Kinko’s founder and Cal Poly enthusiast Paul Orfalea visited Cal Poly yesterday to speak to students about business and his advice on how to live life to the fullest.
“Every day you need your soul to catch up to your body,” Orfalea said near the end of his speech in the Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre. “Give yourself an hour a day to just be stupid.”
This year Kinko’s celebrates its thirty-fifth anniversary and Orfalea has marked the occasion with the release of his book “Copy This! Lessons from a hyperactive dyslexic who turned a bright idea into one of America’s best companies.”
In 2000, Orfalea retired from his position as Kinko’s Chairman to the role of Chairman Emeritus. During this year he and his family started the Orfalea Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization. Their efforts have been mainly in California for children’s centers and programs on college campuses. Cal Poly named its business department in honor of him and his many donations.
In 2004, Kinko’s was acquired by FedEx and Orfalea was no longer involved with the company, giving him time to take part in more philanthropic efforts and various business ventures.
Orfalea has had a high opinion of Cal Poly for many years. He attributes his love to many things, including the university’s “learn by doing” motto and the effort to keep class sizes small.
“I don’t think students realize how much they care for them at this school,” he said. “If my kids could go here, I’d be delighted.”
Among the variety of advice Orfalea offered to students, was to constantly save money and not get caught up in credit card debt and loans.
“If you don’t have savings, it’s harder to keep your integrity,” he said. “Don’t be a slave to anybody.”
Business freshman Kelly McEachern said she was impressed that Orfalea was so adamant about not being what he called a “big shot” and running his company with a small business attitude.
“I thought it was insightful but real,” she said. “I don’t know if it was the freedom of having sold his company, but he was very real. He even made fun of people taking notes.”
Orfalea commented a few times throughout the day that he did not want to run his business like the “big shots.”
“The cardinal rule is never listen to the president of your company,” he said. “CEOs always lie.”
Orfalea said his employees always had access to daycare and good health benefits.
“I’m proud of the way we treated people,” he said.
When asked by a student attending the speech what his favorite time of his life has been, he said he is enjoying his life now more than he ever has.
“When you’re 20, you care about what people think about you. When you’re forty, you don’t really care as much about what people think about you. When you’re sixty, you realize people were never thinking about you in the first place,” he said.
Mechanical Engineering senior Chris Mundy said he really enjoyed the speech and felt like he could relate to Orfalea.
“I really admire the guy,” he said. “It was very inspiring.
Earlier in the day, Orfalea visited Eric Olsen’s Industrial Quality Assurance class and observed their simulated production line of Toyota cars. In his evening speech he mentioned that he thought there were many business opportunities on campus.
“Every bulletin board on campus has a money-making idea,” he said.
When asked what his message for students would be, Orfalea emphasized individuality and self-trust.
“Your eyes believe what they see, your ears believe others,” he said. “Believe your eyes. Follow your intuition.”