Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Friday, November 30, 2012

The World is Round but Some Classrooms Will Always Be Flat

In my last blog I wrote about the benefits of a tiered classroom, especially when it comes to using the case-study approach, where a professor can challenge students by having them come up with solutions to real-world business problems. Given all those benefits one might wonder why Huntsman Hall will feature 12 flat classrooms. Why not make them all tiered classrooms?

Some of our professors prefer a flat classroom because the topics they teach can be most effectively taught in a setting where students are collaborating and working together on projects. A flat classroom gives them the ability to move tables and chairs around, creating small-group discussions that involve every student.

As you may know, studies have shown that the more students are involved in the learning process, the more they are likely to retain. The standard lecture approach has its limitations, even with the best professors. You’ve probably noticed how much more you retrain when you are in a situation where you are expected to learn something that you need to teach others. This is true even if that teaching amounts to just explaining what you understand to other members of a small group.

Anytime there is a topic like leadership, management or collaboration, a professor appreciates the flexibility to teach in a setting that allows students the opportunity to lead, collaborate and manage a project to a successful conclusion. When the educational process is working as it should, students can learn as much from each other as they do from the professor. People learn best when they can put into practice the things that are being taught.

When a new building is constructed people often focus on aesthetics, such as how it will look and how it will represent the philosophies being taught. Those things are important, but it is still in the classroom that much of the educational process unfolds. We are now at a rare point where we have a chance to design classrooms and facilities in a way that best help our students reach their goals.

It’s interesting to note that is was through a collaborative approach that we have come to our ideas about what should go in Huntsman Hall. And one of those conclusions is that if our students are to discover new ideas and explore new insights, some of our classrooms must be flat.
Ken Snyder
Ken Snyder

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An Attitude of Gratitude

“Gratitude is the best attitude” was a common saying around my home. This phrase is catchy and even rhymes, but does it work in the business world? According to an article by Brad Larsen, a success strategist, the answer is yes.
One way gratitude can benefit a business is through the eye of the consumer. The article states, “that customers are looking for value, satisfaction and appreciation on their purchases. A simple gesture of gratitude can be enough to keep them coming back and telling others about your business.”
Feeling appreciated is a human need, and is something that should not be overlooked or disregarded. The article gives seven reasons why saying “thank you” is good for business.
1.       Because it makes a difference.
2.       Because it builds better professional relationships.
3.       Because it opens doors to new opportunities in the future.
4.       Because it defines your intentions and motives in the business world.
5.       Because people return to you the attitudes and feelings that you give them.
6.       Because it lets people know that their business or work matters to you.
7.       Because people will always remember how you made them feel.
Expressing heartfelt gratitude can create a powerful change. The article states, “be plentiful in your gratitude and thoughtful in your thankfulness and watch your business grow.”
It’s as simple as that. Thank you for supporting the Huntsman Blog this day.
Klydi Heywood

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Goal to Give Back

The Thanksgiving holiday is always a good time to reflect and give thanks for what we have. With this year's break I've had the opportunity to do just that. I've been thinking lately on how very fortunate I am. Even though school is tough, money sometimes tight and the weather is frigid, I'm especially grateful for what I have and to be gaining a higher education here at Utah State University. With the holiday season in the near future, this is not a time to be greedy with our mounds of food and piles of presents. It is a time to reflect on all that we have been given and in thanks, give a little back.

Forbes Magazine recently compiled a list of what they thought were the top-ranking charities. As I thought about all the good that these charities are doing for the world, I couldn't help but be inspired and want to help in some small way. However, as college students, money is not always abundant and time can be scarce, which makes service a bit difficult. Yet, there are still a number of ways that students can give without becoming charity cases themselves. USA Today’s College site posted about “Givingback on a student’s budget.” This story lists a number of ways that students can donate what little time and/or resources they have to help others. A few of the organizations mentioned were:

CompassionPit: This site is a place where people can go to talk anonymously to a stranger about their troubles. The people on this site are often simply looking for a listening ear as they may be having a rough day or have a problem that you may be able to relate with and offer some advice. This website is a simple, but effective way for students to help those who may need it.

Free Kibble: With this organization students are not only helping hungry animals, but they are also giving their own brains a workout. Free Kibble offers 10 pieces of Kibble to hungry animals with every trivia question that you answer. This is another easy way to help.

Call to Protect: This organization allows people to donate their old cell phones in order to protect against domestic violence. The donated phones are cleaned up and resold. The profits gained are then donated to organizations working to end domestic violence.

Students can also find a number of places to help out locally such as donating clothes to Deseret Industries and other organizations,  volunteering for an afternoon at a local soup kitchen or animal shelter, and even visiting with people in a hospital or rest home. A number of other volunteering opportunities in Utah can be found here.

As students, we are so very blessed to be at this great institution gaining an education. With all that we have, let’s find time to give back this holiday season.   

- Allie Jeppson

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Road to Entrepreneurship: Don’t Go it Alone!

Many journeys and successes can be conquered alone. True entrepreneurial success, however, is not a one-person endeavor. There are days in the start-up cycle when cash runs short, equipment fails, customers back out, prices fluctuate adversely and endless obstacles are bound to arise.

On the other hand the finale of solo quests can be anti-climactic when the victor realizes there is no one with whom to share the joy.

As an aspiring entrepreneur, I have already looked down the long and lonely road that I know leads to the success that so many of us seek. It is a road fraught with twists and turns, pitfalls, windfalls, devastating setbacks, and, on occasion, a sunny meadow of short-lived winning streaks that we all hope will last.

The entrepreneurial path is not for everyone, I know, to take those first steps into the unknown and then keep going. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but for the adventurers, the risk-takers, the visionaries, the game-changers, the innovators, the tinkerers. I’m not going to pretend we’re all fearless — that would be a lie.

To help innovators face their fears, we get a few people together who share our vision- who believe what we believe — and we take the journey together.

I’ve never really told anyone this, but I’d like to race yachts someday, full-sized and fully crewed sailboats. It can be safely said that competitive sailing requires teamwork and trust. A truly winning team works in harmony, communicates effectively, encourages one another, and shares in every victory and defeat. Everyone feels ownership and shares responsibility for both the successes and failures.

Every new venture is like a sailboat race: you’ll need a team. When they are discouraged, you re-instill their confidence. When you are discouraged, they support you. You all share in the victories and in the defeats.

For those of you who aspire to achieve this class of entrepreneurial success, get your team together and set sail. Failures will be easier to bear when the load is distributed, and victories will be sweeter when shared.

Do not go it alone.

 -Reed Page

Friday, November 16, 2012

Grateful for a Computer With a Heartbeat

This week, just as I was on deadline for the Huntsman Post, my computer crashed. To use a football analogy to show you how close I was to meeting that deadline before the crash: I was down by two touchdowns with three minutes to play in the fourth quarter. I had come in early, was planning on staying late, and was believing that with a successful on-side kick or blocked punt I could still get a victory. 

Then, suddenly, just before the snap, each member of my offensive line died at the same time of a heart attack. That's the part where my computer crashed. Suddenly I was in a totally different game.

If you take away my ability to type and do e-mail, my world changes. After I organize and clean my office, all I can do is go outside and plant crops. Thankfully, the guy in the office next door to mine is Tom James. He has actual job skills and he deals in these type of work crisis situations every day at the Huntsman School of Business. Computers crash, and people run to him as their vocational world starts to unravel. He calmly goes about defragmenting hard-disk megabytes and downloading drivers, and soon he is rebuilding things and saving the day. Since his office is nearby, I see this drama play out on a regular basis but, of course, it’s much more serious when I’m facing a technology meltdown.

While he was in the other room hitting my computer with those shock pads, hoping to get a heartbeat, I found an old laptop in my office that had been retired years ago because it too had a tendency to crash. I plugged it in, booted it up and it worked—sort of. Because I do a lot of my work in Drop Box, I was able to get to many of my latest documents. It was still a painful process to meet deadline because many of the things I normally do without even thinking became more difficult. Sort of like throwing a long pass after your offensive line drops dead.

Everything was slow. I could have run a lap around the building every time I clicked on something expecting a response. Normally, I have two computer screens, which proves extremely helpful when I am writing stories and press releases from typewritten notes, e-mail information or audio recordings that live in my computer. I couldn’t use those two screens anymore. I could still progress but it was like writing left-handed—underwater.

Within 24 hours Tom had my computer back to life and working again. It’s sort of sad, however, because she doesn’t remember me anymore and has forgotten all my preferences and what we did together last Christmas. She is sometimes confused when I ask her to do things she used to do all the time like print a document or launch a program. I’ll click on a program and she wants to know if I agree with pages and pages of rules before she’ll let me use it. She used to trust me.

It is sort of like in Star Trek when Spock was finally tapping his human side and then they killed him off at the end of the movie only to try to bring him back to life in the next movie. The new Spock had forgotten some of the Star Trek movies he made just like we had.

I remember as a kid I watched a cartoon show about the future called “The Jetsons.” In the episode I remember, two of the main characters were in the military and were being punished by being put on a clean-up detail. It meant that they had to sit at a panel and punch buttons and watch as robots did the actual scrubbing and sweeping. They complained to each other of the difficulty of the detail and how that part of the military, where they punish you with hard labor, not changed in hundreds of years. They weren’t doing any actual work. They were just punching buttons.

So what percentage of your day involves mouse clicks and typing? What happens to your world when your laptop crashes or your smart phone gets dumb? Have you ever thought doing something was too hard because it might have involved ten or fifteen clicks?

Now, I know where you think I’m going with this. You think I’m going to complain about us all using smart phones too much and never communicating in person. You think I’m going to advocate for an Amish lifestyle and a car that runs on corncobs. I’m not. The technology I use every day allows me to communicate, keep my job, and makes it so I’ll never ever have to go back to the circus where I grew up.

This Thanksgiving I’m going to be grateful for the very technology that everyone loves to complain about. I need my computer even if she seems distant to me right now like we are strangers that just met. I’ll win her over. And it just so happens that I care about my iPhone that connects me to eBay where there is soooo much stuff that I really need to buy before it is too late.

When I get home there is plenty of real manual labor to do. Don’t worry. I’ll stay connected to the earth. Most of it is in my garage and I’ll need to sweep it out. In one way, we are sort of like the Jetsons, you know.

Only in our case, it is my wife who has figured out how to push my buttons.

—Steve Eaton

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be You

Last week I heard an interesting networking technique. A woman explained that when she was in between jobs or deciding which step to take next, she would find people who had the job she wanted. She would then track them down, via email or social network, and invite them to an afternoon lunch, or an after-work drink. She would explain that she “wanted to be them” when she grew up and just wanted to discuss how they got to the point they are now in their career.
A few days later I was reminded through experience, how much people love to talk about themselves. Putting these two concepts together, I have decided to follow suit and ask the person I “want to be when I grow up” to go out for a quick lunch.
An article I recently read on networking stated, “You should learn all you can about potential employers that hire your skills, and it is always helpful to get career advice as you are seeking a job.”
Because of the concept of “global village”, finding a job relies on who you know. I don’t know if this strategy will work but if anything else, I will learn what it takes to be successful and solidify my professional dreams. 
Klydi Heywood
Klydi Heywood

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Best Part of Huntsman Hall Will Be Mostly Invisible

The thing that excites me most about Huntsman Hall is something you can’t see at all—unless you know what you are looking for. The classrooms are designed for effective, case study teaching.

The best way to learn most things is through experiencing it. We call this experiential learning. In a classroom, the best way to simulate experience is through the case study approach. This approach is used at top business schools. Students study real examples of challenges that real business leaders have faced. Then we, as faculty, ask students to propose solutions to these challenges. It is a very interactive, effective way of teaching. When done properly, it helps the students learn from thinking through challenges, and learn from each other things that might not have even been introduced by the professor.

Our new classrooms will help our professors, myself included, use the case study approach more effectively. How does that happen? The classrooms are designed so that there are two aisles that cut through the tables making it easy for a professor to walk up to and talk directly with every student. The classroom design also makes it much more difficult for an unprepared student to hide in the back. It’s surprising how much focus a student can have when the professor is standing right next to them, challenging their ideas.

When I use the case study approach I often select a student to get the discussion going. I suggest they put themselves in the shoes of the business leader and I ask them how they would solve the challenges that are a part of the case study we are analyzing. Each student is supposed to be prepared to do just that when they come to class.

With the case study approach I can guide the students to consider specific issues that are important in such scenarios, and help them see the upside and downside of any particular solution. For example, because we emphasize the importance of ethical leadership at the Huntsman School of Business, I press students to consider the ethical implications of their decisions. The beauty of a case study is that there isn’t just one right answer they can unearth but multiple innovative solutions that could be tried.

Can you tell I love this approach to teaching? Huntsman Hall will be an impressive and beautiful structure but I think the best part of the building will be what’s happening in the classroom. I can’t wait to teach a group of MBA students in one of the new “case study” classrooms.
Ken Snyder
Ken Snyder

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"The Apprentice": A Provider of Worthwhile Business Skills

Most of you probably remember the reality television show, The Apprentice, where contestants have to put their business skills to the test to win the coveted prize of running one of Donald Trump’s businesses. Although most people that I've talked to have different opinions about the show, I can honestly say that I’ve learned a few lessons that I apply to my own business skills. 

1. Don’t take things personally

The business world is one of competition and sometimes, it can be a bit harsh. One fragment of advice that I’ve received about dealing with rude people is to just “brush them off.” In other words, don’t let them get to you. Don’t hold a grudge against that person and don’t pretend to be nice. Just be your own professional self and as my mom always says, “never stoop down to their level.”

2. Don’t take “no” for an answer

In my last blog post, I provided tips on negotiation. Although it can be difficult to not take “no” for an answer, don’t give up in your quest to get the best deal possible.

3. Be passionate

From my observation, Donald Trump seems to be very passionate about buildings and as a result, he made a career out of it. When you are passionate about your work, you wake up everyday to look forward to the rest of the day because your job does not feel like a chore. It is important to love what you do in order to excel in what you do.

— Nadiah Johari

Monday, November 5, 2012

Looking Back on Global Learning Experiences

When I entered college, I knew that I wanted to study business but did not know what I wanted to do.  I remember sitting in the old auditorium of the Taggart Student Center during the first few weeks of college listening to a study abroad presentation from a student who had participated in three study abroad programs.  I thought to myself, wow that is impressive!  I did not realize at the time the impact it would have on me.
Over the course of my freshman year, I decided to study business and I knew that I needed to do something during my time at Utah State to distinguish myself from the thousands of students that would be graduating with business degrees.   Having always had an interest in the global economy, I thought that some kind of international degree would be the differentiator I was looking for.  When the Huntsman School of Business introduced the international business major, I knew it was for me and jumped at the chance to be among the first students with the degree. 
I recognized that if I wanted to work internationally, I needed some international experience.  When the Global Learning Experience program was introduced, I signed right up.  Looking back, this was one of the best choices I made during college. 

The South America program was the gateway into a new way of thinking and seeing the world.  Not only did I get to travel to South America and visit some of the biggest companies in Latin America where I was exposed to a different business culture, but I had fun doing it.  The South America Program was the beginning of a deep love for international business that was nurtured by great faculty and exceptional opportunities.
After the bird’s eye view of many international companies in Latin America, I wanted more.  During fall semester I sought out an internship with BOSCH in Germany for the next summer so I could get more hands on experience in the international business world.  While in Germany, I worked with divisions of BOSCH all over the world.  I loved it.  I came back from that internship with a sharpened business sense, many new skills, an understanding of how to work with people from all over the world, and an increased interest in international business. 
Looking back I can see how those Global Learning Experiences helped prepare me for the global workforce.  I feel that I learned more from the Global Learning Experiences and internships than almost all of my classes combined. Not to say that I didn't learn a lot in my classes, but the knowledge, experience, skills and understanding I gained while participating in these programs provided context for my classwork and prepared me to be effective and successful in the global economy. The Global Learning Experiences truly gave me the competitive advantage I was looking for.
- Josh Kerkmann
Class of 2009

Editor's Note: Josh Kerkmann is an alumnus of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business who was one of the first to participate in the Global Learning Experience program. He is now a consultant at BSM USA Inc. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Top Ten Productivity Apps For the iPhone Junkie

I am probably the only person in the world who has more productivity apps on my iPhone than games. I could have funded a trip to Maui and back with the money I’ve spent on apps that process, track, list and analyze things. So, I thought I’d share with you my top 10 productivity apps so far.

1.     “Drop Box” – Free - Dave Patel, a Huntsman executive type who knows stuff and has been there and done that, told me about Drop Box and it has become something I use every day. Since many documents I work on become group-editing projects, they end up in Drop Box where everyone can get at them. Once something is in Drop Box I can access it on my phone which means I can continue to work on projects even while in a line at the grocery store or while I’m waiting for a meeting to begin. (Of course, you can also use it to work on stuff while you are on vacation or watching a sunset, which can cause your wife to whack you on the side of the head. Be careful.) It’s free because they want you to use it so much you’ll start storing all your pictures, documents and even old socks in there. Once you are hooked, they charge you to for added storage space.

2.     “Docs To Go” - $9.99 – I know, spending $10 for an app in the iTunes world is like paying $200,000 for something in real-life dollars. It’s expensive. But it is a grown-up app you need if you want to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your phone. (I’ve never used it for PowerPoint but I suppose that I could always give PowerPoint presentations to people who are in line with me at the grocery store.) I bought this so I could open the work stuff I store in “Drop Box.”

3.     “Easy TimeSheet” - $2.99 – There’s a free version but I wanted all the bells and whistles. This app allows you to not only track how long it takes you to complete a project, like writing a blog, but to figure out how much your company paid for that particular project based on your hourly time rate. This would be a better app if I could find another app that reminds me to stop it when I switch projects and start it when I begin a new project. If you have a lot of multi-tasking and moving pieces in your work life, this can be a difficult app to maximize.

4.     iBlueSky - $9.99 – Have you ever tried mind mapping? This is a great app for organizing your thoughts. Also, if you take notes in class with a mind map approach like this you can really remember things for a long time. (If you have a disorganized, rambling teacher, however, it will drive you crazy trying to take notes in a mind-map format.) If you hate lists but also hate forgetting stuff and being undependable, you could make this app work for you too. I think someday, when I am an evolved, peaceful person, I will have my to-do lists in iBlueSky. There are lots of apps that do mind mapping approaches but the others have square bubbles that are too rigid and or goofy bubbles that make you feel like you are in junior high. This one is simple, clean, with no caffeine.

5.     “Touch Goal” – $3.99 – This is a good app for people who like to assign point values to stuff they do so they can have a total score at the end of the day. For example, you could give yourself 20 points for sticking to a diet all day and one point for every time you pick up a piece of trash outside and throw it away, proving you are a good person. I know, I know, the idea of quantifying your day with a score will horrify all you right-brained, mentally-balanced, sunset-watching people. Not me. I just give myself 10 points if I can watch a sunset without getting whacked by my wife.  

6.     “Streaks – Motivation Calendar” - $1.99 – Sports figures have people tracking all the stuff they do so that someone can announce how many passes in a row they’ve caught or how many games in a row they’ve got on base. Why shouldn’t you use this to keep track of things you consistently do, like how often you exercise or how many days in a row you can go without complaining? (My personal record is five days and it would be higher if it weren’t for that no-good, stupid … oops. I guess I’ll have to start over tomorrow.)

7.     “Daily Tracker” – Free – This is an app that includes just about everything you could want for tracking things, including a “to-do-list” and “expenses” function. I use it to track how much sleep I get. We all think we don’t get enough sleep. I know, however, that in 2012 I’ve been averaging 7:06 minutes a night, something I would not have believed, if had not tracked it myself. (Caution: if you are someone who likes to honestly brag about how little sleep you get, this app could spoil all that for you.)

8.     MyFitnessPal – Free – I use MyFitnessPal to track calories. It has bazillion foods listed. And it remembers which foods you eat most often so they are always at top your list. When you type in “chocolate chip cookie,” for example, you don’t have to go searching for it, it knows your cookie habit. You can also fix it so your friends can see how you are doing and give you a bad time if you eat only chocolate chip cookies.

9.     Tactio Health - $1.99 – I use Tactio Health to track my weight because it predicts the future. For example, it says if I continue to lose weight at the rate I am right on my current diet, I will have lost 450 pounds and reached my goal by April 3, 2013. It’s fun as long as you are losing weight but if you gain weight it gets rude and tells you things like, if you don’t get serious, you won’t reach your goal until 2038 or worse yet, you’ll NEVER reach your goal. On this app you can also track lots of things like body mass, resting pulse, activity, cholesterol and chlora-hydrine-fiber levels. This is the kind of stuff healthy, skinny people like to track. I just use it to predict the future.

10.  “Clear” - $1.99 – If you love crossing things off your to-do list, this is the app for you. It’s a very simple app but it is very addictive. It doesn’t allow you to do project management, scheduling or a thousand other things lots of apps offer but it gives you a little shot of joy when you check stuff off your list because it makes this little happy Star Trek noise. If you aren’t a list maker, don’t even try it. You’ll never understand.

The above list changes almost daily. I’m always searching out new apps in hopes of finding the perfect app that fixes everything and brings joy, peace and top-quality pizza into my life on a regular basis.
Now this list, of course, doesn’t cover game aps, entertainment apps, news apps, book aps or all the fitness and running apps I have bought. I don’t even mention “Coop Shoot,” a must-have game app. That game app was developed by former Huntsman student Britney Johnson, and current Huntsman students Lauren and Shai McDonald, and they are way smart and cool, so everyone should have that app.

There are so many apps. There are even apps to help you find apps. What are some of your favorite apps? Let me know and maybe I’ll check them out next time I’m watching a sunset or I’ll share them in a future blog post.

— Steve Eaton

Steve Eaton, is the director of communications, for the Jon M. Huntsman School or Business or, as some people call him, “the PR guy in the basement.” He writes a column for the Deseret News that can be seen here.