The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Aggieland by Rusty Burson

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Texas A&M University has produced several generations of successful Aggies in various disciplines, and these notable alumni all have stories behind their careers. Rusty Burson, author and current Director of Membership and Communications at Miramount Country Club, set out to tell the stories of 12 Aggie entrepreneurs and highlight the common thread between them in his book “The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Aggieland.”

Burson attended Sam Houston State University, but Texas A&M has always held a special place in his heart. After beginning his career in journalism at newspapers in Galveston and Forth Worth, he wrote for numerous business publications in the Dallas/Forth Worth area. He went on to spend 16 years as an associate editor of the “12th Man Magazine.” In 2004, Burson wrote his first book of a 22 book series about Reveille.

“I wanted to connect students with the inspiring entrepreneurs I met through the 12th Man Foundation,” Burson said, as he explained his motivation to write “The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Aggieland.”

Burson learned about Startup Aggieland, a business accelerator and job creation program organized by the McFerrin Center For Entrepreneurship at Mays Business School. The program helps neophyte entrepreneurs break into the business with mentorship, pro bono legal services, rent-free office spaces, and many other services.

“After reading about Startup Aggieland, I decided to find 12 entrepreneurs and learn about their careers, obstacles, advice, and stories.” Burson stated.

The book features 12 former students with successful businesses, some of which had very humble beginnings. Fadi Kalaouze, a student living out of his van, began what is now Aggieland Outfitters. Alan Roberts built a pipeline empire with a used truck and a bunch of tools. Terrence Murphy, a football player who sustained a significant neck injury, went on to find success in residential real estate. Larry Hodges opened a copying and printing shop near the A&M campus and stood firm when industry giant Kinko’s Graphics Corporation filed a civil suit against him. Michelle Lilie broke stereotypes by working in typically male-dominated industries such as the oil field and housing authorities. Neal Adams survived personal bankruptcy because of his law firm’s real estate ventures and rebuilt the firm by shifting his focus to education. These are just a few of the phenomenal stories inside Burson’s book.

When asked what he found to be the overarching theme between all these Aggies’ stories, Burson replied that “they prepared for dealing with adversity, which is key if you want to be successful. Grit and resilience were a component of each person’s story.”

The best aspect of “The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Aggieland” is that all the proceeds go to supporting Startup Aggieland, which is located near Research Park. This roadmap to career success is filled with invaluable advice for students.

To learn more about Rusty Burson or to purchase the book please visit, http://entspirit.com/

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