As I recapped my experience with Dr. Peterson’s Legacy class specifically, I can’t help but recap my experience with other staff and students. NDSU, after all, has more than twenty-five impressive people, am I right?
By the time I had gotten to Dr. Karen Froelich’s graduate class on my second night inFargo, I had been going non-stop all day for twelve hours. If truth be told, my nice warm bed and comfortable slippers were looking quite inviting back in my hotel room. But I was here for a purpose. A delightful purpose. And I revel in the opportunity to engage with young minds, so I welcomed the next stage in that day’s agenda.
The energy in the room was palpable. I was invigorated and rejuvenated by the students’ questions and discussions. This was a graduate class, so some of the students already owned their own businesses. Others were looking to start their own.
I presented to the class about business culture, as I do with many of my presentations. One point I make sure to discuss when speaking to students and graduate students is that a great business culture can be an effective marketing opportunity. A brand, even. And by promoting the culture of your company and the high quality of your staff, you can avoid price-based commoditization. Some students had difficulty understanding this approach, but after several examples, most began to see the advantage. By the end, I was no longer longing for a pillow and blanket. I was full of the kind of energy and excitement you get after a stimulating conversation.
The following morning, I attended Dr. Jill Zuber’s class. Accounting taxation! What was I going to do in an accounting class at 8:30 in the morning? I thought accounting classes were just a necessary step to learning business and not necessarily very thought-provoking. Well, she and her students once again struck my stereotype dead. First, my lack of technological expertise was offset by a student helper that helped me navigate through several examples of entrepreneurial success online. Then, we became engrossed in a conversation about employee engagement and how profitability could be maximized through effective engagement. I later found out from Dr. Zuber that her class was full of many non-accounting majors, but that doesn’t dismiss the fact that I had an entertaining time in an accounting class.
After class, Dr. Zuber told me about her bad experiences in public accounting due to a lack of employee engagement. Her experiences were about everything that can go wrong with professional firms and their view towards human capital. It was an affirming conversation as to why engagement is so critical a factor in business culture and business success.
My final classroom discussion was with Dr. Amelia Adora Asperin’s class. Accompanying us was Dr. Woo Mi Phillips. This class was a hospitality class, and it struggled with interaction, as I was forewarned. As a result, I tailored this presentation to be on leadership vs. management, and boy, did that topic stoke some fires.
Some had experiences with great leaders; some with very bad managers. We discussed the difference in detail. We talked about the rush of handling a great team and the disgust of having a team member not on board with the others or a manager shouting orders. To bring our engagement full circle, we concluded by discussing how respected leaders in the hospitality industry attract and keep high quality talent.
Three students contacted me after my return to Chicago for further input on what we discussed. One is exceptionally bright. Anyone who is looking for a student with great morals and ethics, a great GPA and a desire to work with a moral and ethical company, please contact me.
When giving presentations, speeches, etc… you can talk until your voice gives out, but if your audience isn’t receptive, your experiences as a speaker turn your responsibilities into a series of daunting, off-putting tasks. You begin to look at your duties solely as a means to an end. Who wants to lead a discussion without actual discussion? Who wants to respond to questions that have nothing to do with your topic? Who doesn’t want to be challenged every once in a while?
To the students of NDSU, thank you for the intimate discussions, thank you for the participation, and thank you for your continued communication long after I’ve left the campus. They are instances like mine with you that keep me enthralled with the college community, impressed with your generation, and interested in helping with your futures.