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Memphis Daily News
Entrepreneurship Is in the Water
April 13, 2017
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

“There’s something in the water.” I often heard that expression when someone referenced a widespread occurrence, the cause of which was puzzling or unexplainable. But if it’s Memphis water, I know what is in it: the soul of an entrepreneur.

In Memphis, for whatever reason, entrepreneurship grows in abundance. Memphis is a land of opportunity for anyone with a good idea and the work ethic to back it up. And now, there is even documentation to prove and celebrate it.

The Society of Entrepreneurs celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. To commemorate the multitude of contributions the members have made to Memphis over the years, the society published its story. The book tells the stories and intimate accounts of innovators, pioneers, risk-takers and visionaries in all sectors of our society. They made Memphis a safe place to swim in the water of entrepreneurship.

The society, founded by Walker Uhlhorn, came together at a meeting at the Pink Palace. Uhlhorn was looking for a way to celebrate those who were changing the face of Memphis and to share with the entire community just what and who makes Memphis great. He gathered together some of his friends. They were leaders in business and the community who recognized opportunities to solve problems and had the drive and ability to do so.

Those 15 founding members crafted a statement that frames the SOE vision: “To foster the development of the entrepreneurial spirit and to recognize the contributions of entrepreneurs to business and to the community.”

In 1999, Pearson Crutcher became the first executive director of the SOE, a position she still holds today. She quickly instituted a professional management system for the organization as well as programs to mentor and gather together entrepreneurs who were just starting out. It was a way for SOE to give back to the community and prepare a perpetual pipeline of entrepreneurs for Memphis.

This year, the society used its 25th anniversary dinner where entrepreneurship in Memphis is celebrated as a backdrop to honor all 117 members of the SOE and to highlight their contributions and how those contributions make our city great.

During the event, members shared their definitions of entrepreneurship.

Fred Smith, FedEx founder, said that entrepreneurs should “attract good people, motivate them through good leadership and share success with them.”
Pitt Hyde, founder of AutoZone, said, “It’s important to embrace the risks, responsibilities and rewards of entrepreneurship in order to stimulate constant growth and change in today’s business world.”

You can read all their wise advice at

The event ended with the unveiling of the book, “There’s Something in the Water,” as glasses of Memphis water were raised in a toast to Memphis entrepreneurs, past, present and future!

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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