Monday, March 29, 2010

When All Is Said and Done

What a weekend! It was a great, although altogether disappointing, weekend.
Pictures are kind of ridiculous! One, I HATE pictures. And Two, the other girls in the group were all shorter than 5' 3", so I kind stuck out like a giant... I made them wear heals, while I went barefooted for pictures!

So March 25-27 was the Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition. We left Thursday afternoon and travelled up to Calgary. We settled into the hotel with about 40 minutes to get ready for the Opening Banquet. It was quite the affair, let me tell you. We mingled about and met the other teams. There really were some amazing people involved in this event, the brightest of their schools all around. I felt incredibly inadequate to be counted among them.

But the fun was yet to come...
So Friday we were up at 6:00 -- well that was when my alarm went off. Normally, once my head hits the pillow, I am soo gone! But that night I tossed and turned, waking up every 45 min to an hour, until about 4 o'clock, at which time I just gave up. I pulled out my scriptures, but they were incredibly difficult to read by light of my cell phone so as not to wake my roommate. Finally morning arrived and we left for SAIT. At 8:00am, we were fed and being locked away with the 20 page case. And I literally mean locked away! We were escorted to our team's room which could only be opened from the outside with a key. The case was about a small company in Nova Scotia called Just Us! coffee. They were involved in both retailing and wholesaling and did a lot with Fair Trade. The case gives us the background of the company and kind of where they are at now. We go through and find the problem, and then fix it! Within the first hour we had some camera people come in who wanted to take action shots while we worked through the case. I have never felt so awkward in my life! There was one lady with a huge honking video camera, who would zoom up and around our faces while we were trying to 'act natural'! Another guy was taking still shots and would come well within our personal space bubbles while we were discussing our vision for this company. I was glad when they left!
So till 6 o'clock that evening we were stuck in that little room pouring over this case, trying to come up with a solution and put it to power point. Thank goodness we were able to have scheduled potty breaks. It is almost frightening how much we looked forward to going to the bathroom for a change of scenery....!
At 6 o'clock, we submit the power point and nothing can be added or changed. We had the car ride back to the hotel to unwind, and then the next 8 hours (so till about 2:30 in the morning!) were spent getting ready for the presentation the next day. It had been an exhaustive and draining 20 hour day.
This picture was taken after collapsing onto my bed after being locked in a room all day! Still had the 8 hours to go at this point....I looked worse at the end of that.
Saturday was the presentations. On Thursday, we had picked a number out of the hat to see the order in which groups would present...and we were dead last. Which meant that we couldn't watch any of the other presentations, as you can only watch those after you have presented.

We heard from other people that our group took a very unique and creative approach compared to what other schools had done. We presented a campaign for the company. Here, Just Us! was doing great things in all parts of the world and really wanted to educate people on what was going on globally. Our campaign was called, "It Just Takes One"--stemming from the whole 'power of one' concept. (And Just Us! the company---Just One---get it!!) So this is the concept: (I wish I could show you the presentation-it's just not going to sound as great on this thing)
We would send people a single coffee bean in the mail, with a coupon for a free coffee, inviting them to come in and learn more about what this company was all about. The coffee bean representing the great and miraculous things that can stem from a single seed. They would bring the coffee bean into the cafe and put it in a jar. Then, filling out the back of the coupon, the customer would write down a good deed that Just Us! could feasibly do for the community. For every 100th bean, Just Us! would select a good deed and carry it out. At the end of the campaign, they could do a final donation to a charity of their choice. The idea was, yes, we all want to make the world a better place, but often that starts within the walls of our own homes and communities.

Our presentation and power point and everything went perfectly!! At the end of the presentation, the judges then question us on our strategies and what not. The first judge said we did an amazing job, he loved the idea and really felt like we understood what the company was all about. He didn't have any questions for us and just said he loved everything we did. The second judge reiterated what the first judge had said and asked what we would do after the campaign. We were ready for that question and had an answer prepared. The third judge was actually the owner of Just Us! He also said that he loved the idea and concept of where we were taking this. He said we truly caught the vision of what his company was trying to accomplish in the world. He also didn't have any questions, and just said he loved the approach we had taken things. We left that room on such a high!

We had Deans from other schools come up and say that our group had the best concept and presentation out of any of the groups. We had other students come and say that they loved our presentation and thought it was the best out of all they had seen. Even the cameraman and IT guy came and repeated what others had said and also mentioned that our power point was the best they had seen throughout the past 5 years of being involved in this competition!

But...then we ended up not was really bizarre. We must not have touched on a key point that the judges were looking for. But the great thing is that we had such an amazing time and we felt great about what we had done. If we were to do it all over again, we wouldn't change a thing, Dave and John, our faculty advisors were amazing and helped so much.

The other girls on the team were Chelsa Larson, Kelly Thompson, and Courtney Quenneville, with John Russell on the left, and Dave Kennedy on the right.

I loved the ending quote we used by Edward Hale:

"I am one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I know I can do."

It was so powerful. So that was my weekend. It was great and I am so grateful to have been a part of that group. Now....I just need to survive these next few weeks!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Be Good Girls and Boys

So it has been an amazing weekend. I skipped class and went down to Echo with my family...generally nothing gets better than that! But on Saturday, Elder Bednar was in Lethbridge and did a fireside for the YSA. I am in the institute choir so I got to sit right behind him. It was amazing. And his hair really is as perfect as it looks on TV!

Instead of talking to us for 2 hours, he opened up the whole time for questions. If you could ask an apostle of the Lord anything, what would it be? There was a plethora of thoughts running through my mind but everything was too personal to actually put forth in front of the entire YSA from Southern Alberta. When people asked him questions, he didn't just give them the answer and move on; rather, he put them in the right direction and gave just enough to get started. Then it was up us to find the answer for ourselves and come to our own conclusion. We must be agents unto ourselves. I know what I can do to get my own answers. We need to act and not be acted upon. He talked about being good boys and girls. And that is what I want. I want to be a good girl! There is so much more that I can do.

We simply claim and boldly testify that God speaks. I know that He is mindful of me and knows me personally. Elder Bednar spoke on the differences between objects and agents. He really put the concept of agency into perspective for me. We have already accepted Christ and have made covenants with Him. We can no longer do whatever we want. When we choose to not follow in His ways, we are violating our covenants, not 'exercising our agency'. Elder Bednar put it much more eloquently than I can.

We live in the greatest season in the history of the world! What tremendous blessings and opportunities are before us!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

So Im just a little bit of a nerd...

A couple weeks ago, I was approached by one of my professors and asked to compete in the Alberta Deans of Business Challenge. They take 4 students from our school and we go up to compete against other schools in Alberta, some from BC, and some from Saskatchewan. My professor said it was such an honor for me to be chosen! Here is the link that talks about the competition.

So it's not like High School Musical where they have the little dinger bell thing and we race to see who can solve the equation the fastest, or make a substance turn green and bubbly...
Basically, they lock each team in a War Room (sounds ominous, doesn't it!!) for 10 hours with a 20 page case that we study and prepare. Then the next day we give a presentation before a panel of judges, after which they question us on strategies and how and why we would do certain things. Crazy, yes!

I am super excited to be involved in something like this, but also way stressed. We have meetings each week with the 3 other students, as well as with 2 faculty members that help in getting us prepared. Apparently some schools have been meeting for months already....I guess it's kind of a big deal!

So I have just over 3 weeks to be ready! No pressure. In previous years, the cases have been on anything from the Apple iPod to Lululemon attire. I have no idea what to expect...!