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Donna Fenn    

Author of "Upstarts!" & "Alpha Dogs"

Donna Fenn is the author of Upstarts: How GenY Entrepreneurs are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit From Their Success (McGraw-Hill, Sept. 2009). Upstarts! deconstructs the DNA of a new generation of young entrepreneurs, analyzes their success strategies, and provides an important glimpse into the entrepreneurial landscape of the future. Fenn also wrote Alpha Dogs: How Your Small Business Can Become A Leader of the Pack (Collins, 2005. Alpha Dogs profiles eight extraordinarily successful small companies in very ordinary industries to illustrate how business success isn’t about what you do but how you do it.

Fenn has more than twenty years experience writing about entrepreneurship and small business trends. She is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine, a community leader at, a featured expert on, and a blogger on Her work has appeared in Inc., The New York Times, Newsweek, The Associated Press, The Washington Monthly, Working Woman, Working Mother, Family Money, CFO, Corporate Finance, Pink, Parents, and New England Monthly. She is a dynamic pubic speaker with expertise in keynote speeches, workshops, breakout sessions, and panel discussions. Past clients include: The New York Times Small Business Summit, National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), National Association of College Stores, Professional BusinessWomen of California, Sustainable Connections, Visa Canada, The George S. May Company, State Farm Insurance, The Women’s Congress, The South Dakota Festival of Books, Mountain and Plains Independent Booksellers Association, Compete Through Service Symposium, Retailing Smarter Symposium.


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Speech Topics

The Upstarts are Coming! What You Can Learn From a New Generation of Entrepreneurs.

In a word, plenty. Generation Y (people born 1977-1994) is starting companies at an unprecedented rate, and their approach to business is unlike anything you've seen. The generation described by the media as spoiled, entitled, even narcissistic, is proving these notions false every day. Fenn examines and analyzes this entrepreneurial revolution to reveal eight critical lessons every entrepreneur and marketer must learn. Based upon her new book Upstarts! How GenY Entrepreneurs are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit From Their Success (McGraw-Hill, 2009), Fenn's talk provides key insight into:

  • Building collaborative tribes
  • Deploying technology for competitive advantage
  • Disrupting the status quo
  • Deconstructing the GenY market
  • Generating branding buzz
  • Leveraging social mission
  • Creating dynamic workplaces
  • Morphing and growing strategically

How to Be an Upstart! Start-Up.

Designed for college students and aspiring young entrepreneurs, this talk focuses on effective start-up strategies for a new generation of entrepreneurs with real-life examples form their own generation.

Marketing to GenY the Upstart! Way. You've heard it over and over again -- GenY is a huge and affluent market, but they can be ferociously difficult to reach. They're not consumers of traditional media; they're reportedly immune to tried and true marketing techniques; and they have an appetite for products and services that make most experienced marketers scratch their heads. Learn how to reach out to this generation using advice and strategies from successful companies started by their peers.

The Upstart! Workplace: How to Reinvent Your Company Culture for a Multi-Generational Workforce.

It's been suggested that GenY will have the most profound impact on the workplace since the massive influx of women into the workforce in WW II. Learn how the generation that's been described as spoiled and entitled is actually your company's strongest competitive advantage in the marketplace, provided you understand their needs, know how to leverage their talents, and integrate them effectively into your company. Hear about proven strategies from the GenY superstars who know exactly how to do this, since their building exactly the kinds of companies they'd want to work for.

Lead the Pack! Alpha Dog Tactics for Entrepreneurs.

Fenn explains why yesterday's competitive tactics don't work anymore and why every business must reinvent itself as an "Alpha Dog," particularly in tough economic times. She tells stories from the entrepreneurial trenches (based on her first book, Alpha Dogs: How Your Small Business Can Become a Leader of the Pack (Collins, 2005)), imparting lessons learned by a variety of ordinary small businesses that beat the competition, became marketplace leaders, and survived and thrived in good economies and through recessions. Fenn lays out eight success strategies: innovation, customer service, branding, employee engagement, alliances, use of technology, community connections, and reinvention, to illustrate how any small company can become a leader of the pack. Entrepreneurs will come away with solid ideas to transform their own companies; larger companies seeking to market their goods and services to entrepreneurs, or that want to create entrepreneurial cultures of their own, will gain valuable insight into the unique challenges of running and growing a small business.

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