Cal Poly’s College of Business namesake Paul Orfalea shared his views on about entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and the value of a business education during a visit to the college on Friday, Feb. 5.
Entrepreneurship professor and Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) co-founder Jonathan York hosted the discussion, which was held in front of an audience of Cal Poly students, faculty, and staff.
Orfalea founded Kinko’s in 1970 with a simple idea: provide affordable access to products and services otherwise unavailable to students and small businesses. From its modest beginnings in Santa Barbara, Kinko’s — now Fed Ex Office — became the world’s leading business services chain, with more than 1,700 branches worldwide. Orfalea used an unorthodox approach to business to create a compassionate, unconventional, partner-driven culture that empowered co-workers and allowed Kinko’s to thrive.
In his talk, Orfalea attributed his successes to a constant energy and desire to help others. He encouraged students to keep the same energy and curiosity they have in school to drive innovation in their own careers.
“I could never sit still, but that was what helped me the most. My restlessness helped me to see what was going on that was right in the places around me.”
Orfalea also toured the CIE HotHouse and hosted student and faculty roundtables during his visit.
It has been 15 years since Orfalea provided a $15 million endowment to the college, but the effects of the donation are still visible today. Through new classrooms, scholarships, study abroad programs, and student services, Orfalea has helped the Learn by Doing spirit thrive in business students at Cal Poly.
For more information about Paul Orfalea and the Orfalea Foundation, visit www.orfaleafoundation.org.