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Friday, July 29, 2016

Teaching Students the Economics of Business Success

Another successful semi

During the last week of June, students from 11 different countries gathered in the “Live Free or Die” state of New Hampshire to discuss the ethics of business and the positive social role of the entrepreneur, to learn about the virtues of value creation, and to acquire the tools of economic thinking to see the world in a whole new way.

Speakers included T.K. Coleman, the Education Director for Praxis; Brian Brenberg, business and finance professor at The King’s College in New York; and Antony Davies, professor of economics at Duquesne University.

T.K. opened the seminar with a talk on “How to Define Success” where he challenged the students to define what success would look like for them and then write down the obstacles or challenges that stood in their way. As a group, students discussed the obstacles and helped each other think of solutions to continue on the road to success. T.K came back to kick off the second day with an explanation of “Why Business Leaders Need Economics” in which he described the concepts of scarcity and subjective value. He defined the role of the entrepreneur as finding problems and creating solutions for those problems. T.K.’s last talk, “Doing Good Through Business,” showed students that through creating new businesses and being entrepreneurs, they can make a difference in the world. T.K. told students that the ideas of being successful and giving back are not mutually exclusive and that through creating value, students can create a better world for themselves. 

On the second day, Brian Brenberg gave his first talk, “How the Rules Affect Your Game,” where he spoke about entrepreneurship and gave an overview of the entrepreneurial journey for several people, including J.K. Rowling. He reassured students that entrepreneurship is a process of discovery, and this process is always based on experimentation. Later in the day, Brian came back to talk about the “Common Concerns about Business” and explained that profits should not be viewed as negative and evil, rather they are a necessary motivation to engage in the marketplace. He also presented the benefits of property rights in his talk “Obstacles to Business Success” on the morning of the third day. 

Antony’s first talk was on the afternoon of the second day and he demonstrated “The Win-Win of Capitalism” where he taught the students about free trade and comparative and absolute advantage. His conclusion was that countries are better off, having lower child labor, and more freedom for women when they engage in free trade. This paired well with his second talk, “The Win-Lose of Cronyism” in which he used the DMV as an example of a failure in the public sector. He explained that since the DMV has no competition, there is no reason for innovation, and the customer is not the focus of their organization. Antony’s last talk was “Entrepreneurship & Getting Your Idea Off the Ground.” Antony shared about two of his entrepreneurial endeavors and the successes and pitfalls he faced along the way, encouraging students to learn from failure rather than be discouraged. 

The guest speaker was Derek Magill, a photographer for FEE and the Director of Marketing at Praxis. Derek talked about the “Role of the Entrepreneur” and shared his journey from college dropout to young professional, sharing with students his idea that they should focus on creating value for themselves and their community rather than first attending college to get a degree and only then beginning to market themselves.

Over three days, students had the opportunity to learn from each other during structured discussion times, free time on the beautiful University of New Hampshire campus, and nightly socials in town. There was also an interactive activity in which the students learned about the benefits of free trade. At the conclusion of the seminar, students returned to their homes ready to apply their new economic ways of thinking in their entrepreneurial efforts.

  • Elizabeth Sorby is a 2015 graduate from Kennesaw State University, where she majored in International Affairs, concentrating in International and Diplomatic Service, and minored in Peace Studies.