News & Notes


The “Obama Effect” and the Question of Political Mobility

_CLM4649bSince Barack Obama’s election in 2008, we have witnessed a marked increase in the number of black candidates across the country running for elective office.  But for some reason, this has not really translated into more black candidates winning the top elective offices (i.e., the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, and state governorships).  It is reported, however, that black candidates across the country have done better on the local level.  Does social mobility have a companion – political mobility?

Read more.


Stephen Blair Venable appears on the KMSP-TV FOX Morning Show to Talk About Millennials’ Tough Transition From College to the Corporate Workplace

_CLM4649bStephen Blair Venable, management consultant, attorney, and author of The Commencement Odyssey, was a guest on KMSP FOX’s “Morning Buzz” Show on September 8, 2014 with anchor Alix Kendall and FOX’s Keith Marler.  Watch the video segment below.


Stephen Blair Venable Gets Rave Reviews for His Book, The Commencement Odyssey


Stephen Blair Venable’s landmark book, The Commencement Odyssey: Why We All Have a Stake in Transforming the American Workplace (See, is attracting the attention of some very prominent people. The book offers both a multidisciplinary analysis of the “soul-numbing” transition from college to the corporate workplace, as well as a veritable key to unraveling the complex web of “people problems” that make the workplace absolutely miserable for millions of employees each day…and that make organizations far less productive and profitable than they would otherwise be. It contains a wealth of original substantive thought on the subject matter, and it presents some very interesting new concepts. Some of Venable’s most interesting concepts are the following: (1) the “Human Assets Organization” (HAO) – an entirely new business model for successful organizations of the future; (2) “Professional People Managers” (PPMs) – the idea that the management of people (i.e., “human assets”) is so important that it should be a profession in and of itself, rather than being an often unwanted bi-product of one’s position within a hierarchy; and (3) “Real World Studies” – a proposed curriculum that would allow college students to consider some of the conflicts and perils of corporate organizational life as a part of their post-secondary education, and thus prepare and empower them to make more informed choices about their careers…and ultimately transform the workplace itself.

Here are a few of the reviews:

The Commencement Odyssey is definitely a major breakthrough. Each section provides the reader with an engaging opportunity for personal introspection and the development of a better understanding of what drives corporate America. Stephen Blair Venable’s compelling and insightful new book is a tour guided journey to the path, tools, analysis and inspiration required to create a better, more productive workplace and world.”
The Honorable Mark F. Lindsay
Senior White House Staff Member for President Clinton

Obama Administration Transition Team Leader 

Excellent, worthwhile read! The author takes an innovative approach to “real” issues many of us leaders are facing as we work and compete in our current structures. The analysis starts at the foundation of entering the work place –and not only highlights the business impacts but also, gratefully, takes on the societal and human impacts. I would recommend this book to all levels of leadership because it will be our senior leaders who have to own engaging in these recommendations and the new leaders who will sustain the change and disruption to current practices. This book, while rich with content, is digestible in its analysis, layout and applicable recommendations and a recommended read for any innovative leader and his/her team! I look forward to sharing it with my team and colleagues.
Allison O’Connor
Board Chair
American College of Healthcare Executives – Minnesota Chapter

“Stephen Blair Venable, in The Commencement Odyssey, has analyzed the jarring cultural changes college graduates experience in their transitions from academic cultures to business cultures. He identifies the human costs and the loss of productivity and innovation that corporate organizations realize when corporate leaders do not recognize and change corporate cultures to adapt the cultures to the positive aspects of the academic culture.  This is a very worthwhile read, and I highly recommend it!”
Kent Eklund
Founder, Cincinnatus, Inc.
Former President, Fairview Foundation

“Steve takes on the market’s primary challenge – maximizing human assets with an optimal mix of values, vision, and practical solutions. This is a must read for all responsible leaders!”
Ravi Norman
Board Member
Greater MSP (Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership)

The Commencement Odyssey provides an insightful, well-articulated, and entirely novel analysis of the discrepancy between the life that college graduates look forward to and the one they typically find in the corporate workplace. For those who have experienced this discrepancy, the themes will feel hauntingly familiar, though Stephen Blair Venable appears to be the first to publish this kind of analysis. He provides solutions that could transform the corporate workplace for the better, and the analysis and solutions provided will benefit the employer and employee, the college student and the corporate executive. I highly recommend this book!”
Dr. Todd Kellogg
The Mayo Clinic

“A very impressive piece of work with a fresh and innovative take on the mismatch between educational institutions and the world of work. This book is like a breath of fresh air in a crowded but arid landscape, and I will be recommending it widely.”
Professor Michael Schoenfeldt
Chair, Department of English Language and Literature
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)


Stephen Blair Venable Develops “Human Assets Organization” (HAO) Concept


The term “human assets organization” (or HAO) was coined by author and futurist Stephen Blair Venable in his landmark book The Commencement Odyssey: Why We All Have a Stake in Transforming the American Workplace. (See In the text, Venable explains that perhaps the most significant effect of the transition from a products‐based economy to the so‐called knowledge economy is that the majority of the market capitalization (or value) of S & P 500 companies now consists of human know‐how and intellectual property rather than so‐called hard assets such as real estate, equipment, and cash. Venable explains that “this change alone is so significant that it will usher in an entirely new kind of organization.” Venable calls this new organizational model the “human assets organization” (HAO). Venable goes on to present a veritable blueprint for building and sustaining the successful HAO of the future – an organization that, according to Venable, is “ergonomically suited for the human psyche and built upon a depth of understanding of human beings.”


Stephen Blair Venable Develops “Real World Studies” Concept

_CLM4649bThe term “real world studies” was coined by author and futurist Stephen Blair Venable in his landmark book The Commencement Odyssey: Why We All Have a Stake in Transforming the American Workplace. (See In the text, Venable explains that the knowledge gained by students during the course of their post-secondary education would be considerably more useful to them if it were informed by an understanding of the real world context in which such knowledge will ultimately by applied – an understanding that, according to Venable, should be conferred as a part of every post-secondary education. Venable is not suggesting that colleges and universities develop a more vocational orientation or offer job training. Rather, Venable is suggesting that students be exposed to the “source code or genome” of the traditional workplace – a source code consisting of profound conflicts and wrought with peril for graduates – through a multi-disciplinary curriculum based on his ground-breaking analysis in The Commencement Odyssey and informed by concepts from history, economics, sociology, human psychology, and ethics. Venable makes a very compelling case that the time for Real World Studies is now.


Stephen Blair Venable Develops Concept of “Professional People Managers” (PPMs)


The concept of “Professional People Managers” (or PPMs) was developed by author and futurist Stephen Blair Venable in his landmark book The Commencement Odyssey: Why We All Have a Stake in Transforming the American Workplace. (See In the text, Venable asserts that one of the most destructive (and indeed counterintuitive) aspects of the traditional workplace model is that companies allow their precious human assets (“talent”) to be managed by people who often have neither management skills nor any particular interest in managing other people. The effect, of course, is that millions of talented workers either quit because of a stressful and/or demeaning relationship with their “superior,” or they are summarily disposed of by bosses who are not particularly fond of them – with little or no oversight exercised by the company. The problem, according to Venable, is that most of the market capitalization (or value) of S & P 500 companies now consists of human skill, know‐how, and intellectual property. Therefore, organizations are effectively exercising no oversight, as a matter of either management or governance, over the disposition of their assets – something that they are certainly required to do as a matter of fiduciary responsibility and proper management. Venable asserts that the future lies in the development of a profession he calls “Professional People Managers” (PPMs) – a concept that he discusses in depth in the text.


Stephen Blair Venable Authors Game-Changing Book About The “Soul-Numbing” Transition From College to the Corporate Workplace


Stephen Blair Venable’s landmark book, The Commencement Odyssey: Why We All Have a Stake in Transforming the American Workplace, is a remarkable and multi-disciplinary analysis of the soul-numbing transition from college to the corporate workplace, as well as a veritable key to unraveling the complex web of “people problems” that make the workplace absolutely miserable for millions of Americans every day – problems that stifle productivity and profitability as well.  The book contains a lot of original substantive thought on the subject matter and evidences an unusually deep understanding of human beings.Read more at


Stephen Blair Venable and Surgo Consulting Announce Expansion into Publishing Business with the Opening of Surgo Books™

_CLM4748rbStephen Blair Venable and Twin Cities-based Surgo Consulting have expanded into the publishing business with the recent opening of their publishing division, Surgo Books™.  According to Venable, “there is a human story that has never really been told, and it is about what happens to people in transition from college to the corporate workplace, and how that transition puts most of them on a collision course with themselves.”  “We are going to publish books about the human experience of the workplace, and how to make that experience healthy and meaningful while simultaneously making the workplace more productive, efficient, and profitable.”  Read more at


Stephen Blair Venable attends Executive Education Program at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business

Stephen Blair Venable at the informal graduation ceremony.

Stephen Blair Venable, along with 51 other business owners and executives from across the country, attended the Executive Education Program at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. According to the Economist Magazine’s ninth annual ranking of the world’s 100 best MBA programs, published October 15, 2011, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business now ranks #1 in the world.


At the Invitation of Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, Stephen Blair Venable Joins Congressional Trade Delegation to the Middle East.

Stephen Blair Venable with Congressman Keith Ellison; Edward Burton (President and Managing Director of the U.S -Saudi Business Council); and Saud Al-Suwaileh in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Stephen Blair Venable meets with a group of American ex-patriot businesswomen who are members of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce.

In March of 2010, Stephen Blair Venable joined Congressman Keith Ellison and a Minnesota delegation of prominent businesspeople on a Congressional Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia.  The purpose of the trade mission was to build a bilateral trade relationship with the Saudi business establishment, Saudi entrepreneurs, and Saudi governmental officials in Riyadh (the Saudi capital) and Dammam, a center of Saudi industry.

The mission was a resounding success as it opened doors to significant opportunities for Minnesota’s businesses.  In 2010 alone, Minnesota exported $83.5 million worth of merchandise to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Gulf region, accounting for 25% of the region’s GDP.  Driven by an ambitious national development plan that is dedicating hundreds of billions of dollars to projects from infrastructure to technology, the Kingdom has demonstrated a rising demand for U.S products, technologies, and services across industry sectors.