Students: Show Me How You Will Change Lives

Last night, I provided a workshop to students at OSU. The room was full of electrical, mechanical, and computer engineers, pharmacy majors, education majors and business majors. The one thing they had in common? Bright ideas. Each one of the kids, still college students, already have a new product idea; some have already launched. (And they’re taking exams and carrying a full course load.)

I was there to give them some insight into how to convince venture capitalist to invest in their product; doing so could be the smartest business decision they could ever make.

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How do you do that? I taught them to tell a story…Don’t show me how your product works — show me how it changes lives. Show me how you solve a problem and make life better. This emotional hook is the same one Apple uses to sell its Iphone. When was the last time you saw an iphone commercial that explained how to use one? Iphone sells emotional presents: think about the teenager with his head buried in his iphone during the Christmas holidays, doing what appears to be, ignoring his entire extended family. But you quickly learn, at the end, that he has actually been filming… he’s been filming his relatives and he has this beautiful “gift” the family Christmas movie, to share.

They were smart, polite and adorable, and as I talked to many about their “product” they felt the need to get me up to speed, “Do you know what Tinder is?” and “Do you know who Ezekiel Elliott is?” Yes, I assured them, I have four boys who keep me well informed.

We made it as interactive as we could… I gave them build-a-story-worksheets to develop their ideas; their plots and with tips on how to identify the “hero” in their story.

They have one very big goal: getting the “aloof” president involved in their organization. The key to that, I told them, is to find out what his story is. He must have something in his past that you can use as a touchstone to connect with… there’s a common denominator somewhere: Your job is to find it.

And, before I left, I told them all to call their moms tonight… she loves you more than you’ll ever know.

Last week, hipsters in NYC: This week: college students who are actually candidates for Shark Tank.

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