business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

This week, as it happens, is the last week of my annual summer adjunctivity at Portland State University (PSU). This is the sixth year that I've had the privilege and pleasure of spending much of my summer in Oregon, where I get to enjoy great food, beer and wine, travel around the Pacific Northwest, and team-teach (with the great and patient Tom Gillpatrick) a summer class in retail/CPG marketing. I head home to Connecticut tomorrow.

I have commented here before that I often learn as much from our students as they learn from me. That is, to be honest, part of the attraction; I get to spend a fair number of hours asking them questions, listening to their points of view, and finding out what their passions and priorities are. And, I get to share mine with them; one that I spend a lot of time talking about is the value of clear, concise writing and how it can both create and reflect clear thinking. (My dream is to someday teach a writing class to business students. It wouldn't be about business writing, but just basic writing, and they'd read the works of Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler and Ernest Hemingway to see what I'm talking about.)

I also get to learn from the guests who visit us in class. This is no small thing. Over the years, we have been visited by some remarkable people who have been willing to share their time and insights with our students. One of the rules of the class is that everything our guests say is off the record; this is kind of important considering my day job. I haven't talked much about our guests in the past, but this year I reached out to them to ask if I could at least mention on MNB that they had contributed their time and energies to our summer 2017 class.

They all said yes, so here, in alphabetical order, are this summer's guests:

• Mike Burrington of Ideoclick (and formerly of Amazon Fresh)
• Karen Caplan, CEO of Frieda's Specialty Produce
• Greg McNiff, president of Albertsons/Safeway's Portland Division
• Tom Murphy, Global Retail & Consumer Products Industry Lead at North Highland
• Leslie Sarasin, president/CEO of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI)
• Lisa Sedlar, founder/CEO of Green Zebra
• Jason J. Strobbe, SVP-Sales & Marketing, Truett-Hurst

I want to thank them publicly for their generosity of spirit and willingness to go out of their way to contribute to the education of our students. (Some, like Greg and Lisa, are local. But Mike and Tom came from Seattle, Karen came from Los Angeles, and Leslie came fromWashington, DC. This is what Joe Biden would call a "BFD.")

And I would use this moment to suggest to you that whenever any school or teacher calls, it is worth it to try to find time in your schedule to spend some time in the classroom. In fact, you can even volunteer. Trust me ... you'll get at least much out of the experience as you put into it. (I'm planning on being back at PSU next summer, so, to be honest, this is slightly self-serving.)

I think you'll find the experience to be an Eye-Opener. I always have.
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