Apple was created in a garage. Nordstrom began as a small shoe store. Wrigley started out selling soap.

And the Career and Leadership Seminar was born from a casual breakfast comment with the intent of giving LSU Humanities & Social Sciences students a launchpad for career success.

Steve Herbert was eating breakfast with fellow LSU100 nominees when he mentioned to Dr. Gaines Foster, former dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, that HSS students make exceptional leaders because of their intrinsic communication, reasoning and critical thinking skills. It didn’t take long for the entire table to get involved, discussing how best to provide leadership and career training for these students.

“I believe in the fundamental premise that people with a background in humanities can be great leaders and make a real contribution,” Herbert said. “It doesn’t have to be someone starting a company. Leaders are needed everywhere.”

Herbert and his wife, Julie, both HSS alumni, quickly began working with the college to develop the seminar, funded through Steve’s company, USA Technologies.

The Career and Leadership Seminar attracted more than 30 students who learned leadership skills, how to market themselves for their careers, and proper etiquette for business meals. Steve, who provided the seminar’s keynote address, joined fellow entrepreneurial HSS alumni Fred Dent, founder of Dent Asset Management, and Stafford Kendall, co-founder of Covalent Logic, as speakers. “I want students to know, ‘You can do whatever it is that you want to do,’” Steve said.

Steve also shared that he feels HSS students are under-leveraged in the professional world. “I had a great experience at LSU, and so did Julie,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have a successful career. I wanted to give back and was honored to contribute to the university in some way.”

Although the seminar was organized as a one-time summit, Steve shared that he wants to see the program not only continue, but expand beyond a one-day event. “We were happy to fund it and hope to continue to do so,” he said. “I hope we can reach an expanded number of students in the college and encourage them to be leaders, and leverage the education they’ve gotten.”

Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2015.