Browsed by
Tag: Creativity

Inspirational Videos: Steve Jobs

Inspirational Videos: Steve Jobs

Has a guest speaker ever said something to your class you had already taught, but your students seemed to believe it more from them?

It’s not because students don’t listen. It’s because when an outsider reinforces something we say, it feels more important.

This is one of the reasons guest speakers are great, but they can be hard to schedule for every lesson. So for any lesson you really want to drive home, you can try using a video as a validating external voice.

Here are some videos of Steve Jobs that you can use in conjunction with lessons on growth mindset, marketing, and pricing:

“If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”

This is a fantastic video to reinforce the Failure Resume lesson. This exercise is a favorite among students and helps them develop growth mindset skills, especially when they’re endorsed by someone like Steve Jobs.

Get the Failure Resume

The Crazy Ones

This video, where Steve talks about why the best ads barely talk about the product at all, is a great compliment to the Lottery Ticket Dilemma. This lesson helps students understand the persuasive power of emotions and was the winner of USASBE’s 3E competition.

Get the Lottery Ticket Dilemma

A Pricing Masterclass

This video is an amazing example of Steve’s reality distortion field. Your students can see him convince a crowd that the iPad (a larger but less capable iPhone) was a steal at 250% the price of an iPhone because…it’s more like a laptop than a phone?!

You can use this video in conjunction with the Financial Modeling Showdown to demonstrate that the optimal price of a product isn’t determined by its cost of goods sold, it’s determined by what customers are willing to pay for it.

Get the Financial Modeling Showdown


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share lesson plans, quick slides, and a variety of other resources to keep your students engaged!

Subscribe here to get our next classroom resource in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Delight Your Students This Fall

Delight Your Students This Fall

Gift your students an unforgettable experience this Fall!

With better team engagement . . .

With quick video submissions . . .

With a simplified LMS implementation . . .

ExEC delivers an engaging, structured course for any teaching format that faculty at nearly 200 colleges and universities have been using for years. For more details on using this award-winning curriculum this Fall, request a full preview today!

Preview ExEC Now

Here is how ExEC will WOW! you and your students.

Easy Team Collaboration

We have updated our platform to allow team collaboration with literally a few clicks.

Students complete exercises within our curriculum and then with a few clicks can invite other students to collaborate on that particular exercise. See this in action below:

For instance, many of our students work on a Business Model Canvas. They get frustrated sharing paper copies, or emailing ideas, or struggling with a clunky Google doc version.

Collaborating should be productive, not frustrating.

With ExEC, students easily collaborate on one Canvas, in real time, within the platform.

Quick Video Submission

Video submissions are a great way for students to meaningfully reflect on their experience. This reflective approach encourages students to improve and learn from their mistakes. Video submissions have been a juggling act of multiple tools like iPhones, Zoom, and Google Drive.

Until now!

In our new video submission process students record their reflection with the click of a button, and instantly get a link to the video they can turn in. With our next iteration of ExEC:

We leverage technology to keep the focus on the learning experience.

The student experience is not all we have improved!

New LMS Generator

With ExEC’s LMS integration, preparing your class is easy. Give us the first and last day of class, any holidays, what LMS you use, what days of the week classes happen, and the length of class sessions.

Our technology builds an LMS package specific to your course so all you do is upload it and your course is ready to go.

With ExEC, spend your time diving into detailed lesson plans, not tinkering with the LMS

ExEC Integrates with all LMS

Engage Students

Students want simple, interactive experiences.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) is a cohesive toolset of structured activities that will build students’ entrepreneurial skills. For example:

Try ExEC this Fall and transform your and your students’ experience.

Preview ExEC Now


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share more engaging resources we are developing for entrepreneurship educators to transform their classrooms!

Subscribe here to be the first to get these resources delivered to your inbox!

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

ExEC Can Be Your Fall Curriculum

ExEC Can Be Your Fall Curriculum

Fall will be here before you know it!

Do you want students engaged from day one?

Do you want a simplified grading process?

Do you want award-winning detailed lesson plans?

Whether you will teach:

  • In-person
  • Online synchronous
  • Online asynchronous
  • Hybrid

ExEC delivers an engaging and structured course that faculty at nearly 200 colleges and universities have been using for years. For more details on using ExEC this Fall, request a full preview today!

Preview ExEC Now

Here is what ExEC can do for you and your students.

Engage Students

Students want you to replace your lectures with interactive experiences.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) is a cohesive toolset of structured activities that will build students’ entrepreneurial skills. For example:

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Organization

Easily Deliver a Consistent Experience

Students enjoy a consistent and structured learning experience.

ExEC is a fully experiential and extremely well-organized curriculum for any class structure – 8, 10, 12, or 16 weeks, quarter system or accelerated MBA schedule.

You get a well-organized schedule of topics that guide students to:

problems and solutions

Preview ExEC Now

Get The Tools To Enjoy Your Experience

ExEC makes planning and grading faster, so you can spend your time guiding your students. You get dozens of extremely detailed lesson plans to minimize your prep time!

Plus with ExEC’s LMS integration, prepping for your class is easy. With a couple clicks, you upload your entire class into your LMS so you have time to dive into the detailed lesson plans.

ExEC Integrates with all LMS

Preview ExEC Now

Use a Curriculum So Students Enjoy Their Experience

ExEC uses fully integrated, objective rubrics that make grading a snap and provide students valuable feedback to improve their skill development.

objective rubric

For your students, ExEC provides elegant, graphically pleasing slides for every class session to maximize engagement.

what is an mvp?

 

Give Your Students Engagement, Quality, and Structure

ExEC is an award-winning, peer-reviewed, experiential curriculum that engages students in building entrepreneurial skills.

Try ExEC this Fall and transform your and your students’ experience.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share more engaging resources we are developing for entrepreneurship educators to transform their classrooms!

Subscribe here to be the first to get these resources delivered to your inbox!

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Videos to Improve Student Presentations

Videos to Improve Student Presentations

If students can get their audience to feel something, their chance of “success” rises dramatically.
We’ve all been there. Two students stand on one side of the screen, two students stand on the other. One student talks to the screen while the others fidget nervously until it’s their turn to stumble through what they couldn’t quite memorize.

Student presentations are painful. For them. For us. For judges.

Use the videos below to teach your students to deliver presentations that make their audience feel something.

Option 1: Make The Audience Feel Something About Themselves

Students often jump right into describing or selling the product/service.

This is the classic pitch mistake.

Students need to know their audience – their goals, their values, their struggles. The more they know about their audience, the easier it will be for them to bring the audience’s point of view to theirs. In the video below, Dallas Mavericks owner, and Shark Tank billionaire Mark Cuban shares how he sold Mavericks tickets when they were the worst team in the NBA.

Presentation hack to pitch from your audience's perspective

Mark is not selling the basketball game. He is selling the feeling parents have when they create family memories at the basketball game.

Mark understand that his customers (parents) want to create memories with their children. And more importantly, the kind of memories the parents have with their parents. He convinces customers that a Mavericks game experience creates those lasting memories. Mark makes an emotional appeal to his audience’s nostalgia so they will feel something about themselves and buy his product.

Option 2: Make The Audience Feel Something About You

If your students want people involved, they can open up about themselves and weave their personal story into their presentation. If they are vulnerable, their audience begins to feel something.

This approach is about students finding something that is true about them that may also be true about their audience.

In the Shark Tank pitch below, a founder (Phil Lapuz) gets sharks tearing up tearing up – including Kevin O’Leary, who is the definition of a robotic investor!

Phil is vulnerable and authentic. He uses his own story to remind the sharks about the risks of starting a new company, something that each shark undoubtedly remembers and feels very intensely.

Help your students appeal to their audience’s emotions by:

  • Being vulnerable, and authentic
  • Identifying their audience’s values – what matters to them
  • Specifically link their product/service to those values

The audience is immediately compelled to act because they remember, they feel, and they believe. They empathize with the person pitching and with the product/service. Phil makes the sharks feel something about him so they will invest in his startup.

Option 3: Make The Audience Feel With You

Amy Cuddy’s video below is about imposter’s syndrome, which she felt and which many in the audience undoubtedly felt at one time or another. They feel Amy’s fear and angst. Because they remember, and feel, their fear and angst.

People clap during Amy’s talk, because they are celebrating her and what she is offering another young woman experiencing imposter syndrome. But they are also clapping because they recognize something in themselves.

Amy doesn’t just make her audience feel something about themselves.

She doesn’t just make her audience feel something about her.

She makes her audience feel with her. And in that moment, they will go wherever she wants to take them!


If students default to their normal Powerpoint presentation technique, the audience defaults to processing language. All their effort is spent decoding words into meaning, instead of feeling. Share these videos with your students to help them understand that great presentations make audiences feel something.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share lesson plans, quick slides, and a variety of other resources to keep your students engaged!

Subscribe here to get our next classroom resource in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

How to Grow a Top 50 Entrepreneurship Program

How to Grow a Top 50 Entrepreneurship Program

When Dennis Barber III joined East Carolina University’s entrepreneurship program 5 years ago, there wasn’t much of a program to speak of:

  • No entrepreneurship major
  • Low class enrollment
  • Little entrepreneurial brand recognition

Fast forward to today and ECU not only has an entrepreneurship major, they’ve:

  • Tripled their entrepreneurship enrollment
  • Won USASBE’s Model Emerging Program
  • Won GCEC’s Emerging Centers award
  • And made Princeton Review’s list of Top 50 Entrepreneurship Schools

Princeton Review Top 50 Entrepreneurship Programs

So how did Dennis and his colleagues – Michael Harris, Director of the Miller School of Entrepreneurship, David Mayo, and Corey Pulido – grow their entrepreneurship program so quickly? And more generally…

How do Top 50 entrepreneurship schools get on, and stay on, that list?

To find out, we interviewed the leaders of several Top 50 programs so we could share their techniques with you.

Who We Interviewed

Top entrepreneurship programsBelow you’ll find a summary of what we learned during our interviews, as well as…

5 concrete steps you can take to grow your entrepreneurship program.

Step #1: Define Your Niche

Most of the successful entrepreneurship programs we interviewed did two things early on to spark their growth:

  1. They intentionally started small and
  2. They specialized in an area of entrepreneurship that leveraged their local community and institutional culture

For instance, Iowa State University leaned into agricultural entrepreneurship, and East Carolina University specialized in the needs of eastern North Carolina. Studying your local ecosystem by identifying the largest industries, companies, and communities will help you define your niche. Additionally, you can look at your local Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, or similar entity, to see how they are marketing your community.

Defining your entrepreneurial niche is important because it will help your program stand out in a sea of other academic programs, not to mention accelerators, incubators and community-based organizations. Narrowing in on a small group of students you can serve extremely well as your program is still growing will increase the success rate of your program, which you can highlight as case studies to create a positive feedback loop that grows your program.

As David Townsend from Virginia Tech University said,

“Let it grow where the soil is fertile.”

So if your local community has a large Latinx population, consider specializing in Latinx entrepreneurship. Or if your entrepreneurship program has a number of instructors who are veterans, consider developing programs that specialize in veterans entrepreneurship.

Over time, you’ll be able to grow and broaden the scope of your program, but when you’re starting out, do like the most successful programs have done and ensure that you can provide a fantastic opportunity for a small set of entrepreneurs in your community. Then, highlight their successes to help fuel your program’s growth.

Note: This is our first article in a series dedicated to growing entrepreneurship programs. We’d love your input on which article we should write next.

If you want more details on this specific step (i.e. how to define your entrepreneurial program’s niche and create programs specific to it) please vote here and we’ll expand the overview above into a full article and checklist.

Step #2: Name Your Champions

The Top 50 programs we talked to overwhelming stressed the importance of identifying people on your growth team to fulfill these three roles:

  1. Administrative Champion: A Dean, Vice-President, Provost, President, etc. who has been at your school for some time and has excellent relationships with faculty, staff, and the ability to get buy-in for creating new programs.
  2. Faculty Champion: Preferably a tenured faculty member who can drive the implementation of your new academic and extracurricular programming.
  3. Data Collector: Someone to aggregate program metrics, testimonials, and success stories.

Note: the same person can fulfill multiple roles, you just need to make sure you’ve got someone owning all three levels of responsibility.

Champions are people who can help you launch your efforts by providing critical feedback, opening doors, and giving their resources. Many of the programs we interviewed mentioned specifically having two campus champions – one a tenured faculty member, and the other an administrator (Dean, Vice-President / Provost, President). With respected champions who can reach across campus, program growth has a clear path for growth. They also recommend giving the faculty champions a meaningful title and a commitment of time and support to help them help your entrepreneurship program.

Another potential benefit to identifying champions is that they sometimes rise into leadership positions at the university (Dean, Vice-President / Provost, President) and can provide ongoing support and visibility for your program from the top down.

Jamey Darnell from Penn State University mentioned that working towards getting ranked as a top entrepreneurship school is a great way to get administration excited, and achieving rankings is a great way to keep them excited.

In addition to stressing how important campus champions were to building their program, the leaders we interviewed all spoke about the importance of a data collector: someone to capture their efforts and successes and report them as part of the Princeton Review rankings process. As with your champions, consider providing this person (ideally a faculty member) with a title and a small monetary stipend to emphasize the importance of the role and ensure they have time to complete it. In addition, make sure other people on campus know who this person is – put out a press release, introduce the data collector at campus meetings and events, etc. This person will interface with faculty, students, and administrators, so letting your campus know who they are and what they’re doing enables them to collect more stories and data.

Finally, as Dr. Susan Fiorito, Dean of the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship at Florida State University stressed, all of your faculty, staff, and champions need to feel enabled as leaders of your entrepreneurship program. When everyone feels ownership, everyone delivers.

If you’d like us to write a more detailed article about how to identify and empower your entrepreneurial champions, please click here.

Step #3: Start a Fellows Program

Every program we talked to emphasized the importance of early cross-campus collaboration. Creating these connections will help you accomplish two things:

  1. Get buy-in from a wide range of tenured faculty which helps establish academic legitimacy.
  2. Grow your program by embedding entrepreneurship across the curriculum which introduces it to more students.

To do this, you want to build a cohort of entrepreneurial ambassadors across campus. As Tom Swartwood at Iowa State University recommended, you want to:

“Deputize people around campus.”

Jamey at Penn State University found that having a cross-disciplinary program leads directly to growth because they get to meet students wherever they are: at a law school, at an incubator, etc. For the same reason, Susan Fiorito at Florida State University recommends developing a diversity of courses and programs to reach as far across campus as possible.

The most effective mechanism we heard for building cross-campus collaboration was through an “entrepreneurship Fellows” program. In a Fellows program, you pay non-entrepreneurship faculty a small stipend to bring entrepreneurship into their curriculum. For example, you might pay 4 or 5 faculty in different disciplines a few thousand dollars to each develop a course that focuses on entrepreneurship in their respective discipline.  Judi Eyles at Iowa State attributed much of the entrepreneurship program’s success to spending a little money early on to “turn faculty into ambassadors.”

You guide the Fellows through learning about entrepreneurship in the context of your university (and your niche), and collaboratively develop ideas for how to introduce it into their curriculum. You will also want to include faculty involved with your curriculum approval process in your Fellows program, which will help smooth the course approval process when you get to that stage.

Each year, add more Fellows to your program (both senior faculty and new faculty), in new disciplines, while former Fellows serve as mentors. You can thereby build a rich and diverse community of entrepreneurship champions across campus.

The big payoff from an investment in a Fellows program comes in two forms:

  1. Cultivating entrepreneurship educators across many disciplines creates a rich fabric of entrepreneurial courses, which increases interest in entrepreneurial minors, and majors.
  2. Student entrepreneurs get a diverse range of experiences and perspectives, which increase the quality of their experiences and their outcomes as future entrepreneurs.

If you’d like us to write a detailed guide on how to create a fellows program, please click here.

Step #4: Map Your Ecosystem

Ecosystem maps will help you understand the relationships between the people and assets that contribute to creating amazing student experiences. Building an ecosystem map specifically provides two benefits:

  1. You identify the people who support entrepreneurship (so you can empower them) and those who do not support it yet (so you can interview them to understand their perspective and work to bring them onboard)
  2. During your research, you plant the seeds from which your entrepreneurship program will grow. As you map your ecosystem, you talk to faculty, staff, students, and alumni about your vision and goals for your program. When it is time to make an ask, these stakeholders understand what you’re doing and why.

The leaders we interviewed mentioned the following as critical components to include in your ecosystem map:

  • ​​The faculty and staff who collectively create your student experience.
  • The practices they perform – the services or value they deliver to students.
  • The information they require, use, or share to contribute to their parts of the university.
  • The people, systems, faculty, and staff they interact with to be successful in their roles.
  • The channels through which they communicate – e.g., email, campus newsletter, campus forums.

For a demo on how to start outlining the key players in your ecosystem, check out this great video by Meg Weber from Western Washington University:

Want more details on how to build and leverage an ecosystem map? Click here and we’ll expand this into a full guide.

Step #5: Connect Your FACS

After you’ve identified your niche, champions, Fellows, and ecosystem members, you’re ready to take the final step that separates the Top 50 entrepreneurship programs from the rest…

Connect your constituencies to accelerate growth.

Successful entrepreneurship programs are intentional about connecting their “FACS”:

  • Faculty
  • Alumni
  • Community
  • Students

Each of these groups complements the others, and together, creates the fuel for program growth. For example, you want to make sure you’re actively promoting programs connecting:

  • Faculty to Alumni – Great for finding guest speakers, internships for students, publicizing your programs’ success stories, and soliciting donations.
  • Faculty to Community – Great for getting pitch competition judges, finding inspiration for class projects, highlighting student success stories, and soliciting donations.
  • Students to Alumni – Great for mentorships, jobs, and potential investments.
  • Students to Community – Great for mentorships, jobs, and inspiring class projects.

As Judi Eyles at Iowa State University mentioned, “you need to make it easy for the outside world to connect with your students and faculty by giving them a portal to connect.” Intentionally building relationships with students will help you keep in touch with them as they transition to alums, and enable you to extend relationships with them and their growing network.

Creating relationships with alumni and community members will provide the “reality” your students yearn for as they wonder how to apply what they’re learning in the classroom. Alumni will also create opportunities for students – through job shadowing, internships, seed funding, adjunct instructors, and the list goes on.

In short…

Does your entrepreneurship program offer your alumni and community members multiple opportunities to contribute their time, expertise, and/or money to help your program grow?

If not, you may be able to accelerate your program’s growth by connecting your “FACS.”

If you’d like us to write a detailed guide with specific ideas on how to connect your FACS, please click here.

Bonus Step #6: Focus on Skills

The top 50 entrepreneurship programs we interviewed had one more resounding practice in common:

They prioritized entrepreneurial skill development over “success stories.”

The programs we spoke with acknowledged that entrepreneurial success stories are fantastic to share to grow your community, but they can be few and far between. So instead of focusing exclusively on those, the programs emphasized the value for students of learning entrepreneurial skills, regardless of their perceived career path.

Universally applicable skills like design thinking, financial modeling, and business model validation turn today’s students into returning alumni who are looking to hire similarly skilled and innovative graduates.

If you’d to review the skill-based curriculum that 1 out of every 3 programs on Princeton Review’s Top 50 list use, check out our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Want More Growth Tips

We’re excited to explore these subjects in more depth so please let us know what topics we should dive into next!

We hope you’re able to try these strategies and that we get to feature your program in the future!


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share lesson plans, quick slides, and a variety of other resources to keep your students engaged!

Subscribe here to get our next classroom resource in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!

Improve Student Evaluations With Lean Teaching

Improve Student Evaluations With Lean Teaching

What happens when we apply Lean Startup principles like “Build, Measure, Learn” to our own teaching?
Our team’s experience: Vastly increased engagement.
Lean Startup helps entrepreneurs shift from “build it and they will come” to “Build, Measure, Learn.” So we wanted to know what happens if we apply the same principles to our teaching? Are there benefits to a “Teach, Measure, Learn” loop?
Lean Teaching - Teach, Measure, Learn
We’ve seen huge benefits (higher student evals, increased enrollment, awards won, etc.), so we wanted to share our process with you.
If you’re looking to increase student engagement give “Teach, Measure, Learn” a shot.

Step 1: Pick a Lesson to Improve

Start small; don’t worry about changing your entire class. The easiest way to get started is by just picking the lesson you’re most excited to improve. How do you decide which one?

  • Which lesson is the least fun for you?
  • Which lesson is the least fun for your students?

Whichever lesson you pick, the most important thing is that you feel excited about improving it.

We recently used this process to test some improvements to our Financial projection Simulator.

Whether it’s the lessons we make freely available like the 60 Minute MVP) or the lessons in our comprehensive Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum, we test every exercise to explore ways to improve them.

Step 2: Ask a Friend to Sit In

The next step is to find an instructor whose teaching style you and/or your students really enjoy. How do you find them?

  • Ask your students who their favorite instructors are.
  • Are there are instructors at your institution who have won a teaching award (it could be at the College level, at the university level, or on a national level)? Ask around to identify them.
  • Do you have a colleague at another school whose teaching style you respect? As you’ll see, the person you ask to observe doesn’t need to be from your school!

Once you identify that instructor, ask them to sit in on the class session you want to improve. On the class day, tell your students this instructor is auditing the class session to see how it works. (you don’t want to bias your students by telling them you want to improve the lesson until after it is over).

Doan testing a new lesson plan as Justin observes remotely via Zoom.

Our TeachingEntrepreneurship.org team is fully distributed – I’m in San Francisco, Doan is in Ohio, and Federico is in Italy but with Zoom it’s easy for us to sit in on each other’s classes.

We usually have one camera in the back of the room so we can see the instructor and one camera in the front of the room (sometimes just a phone logged into Zoom) so we can see how students are responding to the lesson.

 

A camera at the front of the room makes it easy to see when students are engaged and when they are tuning out.

Don’t let location be a barrier to improving your teaching!

With Zoom and a little help from your IT team, you can literally get feedback from any instructor in the world on how to improve a lesson.

Step 3: What Feedback Do You Want?

Before you teach the lesson with your observer, think through what feedback you want. We all teach so differently, it will be important for the person providing you feedback to know the type of feedback you would like on the lesson. Some things we focus on:

  • Are students engaged during the entire lesson? When does energy drop; when do students start to look zoned out or pick up their phones?
  • Does the lesson have a successful “ah ha” moment? If not, how might you create one?
  • Are there any logistical questions that can be eliminated by better instructions (i.e., questions about how to do the exercise aren’t productive, but lessons about how to apply the principles are welcome)
  • Did students actively and eagerly participate in any discussions? If not, how might you improve the discussions?

Step 4: Ask for student feedback

There’s no better way to model to students how and why they should listen to their customers than when you ask for their feedback.

After teaching the lesson you want to improve, give your students an opportunity to provide anonymous feedback about it. For us, we use a slide like this

Slide to get student feedback

which links to a survey like this

Student feedback survey

All of the information is anonymous (unless students volunteer to give us their email address). We simply ask students to fill out the survey before they leave class.

Step 5: Integrate the Feedback

After the class session, talk with the person who sat in the class as they go through their notes. If the person is an experienced and awarded instructor, ask for tips and tricks for anything they notice. Even if they see something as engaging, positive or productive, ask for their ideas on how you can improve.

If there are points where they offer constructive criticism, or where they saw student engagement wane, ask for specific advice on tips and tricks to improve and combine that with the feedback you got from your students.

Results

By practicing what you preach to students in terms of continuous improvement, you’ll not only increase the quality of your lessons, you’ll also demonstrate to students that you care about them – both of which can lead to improved evaluations.

We use this technique for each of the exercises we release, including all of the lessons in the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC), and the insights we gain have a tremendous impact on quality.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share exercises to engage your students.

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • The NEW Marshmallow Challenge.Use this exercise to teach students why invalidated assumptions hinder all new initiatives, and are ultimately the downfall of most new companies.
  • Marketing MVPs. In this experiential exercise, students launch real ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram to test demand for their MVPs
  • Pilot Your Purpose. This exercise helps students discover what they’re passionate about and see how learning entrepreneurial skills can turn that passion into their purpose.
  • 2021 Top Lesson Plans. Here is the list of our 2021 top entrepreneurship exercises and lesson plans based on feedback from our fast-growing community of thousands of entrepreneurship instructors.
  • “The best class I’ve taken!”  We all want a Dead Poets Society moment in our entrepreneurship class. One professor using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum got hers!
The NEW Marshmallow Tower Challenge

The NEW Marshmallow Tower Challenge

This revised version of the Marshmallow Challenge is a really fun way to teach the importance of iteration, experimentation, and the value of failure.

Students completing the marshmallow challenge by building a tower with string spaghetti and tape free standing structure

This updated exercise will help your students learn:

  • Why hidden assumptions hinder entrepreneurs

  • How iteration and experimentation weed out hidden assumptions

  • Why business experiments replace business plans

Note: if you’re already familiar with the Marshmallow Challenge, here are the key updates in this version:

  • This exercise isn’t just about team building or ice-breaking; it’s an analogy for business model assumptions, experimentation, and iteration.
  • Teams build towers twice: once to discover that they make hidden assumptions and once to resolve them.
  • There is a minimum height requirement to ensure students push their limits (and reinforce the learning objectives).
  • As homework, students write a short reflection on the dangers of hidden assumptions and the benefits of fast experiments and iterations.

Step 1: The Set Up

Students work in teams of four to build the tallest tower they can using only the provided materials.

Marshmallow Challenge Setup

Step 2: Build, Launch (and Fail!)

With only 18 minutes to build their towers, teams often follow a similar construction timeline:

  • ~3 minutes: Figuring out who is in charge
  • ~10 minutes: Planning
  • ~4 minutes: Taping spaghetti together
  • ~1 minute: Putting their marshmallow on top
  • ~1 second: Watching the tower crumble under the (surprising) weight of the marshmallow

Marshmallow challenge failure

Be sure to strictly enforce the rules and not give students tips.

The point of this first iteration is for students to experience the failure that comes from not testing their assumptions

For example, students often assume:

  • Marshmallows are light
  • Uncooked spaghetti is rigid enough to hold up a marshmallow

Most of the time, students find out these assumptions are incorrect far too late into the exercise to do anything to correct them.

Finish this step of the lesson by asking students what assumptions they made that may have led to their failure. Then ask them, “Do you know who doesn’t make these kinds of assumptions?”

Step 3: Kindergartners

Tell students that this exercise has been completed by a wide range of people and the average tower height is 20 inches tall.

What’s most interesting is that some people consistently perform better. While business school students often struggle, there’s one group of students who do particularly well:

Kindergartners!

Then show a slide like this to your students:

Marshmallow challenge results

Why Do Kindergarteners Build Better?

First thing: let your students know it’s not their fault – there’s nothing inherently wrong with them. They just made the mistake that virtually every first-time entrepreneur makes:

“You made assumptions about the world that turned out to be wrong.”

In the entrepreneurial context, that typically means making assumptions about who your customers might be, how much they’d be willing to pay for your product, and how many of them there are.

In this case, assumptions about their building materials led to sub-optimal performance, but why would kindergartners be able to build better towers than they could?

Because kindergartners don’t make assumptions!

Kindergartners don’t know that marshmallows are supposed to be light and uncooked spaghetti is supposed to be rigid, so the first thing they do is stick the marshmallow on the spaghetti and see what happens.

In other words, kindergartners don’t know enough about the world to make assumptions so instead of “planning” they naturally spend their time experimenting and iterating.

Tell your students that whenever they’re doing something they’ve never done before (e.g., launching a new product), the best way forward is often to run quick experiments so they can discover the hidden assumptions they’re making.

Once they’ve discovered their hidden assumptions, they’re ready to test out different solutions, which leads us to . . .

Step 4: Iteration

Now that they’ve had a chance to discover their hidden assumptions it’s time to let students act like kindergarteners and iterate and try again!

Give your students another set of supplies and let them build again. When they’re finished, compare the results of their first and second iterations. Use this as an analogy for:

  1. Why serial entrepreneurs are often more successful than first-time entrepreneurs
  2. Why business plans are often replaced by business experiments (e.g., quick experiments lead to more, faster, and validated learning than business plans).
FSU students building a marshmallow tower with string spaghetti and tape free standing structure
Florida State University students in Ron Frazier’s class

Step 5: Reflection

After class, ask students to write up a reflection on the difference between writing business plans and running business experiments:

  • When would they want to use a business plan?
  • When would they want to use a business experiment?
  • Why?

What if Your Students Have Already Done It?

It’s not uncommon for students to have done a version of the Marshmallow Challenge in another class. That said, they likely did it as an ice breaker or team-building exercise – not with a focus on iteration and experimentation.

Ask any students who have done this previously to form their own team of “experienced builders.” This will enable you to reinforce the learning objectives no matter how tall their towers are:

  • If the experienced teams build successful towers, you can point to them as examples of the power of iteration (their previous iteration being the first time they did the exercise)
  • If the experienced teams do poorly, you can cite how important it is to keep practicing the power of iteration throughout our careers – it’s an easy lesson to forget!

Get the Updated Marshmallow Challenge Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Updated Marshmallow Challenge” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

 

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.


 

Attribution

The original version of the Marshmallow Challenge comes from Tom Wujec. Here are his original instructions and associated TED Talk.

A version similar to the original exercise was also published by Bradley George:

George, B. (2014). Marshmallow Tower. In H. Neck, P. Greene & C. Brush (Eds.), Teaching Entrepreneurship: Challenging the Mindset of Entrepreneurship Educators (p.125-130).  Northampton, MA: Edward F. Elgar Publishing.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share more exercises to engage your students.

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Marketing MVPs. In this experiential exercise, students launch real ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram to test demand for their MVPs
  • Pilot Your Purpose. This exercise helps students discover what they’re passionate about and see how learning entrepreneurial skills can turn that passion into their purpose.
  • 2021 Top Lesson Plans. Here is the list of our 2021 top entrepreneurship exercises and lesson plans based on feedback from our fast-growing community of thousands of entrepreneurship instructors.
  • “The best class I’ve taken!”  We all want a Dead Poets Society moment in our entrepreneurship class. One professor using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum got hers!
  • Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.
Marketing MVPs: Testing Demand on Social Media

Marketing MVPs: Testing Demand on Social Media

Our students live on social media. But do they know how to make the best use of it (or how they’re being used by it)?

With this exercise, your students can . . .

  • Launch real ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram
  • Use social media to test demand for their MVPs
  • Learn how their personal information is used to target them with ads

Marketing MVP

Step 1: Ad Targeting

The incredible depth and breadth of the information Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook) have on users is astounding.

If your students use Facebook or Instagram, Facebook likely knows things like:

  1. How much money they make
  2. Whether or not they’re in a relationship (and if that relationship is local, long-distance, or even “open”)
  3. Their political leanings
  4. And much, much more . . .

How much more? The first step of this exercise is to introduce your students to how much information Facebook knows about them.

Facebook at targeting options

You’ll send your students a link to the “Facebook Ad Targeting Options Infographic” above and ask them to review the dozens of pieces of data Facebook collects and identify the 3 most interesting, obscure, or surprising things Facebook might know about them (they’ll use this information later in the exercise).

Step 2: Design an Ad

With a sense of ways to potentially target social media ads, your students will have an opportunity to design their own ad for a product you provide for them:

A solar-powered phone charger.

Using our free Social Media Ad Generator each student mocks up different ad images, different ad copy, target audiences, etc. to get a feel for how to create ads.

Social media ad generator

directions to build your facebook ad

Step 3: Design Their Own Ad

Once students have a feel for how to design an ad using a product you assign them, you can ask them to create one for their own product.

Students repeat the same process they did with the solar power charger, except this time they work with their teammates to design a targeted ad for their companies.

Step 4: Launch Their Ad

(Optionally) You can actually help your students launch their ad.

Using the video below, your students will see how they can design a real ad for Facebook or Instagram and share the ad with you so you can launch it for them and measure how well it performs.

Customizing the Marketing MVP Lesson

This lesson is designed to be easy to customize based on the skills of your students:

  • An Intro course may only complete Steps 1 – 3, mocking up their ads but not necessarily launching them.
  • A New Venture Creation may complete Step 4 so students actually see how well their ads perform.
  • In a capstone or graduate course, each team could produce two different ads and you can run them as A/B tests to see which ad variation performs the best.

There are so many ways to leverage this lesson that demonstrates to students the power of social media marketing!. We hope you give it a try!

 


Get the Marketing MVPs Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Marketing MVPs” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share more exercises to engage your students.

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Pilot Your Purpose. This exercise helps students discover what they’re passionate about and see how learning entrepreneurial skills can turn that passion into their purpose.
  • 2021 Top Lesson Plans. Here is the list of our 2021 top entrepreneurship exercises and lesson plans based on feedback from our fast-growing community of thousands of entrepreneurship instructors.
  • “The best class I’ve taken!”  We all want a Dead Poets Society moment in our entrepreneurship class. One professor using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum got hers!
  • Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.
Pilot Your Purpose

Pilot Your Purpose

During this somewhat bleak time to be a student we’re finding one exercise, in particular, is having an impact.

Students are reporting:

“I struggle with mental health and I oftentimes get lost in my day to day challenges. This exercise helped me find a path forward.”

“It gets me pumped to learn more entrepreneurial techniques and skills that will help me start my own business.”

“It gets me excited about the future!”

In fact, the student response has been so powerful that we are revamping our full experiential curriculum to make this exercise the first, and a recurring, lesson of the course.

Pilot Your Purpose

Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, but all of us want to pursue our passions.

This exercise helps students discover what they’re passionate about and see how learning entrepreneurial skills can turn that passion into their purpose.

From music to makeup, to martial arts, we’ve seen students come to life when they realize that entrepreneurship skills can help them make a positive impact in the world while pursuing the things that get them most excited.

Teaching Entrepreneurship Pilot Your Purpose

If you run this exercise at the beginning of your course and ask students to share their purpose with you, you can make interactions with them more meaningful by tying events from the course back to their purpose.

Set Up The Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

Talk to students about how you know they want to learn things that are relevant to their lives right now. Share with them that entrepreneurship skills will be relevant throughout their career, but that you know it’s hard for them to see how entrepreneurship will be relevant today.

Explain to your students that this exercise will help them understand how entrepreneurship is valuable for them right now, because this exercise will tap into their interests, pique their curiosity, and pull out their passion and purpose.

This exercise will help your students see how entrepreneurship will impact them and their future.

This exercise uses a Google Slides presentation as a digital worksheet. To have their own copies, each student will need a Google Drive account, and ideally will have an iPad or laptop. If a student isn’t able to bring an iPad or laptop to class, they can write down their answers to the questions on paper now, and fill them in later on a computer.

How to Pilot Your Purpose

Your first step when in class is to open the Pilot Your Purpose exercise so you can walk students through it. Direct students to https://bit.ly/PYPurpose (case sensitive) and click the “Make a Copy” button so they each have their own copy to work on.

Interests: Step 1

To identify their interests, ask your students to think about:

  1. What friends say they always talk about
  2. What they would spend time doing if money was no object
  3. What they were learning about the last time they lost track of time watching Youtube or scrolling on social media

Pilot Your Purpose: Interests

Have students text a friend now (in class):

“For my homework I’m supposed to ask you ‘What kind of stuff do I always talk about’”

As their friends write back during class, students can type what their friend texts into the correlating box.

Interests: Step 2

Students now think about how they would spend their time if they did not have to worry about money and they could spend their time doing anything they wanted. 

Pilot Your Purpose: Interests

Interests: Step 3

Next, have your students think about how they would like to spend their free time. Students type in what type of content they are watching or interacting when they fall down an online rabbit hole.

Skills: Step 1

To identify their skills, ask your students to think about:

  1. What friends say they are good at
  2. What they would like to get better at doing
  3. What they think they are above average at doing

Pilot Your Purpose: Skills

Have students text a friend now (in class):

“For my homework I’m supposed to ask you ‘What do you think I’m good at’”

As their friends write back during class, students can type what their friend texts into the correlating box.

Skills: Step 2

Students now think about what kinds of things they want to get better at doing – what skills they want to improve upon – and write those in the corresponding box.

Pilot Your Purpose: SkillsSkills: Step 3

As the last step in the Skills section, students think about at what things they are above average, and type those into the corresponding box.

Pilot Your Purpose: SkillsPassion

The next step is for students to identify their passion by combining their interests and skills. Guide students to take note of

  1. What most excites them from their interests slides
  2. What they are most interested in getting better at from their skills slides

Pilot Your Purpose: Passion

In the first two boxes of the next slide, students write down what excites them from their Interests slides and what they are most interested in getting better at from their Skills slides.

Pilot Your Purpose: Passion

In the last box on this slide, have your students think about possible ways to combine what they’ve written in the previous two boxes.

Impact

Students have identified their Passions by looking over their Interests and Skills. Next, you will guide them to think about the kind of Impact they desire to create in the world. To do this, ask students to write down:

  1. Groups of people they would be excited to help
  2. Local problems (in their community) they would be interested in working to solve
  3. Global problems they would be interested in working to solve

Pilot Your Purpose: ImpactPurpose

The last step in this exercise is for students to combine their Passion and Impact to identify their Purpose.

Pilot Your Purpose: PurposeGuide students to review their Passions slide and type in the first box anything that excites them from that slide.

Next, ask students to look at their Impact slide, and type in the middle box anything they excites them.

Pilot Your Purpose: Purpose

In the last box on this slide, guide students to think about possible ways to combine what they’ve written in the previous two boxes.

Sharing The Purpose

Students enjoy sharing what they’ve discovered about themselves with others. To facilitate connections between your students and to give them a chance to celebrate what excites them, create groups of 2 – 3 students and invite students to share their Purposes with each another.

Pilot Your PurposeAfter students have had ample time to share their purpose within their small groups, choose a way for you to learn about each of your students’ purposes by having them do one of the following:

  • Send you a link to their slide deck
  • Presenting their purpose slide in class to everyone
  • Recording a video presenting their purpose slide and sending that to you or posting it on the class discussion board

Leveraging this exercise in the first week of class, and strategically revisiting it throughout the course, makes entrepreneurship skills personally relevant to students, regardless of their desire to “become an entrepreneur.”

Why It Works

The result of this exercise is that:

  1. Students identify topics they’re interested in that can be the source of entrepreneurial inquiry.
  2. You discover more about each of your students so that if they end up struggling during your course, you have some clues about how to connect with them in ways that will resonate.

Get the Pilot Your Purpose Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Pilot Your Purpose” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

Get the Lesson Plan

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers. Please feel free to share it.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share more exercises to engage your students.

Subscribe here to be the first to get these in your inbox.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!


Missed Our Recent Articles?

Whether you are new to our community of entrepreneurship educators, or you’ve been contributing for years, we wanted to give you a list of the posts our community finds most valuable:

  • Improving Your (Inherited) Course. Inheriting an entrepreneurship course presents many challenges. Re-design the course and provide engaging experiences with this curriculum.
  • How to Improve Student Outcomes & Evaluations. Journaling can transform your students’ experience in your classroom. And can be a great way to get quality feedback on whether you’re an effective educator
  • “The best class I’ve taken!”  We all want a Dead Poets Society moment in our entrepreneurship class. One professor using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum got hers!
  • Teaching Customer Interviewing. This card and the online game is a powerful way to teach students the importance of customer interviewing, and the right questions to ask.
Pitching the Process

Pitching the Process

If you end your entrepreneurship class by having students pitch their companies, you may have seen:

A handful of pitches are great, but most are…meh.

We’ve had luck improving the overall quality of pitches for all students by updating what we want students to pitch.

Pitching the Process

When we shift away from a Shark Tank-style idea pitch to a process pitch, students walk through the iterations of their business model canvases throughout the course, telling the story of:

  • What assumptions they made along the way
  • How they tested those assumptions
  • What they changed in their business model as a result
  • What assumptions they want to test next

The goal of this Process Pitch is for students to show they have learned a process for finding successful business models. This approach:

  • Emphasizes skill development
  • Values testing business models “outside the building”
  • Engages all students in the process

In process pitches, students demonstrate:

  • They understand the business model validation process
  • They applied that process and evolved their business model based on experimentation
  • The entire process was led by their customers’ emotional needs/problems

The reason this approach is so engaging is because it focuses students on skill acquisition: business modeling, testing business model assumptions, customer interviews, etc. Because you assess students on their process, they are incentivized to test their business model and report accurate results. The emphasis is on the students’ journey, not their outcome; the goal is not success or failure but what they learned during the process.

Learn more about Pitching the Process here.

Process Pitch Winners

We recently held a Process Pitch competition for the thousands of students using the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum, and students from Cal Poly won with their idea Spruce.ly. Out of many great entries, this amazing team stood out because they:

  • Demonstrated they learned skills (proven by the number of assumptions they invalidated)
  • Conducted customer interviews in a way that changed their business model
  • Ran several experiments including multiple ads campaigns, and user click-mapping on their MVP

Cal Poly Wins Process Pitch Competition

Set Your Students Up For Success This Spring

Similar to how we redesigned the antiquated Shark Tank pitches, we created the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) as an engaging experience that accommodates in-person, online, and hybrid classes anywhere from 8 to 15 weeks long.

We weave a cohesive thread throughout the curriculum, with a combination of personally relevant exercises that cohesively teach a set of real-world entrepreneurial skills. Professors at more than 120 colleges and universities find their students highly engaged from the first exercise where students  discover their passions to the last experience where they pitch their process.

Semester Experiential entrepreneurship education schedule

We created course shells for all of the major learning management systems, so it takes less than 5 minutes to get your new course imported.

This spring, if you want to save time while engaging your students, use “the best entrepreneurship curriculum available” – structured, cohesive, interactive experiences that will engage your students in deep learning.

Engage Your Students This Spring

If you’re looking for classes that buzz with excitement and energy with games, competitions, and activities that engage students while teaching them real-world skills . . .

Preview ExEC and see if it can help you and your students!

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share information about our upcoming Winter Summit where we will share some exciting new exercises!

Subscribe here to be the first to grab a “seat” at the Summit.

Join 15,000+ instructors. Get new exercises via email!