not me?" he would ask himself. "Why don't I have that car?
Why can't I live in that house?"
the tools: Entrepreneur Horace Allen has created a
personal coaching program to build leadership and create
success. Photo © Shell
decided he would never settle for a lower quality of life
— and that he would work as hard as necessary to reach
his goals. "I'm not a busing advocate, but I am an exposure
advocate," Allen says today. "It's real hard to sell someone
on how great a hot dog tastes after they've had Maine lobster."
determination inspired Allen to transform himself from a marginal
student to an honor-roll student in the Syracuse public school
system. He continued on to Hobart and William Smith Colleges,
where he earned a spot on the dean's list and a bachelor's
degree in economics.
on to IBM, rising through the ranks as a marketing representative
and product manager, before leaving the company in 1993 to
co-found Total Solutions Group in Minneapolis. Within seven
years, the technology integration firm had annual sales of
$40 million and was recognized as one of the fastest-growing
privately held companies in Minnesota.
to use the success of the firm to create opportunities for
those who shared his underprivileged background. TSG already
offered a for-profit training program during the week. Why
not open up the classrooms during the weekend and offer free
computer training to disadvantaged young people? Why not also
teach them the skills to be truly successful?
TSG University, a program that offered not only computer training
but comprehensive personal coaching too. Students learned
how to set and track goals and received a thorough grounding
in the elements of success.
program attracted hundreds of applicants for its 10 to 14
slots per quarter. Graduates found well-paying jobs at TSG
and technology firms throughout the Twin Cities area.
goal was to teach his students to fish, as the proverb goes,
so that they would eat for a lifetime. He is a vocal critic
of the old welfare model, which he says served only to cripple
the motivation of those it purported to benefit.
message is, 'Because you are poor, here's a check," Allen
declares. "But if you can make the same amount of money sitting
at home and receiving a check as you would by working, what
motivation do you have to advance yourself?
nice to help the poor, but if your help doesn't create some
sort of value, then it's worthless," Allen concludes. "Until
folks realize that people who are underserved want and need
to work, there will always be a permanent underclass."
ultimately sold his stake in TSG, and in 2002 enrolled in
the Executive MBA Program
at the Kellogg School. He had just been appointed to the board
of trustees at Hobart, and the president of the college asked
Allen to help improve the graduation and employment prospects
of its male minority students. While attending Kellogg, Allen
created the prototype for what would become his new nonprofit
program provides one-on-one personal coaching for young African-American
and Latino men, who are often the first in their families
to attend college. Students also attend the "Success Curriculum,"
an intensive, year-long series of classes that focus on areas
such as leadership, community building, ethics and entrepreneurship.
To date, the
organization has achieved an 89 percent retention, graduation
and employment rate among the students served at Hobart and
several other schools and colleges.
incorporated many of the lessons he learned at Kellogg into
the TeamPact program, not the least of which is an atmosphere
of high expectations and success.
Kellogg so special is that it has a recipe for a systematic
outcome," Allen says. "That's what we want to replicate at
TeamPact. What we teach are the keys to being successful."
hopes to expand the program to more schools and universities
throughout the country. "I'm looking to make changes in the
face of America, not just schools," Allen says. "I am trying
to establish a movement toward excellence."