July 21, 2014
I spent the weekend in Austin and it was nice to get away from Waco for a little bit. I got to see a lot of friends and eat a lot of good food, so it was a lot of fun. It has gotten me really thinking about how to focus my job search geographically, since graduation in December is just 5 months away.
I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to go where ever the best job I can find is. The kicker is, I’m realizing how important family is to me and I don’t want to be far away from them. It’s bad enough I’m away from a lot of my relatives, most of whom live in the Northeast. If I get a job outside of Texas, say in California or the Pacific Northwest, I’ll be far away from everybody. My parents are in the middle of trying to sell my childhood home in upstate New York so they can settle full time in their house in McDade, just 30 miles east of Austin.
Meanwhile, over the last seven years I’ve grown super close to my cousin and his family, who live in Southlake, which is in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
So unless the coolest job in the coolest city presents itself somewhere else, I’m aiming to settle down in DFW or Austin. I’ve ruled out anything that’s not in a warm weather state, since I’ve spent a good chunk of my life shoveling snow, thank you very much.
I feel like I’m a senior in college all over again, feeling a little overwhelmed by all the possibilities that are just around the corner at graduation.
July 15, 2014
One of the tasks the other interns and I have had to work on over the past two weeks was to develop a scorecard to be used to evaluate the businesses we’ve been working with this summer. Part of the purpose of the scorecard is to be able to assess which of the current clients would be appropriate for continuing on into the incubator LAUNCH is looking to begin this fall.
One of the criteria we established for measurement is “Business model is scaled to opportunity.” So this is a measure of how the business plan has been structured to either take advantage of the full market available to the company and it’s product or service, or whether it’s structured to just be grown slowly over time to allow for the business owner to conveniently grow it while maintaining his or her other responsibilities in life. So if you’re making a new kind of widget, are you setting yourself up to be able to sell to all the companies that could benefit from your widget? Or are you structuring the plan so you can make enough widgets in your spare time, after work and on weekends, and gradually, over time, maybe, move up and service the whole market?
Our discussion of this criteria has really opened my eyes. Part of what an accelerator like LAUNCH is there to do is to help entrepreneurs and inventors see the big picture and to lay out the opportunities for growth. One of the questions we asked one of our current clients was: “What would it take to address the scale of the need, not just the scale of the need of the business to survive as a company?”
So in that particular case, the answer was to possibly hire a salesperson or two, and possibly seek outside investment. The difference, in terms of potential customers, was between a few hundred versus 7,000. The particular product in question would benefit pediatric, neuromuscular, and geriatric physical therapy patients. A large motivation for the inventor is to be able to help as many people as he can with his device. With that in mind, scaling the business model to its greatest potential is aimed more at actual patient benefits rather than an explicit profit motive.
July 7, 2014
When I first heard about Kodak filing for bankruptcy, I skimmed over the headline without clicking the link to read the full story. I just assumed the company had missed out on the digital photography opportunity, and that was the end of the story.
But I found out the other day that the company actually invented digital photography, but management ordered the projects scrapped in order to continue the focus on film.
“This tells you, it’s all about management,” Casey Leaman, one of the LAUNCH accelerator coaches told us interns.
I’ve since done some digging and found out the following, which is pretty darned interesting:
Kodak invented the first digital camera in 1975 and patented numerous digital technologies. Afraid that digital would cannibalize their film photography business, they never pushed those products after bringing their first digital camera to market in 1995. Those patents are estimated to be worth $2 billion today.
In 2005, Kodak created the first WiFi camera that allowed you to share photos without having to first connect to a computer. Unfortunately, people weren’t ready for that technology, yet, and the camera didn’t sell. Kodak killed the line.
As anyone who has read Theodore Levitt’s “Marketing Myopia” will tell you, Kodak failed to realize that it wasn’t in the film photography business, it was in the photography business. It didn’t adapt to the changing innovation in its industry, which it had actually invented.
July 2, 2014
So I’ve got six months to get a job. This realization hit me a couple of weeks ago, and was quickly repressed. But that time will fly by and if the internship search taught me anything, it’s that waiting until the last minute to begin a serious search is not the way to do it. I need to start hitting up my network like now.
In the spring career and professional development class, we read a book called “The Power of WHO,” by Bob Beaudine. The gist of the book is that you already know everyone you need to know to progress with your career. The biggest challenge is the “what” of the equation. Your friends and family are there to help you, just like you are there to help them. Asking for help is not insincere. That single bit of knowledge was a major world view shift for me, since I always shied away from asking for help because I felt like I would be using people by doing so.
I learned how awesome my network is as the people in my life are doing some pretty awesome things and have some pretty awesome connections, not to mention great advice. And I also learned people you care about will bend over backwards to help you. It sounds simple, but that lesson will probably be one of the greatest things I’ll take away from my time at Baylor.
That being said, I need to start bothering my friends, because I’ve got a busy Fall semester ahead of me and need to start setting the job search ground work early.
June 24, 2014
The weirdest thing about this summer, so far, has been thinking about how one year ago, a whole bunch of us were in the IMS program, which is designed for non-business undergrads to get up to speed before the Fall semester and the real MBA program starts.
It seems like 33,000 years ago that about 20 of us first went into 410 Cashion for accounting. A combination of regular MBA and healthcare MBA students, everything seemed so far off. We’d been told that we would be with the health care students for a year, then they’d go off on their residency for 7 months, we’d finish in the fall semester without them, and they’d come back in January after we’d graduated. It felt like that year would never happen. Well it did and it’s hard to believe that I’m not going to be having classes with those guys anymore. Sure, we’ll probably stay in touch, since we’ve all become pretty close, but it won’t be the same.
There are so many times during the school year that you want to wish time to speed by, since the stress of classes and presentations and group meetings can get tough sometimes, but my advice to those in IMS is to savor every moment. Because a year and a half flies by. Your classmates quickly become friends and then quickly into something close to family. Make sure you say yes rather than no when friends ask you to do stuff out of class. And don’t take that time together for granted.
One of the major things I’ve learned during the internship so far is the importance of persuasion. One of our coaches recommended we read “To Sell is Human,” by Daniel H. Pink. The book talks about how everyone is in some capacity a salesperson because he or she has to constantly convince others to part with resources, whether it be time, money, or energy, in order to get something they are trying to sell.
During a recent pricing discussion with one of our clients, we had to convince them to consider alternative pricing strategies since we thought they were pricing their product way too low. I never really thought about how important the persuasion skill is, but it was gratifying that by the end of the meeting, we had convinced them to be open to revising their pricing model.
In arriving at their desired price, for example, they compared their application with other applications that I didn’t think were comparable services. I was able to convince them to look at direct competitors, as people have different elasticity to pricing depending on the product or service.
I made sure to frame my recommendations as a discussion and as an informational service rather than trying to be pushy, which I think was the best tactic to take.
June 13, 2014
We gathered around the conference table, peppering Casey Leaman with questions. We’d all been working on our respective projects for a little over two weeks. Our clients would be coming in at noon and we wanted to throw a few things at Casey, one of our coaches, before the weekly face-to-face meetings began.
During that hour long conversation, he shared with us some of the basic rules of business that he likes to follow. My fellow interns and I, all tasked with helping clients who range from Baylor professors to sophomore business majors, listened intently:
Rule #1: Do something! Don’t waste time waiting. Take what you have and follow your instincts.
On May 21, I started my internship at the LAUNCH Innovative Business Accelerator, housed in the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative. The other interns and I are basically startup consultants working with inventors and early stage businesses to help them get their ideas off the ground. Each of our clients are in completely different stages along the business life cycle. Some have working products and just need to figure out how to get them in the right hands and at the right price. Others have been planning their ventures for almost a year but need some help getting them to the next level.
And so we aren’t always able to get in touch with our clients to get answers to questions we might have. So Casey’s advice is always, “Do something!” We’re all smart people, he likes to tell us, we just need to stop thinking like students and start thinking like consultants. Go ahead and follow our best judgment, he likes to tell us. Chances are, the competitor analysis, website wireframe, or strategic partnerships research will be exactly what is needed. This brings us to Casey’s next rule:
Rule #2: Present things for people to react to.
It’s always better to be proactive and just go ahead and do something so you have something to show the client. It probably won’t be exactly what they want, he warns us, but it will help the process move forward and will lead to things that the client wants and needs to progress with the business. Even if it’s in an area where they will eventually need to speak to a professional, like a patent attorney, it’s good to give the client some frame of reference to start from.
There are more of Casey’s rules that I’ll share as the summer progresses. They are just the tip of the iceberg of what I’m learning at my internship. Everyday feels like a crash course in entrepreneurship. I’ve used things I’ve learned in many of the MBA classes I’ve taken and it’s fun having that base of knowledge to draw on to help real live businesses. It’s one thing to take a position on a case study in class, it’s another when you’re staring at someone who is pouring their heart and soul into a dream and looking to you for recommendations that will hopefully help that dream come true.
The lobby of the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative building.
April 25, 2014
So in the Strategic Management class I took last fall, one of the case studies we looked at focused on Singapore Airlines. The case talked about many strategic business issues, including how that airlines spends a lot of money on the training of its staff and saves a lot of money by having its corporate headquarters in an airplane hangar rather than in a traditional high-rise.
The flight attendants, for example, are highly trained in the basics of their jobs. Since they know their day-to-day duties so well, it frees their minds up to pick up on other things, like if a customer looks tired or if they don’t have anything to read.
Well, last week we had the final presentations to the faculty for the semester-long Focus Firm projects we’ve been working on for Nike. On top of the normal anxieties I feel about presentations, this one would be to a room full of fellow classmates, students from other Cores, and several faculty. In addition, one of my two teammates was sick, so the presentation would be divided between my other teammate and I.
I proceeded to study that PowerPoint like my life depended on it. I started by printing it out and making notes on different slides that might give me color commentary for the bullet points on each. Then I started giving presentations to myself in my apartment, over and over again. Finally, about an hour and a half before the presentation, my partner and I ran through the PowerPoint out loud to each other.
When my part of the presentation started, up on one of those large rooms on the 5th floor of the Cashion academic building with the great views out to campus, I didn’t freeze up. I might have stumbled every now and again, but only because I was nervous and not because I didn’t know what was on the slides. I was able to look around the room and make eye-contact without scanning the room, just like we had been taught in our Management Communication class last fall.
It wasn’t a perfect presentation, by any means, but it was by far the best presentation I’ve given since I started at Baylor. Since I’d practiced so much, I was able to focus on other parts of presenting that don’t involve the actual information I was talking about, and I was able to relax.
April 14, 2014
On Monday, March 31, I sat in the Kayser Auditorium of the business school to listen to super agent Leigh Steinberg speak about his 30-year career. Cameron Crowe’s inspiration for Jerry McGuire, Steinberg has represented 150 professional athletes, including eight who were chosen as the first overall pick in the NFL draft.
What surprised me most to learn was Steinberg’s insistence that all his clients give back to their communities by being involved in their high schools and colleges in some way. Many of his clients, like Warren Moon, have started foundations for specific causes they care about.
“I saw athletes could be role models and trigger imitative behavior,” Steinberg said. “I believe in the power of role modeling.”
Moon started the Crescent Moon foundation, which raises money for college academic scholarships. Derrick Thomas started the “Third and Long” program, which targets childhood reading programs.
Steinberg said that as a sports agent, a huge concern of his was sports injuries sustained by his clients. He had a Physician’s Desk Reference within arm’s length at all times. He eventually began to lead efforts to increase awareness of the effects of concussions on NFL players.
“I had a crisis of conscience,” he told the students in the audience, “like some of you will have.” Steinberg described the series of conferences he organized that focused on the problem.
He advised any future sports agents to stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs at agencies and when wooing prospective clients. “This is something for the most creative people, with the greatest attention to detail,” he said “People will outwork you all day long.”
April 1, 2014
Ok, so I just realized how much of a busy and cool day today was. It’s definitely not typical of every day, but it gives someone who is interested in applying some idea of the type of stuff you’ll get to do during the MBA program. So without further ado…
- 7:40 a.m. – Alarm goes off
- 8:15 a.m. – Final snooze is hit and I sit up in bed
- 8:20 – 9:10 a.m. – Finish writing assignment for Organizational Behavior (O.B.) class regarding a Trader Joe’s case we read for today.
- 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. – Economics. We discussed Game Theory
- 11 – 11:30 a.m. – Grab food, run back to apartment, shower and get ready
- 11:30 – 11:55 a.m. – Answered 5 interview questions through online VideoStream application. Through a webcam on my laptop, I recorded answers to the questions, which served as the final for our Professional Career Development class. I wore shirt, tie and sport coat. It was due at noon. Let’s just say I like to cut it close sometimes. I’m a thrill seeker.
- 12:10 – 12:23 p.m. – Wrestled with PawPrints to print out the O.B. writing assignment which is due at the beginning of class. Let’s just say I was unsuccessful because every printer in the world wasn’t working when I needed them to. Wound up emailing the assignment to the professor.
- 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. – Combined Organizational Behavior and Strategic Management class. We discussed Trader Joe’s from both culture and strategic planning perspectives.
- 2 – 2:30 p.m. – Done-In-A-Day Interview: I interviewed a prospective student who is applying for the MBA program this Fall. Student-run interviews are a new thing Baylor MBA is doing this year. I really enjoyed speaking with the applicant.
- 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. – Focus Firm. We discussed our semester-long project for a Fortune 500 company I’m not going to name. We’re gearing up for our April 15 presentation to faculty and other students. Some of us will be chosen to fly to corporate location of company to present.
- 5 – 6 p.m. – Speaker – Leigh Steinberg, the super sports agent who inspired the movie Jerry McGuire and has represented 60 first round NFL draft picks and 8 overall 1st round picks, gives a talk about his career. (More on this later)
- 6:40 – 8:15 p.m. – Hiked around Cameron Park with two of my classmates.
So as you can see, it was quite a day.
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