Posted by: nickgerlich | December 5, 2007

Story

Samuel Johnson once said, “There is in this world no real delight (excepting those of sensuality) but exchange of ideas in conversation.” Published in Anecdotes of Samuel Johnson in 1786, the late Mr. Johnson is no less relevant today than he was over 200 years ago.

If you feel like our semester has been one solely of lecture, I am afraid you missed the train. Sure, the lectures are all there for you to download, but the real meat of the class has been our ongoing conversation…a conversation that covered just about anything that even remotely dealt with marketing.

In a strange kind of way, it’s almost like we have been gathered around the table at Starbucks to discuss life over a hot cup of coffee.

At a U2 concert, lead singer Bono follows a linear extension of the stage that allows him to come out into the crowd, all the way to the binocular zone of the arena. In so doing, he is trying to connect with his listeners, a relationship that is built on music.

Our daily discussions have allowed me to walk out into the arena of learning, and mingle with my students. Not that I could ever hold a candle to Bono, but I like to think that there is a bright future in forging that professor/student academic relationship.

Typing Your StoryAnd in the process of all this conversation, each of you have been writing (typing) the story of this class. Each semester the story is different, depending on what our conversation focuses on. Take this class again (perish the thought!), and the conversation will take an entirely different course. The daily blog is but a conversation starter; you guys carry the ball and keep the conversation going.

Each of these conversation starters is archived at my public blog, but for the sake of nostalgia, some of my favorite topics this semester included:

  • Starbucks. Yeah, we talked about it quite a bit, but I don’t think we have fully grasped just how important this place is in a sociological or anthropological sense. Go to Amazon.com and search on “Starbucks,” and see how many books you come up with. People will be writing about this place for many years to come. Too bad we didn’t see the future of it 15 years ago. We could have retired with all the capital gains.
  • The Apple iPhone. My undergrads wrote a paper on it; my MBAs did a comprehensive exam question. It is the Gadget of the Year, but is it the answer to the question? Only time will tell. As Bono once said, “We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong.”
  • The Pink Guns. I thought the responses to this blog were awesome. I have had numerous offline conversations about these fem-firearms (especially after my comments appeared in the newspaper). I still think they are a novelty and will not bolster sales or increase hunting. But what do I know? I am the vegetarian, remember? My good friends (?) took the opportunity to rub this in not long ago when they gave me a t-shirt printed with this zinger:, “Vegetarian: Indian Word For Lousy Hunter.” About all I eat are slices and chunks from the rare tofudebeast.
  • Segway-bashing. You were so right in figuring out that the Segway effectively relieves all of us from being ambulatory. Who needs to walk when you have this contraption? Actually, I was hoping someone might say that Amazon’s Kindle is the Segway of reading, but I think you did as much by tossing it in the same heap as the real Segway.
  • We Are The Whirled, the thought experiment imagining what Texas would look like if everyone came. One student even told me point-blank that he couldn’t see the point in the discussion. I know…it’s not like the whole world is ever going to come to Texas at the same time. But sometimes it’s fun and educational to ponder the imponderables. Your responses were delectable. Maybe not as delectable as barbecued tofu, but tasty nonetheless.
  • New Shoes, the blog about rampant spending, as well as that snappy little ditty by Paulo Nutini. Your responses were almost confessional. I still can’t shake that song from my mind. Can anyone say earworm?

Sure, I could go on. We’ve had about 100 conversations this semester, and I truly enjoyed every one of them. I shared many with my wife, my friends, and my colleagues. But like all good things, they must eventually draw to a close. You may not like bumper sticker philosophy, but one of my favorite quotes is from a the back side of a car I once saw in traffic: “It is good for a journey to have an end, but in the end, what matters is the journey.”

I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as I have. Yeah, it was a lot of work keeping up with the conversations, but we all knew it coming in. So no need to beat that horse. Instead, just hop on that horse and ride off to the next chapter in your life. And feel free to drop in, call, or email. I’m always game for another conversation.

Dr “The Privilege Was Mine” Gerlich

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