Category Archives: Spring 2015

To Structure or Not to Structure

In teaching entrepreneurship, there are many critical questions:

1. Can entrepreneurship be taught?

2. Should we be teaching skill set, mindset, or both?

3. What is an effective pedagogical approach? Case study, simulation, experiential, textbook, business model, business plan . . . and the list goes on.

4. How realistic should an entrepreneurship course be?

This last one is what I struggle most with. My students raise their hand and say they want to be entrepreneurs. I owe it to them to help them develop the mindset that requires. I also owe it to them to let them understand what being an entrepreneur feels like. This last one gets down to structure. I stuck at structure, but I’m learning (slowly!)

I have very little, if any, structure in my class. The students drive the bus – each one actually drives his/her own bus. I am there as a guide, as a resource. This semester it is starting to sink in that maybe I could find a little more balance between my unstructured approach and a more structured approach. This is a direct result of putting myself in their shoes; I’ve learned a ton about what their experience feels like, and where the gaps are that I was previously unaware of. Students always want more structure, but I often tend to dismiss that because part of that desire is ingrained in them from an ineffective K-12 educational experience where they have been spoon fed. I won’t do that. But I can offer more structure. Here are my thoughts for future semesters:

My class meets twice per week. I’m thinking what I’ll do is go back to a flipped classroom sort of approach. I will create videos introducing students to concepts and strategies and tools and such. They watch those prior to the first class of the week. During the first class of the week, they report out on what they’ve accomplished, what they’re struggling with, and I walk them through some application of what was in the video. The second class of the week is playtime. We do exercises and role playing and other sorts of things to get them practicing the skills in an experiential way.

I’m sure I’ll change this 100 times before next semester actually rolls around. I’d be interested in your thoughts about how to make the course experience as realistic as possible but still include a little bit of structure. But not too much!!

I Am A Failure

Benefits of Failure

Complete, 100% failure. OK, maybe more like 95%. But pretty damn complete. One of my “goals” this semester was to start a business, just as I ask my students to do. Inherent in that goal is also to understand their experience. I now get it! I intended to raise nearly $5,000 through my business to buy my wife a fancy suitcase. Not going to happen most likely. Because I have yet to achieve even $1 in sales.

My son asked me yesterday how I was doing in my class. I would give myself an F if I was grading myself (like I ask my students to).

What Failure Looks Like

My plate is too full. I have other responsibilities. I will eventually get to it. The laundry list of excuses and justifications for my lack of progress can be long. I had a plan to build a basic website (check – see the down and dirty version here). I had a plan to push this to the student population across ISU, using Facebook and some basic marketing methods. No check there – never got to this. I will still try to crank this up, but given there’s only one month left of the semester and the weather is super nice out, students have basically checked out (can’t blame them!)

oopsBottom line is that this is the one project that gets put on the backburner when I get too “busy”. In this experiment I am only accountable to myself. In other businesses I am founding, I am accountable to my co-founders. At school I am accountable to colleagues. Those are “more important” on the surface. However, now I realize I need to be even more accountable to my students, especially given the craziness I ask them to jump into. So this class gets sidetracked. I feel terrible and almost ashamed. Not because I’ve failed in my experiment. If I was being honest, I basically expected that. I feel that was because I continue to ask my students to do something that I am not pretty sure is nearly impossible. They can achieve the goal of “starting a business”, I have no doubt. Students at other schools do this all the time. What is nearly impossible is for them to do this in the class the way I run it. Bottom line – they need a bit more structure.

Looking Forward to Alleviate Failure

I will restructure the class for the fall semester to include more checkpoints, a little more structure. I won’t do traditional assignments, won’t do tests, they will still be responsible for grading themselves. But I’ll go back to flipping the classroom, so I’ll deliver a bunch of video content ahead of time. Then one class will be dedicated to applying that learning. The other class that week will be dedicated to playing. Not games, but deep, meaningful, impactful playing. Applying learning at a whole different level (like the challenges I offered the students this semester). So now I get to work wrapping up this semester, and planning the next. I’ll be posting videos and content and updates on structure as I develop it. But I basically put a fork in this semester.

Other Bits and Pieces: The Chocolate Challenge

I gave my students one more challenge. In the spirit of the One Red Paperclip and the Marble Game, I gave groups of my students a Hershey’s bar each, and gave them the rest of the semester to see what they could uptrade for. No prize, no assignment. Just an experience and opportunity. I imagine not many will truly engage. Some will work in their groups as I expect them to and each take the bar for a week to see what they can do. Big mistake. HUGE! Because then they are not using all their resources (perhaps another group member knows the perfect person to trade with during that week????) I did hear from one students already who has so far been able to trade up to a Swiss Army Knife in 3 days. Impressive!

Live and Sweating

The Site

I found some time this weekend to knock out a super basic landing page per the instructions below from Dan Norris in 7 Day Startup. I used GoDaddy to get the domain, Bluehost to host the domain, and the SeedProd plugin in WordPress to design the landing page. I could not get a PayPal button to add as their website kept preventing me from getting a button using HTML. Which sucks, because that’s the whole point of this, to make money, right? But I’ll see if I can get students engaged.

Check out my ConnectCampus landing page here.

Steps I Used

  1. Register domain (@$4 and 5 minutes)
    1. https://www.godaddy.com/
  2. Set up hosting (@$5/month and 10 minutes)
    1. Shared hosting plan with GoDaddy
    2. Or managed WordPress for @$1/month (https://www.godaddy.com/hosting/wordpress-hosting.aspx?ci=88548)
  3. Create landing page
    1. In WordPress
      1. Click “Add New” under Plugins
      2. Enter “SeedProd Coming Soon” and hit “Search Plugins”
  • Click “Install Now” next to plugin called “Coming Soon”
  1. Click “Activate Plugin”
  2. Under Settings, click “Coming Soon”
  3. Connect to email system (Mailchimp, Drop, Infusionsoft) to collect emails
    1. Mailchimp is free (http://mailchimp.com/)
  4. Create Themed WordPress page ($69 and one hour)
    1. Use http://www.elegantthemes.com/
    2. Download a theme
    3. In WordPress
      1. Under “Appearance” click “Themes”
      2. Click tab “Install Themes”
  • Click upload, select zip file you previously saved, click “Install”
  1. Click “Activate”
  1. Create Payment Page
    1. Create account at https://www.paypal.com/home
    2. If doing one-off sales, create a Buy Now button (probably under Profile and Selling Tools)
    3. If doing monthly subscriptions, create Subscription button
    4. In WordPress
      1. Under Pages tab, click “Add Page”
      2. Enter sales copy and images for your page, and in the “Code” view, paste in the HTML script that PayPal gave you for the button
  • Save page, click “View Page” to test it (be sure to click the payment button to make sure it works)
    1. **If having problems with the code, you can use Post Snippets plugin in WordPress to help with entering the code**

Marketing

I will send emails to the variety of department chairs, academic advisors, and student club leaders that I think will be most interested in this. That includes business, IT, technology, English, math, kinesiology and nutrition to start with. I will also see if I can’t get a slide posted on the digital screens in the dorms and the dining halls and all screens across campus.

I will also post messages on a variety of Facebook pages targeted at groups of ISU students (i.e., Class of 2015, Class of 2016, etc.)

Metrics

My OMTM (one metric that matters) is connections made. This would require that 1) a student submitted a form indicating they need help, and that 2) I found a student that is willing and able to provide that help, and that 3) those two students followed through.

I could use submission as my OMTM, but that’s too shallow. It doesn’t mean anything. I think using connections made indicates whether I’m creating value. Could use referrals as well, but that’s for version 2.0!

I Know What It Feels Like

It’s the weekend. My son is on his spring break. It’s beautiful weather outside. I was having trouble transferring the domain over from GoDaddy to Bluehost (simple but frustrating tech issues).

I’ve got a whole list of excuses why I’m behind on my 7 Day Startup. I imagine many of my students do as well. I remember what it’s like to be a student in the spring – I couldn’t get anything done. Seems like that’s still the case.

Not Just Another Day

For previous days as part of the 7 Day Startup, I worked on thoughts about what my Minimum Viable Product would look like. Today, I worked on a business name. I had a few options I was considering, so I started polling a bunch of students. I was asking about various combinations that included “student”, “campus”, “connect”, “connection” and “quad”, and a variety of spellings. I also checked out the domain name availability through GoDaddy. What I landed on is connectcampus.org. The .com domain was taken. It is easy to say, it makes sense for my idea.

Tomorrow is about building a website. I have a full schedule, so am not sure I’ll be able to tackle this. I guess it’s good that it’s happening on a Friday, because my students will also be “busy” and so I’m facing the same experience as they are in terms of having to squeeze this in. More specifically, according to Dan Norris’ plan, here is what tomorrow will be about:

Day 4: Build a Website in a Day for under $100

Landing page

  • Purpose is start communicating with customers and learning how they respond
  • Purpose is begin building what will ultimately sell your product

General approaches

  • Design site to capture email addresses
  • Site that pre-sells product before launch it
  • Actual sales page that you’ll use on launch day

Steps

  1. Register domain (@$4 and 5 minutes)
    1. https://www.godaddy.com/
  2. Set up hosting (@$5/month and 10 minutes)
    1. Shared hosting plan with GoDaddy
    2. Or managed WordPress for @$1/month (https://www.godaddy.com/hosting/wordpress-hosting.aspx?ci=88548)
  3. Create landing page
    1. In WordPress
      1. Click “Add New” under Plugins
      2. Enter “SeedProd Coming Soon” and hit “Search Plugins”
  • Click “Install Now” next to plugin called “Coming Soon”
  1. Click “Activate Plugin”
  2. Under Settings, click “Coming Soon”
  3. Connect to email system (Mailchimp, Drop, Infusionsoft) to collect emails
    1. Mailchimp is free (http://mailchimp.com/)
  4. Create Themed WordPress page ($69 and one hour)
    1. Use http://www.elegantthemes.com/
    2. Download a theme
    3. In WordPress
      1. Under “Appearance” click “Themes”
      2. Click tab “Install Themes”
  • Click upload, select zip file you previously saved, click “Install”
  1. Click “Activate”
  1. Create Payment Page
    1. Create account at https://www.paypal.com/home
    2. If doing one-off sales, create a Buy Now button (probably under Profile and Selling Tools)
    3. If doing monthly subscriptions, create Subscription button
    4. In WordPress
      1. Under Pages tab, click “Add Page”
      2. Enter sales copy and images for your page, and in the “Code” view, paste in the HTML script that PayPal gave you for the button
  • Save page, click “View Page” to test it (be sure to click the payment button to make sure it works)
    1. **If having problems with the code, you can use Post Snippets plugin in WordPress to help with entering the code**
  1. Extras
    1. Use http://mixergy.com/Master-Class/Copywriting/TheCopywritingChecklist.pdf to help with copy that you’re writing
    2. Use great images (http://compfight.com/)
    3. Use Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/)
      1. Install YOAST Google Analytics plugin in WordPress

Day 4 Task: Set up a website!

Why Spring Break Sucks

I promised myself I would do this startup experience as if I were one of my students. I struggled with how to handle spring break, which was last week.

Spring BreakI assumed most students would (as I did) check out and not do any work over the break. So that’s what I did. In most cases, it’s good to take a break, to recharge. But I’m not sure that’s the best idea in a class like this. These students struggle enough to stay engaged – partly due to my lack of direction, partly due to their lack of motivation, partly due to many other factors. So giving them cause to check out for a week can be dangerous. I felt frustrated because I couldn’t work on the business. I knew the clock was ticking and opportunity was passing by. And I was frustrated because I imagine that’s not how most of my students felt during the week. They didn’t give a damn. I wouldn’t have. And that’s my faulty – for not creating an experience that keeps them engaged.

What Lies Ahead For This Startup Exercise

We have roughly 6 weeks left in the semester. It’s all about solutions. We begin with Dan Norris’ 7 Day Startup “process”. It’s a little bit simplified for my taste, but it will get these students cranking out a basic solution that will get the ball rolling. The basic idea is that one can do a specific task each day for 7 days, after which they would have launched a “business”.

downloadEach task isn’t complex enough – there could be more steps to complete. But, as I said, it will get things going. Day 1 is focused on getting an idea. I asked in class, and all but a couple students mentioned they had their idea. I hope they do, as that was the point of the beginning of the semester. So, we skip that step, but for those not interested in skipping it, here are some notes/guidelines I adapted:

Day 1: A Bootstrapped Business Idea

Elements of a good idea

  1. Enjoyable daily tasks
  2. Product/founder fit
    1. What skills do you have?
    2. What are you known for?
    3. Where can you provide most value?
  3. Scalable business model
    1. Need to desire to grow business into larger company, otherwise not creating a startup
  4. An asset you can sell
    1. List of paying customers (or email list)
    2. IP, product design, etc.
    3. Website
    4. The team
  5. Large market potential
    1. Build something for large group of people
  6. Tap pain or pleasure differentiators
    1. Make it mean something (good or bad)
  7. Unique lead generation advantage
  8. Ability to launch quickly

Random Thoughts

  • Solve problems where people are already paying for solutions

Daily task: brainstorm ideas and evaluate against this checklist: Copy of Business idea evaluation spreadsheet (public)

7 Day Startup: Day 2

Today is Day 2 – here are some notes/guidelines I adapted:

Day 2: Minimum VIABLE Product

  • Forget automation and focus on what you can do manually
  • Mimic the customer experience as much as possible, as quickly as possible

Questions to answer:

  1. How can you perform a service or offer a product to real customers?
  2. How will you get them to pay you after 7 days?
  3. How close will your MVP be to the final version of your product?
  4. What can you do manually?
  5. What can you do yourself instead of delegating?
  6. How can you make your offer as real as possible for the end customer?

Day 2 Task: Write exactly what you’ll launch on Day 7. What will customer get, what’s included, what’s excluded? What is automated and what will be done manually?

My Day 2 Write-up

I will launch a basic website, where students can submit their basic information and also basic information about what sort of student they want to connect with. They will get a reply email confirmation that their submission has been received, that’s it. I will manually match students up – in many cases I imagine I’ll have to try to track down a good match on a one-by-one basis. Nothing will be automated (other than the reply email confirmation). Simple. Messy. This MVP will not be very similar to the final product because I would like to be able to accomplish the matching in a more automated way. But I know that’s much harder to do than I envision!

Tomorrow’s Day 3 task is to choose a business name. Should be difficult, but fun!

download

The Names I Get Called and Why It Matters

 

name-calling

Crazy. Risky. Insane. Nuts. Dangerous (that’s one of my personal favorites!). Foolish. Confidently ignorant (another of my personal favorites!) I hear these words flung at me, but often more in whispers or passive aggressive comments on social media or elsewhere. I embrace these words, and understand that they are borne of ignorance. Ignorance of what I’m doing and why; those who fling them often know nothing other than what I’m doing is “different”. Ignorance of the fact that the act of educating needs updating.

Innovative. Brilliant. Inspiring. Leader. Pioneer. I obviously also embrace these words. While they are spoken much louder and more publicly, they also are often borne from ignorance. Just as those who fear change condemn what I do without truly understanding the why behind it, those who embrace change support what I do without truly understanding the why behind it.

Why Am I Doing This?

Simply put, because I must. I read an unbelievable piece by Elle Luna about The Crossroads of Should and Must. It captured perfectly the answer to the question I get so often: “why are you doing this?” Not because I should. Because I must.

Should and Must

A Broader View of Me

Allow me to digress and provide a little background. I am an educator. My profession requires me to conduct research, to engage in service for the benefit of my department and institution, and to teach. I’m at a school that claims to prize the balance of those. As you can see from Doan Winkel CV, I have been more than successful in terms of research and service. I do not value research in any way (that’s a soapbox I’ll save for another time). I love service – trying to build an entrepreneurship ecosystem here at ISU, in our local community, and beyond in the field in general. But most of my colleagues don’t really value or acknowledge the service component of my profession. That leaves us with teaching, what I believe is the most (or only in some ways) valuable component of my profession (at least in my discipline – I don’t discount research in many other disciplines, but in mine it’s basically worthless in my judgment because it doesn’t at all help us be better educators, which is the yardstick I use).

The Importance of Teaching

I believe a teacher has a bigger responsibility than delivering material, than “teaching”. My job as a teacher is to use my accumulated life experience and knowledge (and my ability to accumulate, assimilate and disseminate knowledge) to open the minds and hearts and souls and spirits of younger generations (whether they sit in my classroom or not). It’s my job to inspire. To guide. To challenge. To push back. To mentor. To inspire.

Inspiring-greatness-in-others

Referring back to Elle’s article, I do not see this responsibility as a “should”, but as a “must”. What’s the difference? As Elle states:

“Should is how others want us to show up in the world – how we’re supposed to think, what we ought to say, what we should or shouldn’t do. It’s the vast array of expectations that others layer upon us. When we choose Should the journey is smooth, the risk is small”

“Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are along with our truest, most authentic self. It’s our instincts, our cravings and longings, the things and places and ideas we burn for, the intuition that swells up from somewhere deep inside of us. Must is what happens when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own. Because when we choose Must, we are no longer looking for inspiration out there. Instead, we are listing to our calling from within, from some luminous, mysterious place.”

Just as most of my students have done, I proceeded through my K-12 educational experience with a should mindset. I never found or thought about must. Why? Because my teacher’s didn’t; they were the “experts” and I was trained to follow their example and take their direction.

I must change that experience for as many young men and women as possible. It’s unfair for me to perpetuate that when I know how absolutely destructive it is to the hearts and minds and souls and spirits of these young men and women. That’s why I push myself to create crazy experiences – for my students and for myself. That’s why I push my colleagues to do the same. That’s why I push every day, in every way I can. Because I must. Because education should be scary – it’s the only way to encourage the sort of entrepreneurial thinking that we need to encourage in younger generations.

Make It Scary

scary-backgrounds-for-photoshop

Education should be scary for the students, so they can really understand how important it is (I don’t see that they, generally speaking, believe this anymore – they take it for granted).

Education should be scary for the teachers, so they understand the huge responsibility they have to shape the hearts and minds and souls and spirits of our future (I also don’t see that they, generally speaking, believe this anymore – they take it for granted).

The best way I have found to make it scary for students is to give them control. They don’t know what to do with this; it’s very new and unknown for them. I of course offer tremendous support and guidance for those that reach out (perhaps I need to do a better job of making this bridge in the future). Uncertainty is scary for students, because they’re used to such structure and spoon-feeding and instant gratification.

The best way I have found to make it scary for me is to walk a mile in my students’ shoes. In essence, to give up the control that I offer to them. I don’t know where the experience is going, but I’m confident I can guide it no matter where it goes (or can find the best people to help me if I’m not capable). I don’t know how my students and I will learn, but I can guarantee those who seize the opportunity will emerge transformed. They may or may not learn the skills many of my colleagues think they should. I’m not concerned with that, because they can learn just about anything with a few YouTube videos these days. They will, however, learn much about their capability. Their confidence. Their drive. Their possibility. They learn this by understand and implementing entrepreneurial thinking. I do as well, because I am not only teacher, but student. Because I gave up control. Because I made it scary (stay tuned here for some exciting plans Michael Luchies and I have!)

What About You?

What is your must as an educator? What is your must as a student? How are you making your classroom experience scary?

What About You?

What can I do to make it scarier?

Solutions and Success

Energized

I’m feeling energized. My grand experiment is attracting some good attention and generating some excitement in our local community. Now if I could just help duplicate that for the students. I understand the big problem is structure, and that I could likely provide a little more and thus create a more profound experience for the students. One particular student last class suggested providing a little “here’s-where-you-should-be” guidance every couple weeks or every so often so they knew where they should be. Two things I’ll be working on going forward to help students get involved:

1. A little more structure; give them some next steps guidelines and some “here’s-where-you-should-be” feedback

2. Work to create a community between the students in the class. I need to get them sharing more, collaborating more, I’ll feel out ways to do this – maybe a Facebook group for the class, maybe more idea fair/pitching sort classes where the class can give individuals feedback, ideas, resources, etc. Perhaps part of this could be connecting current students with past students as well, so those past students can offer some more reflective guidance, mentorship, etc.

Down and Dirty Solutions

I’m focused on what I call in my syllabus “Your Bad Solution 1.0”. I want to hack together a cheap and dirty solution before I begin working on a go to market strategy. Next week is spring break, so I’ll take a little time off (but not too much!) The week after spring break, I’ll invite the students into a 7 Day Startup Plan following Dan Norris‘ suggestions; basically, there are specific steps to take each day for 7 days after which the world can interact with a solution. It’s not a perfect process, and to be honest, I think much more can be done each day than what Dan suggests. However, at the end of these 7 days, the goal is to emerge with some working (albeit hacked together) solution. For those students ready to put their bad solution into the world, it will be both scary and exciting. For those students not there yet, hopefully it will be the kick in the ass they need to get going. For those who have checked out, I can’t (and won’t) do anything for them – the opportunity has passed them by.

never-stop-learning-358x240

As I do every semester, I’m learning a ton. I love this experience, even more so now that I am one of my own students. I have such a better understanding of what it feels like to be in my class. I wonder how many other educators truly understand what their students experience, think, fear, celebrate, feel? Not many I would surmise. That’s a shame, because if they would take the plunge they would learn so much and really identify with their students so much more deeply.

Now For The Fun Part

Wait For It . . .

In my classes, I’m always telling students to hold off on thinking about solutions. They want to immediately jump to describing the features they want to build into a website or an app.

Building it

They are answering the “what” question before they answer the “why” question. Big mistake. Huge. I push them to discover
1) the problem

2) who has the problem

3) what they’re currently doing to solve the problem, and

4) what isn’t working about that solution. Then build it. I’ve gone through those steps for my business, and am ready to get to building it. Here is what I have learned to get to this point.

The Problem. ISU students cannot easily find and connect with students in other disciplines.

Who Has the Problem. ISU students. Mostly I heard this from students in the College of Business, the School of IT, the Department of Technology (renewable energy, robotics, manufacturing, etc.), and the School of Communication (journalism, PR, etc.)

What They’re Currently Doing to Solve the Problem. They rely on word-of-mouth referrals from friends, other students, faculty and staff. They try connecting through Registered Student Organizations and Facebook groups. Of course, they don’t for the most part try actually visiting those schools or departments and talking face-to-face to strangers (would have been my first move).

What Isn’t Working. They generally speaking don’t get any response, or only get a response from students who don’t have much skill in the area they’re searching for it in. For instance, lots of students mentioned something along the lines of they heard back from a freshman without a developed skill set when they wanted to hear back from a junior or senior who knew how to ________ (fill in the blank skill).

Traction

Before working on a solution, I encouraged my students to think about a traction plan. How will they get traction once they start building a solution. I borrow this from Traction, an excellent resource for any entrepreneur, manager, or anyone looking to gain traction (and if you’re in business and not looking to gain traction, you’re an idiot). There are 19 channels that Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares lay out as possible avenues to gain traction. I did some research, both via customer development conversations, and also through Internet research, on the college demographic and methods of communication they rely on, etc. to help me identify some strong potential avenues for traction. I settled on viral marketing and email marketing. Because my target customers are all ISU students, I can utilize the email system to which I have access to very specifically target groups of students. And I can make the email marketing campaign look very legit and they will very likely respond as it will look like more official ISU communication. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’d use this traction channel with this group.

And Here It Is

So the solution. The time is finally here. I can now finally dive into the features and the “what”. It’s nothing exciting at this point; I purposely try very hard to hold myself back from thinking big and fancy. I want cheap and dirty at this point. A true MVP (minimum viable product). With basic features. Duct taped together. Barely working. But outwardly looking fantastic. That’s easy enough to do nowadays with wordpress sites (like this one!!) and the like.

The Plan

I need a basic site where students can indicate their interest in connecting with other students. All I need is some very basic information to try to connect them. That’s the first step. Will they provide this basic info, and can I make a meaningful connection with just that? I want to collect: 1) their name

2) their email address

3) their major

4) the concept they’re working on (or thinking about), and

5) exactly what sort of skill set they’re looking for connecting with.

I may also ask them something about whether they’re looking for a partner sort of relationship, or a contract/worker sort of relationship. With this information I will also find their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles. I hypothesize with this information, I can make more meaningful, productive, and lasting connections between ISU students looking for each other. I’m not sure what I will call this yet, how it will be branded, or any of that. Probably Redbird something-or-other (that’s our mascot here at ISU). But that isn’t that important at this point – I’ll just slap a picture of Reggie on the site to make it look legit to these students.

ReggieI will see if I can make 10 meaningful connections between students from different disciplines. By “meaningful” I mean that the students actually follow through and meet up, that they talk about the project and either get to work on it, or refer another friend who would be more appropriate for the desired goal. Basically, I am looking for

1) the connection to actually happen, and

2) some progress to be made beyond just the basic connection

If I can get close to that with my first 10 attempts, I’ll feel good. If I can accomplish that 7 out of the 10 times, I’ll feel really good. That’s my goal. 7 out of 10.

A Problem of Fear, Motivation, Communication, Busyness, or Laziness?

Here are Michael Luchies‘ latest reflections, in his own words

Grab HoldOpportunities take a motivated and willing participant to grab a hold of them in order to provide value. Even when presenting an obvious and valuable opportunity, there is no guarantee that an audience will bite. In MQM 224, which I am sitting in with Doan at Illinois State University, we have an awesome group of bright students, but they aren’t taking advantage of opportunities or engaging at a high level.

From the outside, I always thought teaching entrepreneurship would be a pretty easy gig. I loved my time as an entrepreneurship student and thought that my passion and interest in small business and startups would easily transition to students if I were to ever become a professor.

Sitting in on Doan’s class has helped me realize the difficulty of teaching in college, but I can’t put my finger on the core problem.

Doan is one of, if not the most interesting and engaging entrepreneurship professor I’ve ever met (not trying to stroke your ego Doan, we both know you don’t need help with that), so I don’t think the problem has to do with his teaching style, and it certainly isn’t due to lack of trying or effort. Maybe it’s different for each student, but is it possible to overcome all of the barriers and problems preventing students from actively participating in the class?

If giving students money and a chance to earn hundreds more over a couple of days in an exercise doesn’t motivate them, what will?

I don’t think there is a clear answer in site, but I like the track we are taking to find out the real answer and how to get them closer to taking advantage of these opportunities.

In this week’s class, Doan opened the floor to find out what students wanted to learn that hasn’t been covered yet. The students created a great list of things they wanted to learn. Here are the topics they want to cover:

  •        Legal help/aspects
  •        Local marketing
  •        Starting with no money
  •        Real-life cases and scenarios
  •        Development/building
  •        Creating a proper internet presence
  •        User experience
  •        Things to include in a business plan

How can we fully capture the full body of students in the class and get them to take advantage of the opportunities we’re trying to provide?