business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

PORTLAND, Ore. - I am in the city that I like to think of as my home away from home, and I spent a few hours last night in a Retailing class taught by Matt Mroczek at Portland State University. I'm here for other business, but Matt was kind enough to take me up on my offer to teach the class for a few hours.

I've said it before, but it is worth saying again. There are few things so energizing and cheering as a couple of hours spent with college students. We essentially talked about stories and commentaries that have appeared on MNB and elsewhere - about subject ranging from GMO labeling to Amazon's grocery business, how Netflix is changing its business model to respond to changing consumer behavior to Tesco's virtual store experiment - for two solid hours. I found the students to be probing, insightful, funny, passionate and highly engaged.

It was an Eye-Opener. Which is exactly what I find every time I come to PSU.

(To be fair, this is generally what I find whenever I teach at schools that include USC, Western Michigan University, and Cornell University. I am cheered when I meet college students; I generally walk away thinking that the world is in pretty good hands. I'm writing in this space about PSU because it is where I happen to be ... and because PSU has adopted me, to some extent. Or maybe it is me who has adopted PSU, and Tom Gillpatrick, and his terrific program...)

I'll be back here in Portland in a week or so for PSU's annual food retailing conference, and I can't wait. As always, it will be a mix of students and industry professionals, and the sessions should be fascinating. (I'll be doing two of them, one on the demands and challenges of local sourcing, and another entitled "Everything You Need To Know About Your Next Job But Were Afraid To Ask," which will look at the shifting demands of the job market in the 21st century.)

If you are anywhere in the vicinity of Portland, Oregon on Monday, May 6, I hope you'll join us at PSU for what I think will be an entertaining and engaging afternoon and evening ... I always find that I may show up in the role of "teacher," but I end up learning an enormous amount.
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