Why Business Leaders Should Pitch Their Best Ideas to Kids
This Saturday, I will stand in front of an assembly of high school students and talk with them about the challenge of managing experience facing businesses today. I am honored that our organization was included in this week’s Pitch-a-Kid event in San Antonio, but I have to admit: I am prepared to face a tough room. I will be presenting alongside innovative consumer products and well-funded, exciting new startups that might (understandably) overshadow experience management (XM) in a student’s mind.
The experiences of teens as customers and employees represent a huge focus for many global corporations, with a huge investment to match. Generation Z is predicted to soon outnumber Millennials. Companies are marketing to teenagers for products and services they can use now, but also for those they’ll use later — like high-end consumer goods and financial services.
Generation Z is the first truly digital native generation. They have always had access to high-speed internet anywhere — with much of the world’s available information at their fingertips from a very early age in a matter of seconds. Their demand for fast and seamless service is unmatched by any other generation.
As experiences become more seamless — as a result of major investment in managing customer experiences — they can become more invisible as well. This isn’t something that only the youngest generation faces, it’s something we all face. The expectation today is for Amazon Prime-levels of expediency and interfaces like Alexa or Favor can set whole supply chains in motion with the click of a button. Some of the best experiences are invisible — they were so unnoticeably convenient, we might have thought that package arrived on our doorstep by magic, or that we made a hot meal appear with our minds.
With that in mind, making experience management visible, understandable, and engaging for young minds presented an exciting new challenge for me.
This weekend will mark the inaugural Pitch-a-Kid event at CAST Tech High School in collaboration with Bunker Labs. The challenge to presenting organizations is to get rid of any MBA buzzwords, “business jargon” and Venture Capital lingo — and refine a concept into simple terms anyone can understand.
Company criteria for students to rate presenters include questions like “Did the ‘pitcher’ explain what the company does and why customers want or need this product or service?” and “Are they solving a problem they really want to solve? Are they having fun?”
In a room full of executives, bad experiences can be easily blamed on customers or employees, and bad ideas can be justified by assuming the listener just didn’t understand. At Pitch-a-Kid, the challenge was made clear: It is the business leader’s responsibility to make the idea digestible, engaging and memorable for students.
Taking responsibility for understanding and experience is is a critical practice for any business leader. What do tech-savvy students think of the customer experience your organization provides? What do they think of your business? Do they understand what is being sold, to who, and why? If you have younger students in your family or network, consider taking the time to run your best ideas by them. If it’s not possible for teenagers to understand your business, it’s possible you’re losing customers and employees who don’t truly understand it either.