Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Monday, January 30, 2012

iFrogz founders talk of the cold, wet beginnings of their first company

The road to entrepreneurial success might just go through a car wash in the cold of winter and the middle of the night.

Scott Huskinson speaks to students at various regional
campuses who were watching a video broadcast from Logan
That was one practical lesson offered up at the Lectures in Entrepreneurship series on Jan. 25. I knew that the people who came to hear Clay Broadbent and Scott Huskinson, the founders of iFrogz, were not going to get the standard how-to-succeed in business presentation. Dave Herrmann, a senior lecturer, introduced the two founders of iFrogz and told the students in the packed auditorium that the last time Scott visited his class on campus, he was voted the best speaker of the semester.

I’m sure those who came on that Wednesday evening weren’t disappointed. In fact, I’m know that two students probably found it one of the most rewarding lectures they ever attended. Scott opened his part of the presentation by saying he’d give $100 to the first woman and the first man who could show him a hole in their sock. Two startled students ended up with a crisp $100 bill in their hands.

After that introduction he had everyone’s attention including students who were watching from the regional campuses. He made sure they knew he could see them on the overhead screens by waving at them and waiting until they responded.

Clay Broadbent addresses the audience
I’ve interviewed Scott a few times and was impressed with Clay’s presentation, but what they said and the way they interacted with the students as individuals reinforced one key thing I’ve always admired about them. They treat people with respect. Here are some of the tips they shared:

• When your company does well, show your employees some appreciation for their contributions to your bottom line. While this can’t always be done, I know for a fact that Scott and Clay went far beyond normal expectations when they sold iFrogz for $105 million last year to ZAGG, a company that sells mobile device accessories. Scott told the students it was one of the most rewarding days of his life when, after they made the sale, they invited employees to one-on-one meetings so they could give them some unexpected bonus checks. They apply this principle when it comes to the companies in China they work with to manufacture their products by treating them as partners and insisting on paying them a fair amount for the work they do. This kind of philosophy breeds a sense of fierce loyalty.

• They wanted the students to understand that becoming a successful entrepreneur doesn’t come without sacrifices and long hours. Clay told of a stage early on when the first wristband company they founded in 2004, Reminderband, was taking off so fast that, in order to keep up with demand, they had to go out in temperatures of 15 degrees below zero, in the middle of the night, to a car wash to spray off and clean the bands they had received from China to prepare them so they could be customized. At one point the demand for the product was so high that they had to work 20 hours a day and sleep at the office because they were so overwhelmed with orders, Clay said.

• If you want to take advantage of opportunities, sometimes there is little time for market research. They did their homework but seemed to have a real bias for action and pattern of looking ahead and preparing for market changes. When sales at Reminderband started to slow they were already working on the idea that became iFrogz. That transition was facilitated by the fact that they had developed trusted business partners who could help them innovate and expand into a totally new market. (Clay still leads Reminderband. It was not part of the sale.)

It’s pretty difficult in a short blog posting to capture a remarkable success story like the one that Clay and Scott told. I would recommend, instead, that you see if for yourself. You’ll find yourself laughing at their stories and being impressed by their character. Actually, in Scott’s case you’ll discover that he actually is a character. It’s probably one of the best campus presentations on entrepreneurship that you’ll ever take in. See it yourself by clicking here.

- Steve Eaton

Friday, January 27, 2012


Last week, I promised to post an image of the building concept as soon as I could. I put off my blog post this week until today because I wanted to be able to show you this rendering as soon as we had shared it with our National Advisory Board. Well … here it is. Isn’t it amazing?

Check out this video to see more of what the building could look like:

- Ken Snyder

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Go big or stay home

I recently finished my undergraduate studies and am on the hunt for what my boss calls "a big boy job."

I found a blog from a year and a half ago that gives some good job seeking advice. One thing that threw me off was the advice to be professional and classy.

Paul Lewis Siddoway
 Not that it was unexpected, but I was especially struck by how specific and all-encompassing their advice was. They said to "carry yourself with a sense of class and professionalism all the time, not just in an interview." You never know who you are going to meet waiting in line or at your favorite local café.

And I know people who have gotten jobs from conversations they started on airplanes or waiting in line at the movies. That is bold networking.

Another tip this same blog had was physically visiting the office of a company at which you have applied. You are following up, which is good. You are showing that you are proactive, which is good. And you are initiating a conversation and putting a face (and a personality) to a name, which is good.

Nobody is going to hand you a job on a silver platter, and just looking on job boards probably is not going to cut it in today's business world. You really have to leave your couch and dare mighty things.

-Paul Lewis Siddoway

Monday, January 23, 2012

Key Ragnar people discuss thriving business

Finishing a Ragnar overnight relay race takes endurance, motivation and the ability to do whatever it takes to succeed. After hearing from some of the key people from Ragnar Events, it sounds like creating the company requires the exact same attributes.

Tanner Bell, co-creator of Ragnar Events, discusses his
company at the first Entrepreneurship Lecture Series
On Wednesday, Tanner Bell, Ken Jacquin and Chris Infurchia visited the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business as part of the Spring 2012 Entrepreneurship Lecture Series. The three of them discussed the success of Ragnar Events and offered suggestions and tips to the budding entrepreneurs in attendance. The Utah-based company puts on 14 overnight relay races across the U.S. in which teams of runners cover hundreds of miles. The first race drew 220 participants; there are now 60,000 people who run in Ragnar races each year.

Bell, who co-founded Ragnar Events with his friend shortly after graduating from Brigham Young University, said he had to do some unorthodox things to get some publicity for his fledgling company. On a drive home one evening, he was listening to a radio segment called “Speaking on Business” hosted by Zions Bank executive Fred Ball. During the segment, Ball would highlight a local business, and Bell felt a strong urge to have his business be featured on a future episode. Not knowing how to get ahold of Ball, he opened a phonebook and saw four people by the name of Fred Ball. He dialed the first listing, and to his surprise, he soon found himself talking to the bank executive and radio host. Two months later, Ball’s secretary called Bell and asked if he would like to be featured on an upcoming segment.

Bell said that is the kind of stuff you have to do to get noticed in your early days. He also talked about several other keys to Ragnar’s success, including their commitment to the brand loyalty to their racers and sponsors.

Jacquin, one of the founding partners of Dolphin Capital, said his private equity firm decided to invest in Ragnar for many reasons, but one reason in particular was because they “seemed like a lot of fun to work with.” He said Dolphin Capital invests in mid-market businesses with large growth potential, and his firm saw a lot of growth in Ragnar.

Infurchia is the current CEO of Ragnar Events. He talked about his admiration for the “pure passion and abject courage” or entrepreneurs like Bell.

“Entrepreneurs say, ‘this can work, and here’s why,’ and they’re willing to fail and fail and fail until they get it right,” Infurchia said.

Getting a business off the ground takes a lot of work, Infurchia said, but it does not stop there. For a business to have sustained success, entrepreneurs must surround themselves with talented people. Good entrepreneurs know where they need help and they know where they can find the right people.

A video of their presentation may be found here.

- Connor Child

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Life currencies

The art of creating a brand positioning is knowing precisely what it is to say about your product that makes it most appealing to the customer.

But before we can develop that articulation, we need to understand what it is that the consumer is seeking, and most importantly, we need to understand the criteria the consumer uses when making their purchase decision.

Understanding the concept of life currencies is the best place to begin the process of consumer insight. What are life currencies? They are the things besides money that affect purchase decisions. In almost every transaction, there is a combination of life currencies in play that affect the decision on whether or not to purchase something.

The twelve life currencies we as marketers can manipulate in purchase decisions are:

• Information
• Time
• Space
• Human Energy
• Expertise
• Fun
• Fear
• Frustration
• Convenience
• Love
• Quality
• Money

The only currency we ever talk about is money, but the reality is that every individual has this combination of currencies continually being evaluated in their subconscious that they measure when contemplating a purchase decision. The currency in your pocket is often of least concern.

Using Life Currencies

Here are some examples of how life currencies work. Have you every purchased a good or service because having that would save you a lot of time? Time therefore is one currency that you value and use as a consideration when making the purchase decision, along with money.

Eric D. Schulz
Have you ever walked away from buying something because you were frustrated standing in line or waiting on the phone, or the website was just too slow? Frustration or lack of convenience is the primary currency that makes that purchase (or non-purchase) decision.

Have you ever wanted a giant LCD HDTV, but haven’t bought it because you don’t have a place in your home to put it? Space (or lack of space), is the primary currency that sways the (non) purchase decision.

Step back for a moment and think about the purchases (and non-purchases) you’ve made in the past several days; I’ll bet that one of the other life currencies was the determining factor in the many of your purchases, though you were likely unaware of its influence.

When business schools teach marketing, they focus on the 4-P’s: Product, Placement, Promotion, and Price. When they talk about price, they only talk about money. That’s wrong. Smart marketers know that for most products, money is only one factor in the purchase decision, and it’s often a minor one at that.

- Eric D. Schulz

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's time to leave a once-in-a-generation legacy

The progress we are making at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business is creating the kind of opportunity that may come along only once in a lifetime. It’s been more than 41 years since the George S. Eccles Business Building was dedicated. We have money pledged from donors and appropriated by the legislature to build the new Huntsman Hall addition to the business building complex. We have enough money to build a 78,000-square-foot building. But as I have indicated in my blog entries the past few weeks, we know a 78,000-square-foot building will fall short of meeting the needs of our students.

Ken Snyder
To meet the needs of our students, we need to “go big.” We are moving forward with a 117,000-square-foot building. We need to raise about $10 million more to build Huntsman Hall to the size we now envision.

We believe this new building, when utilized along with the George S. Eccles Business Building, will meet the needs of our students for the foreseeable future. In fact, it could be another 40 years before our successors start the process of raising money for a new building all over again.

We are now talking with key supporters and friends, asking them to take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to leave a legacy. Years from now, there will be satisfaction in being able to point to this new building and say you helped make it possible, not just because it will be a beautiful, impressive building, but because it will represent the many lives that have been influenced and will be influenced for the better because they has passed through Huntsman Hall.

In the next few weeks, we anticipate introducing an image and a video of what we are envisioning. Stay tuned.

- Ken Snyder

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tragedy avoided in Logan River

As you may have heard, a heroic act was performed just minutes away from our campus. One of the rescuers was Blake Dursteler, a member of the Huntsman School’s National Advisory Board. Blake, along with the other rescuers, recently made an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, where they were reunited with the rescued family. The video can be watched below:

We are so thankful that Roger Andersen and the three young children are safe. We are also amazed at the courage of Blake, Chris, Bruce, Ben, Kristen, Buzzy, Phil, Morgan and Victor (Editor’s note: all names were taken from listening to Ellen’s introduction, so I apologize if any names are misspelled).

Thank you for your remarkable story!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Winning support in high places

Last week, I mentioned we will try to “go big.” As a first step in that process, we needed to present our plans to people in high places. We first presented our plans to President Albrecht. He is always supportive of our students, and he approved our plans. We next presented our plans to the Utah State University Board of Trustees. All of them were supportive of our vision. They recognize our new plans will better meet the needs of our students for the next 15 years or more.
Ken Snyder

We are now aiming to raise funds to make our building 117,000-square-feet, instead of the 78,000-square-foot plan we can do with the original budget. That means we will need to raise an additional $10 million in the next few months.

This expansion of our vision was sparked by a National Advisory Board member who inspired us by telling us we should “go big, or go home.” We were persuaded to “go big” and we are gaining support as we move forward. We are fortunate to have committed leaders at USU who share our vision of what we can do to empower our students and raise the profile of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, and we look forward to training many more leaders just like them as we move onward.

- Ken Snyder

Monday, January 9, 2012

Get ready for the future

Make a New Year’s resolution that will pay off in 2012 and beyond. A visit with a professional in the Career Acceleration Center can create dividends that will benefit you and your career for years to come.
Ron Godfrey

I have seen what can happen when a student proactively taps into the expertise that is available in the Career Acceleration Center. I work with four professionals who can draw from years of broad-based experience as seasoned executives to offer the type of targeted coaching that can give a graduate an edge in today’s competitive marketplace.

Time passes quickly and you will soon be immersed in the mad scramble for a competitive job. Give yourself an advantage by speaking with someone who has already experienced what lies in store for you. Many skills sets are offered by these business leaders. You can receive help with networking, interviewing skills, and résumés. More importantly, you can be assisted with personal development and direction, tailored to your individual needs. Please, make a resolution and develop a plan for the future.

- Ron Godfrey

Friday, January 6, 2012

Elton John and Marketing Pro's

Imagine for a moment that you are at a friend's home for a party, and to your amazement, in walks Elton John. After some brief introductions, he meanders over to the piano, sits down and starts playing a medley of his hits – an impromptu private concert. He doesn’t sing. He just plays the piano. Classics like Your Song, Rocket Man, Tiny Dancer, Bennie & the Jets, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, and many, many more. You listen, absolutely amazed at the pureness of the sound coming from the instrument, the crispness of the notes, the flawless execution as he strokes the keys in just the right way, at just the right times, making the piano sing like an angels voice from heaven. You realize just what a unique and special talent Elton possesses in his ability at playing the piano and creating unique and memorable songs that stand the test of time.
Eric D. Schulz

Now, imagine this party in a very different way. Instead of Elton John taking to the keyboard, it instead is the hosts’ 3 year-old son. He sits down and starts banging the keys, creating nothing but noise and utter annoyance -- this coming from this very same instrument that in the hands of Elton was made to sing like an angel. It is the same instrument, in different hands, creating a complete opposite outcomes. Please, make him stop!

Effective marketing campaigns are the handiwork of skilled and trained marketing professionals, not unlike Elton John playing the piano. Created in the hands of a marketing pro, campaigns can be joyous and wondrous – they engage the customer, showcase products and services in relevant yet unexpected ways, and communicate how different, better, and special they are versus the competition. They delight and drive the customer to purchase their products.

The strategies and skills used to develop these marketing plans – created in just the right way, and executed at just the right times -- are learned through the training received from a skilled marketing teacher and mentor, then built upon by individual practice that can only be gained overtime and through experience.

Many business professionals and small business owners believe they possess the skills to execute their own marketing programs, despite having no formal marketing training or expertise. They underestimate the skills and knowledge required to plan and execute a meaningful and effective marketing plan. And, just like the 3 year-old on the piano, they end up making nothing but noise, annoying and potentially driving away potential customers, creating nothing of value and in fact, wasting both time and resources as well.

As we begin 2012, my hope is that business managers and small business owners will realize they need real marketing professionals driving their marketing ships, and that they will hire my students who have been trained by my guided hand to help them!

- Eric D. Schulz

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Go big, or go home

We have been very excited about moving forward with our plans to construct Huntsman Hall, but along with that progress we’ve had a nagging feeling that we could do better. We have the funds to construct a beautiful 85,000-square-feet building. Our projections, however, indicate that to really meet our anticipated needs for the next 15 years or so, we should be building a 120,000-square-foot building.
Ken Snyder

We were discussing this shortfall with one of our major donors who is also a member of our National Advisory Board. He told us that we should “go big, or go home.” He encouraged us to raise an additional $8 to 10 million so we create the space we need for our students. So, we have decided to try to do just that.

Does this mean that the construction of the building will be delayed while we come up with this additional cash? No. Our plan is to raise the extra money in the next six to seven months so that we’ll be able to stay on our original schedule.

Next week I’ll write about how we plan to do that but, in the meantime, those of you who might have $8 to 10 million available that you’d like to invest in our students, we invite you to step forward. The way we see it, this is truly the time to “Go big, or go home” and we need your help to do that.

- Ken Snyder

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What is half of 8?

While I have been searching for jobs and doing interviews, my current boss and I have talked about his job search experience and how he conducts interviews.

When I interviewed with him, he had me perform a sort of skills test for things I would be doing for him, and I am not talking about running over to Cafe Ibis and getting him coffee.

There was a question and answer part of the interview process, but it did not seem very scripted. It was more conversational.

Paul Lewis Siddoway
Come to find out, he once heard an interview question which asked the applicant what half of "8" was. I am sure that most people would say, "4." My boss said that those people would be summarily dismissed. A "correct" answer would be something more creative, like "o" or "3" (because you cut the symbol "8" in half) or "1+1+1+1" or "the square root of 16."

You get the idea. I recently read's top 25 oddball interview questions of 2010, which just goes to show that a lot of companies ask questions like this.

And for some jobs, you do need people who can think outside the box. But my boss said more often than not, he just needs someone who can communicate and give him a straight answer.

And in grade school, I was taught to NOT think outside the box.

I remember in second grade, when we were learning the names of the days of the week, we had a spelling test on them. I wrote:


And then, in letters filling the page top to bottom, "day."

Obviously, I knew how to spell the names of the day of the week. And I recognized there was an easier way to do it. I was thinking out of the box.

But I got a zero. I guess creative thinking only goes so far.

Stephen R. Covey, the Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair in Leadership, wrote a book about seeking the third alternative. I wrote a blog post about it once. In those situations, I think it is vital to think outside the box. Especially if it means I'll get paid to move to a tropical island.

Gratefully, none of the companies I have interviewed with so far have asked any of those off-the-wall questions. They are out there, but now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

- Paul Lewis Siddoway