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Got a minute?
That’s enough time to convince people they need to hear more, says Jay Janney, associate professor of management and marketing and founder of UD’s Business Plan Competition, now in its eighth year.
“The goal of a pitch is to entice people to listen further, not to get a final commitment,” he explains. “For an entrepreneur, that means getting an appointment to pitch the full plan.”
Janney, the Robert and Patrica Kern Family Foundation Faculty Fellow for Engineering and Entrepreneurship, has coached hundreds of students in UD’s elevator speech competition — named because the spiel can be shared in the time it takes to ride three floors in an elevator. He says it’s the component students usually dread.
“It’s a good life experience for students, but they hate getting up to give pitches. After they do it once or twice, though, they begin to enjoy it, and they get it. We founded the Business Plan Competition to give students an experience they don’t get in class,” he says.
Here’s how to knock your own pitch out of the park:
1. Be an attention-getter. “A good opening, or ‘hook,’ resonates with the listener and leads to the problem statement, which ought to make your audience nod and say, ‘Yeah, that needs a solution,’” Janney says.
2. Say (or play) it again. Janney teaches this technique: Give your pitch, then visualize the sort of good news you’d want to call home and tell your parents about. “I ask them how that feels and how they’d say it. Then, repeat the pitch. It changes. They are more enthused, more natural.” Or, follow the lead of Aaron Pugh ’13, who won first place in this year’s contest. “I recorded myself giving the speech, then listened to it on my iPod. When I went to sleep, I left it playing.”
3. Know it’s not all business. An elevator speech isn’t just for entrepreneurs, Janney points out. “When I networked campus, I found many departments have a pitch; they’re just called different things: an audition, a tryout, an interview,” he says. “The worst thing you can do when selling yourself is ramble, or be unsure or appear to waste someone’s time. Someone who is focused, relaxed and sincere stands out.”
4. Make ‘em laugh. Pugh is energetic and funny — and he wanted his pitch for Hot Seat, a portable, heated stadium chair with a USB hub, to reflect that personality. “I like to joke around, so I incorporated that into my pitch; it made it feel more natural. My tagline was, ‘Don’t let frost bite your buns.’ It was clever — and I figured, nobody else is going to be talking about your butt, so it’s memorable.”
5. Remember your audience. “What you need doesn’t matter to anyone else besides you; your pitch has to appeal to the person you’re talking to,” says Pugh, who has developed a prototype — and attracted some investors — for Hot Seat. “You only have 60 seconds; make sure you’re emphasizing the benefit to them.”
When Erin O’Connell ’14 sits down at her family’s holiday table each year, she expects a side of laughter with her cheesy potatoes. They will tease each other about who got to fill their plate first (the O’Connells line up by height, shortest in front) and continue poking fun at the couple who mailed frozen meat to an aunt in advance of the party — but forgot to tell her, so it thawed on her front stoop.
“Sitting down together over a meal is crucial to our relationships with each other, and to food,” says O’Connell, a senior dietetics major and president of the Student Dietetics Association. She notes that coming together at the table is central to the Marianist tradition.
As psychology professor Jack Bauer points out, “People need rituals. We are hard-wired to be part of groups, especially family, and in a time when our society is so complex — people are living all over and are busy — we need to have a set place where it all comes together, even just once a year.”
Meals also offer time for reflection. “You don’t need to have long, in-depth conversations about the meaning of life. Just by talking about the things that you’re doing, that you’re interested in, you’re talking about what’s important to you. You’re checking in with each other, and maybe finding ways to help each other,” says Bauer, who serves as Roesch Chair in the Social Sciences.
1. The family that cooks together, stays together. Or, at least stays happier. “Cooking as a group takes the pressure off one person to prepare the whole meal and be stuck in the kitchen,” O’Connell says. Also, plan ahead. If hosting a potluck, coordinate dishes so there’s adequate oven space, or ask guests to bring cold dishes, like a salad or fruit tray.
2. Think big (but serve small). In Brian Wansink’s book Mindless Eating, he notes that when food is placed in a smaller serving bowl with smaller serving utensils, people will take and eat less. “It’s a mental thing. You think you are eating the same as you would from a bigger bowl, but you actually serve yourself less and are still satisfied,” O’Connell explains. Aim to fill your table with a quarter protein, half vegetables and fruit, and a quarter grains.
3. Eat first, play later. No, you don’t have to give up grandma’s triple-layer pecan pie. But eating lean protein and vegetables before arriving can help you make clearer choices. “You’ll eat less because you’ll be full faster,” O’Connell says. Then, get moving: run a 5K together, throw a Frisbee around the yard or turn on some tunes and dance. “My family always plays flag football the day after Thanksgiving,” O’Connell says. “We enjoy working together as a team, but it also helps people feel relaxed and happy since physical activity produces endorphins.” She recommends scheduling your fun between dinner and dessert; it allows your cells to use those nutrients before you ingest more sugar.
4. Keep the fun (not the food poisoning) going. One memory no one wants: an illness epidemic. “Don’t let the food sit out for more than 90 minutes,” O’Connell says. “Not only does this follow recommended food safety guidelines, it also keeps you from eating more.” Another idea: Leftovers can make great one-dish entrees the next day, with little effort. O’Connell suggests turkey noodle soup, gnocchi using mashed potatoes, or a casserole. “Combine the rest of your vegetables, turkey and stuffing, add a cream soup, and put it in the oven.”
5. What guests don’t know won’t hurt them. One final tip: “If you alter recipes to reduce the fat and sugar, keep it a secret,” O’Connell advises. “Not everyone is ready to make those changes.”
Surrounding yourself with children isn’t the only way to stay young at heart — acting like a kid can have benefits, too, says Shauna Adams ’79, associate professor and executive director of the University of Dayton’s Bombeck Family Learning Center.
“One of the reasons children are so vibrant and interactive is that they inspire each other. As adults, we often look for ‘the’ answer, and once we find what we think it is, we don’t go any further,” says Adams.
Joy Comingore, curriculum and field specialist at the Bombeck Center, cites author Rachael Carson, who says that for children to keep the sense of awe and wonder they’re born with, they need the companionship of at least one adult who hasn’t lost his or her own sense of fascination with the world. Adams notes that there is a correlation between creativity and innovative thinking in young children and their achievement later in life.
“For every dollar spent in early learning, between $7 and $16 is saved later in terms of fewer jail cells, less special education and intervention, lower high school dropout rates and more potential to collect tax dollars from successful citizens,” Adams explains.
Want to get your creative juices flowing? Try these tips.
1. Put down the to-do list. “Children are present in the moment. They notice what is happening around them rather than concentrating on what is coming up next or re- hashing what they just experienced,” Comingore says. “We miss the common, everyday experiences that can enhance our lives: the young rabbit in the front yard; the funny-looking cloud; the smiles on the faces of others, especially when we have smiled first.”
2. See the potential. Remember when a towel was a superhero cape, a row of kitchen chairs be- came a train car and a stick was a mag- ic wand? Reignite that imagination. “Innovation can be about physical play and items that you have in front of you, but it’s also a mindset, a communication style, a problem-solving style,” Adams says. For example, when Bombeck Center teachers led their preschoolers through an investigation of earthworms last summer, they asked themselves what other connections the lesson could hold. Since earthworms self-generate electricity as they move through the earth, the group moved on to study friction and
3. Do the hokey pokey. When Comingore sees students’ eyes glaze over during class, she has them get up, walk around, swing their arms and touch their elbow to the op- posite knee. Teacher and educational consultant Ann Anzalone ’90 points out that movement helps build the brain. “Crossing the midline of our body activates the brain and gets different areas of it working,” she says. “Children naturally get these movements in as they run and play. As adults, we have to be more intentional about incorporating brain-integrating movement each day.”
4. Don’t play the villain. Approach relationships in a non-threatening way, and they’ll be more fruitful. “Fear, threats and too much pressure increase cortisol levels and close down the learning receptors in both children and adults,” Adams says, adding that collaboration and flexibility are precursors to innovation.
5. Be silly. Start any brainstorming session with the mindset that there is no stupid idea. “Often, brainstorming is done ruthlessly, with specific rules about what it should look like,” Adams says. “But the absurd ideas have value because those are the ones that allow you to see things in a new light and find a unique solution.”
Hear more from Adams about the power of play in this 90-second Lecture.
When MBA grad Philippe Dubost ’07 launched his search for a new career with a unique online résumé, he hoped it would
lead to new opportunities. What he didn’t expect were the resulting job offers: all 100 of them.
“After two years with the startup company I cofounded, I decided to look for a new venture — but the idea of applying for jobs was killing me,” said the Paris-based Web entrepreneur. “I wanted to make something different.”
A mirror image of an Amazon.com product page, Dubost crafted the résumé in just two days and included it as a link with other application materials. On a whim, he shared it with a popular French blog; within five days, the résumé had gone viral, thanks to a post on social media news site Mashable.com.
One person unsurprised by his approach is Janice Glynn, director of the University’s MBA program. An exchange student from France’s Toulouse Business School, Dubost after graduation worked with Procter & Gamble Canada through a Cincinnati contracting company, then moved to San Diego for a software development job. It’s rare for international students to be hired by U.S. companies, Glynn explained, due to visa restrictions.
“He made an impression as soon as he arrived on campus as a very talented and charismatic individual,” she said.
Jason Eckert, director of UD’s career services, agreed. “From a professional standpoint, Philippe did so many ‘right’ things during his search. He’s a communicator, and this profile makes it easy for employers to find him, learn more and then reach out,” he said. “It’s also a quick, fun read. Job seekers need to acknowledge that employers don’t spend much time reviewing documents, so using clear headings and short bullet points is perfect.”
1. Imitation is more than flattery — it can get results. “Everyone loves shopping at Amazon.com and is familiar with the site and its layout,” Eckert said, noting that building on that understanding showcased Dubost’s creative potential. “It drew a lot of positive attention to his skills and background.”
2. You’re gonna need more server space. A sudden influx of visitors, from about 500 a day to more than 200,000, tested the limits of Dubost’s server capacity. He also had to upgrade his online form-builder account after the number of “contact me” submissions exceeded the cap for free service.
3. Empty your calendar. Dubost found himself responding to more than 1,000 emails from fans, reporters and, most important, interested companies. “I’ve done my best to satisfy them all — it’s fun,” he said.
4. Expect the reunion requests. Social media helped propel Dubost’s profile from an interesting experiment to a lauded self-promotional campaign, and his former acquaintances took notice. Glynn noted that Dubost is adept at using online networking to stay in touch, periodically sending emails to the MBA program or posting updates on LinkedIn. “If he came back to campus to speak to current students, I wouldn’t have to suggest a topic; I know he’d want to talk about putting your passion into practice,” she said.
5. Polish your decision-making skills. Ultimately, Dubost’s pitch served its purpose, garnering him the job offer he’d been waiting for. He joined Birchbox, a discovery commerce platform with offices in the U.S. and Europe, at its Paris location this summer. “They’re a fantastic company with super smart people, an awesome culture, tremendous growth, and I couldn’t be happier about joining them.” Dubost is considering writing an e-book chronicling his short, but successful, hunt.
Watch out, Charlie Chaplin — the researchers in the School of Engineering’s Wellness and Safety Lab have put you, and your ubiquitous banana peel, on notice. With more than 2.3 million Americans heading to the emergency room each year for fall-related injuries, they are identifying ways to prevent falls, assess fall risk and mitigate related injuries.
“We’re humanists at heart — and that’s the beauty of engineering,” said assistant professor Kim Bigelow, the lab’s director. “The field is so broad, you can easily find a connection between the science and your passion. For me, it was finding ways to help people and improve their quality of life.”
You won’t find any slapstick shenanigans here: She and her team of student research assistants — including three National Science Foundation fellows — keep an even keel with the study of balance, a key factor in fall prevention.
1. Be active. “You don’t have to run a marathon. Make an extra lap around the grocery store, go outside and garden, take a ballroom dancing class. Just get moving,” Bigelow says. Tight-rope walking lessons optional.
2. Stay out of the medicine cabinet. Taking more than four medications — including vitamins and over-the-counter drugs — increases the chance of interactions and side effects, both of which can cause dizziness, explains graduate student Senia Smoot (who is researching how common physical therapies used to treat autistic children affect their balance). Have your doctor or pharmacist review all your medications; they can determine if interactions are likely or suggest alternatives.
3. Keep an eye out. Balance is heavily dependent on your sight and peripheral perception, so schedule regular exams and address abnormalities, like cataracts or blurred sight, as soon as possible.
4. Get new kicks. Thin-soled shoes without extra padding allow you the most sensation when touching the ground, which increases your balance. Using caution when transitioning between surfaces, such as carpet to tile, also matters, says graduate student Renee Beach, whose research focuses on novel compliant flooring, which is designed to absorb up to 50 percent of your energy in a fall. “I want to know if the material actually causes people to fall more often, or if it performs like a normal floor that then lessens injuries if a fall occurs.”
5. Reach out and touch something. Even placing a single fingertip (called a “light touch”) on a nearby surface, such as a table, wall or cane, can stabilize you. And watch out for peeled fruit — just in case.
David Bradley ’71 helped invent IBM’s first personal computer, but his claim to fame is the invention of the three-key shortcut to restart a computer — control-alt-delete. It’s made him a keyboard rock star in the computer world, where he’s befriended fellow computer whizzes like Bill Gates and regularly signs autographs. He offers tips on achieving technological fame.
1. Give it your all, all the time While working on the System/23 Datamaster, IBM approached him to help develop the PC. “You never know when the best opportunity is going to come along, so always make sure you’re doing your best.”
2. Take shortcuts Bradley was fed up with restarting the personal computer every time it malfunctioned, and so control-alt-delete was born. “It took all of about nine steps and five to 10 minutes to code.” Initially meant for programmers, the keystroke caught on with the public.
3. Bring a Sharpie Bradley prefers Sharpies — both black and silver — for autographing computer keyboards for his fans. “A guy from IBM has me sign 10 of them at a time that they give away as prizes during patent contests.” Students also request his autograph.
4. Spread your knowledge In the last 30 years, Bradley has taught at Florida Atlantic University and North Carolina State University, and his daughter, Sara Higgins, is carrying on the Bradley legacy as an electrical engineer at IBM.
5. Reward yourself Bradley took an early retirement from IBM in 2006 and has been traveling the world with his wife since, but play was always a priority. “I would take three to four weeks off for trips every year. I like to think I struck a reasonable balance between work and family.”
If laughter is the best medicine, the members of the University’s improv team On The Fly are the best doctors around. Founded in 2006, this student-run comedy troupe performs improvisational theater based on audience suggestions and sketch comedy written by the cast. As any member will tell you, there’s a lot of truth in comedy. Here are some tips on living life on the lighter side.
1. Stop trying “Life is improv,” says Paul Azzi ’12. “I have no idea what is going to come. … I just roll with the punches.” Adds Michael Winn ’12, “Wait for something to happen. Just react.”
2. Make music Even in improv, a little forethought is necessary. “When you rhyme a word you have to think ahead to the next couplet,” Wil Morris ’13 says. But it doesn’t have to be perfect. “Just put a word out there and babble until you rhyme it,” Paul Azzi says.
3. Have back-up On The Fly is all about team cohesion. Foremost, they like to make one another laugh. And occasionally, they share their comedy with an audience. “We’re people before we’re performers,” Winn says. If someone flops on stage, another member comes to the rescue. “Everyone exerts their own expertise because no one is an expert.”
4. Figure out what you want “We’re all attention hogs,” Morris says. “We want attention from the audience and we love getting it.”
5. Be yourself “Everyone thinks I’m a dweeb,” Paul Azzi admits. The team members consider themselves more playful and weird than funny, but Winn says, “The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more free you are.”
Art education graduate Roy “Bud” Davis ’65 usually gets one of two reactions to his work: stunned silence or curious delight.
As owner/operator of Bert & Bud’s Vintage Coffins (vintagecoffins.com) in Murray, Ky., he builds fine, one-of-a-kind coffins to order, 10 or so in a good year. Nearly all of his orders are “pre-need,” to use an industry term, so he is able to chat with clients about their preferences. His tips for the last piece of furniture you’ll ever use:
1. Beauty first “Your coffin really ought to be a work of art,” he says. He draws on nearly 50 years as an artist to make each coffin a handcrafted, original piece.
2. Make it personal One client, a retired truck driver, dresses year-round as Santa Claus. Davis delivered a coffin perfect for him, decorated with reindeer, snowflakes and a bag full of toys.
3. Creativity counts A PBS show commissioned a steamboat-style coffin for writer Roy Blount Jr. to narrate from while floating down the Mississippi River. Maxim magazine ordered one shaped like a giant beer bottle for a national contest.
4. So does simple elegance One of his most popular coffin styles is the classic, six-sided toe-pincher. Sometimes called a “Dracula coffin,” it’s available as a plain pine box, an elegantly varnished and upholstered model, or anything in between. Many clients consider it a welcome alternative to the “gaudy things that the funeral homes push,” he says.
5. And maybe even utility Customers have asked for removable shelves to use his coffins as temporary bookshelves and even a liquor cabinet, as well as blanket chests and coffee tables (one client calls hers “an end table”).
6. Accept it with cheer A sense of humor is “part of our business plan. It makes it easier for people to approach the topic.” But families might not always accept the more extreme designs, he cautions. “The person who bought it might want to be buried in it, but the wife and kids might say, ‘Let’s get a real one.’”
Recruitment materials might call it Roesch Library, but for students on campus, it’s become #clubroesch. In Twitter terms, the # “hashtag” sign marks the word as a keyword, both a searchable term and a bit of commentary.
Roesch Library’s own Twitter account, @roeschlibrary, has become a breakout star on campus for its light tone and responsiveness. It’s run by Katy Kelly, communications and outreach librarian, who offers her tips for managing a must-follow Twitter account:
1. Have a personality (even if you’re not a person) Twitter is a place for conversation, not streams of announcements. Even when you’re tweeting for an entity, like a library, a personal voice matters.
2. Lighten up Students are funny in their tweets about #clubroesch (see right), so why shouldn’t the library be, too? “I respond trying to be pop-culture savvy,” she says.
3. Show you’re listening “This is like our comment box, but everyone can see the comments. I like that,” Kelly says, adding that reading complaints is a good thing. Even if she can’t help, she responds to show someone’s listening.
4. Act on what you hear Roesch has revised policies based, in part, on chatter from tweets. Wi-Fi capacity has been expanded and even food policies loosened. Yes, you can now order in a pizza. “What better way to start a long night of studying?” Kelly says.
5. Track Kelly keeps a spreadsheet of Roesch-relevant tweets to spot trends in how students use the library. That helps the library serve them better which, after all, is the goal.
Some of Kelly’s favorite student tweets, positive and negative:
Does anyone have some mittens or a kitten I can borrow to combat the arctic temperatures of @roeschlibrary? #ClubRoesch #meow #FrigidPanda
TestFIN301+Test3ECO204 + QuizACC208 + PresentationMGT221 + TestDSC211 = A very tired 20 year old… #clubroesch
goal: 4 hours in #clubroesch then make it to @TimothysBar before cover. ready. set. go.
looks like yet another week of closing @roeschlibrary every night. #cantwait
I wonder if the girl in #clubroesch realizes her headphones are not preventing anyone from hearing her music. Sing it, Beyoncé. #petpeeve
i’m slowly dying here as well, obvsss… if only #clubroesch was 24 hours i would move in
anyone in @roeschlibrary have a pen or pencil I could borrow, please? #soprepared
i should start making new friends at what i like to call the “gem” of the university #clubroesch #secondfloor #doublemonitors #everynight
Crystal Michelle knows how to get your heart going — through dance. Michelle, the liaison between Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and ArtStreet, is teaching UD students how to move their bodies in new, creative ways. DCDC is serving its second year as community artist in residence at UD.
Using DCDC artistic director Debbie Blunden-Diggs’ concepts of what dance is, Michelle has five easy ways to get your body moving, illustrated here by DCDC dancer Alexis Britford.
1. Make shapes with your body Think out of the box — literally. “You can use shapes as they exist in nature to inspire the architecture of your body,” she says.
2. Take up space Dancing can be stationary or “locomotor” (in other words, moving from point A to point B). Explore the different degrees of movement as you work it out in the room around you.
3. Experiment with tempo To really get going, play around with moving your body in rhythm with various types of music.
4. Break the rules Have fun and think creatively. “Don’t be afraid to be upside down or sideways. Use your entire body,” she says.
5. Learn the five levels of movement Now that you’ve got the beat, try lying down, sitting, kneeling, standing or jumping. Challenge yourself to layer these heights, making shapes to tempos and levels.