As Larry Gaynor (B.A. Accounting ’77), founder, president and CEO of TNG Worldwide, put it, “The thing about entrepreneurship is that you have to invest in yourself.”
Gaynor kicked off the 2019–2020 Innovate State Speaker Series on Wednesday, enlightening a room of students about the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.
“The more you fail, the more you learn and the more you grow,” Gaynor said. “Entrepreneurs have this passion. We have to make decisions and we have to be quick.”
At Innovate State, hosted by the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, MSU alumni return to campus to share their entrepreneurial experiences with current students.
TNG was first launched in 1985 as a distributor of discount beauty and health products and has transformed over three decades. Gaynor shared that today, 70% of TNG’s products are manufactured in-house, with a focus on fewer than 20 beauty products.
“It’s so hard to sell a physical product that is so easy to make,” Gaynor said. “If you don’t change, innovate your product, you’ll go out of business.” TNG’s latest innovation is the launch of its Emma Beauty line, which offers vegan, cruelty-free nail polish, selling at prices lower than standard polishes and partnering with salons to meet customer needs and demands.
Gaynor is passionate about not only growing his business but also growing and investing in his employees, so they are passionate about their work too. He has followed the Gallup design to make TNG a strength-based organization, he said. “We use a program called Strength Finders, where employees must evaluate themselves to find out what they’re best at so that we can put them in positions where they can succeed.”
Regardless of how good your employees are, Gaynor told students, entrepreneurs must invest in themselves and have the drive to succeed. “You have to learn all the tasks of your business before hiring anyone to help you. I worked 80–90 hours a week until I was 40,” he said.
Gaynor summed up the drivers for entrepreneurship as confidence, integrity, passion and pride.
This year’s Innovate State series will showcase 19 alumni guests from the Broad College and other backgrounds. The events will take place in the Gaynor Entrepreneurship Lab in the Minskoff Pavilion. Gaynor and his wife, Teresa, committed $3 million to fund the physical space and support the important concept of entrepreneurship. Upcoming speakers are listed on the Innovate State website and the livestream recording of this event can be found on the MSU Alumni website.