When Mr. Howe contacted me to speak to his grade 8 class at Holy Family School about business and marketing I was quite intrigued.

As a part of their education the students were asked to create business plans for a product or service and then pitch their ideas to potential investors for funding. The presentation was to include an advertising campaign component, which is where my insights came in.

Now, I have walked into the boardroom at Trump. I have pitched large global corporations. But walking into a room of grade 8 students was one of the most intimidating experiences of my life. Will I relate to them? Will they relate to me? I never felt more unprepared in my life.

After fumbling through who I am and what I do – I started throwing out questions about what ads they liked and didn’t like. Stupid slogans on television got bad reviews. Sad commercials were memorable. And they even knew some of the campaigns we have done at William Joseph. My nerves went down. Their engagement went up. Kudos to teachers, as teaching grade 8’s ain’t easy!

Once we finished the large presentation I was able to sit down with each group and learn about their “company”. WOW!!! The ideas and concepts presented were remarkable. Most were rock solid and would make a go in our world today.

Note to self – Mr. Townend – you want to start another company go talk to Mr. Howe’s grade 8 class!

Questions ranged from how to value a company, how do you determine your marketing mix, what income bracket would be appropriate to target for my product to what should be my national distribution plan for product placement. Yup – stump the expert and put me on the spot I say! All brilliant questions.

Now I ask myself – how can a grade 8 class just learning about business be so astute? They all saw something in the world that could be fixed or improved and created a solution. They were all designing companies based on experience and customer need. Isn’t that how companies should be formed? I saw a need in the market 13 years ago for an agency that balanced strategy and creativity. I saw a need for an agency that would always rely on business common sense to guide marketing. I saw a need for collaboration between the agency and the client. Hence – why William Joseph was born and why we are still so successful today.

So back to Mr. Howe’s class: I can’t wait to follow up and see their finished business plans. Watch the videos on their presentations, and see which group gets investment dollars and why they were picked. I was only able to coach each group for 15 minutes so I hope my years of entrepreneurship, business and marketing will help.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was creating business plans and selling my coloring book pages on my art gallery walls in our living room. I remember assignments just like this and never knew how big of a role they would play in my life. Now I can’t wait to see the 2015 grade 8 class in a decade to see how they changed the world.

Super cool experience. Had to share!