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: Home real estate may be immune to the pandemic, but commercial properties aren't

It's easy to guess where it's really painful, with social distancing keeping lots of people from shopping in stores or staying in hotels.


Schafer: We might wear our masks yet if behavioral science is correct

Making decisions, over and over throughout a day, can use up our capacity for self-control.


Schafer: Stock market rising on the indispensable companies

The boomers and Xers remember when Microsoft was so dominant that a federal judge ordered it broken up. That year of peak Microsoft…


Schafer: The last time Minneapolis rioted, one large company did more than just talk about change

Reminders of the one-time giant Control Data Corp. (CDC) can be seen all over the Twin Cities, from a street named Computer Avenue in Edina…


Schafer: The pain of social distancing paid off for Minnesota health care providers

HealthPartners shows how the providers have had to tweak facilities, make plans for staffing and more so much still unknown about the disease.


Schafer: There are no simple choices to find an exit from this lockdown

It's clear we can't go back to normal yet, and likely not for months.


Schafer: Naifs like me thought the PolyMet project would be decided on economics

Whether this proposed mine ever operates in the northeastern corner of our state was always about politics.


Schafer: Hospitals and doctors have your health records. Should app makers get them too?

What the conflict really boils down to is differing notions of security when it comes to patient information. And money, too.


Dialing the phone can still be an effective sales strategy

Jody Weinberg is a champion of using a telephone to fill a pipeline of potential sales contacts.


Why do so many Fortune 500 companies call Minnesota home?

The country's 16th largest metro doesn't dominate the Fortune 500 list because of its size.