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: Good luck with management by Zooming around

Bosses can learn a lot by wandering around the office.


Schafer: Back to normal means the normal challenges are back, too

The news that General Mills is cutting jobs after its stellar response to the pandemic, and the results that followed, shows that going back to where things were was never going to be easy.


Schafer: Making a lot of money and being rich are not the same thing

An attention-grabbing article on the income taxes paid, or not paid, by some of America's wealthiest people framed its analysis poorly.


Schafer: Let's keep hybrid work from being the worst of both worlds

The best workplaces will have people connecting all the time with each other across the organization chart.


Schafer: Retirement trends show that work just might not be worth it

The cost of work has gone up and pay is still catching up.


Schafer: Developers should look beyond destruction and see waiting customers

The opportunity on Lake Street and in the other damaged areas still exists.


Schafer: For Minnesota's biggest companies, share buybacks signal recovery from downturn

Others may get worked up about the effects of share buybacks, but they don't give me heartburn the way that, for instance, executive compensation does.


Schafer: Workplace can't be just about work, so employees need an outlet

Keeping the conversation from spiraling into forever wars isn't just up to the managers, though.


Schafer: Commerce at home is the newest 'New Era in Retailing'

Loup Ventures of Minneapolis thinks one of its portfolio companies called Enjoy, about to go public, represents the next thing in retail.


Schafer: Why cars, chips, lumber and other goods are suddenly more expensive

Small changes in end-user buying lead to bigger swings in the operations of suppliers down the value chain.