Maddie Silverstein Interview

Maddie Silverstein is a student at Mamaroneck High School in New York. She placed fourth in the Introduction to Business Presentation at the 2018 National Leadership Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Maddie agreed to sit down with FBLA National President Eu Ro Wang to share her experience competing in Introduction to Business Presentation.

Why did you choose Introduction to Business Presentation as your event?

I felt that that event could utilize my speaking skills which is one of my strongest skill sets. It also included a very broad prompt, “What does FBLA mean to me”, and I thought that I could take that to make different directions and I could be very creative with that topic.

So explain to me how the event works.

You are given a prompt, whatever it is for the year, and you have to create a 7 minute Business presentation about that prompt. There really aren’t many guidelines other than that it has to be 7 minutes. There’s a Q&A following the presentation, but that’s about it.

How did you prepare for this event?

To prepare it took me a long time to come up with the concept, that was probably the most difficult part. My concept I think is what was the sharpest part of the entire presentation, and that’s something that’s very important when developing any project for FBLA, having very strong concept. One I had my concept I look at previous examples, got advice from my advisers, and then I developed a framework that I was going to fill out. I divided my presentation into four different parts: F, B, L, and A. For each part I gathered research, I interviewed people, I created videos with the interview, I created graphs from surveying people, it was a lot of outreach and a lot different components that went into it. Creating and editing the script took a while, making sure to be extremely concise as to not go over the time constraint and also keeping it very informative. That took a while to produce but in the end it all came together.

Tell us how you cooperated with your team, what methods you used to delegate tasks, and how that part worked in general.

My group member actually didn’t compete with me at Nationals, but prior to Nationals, there was a lot of communication with dividing the group work and a lot of meeting outside of school. It’s very important to meet outside of school as much as you can, and I think although you can save a lot of time by email, meeting up to do work is just the best way to do it. We would meet up, divide the plan for the next time we would meet up and divide up the work in between us, and that had to be done for the following time that we were going to meet up, whether that was designing these three slides or writing these three portions of the script or edit this portion of the script and interview this portion, whatever that was, we had to make sure we were meeting time deadlines and that was probably one of the biggest tasks we had to do as a team.

You mentioned that one of the reasons you chose this event was because it really highlighted your skill of public speaking. How important do you think the presentation aspect is for this event?

Honestly I think the presentation spect is the most important part, yes I had a strong concept but I know that my show could have been more complex and I only had programs in my slide show so what I think really helped was my confidence speaking and my rehearsal. If you are confident speaking in front of the judges that can make you stand out from everybody else.

What did you learn from competing in this event? What are your greatest takeaways from this event?

I would say that my first takeaway is that you could never enter a competition without preconceived notion, like I went to Nationals thinking that I was not going to make it to the next round and there were so many talented people competing against me that I really had no shot. You just have to focus on your best work and you never know what the judges are going to see what the judges are going to think, and you really have to put your best foot forward because it can turn out either way. ANother thing that I got out of it was the importance of public speaking, and that could definitely set you apart from the competition if you are confident and rehearsed. With partners creating deadlines is really helpful when construction these projects and meeting your own deadlines, not just the ones for the project.

What kind of people do you recommend this event for?
I would recommend this event for people who are confident in their speaking skills or people who want to better their public speaking skills or enjoy public speaking and also someone who may want to practice their presentation giving. Since this is a very broad event people who are creative and don’t want to follow specific guidelines tend to gravitate towards this competition as well.

Great, is there last advice you will like to give to people competing in this event?

Just put your best foot forward, be confident, and as long as you’re doing your best you will definitely find success.

Thank you Maddie!

Scotlyn Mummert Interview

Scotlyn Mummert is a student alum of Chestnut Ridge High School in Pennsylvania. She placed first in the American Enterprise Project at the 2018 National Leadership Conference in Baltimore, Maryland with Sarah Ryan and Megan Diehl. Scotlyn agreed to sit down with FBLA Social Media Ambassador David Ten to share her experience competing in American Enterprise Project.

Can you briefly describe what the FBLA American Enterprise Project is about and what you are expected to do in this event?

The American Enterprise Project is essentially a project that asks you to bring  some of the ideals or the lessons of the American Enterprise System to your community of your school and with that we were expected to design a project and implement it in our school and the local community.

Why did you decide to compete in this particular event and did you have any partners?

Actually, we do our chapter events by dividing it among the officer team. But, the reason why we choose the American Enterprise Project was because, it feels like a while ago, I actually did this project two times before. We really had a lot of practice. Last year I did it with two of my friends, Megan and Ryan. We kept on doing because we liked it and we loved working as a team together.

What do you think you did differently the third time you competed in this event?

I think it’s dependent of the judges because you can be unbiased as you want but you will still like some projects more than others. I think with our last project we focused a lot on the students in our community and I think that resonated a lot with the judges.

How much of your success in this event do you attribute to your chapter’s involvement?

I think a lot of it because part of the American Enterprise Project score is based on your involvement and we really tried to get as tried to get as much chapter involvement as possible because the more activity you have the greater your score is in that category. I would actually say that it’s more than that because our chapter really helped with whatever we needed for the project. I feel like a lot of it is dependant. If I didn't have the chapter that I have I wouldn’t be able to perform as well.

Do you mind sharing what the major theme was in your project or your chapter involvement?

For this last project, actually for the past 3 years in the American Enterprise Project, I have really tried to extend each branch of the American Enterprise system to the High school level, the Middle school level, and the Elementary school level. Last year we did a lot with the kids in our after-school program, and we helped them a lot with preparing with life after high school.

What do you think most difficult part of the whole project, the pre-judged project or the presentation?

I don’t think either one of those was the most difficult because my FBLA adviser did a fabulous job, she made sure our reports were super tight, she made us experienced speakers. We would stay up till one or two, practicing our speeches, we were extremely dedicated and that all goes back to our advisor. I would honestly say that the hardest part for my partner and I were our really strong personalities. Trying to determine important things to put into the project and making sure that all our schedules lined up with each other was the hardest part I would say.

Overall, you were able to cooperate with your partners effectively?

Oh yeah, they were some of my best friends in high school so it came to us natureal. I would say we worked really well together. I would say it’s mostly from experience. I would always say that friends are fine to be partners with, but never your boyfriend or girlfriend, that would just be a mess. I am so grateful for the partners I had for this event, we just understood what had to get done.

What advice would give to people thinking of competing in this event?

I would say take pictures of everything, you never know when you would need something for your report, and for the written report I would say have as many people as you can read it. It’s 15 pages, so that’s a lot of work and it’s easy to miss something. I know me and my partners each read the report like three times, we had friends look over it, anyone who had a good set of eyes read out report. So exposure for your report is good and in terms of the speaking portion, I would say the one thing that set my team apart from the others is our ability to confidently answer questions. In practice I think it’s very good to have people from your chapter ask you questions to prepare you for the speaking part of the performance

Have you learned anything new from competing in this event?

I think it’s crazy, because before doing this project I didn’t even know what the American Enterprise System was, so it was really great to learn it myself and then bring it to people within my community.

Thank you Scotlyn!



Daniel Zhang Interview

Daniel Zhang is currently a junior from California. He competed in Marketing at the 2018 National Leadership Conference in Baltimore, and he placed first at Marketing with his teammate, Raj Dosani.

DZ: I’m a Junior at Dohry Valley FBLA, I’ve just been promoted to a section office in Bay Section of California and events this year I’m doing is partnership with business for chapter event which is really different from what I’ve traditionally done with tests and role-play, but I think I’ll like it a lot.

DT: Thats cool, so why did you and your partner choose marketing as your competitive event last year.

DZ: So I actually like really passionate towards marketing and I want to go into the career of marketing and management so what would be more perfect than doing that as an FBLA event. Also beforehand that I did a marketing internship at a startup company at kickstarters which gave me the background knowledge about marketing that influenced my decision in choosing my FBLA competitive event.

DT: What about your partner, his name is Raj Dosani?

DZ: He goes to UC Berkeley, he was a Senior last year he also worked in a job for sales so we both have the experience of being exposed to the marketing industry.

DT: So you felt like you had the upper edge in this event due to your background in marketing?

DZ: It helped a lot more with the role play than the objective test because it gave us a lot more background knowledge into the general market industry which was useful during the role play because we were able to show our competency in marketing terminology.

DT: Can you give us some details about how the two parts of the competitive event work and tips that you think made you succeed.

DZ: How it works is the objective test is a 100 question test like any other test and all the information was centered on marketing and the different competencies and you have 60 minutes to do that as a team on one computer. For the role play they give you a prompt and they leave you in a room for 20 minutes and you each get an index card to plan on. You do the pitch which should last 4-7 minutes and then the judges ask you questions. What I found most useful in preparing for the objective test was copying and pasting all the marketing competencies on these different google docs and I basically made my own worksheets to study from. I spent a lot of time doing online research and that helped a lot. A lot of the objective test was really random such as Econ and other business topics, definitely not just marketing. Another thing that helped was taking the different tests, like every single test we possible could find online. A lot of the questions you would find are recycled, like around 40% or 50% of the objective test. Taking the test and studying the answers will definitely be helpful because you will see these questions again.

DT: For the ordinary person competing in this event, how do you think members can become better at pitching, I feel like that would be a very difficult to learn.

DZ: Doing the role play you need to be able to think fast. You have 20 minutes to prepare and you are not speaking with a script, you are speaking directly to the judges and they will be asking you tough questions on loopholes they can find on whatever prompt you have. A lot of it comes with practice, it also comes with researching on your own about marketing. For me and Raj we both had unique experience in the marketing industry like having an internship and working at a sales position in a company. That helped a lot and it was something not a lot of students had in FBLA. It is also important to know the rubric really thoroughly, don’t just look at it right before you’re doing it. Make sure that when you are studying for the objective test you are already looking at the rubric for the role play and memorizing exactly what’s on the rubric, and the specific points they want to hear. You can speak really well, talk really pretty, but you might not have all the points they want to hear which is detrimental to the performance of your roleplay. At Nationals last year, I don’t think our speaking was top performance. After we did it, we thought we lost but we hit every single point the judge wanted to hear. There are 8 different competencies you have to hit in the roleplay and we practiced beforehand memorizing 4 different competencies each. Everytime we practiced our role play, I did my 4 competencies and Raj did his 4. We were extremely well versed in our separate 4 subjects so we were not wasting time thinking about it when we were doing the role play. It worked very well for us, I think we ended up getting 96 out of 100 in the roleplay at Nationals. We probably got some points deducted for the nervousness but you can’t really help it. Just having all the points memorizing down in your head really helps.  A great way to get practice is approaching someone in the marketing industry and doing practice pitches with them, there’s a lot of pitch examples on different websites, we personally used a lot of DECA prompts for practice pitches. It takes a lot of practice, a lot of perseverance, and it comes a lot from the background of what you generally already know.

DT: Those are some great ideas! My last question is had this event changed you in anyway, I know you were already pretty knowledgeable in Marketing, but did you pick up any new skills or expertise that you didn't possess before?

DZ: It helped me get a bit more confidence within FBLA, like going to States, going to Nationals, competing in Marketing, it really helped me learn a lot more and develop a better work ethic towards it and also the experience of speaking with the judges was a milestone this being my first roleplay event. It was really different giving a pitch to the judges and overcoming my nerves, this really helped me getting of my feet in my speaking and fast-thinking abilities. It contributed to building my character as it gave me the confidence to start a few of my other initiatives outside of FBLA.



Ninad Kulkarni Interview

Ninad Kulkarni is currently an FBLA Social Media Ambassador and the Chapter President at Pinnacle High School in Arizona. He has competed in the 2017-18 E-Business Event and placed 1st at Nationals with his teammates Bader Alrifai and Hayden Paoletti. He shares his wisdom of the process of creating and presenting a business website, all it’s nuts and bolts and headaches.

DT: When did you start working on your E-biz project?

NK: I think we started in October, we didn’t really work in the winter break because of Junior year, but the best time to start is winter break

DT: You previously said how you had no coding experience when you started the project is that right?

NK: Yes that is absolutely right, we started learning CSS, HTML, JavaScript and then we made the website

DT: What sources did you use to learn all this coding?

NK: The best source would be W3schools it's a free website that teaches you anything from HTML 3 to HTML5 and youtube video tutorials we also very helpful and you can also look up specific problems on stagnant websites

DT: Is most of the focus on the aesthetic appeal of the website?

NK: HTML does the structure of the website, like there's a text there’s a button, but CSS styles it, this button will look green and have this texture, but what JavaScript does is add interactions to your websites for example our website has unique click functions that can access a drop down. I suggest to make a flashy website that actually works. We have an auto cart you can incorporate by doing the math and implementing code.

DT: Ok, alright so after you learned coding what was the next step that you took?

NK:We were graphic designers so first we followed the design process.

But first you should research your competition guidelines, in our topic we were supposed to make a home delivery service.

We looked up last year’s topics to see what they did and we also looked up like the industry standard if you will. Then we did prototyping and brainstorming of how we can make our website look like the standard.

DT: What made you choose the theme of “Paoletti’s Kitchen”?

NK: The theme had to be home delivery service but for the name we brainstormed ideas and one of our team members was Hayden Paoletti and it sounded nice to have Paoletti’s kitchen. It had a home cooked feel to it.

DT: How well did you cooperate with your team and what method did you use to delegate tasks?

NK: So we kind of knew each other before we started so there was cohesion between us since we began, but the best way to organize and delegate work is to basically keep track of what everyone's doing. We had 3 members so I would do CSS and HTML the other person can do JavaScript and the third person could do the design process and coming up with ideas. So we kind of divided the work and it was all the same amount of workload that we were doing .

I would say I learned a bit, I did a few test websites just to sharpen my skills and for regionals and states we did not do many features. For example, our website did not work on the phone. There was kind of progression: as we learned more skills we applied more skill to the website.

DT: That makes sense, how many hours a week did u put in every since you started in October?

NK: Oh it's actually funny because we really procrastinated a lot. And we basically finished right at the the deadline. We had to code the whole day, it was not fun. It was due right after we came back from winter break but after that we learned our lesson and for nationals we paced ourselves. Pacing is extremely important for this event.

DT: How much preparation have you done for the business part of it of presenting your website, explaining it, and answering questions?

NK: Here’s the thing, we joined FBLA through our graphic design class so we didn't really know how the business side works, so we kind of had to figure it out ourselves. The way we thought about it was that we were making a website for a preexisting company who would buy our product and integrate it into theirs. So we prepared a pitch for that and then reverse engineered it to sound as if we were the company explaining our product through the website.

NK: They throw curveballs at you. They’ll ask you how many employees do you have, and we said “Oh 100”. You can use absurd number if you justify it. If you are not business oriented you should work really hard on being able to answer these type of questions.

DT: Is there any last advice you would like to give to people that are competing in this event?

NK: My advice would be not to make the same mistake that we did which is not pacing ourselves. You also have to keep in mind what your competition is. For example this years prompt is very vague so you get a lot more flexibility with your topic. Still keep in mind the business you’re doing, keep up with the industries standards. Make sure to keep in mind that this is E-business, as much as coding matters, business matters too, you have to keep a balance between both.