Successful entrepreneurs must be able to think on their feet and pivot at a moment’s notice.
But how do you train those skills in a classroom?
In answer to that question, Prof. Mike Nesheim has developed a new course at The Master’s University — Entrepreneurial Marketing. Nesheim, who brings more than 25 years of business experience to his role as director of TMU’s entrepreneurial studies program, is training students to respond on the fly to real-world situations in what’s effectively a boardroom bootcamp.
Seven times during the semester, students enter class equipped with nothing but paper notes and a pen. The day’s moderator — often a TMU professor or start-up business owner — then presents the class with a thought-provoking topic or crisis scenario for them to collaboratively solve.
According to students, the ensuing dialogue is challenging, chaotic, and authentic to the environment of a real business meeting. The students’ end goal is to come to a decision or present a recommendation to the moderator by the end of class. After every training session, Nesheim debriefs students on what they did right, and where they went wrong. At the conclusion of the semester, their final test is to demonstrate the skills they’ve developed in a one-on-one meeting with Nesheim.
The course’s structure is totally nontraditional and exactly what Nesheim wants. “The premise of the class,” he said, “is to take students who have been trained to think linearly and get them instead to think spatially.
“It’s just fascinating to me how you give the students an actual problem to try and solve, where it’s not just a simple textbook answer, and they will gird up under it. But it sometimes takes them a little while to realize they can do that.”
Past moderators have included Dr. Tai-Danae Bradley, director of The Math3ma Institute and research mathematician for startup SandboxAQ, and Dr. Grant Horner, director of TMU’s classical liberal arts program.
Nesheim said, “It’s that collaborative effort amongst departments that, from an academic standpoint, is so unique — multiple disciplines learning how to think and be together, and the common thread being Christ.”
Learn more about TMU’s hands-on entrepreneurship program at masters.edu/entrepreneurship.
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