This past semester, Business is ART was used as the textbook for MGMT 315 – Strategic Management and Leadership, led by Cate Brinnon, assistant business professor at Urbana University in Urbana, Ohio. But it was I who took away several valuable lessons.
Just before the course began, Cate asked if I would be open to sitting in with the class near the end of the semester to listen to their feedback.
For a little over 3 months, I waited anxiously, perhaps a bit nervously, to see how the book would be received by the students. After-all, it was not written as a textbook for classroom purposes.
That day of reckoning finally came last week, and we got so caught up in conversation that we had to schedule a second visit (also last week).
The experience left me both humbled and impressed by an articulate, intelligent group of young people. It was a fantastic experience that I’d repeat any time, over and over again.
Listening is key to learning – and leading
One of the things Cate emphasized to me before I visited her class was that the students are bombarded every day with people that just want to talk to them. They get enough of that. She encouraged me to listen to them. Let them talk.
As Cate stated in a news article that ran in the Urbana Citizen regarding the course, “I believe there have been some revelations with some of what it is [the students] truly wish to do with their lives in the short and long term.”
That was confirmed during my visits
Through the course, several students had in fact figured out exactly what they want to do in the near and long term. At least one student is already actively planning the launch of a business. Others are at least thinking about where they might be headed, perhaps for the first time ever really asking themselves, “Why am I doing this? Why not that?”
Many of the students indicated they most benefitted from going through the exercise of developing a personal vision and roadmap to success. In the book, I call it a “self-assessment.” In the Plan Canvas software (the planning software based on the book), it is referred to as a Personal Plan.
Strategic planning seemed valuable as well, while business plan development was less important at this stage of their careers/lives – except for the student who is launching an actual business and the students who had to develop business plans for a separate course.
When I mentioned the possibility of publishing a second edition of the book – one that is geared more toward students and startups – a student urged me not to make it too much like a textbook.
Don’t talk down to us
She said, “All of our textbooks talk down to us, but your book doesn’t. It has a conversational style.”
What a great complement and something we should all carry forward, not just at work, but in our personal lives as well. Stop talking to. Start listening to. Start conversing with.
Rest assured, these students taught me many great lessons. I’ll share more of them in a subsequent post.
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