Faith News

Organizational Leadership Students Meet with Ankeny Entrepreneur

By Andrew Gogerty

The title on Carlos Rojas’s business card (Founder and Chief Disruptor) explains everything you really need to know about the owner of Blue Bean, a coffee shop and cowork studio, located at the corner of First Street and Ankeny Boulevard in Ankeny.

Carlos is not going to let anyone set boundaries on his ideas, visions, or business strategies—all of which he willingly shared with approximately twenty students from the newly-formed Organizational Leadership program at Faith Baptist Bible College on Monday evening.

Rojas worked in corporate America for 22 years. He tired of the corporate America mentality of just finding a way to get to Friday and the end of the workweek.

“I wanted to love Mondays,” Rojas explained to the students. “For me, it was about changing the perspective. Entrepreneurship is something that is exciting for a generation like yours. You are part of a generation where disruption is going to be the norm. You guys are going to experience job disruption. Think about that as you are building your educational skills.”

Rojas noted that he follows workplace trends closely, and was intrigued by the opportunity to create a place where work-from-home and self-employed workers could come and “cowork,” which is a trendy, cutting-edge business model that allows individuals to work privately or collaboratively in a shared, rented-by-the-hour, day, or month office space. He believes that 50% of the U.S. workforce will be contingent workers (work from home and self-employed) by 2027.

“Employers are giving workforce incentives to employees to be creative and work wherever they feel they can be most creative,” said Rojas. “Cowork is not going away. I think it’s going to keep evolving.”

Since the concept is so new to rural America, Rojas said he needed a way to help people understand what cowork was and he needed a natural way to draw people in, so he decided to make part of the space a coffee shop. The coffee shop area and the workspace area are separate enough, yet close enough, that they are able to co-exist equally well. He acknowledges the business model is still a bit foreign to central Iowa, but that you have to be willing to take risks in business.

“Starting a business is a roller-coaster ride,” Rojas told students. “I think, for me, innovation is a mindset and the ability to fail forward. We have to be open to risk-taking.”

Rojas stated that he wants to “disrupt” education as much as he can because he believes the corporate workplace is evolving faster than academia. He used the example of Google, who is hiring for soft skills like critical thinking, resilience, risk-taking, and the ability to think outside the box, rather than hard skills like accounting or marketing.

“These are all skills that are becoming critical for any category because the problems you are solving are becoming more complex in nature,” said Rojas. “I am highly intrigued and interested in helping disrupt education as much and as fast as I can. I’ve seen both of my daughters go through the same academic formation that I did when I was growing up. Now, you are looking at a world that requires a different set of skills.”

It was a statement that resonated well with the students in attendance, and with Jared Baldwin, Chair of the Organizational Leadership Program, funded by The Love Foundation. These soft skills that Rojas referred to are the very same cornerstones of the Organizational Leadership model at Faith, along with a solid core of Bible and doctrine.

Rojas concluded his presentation to the Organizational Leadership students by challenging them to never be satisfied with the status quo.

“You have to have fluidity in what you do,” said Rojas. “We test something out and if it doesn’t work, we re-invent it. For me, that’s the secret. Never be satisfied with the final version. Celebrate it and say, ‘this is the best version today,’ but realize that in the next couple weeks, you will find something newer and better.”

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The Organizational Leadership program is off to a great start at Faith. The visit to Blue Bean is the first of many events that will help students get a glimpse of cutting-edge business practices and real-life examples of leadership styles. If you would like more information on this program or Faith Baptist Bible College in general, visit www.faith.edu.