Online Marketing by an Undergraduate

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Back to Basics: Wildbloom Style

Yesterday, my mentor Cliff Holekamp shook me up.

I have been working to start my Wildbloom chapter as quickly as possible. Talk to local businesses I thought, then get clients, then take on projects. I sat in Cliff’s office and listened to his metaphorical smackdown of my Wildbloom priorities.

Legally, how are you going to organize your chapter? What is your relationship with the Wildbloom Foundation? What are your responsibilities and liabilities to them? How many people do you have on your team? Eleven! That’s too many, too much risk sharing of the equity. “Equity?” I said, “I’ve never thought about equity.” Cliff shot back, “Well you freakin’ should.” (conversation not word for word)

Here I am trying to start a business, and I don’t have a foundation under me yet. I am going back to the beginning with my chapter and trying to learn who will commit and who will flake. I want to know who will be the key players and who will play a supporting role. I am excited about this challenge but a little scared I will screw up.

Through this process, I am thankful to have people like Cliff in my life to give me honest feedback. That’s the best advice, even when it hurts.

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A Back to Basics Summer

I am a math major lacking mastery of basic skills like mental math and algebra. This is how I feel and the reason I am going to spend part of my summer mastering this basic math.

I chose these two facets of mathematics for a specific reason. Mental math because I am an aspiring consultant and I will need to do calculations on the spot in my fall interviews (no calculators allowed). I will practice with books dedicated to improving mental calculation speed and I will review them when I am done, maybe someone is looking to improve the same skill.

Additionally, I want to relearn algebra to strengthen my foundation for my probability class in the fall, a goal I will accomplish by enrolling in the Kumon program. If I get over the embarrassment of working with high schoolers, I think the practice will be effective.

Is there anything in your life that you feel you have had much exposure to, but have glossed over the fundamentals? Could this be a problem with education in general? Too much thrown at us and not enough time spent mastering anything?

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What’s in a Meeting?

Last night, my Wildbloom Group had our second meeting. The experience was painful.

I prepared the weekly agenda to focus our discussion on essential topics, but my efforts were fruitless. We talked about points of tangential importance to the establishment of our chapter and essential short term needs received passing mention. I watched my teammates fidget while their eyes glazed over.

However, the meeting has presented an opportunity for improvement. I realize that our meetings lack a formal structure and a way to capture good ideas to save for later. I want to investigate how to make meetings more effective.

What formal structures have you found successful? How do you retain good ideas but stay on task?

My experience yesterday also provoked the question, what is the purpose of a meeting? I believe a meeting provides a forum for updates and discussing previous research, but is not the place for idea exploration. What are your thoughts about meetings?

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My Ideal Wildbloom Chapter Website

Imagine not a web-SITE, but a web-DESTINATION (Sure I borrowed from Scott Ginsberg, but I think his stuff is great). Imagine a place where students at my school, in the local community, in the Midwest…how about around the nation can travel to experience Wildbloom at WashU. This destination is my dream.

It will include only the essential; a student will find no widgets or cluttered toolbars here. He will experience the awe-inspiring feeling I felt my first time at Leo Burnett’s homepage (www.leoburnett.com – just go, you’ll understand). Unlike the visual mastery of Leo Burnett, I want to highlight our humanity. The business development director recounting his nervousness in his first client meeting, the internal development director sharing the pain felt dismissing a member, the executive director recounting the story of averting a public relations crisis; these experiences of my teammates will draw students curious about the business world. Additionally, we’ll publish everything, including our case studies of our client work, for free. My attitude: let aspiring students learn from our mistakes and successes.

More than generating traffic or unique visitors, I want to convert visitors into fans of Wildbloom WashU. I want them to visit eager for a fresh post, to thank us for what they learned, to tell all their friends about us, and to call us and say “you guys are great!”

Readers, what else makes for an awesome web destination? What are some of your favorite destinations? Why? I’m excited about making my dreams a reality, and I want to know about your experiences.

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Questions I thought about when I held a 2 by 4 against a wall for 3 hours

Next weekend, the Greek community at my school will host the annual ThurtenE carnival for charity. My fraternity, Theta Xi, and my sorority partner take part by performing a musical inside a self-built façade complete with stage and seating. Last night, we raised our façade walls, a feat requiring fifty people. This post recounts the experience of wall raising and the questions it generated.

Except for the leaders responsible for the safety of the wall raisers, the event is mundane. With my two by four pressed firmly against a facade wall, I stand in place with twelve other people–about six on either side–for several hours while our construction leaders transform four walls into one façade. Although the job requires at least fifty people, there are enough people on my fraternity sorority team where one can say, “someone else will do it.” The façade looks beautiful when finished, but construction leaders struggle to persuade people to participate in this tedium.

While I stood at my wall I was thinking, how do leaders (in general) persuade their team to perform the mundane to accomplish something awesome? Why does one person help while another quits? My experience tells me the emotional connection between the leader and team member determines in large part the decision of the team member, but it is a topic I want to explore in greater depth.

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Welcome

A few hours ago I started reading “Stick Yourself OUT There” by Scott Ginsberg. As often happens when I hear something inspiring, I get excited and try to act. So today, I start my blog.

Full disclosure, I met Scott Wednesday morning because I am starting a chapter of the Wildbloom Foundation (the chapter is a student run business group, but more on that later) at my school. I was invited to speak with five businessman for ten minutes about my group at my school’s entrepreneurial center.

I am starting this blog to share my experience founding something that is quickly becoming very important to me, but in the end I want to write about what I want to write about. I think this blog is an opportunity to discover who I am and am not, and what I like and dislike. These posts, like me, are not finished products. Feel free to comment.

To close, here is a little little about me.

  • I am nervous around new people, and animated around my friends.
  • I am a romantic. I flew to Italy to see my boo on Valentine’s Day.
  • I like business. I love learning about it, but not in class, schoolwork has a way of dulling my enthusiasm.
  • I like reading books and playing team sports. I wish I did more of both.
  • I like dancing.
  • I like yoga. I used to take two Advil every night to sleep because of the pain in my neck. Today I take zero.

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