I recently read Bill Strickland’s inspiring new book “Make the Impossible Possible“, which describes how Pittsburgh’s Manchester Crafstmen’s Guild grew out of Bill’s vision and passion. Although the book covers Bill’s activities in the non-profit world, it struck me that Bill has the characteristics of an inventor and entrepreneur. His book provides a terrific roadmap for inventors and entrepreneurs who want to make their idea a success.
The Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and its sister organization, the Bidwell Training Center, provide a diverse array of services relating to arts enrichment and career training. Starting from Bill’s vision of a place where inner-city youth could work with clay to create pottery, MCG-BTC now trains chefs, medical technicians and billing professionals, adminstrative assistants, florists, and a diverse group of artists. It also hosts concerts by internationally-known jazz musicians, and it produces Grammy-winning CDs through its MCG Jazz recording label.
His theme and title for the book, “make the impossible possible”, describes how Bill enlisted the help of external funders and political leaders, and how he sought and motivated strong internal managers, to create a true “social enterprise” that is supported in large part by corporate funders who benefit from the job applicant pool that MCG and BTC provide. MCG-BTC also helps support itself through sales of concert tickets, CDs, and agricultural products, and other revenue-generating activities.
Bill’s path of building a social enterprise is equally applicable to inventors/entrepreneurs who have a great idea but need external support to build that idea into a sustainable business. Bill set high standards, and he worked hard to convince others to support those high standards.
MCG-BTC now serves as the model for other arts and technology centers in Ohio, Michigan and California. Bill’s book is a thought-provoking read for anyone with vision and entrepreneurial spirit.