Al Baker, Minnesota ’09, joins the Alpha Kappa Psi community in a new role this year as an event presenter. Baker will kick off Saturday morning sessions with a keynote address at the 2019 Principled Business Leadership Institute February 8-10 in Chicago.
PBLI is the Fraternity’s annual flagship event where students and alumni interact with experts in the business industry to further their professional development. Baker said he is looking forward to helping students articulate the tough questions that could jump-start their careers in a healthy way.
Baker, 28, found AKPsi through a business fair at the University of Minnesota while studying economics. Through the Fraternity, he secured a few consulting and IT internships while in college that guided his career in corporate business, but everything changed in 2011 when Baker’s brother passed away from an accidental overdose.
“It was kind of a jolt to the system where I was able to be a little bit more honest and vulnerable with myself,” he said.
Later that year, Baker and his family started the Dan Baker Foundation to aid individuals, families, and organizations battling opioid addiction. The foundation supports halfway homes, funds drug courts, and provides Narcan to first responders. Since 2011, the foundation has raised $250,000.
The loss of his brother also caused Baker to rethink his career path. Baker had always been drawn to the early, conceptual stages of business, and upon graduation, he pursued entrepreneurship wholeheartedly with the opening of his first start-up, Reemo Health, in 2013.
Reemo Health uses smartwatch technology to improve the aging experience for senior citizens. The applications share clients’ activity and biometric information with loved ones and caregivers and provide a way for clients to seek help.
During development, Baker spent one week living in a senior community as a resident and many more hours gathering stories from potential users to enhance the end product.
Baker has since moved to his current role as innovation lead at The Goodman Group, a company that operates various senior living communities and develops software to help the elderly lead healthier, less isolated lives.
Baker credits the AKPsi experience and the peers he met for encouraging his dream of entrepreneurship and showing him that success is attainable, and he hopes to do the same for others at PBLI.
“There are a lot of different ways to start out a career and entrepreneurship is simply just another way that is not necessarily more risky than the others,” he said. “There are a lot of ways to reduce the risk and stack the cards to your advantage.”
Baker’s biggest success in business:
– “My biggest success is in the people I’ve worked with. It’s the caliber of people I’ve been able to work with to achieve what we’ve done.”
Baker’s biggest struggle as a business owner:
– “It’s hard to distinguish personal life and professional life because they’re so intertwined. The business’s success is my success. It’s value in the world is my value in the world. When you don’t have any other career anchor points to look to, you’re really building the plane as it flies in terms of that plane being your life and your career.”
Learn more at myakpsi.org/events/pbli.