Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

learn about the latest and greatest from the School of Business

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Saturday Morning Excursion

Last Saturday I had to come in to work. I needed to make sure all of the classrooms in the Eccles School of Business were ready for Monday morning classes. I also had to interview candidates for a few open positions in the business building and needed to participate in our MBA Orientation that was still going on. So I came into work early – even earlier than I needed to.

On a whim I decided to take a little excursion. One of the fences around the construction yard wasn’t locked, so I snuck in there (don’t tell Sean or he’ll kill me!). I spent the next 45 minutes walking through the shell of the new building. I was struck by two things:

1) The immense size of the building. It is mammoth. It is spacious. It is awesome.

2) How easy it is becoming to envision everything. I have the advantage of seeing all the architectural renderings along the way, so I spent my time applying those renderings to the new building. I stood at the front of many of the classrooms and envisioned what it would be like to teach in it. I pretended to walk through and buy something in the cafeteria. I sat down in the courtyard and thought, “what a great place to sit down and drink hot chocolate.” I watched a student team work on a project in one of the student project team rooms. And so on…

All in all, it was a wonderful Saturday morning excursion. And the building really is coming together!

Ken Snyder

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Resiliency for Entrepreneurs and Careerists

By Scott Hammond, Clinical Professor, Huntsman School of Business

Dr. Scott Hammond
Resilience is a choice. Almost every case we studied of people who survived being lost in the wilderness said they “decided" to survive. Even an eight-year-old boy lost overnight at 11,000 feet said, “I knew I wanted to live.”

The same is true for entrepreneurs and careerists who face what are seemingly insurmountable challenges. They make a choice. They say to themselves, “I want to get through this. I will do what it takes to survive until I can find a way to thrive.”

Of course making the choice to be resilient does not guarantee a positive outcome, but it does have two interesting effects on individuals in “survival” situations.

First, they report envisioning the ideal future. A good example of this is the famous canyoneering climber Aaron Rawlston who cut off his arm with his pocket knife when he was trapped in a narrow canyon. His story can be seen in the documentary “126 Hours.” Rawlston reports that while in a space between sleep and hallucination he saw his unborn son running towards him. He saw himself holding the young boy and laughing. He remembers a vivid sense of joy as he held his child. When he awoke he realized again his predicament, and also that he had no son, no wife and no future. But he did have a vision of the ideal that motivated him to action. Rarely do we realize the ideal in our lives, but visualizing the ideal creates hope and hope motivates resilience.

When an entrepreneur feels like their business is hitting a brick wall, impossible to see through and discouraging to look around, they must stick to the vision of the ever-promising future. Go back to the roots of why the business was started. And for the careerist, remember your dreams. Envision yourself working with the people who will get you to the top. Envision yourself accepting the promotion and how that will feel.

Second, making the decision to be resilient helps us see our situation differently. In my book Lessons of the Lost: Finding Hope and Resilience in Work: Life, and the Wilderness, I tell the story of Victoria Grover who was lost in the wilderness for five days with a broken leg. Victoria, who is a hero of mine, broke her leg at the base of a dry waterfall, 100 yards from water. She was in a place where she could not see or be seen, nor could she get to the needed water. Unable to climb up and over the rocks with her broken leg, she wondered what to do. “There has to be a way,” she told herself. Then she reported to me that she saw herself backwards, as if in a mirror. Backwards. Yes. Backwards. “I can turn around and go backwards over the rocks.” It took her 12 hours, but she got to water and warmth. The “backward” thinking saved her life.

Our creativity is sometimes the only differentiator we may have. As a careerist always look for the next best way to move ahead, stand out or do something that has never been done before in your field. Entrepreneurs have it in their blood to be different. Don’t be afraid to take the well-calculated risk. “Backward” thinking has made many entrepreneurs successful, such as Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, or Billy Beane, general manager for the Oakland Athletics.

There are tragic tales in the wilderness of strong people who chose not to be resilient – who gave up. Four in five business startups fail. But four in five are not bad ideas that will not work in the market. Some portion of those failures come because the entrepreneur or careerist was not resilient enough. When it seems like your arm is caught in a rock or that resources are out of reach, remember to envision your dreams and don’t be afraid to go where no one has before.

Dr. Hammond’s work on resiliency was recently quoted in Fast Company.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Stairway to Heaven – Or At Least to the 4th Floor

Huntsman Hall NW Stairway
Over the last few weeks, the stairways at the NW and SE corners of Huntsman Hall have started going up. Up until now the contractors have gone from one level to another by using ladders. It had me worried that we would have to use ladders in the new building as well.

Normally contractors build stairways at the same time they build walls and pout floor slabs. In our case we’re doing things backward due to some design issues with the stairways. We were able to get the design issues resolved, and now the stairways are catching up to the rest of the building.

These stairways will be glass-enclosed. That means that people on the outside will be able to see the people on the stairs, and that the people on the stairs will see the people outside – and also have nice view of the mountains or the quad – depending on the stairway.

They’re not quite ready for us to use yet, but I am looking forward to my first climb in a few days. It may not be sublime as the Jimmy Page (or Randy California, depending on whom you believe) stairway to heaven, and it may not actually take me to heaven, but at least it will take me to the new 4th floor.

Ken Snyder

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Walk-Through

Main Stairwell
Yesterday, we did a walk-through to review all of the work being done in the Eccles business building this summer. We looked at every little detail. The bad news: We still have dozens of items left to finish. It’s not done. The good news: At the level of detail we looked at, there could have been thousands and thousands of things left to finish – and there were not. And, with the exception of a few minor items where we are waiting on some delayed parts, all of the work will be finished by the time classes start in a few weeks. The other good news – it looks great! I’ve included some photos so that you can see some of the progress we are making.

I am grateful to one of our faculty members. He came by my office the other day to tell me how much he enjoyed the new restrooms, the new stairwells, and the new look on the classroom floors without the colored block. He then thanked me for making sure we keep our building maintained and looking nice. I didn’t expect this. Most of the summer, I’ve been dealing with complaints about no A/C, no running water, no restroom facilities, intermittent fire alarms, etc. It was such a refreshing and welcome conversation! He then told me that at his previous university, they didn’t maintain the facility very well, and, as a result, the building looked terrible. He said he is so glad he came to the Huntsman School because facilities DO matter.

5th Floor Bathroom

Side Stairwell

Ken Snyder