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Improving Course Evaluations

Improving Course Evaluations

Why emotion-based feedback is more powerful than number-based feedback

Course evals come too late and measure the wrong thing

practice what we preach – quick feedback cycles that we get multiple times so we can pivot our approach, our content, etc.

Here’s how we gather feedback in ExEC (show & explain process)

Here’s what we are learning:

show how student emotional feedback has changed (Federico graphs)

 

Get the Emotion-Based Feedback Form

We will be sharing more engaging exercises like this one!

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New Design Thinking: Backpack Design Challenge

New Design Thinking: Backpack Design Challenge

Tell students they are hired as a product designer. Their first job out of school is to design an ideal backpack. To help them do this, introduce the series of worksheets laid out in the Backpack Design Challenge lesson plan.

Step 1: The Most Exciting Purchase or Gift

The first worksheet asks students what is the most exciting thing they bought themselves, or were given as a gift recently.

It is really helpful with this exercise for you to share your perspective. At this step, share with them a concrete example of something that really excited you.

Make sure the thing they think of is something specific, and something they were really looking forward to. For example, a birthday present, or a holiday present, or something they’ve been wanting for months that they finally splurged on.

Design thinking backpack design challenge

Step 2: Feelings About the Purchase or Gift

Students record the feelings that came up as they made the purchase or received the gift. Give students time to reflect on the emotions they felt.

The point of these two steps is to build the foundation for the design thinking exercise to come.

Our goal is for them to learn a set of skills that helps them design products and services that get their customers as excited about the thing the student is creating as the student was about the purchase or gift. 

 Get The Lesson Plan Today!

Step 3: Must-have features

Now we will teach students to design a backpack that people get super excited about.

Ask students to describe their three “must have” features of their backpack.

A new approach to design thinking

Start by describing your three “must haves” and give them a few minutes to write down their three “must haves” that are unique to them.

Step 4: Draw the ideal backpack

The next step is for students to draw their ideal backpack. The point here is not beautiful artwork. The point is to visualize what the backpack with their must-have features looks lke.

Step 6: Ideal backpack reflection

Pair your students up for this step. Each student shares their drawings with their partner.

Each partner will ask lots of questions to dive deep into why their partner wanted certain features and anything else they are curious about.

design thinking reflection

Next, give students a few minutes to reflect on their partner’s backpack design. They describe what they saw and heard, how they felt about what they saw and heard, etc.

Components of the traditional design process

  • What should be built (start with product in mind)
  • How should it work / what should it look like? (functionality)
  • Do people love it?
  • Goal: build the best thing

Alternative approach: design thinking introduction

Explain to your students that what they just experienced is the traditional design process. Continue by sharing that this traditional way is not the best way to get customers excited about their product or service.

Ask them whether their partner offered to pre-order when saw other design. Was their partner so excited that they offered to give them real money? The answer will be no.

design process steps

Explain that in the traditional design process, someone

  • decides a product they should build
  • figures out the functionality of their product – what are the nuts and bolts
  • as a last step, they launch their product and work to figure out whether people love it

For your students to design something that gets people truly excited, they need to understand the design thinking process.

The design thinking process has five steps to create products people get really excited about:

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Test

Talk to your students about the difference between the traditional design process and the design thinking process. In the traditional design approach, they start with thinking about the product they’re going to build.

In the design thinking process, they start with no product in mind. Instead, they start by understanding the customer’s emotional needs. In other words, what motives them on emotional level? This is the empathizing stage

If the goal is to build something people love, empathizing should be the first step in the process not the third step.

Step 7: Design something useful

Now that they are inspired to design something people want, pair students up again. Students interview the partner they previously worked with for 4 minutes each.

It is important here to tell them to forget about the backpack. They are taking a design thinking approach, so they don’t know what the “right” thing to build is. They learn what their partner really loves and why, so they can design something these customers truly want.

design thinking first step

The goal of this interview is to find out what’s the hardest part about being a student, how they felt, when they felt that way, and why it’s a problem.

Step 8: Dig deeper

Students then conduct another 4-minute interview with their partner. The difference is, this time they

  • What feelings arise for their partner when they have the problem they described before
  • Have they done anything to try and solve that problem
  • What didn’t they like about that solution

 Get The Lesson Plan Today!

Steps 9-11: Define the problem

Students next will define the problem their partner mentioned. They will

  • Synthesize data obtained from partner interview
  • Answer 3 questions
    • What goals is their partner trying to achieve?
    • What did they learn about their partner’s motivation
    • What is the partner point of view: [partner name] needs a way to [verb] because [problem to solve]

design thinking: define the problem step

This step outlines for the student a structure for the process of designing a solution that excites their partner.

Step 12: Ideate solutions

We now understand the problem. The goal here is to draw 5 different designs for alternative solutions using the new information they gathered. These designs can be anything. They don’t have to be based in reality – encourage your students to use their imagination.

design thinking new exercise

Step 13: Solicit feedback

In same pairs as before, students share their new solutions with each other and provide feedback. They share with each other what do they like, what don’t they like, and why.

design thinking feedback

Students will then iterate with their partners to come up with a more ideal solution for the problem based on their partner’s feedback.

design thinking iteration

This work will likely have nothing to do with backpacks – it will relate to the biggest problems the students experience. It could be about time management, or the dining hall, or parking, or boring classes.

That’s OK – we are working to get them trying to solve real problems for their partner!

Step 14: Reflect on new design

Students now have a new design based on feedback from their partner. Now we want them to reflect on that new design.

In pairs, they will answer two questions about the design their partner developed to solve their problem:

  • What emotions come up with thinking about partner’s new design, and why?
  • More excited about partner’s original design or new design, and why? 

design thinking reflection

Step 15: Compare approaches

Now you will recap everything with your students as a class. Tell them they went through two approaches to design:

  • Traditional design approach – their first design
  • Design thinking approach – their second design

They now fill out a comparison worksheet for these two approaches. First each student writes down the two different designs their partner create for them. The questions they will answer about these two designs are:

  • Which design are they most excited about?
  • Which design is more feasible?
  • Which design solves their partners’ problem better?
  • Which design would they choose?

design thinking comparison

Ask the class as a whole which design method feels more valuable. Specifically, ask them to put up the numbers of fingers representing the number of Xs they have in the Design Thinking row.

You should see an overwhelming number of students put up at least 3 fingers for the design thinking approach.

Highlight for students that this is why we do design thinking:

It is so much more powerful for creating ideas that are exciting to customers and that they want to pay for because the product actually solves their real problems.

Then, summarize for your students that they just completed the full design thinking process:

  • They empathized – they worked to understand their customer’s problems
  • They defined the problem – they gathered all the information they learned from their customer & now understand the problem that customer experiences
  • They then ideated on solutions for that problem – they developed multiple potential solutions for the problem their customer was experiencing
  • They prototyped products to solve the problem – here they would develop something that a user could actually interact with
  • Last, they tested their prototype – they solicited feedback from their customer to learn what appealed to them and what did not

The design thinking process is iterative. Students went through it once during this exercise. After testing, they can start again by empathizing with their customer based on their new product.

This approach is powerful because it will help your students work on solving problems that real customers actually experience.

After this exercise is a great place to segway into your syllabus and the topics you will cover and experiences students will have. You can connect this experience to the rest of your course by highlighting they will now be able to:

  • Understand a wide range of customer needs
  • Defining the problem
  • Iterating on a solution to that problem
  • Designing prototypes of that solution
  • Testing how customers feel about that solution

Get the “Backpack Design Challenge” Lesson Plan

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

 

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

All we ask is that you leave us some feedback on it in the comments below so we can improve it!


Coming Soon…

We will be sharing more engaging exercises like this one!

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2021 Top Free Entrepreneurship Exercises

2021 Top Free Entrepreneurship Exercises

“Your posts help me keep my students engaged – they and I thank you!” – ExEC Professor

Based on the popularity of our 2019 Top 5 Lesson Plans and 2020 Top 5 Lesson Plans articles, 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.

We designed the following exercises and lesson plans to transform your students’ experience as they learn how to stay motivated, prototype, and work with finances.

5. Teaching Business Model Canvas with Dr. Alex Osterwalder

Most entrepreneurship programs use the Business Model Canvas (BMC) in some way (it is a core element of the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum).

In collaboration with the BMC creator himself, Dr. Alex Osterwalder, we produced a series of lesson plans detailing how he teaches his powerful tool.

Learning the Business Model Canvas with Dr. Alex Osterwalder

With this 3-part series, you can . . .

  • Part 1: Introduce the Business Model Canvas
  • Part 2: Teach students how to write business model hypotheses
  • Part 3: Demonstrate how to prioritize their riskiest assumptions

View Directions to Teach the Business Model Canvas the Way Dr. Osterwalder Does

4. Financial Modeling Showdown

Financial modeling is incredibly difficult to teach in an engaging way.

That’s why, in addition to our more advanced Financial Projection Simulator, we developed a new game that makes introducing financial modeling fun and interactive.

Financial modeling simulation

If your students get overwhelmed by financial modeling, this game will help them learn the core concepts in an accessible way.

View The Financial Modeling Showdown Exercise

3. 60 Minute MVP

Imagine your students, in just one hour, building, and launching, an MVP . . . with no technical expertise! In our 60 Minute MVP exercise, we present an exercise during which students build a landing page MVP that:

  1. Tells their customers the problem their team is solving,
  2. Uses a video to demonstrate how the team will solve the problem and
  3. Asks for some form of “currency” from their customers to validate demand.

Immersion pressure challenge chaos motivation 60 minute MVP

If you’re looking for an immersive exercise that activates your class, complete with a chaotic, noisy, high-pressure environment, that teaches real entrepreneurial principles, give “60 Minute MVP” a shot.

View the 60 Minute MVP Exercise

2. Design Thinking with the Ideal Wallet

The Ideal Wallet is an awesome exercise for teaching students to use empathy, prototyping, and iteration to design creative solutions to problems. This exercise that comes from Stanford University’s d.school is a fast-paced way to introduce your students to design thinking.

Design Thinking 101: Design the Ideal Wallet

During this intense exercise, students will learn:

  • That what is important for them to discover is what is important to their customer
  • To design solutions specifically related to their customers’ emotional needs
  • To prototype their design with simple household materials and
  • To gather customer feedback on prototypes

As a result, students will know how to develop powerful solutions for customers because they can empathize with the person or people for whom they are designing solutions.

Available in both an In-Person Version and an Online Version.

View the Design Thinking with the Ideal Wallet Exercise

1. Motivate Students with Pilot Your Purpose

Students engage when entrepreneurship feels relevant.

This exercise makes entrepreneurship relevant by helping students discover that entrepreneurial skills will help them pursue their passions – regardless of whether they become entrepreneurs.

Pilot your Purpose

This is our favorite exercise because when we help students discover their passions, it becomes clear to them that entrepreneurial skills will help them turn a passion into their life’s purpose.

Suddenly, entrepreneurship becomes relevant and engagement increases

In fact, our students like this exercise so much, we’re making it the first lesson plan in the next iteration of our full Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

View the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

Want 15 Weeks of Lesson Plans?

If you are looking for a fully structured, experiential entrepreneurship curriculum, with a semester’s worth of lesson plans that students love, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

We’ve done the work for you.


What’s Next?

In upcoming posts, we will share lesson plans for new exercises we shared at our Winter Summit!

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Top 5 Free Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

Top 5 Free Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans

The article below represents our top exercises from 2021. For our 2022 list, check out this article.

“Your posts help me keep my students engaged – they and I thank you!” – ExEC Curriculum Professor

Based on the popularity of our 2018 Top 5 Lesson Plans article, we’ve updated our list based on feedback from our fast-growing community of now 4,600-strong entrepreneurship instructors.

The following are all lesson plans we’ve designed to transform your students’ experience as they learn how to generate ideas, interview customers, prototype and validate solutions.

5. Idea Generation vs. Problem Generation

Many of our students believe an idea is the heart of entrepreneurship. In this lesson, we shatter that assumption and replace it with an appropriate focus on customer problems.

We want your students to develop ideas that are more feasible, impactful, and creative.

This is the toughest challenges entrepreneurship professors face. Student ideas tend to be a repetition of low-impact or infeasible mediocrity. You want more from them. We can help! We focus your students on problems in this lesson because the best business ideas come from problems.entrepreneurship, teaching, problem, solution, idea

After this lesson, your students’ ideas will be:

  • More feasible because they’re focusing on serving people they care about.
  • More impactful because they’re paying more attention to problems than they are products.
  • More creative because they’ll use those problems as inspiration.

View Idea Generation vs. Problem Generation Lesson Plan

4. Personal Business Plan

In this exercise, shared with us by Rebeca Hwang from Stanford University, students create a business plan about themselves. Students approach themselves as a company and apply the tools they learned during their entrepreneurship course to understand how they add value to the world.

Students answer questions about their future vision and about their present plans and passions. One of our professor’s favorite components of this exercise is that students choose who grades their personal business plan (and that our colleagues at Stanford provide a very robust rubric)!

teaching entrepreneurship personal business plan

Through this exercise, students:

  • Learn to see themselves as a company,
  • Learn they must continuously invest in and develop a plan for their future,
  • Embrace the tools and methodologies they learned in the course because they are applying them to their future,
  • Understand learning is meaningful when applied to a personal context

View Why Business Plans Fail Lesson Plan

3. Teaching Customer Interviewing

We consistently hear from faculty that teaching customer interviewing is their biggest challenge. In this lesson plan students use a combination of ExEC Customer Interviewing Playing Cards, with an online collaborative quiz game (Kahoot), to learn:

  • What their problem interviewing goals should be and should not be
  • What questions they should and should not ask

customer interviewing teaching entrepreneurship

Students then get an interview script template they can use as the basis for their problem discovery interviews.

This exercise teaches your students:

  • What objectives they should and should not attempt to accomplish during a problem discovery interview and why,
  • What questions they should and shouldn’t ask during a customer discovery interview and why,
  • What a comprehensive interview script book looks like

View Customer Interviewing Cards Lesson Plan

2. 60 Minute MVP

One of our most popular lesson plans is the 60 Minute MVP. During this class, students launch an MVP website, with an animated video and a way to take pre-orders, in an hour with no prior coding experience. One of our professors told us after running this exercise:

“One student described it as like a Navy Seal mental training exercise. Not sure it was that intense, but they were amazed and proud that they got it done.”

Your students will love this class period; they progress from the anxiety of the challenge confronting them (build a website in 60 minutes) to the elation of their journey (launching a website they built in 60 minutes). This exercise creates tremendous energy in your classroom. Students create something real.

On the lesson plan page you can view an example video students created in about 20 minutes, built around actual customer problem interviews:

You can also view a great example of a website built in just 60 minutes:

Your students will create landing pages like thisUpscale dining at its finest!

Some critical learnings for your students are the true meaning of Minimum Viable Product (MVP), that it’s easier to launch a product than they thought, and that the easiest thing about building a business is launching that product.

View 60 Minute MVP Lesson Plan

1. Teaching Customer Observations

During our years of research on what topics entrepreneurship professors struggle to teach, we heard “customer interviewing” over and over again. Our ExEC curriculum includes a robust method of customer interviewing, but customer observation is another great way to gather customer information. So we developed our Teaching Customer Observations lesson plan to help students learn the value of seeing how their customers experience problems, as opposed to imagining their customers’ problems.

In addition to our community thinking this is a powerful experience in the classroom, this exercise also won first place in the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Exercises Awards at the USASBE 2019 Annual Conference!

This exercise positions your students to observe customers in their natural settings. This allows them to discover new business opportunities and increase their empathy and behavioral analysis skills.

Our goal with this exercise is to teach students to have an empathy picture/analysis that frames the problem they are trying to solve before they jump to a solution. Having this clear picture will allow them to come up with better creative solutions.

During this two-class exercise, your students will experience customer empathy and how to plan and translate an observation experience into ideas for products and services. This will provide the following benefits:

  • Introduce students to a powerful tool to gather information on customer experience in real-life situations. This allows students to avoid predicting customer behavior by actually observing it.
  • Students practice how to listen with their eyes in order to understand what people value and care about, & what they don’t.
  • Provide a common reference experience for expanding on topics later in the course.

View Teaching Customer Observations Lesson Plan

Want 15 Weeks of Lesson Plans?

If you are looking for a fully structured, experiential entrepreneurship curriculum, with a semester’s worth of lesson plans that students love, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

We’ve done the work for you.

Get our Next Free Lesson Plan

We email new experiential entrepreneurship lesson plans regularly.

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Why Business Plans Suck: The Game

Why Business Plans Suck: The Game

If you want to get your students’ attention, tell them…

“Business plans suck!”

By the time they get to your class, your students will likely have heard that business plans are key to entrepreneurial success.

This exercise will use a game to help your students see why business plans have fallen out of favor, and what data-driven entrepreneurs do instead.

When to Use this Exercise

The Why Business Plans Suck: The Game exercise is best used as a way to introduce the:

  1. Business Model Canvas and/or
  2. Minimum Viable Products (MVPs)

So consider running this either at the beginning of your course when you’re introducing the canvas, or toward the end of your course when you’re introducing MVPs.

The Game

Step 1: Students Play Innovator’s Plinko

You start the lesson with each student playing Innovation Plinko, courtesy of the amazing team at Kromatic!

As students drop each of their Plinko chips, each of which represents a new business idea, they quickly realize that:

Most new business ideas fail.

Step 2: Introduce Experimentation

With that context, students discover what’s needed is a way to “test” each idea to determine which ones are most likely to pay off:

As students play this game they discover that…

The earlier they test their business ideas, the better their outcome.

Step 3: Tinder is Testing (for Dating)

While most students have no prior entrepreneurial experience, virtually all of them have dating experience. That’s helpful because Tinder is a great metaphor:

Entrepreneurs are “searching” for business models like single people are “searching” for partners.

Tools like Tinder help you weed out bad relationship matches quickly:

Tinder as analogy for entrepreneurship

Unfortunately, Business Plans don’t encourage students to “swipe” through bad ideas like Tinder does. Which is exactly…

Step 4: Why Business Plans Fail

Writing traditional business plans are like writing fairy tales: it’s fun and they always have a happy ending, but they’re divorced from reality.

Any potential benefits from the “planning” process are dwarfed by the fact that:

Business plans encourage you to fall in love with a fantasy.

Business plans take a significant amount of time to write. Google can’t answer the real questions of market size, sales channels, or value proposition.

Only customers know the answers to those questions.

The more time spent theorizing and “planning” a business, the less time learning what customers’ real needs are, and the best way to address them.

Step 5: A Better Way

Here re-introduce that Tinder analogy. Let students know there is a Tinder for entrepreneurship, a more efficient way to find a lasting business model. When looking for a business model in which we want to invest our time, energy, and money, we only want to find the best fit for an idea. We want to treat looking for a business model like we treat looking for a significant other.

Instead of thinking of business ideas as looking for “the one”, we should look at it more like dating. On Tinder, a person is not looking at every single profile thinking “this could be the one!” Instead, what people do is look for red flags on every single profile, and for the vast majority of profiles, people will swipe left because they sense some sort of red flag indicating that person isn’t “the one”. 

Make the point that when looking for ideas and business models, what we are looking for are red flags and reasons not to pursue it; we are not looking to get married to every business idea we think of.  

Just like in dating, with our ideas, we want to test the waters. We look at someone’s profile, and if it looks good, we send a message. If they do something that raises a red flag (sending graphic photos or using offensive language), we stop.

The same thing goes with working on ideas and business models. We want to test the waters as soon as possible, and immediately stop as soon as we sense red flags, then modify things or somehow pivot.

The idea to drill home with students is to save their time and energy and money for the best of the best! The faster we can eliminate the bad ideas, the sooner we can find the good ones, so we want to stop and assess ideas as soon and as often as possible.

Business Models Are a Better Alternative

Explain to students that instead of working on business plans, they want to approach ideas and business models as experiments. In this approach, they have the opportunity to stop pursuing any idea at any given time if they sense a red flag, whether it’s at the very beginning, or further along. Show students a Business Model Canvas and explain that we use this tool instead of a business plan because it allows us to quickly hypothesize and experiment with our ideas and our business model.

Business model canvas

This tool lets us quickly write up all the potential red flags we are worried about and want to test in our business model and allows us to make a small investment in one element at a time (like sending a quick message on Tinder to see if the person responds appropriately).  

The Full Lesson Plan

If you’re looking for a way to engage students while you introduce:

  • Business Model Canvas and
  • Minimum Viable Products

…or you just want to play Entrepreneurial Plinko…

Get the “Why Business Plans Suck: The Game” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Why Business Plans Suck: The Game” 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.

All we ask is that you leave us some feedback on it in the comments below so we can improve it!


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share a companion exercise to the “How to Build a (No Code) App” exercise. This will help students understand why it is critical to engage customers prior to launching!

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Prototyping Lesson Plan: Building 1-Hour No-Code Apps

Prototyping Lesson Plan: Building 1-Hour No-Code Apps

How often have you heard:

“I have an idea for an app!”

For many students, every idea…is an app idea.

And it’s hard to blame them. Between Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp, etc. students are spending more than 7 hours per day on their screens.

Of course, they aren’t alone (and they may be on to something)…

Using Apps to Teach Skills

While apps aren’t everything in entrepreneurship, we can leverage our students’ love of them to:

  • Teach prototyping
  • Enable students to launch an MVP
  • Develop a skill (mobile design) they can use throughout their careers

All with…

An experience that engages students.

Now every student can build an app

How to Build a 1-Hour App

In the 1-Hour App exercise, students will:

  1. Use Glide to create a tutorial app (that would cost ~$70k+ to build from scratch)
  2. Launch their tutorial app
  3. Start building a custom app for their company (or their resume)
Uber Edibles App Template

Turn your students’ love of apps into learning opportunities.

Get the “1-Hour App” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “1-Hour App” exercise to walk you and your students through the process step-by-step.

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

All we ask is that you leave us some feedback on it in the comments below so we can improve it!


Coming Soon…

In our next exercise, we’ll share a lesson plan that combines Tinder with Plinko!

Subscribe here to get our next exercise, “Why Business Plans Suck: The Game” in your inbox.

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Failure Resume

Failure Resume

Have you ever had a student:

  • Pretend to interview more customers than they actually had
  • Skew the results of an experiment to make their product appear more successful than it really was?
  • Misrepresent why they weren’t able to complete an assignment?

The reason we see the above is because

Students fear failure.

And who can blame them! By the time they get to college, the threat of a “failing grade” has been used as a tool to ensure their compliance for the past 12 years.

Students spend elementary through high school literally being taught to fear failure.

Entrepreneurs can’t fear failure

If there’s one entrepreneurial scale we can teach our students to help them find success no matter where their career path leads them it’s

How to fear learn from failure

This is a scale that all successful entrepreneurs have navigated and mastered, learning from the bruises, and emerging more motivated and confident. Our students can learn from failure, and can learn from those who have found tremendous success because of their unique relationship with failure.

Greatness is Forged by Failure

Start by showing your students a slide featuring the following faces they will recognize:

  • Oprah
  • Elon Musk
  • Vera Wang
  • Steve Jobs
  • You (this is the most important one!)

Entrepreneurs who have failed and eventually been successful

Ask your students:

  • “What do all of these people have in common?”
  • Answer: They were all failures before they were successes.

Tell students:

  • Oprah, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs were all fired from their jobs before they became successful.
  • Show Elon Musk’s Failure Resume, highlighting the number of failures he’s encountered on his way to success.
  • Vera Wang failed to achieve her goal of making the Olympic team in figure skating and failed to get the job as the editor in chief of Vogue (after working there for 20 years) before eventually starting her own fashion line. She’s now in the US Skating Hall of Fame for the costumes she’s designed for skaters.
  • Share one of your own failures.

Next, show a slide with this quote:

The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception and response to failure. – John Maxwell

Tell your students that if they want to find or create a job they enjoy that pays well, one of the most impactful things they can do is change their relationship to failure.

Share with them that failure is uncomfortable for all of us, but the difference between being an average and an achieving person is how they take advantage of failures when they arise.

Tell students in this class you will give them the opportunity to learn how to make the most of their failures. The first step towards doing that is to show them how valuable their failures have already been to them.

Failure Resume

You’re going to ask your students to be vulnerable and share their failures. The best way for them to engage with this exercise is for you to be vulnerable and share your failures with them. In doing so, you’ll demonstrate the failures are what we make of them.

Tell students that if an experience is too recent, or feels too sensitive to reflect on now, they’re welcome to skip that failure and move on to another one.

You want your students to create a resume, but not a typical resume where they document all of their successful accomplishments. This is going to be a failure resume.

Tell your students that using the following categories as inspiration, they should try to come up with at least their three biggest failures, they have experienced, thus far and their lives:

  • School
  • Work
  • Sports/competitions
  • Relationship

They don’t need to come up with failures in each category, they just need to try to come up with three failures in total.

To help inspire ideas, share some examples of your own failures with your students.

Here is my example I share with my students – I talk about failing classes and getting denied admission to school, and about failing at work (getting denied tenure), about getting cut from my high school basketball team, and about lying to my wife.

Example failure resume

For each of the failures that you share with your students, be sure that you have real impactful lessons that you’ve taken from them.

The reflection and lessons learned is the step you must demonstrate for your students. Don’t languish on the actual failure too long!

Tell your students you’ll give them a few minutes in silence to reflect on and identify their failures.

My Biggest Failure

Looking over their failures, ask students to identify the one that they learned from the most. In other words, the one that would change their behavior the most.

With that failure in mind, ask your students to fill in the bottom half of the failure resume, answering the questions:

  1. My Biggest Failure Taught Me…
  2. And Changed My Behavior By….

For example, I share with my students that I learned from my failures to be more thoughtful in my words and actions, which leads me to pause and slow down so I think of others before speaking and acting.

Failure resume: reflecting on failure

After students have written in their answers, pair them up, ideally with someone they don’t know. They share their biggest failure with their partner, what they learned, and how it changed the way they act now,

Once your students had a chance to share with one another, ask a few to share what they learned from their failure with the rest of the class.

Because students are being vulnerable and sharing sensitive information be sure to thank each person who shares and reflect on what positive things it reflects about them that they something helpful away from their failures.

As you’re early in your class. It’s important to appreciate students for sharing; it will set the tone for the rest of your course.

Failure Will Not be Penalized

Tell students in an entrepreneurship course and in their career path, they are likely to run many experiments. Some, if not most, of those experiments will fail.

We encourage you to determine students’ grades by how much effort they put into their experiments, how well they reflect on those experiments, and how much they learn from each one – successful or not. With that approach, you can tell students they will never be penalized in your class for failing.

Making the Most of Failure

Tell your students the key to making the most of any failure is reflection. Once a failure occurs, successful people take time to identify:

  • What failed
  • Why it failed
  • And understand how they can improve next time

Ask your students to complete the last portion of their Failure Resume. For my example, upon reflecting I realized I can be more successful by inviting my wife into helping me be more thoughtful.

Failure resume: planning ahead for failure

By identifying techniques they’ll use to analyze and reflect upon their failure, for example:

  • Journaling
  • Talking to someone
  • Meditating
  • Contemplating alone

Tell your students to commit to themselves that when they face a failure, they will make the most of it by trying some of these new strategies, and by reflecting on the failure.

Get the “Failure Resume” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed lesson plan for the “Failure Resume” 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.

All we ask is that you leave us some feedback on it in the comments below so we can improve it!


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we will share a companion exercise to the “60 Minute MVP” exercise. This will help students understand why it is critical to engage customers prior to launching!

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

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3 Exercises to Start Your Course

3 Exercises to Start Your Course

Each semester we ask the thousands of students using our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum a few questions to understand the challenges they face:

  • What’s the hardest part about being a student?
  • Why is that hard?

What we learn informs our curriculum development. It also helps me, as a professor, formulate a strategy to approach my first day of class so it will be memorable, engaging, and so students want to come back for the 2nd day.

The main challenges we hear are:

  1. Time management
  2. Knowing what they want out of life
  3. Staying focused
  4. Staying positive

Students struggle because they balance so many roles – student, athlete, leader, friend, child, teammate, and so on. They share with us general strategies they use to combat the stress and anxiety they face, such as scheduling their days, having an accountability buddy, asking “adults” for help, etc.

Mostly what we hear is that students don’t carve out the time to dig into what matters to them and how they can leverage their college experience to prepare for a meaningful career around what matters to them.

Understanding the challenges our students face gives us the foundation upon which we can change their path. If we build our course experience knowing they struggle with things like time management, finding meaning, and staying focused, we engage them and provide them tools to become successful.

Here we share three exercises that help students think about what is meaningful to them. Implementing these exercises gives you a chance to map your course learning objectives, modules, and assignments onto specific issues students bring up.

They will feel engaged. But more importantly, they will see your course as useful.

#3: Curiosities + Fears = Engagement

The key to engaging students is making lessons personally relevant.

To discover what matters to your students, you can ask two simple questions:

  1. “When you think of life after college, what are you curious about?
  2. “When you think of life after college, what are you afraid of?”

When you ask students to brainstorm their fears and curiosities individually, and then in small groups, your class will buzz with excited and nervous energy about the future. 

Then when you ask students to share what they came up with, you’ll instantly know how to make entrepreneurship relevant: yours is the class where they’ll get to learn about their curiosities, and allay their fears.
Launch class by focusing on students fears and curiosities

This exercise will help you discover your students’ fears and curiosities – which will likely revolve around making money and finding a job they like after they graduate. While it may not be your natural inclination to help solve those problems for your students during an entrepreneurship course, those topics are the key to fully engaging your customers (i.e. students), because those are the problems they care about most.

Students start by jotting down fears that come to mind when they think of life after graduation. You might ask a few students to share, to help create a safe environment where students can be vulnerable.

Students next jot down what they are most curious about when they think of life after college. For this part of the exercise, using a think-pair-share structure will help students connect. As students begin sharing the curiosities they identified in pairs, use a (digital) whiteboard to identify categories that are consistent across the entire class. You will likely end up with categories related to employment, financial, and social concerns.

Your goal here is to show your students how the material and skills they will learn and practice in your course map onto the things they are currently curious about.

You want to rephrase and connect their curiosities to demonstrate you’ve heard your students well and understand them. For example, “It sounds like you’re curious how to find a job you’ll like, you’re good at, and can make enough money at. Does that sound right?”

This is a critical part of this lesson, you’re asking for your students’ buy-in. The better job you do listening to your students’ curiosities and incorporating them into your description of how you’ll resolve them, the more engaged your students will be throughout the course.

Thank your students for any input to clarify, and tell them that their curiosities align well with your objectives for the course. Tell your students how your course is designed to teach them exactly what they’re most curious about:

Tell them if they are curious about finding a job they’ll like, they will test out several jobs in this class, such as:

    • Sales
    • Marketing
    • Product Design
    • Finance
    • Graphic/web design
    • Being your own boss/CEO

If your students are curious about what it takes to get a good job, you can tell them the vast majority of people get their job based on personal recommendations from someone in their network, and that in this class, they’ll learn the skills they need to grow their network, so they can find better job opportunities.

To maximize student buy-in, this exercise allows you to frame the course for your students in a way that will fulfill their curiosities.

Your Course in Students’ Context

Return next class session with the fear and curiosity categories mapped onto the content/lessons/modules/skills you cover in the course. For instance, if you lay out each week in your syllabus with the topics you will cover, add one column for “Fears” and one for “Curiosities”. List in each column the fear and curiosity categories to which each particular topic relates.

This last step is the most critical. It is your chance to reinforce the connection between the course material and the things your students are currently thinking about. Show them how you will give them the tools to address each one of their fears, and each one of their curiosities.

Students Now Have the Context to Launch

After this activity, your students will understand the value of what they are about to learn. They will be more engaged because the learning is now very real for them.

Click here for the complete lesson plan of the Student Fears and Curiosities exercise.


Want 30+ Lessons Like These?

If you are looking for a fully structured, experiential entrepreneurship curriculum, with a semester’s worth of lesson plans that students love, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Check out ExEC.


#2: High-Functioning Teams on Day 1

Your students will work in teams, but they’re not looking forward to it. Helping them form functional teams will increase both their motivation throughout your course. 

The Skills Scavenger Hunt is not only a fun way for students to get to meet one another, it’ll help them discover who in the class can help them build a diverse team with aligned goals.

Launch class with a skills scavenger hunt to create high-performance teams

During this quick exercise, students go on a scavenger hunt to find other students with complementary skills in the following categories:

  1. Graphics
  2. Technology
  3. Social Media
  4. Design
  5. Sales
  6. Marketing

Students progress through each section, checking any boxes for skills they possess so they find students with complementary skills. Split students into groups, in which students go through each box, and if they possess that skill they share, in 30 seconds or less, details about how/why they achieved that experience.

As this process evolves, each student writes down names and quick notes about any students who possess skills they don’t possess. We suggest shuffling groups at least 1 or 2 more times, to allow students to learn about as many of their classmates as possible.

After the class session, students should post in a discussion board on your LMS what skills they possess and a quick sentence about that particular skill. Students with gaps in their worksheet can identify other students to fill those gaps on this discussion board.

As students meet each other and learn more about their classmates, they set themselves up to execute better, and conflict less, by successfully assembling their own high-performing teams.

Click here for the complete Skills Scavenger Hunt exercise!

#1: Uncover Their Passions

Students who come into our classes passionate about entrepreneurship are easy to engage. 

How do we engage students who aren’t passionate about launching a company? Help them discover what they are passionate about…and help them launch that!

Launch class with the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

The Pilot Your Purpose exercise help students explore areas that motivate them:

  1. Interests that spark their curiosity
  2. Skills they want to develop
  3. People they want to impact

The combination of these three elements defines a purpose for your students – a personal mission statement that taps into their passions to help others.

Once students have a purpose, you can ground each class session in that purpose. You don’t have to talk abstractly about difficult or stressful topics like customer interviewing or entrepreneurial finance. Instead, your class becomes an opportunity for students to pursue their purpose!

Your class becomes an opportunity for students to pursue their purpose!

Interests + Skills = Passion

The easiest on-ramp to identifying passion is interests. Students 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

The next step is identifying skills students think about. Similar to interests, students do this by thinking 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

To identify their passion, students:

  1. Look back at their interests sheet and jot down what excites them
  2. Look back at their skills sheet and jot down what they are interested in getting better at
  3. Think of ways to combine interests and skills

Pilot Your Purpose: Passion

Passion + Impact = Purpose

With a passion identified, students now turn to the impact they want to have on the world. To do that, students think about:

  1. Groups of people they’re excited to help
  2. Problems in their community they’re interested in solving
  3. Global problems they’re interested in solving

Students are now ready to identify their purpose:

  1. Look back at their Passion sheet and jot down what stands out
  2. Look back at their Impact sheet and jot down what stands out
  3. Think of ways to combine passion and impact (which is their purpose)

Pilot Your Purpose: Purpose

When your students identify a specific purpose, they can weave it throughout the rest of the course, as they are developing their entrepreneurial mindset and skill set.

As you begin each module of your course, students will stay motivated as they see the direct application of the particular material to their purpose!

Get your copy of the Pilot Your Purpose Worksheet here!


Want 30+ Lessons Like These?

If you are looking for a fully structured, experiential entrepreneurship curriculum, with a semester’s worth of lesson plans that students love, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Check out ExEC.


What’s Next?

In an upcoming post, we’ll share a new exercise for helping to normalize failure so students fear it less.

Subscribe here to get our next exercise in your inbox.

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

2020 Top Free Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans & Tools

2020 Top Free Entrepreneurship Lesson Plans & Tools

“Your posts help me keep my students engaged – they and I thank you!” – ExEC Professor

Based on the popularity of our 2019 Top 5 Lesson Plans article, here is the list of our 2020 top entrepreneurship lesson plans based on feedback from our fast-growing community of thousands of entrepreneurship instructors.

We designed the following exercises and lesson plans to transform your students’ experience as they learn how to stay engaged online, interview customers, and form teams.

5. Gamify Your Lectures

We all struggled during this year of online learning to keep our students engaged. One surefire way to inject excitement into your class is to gamify your lectures. In this lesson, we explain how to use our favorite gamification tools (Slido and Kahoot!) to minimize Zoom zombie syndrome in your students.

These tools allow you to convert concepts you need to cover into questions your students explore one at a time. With this formative assessment approach, you discover what your students already know and what they need help with. Additionally, this approach activates passive students and invites students to teach each other.

Be careful using gamification; don’t overdo it. This gamification technique is great, but if you use it too often its benefits will wear off. Instead, mix this approach up with a number of experiential exercises (like those in the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum).

View Directions to Gamify Your Class with Slido and Kahoot!

4. Skills Scavenger Hunt

Students in high-performance teams learn better and perform better. But how do we move students beyond forming teams with friends and teammates? Students matched on aligned goals and diverse skills give them their best chance at boosting their learning capability.

We developed our Skills Scavenger Hunt to facilitate that process and thus mitigate the biggest drawbacks of student team projects. In this exercise, students go on a scavenger hunt to find other students with complementary skills.

skills scavenger hunt online ice breaker team building animation

With this unique exercise, students form high-performing teams by going on a scavenger hunt to find other students with complementary skills in the following categories:

  1. Graphics
  2. Technology
  3. Social Media
  4. Design
  5. Sales
  6. Marketing

If your students are in teams that are dysfunctional, or just sleepy, their learning can come to a screeching halt as they disengage. Empower them to successfully assemble their own high-performing teams so they execute better and conflict less.

View The Skills Scavenger Hunt Exercise

3. Steve Blank Discusses How to Teach Entrepreneurship

At the USASBE 2020 annual conference, we had the privilege of interviewing entrepreneurship education guru Steve Blank. In the first of two posts, he shared his perspective on how to teach entrepreneurship. Steve Blank Talking about How to Teach Entrepreneurship

In a post loaded with great advice for any novice or expert entrepreneurship educator, Steve opened up about his many decades of experience as an entrepreneur, educator, and mentor. Read the full post for a wealth of invaluable information, but the quick takeaways are:

  1. Educators need a mentor. Effective entrepreneurship educators need expertise in the domains of education and entrepreneurship. Steve advises us to find a mentor in the domain in which we lack experience and expertise.
  2. Educators should train entrepreneurs like artists. Steve encourages us to forget about teaching answers, and instead design learning experiences so students can practice skill-building.
  3. Students learn skills by practicing them. Steve encourages us to learn to design effective learning experiences, as those are the best way to teach our students skills.

Read An Overview of the 1st Half of Our Interview Here

(and Read the 2nd Half Here)

2. 10 Free Tools to Increase Student Engagement

During the TeachingEntrepreneurship.org Virtual Conference, we presented 10 tools to increase online student engagement. Learn about these free quiz, video, digital whiteboard, and presentation tools like Gimkit, Note.ly, Mural, and Loom.

You can sprinkle these tools throughout your entrepreneurship syllabus, or stack them like building blocks, to create a deeper face-to-face or online student engagement. Below is a video recap of the conference presentation.

We consistently experiment with a wide variety of tools to help our community of entrepreneurship educators provide engaging experiences for their students. For this post, we curated the 10 tools we feel provide the greatest chance of deeply engaging learning experiences for your students, whether you’re teaching face-to-face or online.

View 10 Free Tools to Increase Student Engagement

1. Lottery Ticket Dilemma

We urge our faculty to focus students on their customers’ emotional needs, which leads to more valuable customer interviews. During this exercise, students discover how important emotions are in the decision-making process and the importance of understanding and fulfilling other people’s emotional needs.

If your students focus more on their products than their customers’ problems, this lesson plan is for you! In this exercise, students learn:

  • Why the majority of startups end in failure, & how to avoid those failures
  • That customer decisions are driven by their emotions
  • To create products customers want to buy we need to understand the emotional journey they want to take

View Lottery Ticket Dilemma Lesson Plan
In addition to our community thinking this is a powerful experience in the classroom, this exercise also won first place in the Excellence in Entrepreneurial Exercises Awards at the USASBE 2020 Annual Conference!

Entrepreneurship Education

Want 15 Weeks of Lesson Plans?

If you are looking for a fully structured, experiential entrepreneurship curriculum, with a semester’s worth of lesson plans that students love, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

We’ve done the work for you.

Motivated Students in 3 Steps

Motivated Students in 3 Steps

We all want to teach motivated students, but this is a particularly challenging time for them:

  • Classes are virtual. You and I are experiencing Zoom fatigue, but imagine being a student and being asked to sit through hours of lectures each week.
  • Experiential learning is scary. Getting out of the classroom, engaging with strangers, sharing rough experiments with the world – these can all cause students significant anxiety.
  • “I’m not an entrepreneur.” Some students may just be filling credits. Others may have a misconception about what it means to be an entrepreneur.

We’ve found the key to keeping students motivated is to…

Help Students Discover Their Intrinsic Motivators

How do you guide students to their intrinsic motivators? Focus on the intersection of three elements:

  1. The skills they have and want to develop further.
  2. Their interests that spark their curiosity.
  3. Where they want to make an impact in the world.

Get Motivated Students with the Pilot Your Purpose Exercise

Purpose lies at the intersection of these three elements. If you guide your students through the exercise below early in the semester, they spend the semester working on their purpose.

Students pursuing their purpose = motivated students.

If you did not see us present this exercise at our Summer Summit, we will be presenting it again at the 2021 USASBE Annual Conference on January 5

Pilot Your Purpose = Motivated Students

Once students have a purpose, you can ground each class session in that purpose. You don’t have to talk abstractly about difficult or stressful topics like customer interviewing or entrepreneurial finance. Instead, talk with students about how to interview customers for the idea they are most passionate about pursuing, or how to finance their passion project.

Your class becomes an opportunity for students to pursue their purpose!

Interests + Skills = Passion

The easiest on-ramp to identifying passion is interests. Have students 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

I talk to my friends and colleagues, who say I’m always talking about mentoring programs, curriculum, and big town & gown ideas. I think about what I would do if money was no object, and some things I thought about are building mentoring programs, adopting old dogs, and teaching entrepreneurship to prisoners (I’ve never engaged with prisoners, but think teaching them entrepreneurship would be deeply meaningful). I then think back to the last time I lost a couple of hours staring on my phone, and it was watching others teach Adobe Illustrator.

I now see my interests mapped out, according to what my friends say, what I dream about, and what holds my attention.

Step 1 of Pilot Your Purpose Exercise is identifying interests The next step is identifying skills students think about. Similar to interests, students do this by thinking 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

I again talk to my friends, who say I am good at being coaching teachers, giving honest feedback, and at being sarcastic. I think about things I do that I want to be better at. I love, for instance, trying to create engaging content on social media, but know I have a lot to learn! Last, I think hard about what I am really good at, and land on creating curriculum, presenting, coaching/mentoring and connecting others.

I now see my skills mapped out, according to what my friends say, areas I want to improve, and what I’m already good at.

Step 2 of Pilot Your Purpose Exercise is identifying skills

Here is the exercise to motivate your students!

To download the full Pilot Your Purpose exercise enter your email below!


Want More Engaged Students?

Check out the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum.

Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum Logo

Whether you’re teaching online, face-to-face, or a hybrid of the two, we built our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) to provide award-winning engagement and excitement for your students

  • in any course structure
  • on all major learning management system

Preview ExEC Now
 

We’ve taken the guesswork out of creating an engaging approach that works both online or in-person. ExEC has a comprehensive entrepreneurship syllabus template complete with 15 weeks of award-winning lesson plans that can be easily adapted to your needs.