Columnist | Business

Lee Schafer joined the Star Tribune as columnist in 2012 after 15 years in business, including leading his own consulting practice and serving on corporate boards of directors. He's twice been named the best in business columnist by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, most recently for his work in 2017.

Schafer grew up on a southwest Minnesota cattle farm and studied history and economics at Macalester College. He received his masters degree from Northwestern University and worked as a writer and editor for a regional business monthly before returning to business. His work included investment banking but he had the most fun advising CEOs on growth strategy. He lives in St. Paul with his wife Tanya Bell, a real estate development consultant and civic leader, and they have three adult daughters. He's also been active as a volunteer, including for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood House and Urban Homeworks.


Schafer: Cost-sharing pools don't solve the real problem in health care

A short video entitled “How Does Sedera’s Medical Cost Sharing Work?” on the website of Sedera Health leaves at least one big question unanswered —…


Xcel sees financial payoff in push for wind-power development

The case the industry makes — renewables are cheap enough, and getting cheaper — is getting clearer in the latest numbers.


Schafer: The first step in helping people is getting to know them

Thinking more about the why behind our gifts could make donating a far richer experience.


Shared prosperity is part of competitiveness

One more program for emerging leaders wouldn’t be all that interesting, until you learn more about the problem that a new Minnesota initiative is addressing.…


Schafer: Trade warriors should heed bloody lessons of the Civil War

That's where the reality of the war finally sank in for Gen. Grant: There wasn't going to be any one decisive action that could bring the war to a quick close.


Schafer: Big valuations for Bite Squad, WeWork were never realistic

A reckoning with reality was inevitable.


Schafer: Formula for retaining software engineers is mostly hard work

Maybe that's the lesson for employers, when it comes to talent: Constant recruiting followed by a willingness to train.


Schafer: Rebranding a company is never easy, but sometimes necessary

To understand where Discount Steel came from, you have to go back to its beginning in the summer of 1992.


Schafer: Major threat to U.S. jobs today? It's automation, not China

The adoption of technologies to let machines take over much of the work people do is just getting going.


Schafer: Credit card industry seems stacked against young adults

A recent Wall Street Journal article on the evolving credit card market sent me checking to see which card I actually carried. Credit cards are…