Wilkins ’15 Applies Finance Lessons to Creating Business Plan

Wilkins ’15

Denzel Wilkins ’15 – We have just completed the second week of the LABB program, and up to this point we have learned about how finances work and a bit about investments. I must say I had no idea how either one of these aspects worked in the business world. After a week of site visits and lectures, I am confident that my knowledge is fairly well-rounded in these two categories. I am able to use this knowledge in the restaurant business plan my group is creating.  So, not only are we given the information – we are able to apply them to real world activities, too.

My restaurant team consists of three people: Ryan Anzalone, Thanh Tran, and myself. We have been working on our business plan for about two weeks now and we found out that this is not as easy as we thought it would be. We are franchising Moe’s Southwest Grill and there are many different aspects that go into a business plan that we have to account for. Understanding a business plan is key to knowing what direction you want your business to go.

I would like to thank David Knott ’69, who gave us a huge wake up call about finances and investments. Also, I would like to thank Ron Zimmerman ’93, who came and talked to us about entrepreneurship and the difference between small businesses and large corporations.  Finally, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for allowing students this opportunity to receive a crash course of business in a matter of a few weeks, considering we don’t have a business major. Overall, in the second week of the LABB program, I feel that we have already learned so much about business. I would encourage students to take advantage of this opportunity because it is beneficial and provides us with real world experiences. I am excited for the four weeks we have left and what we will know when we finish the program.

Downing ’15 Business and Technology at The Indianapolis Public Library

Eric Downing ’15 – During our first week of the program, we visited the Indianapolis public library for a tour and lecture. First walking into the building, I felt as though I was walking through a museum mixed with a learning and education center. The building was magnificent and breath taking, and I was astounded when I heard there are weddings that take place in the public library throughout the year. Looking at the original library and comparing it to how the library stands today, the growth and evolution of the institution is absolutely amazing. Moving to the CEO of the library, Ms. Nytes, who gave an informational and interesting presentation, I found myself interested in two aspects of her presentation.

Downing ’15

One was the fact that they spent 15% of their revenue on something that will benefit and be used by the public, meaning they are re-feeding 15% of their earning onto the public. The number stood out to me. Earlier in the week, Roland shared that his library was spending double that amount (30%) of their revenue for the public. I began to wonder why there was such a difference in the numbers. We began to learn that libraries with different magnitudes run at different rates for many diverse reasons, and it really allowed me to connect the real world experience with what we later learned.

And the second idea that began to float in my head was this idea of the libraries being flooded with technology. Whether it is ebooks or the computers the library offers, technological advances are impacting libraries. Learning how complex and ordered a library system had to be opened my eyes to an aspect of the library I had never thought about. I always thought of the library as somewhere to get a book for a class assignment, never about the business aspects the library follows. We later learned in class how many industries are being influenced by new technology, and can connect those ideas to the library or other sites we visited this week. These two ideas stuck out to me and I was able connect them to the learning that had taken place in the Liberal Arts Bridge to Business.

Yan ’16 Bridge Between Classroom and Business

Kevin Yan ’16 – I am very fortunate to be a member of the Liberal Arts Bridge to Business (LABB) program this summer with Mr. Ronald Morin’91 and sixteen fellow Wabash participants. It is a seven-week summer program that

Yan ’16

introduces us to the basic principles behind business decisions and consulting, as well as providing a one-week financial literacy workshop. Through this past week in the program, I have gained practical knowledge about finance. Specifically, I learned how to make balance sheets, income sheets, and about accounting practices through lectures, readings, and field trips.

In the first two weeks our typical class period has been from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. During the morning session, we discuss global news and then we always watch a TV show called “Shark Tank.” We talk about the advantages and disadvantage of investing in each different startup business and how each case should be developed in the long run. We also review different cases related to diverse business areas from Harvard Business Review. In the afternoon, we continue our discussions about the business cases and work on our business plan and consulting project with our group members.

However, the internship is not limited to the classroom, but also includes on-site visits to many businesses. This past Thursday, we visited Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation with Joe Trebley’01, Head of Startup Support and Promotion. He first discussed the definitions of cash flow and founders equity. He further examined the pros and cons of equity and debt. In the end, we had the opportunity to ask several questions about startup business and finance, and Mr. Trebley patiently answered each question in detail.

I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment, Wabash alumni, friends, and family who have generously donated to the Liberal Arts Bridge to Business Program. I am thankful for the liberal arts education that I am receiving at Wabash College. I feel confident and prepared each day because of the knowledge gained from my economics, rhetoric, and mathematics courses. I am also thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know some of the guys in the program, and I believe that we will work well together. In the upcoming weeks, I look forward to learning more about business development and how that process works. Additionally, I hope that alumni will continue to support this excellent program, opening a door for more liberal arts students to learn about business.

Coutchie ’15 Connects with Summer Immersion

Fritz Coutchie ’15 – When I first met my sixteen co-workers and our boss, Mr. Roland Morin, I was unsure if I would find my summer internship fulfilling. The LABB internship program is meant to round out a Wabash liberal arts education with practical business experience and knowledge, while simultaneously bringing value to the College.

Our boss, Morin is a 1991 graduate of the College and understands how to work with Wabash students. Initially, Mr. Morin was stern and often reminded us that we can be fired. Since, he has revealed a warmer side and taken a genuine interest in our lives.



Our first week was filled with discussions of leadership and finance; we read cases, articles and listened to guest speakers. While all of those opportunities were great for learning the practical applications of the theories we studied in our readings and class discussions, the most fulfilling experience I had was taking the StrengthsQuest StrengthsFinder inventory. StrengthsQuest is a program run through Gallup, which provides insight into how to optimize a person’s top five “talent themes.”

Talents are innate; however, too frequently individuals allow their talents to remain dormant. StrengthsQuest helps an individual identify his/her natural strengths and provides suggestions on how the talents can be developed in the future. Dr. James Jefferies, Assistant Director of Career Services, ran a group seminar to supplement the suggestions StrengthsQuest provided. Each of the “talent themes” relate to how one thinks or works with other people. Dr. Jefferies demonstrated how understanding the “talent themes” of others could aid in teamwork.

My top five strengths were Ideation, Learner, Strategic, Woo, and Command. In plain English this means that I naturally make connections between ideas well, I desire the accumulation of knowledge, I tend to think in patterns, I enjoy meeting new people and I readily make decisions and influence others.  None of my strengths lend themselves to building deep connections with others or with execution of tasks. I would do well to work with individuals who possess the “talent themes” I lack.

Throughout our internship we will be expected to work in teams and create business proposals. I anticipate knowing each other’s “talent themes” will be instrumental in constructing and working within these teams during the internship. Once the summer is over, the idea of “talent themes” will provide a future framework of thought when dealing with others and seeking out those who thrive in ways that I do not.

Now I look forward to the rest of the LABB program. It is evident that this internship is intended to increase the self-awareness of those participating. As we learned on our first day, a good leader has a high degree of self-awareness and a good businessperson is generally a good leader.