The Creation of the Case Study Project “Mother Goose’s Toy Chest”:
I have been teaching “Introduction to Business 101” at Bergen Community College for several years now and in the era of COVID, it has been especially difficult. With businesses shutting down never to reopen, I think some of my students thought it was an unusual time to open a business. This is when you need to test your entrepreneurship when times are tough.
In my live classes, I open my consulting company, “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.”, for business and the whole class bands together and we have one big project. In the era of COVID and online learning, these projects become impossible to do as a group so each student got the opportunity to create their own store.
In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations.
Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Consultant Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
While my other class worked on their case study project, “Scoops & Sundaes”, an artisan ice cream shop (Day One Hundred and Ninety-Five), I decided to have this group of students create a shop based on the increases we are seeing in the toy industry of traditional playthings. It seems in the era of COVID, people want puzzles, board games and dolls and stuffed animals again. I have watched my Mattel stock double and Hasbro has been increasing as well.
The “Scoops & Sundaes” case study project: Day One Hundred and Ninety-Five:
I created the concept of the toy store, “Mother Goose’s Toy Chest” based on the all the wonderful little artisan toy stores I have visited over the years, showcasing one of kind merchandise made by local artists and specialty manufactured goods by small companies. I also asked the students to think about imported goods handmade from other countries and add in supporting small manufactures here in the states. I wanted to promote American made products.
Using the textbook, “Understanding Business” by William Nickels and James and Susan McHugh, we studied and covered every chapter in the book. By Chapter Five “How to Start a Business”, I had the students start the project and introduced the store concept. I gave a WebEx lecture on starting a business and my expectations for the project. Then I assigned the first extra credit project for the assignment, creating a logo for the store.
Here are some of my favorites:
Logo One: Mother Goose’s Toy Chest
Logo Two: Mother Goose’s Toy Chest
Logo Three: Mother Goose’s Toy Chest
We then moved onto Chapter Six on “Entrepreneurship” and I asked the students what types of products they would like to sell in the store and how they might want the store designed. I then asked them create a ‘Mission Statement” to tell me as a consumer who they wanted to be in the marketplace.
Chapter Seven had the students thinking about ‘Management and Leadership’ skills. Who did they want to be as a business owner? What type of leadership skills would they need? Chapter Eight had the students studying about “Production and Operations Management” and I then had the students create their store layout.
We next moved on to who your staff would be in Chapter Ten “Motivating Employees” and Chapter Eleven “Human Resource Management” and how you would recruit them? I then had the students create a Job Description to find the perfect employee for the store that they needed when it got busy or during the holiday season.
I had the students thinking about merchandise for the store in Chapter Thirteen “Marketing: Helping Buyers Buy”. I asked the students to create a Birthday Party/Summer Camp Registry” for the store so that children could pick out things for their events and get the items they want for each.
In Chapter Sixteen “Using Effective Promotions” I had the students create a ‘Bundling Ad’ to promote a grouping of products for sale at the store. How could they use a grouping of products at a discounted price to promote the store.
To explain the concepts of “Sexual Harassment” on the job, I used the movies “9 to 5” and “How to Succeed in Business without even Trying” as examples of how to deal with and recognize these issues.
“A Secretary is not a Toy” is the clip that I like to use to explain this.
By the end of the class, I saw many different ways of looking at the business that was created as each student put their own touches on it. Some had their businesses in New York City, some in the New Jersey suburbs, some went to malls or strip malls and some opened in local downtowns. Others went out of town to places like Orlando and San Jose, CA.
Their selection of toys went from the classics such as board games, Barbies and puzzles to more upscale selections of handmade and one of kind objects. I had to remind them that they had to be realistic as they needed to make a profit to pay the bills.
On their final exam, I had them look at the famous scene from the movie “Big” to ask how the use of “Product Placement” of FAO Schwarz Toy Store in the famous film promoted the store. It got some interesting answers.
The famous “Piano” scene from the movie “Big”
I thought this scene would motivate the students.
Overall I was impressed by their projects but was surprised by how many students did not take advantage of the extra credit projects as I would like to have visually have seen what the students were thinking in their ideas.
It was another wonderful project under the independent “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.” banner to promote Entrepreneurship and a sense of business creativity.
The Project “Mother Goose’s Toy Chest”:
The Class Participation Questions and Quizzes I used:
I had the most interesting semester for Spring Term at the college where I work. Everything started off fine. We had classes in the the afternoon, good discussions on Marketing and had a very successful Team Project marketing the Lyndhurst Snack Shop, the new Bulldog Cafe, for business (See Day One Hundred and Fifty-Nine in MywalkinManhattan.com):
I had just handed out the next Team Project, “From Revolution to Renewal: Exploring the Historic Bergen County”, a major tourism project I wanted to the students to work on for the remainder of the semester the week before the break. I had the students to break up into groups and get to know one another and get their game plans in order before the Midterm. We had only one class to introduce the project and they set their group chats up and introduced themselves. The next week I gave the Midterm and then left for the Spring Break.
This project had been inspired by a couple of things. One was the fact that many of these students did not know their own County. They knew nothing of its history let alone had ever really explored it. It amazed me how many of them did not know the history of the towns they lived in and if there was a well-known cultural site in the town they lived in they never visited it. A few students said to me when I asked had they visited this or that in their town the answer always seemed to be “well I passed it but never really noticed it.”
Another thing that inspired the project was the Northwest Bergen Historical Coalition. Every year this historical group runs a “History Day” for the historical sites of northwest Bergen County. When I asked a friend who worked for the County why they did not have a weekend with all the sights in Bergen County, she said that it would be too difficult to put together. That was what I needed to hear to put this project together. To prove that it could be done.
It wasn’t just that. Many of the these sites were never visited and some were only open once or twice a year to visitors because their volunteers were getting too old. Many people were not taking these sites seriously in the role they played in not just the formation of the County but the United States. When you really read the history of the people who lived there or what the site meant, it was interesting to see what role it played in the history of Bergen County.
As I said in my previous blog on my Introduction to Business class creating the Ambassador Program, it was a harder go with my Essentials in Marketing class. They were a younger group who did not know much about the history of Bergen County let alone their own towns. I had poised the question many times in class about where they had visited in the County and mentioned many historical sites in towns which they lived in. Only a few had ever visited them or if they had had been way back in elementary school when it was considered part of a school field trip.
This is when I created “From Revolution to Renewal: A Historical Weekend in Bergen County, NJ”. This would be a two day weekend with an opening private cocktail party of the Arts Community and VIP’s followed by a two day tour of all of Bergen County’s historical sites with side trips to our wonderful historical restaurants and a scavenger hunt to wrap it all up.
I had started to arrange a series of field trips that we were going to take over the last week of school and the first week of Spring Break. I had planned a trip to Downtown Hackensack, NJ to see the Courthouse, visit two Dutch Reformed Churches and the cemeteries and then visit White Mana, a very well-known hamburger place that has been around since the 1940’s.
The Bergen County Courthouse, The Green and the Dutch Reformed Church in Downtown Hackensack, NJ
Another field trip that I started to look into was the Aviation Hall of Fame in Teterboro, NJ and then a tasting at Spindler’s Bakery and Lovey’s Pizzeria in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ and then on to Mills Bakery in Wood Ridge, NJ.
I was doing this while running in and out of New York City for the Restaurant Show and a Michigan State University Alumni Night for the Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State University. I was just getting everything organized and then planning a quick trip to visit my mother when all hell broke loose and the government started to shut everything down. From a Wednesday Membership Night at the Met Breuer to a Thursday morning shut down of New York City and all air travel to Europe, the world changed.
Our Spring Break was extended a week to see what the State of New Jersey was going to do with the educational system and with that at the end of the week we were informed that we would not be returning to school. Not only did that mean no field trips it meant no more live class and I would not be seeing my students again. I was not sure how like my other class we were going to pull this project off.
None of my students had visited practically any of these sites or been to any of the restaurants on the project. Almost everything was closed. You could see some of the sites like the churches and memorials from the street but everything inside was closed. Everything would have to be done online.
The one thing I did have was belief in the class that they could do the work. I had been so impressed by their work on the Snack Shop project that I knew they could do the work. It was the intense research that would have to be done online. A crisis is when you see the best in people. I did.
While my other class had a better head start of the Student Ambassador Project, my Historic Bergen County Team had a lot of ingenuity. The one thing they didn’t know was the history of Bergen County, NJ. I could have asked them to visit some of the sites around the County which would not have been hard as the Reformed Dutch churches could be seen from the sidewalks as well as the cemeteries that surrounded them.
Places like the Camp Merrill Memorial and the Baylor Massacre site were open to the public in obscure areas and not in big parks that would have been closed during the pandemic so it would have been no problem visiting them. I did not want to put anyone at risk of anything at this time so I nixed them leaving their homes. I just did not want to be responsible for anyone getting sick.
Once we realized that we were not returning, I started to contact the President and Senior Vice-President of Operations who I chose for the project and started to get underway. Just like my other class, the students all had their own situations. Some students got sick, some just did not communicate with me, some had changes in their family situations and some had communications problems with me. On top of all of this, the Teams of Student Consultants regrouped and really worked their butts off to make it work.
The Talent Team who was responsible for for setting up the salaries and benefits for the three month Division formation had already started doing their work. They had found the location for the office before the break and had a lot of ideas they were contemplating during the break. Since the two Teams of students from Paramus and Lyndhurst would not be meeting up as I had originally planned, I had the Lyndhurst Team develop their own unique plan for their Division of the company.
The Talent Division set up their office design, created a Wrap Up party for the Division, created a set of ‘perks’ for the Division staff and developed a very fair package of benefits for the staff (see their website below).
The Marketing Division I created for the Team Project had the bulk of the work. I broke the Division down into three sections:
The Historical Museums/Parks/Homes & Zoo Division was responsible doing the research on every historic tourist site in the County. This included the historical homes, churches, parks, cemeteries, monuments and the zoo. They had to do the research on each and then for the website put together a small bio on them so that tourists could find them when using the website on their smartphones. This also included a Scavenger Hunt in the buildings that they had never been inside of before.
They also had to set up a cocktail party opening event at The Gallery Bergen, our on campus art gallery at Bergen Community College. The cocktail party was being created for Museum Curators, Historians, members of the Arts Community, Artists and VIP’s from the County.
The second Division was the Historical Restaurant Division whose job it was to find restaurants all over the County that predated 1980. We were looking showcase well-known restaurants with years of longevity in the County that were well-known not just in the community but around the country with foodies. Places like White Mana in Hackensack, NJ and Hirim’s Hot Dogs in Fort Lee, NJ.
The Third Division of the Marketing Team was the History Division whose job it was to research Bergen County’s History from the Lennape Settlements with the Dutch to the Revolutionary War to World War II. Bergen County played such a huge role in all the wars from setting up and training troops to munitions being developed here to battle grounds between the wars.
They were also responsible for researching a list of the ‘first family’s’ of Bergen County. People like the Zabriskie’s, the Demerest’s, the Terhune’s and the Haring’s played a big part not just in the development of Bergen County but in the formation of the United States especially during the Revolutionary War.
The Marketing Division itself was responsible for for creating the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. websites for the client that were eventually merged into one. The Marketing Team would be gathering information from the three Teams that made up the Division and create the site for tourists and residents who were going to attend the three day History Event.
They were also responsible for filming two commercials. One commercial would be on the role of Bergen County in the United States foundation from the Revolutionary War to World War II.
The Team’s commercial on the ‘History of Bergen County’ for “From Revolution to Renewal-A Historical Weekend in Bergen County, NJ”
The second would be inviting people to come to visit Bergen County and all it has to offer:
The Team’s commercial on “Welcoming people to Bergen County, NJ” in many languages for “From Revolution to Renewal-A Historical Weekend in Bergen County, NJ”
This was a very extensive project and I could not wait to come back to school after the break and start the project. When I took my students ‘out into the field’ (ie field trips) to the location, these projects made more sense to the class. The field trips to Paterson, NJ and to the Snack Shop on the Bergen Community College Lyndhurst, NJ campus resulted in extremely creative work and the students being able to see first hand what it was they were marketing. This would be put to the test when we did not return to the college.
I have to say of all my classes, I have never seen a collective of students regroup and get the job done. The Talent Team was very diligent and got their work done on a timely basis. My senior executives for that division lead their Team and created a game plan to get their job accomplished.
It was much harder in our Historical Division in that there was a lot of research to do with each site, restaurant and family that had to be carefully explored and researched in detail. It was not so easy with no access to certain books as all libraries were shut down and not everything was on an Ebook.
Almost all the restaurants on the list were not open at the time of the project (a lot of them have since opened for take out only) and since this was a younger group of students, they did not know a lot of the restaurants that had been opened for years. Here I was able to assist as a CEO and be able to add to the project. With the help of my aunt, who had lived in Bergen County since the 1950’s, we were able to create a list of about thirty five restaurants, candy and ice cream stores and bakeries all over Bergen County that tourists and residents alike would enjoy when they were touring on the Historical Weekend.
Since all the cemeteries and churches were off limits for the duration of the project (they have now started to open), everything had to be done online by the help of Google. All the wonderful historic cemeteries that we were going to tour in Ridgewood, Hackensack, Dumont and Bergenfield were closed to us and I would not be able to show the significance of the families and how they intertwined with marriage.
The Dutch Reformed Church and cemetery on the Green in Hackensack, NJ
It was a rough first two weeks as communication was limited to just campus email but as things like Zoom and WebEx video conferencing started to be introduced then we were raring to go. My students were already group chatting and video conferencing with each other before my training was over and then it was ‘Zooming’ in meetings for the rest of the semester.
Some of my students needed to learn how to time prioritize and some of them needed to take their work much more seriously but when I read their final papers on the project, I realized that was not always so easy.
Some students were taking care of loved ones who were sick or had been sick themselves, some had multiple classes and not much access to computers and had professor’s like myself emailing them all the time so they got over-whelmed. It was a real challenge but I knew this Team of Student Consultants was up for the sense of self-accomplishment.
For the next three weeks before the Monday, April 27th presentation, I have never emailed so many people so many times answering questions, trying to find information and trying to guide people to doing their best work.
One of the attributes I let the students use was my blog site, VisitingaMuseum.com:
This way it would save them time in their research. I had found when I was putting the site together that many of these smaller historical sites in Bergen County did not even have their own websites. We also discovered as a Team that there was no site in the County or in the State that showed off all of Bergen County attributes.
To add to the historical sites and the historical restaurants, I had all the students in both classes do research on every town in Bergen County to add to the website. This way it would tie everything you needed to know about the County with the families, where they lived, who they were, how they played a role in the development of the County, the towns that they lived in and by the way when you are visiting all the great long service restaurants to dine at for the weekend.
All of this was a major challenge as the Team had never put a website together and the one that the mythical client, the New Jersey Historical Guild of Bergen County, had wanted had an interactive map. This all had to be created from scratch.
I am not sure what went on behind the scenes as I was not privy to the Group Chat but I could tell there was a lot of conversation back and forth on everything. I was lucky that I created an Executive Team who saw this as a challenge themselves. Nothing like this had ever been attempted by the County or the State of New Jersey Tourism that I knew of in past history.
On Monday, April 27th at 11:00am, the students presented me their Power Point Presentation and their commercials. If ever there was a Professor that was prouder of his students, it was me. The Team took all the proposed ideas that I came up with plus adding the history of every town in Bergen County (all 70 of them) and came up with a very creative website not just for the Historical Sites, History of the Country and Historic Restaurants but the Talent Division created their own website as well.
The Power Point presentation was attended not just by myself but with other members of the Historical Community of Bergen County and that made the presentation really special that the students would get that feedback.
I have to say that I was totally blown away by not just the Power Point Presentation but by the commercials and the websites that they created. The one thing I knew is that the global pandemic did not stop this Team of students from accomplishing the task.
Both of my classes exceeded and impressed me with all of their ideas. Hats off to all the students involved in both projects. You should be proud of yourselves!
Here is the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Historical Website of Bergen County, NJ:
I had the strangest semester this quarter at Bergen Community College where I work. The semester started off normal and was the typical night class. I would get in about an hour and a half early and prepare for class. Then it was lecture, class participation and then quizzes and exams. I had just given my midterm exam and then we left for Spring Break. I knew the outside issues that were surrounding us but the problems of the COVID-19 seemed so far away.
Even so in the back of my mind I knew this was going to be a problem experiencing what I did at the New York Restaurant Show and at the Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown in the same time frame. Even Groundhog’s Day and the Big Ten Championship seemed subdued. I guess I just waited for someone to finally pull the plug and did they EVER IN A BIG WAY!
Two weeks before we left for Break, I reopened the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. concept for my Introduction to Business class and gave out the Team Project and went over the guidelines of the project. I have to say that the students seemed pretty excited about the prospect of running a company. My President and Senior Vice-President were raring to go and the next two classes, the last one being the night of the Midterm, we were able to meet and it gave the students time to meet up and get to know one another. I knew it would be a successful project.
The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. logo
I had thought about this semester’s Team Project for the class while we were presenting the Paterson Project last semester and thought about what many students had told me about their experiences at the College. Most seemed alienated from the other students. Others who had attended bigger four year colleges in the past felt their was no cohesiveness to the school, no connection because it was a commuter school. Others told me that they did not know anyone at the school until they did their group project. The one thing was true was there was no school spirit.
This gave me the idea this semester to do something to focus on the students and their experience at the college. While my Marketing class created a project for tourism in Historical Bergen County, I had my Introduction to Business class create a Student Ambassador Program that would welcome students to the college starting with the student getting accepted in high school and then take them on the whole experience of welcoming them once they got to Bergen Community College.
I decided to expand the “Welcome Week” project I did two years ago (see ‘Day One Hundred and Twenty Seven’ in MywalkinManhattan.com) that welcomed students and alumni back to the college and create an ambassador program as another part of welcoming students to campus. The Welcome Week project gave the students an opportunity to be involved with the campus when they graduated but I wanted to see something when they first got the letter of acceptance. So I created a Team Project that would combine the whole experience.
The Welcome Week Project-“Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College-Welcome Week 2019”:
My questions was ‘How do we engage students when they are accepted to the college and then when they get here?’ ‘How are we sure that they do not get lost in the crowd?’ Since it is a commuter campus, how do we keep them engaged once they start classes? This was the challenge for the students to tackle with this Team project. We used the last two classes of the semester to meet and get everyone acquainted and have the Teams start the project. It started very smoothly.
Here was the inspiration for the Ambassador Program:
Here was the welcome to the college from the “Welcome Week” Team!
While on Spring Break, I got a memo from the college while attending the Restaurant Show that the college was going to extend the Spring Break a week to see what the State of New Jersey was going to do to handle the COVID-19 situation.
So I just continued on with the first week of break, attending the Restaurant Show, going to Blondie’s on the West Side to the Alumni Night for the Big Ten Championships, attending a 90’s Tech retrospect at the Anthology Archives and going to the Members night at the Met Breuer. All of this while I felt that everyone I was with at these events with were looking over their shoulders wondering what would happen next (See Day One Hundred and Sixty-“On Leave from “MywalkinManhattan.com” in MywalkinManhattan.com).
I was planning on visiting my mother on Thursday of first week of break so after the Restaurant Show closed I got my car serviced, my haircut, my dry cleaning and banking done and finished my housework in anticipation of my upcoming trip. Still everything loomed in the distance. The next morning all hell broke loose and the borders were shut in the United States and the stock market went wild! The market was dropping like crazy.
So in between talking to my mother, my broker and other family members everything was cancelled and I stayed home and by March 13th, the whole country started the lock down. I could not go into the City and continue my walk of the Theater District or work in the Soup Kitchen as everything in the City immediately shut down. I just wondered how this would play out with the College. Even before the break many of my students had been asking questions about this that I could not answer.
While we were on break a lot of my students kept in touch with one another and we were working on the project during the second week of the break. I was only allowed to email students if they emailed me (they were still on their break) but I would CC everyone on my emails to keep the lines of communication open. It was only at the end of the second week that we knew we would not be going back to school and all the classes would go virtual. It was then I was emailing my students and going over what we needed to do to proceed with the project. This is when the project got interesting.
Some of the students had kept in touch over the break and had gotten the framework done for their sections and had some ideas of what they wanted to do. So we were better prepared than the other class I had who had one afternoon to get their game plan together. When we realized we would not be going back to class and everything would have to be virtual, it made the class even more interesting and a big challenge. Most of the students had a good handle on the work and many parts of the project had been started.
The project was broken down into sections. Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. (an acronym for Bergen Community College-Paramus Campus) is a hierarchy in company form. I set up my Executives and broke them down into different divisions. My President and Senior Vice-President ran the show. They would report to me and let me know how the project was progressing. They were in charge of putting the Power Point presentation together and finding our headquarters.
The slogan that the Team came up with for the project.
My Talent Division was in charge of setting up salaries, the benefits package and the office space design for a three month period that we would be working on the proposal for the client. Once the President and Senior Vice-President of Operations found the location for the offices, it would be the Talent Team’s responsibility to design and furnish the office. They would also set up a series of ‘perks’ for the office, things like snacks for the office, team building projects and employee relation items like Daycare and transportation reimbursement.
My Marketing Team was responsible for setting up the Corporate Website (based on the one that had been set up for the Paterson Project) and expand it to include all Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. projects from the past, shoot commercials welcoming students to campus and what it is like to attend Bergen Community College and set up the logos along with the Spirit Division and then find ways to ‘market the college’ to the incoming students. They were also in charge of designing the new “Ambassador” uniforms for the Student Ambassadors to wear when attending events.
My Spirit/Special Events Team was responsible for all the ‘spirit’ related projects. They were responsible for setting up our Spirit Welcome’s to incoming high school students and once they got to campus, organizing a series of events to get the students involved in the campus. They were also assigned to set up the special events to welcome parents and students to campus.
On the High School Level, the Spirit/Special Events Division was to create a “Spirit High School Welcome” that entailed the Student Ambassadors visiting each high school in the are where students had been accepted to Bergen Community College along with some students athletes and hold a “Meet & Greet” over a pizza lunch with the incoming students to welcome them to campus.
Here is the commercial that welcome’s new students to campus!
On the College Level, the Spirit/Special Events Division was to create a series of events for when the incoming students arrived as well as events that current students could attend called it the “College “Bulldog” Spirit Welcome” and this included:
*A formal Campus Tour that each student was to take when they arrived on campus. This way each student knew where things were located on campus and become acquainted with what services were available to them.
*A Parent’s of Athletes Reception and Pep Rally which was to be an evening exclusively catering to student athletes coming to Bergen Community College and their parents which included a light dinner and pep rally that included the cheerleaders, the dance team and other student athletes that was to be held the night of our rival Men’s Basketball game with Passaic Community College.
*A Parent/Student Barbecue which was to be held the weekend of the first home Men’s Soccer game that invited all incoming students and their parents plus the members of the Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams and their parents. The barbecue was to have an extensive menu of all sorts of fall favorites.
*A First Night at the College that was to be held the First Friday after the College resumed that included a night in the gym getting to know the clubs and organizations on campus. This also included snacks provided for the evening and then the evening ended with a concert for all the students.
The Spirit/Special Events Team was also responsible for designing a new School Mascot, Spirit Shirts for the the Men and Women’s Basketball Teams and create a School Fight Song. I know it would be a lot of work but it is fun to see the creativity of the students when put under pressure.
Here is the commercial that promotes the college when students come to campus!
It was even more pressure when we did not return to campus and the whole project had to be done by email and then Zoom meetings. I would not see my students again for the rest of the semester and because of school policy I could not speak to them over the phone. Until I learned what Zoom was and was allowed to have video conferences with them toward the end of the semester, I have never written so many emails before in my life. I swear I was on the computer everyday all day especially on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I never left my home office the whole day.
It got even more confusing when a few of my students disappeared at the beginning of the semester, a few students got sick and then it was the disagreements and misunderstandings you have when emailing people. I had never worked so hard pulling a project off before. Communication was limited until the use of Zoom videoconferencing came into play. Even then that was toward the end of the project so everything was being done through long lengthy emails.
Then for about two weeks I heard nothing from the team as members of the Executive Team had not been in contact with me. We were at the height of the COVID-19 crisis and I was worried about my students. Some just stopped answering emails and I would find out later that some of them or their family members were sick. It was a trying time in the trenches.
Then I sent out an email about two and a half weeks before the presentation and everyone started to contact me. What floored me was how far the students had come along with the project with little assistance from me. Some of them took me ideas and just ran with them.
Some of them came up with their own version of my ideas which I liked. They created home and away shirts for the basketball games, set up spirit sections, came up with new ideas for food venues like having Boston Market take out meals for the ‘Parent’s of Athletes Reception’ and the Team’s creative ideas on a new school fight song. The Team even developed a new school mascot, “The Bulldog”.
The new Bulldog Mascot Costume
We ended up having both a WebEx meeting and a Zoom Meeting before the presentation on Friday, April 24th at 8:00pm. It was so nice to see everyone again. I had not seen my students since the Midterm exam and it was good to see that everyone was doing okay. Their lives like my own were turned upside down but we all had to make the best of it.
On the night of presentation was interesting. It was not the most pleasant weather and I was afraid that the computer would go down. We lucked out that everything went by smoothly and the presentation went by fine. What was nice was our Head of Athletics and our Head of Public Relations for the college were able to join us for the presentation.
Here is the new Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc Website:
Here you can see the full Power Point Presentation and the Commercials.
I could not have been prouder of a group of students who under all the pressure of not being in class, people suffering from the illness. family situations at home, job issues and personal stress made the project work.
I put “MywalkinManhattan.com” on hold for work the Fall months. I taught Business Communications 105 again this semester at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ and this was the final presentation of the group project I had my students create. I have my Communication students do this to get them to actually talk to one another and get to know all the other students in class. This has become harder since the advent of cellphones and texting. The art of conversation seems to have gone out of vogue. I worry that they losing the act of getting to know other people and even having a ‘college experience’.
I established the company, “Bergecco-Parc Consultants Inc.” an acronym for Bergen Community College, Paramus Campus and established an Executive Team. From there, I put together a Talent/Security team, Marketing Team and a Special Events team each lead by a Vice-President and Directors and Team Leaders. Since all the departments had to talk to one another to do the project, I made sure that each team would need the other to create each section of the project.
The theme of the project was “Welcome Week 2019-Follow the Yellow Brick Road Back to Bergen Community College”. The premise was that MGM/Turner Classics had found the famous “Jitterbug” number from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” and had restored it back in the film. Now the film was being shown at its ‘World Premiere” at Bergen Community College during Welcome Week (we were chosen over Rutgers and Princeton).
The filming of the “Jitterbug” scene in 1939
The college had then hired us as a consulting firm to come in and do a series of activities in honor of the event as well as promote the Bergen Room, the on-campus student run dining room, Gallery Bergen, our student run Art Gallery and the Ciccone Theater (see reviews on TripAdvisor), where student run plays were shown to the public by the campus Theater Department. The company was also to promote the Athletic Department with a Pep Rally and Bonfire.
This was an extensive project that required all the students to do research and ask questions all over campus. Many students would later comment in their papers that this was the first time they were exposed to what the Bergen Community College campus had to offer and had been to different parts of campus. They also discovered our Athletic programs and our cultural activities and realized that we were very similar to a major campus with a lot of the same things to get involved with as a student.
Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. Logo:
Six trees representing the six original creators of the company. The meaning: Trees continue to grow and make an impact on the nature of the world.
Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. was founded by six Rutgers students who had been a competing in a contest against other well-known marketing firms. over creating a Welcome Week concept for the Rutgers’s New Brunswick campus. They won the contest and upon graduation, started a small company concentrating on helping colleges promote activities on their campuses.
When you have thirty two students (unlike my last semester when I had eighteen students creating Buscomonzefi.com) there is a lot to manage. This time I added a layer of management and a few extras to make sure that everyone worked.
Here’s our logo, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College”
My Talent Team created the Human Resources department from scratch putting a budget together for the entire Paramus department as well as the executives who were part of the New Brunswick branch of the company. They research the benefits, perks of working there and some extras that Google and Facebook hadn’t even thought of like a Dog Walking service and an English as a Second language classes for our international employees. In real life, I don’t know how a small company could have paid for some of the things they suggested but I let them make that decision.
The Marketing Department was in charge of promoting The Bergen Room, the student run dining room, The Gallery Bergen, the student art gallery and The Ciccone Theater, where our theater department puts on shows.
Here is their commercial promoting the campus to incoming students in many languages that the student body of the class spoke. We had students speak twelve languages and most participated in the commercial.
Welcome to Bergen Community College:
The next part of the project that were marketing was “Welcome Week 2019-Follow the Yellow Brick Road back to Bergen Community College” a Wizard of Oz themed event with the showing of the film, the play version of the ‘Wizard of Oz’ , a special theme dinner with a Wizard of Oz concept and a Pep Rally and Bonfire for our Athletic teams on campus. One of my students even wrote a new school song and another a fight song that were performed that night.
The commercial promoting the events:
One of my students was legally deaf and I wanted to make sure that every activity that we promoted was ADA compliant with the laws of New Jersey and the campus regulations. Here he created a commercial for the hearing impaired. I will tell you that as an educator I have never been prouder of a student and watched him shine as this one did for this part of the project.
Their commercial for the hearing impaired students:
The Special Event’s Team created the Pep-Rally and Bonfire, which was an interesting concept as the Director and his team created a program where the students athletes would burn the witch in effigy with our rivals name followed by a fire works display and snacks for the students.
Another team in the Special Events division created a theme dinner starting with a cocktail party in Gallery Bergen, with the show theme ‘Over the Rainbow Surrealism’ with surrealist art based on the movie by the art department students and clothing from the Retailing program.
Since we had so many students that spoke different languages, they created the menus in about seven different languages. The students also added trivia from the movie as well as fun facts about the actors. They even looked into food trucks for those who could not get into the Special dinner. The event would be finished off with the stage version of ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
This version was performed by the Ann Arbor Student Theater group and I give them full credit for this performance:
Needless to say as a company, you always have those who chose not to take it seriously but those things were addressed. I had a student hierarchy that we followed and as the CEO and one of the Co-Founder’s of the company, I made sure that we followed protocol by CCing everyone on emails and letting them fight their own battles. We did have some battles along the way right up to the night of the presentation.
The presentation was done not just in front of their classmates but the heads of the Theater, Alumni, Art Gallery, Special Services and Alumni Foundation. They all seemed blown away by a project that had a five week lead time. The comments I got from fellow professors and administrators was wonderful and the students seemed very proud. They all could not understood how I got them all to dress up with the ladies in skirts and dresses and pantsuits and the men in suits and jacket and tie. They looked really sharp as a class!
Even to keep the real life simulation project going, I even created a small reception for everyone by baking desserts and providing non-alcoholic beverages. A lot of the people that participated got a kick out of that. I even entered the project in the campus’s Innovation Award but it did not win ( I was bummed for all these students that worked so hard on it).
The funny part of being an educator is the reviews and reactions we get as professors. When I read some of the reviews, some of the students did not understand why we did such a project and what did dressing up for a project have anything to do with business communications?
I think the true reality everyone who is reading this is that everything we do in the business world is communication. From the texts and emails we send, to the activities we plan for fellow employees, to the way we present ourselves to others by the way dress and speak and the way we stand. Everything in life we do conveys a message.
I know that most of the students learned something new and were excited about the project and coming to class. This is what getting an education is all about and I could not have been prouder of a class!