Author Archives: Bret Simmons
Shila Morris is a graduate of the University of Nevada and a current graduate student as well. She is also the president of the Squeeze In restaurants in Nevada and California. In her very well prepared and executed talk, she describes both the challenges and joys of working with your family in a small business. In addition to financial stability, the American Dream for Shila and her family is the ability to do something meaningful together and have a positive impact on their employees, customers, and community.
After you watch this talk, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
I use Barry Posner’s books in my Executive MBA course on Organizational Behavior. One of the concepts I love most from his writings is the importance of leadership credibility. Leadership credibility develops to the extent we do what we say we will do. Notice the “we” in this rather than the “me”. If we only speak and act in accordance with our own desires, we might have personal credibility, but not leadership credibility. Leaders speak and act in ways that “we” value. A leader walks the talk that represents us, not just him or herself.
After you watch Barry’s talk, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Juan V. Lopez is currently an MBA student at The University of Nevada. He was the winner of the Nevada Student Speaker Competition at UNR and hence won a spot to speak at TEDxUniversityofNevada 2015.
Juan stutters, and in this video he discusses how most of his life he saw his stutter as a problem that he had to try to fix or hide. He has now come to accept his stutter and embrace it as something that makes him unique. He challenges us all to think about our own “stutter” and likewise embrace what makes each of us unique.
Please watch the video, then please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Misha Raffiee is a budding scientist, musician, and STEM educator. She is currently a research fellow at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in biology and mechanical engineering. She is also a graduate of The Davidson Academy of Nevada.
In this talk, Misha encourages us all to recognize and develop our natural curiosity about things. Passion and deep learning occur when we follow our curiosity and delve deeply into why things work the way they do. Challenge yourself and develop a confidence to ask deep questions when you encounter something new in your everyday life. Take that confidence and have the courage to think more deeply and develop new ideas. This deep exploration can become the foundation for a passion.
Please watch Misha’s talk and then share your thoughts in the comment section below!
In his current role as General Manager for Microsoft’s Americas Operations Center, Owen Roberts leads a team of more than 2,000 employees and contractors in operational roles that support the fulfillment and revenue processing operations of the company’s $80+billion business. In addition to developing and nurturing partner and customer relationships, Owen’s team is responsible for building, launching, and maintaining operational programs and processes, and putting the infrastructure in place for Microsoft to support the technology of tomorrow.
Owen gave a masterful talk at TEDxUniversityofNevada 2015 about how he has embraced risk taking and change in his life and career. He shows how in his own life choosing adventure and uncertainty over safety and certainty has lead to career opportunities and set him ahead of his peers. Even though this advice is not new, so few people choose to really embrace change as a habit of well-being and success.
Please take the time to watch Owen’s talk and then share your thoughts in the comment section below!
We were extremely pleased to have Liz Wiseman as the first speaker at TEDxUniversityofNevada 2015. Liz teaches leadership to executives and emerging leaders around the world. She is the President of the Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development firm headquartered in Silicon Valley. She is the author of the “Rookie Smarts, Why Learning Beats Knowing In The New Game Of Work.”
In this very insightful talk, Liz describes how being inexperienced can actually help us and our teams do better and faster work because we are forced to assume a posture of learning. Living and working with rookie smarts can be accomplished with three simple choices 1) ask more questions, 2) seek novelty, and 3) treat work as play.
Please take the time to watch Liz’s talk, then share your thoughts in the comment section below.
By Sean Nichols:
Over the last year I have been working with a startup company here in Reno called Dragonfly Energy. It has been an exciting and interesting opportunity to apply my business skills on an entrepreneurial level. Last year my friend Dr. Denis Phares asked me to join him in launching a new li-ion battery technology. I gladly accepted his offer and became the Chief Operating Officer of Dragonfly Energy. On our team we have three very talented and experienced professionals. The team includes Justin Ferranto, current PhD student in the College of Engineering at UNR, myself (Sean Nichols) a current EMBA student in the College of Business at UNR and Dr. Denis Phares a Caltech PhD in Engineering and current EMBA student at UNR.
Dragonfly Energy is a Reno based Technology Company. We specialize in energy storage, specifically li-ion battery manufacturing. We have developed an innovative manufacturing process that significantly reduces to the cost of producing li-ion batteries. Cost of energy storage is the largest inhibitor to the widespread incorporation of renewable energy sources. We are addressing this problem head on.
As graduate students, we have been able to enter a few academic business competitions. Business plan competitions are an excellent way for a new company to raise capital. We have been finalists in three competitions to date. We have found major success at two of the competitions. In April of 2014 we placed 2nd in the Nevada Governors Cup and received $15,000. We then advanced to the next round of this completion the D.W.Reynolds Tristate hosted in Las Vegas. We went into this contest as the underdog, a Nevada team had never placed 1st in the Tristate. Our team found success in Las Vegas. We were awarded 1st place in both the business plan and the elevator pitch categories. The prize money we collected in Las Vegas was a whopping $32,000.
Today at Dragonfly we are actively seeking a seed investment to get started on developing our first scalable manufacturing cell. We are also getting a lot of media coverage and support from the Reno community. Currently, we are semifinalists in the Cleantech Open – Western Region. Our next business plan competition will be in October of 2014. We will be competing against many other cleantech startups in the Western United States. Our technology is currently going through third party validation to prove its potential. We are also partnering with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory via the CalCharge Program. This provides even further credibility for our technology. All of these activities are giving us better access to potential Bay Area investors.
The Donald W. Reynolds Nevada Governor’s Cup business plan competition encourages Nevada university students to act on their talents and ideas. Two EMBA students in the 2012 Cohort did just that. Denis Phares and Sean Nichols worked with team member Justin Ferranto (working toward a Ph.D. in Engineering, UNR ) and advisor, Matt Westfield to create Dragonfly Energy, a Reno-based lithium ion battery technology company. Their business plan earned them 2nd place in this prestigious event. For more information on the competition, visit the Nevada Governor’s Cup website at http://nvgovernorscup.org/. Pictured left to right: Sean Nichols (COO), Denis Phares (President and CEO), and teammate Justin Ferranto (VP of Engineering).
Dragonfly Energy began as an idea to reduce the manufacturing costs of Lithium ion batteries. The motivation was to break the cost barriers to greater incorporation of renewable energy sources, like solar and wind. Denis Phares, who also holds a Ph.D. from Caltech and originally developed the idea, recruited Justin Ferranto to help establish a laboratory in Reno and to prove the process. After a patent was filed, Denis and Justin recruited Sean Nichols (Denis’s EMBA classmate) to help launch the company with a focus on gaining the capital needed to establish a prototype manufacturing unit.
As the three began the market research phase and to explore a potential customer base, there appeared to be large underserved markets that could benefit significantly from Li-ion batteries now. As a result, Dragonfly Energy has already initiated sales of standard and custom Li-ion battery packs, and are building the brand, while simultaneously pursuing the groundbreaking technology. This model is unique for tech startups, but it garnered the attention of the competition judges.
Two of our recent MBA graduates, Kristin Stith and Paul Klein, gave an excellent talk at TEDxUniversityofNevada 2014 about being part of the Biggest Little City rebranding effort. This was a group of talented citizens that organized to volunteer time and effort to change the image of Reno, Nevada. The results of the rebranding and grassroots marketing campaign have been impressive.
This is also a great example of a well rehearsed TEDx talk. Kristin and Paul participated in all three of the rehearsals we organized for local speakers starting 3 months before the event. We watched as their talk went from an outline to a script and from nervous reading of lines to a confident performance. The audience loved their talk and if you take the time to watch it, I think you will too. After watch the video, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.