A Different Kind of Relationship Building for February 14th

By Natalie Hansen

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and your time is probably spent thinking about what to do for that special someone. If you’re single, maybe you’re more focused on taking the day for yourself. Regardless of your love life status, as a business student you should take this time to reflect on a different type of relationship – the kind that sets you up for success.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “it’s all about who you know” more times than you’d like to remember. Cliché or not, it’s true – your education and work ethic are your solid (and necessary) foundation, but your network is how you eventually land that dream job, according to LinkedIn. Take this Valentine’s Day to implement the top five ways the CSU College of Business has developed to strengthen your network and lay the groundwork for your future:

1) Send “thank you” cards to professors, supervisors and other professionals who have helped you grow.

Networking expands your support system.

You’ve hopefully been able to use your college career to build relationships and find mentors whomyou admire. It’s not only about who you know – it’s also about who THEY know. Professors you’ve connected with, bosses who taught you valuable skills, and professionals you’ve met through classes and recruitment events all know numerous other people who may be your ticket to a great job. These are also the folks you want on your side when it comes time to ask for letters of recommendation. Choose a few who’ve made a great impact on you, and send a thank you card letting them know how they’ve helped you. Try for a hand-written note instead of an email. They’ll remember you and be willing to put in a good word for you when you need it.

2) Learn how to use LinkedIn to your advantage and update your profile.

LinkedIn is a necessity in your social media repertoire. Even when you have a steady job, maintaining your LinkedIn page can connect you with numerous other professionals. Those leaders you sent thank you cards to? Make sure you’ve added them on LinkedIn, and ask for a recommendation on your page. Use the site’s tools to upload examples of your work to your profile. Undercover Recruiter recommends staying active in groups and discussions, having a professional (no bathroom pictures, no pictures with pets) photo, and personalizing your URL.

3) Bring treats to work on Friday and show appreciation to co-workers.

Valentine’s Day is a source of major sales for the candy industry – Business Insider notes that Americans will spend over a billion dollars on sugar and chocolate this week. Use the excuse to indulge and bring treats to share with your co-workers. Co-workers can often be valuable references when applying for jobs. When they have a successful career, they’ll be able to connect you to valuable resources. Show your co-workers how much you appreciate them and make an impression by bringing in cookies, candy or baked goods (bonus points if they’re homemade).

4) Take care of yourself.

Taking time to de-stress is important; it can help make sure you’re in top form for your classes, internship, job and networking events. If you’ve been wanting to splurge on a massage, now is a great time. The Student Recreation Center has some affordable options. You can also treat yourself to weekend excursion out of town, extra time at the gym, your favorite dessert or even just some alone time with a good book. Whatever it is, carve out some time to relax.

5) Learn how to talk to recruiters on Thursday, Feb.13.

Students and recruiters mingle at the 2014 Spring Job and Internship Expo.

Knowing how to present yourself to recruiters and potential employers can be intimidating. You only get one chance at a first impression. Understanding how to put your best foot forward is important. The College of Business Career Management Center is offering some tips this Thursday, Feb. 13th. Learn how to talk to the companies and recruiters that visit campus at the Bohemian Auditorium in Rockwell Hall West from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

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As business students, the relationships you have in your network can make all the difference in your career. During this holiday for relationships, make time this week for your professional connections. What networking tips and tricks have you discovered?

Sweet Servuction: Discovering the Business Behind a Corn Maze

By Ali Fisher

Halloween is a time filled with costumes, candy, and corn mazes. The Dean’s Student Leadership Council decided that visiting a local maze would be a fun first outing to work on team building and to have a little fall fun.

As we approached the line for the corn maze, we noticed a sign, “Corn Maze – Your Future Business.” Until that Saturday, the idea of owning a corn maze had never crossed my mind; however, when accompanied by a group of business students and a wait time of nearly 45 minutes, the conversation quickly went in that direction. Here’s what we determined after reflecting on our experience:

Your experience as a corn maze customer is a result of four components, known as the Servuction Model.

SModel

Other customers. By separating customers into smaller groups, it exposes consumers to two things —emotional behavior and bottlenecks. Before explaining that this buildup of people creates unnecessary time constraints, let’s examine the three types of emotional behavior exhibited from customers at corn mazes:

  • Emotional Involvement: These consumers are invested in the experience, actively engaging to prolong activity, and enjoying suspenseful areas throughout the maze.
  • Emotional Expressiveness: These are consumers who might scream, yell, or maybe even laugh outwardly to perceived scary and suspenseful events. Other consumers in this category may regret spending money on such childish activity and express regret in superficial emotion.
  • Emotional Intelligence: These consumers might as well give you a tour of the maze. They know when and where a service personnel is going to jump out and attempt to scare you. They can easily control their ability to be scared, but may take the fun out of the experience.

cornBottlenecks. Have you ever gotten stuck behind a group of slow individuals just when you were starting to figure out the right path? These are the bottlenecks. And this buildup of people is bound to impact your experience, according to the Servuction Model. They slow your experience right when you are on the edge of your triumphant finish. Is that the dilemma of the owner of the maze, or is it your problem? The company might want to consider making wider paths, admitting fewer people into the maze at once, increasing acreage and therefore expanding the maze, or reviewing the maze patterns to filter consumers in different areas using service personnel as key influencers.

Servicescape. This refers to the environment designed for the service. It includes two features — ambient conditions and physical evidence.

  • Ambient Conditions: Includes features such as the lighting, temperature, smells, sights, music, etc., by providing fog lights, ghost music, and increasing the specific aromas such as apple cider, the servicescape adds to the service experience of the consumer.
  • Physical Evidence: Encompasses features like signs, symbols, and artifacts. Objects such as the ticket booth, the website, and the design on the tickets need to clearly convey and enhance the maze operations; otherwise, discrepancies between the message provided and the message received may be a result of the servicescape.

Servicescape varies between corn mazes, but overall the components should seek to clearly align with the mission of the corn maze. Use this as an opportunity to set consumer expectations from the very beginning.

Service Personnel. This is what keeps people coming back and spreads positive word of mouth for a corn maze. If employees are not in character and do not scare customers, then they do not effectively accomplish the service paid for by consumers. Do they live by the mission of the organization? Do they live up to the level of fear one could expect when experiencing the maze? Service personnel not only interact with the consumers, but serve as an important source for product differentiation.

Organization and Systems. The rules, regulations, and processes implemented behind the scenes determine whether or not consumers will have a positive experience. This includes the proficiency of finances and how they are managed, whether or not human resource areas are controlled, the level of organization in the company’s systems, and performance standards that are in place. These components are not visible to the consumer, though they have a significant effect on consumers’ service experience.

With these four concepts in mind, consumers form perceptions regarding their corn maze experience. Are they satisfied, based on their expectations coming into the corn maze? As an owner, if you create a positive service experience,influential word of mouth, and buzz marketing campaigns, you can increase revenue as a result of increased customers.

Through this experience, I learned that business principles can be applied to everything – even corn mazes. With the right team and the right tools, any venture can be a successful one.

Special thanks to Marketing Professor, Doug Hoffman, for showing us all the power of servuction.

Happy Halloween, Business Rams!

Benjamin Franklin gets a Face Lift

By: Annie Burnham

Despite the partial shutdown of the federal government, the Federal Reserve still released its new $100 bills Tuesday, Oct. 8. Armored trucks delivered the bills to banks, and customers began seeing the bills by that afternoon. The Federal Reserve printed 3.5 billion new notes.

According to the Federal Reserve, these bills have been 10 years in the making. The complexity of the bills has created many setbacks, which is why it has taken so long to produce them. In 2010, a billion of the first printed bills had unwanted creases. Later, in preparation for releasing the bills in 2011, they had to halt the release due to smearing ink on the bills. They are now confident the problems have been solved.

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1996 $100 bill redesign
Wiki Commons

This is the first redesign of the $100 bill since March 1996. According to Slate.com, in 1996, the bills new features included “an oversized, off-center portrait of Benjamin Franklin, a ghostly watermark of that same portrait, hard-to-duplicate fine-line printing in the background, and optically variable ink in the bottom-right corner that shifted color from green to black.”

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2013 Redesign of $100 bill
Wiki Commons

This is the final part of a large plan, called “The New Color of Money”, by the Federal Reserve to redesign all the bills in order to better protect from counterfeiters. The first bill redesigned was the $20 in 2003. Benjamin Franklin will still be the face of $100, Independence Hall will still be on the back of the bill, and there’s a new feature that makes the Liberty Bell disappear when tilted. There is also a bright blue security ribbon interwoven with the paper of the bill.

“The 3-D security ribbon is magic. It is made up of hundreds of thousands of micro-lenses in each note,” said Larry Felix, the director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, in an article on CBS news. “This is the most complex note the United States has ever produced.”

The complexity of the security ribbon has been added in an effort to prevent counterfeit production of the bill. The $100 bill is currently the most counterfeited bill outside of the U.S. due to the bill’s large circulation overseas. North Korea has the highest number of counterfeiting cases due to the highly impoverished population. Because of the large number of sanctions on North Korea, there is a high demand for solid currency.

“North Korean forging prowess is so advanced that U.S. law enforcement officials have dubbed the fake, “nearly perfect” $100 bills “supernotes.” According to a 2009 Congressional Research Service report, at least $45 million in supernotes of North Korean origin have been detected in circulation, and Pyongyang may earn between $15 million and $25 million a year from counterfeiting,” said one article in the Christian Science Monitor. “According to the Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo, one North Korean embassy in Eastern Europe generated US$30 million by exchanging counterfeit notes a year.”

In light of the new security features, the new bills will still retain the signature of former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Once the current supply has been put into circulation, current Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew’s signature will appear on the bills.

Sonja Danburg, program manager for U.S. currency education at the Federal Reserve said that half to two-thirds of the existing $100 bills are in circulation outside the U.S. One U.S. News article said that “Federal Reserve economist Ruth Judson estimated that up to 70.7 percent of all $100 bills are abroad.”

There are currently $900 billion worth of $100 bills in circulation that will slowly be phased out over the next couple years as they grow worn and torn. To learn more about the new features of the bill and hear a message from the Federal Reserve about the bill’s new design, visit www.newmoney.gov. Colorado should expect to see the bills by the end of this week – keep an eye out for them and post your pictures below!

Internships: More than Copy Machines and Coffee Makers

By Courtney Grogan

The cool, fall breeze signals the beginning of football season for many people. For me, it means continuing the internship of a lifetime. This will be my second season working with the Denver Broncos.

CourtneylinkedinAt the end of my sophomore year, I was browsing CareerRam for a summer internship. I thought it seemed too good to be true when “Denver Broncos Marketing and Promotions” appeared on my screen. After submitting my resume, I soon forgot about the job, thinking that it would be a complete long shot. After a couple of months, I received an email asking if I was still interested, and would I like to set up a phone interview for the job. I wondered if anyone would say no to that. That afternoon, I had a phone interview with the Promotions and Marketing Coordinator and nervously waited for a response for over a week. After a long finals week awaiting a phone call from the Broncos, I finally received an email asking me to be part of the marketing and promotions team.

The 2012-2013 season was a legendary one for the Broncos. It was Peyton Manning’s first season with the team, taking them all the way to the playoffs. Many said that the team was Super Bowl bound; the only team standing in the way was the Baltimore Ravens. It was -10 degrees on the field during that game, but everyone was so excited at the prospect of advancing in the playoffs that they didn’t mind. The game did not go as eager fans had hoped. The devastating loss to the Ravens that night was one of the top five worst days of my life. Seeing the team and staff work so hard all year, only to have it end so suddenly, was difficult to experience. We all left the stadium in silence and hoped that the following season would be better.  The experience showed me what it is like to work for an organization where everyone is completely invested in its success. The same principle can be applied to any company, sports related or not.

So far, the 2013-2014 season has been shaping up to be another big year for the Broncos. I was chosen to do the Coca-Cola Coin Toss at each game, which involves escorting a special guest as well as an alumni player out on to the field for the coin toss. Staying professional and keeping my composure is a huge part of my internship.

Terrell Davis signing an autograph for a fan

Terrell Davis signing an autograph for a fan

A lot of people ask me if I get player autographs and pictures, but I think the best part is being able to see behind the scenes and talk to players as people and not celebrities. Meeting and escorting Broncos legend Terrell Davis during the NFL season opener versus the Ravens was a huge moment. The Broncos won the game and gave the organization the redemption it had been craving for eight months.

The College of Business Job & Internship Expo is this Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 18 and 19.  I encourage you all to go out and talk to companies that you might not usually consider. Internships can be more than making copies and getting coffee for the office. Your personal interests can lead you to a rewarding internship that makes you look forward to going to work each day.

The Sweetest Comeback Ever

By: Annie Burnham and Natalie Hansen

The beloved Hostess Twinkie is back. Two empty boxes later … We’ve got the skinny on the new baby cake.

Annie: Last Wednesday, Natalie and I (Annie) went on an adventure in search of a box of Twinkies. What started out as a simple trip to Walmart turned into a desperate search for just one box of Twinkies. And we did it for you, College of Business students.

On Monday, July 15, Hostess Brand LLC, now owned by Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co, returned Twinkies to store shelves. As we looked around Walmart, we couldn’t even find a Hostess display. What kind of welcome back party was this for the beloved Hostess delights?

Finally on a tiny shelf at the front of the store, we found the Hostess products  . . .  and no Twinkies.

A Walmart employee, noticing our distress, came up to us and said, “All of the Walmarts in town are sold out of Twinkies. We’re waiting for another shipment.”

All of the sudden, this wasn’t a simple work assignment – this was a quest to find a box of Twinkies. Were we going to find any Twinkies in this town?

Our second attempt to find Twinkies was at a King Soopers — another disappointing stop. We were informed that the store was also sold out, having just taken down a large Hostess display that had been emptied by Twinkie-lovers of Fort Collins.

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Our last stop was the Safeway on Mulberry Street. We walked quickly toward the bakery, hoping that there would be Twinkies around the corner. Our excitement when we spotted the Hostess table was a measure above ridiculous. We were tempted to load our arms full of boxes and carry them over to the cashier, like pirates who had finally found their buried treasure. We felt a bit like Tallahassee did at the end of Zombieland, when he at long last got his hands on one of the crème cakes.


Instead, we got two boxes so everyone in the office could partake of the “new” Twinkies.

Upon our return we were greeted with cheers and open palms . . . Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration. But our pilgrimage around town to find a box of Twinkies was entertaining to tell.

Now for the moment of truth: the Twinkie taste test.

Natalie: The consensus around the office was that these new, improved Twinkies tasted like … Twinkies. I only ate one Twinkie (three) for the novelty factor, and I don’t feel like I ever need to eat a Twinkie again.  Not surprisingly, most of us also felt like we’d swallowed a brick after consuming two or three of them. Though the little cakes still taste like you remember (and still bring the sugar headache and crash you remember), we observed some changes.

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Upon opening a new box of Twinkies, you may notice a few differences. Namely, the yellow sponge cakes are a bit smaller. A recent CNN Money article by Chris Isidore states that the weight of a 10 pack of Twinkies is now 13.58 ounces, down from 15 ounces. This also means that the treats now have fewer calories.  Isidore notes that a Hostess spokesperson has stated that the weight was actually changed by November 1st of last year (right before production halted on November 16th), so this isn’t a new development.

What is new, however, is that Twinkies are now one step closer to making the urban legend about them lasting forever true. Hostess has changed up the recipe, and the cakes now last 45 days, as opposed to the old 26. Candace Choi at USA Today mentions that Hostess is also offering to freeze their products before shipment, so that retailers may stamp on their own expiration dates.

Some changes that Hostess has made have not been well received. According to another CNN Money piece, only a portion of the 18,500 positions that were lost when Hostess went bankrupt last year will be returning – just about 20 to 25 percent. While Hostess used to employ their own truck drivers, distribution will now be outsourced to independent trucking firms. Only 1,800 workers will be used in each factory to produce the Hostess products, where 2,500 were used before. This has left many with questions on the new management’s decisions.

However, it’s apparent from our excursion to find a single box of Twinkies that Hostess products are flying off the shelves. The public has missed their Twinkies. For now, the “Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever” campaign seems to be working. Disappearing from the market for a while may have been just the boost that the decades-old brand needed; the “new brand” uses the exact same packaging and style.

Not all of the Old Hostess products are available yet; according to Hostess’ website, we will have wait a little longer to get back SnoBalls and Zingers. Time will tell if Hostess’ downsizing will be outweighed by a marketing campaign rooted in nostalgia, and if the brand as the whole will be able to remain in the market for years to come.

Follow-up on JC Penney: Will their mea culpa commercial work?

By Annie Burnham

Last month, I posted a blog on the firing of former JC Penney CEO, Ron Johnson, due to his failure to turn around the company’s plummeting sales. Johnson created problems by pushing away loyal customers and ignoring their needs. JC Penney has existed for 111 years and has a large customer base. Johnson treated JC Penney customers like he treated Apple’s customers, despite the differences between the companies and their customers. The failure to recognize those differences coupled with the sudden and vast number of changes helped lead to Johnsons failures as CEO.

Mike Ullman, the old JC Penney CEO reinstated as interim leader, wasted no time in sending out a plea to former JC Penney shoppers. The struggling retailer released a 30–second commercial asking customers for forgiveness:

It’s no secret. Recently, JC Penney changed. Some changes you liked, and some you didn’t. But what matters with mistakes is what we learn. We learned a very simple thing: to listen to you. To hear what you need to make your life more beautiful. Come back to JC Penney. We heard you. Now, we’d love to see you.” The spot ends with the full JC Penney name, and the lines “Come back to see us” and “We’re listening on Facebook.”

While the commercial has garnered some attention for JC Penney, experts have differing opinions about what its outcome might be. Daniel Gross, writer for The Daily Beast, said that the firing of a CEO in such a short amount of time is an emerging trend. The speed at which changes in technology, social media, the market, and investing take place contributes to shorter tenures for CEOs.

“Over the past five years, an average of nearly 1,300 CEOs have resigned, retired, or been fired each year,” said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, a Chicago-based executive coaching firm. “Patient money is nonexistent in the age of immediacy in which we live. JC Penney provides a case study of what happens when impatient money meets a turnaround that is likely to take time.”

Some critics say that there is no hope for JC Penney. According to Douglas A. McIntyre, a writer for the blog 24/7 Wall St, “JC Penney would not only have to reach millions of them with its new message. It also would have to compel these consumers to come back to an experience they abandoned because they did not like it.”

Whether customers return or not doesn’t seem to have deterred Goldman Sachs from approving a $1.75 billion loan for JC Penney this past week. One problem JC Penney now faces with the broadcast of this commercial is to live up to what it has promised. Gaining back its consumers and developing brand loyalty isn’t going to happen just because of an apology in the form of a 30- second TV commercial. Shoppers need to see changes that they like. So, what does the future hold for retailers —particularly JC Penney? Only time will tell.

How have you responded to JC Penney’s recent changes? Is the apology enough to bring customers back? Be sure to leave comments below.

The AP Twitter Hack: Technological glitches and their effects on business

By Annie Burnham

There is now no question about the effect that social media has on business. This week the US saw firsthand that Twitter can create chaos for the economy. Tuesday, around 1 p.m. EST, the Associated Press Twitter account was hacked and sent out a tweet that said, “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” The tweet remained up for almost three minutes and was retweeted more than 1850 times.

Drop in the DOW in Tuesday Image Credit: CNN Money

Drop in the DOW in Tuesday
Image Credit: CNN Money

The Syrian Electronic Army, the group claiming responsibility for the @AP hack, is also suspected of hacking @60minutes and @CBSDenver. We have heard more and more about Twitter accounts being hacked and causing mayhem in the last few months. What long-term impacts will this have on business use of the social media site?

These most recent hacks bring to light several questions. The first one is why hasn’t Twitter found a way to beef up security for Twitter accounts – especially of prominent organizations in society? One must also ask what potential threats do fake tweets pose for the economy? We saw the DOW drop 144 points in seconds, all based on a fake tweet!

One article from The Telegraph in the UK commented on the fact that this issue isn’t with the account getting hacked so much as it is about humanity as a whole relying too much on technology. The computers that run the stock exchange move so fast that stock brokers cannot possibly keep up with the constantly changing pace. Another major concern is that if something is online, it can be hacked. In 2010, during the “flash crash,” a rogue algorithm wiped one trillion dollars from the stock shares.

With the constant developments in social media, companies are going to have to be more careful with monitoring their accounts. This occurrence on Tuesday has left businesses wondering if the business world has become too dependent on social media.

Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication and of computer and information science at Cornell University, says the AP Twitter hack is the latest evidence that social media has grown up.

Wall Street Stock Exchange Image Credit: US Defense Department

Wall Street Stock Exchange
Image Credit: US Defense Department

USA Today interviewed Hancock about the drop in the market this week after the Twitter hack. “Our trust of social media has reached new levels. It’s amazing that things like social media have gone from something the ‘kids do’ to affecting how the market operates,” said Hancock. “This response also highlights that humans have a built in [sic] truth bias to believe what others say. Although there is a lot of suspicion about the Internet in general, the truth bias is alive and well with social media.”

Ben Hilzer on the Business of Theater and the Theatrics of Business

by Tim Pate

As you may have gleaned from this blog, I’m quite proud of the College of Business, from which I am earning a minor in business administration. However, I am also delighted to be a part of the College of Liberal Arts, where I am earning my degree in Journalism and Technical Communication. Both Colleges have incredible academic programs, and they each host activities and events that enhance the college experience for their students.

Ben Hilzer
Image credit: Ben Hilzer

Enter Ben Hilzer, a junior accounting and finance student in the College of Business, who lives at the intersection of these two colleges. In addition to being a fervent business student, Hilzer is also a self-proclaimed thespian and played the character “Jake” in Colorado State University’s production of “Evil Dead: The Musical.” I saw the R-rated show on opening night and laughed myself to tears. Hilzer’s character is a tobacco-spittin’ hillbilly with surprisingly good singing abilities, and he was one of the highlights of the show.

Hilzer’s Twitter feed is an eclectic combination of his thoughts on business, theater, sports, and music. He displays such enthusiasm for these areas of his life; I knew his perspective would be an interesting one for this blog. So, I caught up with Hilzer a couple days ago to talk about his unique dedication to business and the arts. Here is our exchange:

TP: What has being in Evil Dead taught you about business, and vice versa?

BH: Being in “Evil Dead: The Musical,” as well as theater in general, has shown me the distinct overlap between business and theater. Most notably, the importance of your personal brand. In business, we try to develop our personal brand for job interviews and career building; similarly in theater, your personal brand is crucial for auditions and development for your acting career.

TP: Tell me a little about what you do to build your personal brand. 

BH: To build my personal brand I like to keep a strong online presence, most notably with Twitter and LinkedIn. I comment on finance and business aspects while also staying true to my arts/entertainment passion; I like to stay up to date with news. I also attend networking events CSU and the COB put on so I can constantly promote my personal brand: a passionate, always growing student.

TP: How do you balance the two things you are pursuing?

BH: I balance the two things by allocating my time during the day to my studies and the rest to theater. There is also never a bad time in between classes to memorize lines or learn a song. Acting and performing is such an amazing escape but still remains practical in business.

TP: Can you tell us a little about the audition process and how it compares to a job interview? 

BH: The audition process begins with a monologue in front of directors for every show for the semester. The directors then call you back specifically for their show to see where you can fit (for Evil Dead, we had to perform a song as well). After that, the directors post a cast list and rehearsals begin. The audition process relates to a job interview in the regard that both are trying to prove to someone why you will fit in and benefit their team (or show).  Whether that is with outstanding leadership in business or your characterization and ability to take direction in acting, both have the sole purpose of showing someone you can benefit them.

TP: What was your favorite part about performing in Evil Dead?

Image credit: Colorado State University

BH: My favorite part about performing in Evil Dead was playing such a zany character and being a part of such an amazing production. The special effects, props, projections, sounds, lights, they’re all amazing and something I have never seen before. It truly is an amazing show to watch and be a part of.

TP: What do you want to do when you graduate? 

BH: When I graduate, I would like to be associated with the arts/entertainment in some way.  I am studying accounting and finance, so integrating the two would be ideal; however, I am all about opportunities.

Hilzer is also a vocalist and pianist for the band Three Plus Me, which plays in various locations around Fort Collins, as well as a member of the Dean’s Student Leadership Council in the College of Business (as though he wasn’t already involved enough).

This weekend marks the final showings of “Evil Dead: The Musical,” and I highly recommend that you attend (unless you don’t do well with blood, that is). The production starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the University Center for the Arts. Tickets are available online.

Be bold – sit in the “splash zone,” and watch what a business student can do on the stage.

Ron Johnson’s Mistake: The Importance of Market Research

By Annie Burnham

On Monday, April 8, JC Penney fired its CEO, Ron Johnson, and rehired previous CEO, Mike Ullman. Johnson was hired in an effort to improve the corporation’s profits after the 2008 recession; unfortunately, Johnson tried to make too many changes too quickly. Now, with 700 stores in the middle of a costly remodel, the (once again) new CEO Ullman has his work cut out for him.

The news that JC Penney was letting go of Ron Johnson came as no surprise to many. According to one source, the industry had started taking bets on when he would be ousted. “His Q4 2012 was probably the worst quarterly performance ever in the history of major retail,” wrote Business Insider, Jim Edwards.

“One of the big mistakes was perhaps too much change too quickly without adequate testing on what the impact would be,” Ackman said at a Reuters conference last week.

Mark Ellwood, a retail expert and author of the upcoming book “Bargain Fever”, compared Johnson to Marie Antoinette. “He always seemed slightly embarrassed that he was dealing in middle market product,” Ellwood said. “His attitude when he gave a rare interview was very much along the lines of ‘let me tell them what’s good for them,’ rather than ‘tell me what you want as a customer and let me see how I can achieve that.”

Business 2 Community stated that market research should underpin everything your business does, something the College of Business prides itself on. The research skills that are taught in the classroom compliment the outstanding work done for organizations by our faculty and graduates.

If Johnson had used the same types of research techniques and strategies that CSU COB students are taught, he would have been able to make better-informed decisions. Johnson may have avoided financial loss and disdain for his leadership by testing the market to see if the idea works with JC Penney’s consumer base.

Johnson created one of his problems by pushing away loyal customers and ignoring their needs. JC Penney has been around for 111 years and has a large customer base. Johnson treated JC Penney customers like he treated Apple’s customers, despite the differences between the companies and their customers. The failure to recognize those differences coupled with the sudden and vast number of changes helped lead to Johnsons failures as CEO.

Had Johnson spent more time getting to know the customer base, testing his plan to remodel stores, and not doing away with the coupon sales that drove much of JC Penney’s revenue, he might still be CEO of JC Penney, slowly transforming another retailer into a Wall Street superpower. Let this be a lesson to you readers – doing your homework pays off in the long run.