Professor Spotlight: Rich McCarty – Managing the Growth Business

“Let’s negotiate a deal where you tell me what we should do to get you out of class early.”

The class paused for a second, before a man raised his hand. “We should get out at 10:15 if 15 people raise their hands.”

“Very good! Very good,” the professor spoke, “So….what can we do to make the deal better?”

I wish I could say every class at the University of Iowa is like this. But no. It’s just Professor Rich McCarty energizing our classroom with power talk and hints of always getting out just a couple minutes early. But today was Chapter Six: Negotiating A Better Deal. He was testing us. He was tricking us into learning the material by practicing it! On him. The student behind me speaks up. Rich walks over to him directly and pauses in front of him, eyes forward, almost anticipating a better argument.

“Well, sir. It is Thirsty Thursdays,” the student begins.

“That’s just about reason enough!” We all laugh.

“Haha, yes, but what if we could get out 5 minutes earlier, say 10:10, if someone corrected you? Assuming, of course, you would need to be corrected….” the student continues, but Rich, always eager to push ahead exclaimed,

“Well sure! That sounds good. So, 10:10 if I get corrected and we have 15 hands raised.” Two new students walk into the classroom.

It’s not uncommon for students to meander in a minute or two behind schedule. Rich doesn’t mind. The majority of the class is usually early, with that time spent talking about our days and what makes our entrepreneurial brains tick. So for the latecomers, we haven’t even started lecture yet. It’s about 9:35am now. He turns to them.

“So you missed our conversation!” He begins, “It’s 10:15 if I get corrected and we get 15 hands raised.”

“No!” A student in the back shouts. “We agreed it was 10:10 if you got corrected.” The typical college student “Oooo” swells amongst the crowd.

His eyes look bright and he smiles. I don’t know if he meant to do that, or if he honestly forget. But he snaps his fingers, “Well you got me there.”

We begin lecture finally. More students peter into the classroom. We’re a couple of slides in. Another guy raises his hand. “Number 3! What’s up?” Rich asks.

“So, if we get out early, how far behind will we be?”

There’s a silent daze in the room. College student. Worried about being behind? No. It’s….Thursday.

Rich assures him, “The other class got out just as early. We’re not missing anything.” I think for a minute.

“That makes four. What’s your question?” 

I clear my throat.

“We said we had to get 15 hands raised. But, we never explicitly stated that the hands had to be raised for questions…so, what if, we all raised our hands at once? Would that count as fifteen?”

He blinks and room begins an excited, yet baffled murmur. Hands begin to slowly shoot up across the room, as he laughs.

“Now, you see what she did there?. . . ” He goes into the detail and paying attention that goes into making good negotiations between two business parties. We go through the lecture at the traditional pace, so we could have time for the video.

“Well, I don’t really need to teach you guys. I mean, look; you’re already such excellent negotiators!”

But the video link is broken and it’s only 9:56am. He shrugs it off and says, “Have a great Thirsty Thursday!”

This actually happened. I’m not making it up. I’m not trying to get this professor nominated for any awards. I’m not even saying, “Hey. Take this course if you get the chance.” Then again, I’m kinda saying all of these things. Classes should be fun and knowledge-based and encouraging. We can learn and laugh and loiter together. It’s okay to lecture your students with stories and diagrams. Expect them to sit through videos and read chapters and highlight notes. We are paying for a university level course on becoming leaders.

Rich says we can make $5million in our first five years. Now, he’s got a house in Vegas. He was CFO for quite a while. He seems like a bit of a know-how with finances and gambling. I want to make sure that he’s betting on the right crowd. And so far, TTH Class @ 9:30 hasn’t proven him wrong yet.


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