Columnist | Business

Lee Schafer joined the Star Tribune as a 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: In a tough year, donors came through for Minnesota's charities

Donors to Minnesota nonprofits were surprisingly generous last year.The total from Give to the Max Day in November blew through the previous donation record,…


Schafer: How Kinetic, a new networking site from Minnesota, aims to stand out

The social media site LinkedIn stopped being useful the day I logged on to find someone I knew who could introduce me to a consultant…


Schafer: Distrust is all around, especially in America

The authors of the annual Edelman report on people's trust in major institutions should be forgiven for declaring a bankruptcy in their most recent annual…


Schafer: It may not look like the right time, but plenty of business owners head for the exits

It made sense when consultant Julie Keyes said last week that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the plans of baby boomers who had hoped to…


Schafer: If last week's chaos can't get CEOs involved for the civic good, what can?

The breathtaking actions of the mob incited by President Donald Trump to rush the Capitol Wednesday made it nearly impossible to keep your eyes off…


Schafer: Office life will change, but the need for offices won't

One item that stood out in this typically slow season for business news is the sale of a downtown Minneapolis parking lot to the global…


Schafer: I couldn't finish my annual financial review, so I started thinking bigger

Earlier this year I took my annual financial planning and year-in-review tasks off the to-do list.The only real goal left after about the Fourth of…


Schafer: What's behind the big decision Bob Dylan just made

Universal Music Group's recent announcement that it acquired the song catalog of Bob Dylan was light on details, like how much it paid, and…


Schafer: America has a dropout problem, and I'm not talking about schools

About 4 million fewer Americans are in the workforce now than at the start of the year.This is not about unemployment. About 19 million…