Susie Eckstein – Opus Magnum
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Susie Eckstein

Newsroom, OCB Commentary

Cultivating Creativity: Start by Un-learning

Has the phrase “why didn’t I think of that” crossed your lips when introduced to a new business, product or service? That’s what I think every time I see a Bite Squad car drive by, utilize online clinics, like Virtuwell, and use most of the apps on my phone.

Why didn’t we think of those things?

Most of us have encountered a problem that would be solved by any one of those ideas. New and innovative ideas are being put into practice from breakthrough medical devices to services that make our lives easier. How can we be more creative and be the person coming up with the good ideas? Continue Reading

Admissions, Admissions, EveningMBA, Newsroom

Hindsight is 20/20: 5 Things to Do While Completing a Graduate Degree

UST Photo by Mike Ekern.

UST Photo by Mike Ekern.

It’s back to school time, but for the first time since 2005 I am not going back to graduate school this fall. After completing the Evening UST MBA program in 2009, I continued taking classes through the business communication certificate program until I finished itthis spring. With eight years of classes under my belt, I feel like this is a good time to reflect on what I would do differently if I could hop in a time machine. If you are starting a graduate program this fall or thinking about it in the near future, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and have an ever better graduate degree experience than I did. (Although, mine was pretty great!)

  • Build your network. Social media provides a very easy way to keep connected with classmates.  Each semester, go through and add your classmates on Linked In. Make note of which class(es) you took with them in case it is helpful in the future. You never know when having a connection at xyz company or remembering the name of someone you were in class with will be helpful. Connecting with a classmate on Linked In, Twitter or Facebook is one thing. Actually getting to know them is another. Take the time to get to know some of your classmates well. Don’t just talk with them in class. Even though it is late, take the time to grab a drink after class. Set up a quick dinner or happy hour before class with friends you met in past semesters. If you are doing things right, the better you know others in the program, the more advocates you will have moving through your career. Continue Reading
Centers, leadership, Local business, Newsroom, real estate

Douglas Dayton (1924-2013) influenced retail real estate locally, nationally

“What is good for the community is good for business.” – Douglas Dayton

I’ve gotten to talk with some interesting people but Doug Dayton was one of my favorites. In part because he built two of my retail favorites; Target and Southdale. He was also good to work with while putting together information used to make this video  for the MN Real Estate Hall of Fame. Sad to hear this news of his passing this weekend.

Via Bring Me The News: The Strib’s Neal St. Anthony notes that Douglas Dayton was the youngest of five Dayton brothers who took over their father’s department store in the 1940s and built it into publicly held Dayton Hudson Corp, one of the nation’s largest regional department store chains.

This video, made for UST’s Shenehon Center Real Estate Hall of Fame, has a nice history of the Dayton brothers, as told by Douglas Dayton:

From the Dayton Brother’s Hall of Fame induction: Continue Reading

Entrepreneurship, Global Business, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

How are “Fun” Companies Created: Google

Photo Source:

Photo Source:

Remember when Netscape, Buena Vista and Excite were our options for internet searches and we had to dial up to get to the internet? Then, we were introduced to the Yahoo yodeler and heard from a talking dolphin in the 2002 Superbowl ad touting the fact he learned to talk using Yahoo. Yahoo grew through acquisition but much of that growth was in response to the more rapid growth of a company called Google.

While giving you the history of Google isn’t the focus of this post, I think it is important to know a few facts about the company in order to understand how it grew to be, in my opinion, a fun company. Here are a few historical highlights:

1995: Larry Page and Sergey Brin begin working on a search engine called BackRub which was housed on Stanford servers.

1997: It was decided that the name BackRub didn’t quite fit the vision of Page and Brin. Their brainstorming resulted in the name Google – a play on words using the term googol, a mathematical term used to described the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. (Perhaps googol also stands for the ultimate goal of Page and Brin in terms of identifying the value of their company.)

1998: Google files for incorporation in California  They also receive $100,000 in funding from Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim which they use to set up work space in a garage in Menlo Park. Page and Brin hire their first employee.

1999: Google moves from their garage office to Palo Alto with a total of eight employees. Yoshka, the company dog, regularly came to work with the senior vice president of operations. The first chef was hired – he previously catered for the Grateful Dead. Continue Reading

Global Business, Newsroom, OCB Commentary, Study Abroad

Observations from Across the Pond: UST London Business Semester Fall 2012


Undergraduate students in the Opus College of Business have the opportunity to study abroad during the fall semester on a UST sponsored study abroad trip called the London Business Semester. A group of about 50 students travel to London during their junior or senior year accompanied by two OCB faculty members each fall to not only learn a new perspective of business but also to learn a significant amount about themselves, methods of getting around in foreign countries and to quickly convert dollars to Pounds or Euros.

As a ’01 London Business Semester alumna myself, I was interested to hear about the trip this fall. Professor Dave Brennan was one of the faculty leads on the trip and provided some interesting observations of business in London:

  • London dominates England and the U.K. more than New York or any other city in the U.S. It is the largest metro area with a population of approximately 13 million or over 20% of the U.K. It dominates the country’s social, economic, political, athletic, entertainment and media environments. In comparison, the New York metro area has 18 million people, but is less than 6% of the U.S. population and is not the political capitol.
  • Retailing in London is different than the U.S. There are fewer malls and more high streets or fashion shopping streets. There are fewer department stores, but some exceptional ones like Harrod’s. Specialty stores dominate the landscape rather than big box stores. Grocery stores are smaller and often located near tube stations, bus stops or near densely populated areas.
  • American brands are limited in London. Some American companies buy local companies and keep their name while others intentionally name their product differently to sound more British. One standout product is Pringles. It is everywhere from supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations, theatres (plays), etc. They also have a wide variety of sizes and different flavors including some for Christmas with sweets and spices.
  • Food is purchased more frequently here. Why? Refrigerators are smaller, food lacks preservatives, and people prefer fresh. Organic is big – way ahead of the States. Eggs are free range, British and Irish beef touted (non-genetically modified feed or drugs as in the U.S.), and many more vegetarian options are offered in restaurants. Continue Reading
Entrepreneurship, leadership, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

Need a New Year’s Resolution? Run Better Meetings. Here are some tips.

Could meetings in your workplace be material for writers of The Office?  Do they jump from topic to topic with no real agenda, start to late and/or run too long, have no conclusions or decisions and encourage distracting side conversations? If so, what about setting an officewide New Year’s resolution to make some changes in 2013?

Whether you work for a small start-up or a multi-national corporation, here are some ideas to help get your resolution started:

  • “Every meeting should have a clear decision-maker, and if it doesn’t, the meeting shouldn’t happen.”
  • Set a clear agenda. Nearly every article I read to put together this list references setting an agenda. Doing so should help to keep everyone on track and assign responsibility for action items.
  • Leave meetings with clear next steps or action items.
  • Seriously consider who to invite to the meeting. Google suggests no more than 10 people at the meeting stating, “attending meetings isn’t a badge of honor.”  –
  • Encourage creativity and discourage negativity. “The answer is always ‘yes, and…’ and never ‘no, but…’ in a brainstorming meeting. Debbie Downer and Mr. No aren’t invited. NO has no place at the table. Ever.”  –Brad Lomenick, Catalyst
  • Question whether an email or voicemail would have the same effect as a meeting. If so, consider making use of those alternatives. Measure Meetings with Action
  • Consider stand-up meetings to encourage quick discussion. Robert Sutton, professor of management at Stanford School of Engineering and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss writes about his experience with stand-up meetings on his blog. One blog comment on his blog mentioned a solution to too much talking. When meetings would go long due to people who talked too long, a project manager brought in a large bowling ball. When speaking, the bowling ball had to be held.
  • Effective organizations constantly tweak processes to improve. Don’t be afraid to change your meeting culture, if it leads to more productivity. Continue Reading
Entrepreneurship, Environment, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

From Feeling Guilty to Finding a Way to Help: The Creation of Kiva

Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, the world’s first peer to peer micro lending website, joined the UST Symposium of Social Entrepreneurship to talk about creating an entrepreneurial life. Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty, one person at a time. Kiva’s loans are expected to reach $1 billion in 2012. Talking with current and aspiring social entrepreneurs at the symposium, Jackley shared the story of how her entrepreneurial life has unfolded.

Starting at a young age, Jackley was taught about the poor as people who needed a handout. Sunday school classes taught her that her job was to help them. Television and direct mailing taught her that there were children around the world who were sad and spent their time with their hands out. These images haunted her as she grew up. As a junior in high school, Jackley visited Haiti. She came back to the US just before her high school prom. The sharp contrast between the lives of those her age in Haiti compared to her own caused an emotional struggle. While she was spending money on a dress, transportation, flowers, dinner and an evening of dancing, those in Haiti were struggling to find something to eat.

Fast forward a few years and Jackley found herself a college graduate without a specific direction. She landed as a departmental assistant at Stanford where she was able to meet people like Muhammad Yunus, Bangladeshi banker, economist, Nobel peace prize recipient, and developer of the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. His influences and stories reshaped Jackley’s understanding of the poor. It wasn’t necessarily that these people were looking for a handout but rather they were stuck in the cycle of poverty. Many of these artisans were making goods but didn’t have access to good credit. Creditors would only borrow to them at 300% interest which meant they could sell their products but paid all of the profits back to these creditors.

Like most entrepreneurs, Jackley took a big risk. She quit her job and moved to East Africa. By gaining firsthand knowledge of the cycle of poverty, Jackley began seeing the poor as hard working, smart, strong entrepreneurs who simply did not have access to financing. Just a simple interest free loan of $20 could end this cycle. These people had something to offer not just empty hands held out. Those who, like Jackley, wanted to help could lend interest free to those who needed a loan to keep their business going. By making this connection, not only does Kiva help those who need assistance escaping the cycle of poverty, it is also helping those willing to lend to make a difference without making a handout.

Jackley learned a significant amount through the launch of Kiva. Although her words of wisdom were stated specifically for non-profits but they can easily be applied to for profit companies. Her top four suggestions include: Continue Reading

Entrepreneurship, Events, Local business, Newsroom, OCB Alumni, OCB Commentary

Entrepreneur’s Story: Megan Tamte Founder of Hot Mama

Every entrepreneur has their own story about the adventure they began when launching a new venture. Megan Tamte, co-founder and CEO of the Hot Mama retail chain shared her story with a full house of graduate business students and alumni at a recent Master’s Pub event. Hot Mama is a chain of clothing boutiques catering to contemporary, fashion-loving moms. Tamte co-founded Hot Mama in 2004 with her husband, Mike.

The idea for Hot Mama was inspired by a stressful shopping experience Tamte had shortly after the birth of her first child. The stores were too crowded for strollers, the sales associates did not understand what she was looking for and the overall experience emphasized the fact that her ability to shop had changed forever once she became a mother.

Tamte realized that there was a market need for a store that catered to moms. With that realization, a significant amount of planning, the courage to give it a try and friends and family who supported the concept, the first Hot Mama store was opened in Edina. Today there are 30 stores in 11 states with plans to have 50 stores by 2015.

When asked about words of wisdom, Tamte shared the following tips:

Feeling scared is a good thing. Continue Reading

Environment, Local business, Newsroom

Science Creating Business Opportunities in Minnesota: Cold Weather Grapes and Minnesota Vineyards

When brainstorming destinations known for vineyards, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Napa Valley and Sonoma usually top the list. Thanks to science, the Upper Mississippi River Valley may soon be top of mind when looking for good wine. According to the Minnesota Grape Growers Association, the Upper Mississippi River Valley is now the world’s largest American Viticultural Area (AVA). The region is 50 times larger than Bordeaux allowing for higher production. In 1997, there were three wineries in Minnesota. This number increased to 37 by 2010.

Why the increase in grape growing? Science. The Minnesota Legislature has directed funding to the Univerisity of Minnesota to research grapes since the mid 1980’s. This research has resulted in the development of several varieties of cold weather grapes. Five new varieties have been released since 1996; Fontenac, Fontenac Gris, La Crescent and Marquette.  Unlike the grapes in Bordeaux, Tuscany and Napa Valley, these grapes have been developed to withstand the cold temperatures without special coverage.

Continue Reading

Environment, Faculty, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

The Effects of Natural Time Cues on Consumer Judgments – 5 Questions with Prof. Sackett

Have you ever felt like an experience was better because it felt like “time flew by”? Research by Aaron Sackett, assistant professor of marketing, looks to prove this area of consumer behavior. Here is what we learned from Professor Sackett about this topic:

Professor Aaron Sackett

Q. How can the sun make movies better?

A. This research examines how people’s feelings of time’s progress can influence their recollections of events they’ve just experienced. Specifically, it’s about how moments of surprise regarding how much (or little) time has passed can make people believe that they were enjoying themselves perhaps just a bit more (or less) than they actually were. If you’ve ever had a moment when you looked at your watch, or out the window at the setting sun, and thought, “where did the time go?!”, you know what I mean. You may have also had the opposite happen to you: You look at your watch and can’t believe how slow time is going (students report dull lectures as a common instance, although this surely never occurs in my own classes!). A short while back, I published a series of studies looking at how these moments of surprise influence people’s evaluations of the events that immediately preceded them. It turns out that when people experience these “time warp” moments, they reliably draw false conclusions about the events that led to them: If they feel that time “flew by,” they believe that they enjoyed themselves more (also, if they feel that time “dragged on,” they believe that they enjoyed themselves less). In other words, the exact same experience can “feel” more enjoyable if it’s followed by a moment that leads us to think, “wow, time must’ve really flown!” than if it’s not followed by such a moment of surprise. Continue Reading