 3, 2015 | 6:09 PM

Designing synagogues is not exactly a growth industry--quite the opposite--but designer/architect Michael Landau has been doing it for 40 years, and isn't showing signs of slowing down.


Michael working with his clients

With more than 50 synagogue clients...

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Japanese Drummers Bring the Culture of Sado Island Statestide

(0) Comments | Posted February 25, 2015 | 11:11 AM

Unlike any musical group I've ever heard, Kodo is a group of Japanese drummers that perform on a worldwide scale but remain rooted in the local community and rich cultural traditions of Japan's Sado Island. The group boasts international esteem and is known for their innovative recreation of the traditional...

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