Spring 2023 Simpkins Speaker Series: Bill Rancic

Bill Rancic Headshot

What a great morning with Bill Rancic — entrepreneur, best-selling author, restaurateur, and the first winner of NBC's "The Apprentice." His topic: "From Apprentice to Visionary: How to Innovate in Business and Life," was a crowd pleaser.

From washing boats in college to operating a million-dollar business and restaurant empire, motivational speaker and media personality Bill Rancic will share innovative life and business tips at this on-campus event that's open to the public. Read more about Bill's background below.

The Simpkins Speaker Series is named after Bernard Simpkins, a highly successful entrepreneur and Brevard County business leader who established the sessions that have brought some of the nation’s top business innovators to EFSC.

All presentations are free and open to the public. Registration is not required. The series also includes the presentation of the Bernie W. Simpkins Scholarship to EFSC students with an entrepreneurial focus. For questions about the series and Simpkins scholarship, call 321-433-7055. 


Read Bill Rancic's Biography

After bursting on to the scene as NBC’s first Apprentice, Bill Rancic has traveled to every part of the globe, sharing his life experiences and business acumen with tens of thousands of leaders, businesses and organizations on a variety of important topics.

His expertise ranges from why some companies thrive in chaos — and others don't — to the leadership behaviors needed in a world beset by turbulence, uncertainty and dramatic change.

What makes Bill so unique is that he is both a student and teacher of leadership and has a healthy obsession with what makes great companies and leaders tick.

Having invested nearly two decades living the topic, Rancic has authored four books. These include New York Times best-seller You’re Hired: How to Succeed in Business and Life, which examines how some companies and leaders make the leap to superior results; the enduring classic Beyond the Lemonade Stand which teaches young people and empowers them with the value of both money and positive self image. In addition, Rancic co-authored I Do... Now What? with celebrity wife Giuliana Rancic where they share secrets to a supportive love and true partnership in marriage. He also just penned his first novel, First Light.

Driven by a relentless curiosity, Rancic really began his business journey when he graduated cum laude from Loyola University. He then went on to become a successful entrepreneur when he founded a monthly online subscription-based retailer. Since that time, he has inspired millions of people around the globe to work towards reaching their full potential, both in business and in their personal lives. He is currently coowner of the RPM Restaurant Group and the Giuliana Prosecco.

Rancic appears regularly on numerous daytime broadcast and cable television programs such as Today, The View, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey and various CNBC programs.

He currently resides in Chicago with his wife Giuliana and son Duke.

Learn More About the Simpkins Speaker Series

The Simpkins Speaker Series was endowed by Entrepreneur Bernard W. Simpkins to teach the fundamentals and success of entrepreneurship. The free one-hour seminars, held on the campuses of Eastern Florida State College or online, bring entrepreneurs to Brevard County to speak about their challenges and triumphs along their journey to economic success through innovative ideas. They also offer insight into today’s economic trends.

Since its inception, the lectures, which are held each spring and fall, have become a popular event for faculty, students, and business owners in Brevard County and surrounding areas. The seminars allow entrepreneurs to share how they started, what prompted them to become an entrepreneur, the characteristics and traits of an entrepreneur, and important decisions that enable entrepreneurs to have success.

Mr. Simpkins was an entrepreneur who worked in the petroleum business with convenience stores and owned a Toyota automobile dealership, a Goodyear tire distributorship, and a Thrifty franchise car rental. Until his death in October 2020, Mr. Simpkins owned S & S Enterprises, Inc., based in Cocoa, Florida.

Bernie Simpkins once said, “Entrepreneurship is an open road to success for those who chose to invest hard work and determination. Saving what you earn to establish a beginning is a key to success."

His life embodied that philosophy, and Mr. Simpkins' generosity to Eastern Florida State College throughout his life is greatly appreciated.

In March 2000, Mr. Simpkins donated $250,000 to the college to establish an endowment known as the Business Seminar for Entrepreneurial Development. In 2007, Mr. Simpkins became the college’s first $1 million donor for the development of an entrepreneurial curriculum program.

Past Speakers

The Simpkins Speaker Series has included a who's who of the business world, beginning with Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy when the series began in November 2001.

Here's the list of those who has shared their wisdom through the series, beginning with the most recent speakers. When available, the speaker's name is linked to a news story about the event.

Pegine, Business Leadership Expert and Author

Winston E. Scott, Astronaut & U.S. Navy Captain (Retired)

Harris Rosen, President & COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts

Daymond John, Founder/CEO of FUBU, Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, Star of ABC's Shark Tank and CEO of The Shark Group.

Hyatt Brown, Chairman, Brown & Brown, Inc.

Suneera Madhani, Founder, Stax by Fattmerchant

Charles Clark, Motivational Speaker & World-Class Athlete

Albert Manero, Co-Founder & President, Limbitless Solutions

Wes Henderson, Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Officer, Angel’s Envy

Dr. Delicia Haynes, Founder & CEO, Family First Health Center

Chris and Elaine Larsen, Founders, Larsen Motorsports, Inc.

Chris Gilpin, Founder & CEO, SignalVault

Brant Menswar, Leadership Speaker, Author, Performance Coach

Jim Stovall, Motivational Speaker, Author, Movie Producer

Danny McKnight, U.S. Army (Ret.), Decorated Army Range

F. Scott Moody, Co-founder & CEO, K4Connect

Mike Curb, Former Lieutenant Governor of California

Joseph Duda, Former CEO & President, DUDA Corp

David W. Anderson, Founder, Famous Dave's of America

Carol Craig, Founder & CEO, Craig Technologies

Andy Smith, Founder & President, Houlihan Capital

Heidi Ganahl, Founder, Camp Bow Wow

Cameron Johnson, Author You Call the Shots

Warren Brown, Founder, Cake Love

Jeffrey C. Piersall, President & Co-Founder, Space Coast Magazine

John L. Herman Jr., Author The Innkeeper TalesHermanisms

Mary E. Davis, Author The Entrepreneurial Mom

Don Shula, Miami Dolphins Coach & Founder, Don Shula Steakhouse

Gale Lemerand, Founder, Gale Industries

Pat Williams, Senior Vice President, Orlando Magic

Cynthia Kersey, President, Unstoppable Enterprises

Wally Amos, Founder, Famous Amos Cookies

Toni Jennings, Former Florida Lieutenant Governor

Joe R. Lee, Former Chairman of the Board, Darden Restaurants

Charles Clemente, CEO, Redgate/America Online

Al Neuharth, Founder, USA Today

Steadman Graham, Chairman & CEO, S. Grahamn & Associates

Howard Bo Callaway, Founder, Callaway Gardens

Truett Cathy, Founder & CEO, Chick-Fil-A

Speaker Series Founder

Bernie Simpkins, Entrepreneur

Bernie SimpkinsThe Simpkins Speaker Series was endowed by Bernie Simpkins to highlight the fundamentals and successes of entrepreneurship. Our condolences to the family and friends of series founder Bernie Simpkins, who passed away on October 16, 2020.

Event Sponsored By:

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