Hope, Fear, Success

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November 14, 2013

By Matt Hawkins

Redbox Co-founder Mike DeLazzer exhorted students to conquer hope and fear as he delivered the fall semester’s lecture in the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Series.

“If you master those two things, you will be successful,” he said. “Hope creates amazing things in the world. It’s a passion that won’t give up no matter the obstacle. Fear is the lazy guy who’s not doing anything with his life, stares at a goal but does nothing about it. What matters is your ability to keep going no matter the obstacle.”

DeLazzer faced bankruptcy a decade ago when McDonald’s executives fortuitously discovered the DVD-vending kiosk he developed. Unfortunately, a product demonstration failed and left a desperate DeLazzer struggling for a solution.

Video of Complete Lecture

With coworkers “looking at me in fear, hoping I’d pull a rabbit out,” DeLazzer issued an ultimatum: “If you don’t give me 24 hours, you’ll live to regret it. You’ll be working for us.”

After a feverish night of working out programming glitches, the kiosk worked flawlessly the next day. Redbox was born.

“If I had not persevered at my moment of failure, they would’ve been gone,” DeLazzer said.

Citing Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill and business venture flops, DeLazzer urged students to push through their trials.

“You will fail. So what? Who cares? Get back up over and over until you succeed,” he said. “Most people I know have gone bankrupt several times. One guy I know lost $900 million. He’s running a large company right now and is doing well at it.”

The message resonated with students and alumni in attendance.

“It’s a really good way to live your life in general,” said Nick Clark ’17. “It definitely applies to school when we find ourselves in tough things we have to persevere.”

Alum Joe Campbell ’13, who returned to campus for the event, appreciated the university’s efforts to bring noted professionals to campus.

“It’s not only listening to the words of wisdom but an opportunity to talk to him," he said. "It’s a unique opportunity for sure.” 

The Distinguished Entrepreneurship Lecture Series, which began in February 2013, brings nationally known entrepreneurs to campus to share their entrepreneurial journey with students, faculty and staff. Speakers not only will provide their insights in a large audience setting, but will also participate in classes or small student discussions while on campus.