How We Walk the Walk We Talk

03/26/2016 19:02

Walking the Entrepreneurship Walk

The Center for Entrepreneurship is hosting the fabulous Spring 2016 Business Concept Competition on April 7.  Students from any major can pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges and there are significant prizes involved. In order to be considered, students should submit a 1-2 page abstract via e-mail to Peter Straus by March 24 at 5 p.m.  Find the guidelines at Abstract judges will choose twelve finalists to present their ideas on April 7th.

I’m working with students associated with the Center to publicize this opportunity for all the benefits that naturally result as a byproduct of being with others who are sharing ideas.  Many students think they have little to offer by way of truly innovative thinking. And yet, anyone can offer a fresh take on an existing topic or idea. All students are invited to the pitch sessions, at which point they have the option to join a team and dip into a creative flow they might have otherwise never experienced.  The competition not only provides an opportunity to nurture the agile minds of today’s young innovators, but students can win big bucks, too!

For students interested in developing a pitch, there is a workshop on Tuesday the 22nd at 5pm in Glenn 221. Please contact the Center for Entrepreneurship, or Peter Straus, for more information on this exciting event. Or you can just click here. Let’s help spread the word.

Find more on the topic of entrepreneurship, check out this article from our own Colleen Robb, who writes about ten phrases to delete from business plans - starting right now.

As a bonus for anyone interested in innovative thinking process, a member of a discussion group I’m part of has co-written a book on the science behind the “messy” creative mindset that’s so vital to our collective future.  It’s just earned a positive review by the New York Times. “Insightful problem solving can’t be boiled down to any single way of thinking,” the authors say in Wired to Create. Apparently there’s plenty of research exploring the contradictions and peculiarities of those who insist on doing things their own way.  

Walking the Sales and Marketing Talk

The previous edition of this blog highlighted the work of the College’s Suefferlein Sales program. I’d emphasized Tim Heinze’s comments about how the program can engage most any student, helping him or her become more influential in any sphere of endeavor.

On a related note, this video discussing the “eight types of salespeople,” from the folks at Harvard Business Review landed on my cyber desk this week. It seems that I’ve met all of these characters during my career - and outside of it.

Walking the Walk of Global Business Concerns

Women’s History Month is the perfect time for a workshop on March 30th offering the opportunity that offers women the opportunity to enhance their workplace negotiation skills.  Too often women don’t realize that they’re being treated inequitably and can negotiate a better outcome. You may have seen an email on the topic from Brianna Ellis, Coordinator at the COB Student Success Center.

A day or so after it landed in our inboxes, Bob Sprague suggested that the workshop was worth highlighting here, adding that “It surprises me that this is STILL a problem, but I know from the small amount of reading I've done, it’s an issue…We are training the next generation of business professionals.  We owe both women and men the opportunity to understand and confront the dysfunctional traditions of many business cultures.”

Bob’s so right.

Years back, a new boss advised me I was getting an immediate, substantial raise with back pay “to put me into the range of the others on your team.”  The others were all men. I’d felt exceedingly well-paid, but this man helped me understand how I’d lived in ignorance about how, for the standard in my industry, I actually wasn’t.  There aren’t enough mentors like him to cover all the women in business who need to know they aren’t being treated fairly.

Brianna Ellis contributes the following from her perspective:

     College women, once a minority on university campuses, now make up the majority of the student body across the country. Following graduation, women make up half of the work-force but continue to earn less than men do throughout their careers. There are a number of contributing factors, but research points to the lack of confidence in negotiating as one element that may result in the pay gap. Dr. Linda Babcock, the faculty director of the Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society (PROGRESS) and Professor of Economics at Carnegie Mellon University School of Public Policy and Management, has found that women are more worried than men about how negotiating may impact their relationships. This results in women asking for things more indirectly, by asking for less than they want, or by working hard so they can avoid asking in hopes of being given what they want as a reward.  

    As a means to lessen this gap in income and provide students confidence in negotiation, the COB Student Success Center has invited the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to conduct a salary negotiation workshop for college women. The two-hour workshop, taking place on March 30th, will aid women with skills and confidence, through smart strategies and effective language, to successfully negotiate salary and benefits packages.

    In working with college women, I see that many don’t want to come across as pushy, demanding, or ungrateful, and simply avoid starting the conversation. I try and reason with students that the worst that could happen is the employer says “no,” but you do not know unless you ask. My hope in providing this unique opportunity, is to dispel some of the barriers to negotiation and provide these women the tools to feel comfortable in such situations. Negotiation for new graduates is particularly important, as it sets the benchmark for future salary, bonus increases, and promotions, resulting in a significant long term impact, so it shouldn’t be overlooked.

I appreciate that Brianna took time to share her perspective; the following snapshots are also well worth considering as we prepare our students for the real world of work:


And here's another bit of information:  a recent HBR article affirms that working women face age discrimination in addition to gender bias.

Please tell students to consider this important workshop! I've asked Breanna if there is any chance it might be videotaped for further reference; I'll let you know if they are able to do that.

There’s much yet to be done to address the “dysfunctional traditions of many business cultures,” as Bob says, and this and other programs offered by the COB Student Success Center - in partnership with each of us - help us do just that.