Teach Business Today #5

Branding, automation, networking, and collaborations

Hi there!

I hope you’re all enjoying the first few official days of summer.

We are preparing for our grad ceremonies this week. Our students will participate in a social-distance convocation where they’ll have a chance to receive their diploma in front of select family and friends.

Because we’ve been so busy handling the logistics of this, I don’t have any self-promotion for this week. If you missed last week’s issue, click here to check out my interviews with Tim Cavey of Teachers on Fire and Mike Macfadden.

Something I am pondering this week is the true role of educators. Are we still a source of knowledge, or are we simply a tool to motivate students to learn things they can learn at home for free?

There is some good discussion on Twitter surrounding this idea. I would love to hear your thoughts.


The Best Business Education Takeaways This Week

Who is Aunt Jemima?

It’s going to be so weird to hear these words said in the future.

In response to the recent worldwide protests, Quaker has decided to scrap the Aunt Jemima image and name as it is based on a racial stereotype.

Branding is one of my favourite topics to teach, and this is an article I plan to introduce on day 1 in the fall.

We are able to hit three major topics with one brand:

  1. What causes a name and image to be used when developing a brand?

  2. How will a shift away from the Aunt Jemima brand affect sales? Is the damage already done?

  3. Do you believe this change would have been made without the push for systemic change?

I love being able to connect current social events into a business-related conversation. I think this will be one that will get my students hooked from day 1 and will give them a chance to speak their minds on a topic we haven’t been able to discuss in person.

Assignment idea: Have students re-brand Aunt Jemima or Uncle Ben’s. It would be interesting to see what kind of ideas they come up with.

100% Self Checkout at Walmart

I take advantage of self-checkout whenever I have the opportunity.

It’s not that I don’t like socializing with an employee. I just like being in control of scanning and paying at my own speed.

Also, the lines are typically shorter.

Walmart isn’t the first company to try this approach. However, it could have the greatest change in the retail world if its a success.

Brick-and-mortar businesses have been trying to cut expenses drastically since COVID-19 struck. Although employees are necessary for certain roles, they are also typically the first to get axed.

Removing all cashiers successfully would allow many businesses in a ton of industries to follow suit.

This would be a great discussion topic for students as many rely on minimum wage jobs for an income. A lot of my students work in a cashier role at Walmart or McDonald’s but realize now that they are more expendable than they believe.

Assignment idea: Have students look at other ways existing retail businesses can automate their stores to reduce expenses further. They can also analyze what the potential positive and negative results would be from that.

Date Night at the Movies

Despite movie releases being pushed back, Cineplex is still looking for opportunities to operate.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the potential future for movie theatres. It looks like Cineplex has no interest in this idea and will show any movie they can to bring in some patrons.

I am interested to see what approaches they take for cleanliness and pricing. Some discussion questions for students include:

  • If they are showing previously released movies, will they do it at a lower price point?

  • How will they handle seating for people in the same household or on a date?

  • How will concession items be handled? Will more items be pre-packaged?

Assignment idea: Have students develop an implementation plan for movie theatre openings. Use this article as a case study where students can try to develop the most profitable reopening plan with pricing, product, and customer safety in mind.

Shopify x Walmart

One area Walmart has seriously lacked in is online shopping. Their website is clunky and hard to navigate, and I find it difficult to get the products I want when I want them.

Partnering with Shopify will provide them with so much opportunity to go from 0 to 100 in the online retail space.

Combining the #1 e-commerce platform with the #1 big box store will give small business owners an opportunity to showcase their products to a larger audience. In turn, Walmart shoppers will gain access to products never before seen in their physical retail locations.

I am really excited for this to come to fruition, and can’t wait to discuss it with my students.

Assignment idea: Interview a Shopify business owner who has products listed on the Walmart site. Use this as an opportunity to gain insight into:

  • Why they chose Shopify

  • What features they receive with their monthly fee

  • Why they chose to access Walmart’s online retail space

  • What positives/negatives come with that

  • How has Walmart’s online retail space impacted sales positively or negatively

The Importance of Community

Building a community online is important when trying to build a professional or personal brand.

I think of my community as everyone who reads this newsletter, and I couldn't be happier to have you all here.

In this Twitter thread, I learned a few new strategies I plan to implement. My goal is not for substantial growth but to provide you with better content.

My favourite takeaway is finding your own voice. Coming up with something new is nearly impossible. Instead, take a bunch of unoriginal ideas to combine them into something original.

There’s a lot of business and education writers out there. But I feel like I am one of the few who combine those with takeaways into the classroom.

Assignment idea: Have students build a hypothetical roadmap to building a community of their own. This can include platforms they’ll focus on, types of content they’ll create, how they’ll get others to subscribe/view their content, and creating a long-term implementation plan. Students can use this roadmap in the present or future to start their own community-building.

If you have any alumni who have been successful with this, I encourage you to bring them in to speak to your students. I wish I did that this year after having a discussion with a former student who has built a community around social media marketing.

If you’re interested in the podcast episode, you can check it out here.


Thank you all so much for continuing to read as we enter our time off. I hope to leave you with an inventory or ideas and inspiration for September and will continue to do that every week.

Please leave a comment or send me an email at sean@seanhopps.com with any feedback or ideas you have for me.

If you’re looking to connect further, feel free to give me a follow and send me a message on TwitterLinkedIn, or my website.

Take care! Until next week,

Sean