We wrapped up the third and final day of virtual Minnesota Business Venture (eMBV) today! Students started off the morning with a keynote address from Roz Tsai, the Vice President of Talent, Learning, and Org Effectiveness at Thrivent. Tsai inspired students as she spoke about her journey of developing and emerging as a leader. She urged students to reflect on the higher purpose of their companies: to help the greater good. As an immigrant from Tianjin, China, Tsai shared that her abilities to collaborate with others and work in a team helped her succeed, both when she came to the United States for graduate school, and also as she took on several leadership positions throughout her career. “We know great leaders bring out the best in other people,” Tsai affirmed. “When you create a team, you want everyone to bring different perspectives… it’s really important for you as a leader to create an environment that’s safe… in order for others to bring their ideas forward to the team.” Tsai finished by reminding students that “the size of your impact is not defined by age,” and that anyone, especially young people, have the ability to make a difference.
After some time for company meetings, students dispersed into soft skills breakout sessions. In these sessions, students were educated about topics like emotional intelligence, public speaking, interpersonal skills, communication, and conflict management. Students had the opportunity to ask questions of representatives from UnitedHealth Group, General Mills Foundation, Daniel Shannon Speaks!, and Leadership Delta. It was exciting to learn more about the various soft skills, which are an important part of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Next, we took a break to participate in a long-time camp tradition: the Oreo Challenge! In the Oreo Challenge, competitors raced to move an Oreo cookie from their forehead to their mouth without using their hands. After witnessing eMBV emcee Akshay and Company P CEO Arian compete in this challenge, students had the opportunity to try it themselves. Many students found that the Oreo Challenge is a lot harder than it looks!
The students gathered again to hear from the next keynote speaker, Jesse Ross from Mr. Jesse Ross, LLC. Ross encouraged students to figure out their “special set of skills” and utilize it to make a difference in the world. His message revolved around what he called “The Five C’s: Coachable, Connected, Communication, Committed, Consistent”. According to Ross, these attributes are necessary in order to solve problems and create a profound and lasting impact. Ross reminded students that, while the journey to success is not easy, those who push past challenges and learn from their mistakes will reach their goals. “There’s always more you can learn,” Ross concluded. “Be coachable. You have to figure out how to take direction, and you have to figure out how to listen.”
Students met with their companies one more time to finalize their business plans. Each company is creating a short video explaining their product and their ideas, which will be judged by “investors” later this week. We are so excited to view all of the final presentations!
Later, we were fortunate to have a celebrity call-in from Tony Sanneh, a former professional soccer player and the CEO and founder of The Sanneh Foundation. Students had the opportunity to ask Sanneh questions about his athletic career, as well as his work with The Sanneh Foundation. Sanneh shared that the mission of his foundation is to serve youth from low-income families and communities of color. He urged students to “give 100 percent, and try to make the most of it, and also try to make others around you enjoy themselves”, advice that pertains to all aspects of life.
Students dispersed one more time into Q&A sessions with personal finance professionals. Hosted by representatives of several companies, these sessions allowed students the time to ask questions about credit, banking, money management, and other financial topics.
We were honored to end the day with a final celebrity call-in from Mayor Melvin Carter of St. Paul! Mr. Carter spoke about some of his responsibilities as a mayor, as well as the city’s response to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the recent murder of George Floyd. After admitting that working as a mayor is challenging, Carter revealed the most rewarding part of his job: “I have always believed in the spirit of people… there has not been a day, as the mayor, when the spirit of the city let me down.” Carter responded to several questions from students, and then finished by urging all young people to take part in improving society. “We can’t change the world without young people,” Carter reminded us.
What a great way to wrap up the first session of virtual Minnesota Business Venture. In the next few days, students will receive further information and feedback about their final business plan presentations. We loved eMBV this week and are grateful for the opportunity to participate virtually. It has been a truly incredible experience. Thank you so much for your support! We hope to see you all next year.