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Perspective on Grading: Interview With Dr. Gary Kaskowitz

A short time ago, I wrote a blog post reviewing John Bader’s book called “Dean’s List” and I mentioned that I would interview one of my professors about one of the concepts contained therein. So, for a brief introduction, I interviewed my marketing professor, Dr. Gary Kaskowitz. He has authored one of my textbooks for this year called “Brand It Like Barack” and he has four degrees in various areas of study.

John Bader explains in “Dean’s List” that grades are mainly superficial; shallow; nearly meaningless in many cases. His justification is that numerical grades are mostly a particular teacher’s indication and personal bias of what they believe you have learned; not what you actually learned or can apply to your life. So, in that sense, as soon as one graduates or leaves an institution, the grades you received near meaninglessness because the teacher’s opinions of you do not matter to your job. Bader cites certain circumstances that make his presumption untrue, such as moving on to graduate school. For the most part, he feels that grades are a shallow construct and measurement of what students are learning and should not be taken too seriously.

This presumption upset me a little bit because my mind immediately jumped to professors who teach in anything BUT traditional lecture style settings. Actually, my first thought was Dr. Kaskowitz. I have had him for two classes in my college career and have thoroughly enjoyed both classes. I think this is because it isn’t traditional lecture classes. He is interactive, asks challenging questions, and plays games in class (inserting the occasional joke that flies right over most  of our oblivious heads) to help uslearn the concepts of marketing, consumer behavior, and branding. The part that aggravated me was that I felt like John Bader’s statement was intended not as a generalization, but an accepted fact:  grades don’t measure learning.

MBA, PhD, Moravian College, ProfessorSo, I interviewed Dr. Kaskowitz and shared my perspective about his class and how his grading system works. I asked about his perspectives on his own system and his class structure. His thoughts are included here.

There are levels of learning and two of the most basic levels are factual learning and conceptual learning. Factual learning is when you memorize and accept information as factual and true and you are capable of explaining things based on this factual information. Conceptual learning is based on using the facts to reach applications and from applications to more in-depth applications or alternative applications in varying situations. The two can be viewed as a “forest versus tree” perspective. Are you looking at the details and facts (trees) or are you looking at the concepts and applications (whole forest)? Dr. Kaskowitz explained the importance of being capable of doing both and having the ability to apply both in different ways to optimize your thinking and learning from each class, including his own.

An application for how to use the forest/tree analogy is inductive and deductive reasoning. By the process of Inductive Reasoning, one can view the tree and assume that it is possible there may be a forest surrounding them which includes the tree (hence the realm of possibilities or opportunities). By the process of Deductive Reasoning, one can view the forest and deduce that there must be trees (facts) in the forest to make it up.

Regardless of the reasoning approach we use, Dr. Kaskowitz encourages utilization of both and honing of the weaker one so we can develop the ability to use both skills effectively and appropriately. He said that we should make an effort to optimize our learning and challenge our traditional beliefs of learning by using methodologies we are not accustomed to using and always try to look at it from a perspective not your own. He believes, as I do, that his classes teach that to some extent; that he challenges us to think outside our own box and in multiple ways at once, which creates a directionality that is multi-focal.


First Impressions

First impressions are important, but another person’s view of us is ‘outside our control’. So what can we control? The most important thing in our control is our personal commitment to ‘leading ourselves’. If we can’t lead ourselves we can’t lead others. The first step is recognizing that ‘Everything We Do In Life Counts’. This is a constant process and includes everything we do both public and private.

Every choice we make must have a purpose. There are no insignificant choices in life. The small things always matter. What are some other things that COUNT?


  • Self-discipline in every area of our life
  • Developing Personal Character
  • Personal Development
  • Commitment to Excellence
  • How we invest our energies and time
  • How we treat others

If we take this approach in life our ‘first impressions’ will be driven by a set of core beliefs that stand on their own. It is said that we become the 5 people we spend the most time around. Look at your 5 closest friends (their character, habits, attitudes, etc) and you will see yourself. If we are committed to developing the character qualities of a leader, we will draw to ourselves people who are just like we are. The ‘lasting impressions’ of those closest to us are the ones that really count. First impressions will take care of themselves.

What is a First Impression?

We know what first impressions are but we DON’T know how much they can help or harm you and the relationships you try to build. A first impression is formed between the first 10 seconds and 5 minutes you are in someone’s presence. PROBLEM: They are private and we have no idea what other people are thinking about us.

First Impressions:

  • Can improving or degrading
  • Are private
  • Can be informed and influenced by personal values and biases; therefore preempting the impression to a particular state (before the meeting even occurs)
  • Are formed based on our actions and reactions, language, tone, appearance, even environments (i.e. what or whom we surround ourselves with)

We may not know or want to believe it (Wizard’s First Rule), but people are watching us… Yes, WATCHING… Scary, right? But true.

Can I Control the First Impression Formed?

Yes, and no. We can control it by preparing for that first meeting. If we do, the first impression will be more stable and likely more positive. However, Geoffrey James cites that there isn’t a logical thought process which individuals experience. Truth is, it’s a reaction both immediate and unconscious. Many sources detail how to form a positive first impression, but they want you to ACT LIKE SOMETHING YOU AREN’T!

David Wygant discusses that your self-confidence is the most important part of your first impression. Low confidence makes it hard for anyone else to believe in you. The best way to market your personal brand is BUZZ marketing. Let people talk about you. LeadershipFreak says that other people will talk about you if you let them. Let other people’s words give you confidence and pride in who you are.

First impressions determine how each interaction proceeds from that point forward. The first impression made on anyone is foundational.

Take Initiative. Research:

  • The person
  • The company
  • Purpose for meeting
  • That person’s values
  • Their superiors (subordinates)
  • Try to find a contact within the company or close to them in the hierarchy

Mark Oakes encourages us to monitor and protect what we can control about our first impressions. You CAN control what you do and say that people will see and interpret; not their thoughts. Be cognizant of those things; use them to your advantage.

How do I Control My First Impressions?

  • Stay Positive
  • Be yourself
  • Be confident
  • Let others market your brand
  • Pay attention to your actions and words; they can help or hurt you
  • Be unforgettable; not memorable
  • Ask relevant, interesting questions
  • Do preliminary research
  • Ask for information to look into and follow-up on

“Wizard’s First Rule: People will believe anything you tell them because A) they are afraid it is true or B) they want it to be true.”   -Zeddicus Zul Zorander, Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Edberg, Hendrik. How to Make A Great First Impression. Retrieved from:
Goodkind, Terry. Wizard’s First Rule.
James, Geoffrey. 2011. How Important Are First Impressions? Retrieved from:
Laskowski, Lenny. 1998. How to Create A Great First Impression. Retrieved from:
Willis, Janine & Alexander Todorov. 2006. First Impressions: Making Up Your Mind After a 100-Ms Exposure To A Face. Retrieved from:
Wygant, David. 2010. How Important Are First Impressions? Retrieved from:

Other Resources:

BritanyBritany Wallace is a senior business student at Moravian College in Bethlehem and loves blogging in her free time. She expects to travel for volunteer and learning opportunities during the summer and look for permanent work afterward. She enjoys volunteer work, mostly construction and helping at animal shelters and in her free time she reads for knowledge and pleasure. Please support Britany by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment below and visiting her at, or (Introduction by Mark O. Oakes, a wonderful contact of KEBPerspectives. Follow him on Twitter @MarkOOakes)

TOMS Shoes

Rachel Febert and I have spent the past two semesters working together on class projects and currently, an internship with a local no-kill shelter.

Tomorrow, we present on TOMS Shoes to our Business Strategy and Policy Senior Seminar class. I am very interested in this business model, the founder, and his mission in life. So, I figured I would include here, a synopsis of our presentation and my thoughts on what we have learned during our research.

TOMS Shoes

This company was founded in June of 2006 by Blake Mycoskie. The young entrepreneur’s SIXTH business is constructed in a unique way:  it is a for profit company that operates on a nonprofit mission statement and is therefore self-sustainable based on its One for One donation concept. For each pair of shoes TOMS sells, they donate another pair to children in developing and underprivileged countries.

TOMS, TOMS shoes, nonprofit, one for one, day without shoes, blake mycoskie

TOMS is actually an abbreviation of “Shoes for a Better Tomorrow”. The word ‘tomorrow’ was shortened and pluralized because the original campaign would not fit on the back of a shoe:

This concept was inspired by the founder’s trip to Argentina and, later that year the company was able to donate 10,000 pairs of shoes back to the children that caused Blake’s actions! The children targeted by Blake’s mission statement are at risk for health problems as well as educational problems because some schools require shoes as part of their dress code.

He began with shoes and has expanded to eyewear, t-shirts, and even more lines of shoes. He has gone so far as to create shoes specifically for prom purposes! In 2008, college students organized the first Day Without Shoes campaign to raise awareness of children who do not have shoes to wear. It has become a global initiative and in April of 2012 over a quarter-million people participated worldwide on that day in April.

Mycoskie does not accept or seek out funding or support from outside sources. He used his own capital from previous ventures to found TOMS and has not formalized the company since. He is the sole owner, has created no business plan, and employes friends, family, and outside individuals to run the company. TOMS thrives on volunteers to help raise awareness and perform shoe drops several times a year. He spends minimally on marketing and advertising, relying on word of mouth marketing and social acceptance.

Blake believes that TOMS success is due to one key factor: the new generations’ have a desire for global involvement and support. So, the new generations are supporting the movement and it will continue to grow until the society determines something else is more acceptable. Surprisingly, TOMS was even profitable through the recession, despite raising their prices! Talk about best-case scenario. This company is similar in structure to other shoe companies, prices are higher, AND they were profitable through the recession when many companies declared bankruptcy. Argentina, One for One, TOMS, TOMS shoes, Blake Mycoskie

Mycoskie holds a few advantages that make his company untouchable and indestructible. He has the first mover’s advantage, as well as a unique competitive advantage. Unless and until Mycoskie terminates the company, no other company will ever be able to enter the market and take his market share from him in the shoe industry. Also, because of his unique thinking process, his business model is self-sustaining because the sales to the company drive the donations in the mission statement. It is a symbiotic relationship in which TOMS feeds off of the society by selling shoes to the community, but it also supports the society by donating shoes to children who cannot afford them.

Rachel and I have determined the obvious, that running a business like this is admirable; but, without a business plan, this is a disaster waiting to happen. The purpose of our academic presentation is to recommend how to fix the primary problem. Our clear solution is to install a formalized business plan, which will include a succession plan, and to construct a board of directors so that the company may grow and expand wisely.


2. Strategic Management and Business Policy by Wheelen and Hunger

Just Do It…

Just Do It….

This is the original blog post of a friend of mine in the blogging sphere. She is looking for as much support as possible! Every great cause needs a community of devoted individuals to support it and keep it going and growing!

Help me help her achieve her goals during this walk! The Hobbler wants an international team to walk with her virtually! Everyone needs friends, but the friends who are there because they want to be are the most valuable! Spread the love and caring! Join Hobbler’s team and spread the word!


Dean’s List by John Bader

I just finished this book yesterday and I LOVED it! Bader describes things that most college freshmen would do much better if they knew before reaching college. But, looking back on my four years, it didn’t hurt me to read it this late in my college career either. This book has challenged me to think and I appreciate that in a book. I have included his 11 Habits of Highly Successful College Students here, but you will have to read the book to get the full synopsis!

#1: Focus on Learning; Not on Grades

This one really challenged a foundational belief that grades determine your success in life. Anyone who believes that is slightly misguided. Bader explains that grades are mostly a measure of what the professor wants you to learn; not what you need to learn or what you actually learned.

#2: Build an Adult Relationship with Your Parents

He describes different types of students and parents and how the interactions can be healthy or unhealthy to a developing student’s career for the rest of their life.

#3: Work the System by Understanding the System

Here, he explains that you need to realize the overarching purpose of each structure before you can take advantage of it. School is not there to see how many facts you can memorize in the few hours before the test. School is designed to teach you how to think and how to learn. What you learn is nearly unimportant, because most students do not work in their major after graduation.

#4: Approach the Curriculum Like a Great Feast

His concept here is to sample what you have interests in because most people only get one shot at college. Don’t lock yourself into the precise curriculum and “easy” electives because you don’t want to put forth the extra effort.

#5: Majors and Careers are NOT the Same Thing

Again, we go back to the concept that most students do not remain in their major permanently, or sometimes at all.

#6: Don’t Just Work Hard; Work Smart!

Utilize all resources available to you and discover how to learn the material, don’t just memorize the textbook because you aren’t actually learning anything.

#7: Build Integrity to Get into Professional Schools

Bader discusses why students should or shouldn’t go back to professional school. He also explains how is the best way to do that. Hint: not by killing yourself studying the subject matter.

#8: Learn from Diversity at Home and Abroad

Bader suggests all students take advantage of opportunities to learn about other people and their differences which make them special. Learn about other cultures and other languages. Take the time to submerge yourself into alternative cultures to learn about them and apply the concepts in a global aspect to your life and career.

#9: If You Are Failing, Understand Why

Many students simply suggest they didn’t study hard enough if they fail. Bader describes at least three different reasons why students fail and do not realize or acknowledge these reasons.

#10: Cope With Failure by Rebuilding and Forgiving

He says sometimes you fail; deal with it. Move on and rise again. You can’t wallow in self-pity if you fail. Learn what went wrong and try to correct it to retry the situation, or move on and try another situation by accepting failure at the original circumstance.

#11: Plan Boldly for Life After College

Don’t sit around and wait for life to come at you. Go find it!


A truly inspirational and thought-provoking book. I suggest it to anyone looking to learn more about their college experience or to discover what to expect before hitting college.

Bader, John. Dean’s List: 11 Habits of Highly Successful College Students. (2011). Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.

A C.H.A.N.C.E for the Kingdom

Peaceable Kingdom is a no-kill animal shelter that I decided to help during my last semester in my first degree. I took an internship with them and decided to attempt to solve their biggest problem: finances. With my partner, Rachel Febert, we have worked hard this semester to gather funds for the shelter, whose lease will run out before 2013. They are going to lose their building.

Through publicity efforts, fundraising events, and networking to spread the efforts past our quasi-office (located in the school library on Mondays and Wednesdays). Please visit our video profiles for this project:



We have dealt with our fair share of obstacles; and for relatively inexperienced businesswomen, we feel we have done very well facing these challenges. We have been flexible, had a great time, and learned so much about the business world from the nonprofit side of things.

Currently, we are working hard to bring together a dinner event to benefit the shelter. We have finished ticket distribution and are beginning to promote the dinner publicly to take a waiting list. That way, when the RSVP list is complete, we will have people who are willing to pay for the tickets attending, instead of leaving empty seats. We have gotten only a few responses. Half of them in the affirmative for attendance and half of them apologizing for absence.

I think the only reason we have such mixed and few results is the time frame. I will begin pursuing people who have ticket requests soon, but for now, I am taking whatever I can get. If this event occurs again, I will most definitely stretch the project out over more time.

For more information about the shelter, visit

For more information about the internship, visit

So many people have been so helpful, I just continue to hope that everything will fall together and be a success. Next time, there will be a better thought out time bracket.

Decisions, decisions; Which is better?

We all have social circles and avenues we follow. Right? Right. Well, in the constantly expanding world of social media and remaining in touch via the internet with people you’ve never even met in person sometimes, things can get hectic if you do not know what the best methods are for YOU.There are many people out there willing to share their thoughts, wisdom, perspectives, and knowledge with you. Actually, there are people who will share these things with you or anyone else, for that matter who will listen! Don’t get me wrong; this is NOT, I repeat NOT a bad thing. It just gets…overwhelming.

This brief blurb is to introduce you to an issue many of us have crossed multiple times before and will continue to experience if one or more of you do not answer this question for yourselves (and for me). This post is for the readers. And, all of us out there who don’t know which questions to ask first, or whom to ask.

Would you say it is more effective and efficient to find a post that is interesting and investigate the corresponding blogger’s entire website until you have exhausted that resource and decide if you need to book mark, subscribe, or contact that person; ORis it better to read the article that interested you originally and wait until the same author comes up again and THEN spend the time investigating?

What kind of criteria do you use to decide which blogs to exhaust and which ones to simply read and move-on? Are there circumstances in which you change your pattern of decision-making?

Two questions for the day, do I have any takers who want to share their wisdom with anyone listening?

Keeping Self-Promises

promise, swear, pledge

Someone who has inspired me often to think about life consciously during my everyday life is Tristan Bishop. He can be found on Twitter @KnowledgeBishop. I love reading his posts on the days I spend on Twitter; notice I did NOT say “when” I am on Twitter every day.

This morning’s inspiring quote from the master himself:  “A promise made to yourself is well worth keeping, so get up and get after it!”

Sounds easy, right? Sure thing.

Fact is, some people have more motivation than others and it is easier for them to just go do it. Some people do not have that quality. The question to be asked here is this:  is motivation all it takes? Is will power enough to get anything done you want to get done?

Or are there other things you need to have in order to just go keep the promises you make to yourself?

To me it is a matter of motivation; but, motivation is made up of sub categories such as support, desire, ability, priorities, and values. If you do not have at least some of these things, you may not be entirely capable of just following your dreams and keeping your promises. You need a solid support system, even if it does not consist of the same friends you spend your time with on the weekends, or your team at work. Your support system can come from anywhere that people are willing to tell you ‘you can do it.’ Generally, my family and boyfriend are my support system, as well as a few close friends. Most of the professionals I work with challenge what I tell them I will do because they do not expect me to meet the expectations I set for myself. Then, I prove them wrong.

Desire and ability go hand-in-hand because if you already have the ability, all you need is desire to accomplish something and you can do that. If you do not have the ability, you must still have the desire and want to perform the action before you can seek the information to learn the ability. These two qualities are locked in a cycle of symbiotic usefulness to each other and to anyone who chooses to use them as part of their arsenal of keeping their promises.

priorities, values, goals, achievement, motivationPriorities and values also tend to travel together. If you know what you value, or have an idea, you have the ability to prioritize. Or, if you have priorities, you can whittle those down to what you value from work or life or society. Without values and things that matter to you, you will not get far down the road of keeping promises to anyone, nevermind yourself. If you make yourself a promise to keep your New Year’s Resolution (i.e. to eat healthier or lose weight) you will never reach that goal if you do not a) value your body image or b) prioritize the actions necessary to attain the goal.

We have reached an agreement with KnowledgeBishop! Make promises to yourself; make them realistic, and then GO KEEP THEM! Just remember to prioritize, want what you reach for, and keep telling yourself you will get there. If you can’t remember to tell yourself, that is what your support system is for; utilize them.

What do the readers think?

Is it that easy to just go do it?

What ‘other’ things are important to go do it?

Conformist Thinking?

John Bader wrote a book called Dean’s List. In the first habit he discusses, he mentions his feelings that grades are shallow. He states that grades are an indicator of learning only to the teacher’s standards. They do not represent learning to any degree he feels is useful and they are short-term measurements of how much you can memorize in the week before the test.

grades, passing, failing, letters, education, school, college, achievement

Seriously, we let our lives revolve around these silly things? Do they REALLY indicate achievement?

The critical thinking to take away from Habit # 1 is this concept:  receiving a college degree does not make you an expert in your field. The reality is that college revolves around grades. But, it should revolve around “exploration, experimentation, and learning grounded in curiosity.”

An interview has been planned with a professor to discuss these concepts and investigate his thoughts and feelings on Bader’s assertions. Another post will follow sometime this month with interview results.

What are your thoughts?

Do you agree or disagree with Bader’s assertions about grades?

Dean’s List

Good morning my dear friends and readers!

As I undertake a new book to review and share with you, my valuable audience, I find I am surprised at how much this book has changed my life already.

Book case, chair, interesting furniture, book lover, love

This chair MUST be in my house!

Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar, I am an undergraduate student who will be finished with my first degree in May of this year. Dean’s List (look for the book review in weeks coming) has made an impression on me in the first six pages. I firmly believe that lovers of books and reading have a relationship with the books they read and the concepts contained therein. Therefore, there is always an internal dialogue between myself and the book. In layman’s terms, when I read I also think, so there are constantly two trains running on two tracks.

John Bader wrote this book to help students make the new, and sometimes scary, transition from high school to college student a less traumatic experience. However, as I being my own journey with him, I am amazed at how much I have learned about my future after college. I have been enlightened by some of this thoughts during the introduction and it has made me consider what my life will be like after I graduate. Sure, I do not know where I will work or precisely every detail of what I want to do. But, in reading the first few pages, I have discovered some thoughts on things that I would at least like to consider making certain that I attempt to include in my daily life after I receive my degree.

Some of those things are for personal development and some are for professional development; some are even just for fun or to fulfill family values I hold. The fact of the matter is, I do not know what will happen to me in the next six months and Bader’s book has already provided me some clarity on how to decide things that are important to me and how to integrate them in my life.

As a side note:  I notice that I have these enlightening thoughts either early in the morning when I blog and catch up on my social media and emails, or later at night when I blog, catch up, and/ or shower (those long hot showers are GREAT for thinking caps)! If you have writer’s block or have some personal issues you need to work through alone, the shower is a great place to do it. If you have general life confusion, I suggest reading or writing a blog. It always helps me sort through life if I have other people’s perspectives – even if their perspectives do not pertain to my current life question.

relationship, book lover, reading

This makes me happy 🙂