Thursday, June 30, 2011
I am here in Abomosu, Ghana with three other Huntsman interns: Aaron Wade, Chelsey Funk, and Supe Lillywhite. We are halfway done with our internship, and we are absolutely loving it.
Life here in Abomosu has been amazing. The people here are so welcoming and excited to work with us. We teach classes in two different towns four nights a week. We teach in English but have a translator so everyone can understand. Our curriculum revolves around building a good business plan and helping them consider all the things necessary to start their business. Having to teach has helped me truly understand so many of the principles I learned in the business core.
Our class attendees exemplify entrepreneurial spirit. Ranging in age from 16 to 85, their ideas are just as diverse. Some want to expand inventory that they sell door to door (from a basket on their head), some want to buy fertilizers to increase their crop yield and others want to open a little bookstore.
After our first session of classes, we were able to give loans to our first pod. (A pod is a group of loan recipients who support each other and are responsible for each other’s loans.) This pod consists of three men who want to start a fish farm (the first in the area) and two cocoa farmers who will buy insecticides and fertilizers. We have many more business plans in the works and hope to give more loans soon.
We are proud to represent the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University here in Ghana. S.E.E.D. is an amazing program that is changing the lives of not only the loan recipients, but also the interns. I am so grateful for this opportunity to make an impact in the world.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday night we had the opportunity to hear from Ron Godfrey, career accelerator and lecturer for the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. Mr. Godfrey has held many positions in both professional and volunteer settings. His experiences in those realms has greatly contributed to his expertise in interviewing skills.
We were taught about the types of common questions asked in job interviews. It was said that some time ago, interviewers would ask situational questions. For example, the interviewer may ask, "What would you do in this type of situation?" Nowadays, interviewers (at least the good interviewers) ask behavioral-based questions. They are looking for an experience that describes certain qualities and characteristics necessary for that specific job. Mr. Godfrey gave us great suggestions on how to be completely prepared for a job interview as if knowing the answers to a test before the test.
We encourage everyone to visit the career accelerator office to schedule a time to meet with Mr. Godfrey or any of the other career accelerators. They can help you discover the secrets about how to ace your next interview.
Also, Mr. Godfrey discussed proper dress for males and females, as well as other "do's" and "don'ts" in interviews. The participants really enjoyed Tuesday night's lecture and seem to have left with more confidence as they gain a better understanding of how to have an engaging interview.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
We reviewed the ten best proposals and narrowed the field of potential architects for our new building to just five. On July 7 each firm will get 45 minutes to try to connect itself forever with the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.
In the classes I teach, my students have to create a presentation and give it to a panel of judges as if they are trying to sell their marketing services to a client. I give them a little guidance, however, by sharing with them a presentation of my own about how to do a presentation. I have to be prepared because I can’t really give a dull presentation about how to give a great presentation.
Here are some of the tips I give them:
• Make eye contact. The danger in not looking at your audience as you present is that they might get up and sneak out before you are finished. Watch this video to see the powerful impact eye contact can have:.
• Be prepared. I’m not talking about tying knots here; I’m saying that you need to know your subject matter so you can explain it and answer questions. It shouldn’t be memorized but you ought to practice.
• Don’t use filler words like “uh.” Even politicians known for great oratory have been known to slip up as seen in this video.
• Use humor – as appropriate. A good example.
• No death by PowerPoint. Make it interesting. Mix things up a bit. Use color, pictures, videos, audio and interesting copy on your slides. Remember, many people have lost their will to live during boring PowerPoints. Here’s a funny clip about death by PowerPoint.
Commit right now that you will never suck the life out of a darkened room.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Allan Wood is the CEO of AnalySwift (analyswift.com), a company that uses technology developed at Utah State to analyze composite materials and design structures made from them. From helicopter blades to bridges, companies like ATK, Boeing, Siemens and AeroVironment use AnalySwift’s software in their design and analysis. Wood said that they’re also getting involved with companies that produce the blades on wind turbines.
Wood said his experience at USU gave him key knowledge, experience and connections in building up his company.
Wood started AnalySwift this past March with Dr. Wenbin Yu, an associate professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering at USU’s College of Engineering. Wood graduated from USU with dual majors in marketing and finance in 2003, and followed that up with an MBA that included an entrepreneurship emphasis. He said the things he learned at the Huntsman School were invaluable when starting up AnalySwift.
|Paul Lewis Siddoway|
As part of his MBA program, Wood took classes uniquely suited to entrepreneurship, including studies on how viable business ideas are. When he was preparing to start his own business, he took the principles and procedures he learned in case studies and applied them to his own business plan.
“Starting in October, we went through the same feasibility study process for AnalySwift, and it looked very promising,” Wood said. “That gave me confidence that this was a good opportunity.”
Wood said it hasn’t all been very easy, but many of the resources used in the start up of AnalySwift came from connections made at USU, from the technology they use to legal agreements to the graphic design. They were helped by a grant from the state of Utah’s Technology Commercialization and Innovation Program.
“It took us a little longer that we though to get things moving and get things in place, but we’ve had some help,” Wood said. “We’re still fairly young, so we’ve been doing a lot of the ‘up-front’ stuff the past couple of months and we’re now trying to reach out and contact customers.”
Throughout the course of my experience at USU and the Huntsman School, I’ve made connections with other students and business professionals, and learning about what successful graduates are doing makes me excited to join the ‘real’ world.
Paul Lewis Siddoway
Friday, June 24, 2011
Ford recently wrote an article for my favorite website, Grantland.com, about how teams have evolved in the ways they evaluate potential selections. They rely much more on spreadsheets and sophisticated statistical formulas and much less on face-to-face contact with the players.
Has it worked? Ford provides a compelling argument that it hasn’t. Between 1990 and 1999, when the process was a lot more personal, 37 percent of all lottery picks (players taken within the first 11-14 picks, depending on the year) turned out to be All-Stars, while 31 percent were busts. In the past decade, when the process has become a lot more analytical and impersonal, just 21 percent of all lottery picks turned into All-Stars while a whopping 42 percent are draft busts. Even though teams are spending more money, they are having much less success at identifying the best players.
This all reminds me of when the Huntsman School had Roger Martin come for a Dean’s Convocation last September. Martin, who is the dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, spoke about design thinking. Design thinking combines the best of analytical thinking and intuitive thinking. A business that can find the appropriate balance between the two will continually experience innovation and will have a constant advantage over its competitors.
Martin did not discount the importance of analytical thinking, and neither did Ford in the aforementioned article. But there is so much more to making important decisions than quantifiable statistics. We can make the best decisions when we combine what we have diligently analyzed with intuitive thinking.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Tuesday night our Great Work Great Career class learned about the role of a custom cover letter and resume in getting us an interview.
We had the opportunity to hear from Melissa Scheaffer, associate director of career services, who used her professional skills in resume writing to explain the importance of said subjects. As a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, she had many invaluable counsels and practices for us to apply to our career searching endeavors.
A few of our participants volunteered their personal resumes to be critiqued in front of the class, and this was followed by group peer critiquing. Both activities were incredibly beneficial for everyone in attendance.
This class was our first real “hands-on” group session. Judging by the reactions of the participants, this was definitely one of our best sessions yet!
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Last week I reviewed 10 proposals for our new building. When I read these documents I wondered if some firms realized that, in this competitive environment, a few little typos had the potential to derail their chances at winning this major project. Unfortunately, I discovered not just little typos but some surprising slip-ups. For example, one firm promised, that if we hired it, we would discover the tremendous benefits that their customized approach would offer to the Salt Lake Community College. That’s nice they could do that, if we wanted them to, but what about meeting the needs of our students?
Would you trust your building to someone who doesn’t get the details right? I can guarantee that without the foundation of a carefully prepared proposal, these firms will have nothing to build on – at least not at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.
Some companies did their research and put together impressive, custom-made, typo-free proposals that may not help them with Salt Lake Community College but will keep them in the running when it comes to the Huntsman School of Business. The proposals that earned the highest marks from me were the ones that submitted concise, understandable copy that made it clear they had done their research and were paying attention to our needs.
Some students learn the hard way that if they want to earn good grades, they had better pay attention to details; and, apparently, there are some architectural firms who are about to learn - the hard way - that they don’t have what it takes to make the grade. And there’s no retaking this class.
Monday, June 20, 2011
That's also how I felt last week when some cell towers were down and I had no cell service for a day or so.
Just like my legs being asleep, I knew it would pass, but I still didn't like it.
To make it all worse, I don't have another phone. I guess I could have used a work phone or something, but I don't have a landline at my house. I missed an important work phone appointment, but I wrote the person an email a half an hour later when I figured out what was going on and they were very understanding. But what would have happened if there was some sort of disaster? Well, chances are that even then the phone lines might be out, but still it makes me think that I should get a landline, just in case.
And just communicating via email isn't always the best. The same goes with texting. Yes, it's convenient. Yes, I can attach documents and include URLs. However, in any formal messages, I always have to be thinking, "How would this sound to a superior or a client or someone under me? Does this sound like I am unintentionally rude or unprofessional, or like I'm inadvertently criticizing them?" My wife and friends know me well enough to understand my tone, but coworkers and colleagues probably don't. What other messages am I sending?
Ten years ago I didn't have a cell phone, so why am I so tethered to it now? I'm addicted to it, and I don't even have any apps or games featuring disgruntled fowl launching themselves at buildings. I see the benefit of my future children having cell phones, but I also see drawbacks. I grew up fine without one. How did we used to do business? Are cell phone even necessary?
Probably. We've built our past-paced culture around being able to get ahold of whom we want at anytime. It will be an interesting day when something happens to knock out our communication networks or if there's some massive power outage. We feel entitled to open communication - from the government, from businesses (especially big ones, or ones in which we have stock) and from our associates.
Speaking of open communication, I'm just going to complain a little about the lack of it from my phone provider, who didn't email me to tell me that there was a problem with some towers. (I almost said "who didn't call or text me", but I caught myself.) Actually, I don't even know if this was a planned thing. If it was, then it was a bad idea and it was poorly executed. But supposing it was not, which I prefer to assume, they still should have taken the initiative to try and let their customers know there was a problem.
I don't care if I have to pay more – I would rather have a provider that's concerned about me and goes out of their way to let me know there's a problem and how long it'll take to fix. What about doctors who depend on their phones to get emergency calls from their patients or from the answering service? Because of this company's lack of concern for their customers, somebody could have died. Obviously this is a bit of an exaggeration, but it's still feasible.
The videogame industry has been struggling with that lately, too. One of my coworker's accounts got hacked and the company didn't tell him. One day he tried to use his credit card, and it was declined. So he called his bank and they told him the same thing has happened to other people and others were putting their own accounts on hold because of a hack. At that point he called his videogame online network customer service people and they explained that their network had been hacked weeks before.
Ok. I'm done. This went from my vulnerability from only having a cell phone to me being frustrated with bad customer service.
And since I've been sitting cross-legged on the floor while I wrote this, my legs are asleep, too.
Paul Lewis Siddoway
Friday, June 17, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
These were the first words quoted by Ron Godfrey of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business when he came to my business communication class as a guest speaker. Someone passing by the classroom would have heard him lecturing about employment, what to put on a resume and how to present oneself at a job interview. However, I heard him speak about how we can become successful in the classroom, at the workplace and in every aspect of our lives.
"Your resume is the most important part of you getting a job."
As a college student, I have heard this several times; however, instead of hearing what I should put on a resume, I heard how we as students can go about finding our strengths, weaknesses and what things make us who we are. Mr. Godfrey told each of us to "Brand yourself; bleed onto the paper." He said that many of those who are in charge of hiring employees will ask the receptionists and the custodians how interviewees treated them. They are looking for employees with the utmost integrity. This is great advice for someone competing for a job but better advice for someone to live by everyday of his or her life.
"Hey, I need to talk to you about a couple of things." To which Mr. Godfrey would reply, "What's the second thing?"
Some people talk a lot and say very little. This was not the case when Mr. Godfrey came to my class and spoke about employment and career acceleration. It was as if not a single word was wasted in his lecture. Using his years of experience in the business world, he was able to teach me things I can do to have a better chance at landing a job; but with wisdom (and sometimes needing to read between the lines), he taught me ways I can become a more successful person.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
This weekend I went to my grandfather’s funeral. Among the people who spoke at the services was my dad’s youngest brother. One of the things he mentioned was how he always remembers his dad pruning the trees and trimming up the bushes and all kinds of other yard work. So when he got the news of his dad’s passing, the only thing he could think of to do was yard work, just like his dad would do. And after he did all the yard work he could think of (or rather, that his wife could think of), he got his kids to clean it all up, just like his dad would do.
That got me thinking of all the yard work my parents would get me to do.
It seems like every summer there was always some project to do in the yard. One summer we had to remove the brick wall, so they armed my brother and me with an air compressor and handheld jackhammers to bust the grout out from between the bricks. I think they paid us a dollar for every brick we extracted without breaking. The next summer, they paid us to build a patio using those same bricks.
It seemed like no matter what the project was, it always involved tearing out a tree or bush or something. That’s when I found my true calling. They armed me with a saw and I would scurry up the tree trunks and start dismantling the trees, relieving them of their soon-to-be extraneous limbs. Then we’d cut down the trunk until there was only about 4 feet of it left, then dig up as much of the roots as we could, and haul the stump out with a chain attached to the back of my dad’s truck. Awesome.
And it didn’t stop when I got a job either. Partly because I could always use some extra cash. Partly because I was cheaper than anyone else they could find. Partly because I still jump at the chance to use a saw.
One summer they even got me to reroof their house. I’d get up at 5:00 a.m. and work until it got too hot at 11:00. I pretty much worked by myself, which probably wasn’t the smartest thing safety wise. But it took me pretty much all summer, May to August.
Even when they ran out of things for me to do at their house, they would volunteer me to do things at other peoples’ houses.
One summer I flew out to Ohio to visit my brother for a few days, and while he was there he had me take out a few trees from his backyard. His neighbors were a little surprised when I had to ask them to borrow a saw. They figured that everyone from the West was a logger and would naturally just travel with their own saw.
So as long as everyone was here for the funeral, we all went to town on my sister’s house, because she lives alone. We helped her paint the exterior of her house. We helped fix the little waterfall fountain in her backyard. We helped trim her hedge. I even got to take out a tree. I haven’t done that in a while. I should let my landlord know I’m willing to help, if he even needs it.
Paul Lewis Siddoway
Friday, June 10, 2011
A couple weeks ago, my wife and I celebrated her birthday by driving to Los Angeles to view a live performance episode of American Idol. The competition was down to its final three: Lauren Alaina (pictured on the far left), Scotty McCreery (center) and Haley Reinhart (right). As we watched each of them perform, I realized something: Scotty is the least-talented performer of the group, but he will undoubtedly win this thing. (For those of you who don’t watch the show, Scotty was crowned the winner a week later.)
I realize that the degree of Scotty’s talent level is a subjective opinion and many of you will disagree with me. But I believe that Scotty won the whole thing because he was able to connect with the largest number of people with his engaging personality in addition to his country singing skills. As someone who watched him perform in person, he is an expert at working the crowd and you can’t help but like him.
A correlation I took from the experience is my own need to improve my abilities when it comes to making connections with people. I realize the importance of developing a unique skillset that will help me stand out in the workforce, but that won’t do me any good if I can’t connect with the people who are in positions to give me those great opportunities.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
I have no answers for you because there were no questions. Nothing. Nada. Not a single one. Can you hear the crickets chirping in the silence?
I'm sort of disappointed. I was geared up to offer answers to all manner of probing questions and ended up being left all by myself with nothing to show for my preparations. I guess that's good. It means we answered all their questions the first time we met with them. And yet, I still feel a need to answer questions about the building.
So, can you help me out here? Do you have any questions? I mean, questions about the new building? (I can't answer questions about just anything, you know. I know very little, for example, about Paris Hilton and I really don't want to answer any questions about the 2012 presidential race. I do know something about our plans for a new business building, however.)
Do you have questions about the building? If so, please leave your questions in the comment box below this blog post. I will answer them so all readers can see.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Sometimes I’d even have to come up to campus to talk to an academic advisor or the registrar’s office, but those were few and far between.
So when I find myself walking the near empty sidewalks or past dark offices, I can’t help but feel that something is wrong. There isn’t, of course. It is just nice that it’s all so peaceful and it makes me wish I had spent more summers in Logan.
It’s a crying shame really, because after months of waking up before the sun, putting on four layers, and deciding between walking through knee-high snow drifts or finding a route to class that takes me through buildings, I find the spring (once it finally decided to make an appearance) makes up for my Nordic trek to class.
If I could back up my education and start over, I'd spend more time in Logan taking summer classes.
Logan has so much to offer now that things are warming up. This year we have the flooding to keep in mind, too, but that just means everything’s going to be green for longer and we will be at less of a risk for fire, right? And the rain is suppressing the pollen, so my wife’s allergies aren’t acting up.
It’s also refreshing to complete class work on an accelerated schedule, because that’s all I have to focus on, besides work. It’s nice to walk outside at 2:30 in the afternoon knowing I’m free to play until the sun sets. My friends and I can grab a croquet set or bocce balls, head to a park, kick off our shoes and feel the grass between our toes, and play until we feel the cool canyon breeze pick up.
Paul Lewis Siddoway
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Tuesday night our Great Work Great Career class learned about how to give ourselves the competitive advantage when searching for that great career.