“If you are succeeding in everything you do, then you're probably not pushing yourself hard enough. And that means you're not taking enough risks. You risk because you have something of value you want to achieve.” ~ John C. Maxwell

Norm Heikens, Chief Mentor In Residence

Norm Heikens is the founder and owner of Norm Heikens Communications LLC, which tells the stories of entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations through writing, editing, strategic communication, content creation and project management.

Norm spent more than 30 years as a reporter and editor at newspapers including Indianapolis Business Journal and the Indianapolis Star. Norm also served as Project Manager and Editor of the Indiana Bicentennial Visioning Project, which gathered more than 100 forward-thinking individuals from throughout Indiana to set ambitious goals for the state to achieve in the first half of Indiana’s third century. He helped launch some recommendations in the Bicentennial report as a Senior Fellow at Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis.



Friends of The Failure Institute

There's no teacher like experience. That's why our cast of Fellows are so successful -- they are among the most well-respected, highly experienced professionals in their fields. They're success stories because they have failed, learned, problem-solved, and persevered their way to the top. And they're eager to share their stories, wisdom, and insight with you.

Ron Brumbarger

RWB photoRon Brumbarger is one of Indiana’s most recognized technology and education entrepreneurs and visionaries. As a dedicated husband, father, friend, mentor, business owner and volunteer, Ron continually strives to weave his many passions into a unique tapestry to serve others.

He has spent his entire professional career leveraging an entrepreneurial mindset to help disruptively change education, apply technology to enhance business practices and facilitate organizational growth.  He co-founded BitWise in 1992 and has served as the company’s president and CEO since. He was tapped in 2006 by Governor Daniels to start Indiana’s first, statewide, virtual-charter school.  In 2013, he founded Apprentice University®, an award-winning, competency-based, education alternative to traditional higher education, preparing future leaders.

Today, BitWise, one of the Midwest’s most accomplished digital marketing and web development firms, employs 14 professionals, has an impressive roster of nearly 1,000+ satisfied clients.  He has lead his company to more than 21 years of successfully planning, designing and implementing more than 3,000 web-related engagements, many internationally with Fortune 100 corporations.  The company has been awarded with numerous awards over the years, including the prestigious Indiana Growth 100 award for 5 consecutive years.

Apprentice University presently employs 14 people and works closely with more than a dozen of Central Indiana’s most respected businesses to develop well-rounded, career-ready future leaders through apprenticeships in entrepreneurship, technology and business.

He is frequently called upon to teach at the collegiate level and speak on topics such as entrepreneurship, education, work-life balance, and various technology-related topics.  Brumbarger is a recognized leader in Indiana’s economic and business development landscape, and is actively involved in dozens of business and philanthropic organizations throughout the state. His passion towards Civic Entrepreneurship has led him to be of service to many organizations in the Central Indiana community.

The business community has honored him with a number of awards including; the Indianapolis Business Journal’s "Who’s Who in Information Technology" and the “40 Under 40” award. In 2004, he was awarded Mentor of the Year for Ball State University’s Entrepreneurship Program.  Also in 2004, he was recognized as one of the seven most influential, young business leaders in Indiana by KPMG.  He was awarded Indy’s Best and Brightest in Technology in 2005 by KMPG.

Besides being the founder of The Failure Institute, he currently serves on the following boards and organizations:

  • BitWise Solutions, Inc – Co-Founder, Chairman, CEO and President (1992-2015)
  • Apprentice University, Inc. – Founder and President (2013-2015)
  • The Master’s Study - Director and Treasurer, (2010 - 2015)
  • Indiana Wesleyan University, DeVoe School of Business – Advisory board member (2015)
  • Hoosier Academy Charter School [round 2], Director (2015)

Steve Greenberg

steve greenbergCo-founder, executive vice president and general manager, Current Publishing, LLC
He works primarily in sales execution and leadership of the company and has since its founding on Aug. 31, 2006.  Prior to Current he was the founder and president of GreenInk Consulting in Carmel. The firm, which he launched in February 2000, after a 23-year career in daily newspaper journalism, specialized in start-up and niche publishing, communications, marketing, branding and sales. At the same time he also was the editorial director for Times-Leader Publications, LLC, publishers of The Southside Times, a weekly newspaper covering southern Marion County, Greenwood and northern Johnson County, and the Hendricks County Business Leader and the Morgan County Business Leader, monthly direct-mail, business-to-business newspapers. He also offers Current veteran experience he gained in multiple editorships at daily newspapers in the Midwest, the Great Plains and the East. He has won or shared 47 awards for writing, headlines, direction of coverage, special reports and innovation. Previously, he was assistant managing editor for sports at The Indianapolis Star and then the director of Star/News Direct Publishing, a niche publications division in the advertising department. It was while he was leading Star/News Direct Publishing that he won the inaugural prestigious Innovator’s Award from the Inland Press Association. A graduate of the College of Journalism at Kent State University, he also is an author - he has had 11 titles published and is writing a novel tale and a non-fiction work – and is a guitarist/lead vocalist with Dwight Lightning and the Conch City All-Stars. He was a member of the board for the Carmel Parks and Recreation Department and the Carmel Arts Advisory Council. He resides in Carmel with his wife, Sally, an office manager for C.E. Solutions, Inc. They are the parents of two daughters, Annie and Rachel, the former of which is married, and two spoiled-brat yellow Labs, Mack and Fin. He also is an investor in Feel Good Now, LLC and Kingston’s Music Showcase, LLC. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing, travel and the arts (most of all live music).


Douglas Karr

3926973Established leader in the marketing technology space, primarily assisting marketing technology related companies with their online marketing presence and establishing their authority in the marketplace. Humorous and outspoken public speaker on marketing, advertising and public relations.

Douglas has co-founded several companies and been a crucial resource for several marketing and technology startups. Douglas started in the traditional marketing space in print advertising, database marketing and direct mail, and then transitioned to digital media when it was still young. He quickly raised through the ranks of search engine marketing professionals and is now known around the globe for his focus on multi-channel marketing with respect to search, pay-per-click, social and other strategies.

Working with the main brands like GoDaddy, Angie's List, the Indianapolis Colts, Douglas is an expert at developing digital marketing strategies tailored to DK New Media's clients' resources and processes. He's vendor agnostic and works especially well in coordinating lead gen efforts for companies with outbound sales departments.

Douglas has been recognized by LinkedIn in their Sophisticated Marketing Guide as a top marketer, and his blog is known internationally as a resource for marketing-related technology research and discovery. Douglas is also an Analyst for VentureBeat and is developing an organic search engine marketing report.

Nikki LewallenNikki Lewallen

Nikki Lewallen is the Executive Director of Rainmakers and a passionate business development professional. Nikki has been an integral part of Rainmakers growth over the past eight years, seeing membership triple and market expansion from Indianapolis throughout the Midwest and into Australia. She has a love for animals, especially her Skateboarding English Bulldog, TonkaJane. Nikki is a proud Rotarian and is involved in many volunteer organizations, the Humane Society of Indianapolis, being one of her favorites. She holds a Masters Degree from Indiana University. Nikki’s passion is to inspire people to their true potential and find a way to make money doing what they love!

Jim Muehlhausen

Like most entrepreneurs, Jim Muehlhausen has an eclectic background ranging from CPA, franchisee, attorney, business owner, consultant, franchisor, public speaker, university professor, and book author.

While still attending the Indiana University School of Law, he became the youngest franchisee in Meineke Discount Muffler history (1987-1991). After successfully selling that business, Jim founded an automotive aftermarket manufacturing concern.  During his 9-year tenure with that business, the company achieved recognition from Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School and Inc. Magazine in the IC 100 Fastest Growing Businesses.

Fifteen years ago, he found his true passion, serving as a consultant, business coach, and advisor to hundreds of businesses. During his 5000+ one-on-one consulting sessions with business owners around the globe, Jim realized that while all business issues look unique, they rarely are. Most businesses are working to seize the same opportunities and overcome the same obstacles. To help business owners share best practices and stop learning from the “School of Hard Knocks,” he wrote the well regarded book The 51 Fatal Business Errors and How to Avoid Them.

His ongoing research led to the discovery of fatal business error #52: You can’t outsmart, outhustle, or outmaneuver a weak business model. The more he studied business models and worked with business owners, the more convinced he became that business models were the key to a great business.

In 2009, he founded the Business Model Institute which is devoted to the innovation and study of business models. Jim writes several articles for the Institute each year as well as contributing to publications such as Inc., The Small Business Report, Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, and various business journals and just completed the book Business Models for Dummies.

Dr. Dan Miller


Dan Miller devotes his life to helping people and organizations use history as a tool. From childhood his love of history has been one of the defining features of his life. Dan earned a bachelor’s of arts degree from Anderson University, majoring in history. He earned a master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Indiana University. For 10 years he worked in a workforce development consulting firm in central Indiana, first as a frontline consultant and subsequently as a managing partner and CEO. For the past eleven years, Dan has led his own company, Historical Solutions LLC, serving clients as a consulting leadership historian through seminars, workshops, coaching, and writing.

Dan has an extensive list of publications. His first book was published in spring 2008, entitled “A Tragic Turn: Six Leaders and the Death of Martin Luther King, Jr.” He has written four books for clients on their organizational history as well as entries for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, the Encyclopedia of Americans at War, and the Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. He is currently working on a book about four days in the leadership life of Abraham Lincoln.

Dan and his wife Kelly, a clinical psychologist at the University of Indianapolis, live in Indianapolis with their daughters Haley and Ava.

Dan’s other interests include fishing, hiking, camping, music, poetry, football, art, architecture, wine, and travel.

Steven R. Perkins

Head_Shot_PerkinsSteve is a native Hoosier from New Albany.  He earned a B.A. with honors in Classical Studies at Indiana University and an M.A. in Classics from The University of Texas.  He has taught Latin for twenty-five years in a variety of settings, including an urban middle school in Kansas City, Missouri, and at the community college, university, and high school levels in Texas.  Since 1998 he has taught Latin at North Central High School in Indianapolis.

He is the author of numerous books and articles in the field of Classical Studies, including the popular Latin For Dummies.

In addition to being the 2014 Indiana Teacher of the Year, Steve is a recipient of The College of Wooster Excellence in Teaching Award, the Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship, the Dr. Elizabeth Watkins Latin Teacher Award from the American Classical League, and was the Texas Foreign Language Association Latin Teacher of the Year.  He is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa.

 When he is not teaching five levels of Latin that include A.P. and I.B. classes, writing, and sponsoring the largest chapter of the Junior Classical League in the state, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Melissa, also a Latin teacher, and their children, Austin and Olivia; shepherding fourth grade boys at their church; and listening to classic hard rock and hair metal.

Mark Eckel ThM PhD

Mark Apr 15Mark Eckel has been teaching for over 30 years, fifteen years as undergraduate and graduate school professor. Dr. Eckel now teaches leadership courses around the country. Mark’s communication style always emphasizes care for interpretation, contextualization, cultural engagement, and interdisciplinarity. Eckel’s speaking and writing weaves story with content. Dr. Eckel has given hundreds of seminars and scores of keynotes to educators on leadership, theology, culture, and communication.

Dr. Eckel’s students love his cultural intersection with film, the focus of his latest book When the Lights Go Down. His prior book I Just Need Time to Think encourages reflective study. Dr. Eckel’s published curricula is used worldwide, he has authored peer-reviewed journal articles, and hundreds of essays appear on his website Warp & Woof. Mark is committed to the teaching-learning process inside the academe as a professor and outside the classroom as a mentor. The Comenius Institute is a non-profit committed to just that: serving the university community in Indianapolis. Dr. Eckel is president of Comenius.

Kneeland C. Brown, Ed.D.

Dr. Brown (vest)Kneeland C. Brown current serves as dean of the DeVoe School of Business at Indiana Wesleyan University. He has spent more than 12 years in higher education administration and has served as Associate Professor of Management in the School of Business and Management at Azusa Pacific University.

He attained a doctorate in educational leadership with an emphasis in higher education administration at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. His research has focused the development of sustainable leadership for 21st century higher education and the mobilization of intellectual capital within business and educational organizations.

In his present role, he gives leadership to Indiana’s largest provider of business education, with more than 15 regional educational centers across four states and online programs spanning the nation. He continues to build relationships with businesses small and large meeting the needs of the marketplace through high-quality and relevant educational programming.

Maggie L. Smith

Maggie currently serves as an attorney at Frost Brown Todd LLC.

Maggie has been recognized as one of the The Best Lawyers in America® in the field of appellate practice and has been named one the top 25 Women Attorneys in Indiana by Super Lawyers®.

She has been involved in hundreds of appeals, and has represented businesses, individuals, and groups in all types of appellate proceeding at every level of the state and federal appellate courts, and also has significant experience representing amicus curiae parties before Indiana's appellate courts.

Prior to entering private practice, she served as a judicial law clerk with the Indiana Supreme Court and was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Indiana University, teaching legal writing and reasoning and appellate advocacy.

Maggie has been actively involved in drafting the Indiana Appellate Rules, is a leader in the state and national appellate practice communities, and is a frequent presenter on appellate topics.