Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the changemaking leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Michael Dermer, the founder and CEO of The Lonely Entrepreneur. Let’s see what he is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Michael! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through The Lonely Entrepreneur?
Michael: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! For starters, I believe everyone has potential. Not everyone has opportunity, however. Entrepreneurial skills are no longer “nice to have.” They are essential to individuals realizing their potential, overcoming systemic challenges, and leading more fulfilling lives. The Lonely Entrepreneur's mission is to empower one million entrepreneurs with free access to the knowledge, tools, and ongoing support they need to start or grow a business. We do this by providing them with free access to The Lonely Entrepreneur's platform—called The Learning Community—which is a one stop shop for the knowledge, tools, and support every entrepreneur needs.
Spiffy: That sounds awesome! How would you describe the impact of your work?
Michael: Well, The Lonely Entrepreneur was born from my harrowing experience in the 2008 financial crisis. I watched the business he built for ten years with over 500 employees—the first company in the US to reward for healthy behavior—nearly get destroyed in ten days by the financial crisis of 2008. I not only survived but also went on to sell my company and become an industry pioneer. Now, The Lonely Entrepreneur team and I are committed to helping entrepreneurs learn from my experience and turn their passion into success.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent initiative by you and your team. What impact does that make?
Michael: The Lonely Entrepreneur recently launched two initiatives that are having a deep impact on underserved communities. TLE's Black Entrepreneur Initiative and Hispanic Entrepreneur Initiative seek to empower 100,000 current and aspiring entrepreneurs with the knowledge, tools, and support they need. This has resulted in unprecedented cooperation among corporations and philanthropies.
Spiffy: Congratulations on that success! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Michael: I’d like to share that the goal of the Black Entrepreneur Initiative is to empower 100,000 Black men and women. And while that goal is important, of equal importance is the impact on the life of every individual. After being away from NYC during the pandemic, I returned home to find 15 letters from prisoners in Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, and Nebraska who had learned about the Black Entrepreneur Initiative. One read, “I would like to receive any and all information you can supply to better my life.” Another read, "I’m African American and would like to obtain the tools needed to be successful in the community and beyond. Thank you for this gift.” Let's never forget the impact we can have on these lives.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Michael—it’s been an honor!
Michael Dermer is an entrepreneur authority, lawyer, speaker, and author of The Lonely Entrepreneur® (TLE). Michael did not just found a company—he invented an industry. Specifically, he established the industry to reward people for being healthy. And his wild journey through that adventure led to the creation of TLE and its mission to help entrepreneurs turn their passion into success. No one knows more about the journey from struggle to success than Michael. Here is his story. (Nominated by Jing Herman of 28Muses. First published on the Ladderworks website on November 16, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.