News & Notes


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)