Rockstar Entrepreneur: Nathan J. Reis, Entrust Bankcard

At first sight, Nathan J. Reis is not your typical CEO type. Wearing a black Steve Job’s T-Shirt (Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish), you wouldn’t think that this small-town boy from Wisconsin would hit it big in dry, arid Arizona.

But Reis is a wildly successful “big growth” Arizona entrepreneur. He candidly told his story at a business seminar jointly organized by the Mesa Chamber of Commerce and Mesa Community Colleges. He began with three failures and then talked about starting Entrust Bankcard as a bootstrap initiative. Entrust provides merchant processing products and services and  is now Inc. 500’s 18th fastest growing company in the nation. As the company grew, Nate realized he “didn’t have the vocabulary to explain to employees about this fast growth in business.”

The supersized growth came with trade-offs. “If you wait to grow your business, put all the NO’s up on the wall.”Entrepreneurs must decide “what you don’t do.”

He credits the growth of his company to the work culture that he has created. Well, what is culture in a business? Is it reverence ? Is it conformity? To Nate, culture is being as “loud and noisy as possible.” “People will tell you to keep your head down.”

According to Nate,  extreme success happens when we  create a for-profit approach to a social problem. And, he is aiming for the sky. He wants to grow Entrust 50% year on year and increase his customer base to 250,000 small businesses. He believes in CRM software and the future of cloud technology. At the same time, he has started preparing for where he will be in two years.

Dad, please don’t check my grades. What’s wrong with how children learn?

Noted education expert, John Tagg stopped giving grades several years ago.  According to Tagg, author of the Learning Paradigm College, external rewards will not strengthen a student’s motivation to study. He asks educators to teach students to avoid skimming the surface. Instead, students must take a “deep approach to learning.”

One way is to provide students with meaningful patterns of information. Give them content that is organized to reflect a deep structure of the subject. Here, knowledge gets contextualized and gives students the flexibility to retrieve knowledge with little effort.  Learners will recognize that something is different and will rethink theory. Here are a few tips from Tagg :

  • Create an environment where students learn what they need to do at work.
  • Ask students to avoid a surface approach to learning; instead have them focus on meaning and take a deep approach.
  • Emphasize feedback to learners not evaluation. Promote feedback and regular response to work.
  • Adopt a new mindset that praises students for efforts and strategy.
  • Criticize their defects in strategy. Never say they are smart.
  • Adjust the cognitive load for students as they have no choice.
  • Ask students to do a self-assessment.