Serial entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis, host of CNBC's reality show "The Profit," captivated a standing-room-only crowd of DePaul University business students during a two-hour talk organized by Accountancy Professor Kelly Pope at the Driehaus College of Business Jan. 23.
The charismatic CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises began his lecture by telling students he often felt "awkward and uncomfortable" in his skin as a child growing up in Miami. He found his true calling during his college years at Marquette University, where he realized he was good at "negotiating solutions." His deal-making ability and commitment to three Ps — people, process and product — led to his success as a business leader, investor and philanthropist.
But Lemonis spent the majority of his lecture focused on the experiences of the aspiring entrepreneurs who came to see him rather than his own biography. He asked a series of students who manage small businesses to join him at the front of the class, where he peppered them with questions about value propositions, budgets, operations and marketing involving their ventures. He then offered advice that covered a wide range of issues, from cash flows to elevator pitches to knowing when to form a partnership.
Throughout the lecture, Lemonis emphasized that entrepreneurs should embrace the human element in business. "The important thing is to focus on the people side of things," he advised. "You can't make money the only reason to be in business."