Home » OPINION » Columns » ALAN TURNER — Polly Dement: celebrating Mississippi entrepreneurs (with video)

ALAN TURNER — Polly Dement: celebrating Mississippi entrepreneurs (with video)



Polly Dement, author of Mississippi Entrepreneurs, grew up in Vicksburg and learned her chosen craft of writing partly as a result of her education at Millsaps, where she was fortunate enough to attend some of the Welty seminars when the author was writer-in-residence there.

From there, she wound up spending the next 30 years in Washington, D.C., where she worked with communications firms, publications, and on the staff of Sen. Jay Rockefeller. Today, she and her husband live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which (for those who haven’t been there) is certainly one of the most beautiful locations in America.

This past week, she was keynote speaker at Innovate Mississippi’s event held at the Marriott hotel in Jackson, where she discussed the book and many of the people who are profiled in its pages.

During her career, she was accustomed to do a lot of business writing, so when the opportunity arose, she jumped at the opportunity to write the book profiling some of Mississippi’s high achieving entrepreneurs.

“We started out looking at 40 stories, went to 70, and still, didn’t make a dent in the really great body of successful entrepreneurs there are in Mississippi,” she said.

We spent some time discussing what makes a successful entrepreneur.

“Many people are looking to overcome their circumstances and the challenges they encounter.  It’s a pathway to move forward in life,” she said.

I asked her what common traits she sees, things that are shared by successful entrepreneurs and innovators.

“There are certainly several important qualities that are shared in common by those who choose to pursue an entrepreneurial career,” she said.  “For one thing, they’re people with a vision….and idea that drives them.  For another, they’re risk takers.  It’s not possible to be a successful entrepreneur unless you’re willing to take risks, and plenty of them.  The most successful entrepreneurs are those with the ability to create, to innovate, to work with new ideas and concepts, and to see how those are applied to the markets they serve.  And last, but certainly not least, every successful entrepreneur I know is filled with a burning passion for what they do, a passion to succeed, to achieve, to make money and be the best they can be.”

She recounted numerous success stories from entrepreneurs  from both large and small enterprises.

“In some ways, the people who are best able to utilize and capitalize on technology are those that are really succeeding nowadays,” she said.  “And frankly, I have no doubt that the constant growth and progress in technology will create many more opportunities in the years to come.  These are the folks that are transforming our society and culture.”

She also pointed out that great entrepreneurs are not limited just to businesses, but also include those in the “artistic and cultural” fields.

“Some of those folks have made great impacts in those areas,” she said.  “Some have even managed to bring art and technology together in a smooth and powerful way.”

It took Polly three years to research and write the book.  Would she consider a sequel?

“Well, I’m not so sure about that,” she said.  “I had a wonderful time in the process, and I truly always enjoy coming back to Mississippi, but I have many other interests as well.”

What does she do for fun?

“Oh, we love to do whitewater canoeing, cross country skiing, travel, and, of course, I always love to read,” she said.

The book is currently available for sale, and there is a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Mississippi Entrepreneurs.

A brief video featuring Polly can be seen our our site, MSBusiness.com, or on our YouTube channel, mbjournal.

» Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at alan.turner@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1021.


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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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