Episode 49 (Featuring Glen Meakem & John Kennedy)

“What Next?”

It’s a common question facing successful entrepreneurs who “cash out”, or otherwise enjoy startup success beyond their wildest imagination.  Some entrepreneurs prefer to lay low and settle in to a life of comfort and retirement, putting the fast-paced entrepreneurial lifestyle in the rearview mirror. Others use the passion and determination they deployed in starting and growing their ventures to seek new challenges, especially when it comes to “paying it forward”, giving back time, effort, and resources in order to support new ideas and foster new entrepreneurial ventures.

On this Sunday’s edition of “Your American Story” radio, Raja, who himself forged a second act by way of political aspirations, and through launching the “Your American Story” program, talks to two fellow successful entrepreneurs-turned-thought leaders who parlayed their entrepreneurial success into means by which they could empower the masses to work towards a more productive business climate, and thus, a more productive society, one person at a time.

-There may not have been a more optimal year to launch a web-based tech venture than 1995, which was the year that Harvard University graduate-turned-Gulf War Veteran Glen Meakem started Pittsburgh-based FreeMarkets.  Under Meakem’s leadership, the software company, which facilitated the automation of the sourcing process for many Global 1000 companies, enjoyed rapid growth, en route to a record-setting IPO in 1999.  Five more years of growth followed, before Glen and his team sold the company for $500 million in 2004.  Glen tackled the “What Next” conundrum head-on soon after, starting a successful VC fund, Meakem Becker Venture Capital, just one year later.  In addition, he also started his own radio talk show, The Glen Meakem Program, a spirited blend of political, policy, and business discussion with the stated purpose of making individuals, businesses, states, and our nation more successful.  The weekend morning program can currently be heard in over a dozen markets, including Pittsburgh, where it can be found as part of the same weekend mix as “Your American Story” on FM News Talk 104.7.

On Sunday, Glen discusses his story, what drives him to be successful, and why he decided to throw his hat back into the entrepreneurial ring with his new venture, Forever Inc., the world’s first social storage company.

-Want to know what “saving up a couple of dimes” can do?

For Harrisburg’s John Kennedy, it can enable a track laborer in the railroad industry to start his own company, Kennedy Railroad Builders in 1965.  Fifteen years later, it enabled him to take a break from running his company in order to run for, and be elected to, the first of four terms in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. In enabled him to return to the business eight years later, as a model of personal and professional integrity, having taken the seemingly unheard of step of declining to receive a government pension upon leaving office.  And it enabled him to re-emege as a government watchdog in 2006, on the heels of the infamous Pennsylvania General Assembly self-imposed pay raise that left many Pennsylvania voters up in arms. This outcry led to Kennedy’s formation of CAP (Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania), an organization dedicated to the advancement of the ideas of limited state government, economic freedom, and personal responsibility, in order to ultimately raise the standard of living throughout the state.

This week, Raja talks with John Kennedy about his remarkable journey, how his time in business prepared him for his time in politics (and vice versa), and how his exposure to how Pennsylvania State government REALLY works led to the formation of CAP, and whether or not the Pennsylvania State Government’s ability to serve the needs of its constituents has improved or gotten worse in the past eight years.