Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ignoring distractions

For Christmas, I got an iPhone 4S. One of the most hyped-up features of this device is Siri, the voice recognizing and talking assistant. The phone also has a “reminder” app, so I can either manually type in reminders or tell Siri to take care of it for me. Siri has made it easier for me to keep and respond to a “to do” list.

According to Peter Bregman, a strategic advisor to CEOs and their leadership teams, there is one other list I should think about: an ignore list. Bregman wrote a post for the Harvard Business Review Blog Network titled, “Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning.” The two lists he talks about are your focus list and your ignore list.

Connor Child
I know it may seem silly to write a blog post about another blog post, but this is just what I needed to hear. As the new year approaches, many of us will make resolutions about what we will do in the coming year. My resolutions will be more about what I will stop doing in the coming year. For instance, do I really need to read the comments below a YouTube video? Odds are that I’m already not making productive use of my time by watching said video; what could I possibly get out of reading what ragtag57 has to say about it?

Bregman says the “ignore list” should contain distractions. What types of things are getting in your way? I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say for myself that there are several distractions that have limited my academic progress. With the internet and social media networks, the number of distractions out there is limitless. As I near the beginning of the final semester of my undergraduate career, I have made a commitment to eliminate or reduce the timewasting activities that have gotten in my way.

But not right now. I just got a cool new smartphone and I want to play with its lightsaber app for a little bit.

- Connor Child

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Show, don't just tell

I have been keeping my eye on sites like Forbes and Time for any tips on the search for what my wife calls "a big boy job."

Lately, I have noticed that a lot of sites post articles about words to strike from your resume or buzzwords to take off your LinkedIn profile.

Paul Lewis Siddoway
Reading these articles, they all seem to say the same basic thing: instead of using your LinkedIn profile, cover letter, or resume to try and convey your qualities, you should show people.

For example, if you are in marketing, you can (and should) have a portfolio. And I suggest a nice hard copy to show off, a decent one you can give away at interviews, and an online one you can share with everybody.

Obviously, you have to have to have words in your cover letter and resume, but it seems like there are some words that used to mean something, and now they have been overused and have lost what they used to mean.

In all my business correspondence, I try and use real language (not anything too flowery or academic) and whenever I have a potentially abstract term, like "experienced," I try to quantify. That, along with my portfolio, allows whoever is reading my resume to determine how experienced I am.

If pictures are worth a 1,000 words, then I would imagine making sure a potential employer sees my portfolio is worth striking a few words from my resume.

- Paul Lewis Siddoway

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We have a contractor!

Ken Snyder
After a very close competition, our selection committee chose Spindler Construction to be the contractor on our new building. Spindler reportedly won based on bringing several ideas on how we can save money in the construction process. Their history of working on buildings on campus, where they have helped stretch the budget through their innovations, persuaded the committee that they are the right people to work with.

Spindler has built several buildings on campus, including the Early Childhood Education Building and Widtsoe Hall.

Spindler is a local company with headquarters in Logan, Utah. For more information, see their website at

I’m looking forward to working with them.

- Ken Snyder

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Law of Diminishing Returns

This week I read an article in the Harvard Business Review called “How to Accomplish More by Doing Less”. I was immediately drawn into this idea. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to make more happen in the time that they are given? I was pleasantly surprised by what I learned.

The article begins by giving examples of two men named “Bill” and “Nick” who have equal skill, who work at the same office and at the same hours, coming in at 9 a.m. each day and leaving at 7 p.m.

Rob Goates
Bill is the typical worker. He doesn’t stop for the whole 10 hours, he’s always in meetings and, in order to save time, he even eats lunch at his desk. He counts his productivity based on the amount of hours worked. He is like many of the workers in today’s society.

Then there’s Nick. He works intensely for approximately 90 minutes at a time, and then proceeds to take a 15 minute break before resuming work. At 12:15, he goes out for lunch for 45 minutes, or works out in a nearby gym. At 3 pm, he closes his eyes at his desk and takes a rest. Sometimes it turns into a 15 or 20 minute nap. Finally, between 4:30 and 5, Nick takes a 15 minute walk outside.

While they both work hard while they are at work, Nick takes the opportunity to refuel and put more energy into his eight hours of work than Bill has in his 10. Studies show that people who work like Nick have faster reaction time and make fewer mistakes as they are more alert. They also have more energy for other aspects of their lives outside of work, such as family and hobbies. They understand that they work to live, not live to work.

People around the world believe that Americans are working themselves to death. We need to discover the importance of smarter, not harder and as we do that, we will begin to realize that it is just as important to work hard as it is to unwind and recover.

- Rob Goates

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Final Four

The college basketball season may have just begun, but the Huntsman School is already focused on a Final Four of its own. After seven construction companies submitted bids to build our new building, the selection committee narrowed the field down to four.

Ken Snyder
The process may not have involved three-pointers at the buzzer or Cinderella stories, but a great deal of thought and effort went into making the selections. Each of the bids were given a score in four criteria: past performance rating, strength of contractor’s team, project management approach and experience with working in a campus environment. The four contractors with the highest combined score were added to the short list.

For a detailed breakdown of the scoring, click on the pdf titled "Short Listing" on this link. The following four firms made the short list:

Layton Construction
Jacobsen Construction
Gramoll Construction
Spindler Construction

Fortunately, we didn’t have to look at strength-of-schedule or tinker with a complex formula like RPI. But these four firms achieved the highest combined scores, and they will present and interview this Wednesday.

No word yet on whether or not Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg will be there to announce the proceedings.

- Ken Snyder

Friday, December 9, 2011

The day the NBA died

Born: June 6, 1946
Died: December 8, 2011

The National Basketball Association passed away under duress as a result of strangulation from 25 of the 30 league team owners on Thursday, December 8, 2011. The hands on the throat that applied most of the pressure and led to loss of blood to the brain resulting in death belonged to Cleveland Cavalier’s CEO Dan Gilbert.

The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders are hard at work today laying the groundwork for actions against the perpetrators.

Some would characterize this as a crime of passion. The chain of events leading to death were precipitated by a proposed three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers, and an assortment of other players and draft picks moving to New Orleans and Houston in order to complete the deal. All-Star Pau Gasol and NBA Dream-Teamer Lamar Odom would have moved from the Lakers to the Rockets and Hornets, respectively, as part of the deal.
Eric D. Schulz

Upon word leaking of the impending trade, several small-market owners- led by Gilbert – called the league office, and stated that the proposed trade was a “travesty” and urged NBA Commissioner David Stern to put the deal to a vote of the “29 owners of the Hornets” (the team is owned by the league, therefore the other 29 NBA teams all “own” an equal percentage of the franchise). Other small-market owners rallied behind Gilbert, afraid that the “superstar” team formations that had begun in Miami and New York – and ostensibly would be halted by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was sold to the owners as a move towards a more level playing field among teams – was still business-as-usual. Gilbert mused that if the deal were approved, the NBA would become “five teams, and 25 others all named the Washington Generals”. For those of you unfamiliar with the Washington Generals, it is the long-time opponent of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters. The Generals have only beaten the Globies six times in 49 years, losing over 13,000 games since their last win which came on January 5, 1971.

With his brain both oxygen deprived and with reduced blood flow, commissioner David Stern killed the trade and his league with an unprecedented and never-before-used veto power, citing “basketball reasons” as the rationale for nixing the deal. Never before has the league interfered in trades, as long as they had met the required financial criteria (i.e. salary matching).

Pre-meditated murder with extenuating circumstances are the charges being prepared for filing. Temporary insanity is contemplated as a primary defense motion for Commissioner Stern and the League office.

Services are pending.

Eric D. Schulz is the co-director of strategic marketing and brand management at the Jon M Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. Prior to joining the University, he spent five years as Vice-President of Marketing for the Utah Jazz (NBA); he previously was VP of Marketing with the XFL Football League, and served as a general manager in minor league baseball. He can be reached at

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Political website in top 20 of Intel competition

Editor's note: A group composed of students, alumni and faculty from the Huntsman School recently launched a political website called Politicit. A unique aspect of the website is the "It" score that it assigns to each candidate. The score is calculated through a software program that utilizes a neural network to calculate how people feel about candidates today.

A handful of Huntsman students, alumni and a professor (the creators of PoliticIt) have made it to the semi-final top-20 round of entrepreneurs in the Intel Innovators Competition! The top five teams from this round will have a chance to win $100,000! Please help our Huntsman family out by doing the following (The person who invests the most points will be a judge for the next round):

1. Click this link: (You must be logged in to Facebook to participate.)
2. Let Intel Innovators have access to you (safe app that doesn't post any material to your wall unless you ask it to).
3. "Like" it to get your first intel points in the right upper corner.
4. Once you have the first 10,500 points click on the "i" tab.
5. Click on "Pitch Room" tab.
6. Find "Politicit" among the 20 entries by mousing over them to see the names.
7. Click "INVEST"
8. Type "10500" (the points you just earned) into the box and click "INVEST".
9. If you want a chance to earn more points and a better chance for PoliticIt to win, press play on 10 videos. You don't have to watch them all! Just press the play button and you'll see points added for each one to your pool. Repeat the invest step with these new points.
10. You CAN repeat these steps EVERY DAY until Dec. 19, and each day you invest Intel points, you get another chance to win. The top prize will go to the entrepreneur team with the most points.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Progress Hastens

So many things are happening with our building plans that it is difficult for me to report on just one thing each week. This past week, three big things happened. Let me give a brief report of each:

Ken Snyder
First, we are very close to locking down what goes in the building. The architects created a proposal as to where everything will go in the new building. It seems like it will work very well. We made a few changes to their proposals, but we generally really liked what they proposed. Most of the space in the new building will be classrooms. Our two event rooms will have the prime views of the south end of the valley. There will be two main entrances – one at the northwest corner of the complex, and the other at the southwest corner. Both entryways will be two-stories. The cafĂ© will be near the south entryway.

Second, we showed our plans to President Albrecht. He seemed to like the plan as much as we do. He especially liked the additional new classrooms the project would bring to the campus. The shortage of classrooms on campus is a bigger and bigger problem as enrollments have grown. The classrooms in our building will help bring some needed relief. He also seemed to like the iconic look of the new building.

Third, construction contractor proposals were due last Thursday. Seven firms submitted proposals. A selection committee is now narrowing down the list to the top three or four. One contractor will be selected to work with us and the architectural firm as we work through the process of creating the design documents for the building.

It’s exciting to see this progress. It will be a great building!

- Ken Snyder

Monday, December 5, 2011

Some important skills can't be quantified with a letter grade

I recently read a blog which was sparked by a Twitter conversation about the importance of GPA's in the "real" world.

The blog basically said that while taking classes seriously, working hard and learning are important, you can only be graded on certain aspects of your education.

Once I started studying things that would need to last me for the rest of my life in a vocation (I'm sorry, but the role of the plow in the settlement of Nebraska just doesn't figure into my plans for the future), I started working harder than when I was just doing school work.

Sometimes it is still hard for me to keep that focus in mind, but at least I don't have any more worksheets.

Through my college career, I have learned more than just facts and formulas. I've learned other things that are more abstract, and therefore harder to give a grade to.
Paul Lewis Siddoway

For example, personal skills or social skills.

Whenever I need to do a new task, it really helps to see someone else do it. I play music, and whenever I want to learn something new, the easiest way for me to do that is to see someone else do it; I can see how their hands move.

Teachers give students assignments so the student can not only learn the material, but also so they can learn how they learn best. Good teachers will teach using different methods and give assignments requiring different skill sets. The grades given will help students learn what works and what doesn't, but no kind of teacher can really grade on whether somebody knows their learning style.

Being married, working two jobs, going to school full time and finding time for myself has taught me prioritization and time management. That's something else I doubt I could be graded on. Sometimes you have to sharpen that proverbial saw to push through and get work done. Sometimes you have to do a rush job on a project and you have to know what other things you can or can't procrastinate.

And you have to know how to be a big boy and take accountability for your decisions. Gratefully, I'm pretty sure I have received better grades based on my being honest with my professors.

One of the biggest shortcomings I run into is everyone being so worried about hurting other people's feelings. If I have done a botched job on something, I want to know about it so I can make it better. I don't need you to tell me two good things I did first. I do appreciate "positive" feedback, but only when it's honest. (Being able to tell if it's honest is another un-gradable thing I've learned in college.) And really, if it makes me and my work better, isn't it all positive?

I don't want to say that GPA's aren't important (graduate school, anyone?), but there are other things that are important that can’t be given a concrete grade quite as easily.

- Paul Lewis Siddoway

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Effect of the New CBA on the Utah Jazz & Small Market Teams

Did the Jazz and small market teams get any “wins” in the deal?

Yes. The new deal includes an increasingly painful luxury tax for teams that habitually stray into taxpayer territory, which should keep the Lakers and Celtics of the world from going significantly over the luxury tax line (as the Lakers, Dallas, Celtics, Bulls and several others do nearly every season). This should – at some point in the future – begin to level the salary playing field between the big-market, high revenue teams and the smaller market teams. However, the new luxury tax doesn’t begin to kick in until the 2013-14 season, so until then, it’s business as usual. It will be five years before the real effects of the new, steeper taxes manifest themselves.

Eric D. Schulz
An immediate win the Jazz have available to them is the new “amnesty” clause, which allows each team to waive one player prior to any season and have 100% of that players salary removed from their team salary for cap and tax purposes. This new clause will allow teams to dump players that they signed to big contracts and then had buyer’s remorse – as would have been the case with Andrei Kirilenko and his $17 million dollar annual contract the past couple of seasons. The team still has to pay anyone they dump (unless he’s picked up by another team, in which case they have to pay a portion of the contract instead of all of it). On the Jazz radar for using the amnesty clause this season is Mehmut Okur and his $11 million salary. If somebody shows up to camp way-out-of-shape, they also could be on the radar.

Will the new deal allow small market teams to compete for the NBA championship more effectively?

No. The big market teams will continue to be the only ones you’ll see hoisting trophies at the end of the year. The new deal does nothing to address the “Miami Effect”, with players leveraging their way to the big markets to play with their All-Star buddies. Before this year is out, you will see Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol as the “big three” in LA; Amare Stoudamire, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul headlining the Knicks; Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Tim Duncan on the Bulls; Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez headlining the Mavericks; and of course, LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh in Miami. Nothing has changed. The haves will continue to have. The smaller market teams will continue to be have-nots and be in continual rebuilding mode.

Will the Jazz have an easier time signing big-name free agents under the new deal?

No. Utah is not a destination where players want to come and form their “big-three’s”. Once players get to Utah they like it, but it is not a preferred destination, and any free agent player that’s top-tier has multiple options from which to choose. Major markets, with big opportunities for incremental cash from personal sponsorships and endorsements -- along with nice weather and beaches -- win every time.

Will the Jazz be able to make a profit under the new deal?

Only if they keep their player salaries at or near the salary cap – in the $50 - $55 million dollar range. As it stands today, the 2011-12 roster is at about $59 million, and they have to sign at least two more players.

Will the new CBA keep owners from handing out outrageous contracts?

No. In fact, they can give out MORE outrageous deals. The maximum that any single player can make under the old CBA was 25% of the salary cap. Under the new deal, a max contract can be up to 30% of the cap.

The free agent signing period starts next Wednesday, and it will be interesting to see the feeding frenzy. The New Orleans Hornets only have five players under contract. Most teams need to add two-to-four players. It will be a crazy week next week!

- Eric D. Schulz

Eric D. Schulz is the co-director of strategic marketing and brand management at the Jon M Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. Prior to joining the University, he spent five years as vice-president of marketing for the Utah Jazz (NBA); he previously was VP of marketing with the XFL Football League, and served as a General Manager in minor league baseball. He can be reached at