A key benefit of online education is that students can join a classroom from anywhere in the world. That’s also true for guest speakers, and the Fox School of Business has hosted a number of them over the last several weeks.
One of our recent speakers was Adam Lyons, BBA ‘09, the founder of insurance search engine The Zebra. He recently joined Michelle Histand, an adjunct professor who works as director of innovation at Independence Blue Cross, and her Create and Innovate Entrepreneurial class via Zoom to share the story behind his own unconventional entrepreneurial path.
Lyons dropped out of high school at age 15, and he was continuously fired from jobs for reasons as small as having headphones in while working. After being accepted into the Fox School, he had an outlet to work on his entrepreneurial craft, which he continuously developed into an idea for a startup in insurance. This prompted him to take a one-in-a-million shot and email Shark Tank star and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to entice him in investing in an insurance company that would “change the game.”
Cuban responded less than a half-hour later. He was in.
According to Histand, students benefit immensely when they can learn from guest speakers’ real-world experiences. And Lyons was no exception.
“It’s always great for students to hear from someone who has done a lot of the things we’ve been studying,” said Histand. “Adam hit on many of the things we’ve talked about without knowing it, so it backed up all they’ve learned. The class was one of the best sessions we’ve had. The students were thrilled to hear from him and really energized by the experience.”
Indeed, Fox students enjoyed hearing about Lyons’ entrepreneurial experience, and he gave them honest answers about his experience working for himself and staying on task.
“You have to be pretty disciplined,” Lyons said. “The consequences are there, but they are just harder to see.”
Before Lyons left the class, he offered advice for students interested in entrepreneurship.
“I didn’t have a lot of background on technology and products and managing a bunch of people. That whole world for me was a learning experience,” he said. “A lot of the folks I hired were more experienced, older, and I brought them in to report to a 25-year-old. Surrounding myself with experienced people has been the key to my success.”
Lyons’ virtual visit is one of many guest speaking engagements that have taken place recently via Zoom at the Fox School. Phillip Stefano, BBA ‘’04, an equity research associate at Deutsche Bank, met with Finance students and members of The William C. Dunkelberg Owl Fund. Former Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins as well as Temple men’s basketball coach and former Philadelphia 76er Aaron McKie met with students in the Modern Day Leaders course.
Glenn Booraem, BBA ’89, who leads the Investment Stewardship team at Vanguard, spoke to the Owl Fund students on March 30. Booraem spoke about his career and how Vanguard uses the shares they manage in publicly traded companies to positively influence corporate leadership.
The guest visits are indicative of how the Fox School curates its connections into real-world learning opportunities for students. Faculty members who are planning to have a guest speaker visit their class via Zoom can let us know by emailing email@example.com.