Listen to Curt DeBerg’s 30-minute interview with Nancy Weigman on “Nancy’s Bookshelf” on Northsate Public Radio KCHO (Northern California)!
Publisher: Heidelberg Graphics under its imprint Memoir Books. (ISBN 978-1-937748-03-6)
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014932102.


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An insider’s story about business ethics and Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), a scandal-plagued organization supported by Wal-Mart and other large retail corporations like Walgreens and RadioShack.

Sponsored by Wal-Mart and other corporations, Students in Free Enterprise holds competitions throughout the world for university student teams. The author, advising a SIFE team in California, discovers that some teams received awards without entering. He documents other faults with the organization; subsequently, he founds a new organization targeting innovative teens. His program, unlike SIFE, encourages teens to become entrepreneurs. This book tells the story of student achievement, corporate hanky-panky, and one man who stood up to powerful leaders of business trying to stop him.

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Book Reviews

Dr. Curtis L. DeBerg

Curtis DeBerg has written three books in one. First, [How High is Up?] is an unusually intriguing story of an academic life, which actually makes the accounting profession seem exciting! Second, it provides a spirited, inside account of a scandal plagued organization, Students in Free Enterprise. ... And finally, Professor DeBerg’s narrative offers readers important insights into the conservative, evangelical business culture propagated by companies like Wal-Mart. …

—Nelson Lichtenstein, University of California, Santa Barbara. Author of The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business.

This book is a compelling read about [DeBerg’s] struggle to nurture SAGE [Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship] and grow it to more than twenty countries and counting—one part educational, two parts suspenseful, and three parts uplifting. It certainly wasn’t easy: His personal, unsavory experience with SIFE could easily have left him bitter. Instead, it just made him more tenacious.

—Jerr Boschee Cofounder, Social Enterprise Alliance, Founder and Executive Director, The Institute for Social Entrepreneurs

There is a valuable message in How High Is Up? For me, the message was about overcoming adversity and pressing on to reach your goals. It was about the trail you take to reach your destination and about how to stay true to yourself. … Dr. DeBerg’s memoir is definitely worth reading.

—Adrian Lazaro Sherrod, Student, CSU, Chico, Two-Time All-American, Cross-Country (2012, 2013)

How High Is Up? is an excellent piece of work. … Professor DeBerg educates readers about how a great vision has become reality … he provides a unique, insider’s perspective about the real world of corporate politics and the practice of self-proclaimed servant leaders. …

—Kofi A. Obeng, Assistant Financial Analyst, University of Westminster, London, U.K. Member of the SAGE Ghana Board of Directors, President, 2004 University of Cape Coast SIFE president (Ghana national champions)

This is a good read, a revealing reflection on organizational dynamics from a passionate believer in the global vision of civic engagement and entrepreneurship education.

—Alfred Konuwa, Vice President, Academic and Student Services, Woodland Community College

Part memoir, part expose, part manifesto, it takes the reader on an intellectual journey into the uses and abuses of community service programs. DeBerg is a fine storyteller, and his personal energy and vision radiate from every page. The story he tells is especially timely given the choice our country—and our planet—faces as to how and for whose benefit we marshal the creative energies of a market economy.

—Edward A. Zlotkowski, Professor, English and Media Studies, Bentley University, 2010, Lifetime Achievement Award for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, International Conference on Service-Learning and Engaged Research

This book gives a glimpse into the potential of service learning to do good, for both students on a campus and residents in a community. Just as importantly, this book tells me that academics and scholars can have a laudable, palpable impact upon society if they make applied research the highest priority, for which, after years of service learning, there is still much room for growth.

—Van Ajemian, JD, SAGE Board Member

All entrepreneurs will relate to Professor DeBerg’s story in How High Is Up? It is one of fighting the odds, challenging authority, and being tagged the “wild one” because he dared to think outside the proverbial box. Like most entrepreneurs DeBerg did not give in or give up. He followed the path he knew to be right—first, to show high school students the power business ownership has to transform lives and offer hope, and second, to help stimulate youth entrepreneurship on a global scale.

—Rieva Lesonsky, CEO, GrowBiz Media. Former Editorial Director, Entrepreneur Magazine, Former Board Member, Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE)

With Curt’s inspiration, dedication and energy, he has created the SAGE program. SAGE taps into the creative energy of all its participants. Most importantly, he gives young people the chance to reach their full potential and to truly believe that they can change the world for the better.

—Irina Dannikova, Tula Teachers’ Retraining Institute, Tula, Russia SAGE Asia Continental Co-Coordinator

This book should be required reading for emerging leaders in academia, as well as the public and private sectors, particularly in Africa. In Africa, there is an urgent need to create and mobilize social entrepreneurs, who are beginning to tackle the numerous challenges of poverty and conflicts that visionless leadership has, for decades, spread throughout the continent. … How High Is Up? is a valuable source of inspiration and motivation for change makers.”

—Agwu Amogu, SAGE Nigeria CEO, SAGE Africa Continental Coordinator, Abuja, Nigeria

Media Links

The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of a Sam M. Walton SIFE Fellow

About the Author

Dr. Curtis L. DeBerg

Dr. Curtis L. DeBerg earned his Ph.D. and M.S. at Oklahoma State University in business administration (emphasis: financial accounting) and economics, respectively. Before that, he was employed as a CPA for the national accounting firm of Ernst & Whinney in Des Moines, Iowa. From September 1993 to May 2005, he was the Sam M. Walton Free Enterprise Fellow at Chico State. The duties of a Walton Fellow are to be the adviser for a Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team on campus. One of the SIFE team’s most outstanding projects was called “Cal-High SIFE.” Based on the success of Cal-High SIFE, Dr. DeBerg founded Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE) in summer 2002. SAGE is a global community of teenage entrepreneurs sharing a common purpose: to make the world a better place. SAGE’s mission is to advance ethical business practices, social responsibility, civic engagement and environmental awareness worldwide through high-school level youth participation in entrepreneurship and community service. Youth use their school learning to become self-reliant, create wealth, and help others. SAGE is currently operating in seven U.S. states and 21 countries. Dr. DeBerg has traveled to over 35 countries in the past 12 years to advance SAGE’s mission. On November 6, 2013, he traveled to Moscow, Russia to make final arrangements for Moscow the host city for 2014 SAGE World Cup, to take place in August, 2014.

Dr. DeBerg has published several articles in many academic refereed journals, and served three years as Associate Editor of the Journal of Accounting Education. From 1995-1997, he served as Project Co-director of a U.S. Department of Education grant entitled “Reengineering Elementary Accounting.” Dr. DeBerg was a leader in reengineering principles of accounting during this time period when CSU, Chico made significant changes in both content and pedagogy in principles of accounting.

To learn more about Dr. DeBerg and the book, please visit his LinkedIn page.

Other Books by Dr. DeBerg

Academic Articles by Dr. DeBerg

YouTube Videos by Dr. DeBerg

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