4 Questions for Students to Engage in Intro to Business Discussion

Article Summary
Students in Introduction to Business classes may be reluctant to take part in class discussions.
It is a great way to start a conversation with students by asking them about news topics.
Students can also connect discussions to the news to help them apply course material to the real world.
Marcella Kelly is a Santa Monica College Business Professor and a Cengage author

Finding engaging Introduction to Business discussion topics can be difficult. Many of us have noticed that many students are reluctant to take part in discussions after two years of a global pandemic. This has resulted in awkward dead air in classrooms, and empty space on discussion boards. It doesn’t work for anyone.
This article contains a few discussion topics pulled from the latest news. They are connected to Introduction to Business course content and have been proven to spark lively discussion among students. These strategies can be used in your virtual classroom and face-to–face classroom, or copied and pasted onto your online discussion boards.
Business Discussion Question 1 – Who’s Your Dad?
It’s not Tobias Lutke, the CEO of Shopify, an e-commerce giant.
Lutke stated in an email to the entire company in Spring 2021, “It should be hugely obvious that Shopify does not belong to a family, but I have seen people casually use terms such as ‘Shopifam’ which could cause our teams (especially juniors that have never worked elsewhere) to get the wrong impression.” You are born into a family. It’s not something you can choose, and it is impossible to un-family you.”
He preferred to use the analogy of a competitive team where great performers can recruit and poor performers can get fired. Despite the harsh rhetoric, Shopify has a track record of outstanding performance and a reputation for being a great place where to work.
Discussion Questions
How would you feel if your CEO sent you an email like the one from Tobias Lutke
Is it appropriate to compare a workplace with a family or a team of competitive athletes? Why or why not?
Business Discussion Question 2 – The Boss Behaving Badly
Twenty years ago, many analysts believed that companies had reached a new low in terms of firing employees. They sent them the message “U R FIRE” via text message. But Vishal Garg, Better Mortgage CEO, set the bar even lower when he fired 15% of the company’s workforce via Zoom right before the holidays.
Garg stated that “if you’re on this phone, you are part the unlucky group being laid off.” A recording of the call was also available by CNN Business. Garg also accused employees of “stealing” their customers and colleagues by being unproductive and working only two hours per day. Garg then spoke out about how difficult it was for him to fire employees, saying, “This is the 2nd time in my career that I have to do this and I don’t want this.” It was the first time I did it. I cried.”
This wasn’t the first instance of a CEO displaying a scorched earth management style. He sent a memo to his staff ten years ago that read “HELLO – WAKEUP BETTER TEAM!” You are too slow. You are a bunch DUMB DOLPHINS. STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. “YOU ARE EMBARRASSING MY” Despite negative publicity from his management style Garg has attracted large infusions capital for his mortgage company.
Discussion Questions
Is it ethical for employees to be fired via Zoom? Why or why not?
What do you think Garg’s management style is going to do for the firm in the short-term? What about the long-term?
Are entrepreneurial skills and difficult personalities often inseparable? Why or why not? Please give examples.
Business Discussion Question 3: Calendar Magic
Burnout is a major concern in the post-pandemic recovery economy. Stephanie Davis, Google Vice President for Southeast Asia, says that she can manage 40 hours of meetings per week and five small pieces of “calendar magic”, which can help combat burnout, are just a few of the ways that Google Vice President for Southeast Asia Stephanie Davis believes is possible.
Reduce the number of meetings that are unnecessary. Keep only meetings that serve a purpose and advance your priorities.
Similar tasks can be combined. For example, you could only send emails in the morning or evening.
Make sure to schedule time for follow-up and preparation. Meetings won’t be thrown off your schedule if you include that time in the calendar.
Change the meeting format. Is it possible to have the meeting as a walk? Can it be done by phone? Face-to-face? Skype?
Schedule self-care breaks. Consider what helps you relax. Is it a quick stroll? Do you prefer a cup of tea? Ten minutes of yoga? No matter what it is, make sure you schedule it.
Discussion Questions
What can you do to avoid burning out?
Which of these five tips would you choose? Why?
Business Discussion Question 4 – #ChickenWar
2019 is a fast-paced year.

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