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Elevator Grant - 8th Annual Conference - Dakota County Technical College, MN
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Time to Add New Team Players--The Business of Science and the Science of Business COLLIDE!

Posted By Lisa Bah, Friday, June 24, 2011

 A lot of learning and team transitioning!  Friday morning, the Nano and Imagineering groups collide!

Much of Thursday was spent on what we're calling the WOW Factor Through WOO—What can you say or do to WOW your audience? Otherwise known as WOO—Winning Others Over! BizTech students threw every negative experience they'd ever had regarding giving speeches and presentations away, and checked their nerves at the door. We talked about how anyone you interface with is an opportunity to sell yourself, your service, or your product. Students learned how to give elevator speeches, and then took a part of the assignment they'd been given on Monday, and had to turn their research into a presentation.

On Monday, they'd had library research, and had been put to task to find "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, or Something Blue”, which for them meant an old product that had morphed into something new (e.g. analog to digital clocks) something borrowed (a secondary use for an item), or something blue (or green, as in a product that may be available in the future. So, if they were the product inventor, they could speak in past, present or future tense, showing how they were either looking to improve a product, seek out financial backers, or perhaps something as simple as discovering a new way to pitch their products.

Today, the Nanoscience Technology group (5 new students) joined our Imagineering group (currently at 19, after losing one to a family health issue). The Imagineering group has become pretty tight over the past few days, regardless of how we've split teams for activities. Their surprise this morning was that, just like in many businesses, new people come on board, and dynamics change. Each group had a newcomer, and had to figure out commonalities to quickly regroup and assimilate into a new team. After "chomp and chow”, (which is what a few of the guys have dubbed breakfast each day), we spent the morning learning the nuances of marketing, and students soon discovered that it can be a hard word to define. We talked about how marketing is a field that changes rapidly, and how defining target markets and doing promotions and advertising can pose challenges in different age segments.

Midday, we took a field trip to ECM Publications, which is a company that produces over 40 newspapers and shoppers in communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Students witnessed a ceremonial grant signing between DCTC's Customized Training division, the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and ECM, who is trying to change their newspaper to meet the needs of the next generation. DCTC faculty will be training the newspaper's 40 salespersons and their managers how to become intrapreneurial within their sales force. After the grant signing, everyone joined together for pizza and a Youth and Media focus group with the paper staff. I think the staff was surprised how attuned youth consumers are into affiliate marketing, couponing, and using apps to garner knowledge. The staff also addressed a new generation of consumers, asking how they might be coaxed into reading local newspapers either in print, online, or via apps.

By the time we loaded the bus back to school, most of the kids were pretty much zapped for the week. The rowdiness was long gone, and they're all starting to worry about business structure, what business they're going to create, and how much work it will be to write a business plan next week, while keeping up on the other topics…plans, promotion, sales, breaking even, cash flow and more. While we've given them the foundation, some are beginning to feel like they have a zillion ideas floating around, and are unsure how to pull concepts together into ideas and to start working on a concrete project.

All week, we've been zipping around, tweaking curriculum, working with the students, and have made a multitude of runs to the grocery store and Sam's Club. It's finally 4 p.m. Friday, so now Christine and I can get back to our "regular” jobs just long enough to catch up on emails and voicemails from the week that has passed, and start all over bright-eyed Monday morning!

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