Before entering MSBA this summer, I had a feeling the best part of the program would be the impressive line-up of guest speakers. We are three weeks in and that premonition has come true. The diversity of perspectives we have been exposed to from Rob Simmelkjaer, Erik Martin, Jonathan Blue, Carlos Fleming, the guys at MSG, and others has been unbelievable. That access is simply something you can’t get anywhere else.
It may be cliché, but sometimes the best way to learn is to be a sponge and absorb everything around you. For me, so far, so good on that front. Last Monday, after a long day of research and meetings at Lagardère Unlimited, former CMO of Eastman Kodak Jeffrey Hayzlett came to the EHS Library to discuss all things business. We were all fortunate enough to receive a copy of Hayzlett’s latest book Running the Gauntlet. Hayzlett was as much a motivational speaker as a seasoned business professional.
It was impossible not to feel motivated after Hayzlett described the dizzying array of appearances, book signings, speeches, meetings, and consulting ventures his team schedules on a daily basis. Hayzlett has quite literally created a business empire solely around his self-dubbed moniker as a “Global Business Celebrity”. In many ways, Hayzlett is a living example of what tireless work, coupled with a strong vision, can achieve. The Hayzlett Group’s appearance at EHS hammered home the desire of the MSBA leadership team to offer a wide range of experiences to the students. Quite simply, MSBA does not pigeonhole the student experience into just sports business.
We gain insight from speakers that have experience in all areas of business, marketing, broadcasting, sports, social media, and entrepreneurship. That is what a “360 degree” experience refers to. After only 3 chapters of Hayzlett’s book, I have gained an entirely new perspective on business, leadership, and decision-making. The rumor is some people in the MSBA program even put 4 pages of notes from Running the Gauntlet in their “important things folder”. I cannot stress enough how candid Hayzlett, and almost all other speakers, are during our conversations.
The investment these accomplished professionals seem to have in our program has been one of the pleasant surprises of MSBA. On Wednesday night, Spira CEO Andy Krafsur, an old friend of Ben’s, came in to talk to MSBA about the challenges of entrepreneurship. Andy’s plight in the industry is unique because of the radical change he made in his career at a time when most wouldn’t have had the courage. After founding a successful law firm of 20 attorneys, Andy suddenly quit his law practice to start a shoe company utilizing revolutionary “WaveSpring” technology developed by his brother, David Krafsur. Andy did not sugar-coat the struggles of entrepreneurship. His stories about trying to break into an ultra-competitive footwear business dominated by powerhouse brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Asics illuminated just how difficult it is for a start-up to gain a loyal base of customers. Andy is well on his way, though, towards gaining 22 more loyal customers after providing the entire MSBA team with free Stinger XLT running shoes.
This Friday afternoon we took a little bit of a different approach to our Friday Field Trip. The MSBA team headed all the way down to Basketball City in Pier 36 to play ball with the High School of Sports Management. While this was technically supposed to be a mentor-mentee event, it just turned into a bunch of sports fans enjoying good times, laughs, and basketball. Even though we are supposed to be the mentors in this case, on the basketball court, the High School of Sports Management was able to teach MSBA a thing or two. After three weeks of constant work, internships, speakers, and networking, it was nice to finally be able to catch our collective breath. Looking back at the end of MSBA, I think our trips to Basketball City to unwind and link up with the High School of Sports Management will be up there among my favorite memories.