Later today I have the privilege of guest lecturing in the Entrepreneurship and New Venture Management class at my alma mater, Emory University, where the undergraduate business school presently ranks #7 in the country.
Sometimes I wonder, if I had to go back and apply to college today, whether or not I’d even be accepted to Emory. The school has been climbing the rankings year after year and the admissions process is no doubt harder than ever.
What’s funny about today is that I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be discussing in the two lectures. I’ve pretty much got free reign to discuss anything. But forget what I want to talk about…what will the students want to hear about?
To answer this question, I’m trying to imagine myself back in business school and what would be the ideal lecture – i.e. now that I’m 10 years out of school, what would do I know now that I wish I’d known then?
The following quick list comes to mind:
1. You have to have thick skin, patience, and determination in order to survive. Business is hard.
2. Nothing happens fast; however, things eventually do happen – i.e. progress is not noticeable in one day, one week, or even one-month intervals. It really takes about 90 days to show measurable progress and more even noticeable progress is made in 6 month, one year, and multi-year intervals.
3. Since progress does not happen overnight, a major contributor to success in business is your ability to hang in there for the long haul. As cliché as it may sound, the longer you stay in business the better. There’s little such thing as a quick in and out, especially in today’s environment. Persistence is key.
4. Financial Success in the real world is not just about intelligence. What’s more important (aside from luck and timing) are salesmanship and connections. The ability to market oneself is what often makes the difference between not having a job and having a job that pays well. College grades and raw intelligence alone will only get you so far in the business world. Communication skills, a knack for networking, and persistence will take you much further.
After jotting down these “fartherly” tips, I ultimately came to the notion that if I were an undergraduate business student today, I wouldn’t want to hear someone preach to me about how I should act. Instead, I would want to hear someone talk about topics that I was genuinely interested in.
So how am I supposed to know what these students are genuinely interested in? Take a survey, that’s how…
I’ve prepared a fairly comprehensive slide deck complete with the usual background info, how to secure funding, elements of a pitch deck, how to size up the competition, market size analysis, and many more; however, to better nail down the items to focus on in the lecture, I decided that I should poll the class at the beginning of the discussion to find out what they’d like to hear about.
I’m hoping that through polling, I’ll get some good solid feedback to help guide the discussion towards a meaningful place and that we’ll just skip over the slides / topics that are of little interest to the class. This should be an interesting experiment. If you’re a college student and you happen to be reading this post (the readership on this blog is massive – wink wink), then I’d love to get your thoughts. Which topics that are of interest to you? What would you want to learn about in an entrepreneurship class? Please leave your input in the comments section below.
Later this week, I’ll post video of the lecture here. Stay tuned until then and wish me luck…
- Your Business School Is Great, But Is It Fun? (huffingtonpost.com)