Shimon Dotan on his newest movie “The Settlers”

Israel Defense Forces / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

A film director caused some controversy during a panel discussion following the screening of his movie “The Settlers” when he criticized the State of Israel at the University of Nebraska Omaha on Thursday.

Shimon Dotan’s movie highlighted the history of the settlement movement in the West Bank. This is an area of land located in Eastern Israel on the Western bank of the Jordan River and provides a constant source of conflict between Israeli settlers and Palestinians.

Rabbi Ari Dembitzer, the rabbi of Omaha’s Beth Israel Synagogue, did not think the film represented the settlers fairly.

“It only represented the extreme movement, and I believe that there were others that were not presented very well,” Dembitzer said. “It didn’t present a lot of mainstream settlers which would love to have peaceful relationships with their neighbors.”

According to the film, following the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel captured the West Bank and other areas, after which Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook organized a movement that was the beginning of the first settlements in the West Bank because Kook and his followers believed in the ideology that settling this area would hasten the messianic redemption.

Since its inception in 1967, the settler movement’s population in the West Bank has increased to 400,000 Israeli settlers, according to the film. The West Bank is also currently home to 2.7 million Palestinians.

Dotan said that 20 percent of settlers are ideologically and religiously driven to live in the West Bank. This ideological drive stems from the inception of the aforementioned settler movement that Kook founded. Dotan also said that 80 percent of settlers are there for economic reasons, such as affordable housing.

Some settlers are also extremists, which is a reason why people criticize the settlements. For example, Yigal Amir, an extremist Jew, assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin because Amir was against the Oslo Peace Accords, which involved land concessions of Israeli settlements, according to the film.

However, Dembitzer said that Rabbi Menachem Froman, for instance, created a settlement group called Tag Meir, and its purpose is to right the wrongs of extremist settler groups like the Tag Mechir group

The Tag Mechir group is predominantly composed of the Hilltop Youth. These are young adults who retaliate against Palestinian terrorists who attack Israel, according to Dembitzer.

Dotan said the film does not accurately portray the settlers who are peaceful because he had to cut the film down in order to broadcast it. He had to choose what to focus on because he could only fit so much into 1 hour and 47 minutes.

It was apparent, however, that Dotan focused on the situation of the Palestinians.

“We have a disparity of income that is one to 20 [of Israeli settlers compared to Palestinians],” Dotan said. “And I feel that the political reality of the settlement, and the grip that Israel is imposing on the West Bank, is catastrophic to the State of Israel.”

Dotan said there should be a solution to the settlement problem someday.

“I would like to find a way to resolve it,” Dotan said. “And if we do not do that, it will blow up in our face sooner or later.”

Alice Weiss, a member of Omaha’s Beth El Synagogue, agreed that the extremists have the potential to cause great harm.

“The filmmaker’s contention is even though these outspoken settlers are in the minority, they have potential to put the security of Israel at risk with their dogmatism, self-righteousness and unwillingness to compromise,” Weiss said.

Rabbi Shlomo Abramovich, a visiting Israeli scholar at Beth Israel Synagogue, was also a discussion panelist, as was Bill Blizek, a UNO professor of theology and religion. Rather than the settlements starting after the Six-Day War in 1967, Abramovich argued that most Palestinians think the settlements began in 1948 with the creation of the State of Israel.

“They believe this is their land,” Abramovich said. “I believe this is my land. So now we have an argument.” Abramovich believes that Israelis and Palestinians have to negotiate what to do now.

When asked about a solution to this conflict, Creighton history professor John Calvert said that he sees two options for Israel.

“I think the option of a two-state solution is dead,” Calvert said. “So I think that puts Israel in a difficult situation because either Israel continues to occupy all these many hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs or it annexes the West Bank.”

My Last Blog


The ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft demonstrate the entrepreneurial ideas discussed in JRM 599. (Marco Verch / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)


I think the most significant idea I learned in JRM 599 was the concept of the pain point. What’s the pain point? What makes this problem so annoying in my life that it is going to make me spend money on your product? I think the best entrepreneurial ideas help solve the pain point for customers. For example, if you need to get somewhere and you don’t have a car, you can use Uber or Lyft to get to where you need to go. These ride-sharing apps help solve the pain point for customers who don’t have a car. (On a side note: I took a Lyft home because I was working on my JRM 599 presentation late in Hitchcock, and the Lyft driver was drunk — he was literally drinking a Coors Light and driving. It was scary. I thought of getting out of the car at a red light, but all the lights kept turning green! I called Lyft’s 24/7 customer safety team and the customer service representative listened to my concerns. The ability to listen to customer feedback is a distinguishing characteristic of the lean model.)

Regarding the lean model, I think it’s important to make products that take into account customer feedback and then make a revised minimum viable product. Many times customers can help you with features that you never thought of before.

Likewise, I never knew how much was involved in starting a business. For example, you have to fill out legal paper work and register to become a LLC. Also, what was interesting for me in this class was learning about how significant trade shows were for a business. I’m considering developing a new type of pretzel in the future and I just read about a big food trade show called Kosherfest in Secaucus, N.J. If I were to develop this product, I think attending Kosherfest would be very important because that’s where my audience is located.

(Carol Zuegner / Twitter)


Jen Edney’s presentation was SO COOL! I think future journalism classes would enjoy hearing her stories about being a world-renowned sailing photographer.

I LOVED the extra credit that we got for attending the Backpack Journalism movie. Extra credit is a great way to encourage students to go to events. “The Displaced” was very good!

I enjoyed making the prototypes for our group’s presentation! It was really fun. Also, I liked coming up with creative ideas such as giving away movie tickets and tourism-themed cookies during our group presentation. Regarding the group presentations, I liked that we had group presentations instead of individual presentations.

I appreciated the work time during class when we could collaborate on the group project and the office hour appointments were immensely helpful! Thank you for the constructive feedback on our group project, Carol 🙂

Additionally, I liked that the presentations were after Thanksgiving break because I feel like I would have been so stressed to complete both my market analysis and my presentation before break.


I think we should have watched an entrepreneurial-themed movie such as “Joy” or “The Social Network” and had a class discussion about how the topics presented in the movie related to JRM 599.


Overall, this class was #JMCawesome. Thanks for a great semester!

Lauren Smith on Fame, Volleyball, Life and … Hunting!? 

06 LAUREN SMITH 09-17-2016 HUSKERS 845

She is on posters at businesses in Midtown Crossing and in front of the Creighton bookstore. Standing at 6 feet, 4 inches tall, you could say Creighton senior Lauren Smith is one of the poster girls for Creighton volleyball.

With blonde hair and blue eyes, Smith is pictured smiling on the cover of the handout given to fans at Creighton volleyball games and on the television screens around campus. She is one of the first images you see when you look at the Creighton Volleyball website.

During her volleyball career, she was part of a team that went to the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight for the first time in Creighton volleyball’s history in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Reflecting on these experiences, Smith is proud that Creighton made it so far.

“I couldn’t ask for a better place to be than Creighton and the memories of the girls and how loving they are and how we put it all out on the court is something really special,” Smith said. “The legacy of th[ese] season[s] will carry on to those to come, just as our success was built on the women who came before us.”

She was a redshirt senior this year on the volleyball team. At 22 years old, she was the oldest player on the team. Smith’s teammates call her the “grandma” of her team, according to the “Omaha World Herald.”

“[Smith] set school records for sets played (511), matches played (138), matches started (137) and wins appeared in (104),” according to, “Smith ranks second in school history with a .323 hitting percentage, third with 560 total blocks and is seventh with 1,160 career kills.”

She has numerous awards on her Web page. Among these achievements, she was the MVP of the Big East Conference Tournament in 2014, and in 2016, Smith was named a First-Team Senior CLASS Award All-American.

Smith is modest about her accolades. She may be the one in all the posters, but she credits her success to her teammates working together.

“Great achievements are never done by one person, they are lifted up by the selflessness of those around them,” Smith said. “More importantly, [it is important] to recognize that every one of these girls serve each other with full hearts, serve the community with open minds and will serve the whole world with the Creighton mission to make it a better place. I look forward to watching [my teammates] spread [their] fire and passion throughout the world on and off the court. I couldn’t ask for a better family.”

Kirsten Bernthal Booth, Creighton’s head volleyball coach, said that Smith is one of the most motivated players on the team.

“Lauren, obviously, is one of the best middles not just in the conference but in the country,” Booth said in a recent “Omaha World Herald” article. “What’s special about Lauren is just her drive. She is one of the most involved student-athletes I’ve ever had. She wants to be great at everything.”

Smith was grateful for her coach’s compliments and looks up to Booth as a positive role model in her life.

“I was very honored to hear those words out of such an empowering woman,” Smith said. “She has taught me so much about how to connect good to every situation you are a part of.”

Smith is involved in various activities at Creighton. In addition to having a 3.39 cumulative GPA, she is the president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee for Creighton Athletics and the Big East. She is also active as a volunteer in the community, participating in various organizations like the Children’s Aid society and taking part in a service trip to Nicaragua.

John Oltman, one of Smith’s friends, described an anecdote in her life that displays her kindness to other people.

“[T]he Creighton volleyball team … has recently taken a local girl with severe mental disabilities under its wing,” Oltman said. “This fall, the team was supposed to attend this young girl’s birthday party and Miss Amazing pageant.”

However, many student athletes on the team have busy schedules and it is often difficult to find time to attend events such as one for this girl, according to Oltman.

“Now, Lauren has an extremely busy schedule as well, but she knew that a small sacrifice on a Saturday afternoon would mean the world for this young girl,” Oltman said. “Lauren took the time to attend the event and brought along as many teammates as she could, who probably wouldn’t have attended without her asking and demanding that they go.”

Smith reflected on making time for others in order to make the world a better place.

“Being ‘too busy’ to show others that you care for them is a detriment most [people] face in this fast-paced world,” Smith said.

Yet, Smith manages to find the time for others because she truly cares about other people.

On the reason why she went into volleyball, Smith said that it appealed to her more than swimming.

“I grew up swimming my entire life,” Smith said in a video. “I grew up on a lake, and I absolutely loved it; but when I found volleyball I knew that was what I was truly passionate about so when high school came around I decided to focus on that.”

In her spare time, one of her hobbies is hunting.

“I love to be active in all facets of life and find peace in exploring the outdoors,” Smith said. “In my spare time, I enjoy fishing, hunting and traveling abroad with friends.”

Jaali Winters, Creighton University Arts and Sciences sophomore and one of Smith’s teammates, is engrossed by the fearlessness and intrepidity that Smith exemplifies in her life.

“It [i]s her innate independence that I [am] absolutely awed by,” Winters said. “She [has] start[ed] her own company, travel[ed] to China alone, and more. She is one of the most independent people I have ever met, and she pushes herself to be a better version of herself every day.”

In the summer of 2016, the reason she went to China was to study abroad and she also went to Europe to compete in volleyball, according to “The Lincoln Journal Star.”

In addition, spirituality and living out Jesuit values is a significant part of Smith’s life.

“Emulating the Jesuit values [of] Creighton, I hope to transfer th[ese] to my professional career in business [and] ‘go out and set the world on fire,’ ” Smith said.

Yet, one might wonder how she balances school, volleyball and other extracurricular activities all at the same time.

“Most days my mind races with all I must accomplish,” Smith said.

Although she seeks balance in her life, one of the conflicts she has is staying on top of her responsibilities. However, she somehow manages to get everything done.

“I love [the] idea of promoting my health while keeping a balanced work life schedule, and I think it is important for every individual to take the time to ensure that balance,” Smith said. “Through my experience in sports, I have had a rare opportunity to experience adversity, confrontation, and the importance of teamwork at a young age.”

But after her volleyball season and her time at Creighton ends, what’s next for Smith? Training for the Olympics perhaps?

Actually, pursuing a career after graduation is on her radar. Currently, she is double majoring in marketing and entrepreneurship in the Creighton University Heider College of Business.

“I was inspired to pursue the entrepreneurship track because I feel that life’s best journeys are off the beaten path,” Smith said. “Anything worth doing will be hard, and I strongly believe by pursuing the entrepreneurship vocation, I aim to help others and curate a company empowering the whole person.”

So how does Smith look back on her volleyball career?

“I am so thankful to have played at a university such as Creighton,” Smith said. “I hope my spirit will be forever on the Creighton court. Thank you to my coaches, family and friends for supporting me during my career. Most of all, thank you for the time of my life.”




Ron Hansen on Sexual Affairs, Murder and Violence 

Ron Hansen reading from his newest book “The Kid.”

Acclaimed author and Creighton alumnus, Ron Hansen, spoke about his most recent book titled “The Kid” at the Creighton University Skutt Student Center on Friday. 

“The Kid” is about the life and times of the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid. 

According to Hansen, because the Kid grew up without a father, he was always searching for a father figure. When the father figures that he builds an attachment with are killed, he vows to avenge their deaths. 

He murders many fugitives who killed his father figures. As a result, he is arrested. In a ploy to escape prison, he murders two sheriffs. After he escapes, Sheriff Garrett pursues him. 

When asked what the overarching theme of his book was, Hansen said, “Don’t get into a life of crime, basically.” 

Brent Spencer, Ph.D., chair of the English department, moderated the informal discussion, where he asked questions about Hansen’s other books and his writing techniques. 

Hansen, now a professor at Santa Clara University who also studied at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Stanford University, offered some advice to beginning writers by drawing on his own personal experience, according to his Santa Clara faculty webpage. 

“I grew up wanting to be a painter, and so I am very visual in my writing,” Hansen said. “And that enables me to write scenes that I can see. And that makes the reader able to see them flow.” 

Sandy Goetzinger-Comer, a Creighton graduate, was also in attendance at the event. She majored in journalism and works as the director of communications at Sisters of Mercy of the Americas West Midwest Community. 

“For me it was enlightening to hear from an author and how he took his topic and researched it, but he had to have the creative piece in it,” Goetzinger-Comer said. “I am a journalism graduate, so as a writer myself [the creative aspect] wouldn’t really work.” 

Hansen read a passage from “The Kid,” which illustrated the kind of imagery that he tries to incorporate into his writing. 

“And, then the Kid watched in horror as Morton just calmly lifted his pistol and shot Harry in his chest,” Hansen read from the book. “The force of it slammed him into a fall from his horse, and he was as quiet on the earth as a heap of coats.” 

Spencer thought that was an excellent way to appeal to the senses of the reader. 

“I mean you can hear those coats dropping,” Spencer said. “And that makes you understand the way you describe [it].” 

Hansen agreed with this sentiment. 

“In some ways it is a version of acting because you are essentially playing the part of all these various people,” Hansen said. “And that is, I think, part of the reason that several of them get picked up for movies.” 

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is one such book that became a movie. It stars Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, among other actors. The author even has a picture of himself with Pitt. 

“He told me to never to let anybody see that picture,” Hansen said. 

Hansen reminisced on why he did not choose to pursue becoming a painter, taking up writing instead. 

“I gradually found out that you can only sell one painting at a time,” Hansen said. “But you can sell multiple books.” 

Spencer wanted to know what percentage of his books were biographical versus fictional. 

Hansen paraphrased an example from a recent book reviewer who commented on his book to answer that question. 

“[The reviewer said he’d] written a book about Billy the Kid, [he’d] done all kinds of research, but Hansen seems to have done more research,” Hansen said. “Of course I am just making them up. That’s the key as a fiction writer, is to be persuasive enough that they think it is the real thing.” 

David E. Crawford, university archivist, is in charge of the Ron Hansen Papers that the author loaned to Creighton University Reinert-Alumni Memorial Library. 

In the comment session, Crawford noted an example from the collection of papers. 

“We have the notebook where you were jotting ideas down, so there were big X’s and there are sometimes where you write, ‘No definitely not,’ ” Crawford said. 

Afterward, Crawford also discussed his opinion of Hansen’s ideas about writing. 

“I also am fascinated by process and his ability to talk about how he approaches his work,” Crawford said. “And it ties into what we have with his collection, because we have the Ron Hansen Papers in the archives, to be able to see his writing and how he’s coming from this starting point and works his way through to come up with these engaging pieces.” 

Many of Hansen’s books deal with the themes of murder, marriage and relationships. 

One such book that Hansen discussed is called “A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion.” This book is about a man who as an affair with a woman. Together, they plot to kill her husband, according to 

Spencer was curious to know what Hansen’s family thought of this book. 

“My sister read it, and she said who are you having an affair with, Ron?” Hansen said, at which the audience laughed. “I never write about myself. I think part of the reason I got into writing is that I wanted to imagine more, and writing about other people forces me to imagine.” 

His next project is based on a true story about a man who murdered his wife so that he could marry a model who lived next door. The model tried to kill herself, but she failed. She ended up dying in an institution. 

Spencer asked Hansen if people can learn to be creative or to become good writers. 

“I think the desire is the chief component,” Hansen said. “If you really desire, if you really want to be a good football player, you can become one.” 

This applies to his own life because even Hansen was once a beginning writer. 

“I remember when I was in high school, I was writing short stories on my own,” Hansen said. “And, I remember reading one, and thought this wasn’t very good. But, if I keep trying, I can get good.” 




“Picture of Money” is licensed under CC BY 2.0. 


According to Copy Hackers, the headline for a Kickstarter should “state your product name. Then tack on your USP, expressed crisply” (i.e. “PRODUCT NAME: Value Proposition”).

The Coolest Cooler follows this format for Kickstarter headlines. Its headline is “COOLEST COOLER: 21st Century Cooler that’s Actually Cooler.” This clearly communicates the product (the cooler) and the value proposition (that it does something better than ordinary coolers).

This is important because Kickstarter features products that use this headline format on its home page. This allows startups to reach an even broader audience.

I think the Coolest Cooler works because it demonstrates why it is better than the competition. There are so many uses for this cooler.

Compared to a regular cooler, the Coolest Cooler has a blender built into it. Also, it has a Bluetooth speaker, so you can play music wirelessly from your phone. Additionally, it features integrated USB ports so that you can charge your smartphone.

I like that this cooler has LED lid light because it helps people find drinks when it’s dark outside.

As opposed to ordinary coolers, the Coolest Cooler has a split lid and divider. I think it is very innovative to separate the ice from the food and drinks. This allows people to use the ice just for the blender. With a regular cooler, you couldn’t really separate the ice. It would be really awkward to scoop up the ice that is mixed with the drinks in a regular cooler.

The Coolest Cooler has larger wheels, so it is easier for people to maneuver than a regular cooler.

Additionally, most coolers do not have a bottle opener. What a neat idea! It makes sense because people need a bottle opener to open beer bottles that are in the cooler.

Likewise, it has a place to store reusable plastic plates and a knife. Regular coolers do not have this feature.


I don’t think the name “MudTails” is very attention-grabbing.  Similarly, the thumbnail for the video is of a pig which is very boring.

Regarding the headline “MudTails: Fun and educational apparel,” it doesn’t follow the Kickstarter headline format. I don’t immediately understand what “MudTails” is when I read the headline. Additionally, the value proposition is lacking because it doesn’t say which shirt the Kickstarter is focusing on. Which specific shirt are customer’s helping to fund?

Also, what kind of apparel? Why is the “fun and educational apparel” unique? Why would somebody want to buy this? How is it solving a customer’s problem? More specifically, how are the shirts unique? It’s not like MudTails is redefining the T-shirt. By contrast, the Coolest Cooler is innovating the cooler as we know it.

How are the MudTail pig friends appealing? How do these cartoon animals resonate with customers?

I could see the shirts with hand gestures bringing more awareness about sign language. However, fewer than 500,000 people use sign language in the U.S. So, I don’t know if these shirts would really appeal to the vast majority of Americans?


In conclusion, I learned that it is important to follow the Kickstarter headline model. Also, I learned that you should have a unique value proposition and demonstrate how you are solving a customer’s problems with your product on your Kickstarter page. For instance, it’s significant to demonstrate why your product is better than the competition. Additionally, I learned to have an attention-grabbing video thumbnail in order to get someone to click on your Kickstarter video.



“Pro-Refugee Protest” by Tali C. is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Backpack Journalism is a social justice film initiative at Creighton.

The goal of Backpack Journalism is to expose undergraduate students to the challenges facing people in marginalized communities in the developing world.

The Displaced, a short documentary film, focuses on the plight of South Sudanese refugees in Northern Uganda.

Also, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair presented her work on “Advocacy Through Visual Storytelling.”


I thought the story that the documentary lead with was very captivating and graphic.

“[The soldiers] blew up my house. More than 4,000 people died. I lost everything — except my life. And from that time, I left South Sudan.”

I cannot believe they blew up that person’s house! That’s really scary.

After the refugees fled South Sudan’s civil war, about 1.5 million went to Uganda.

The people of Uganda welcomed the refugees. This has enabled the refugees to restart their life in another country.


Refugees have experienced misfortune and adversity. I cannot even imagine leaving your home country under dreadful circumstances such as violence, rape and witnessing murders.

“Some have witnessed their children being slaughtered. Some have witnessed their husbands being shot dead in front of them,” according to the documentary.

It’s no wonder that the refugees feel traumatized upon their arrival in Uganda.

I think it is great that the refugees are being helped and comforted in Uganda. Yet, not enough is being done for the refugees.


There is a lack of resources for refugees. For instance, there was a 60 percent funding gap in 2017, according to the film.

As a result, there isn’t enough food for refugees. The food that is provided – such as maize grains and beans – is supposed to last one month.

The food isn’t very good either. It was heart-wrenching to hear one refugee in the film discuss how the food smells bad and it gives her stomach aches all day long.

In the U.S., we have an abundance of food. I feel so blessed to not have to experience food scarcity in my life, and I hope the situation gets better for the refugees in Uganda. I’m glad that this film is bringing awareness to the shortage of food that these refugees are facing in Uganda.


It’s shocking that child marriage is still occurring in Uganda, even though it’s illegal. I cannot believe that parents would take advantage of their daughters for economic gain.

Female refugees are married away right after their first menstrual period.

“Female refugees from the camps have been traded for money [and have been used] as sex workers,” according to the film.

This isn’t just a problem in Uganda. According to Stephanie Sinclair, a girl gets married every 2 seconds somewhere in the world.

It’s crazy that female refugees are not allowed to go to school. Child marriage causes a cycle of poverty for female refugees.

According to the film, “woman are looked at as value materials. [When you are] 9 years [old], you don’t know about marriage! You don’t know about anything. Because you are born poor, they have just instilled in you that for you there is no hope. ‘You see, your grandmother was poor. Your mother is poor.’ ”

But there is hope for these girls. Education is a path to a better life for female refugees. According to the film, “educating a girl is so productive. First of all, this girl will study and become someone in the future. Also, this girl will get a job [and] she will be able to support [her] young kids.”

It’s interesting how Sinclair’s presentation discussed similar themes as the film. I liked the video Sinclair showed us of how she is working with survivors of child marriage in order to empower girls to get an education and inspire confidence so that these girls can pursue their dreams.

Some of the stories that Sinclair told were horrifying. One story was about how a girl was forced into a child marriage in a developing country. She was forced to walk naked through her village and have sex with whoever wanted to have sexual relations with her. Then, she came home and her husband beat her.

Likewise, another terrible story was how a woman, named Ritu Saini, in India was a victim of an acid attack. She had to have many reconstructive surgeries and she lost her left eye. Now, Saini works at Sheroes Hangout Café in Agra, India which offers work for women after they’ve been the victim of an acid attack.

Also, another horrendous story was in Afghanistan about a 15-year-old named Marzia. She set herself on fire. Sinclair showed a picture of the blood on her body. The injuries Marzia sustained were appalling.


I hope this film changes stereotypes about refugees. I feel like refugees just want a better life. They constantly feel like they aren’t needed.

It’s interesting how this film focuses on a topic that’s popular right now in the U.S.

Currently, “since early May, 2,342 children have been separated from their parents after crossing the Southern U.S. border,” according to NPR.  Additionally, “the Trump administration is cutting the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year to 30,000, according to CNBC. It’s horrifying that the U.S. doesn’t want to open its border to immigrants and welcome refugees around the world. Refugees just want to have a better life in the U.S.


The hope, then, is that there will be peace in Sudan and that the refugees in Uganda can go back to their home country. Also, I hope one day child marriage will cease to exist.

I tweeted this to Stephanie Sinclair following the lecture:

She replied:

The work that Creighton’s Backpack Journalism is doing to bring attention to the plight of marginalized communities around the world is inspiring. Backpack Journalism puts the Jesuit value of “Women & Men for and with Others” into action by giving voice to the powerless and by striving for a better future for poor and marginalized communities around the world.

I practiced for my elevator pitch everywhere: in my Uber driver’s car, at the hospice house and while walking my dog (we were running and I was breathing hard, so I wouldn’t look like a crazy person talking to myself)



“Elevator Pitch” is a picture I created. Under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) and Attribution Non-Commercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) licenses, you are free “to remix, transform, and build upon the material.” The right image titled “ELEVATOR!” is licensed under (CC BY-SA 2.0). The left image titled “Nick Schmidt 2” is licensed under (CC BY-NC 2.0). 


I started my elevator pitch with a question.

Also, I wanted to discuss the main aspects of the elevator pitch. So, I said a problem that many people have is they cannot see what their view of tourist venue is going to look like when they are buying their ticket online.

I discussed what sets VizBiz apart from its competitors. For instance, we are more inexpensive. In addition, I discussed that we want to demonstrate an ROI to our clients. Additionally, we link the virtual tour up with Google Maps so customers can see the interior of a tourist venue.


Practice makes perfect. I practiced everyday leading up to the pitch — especially in my free time. I practiced when I walked my dog (I was running and whispering really inconspicuously, so it looked like I was breathing really hard and not talking/practicing my pitch). I practiced whenever no one was home (I could be as LOUD as I wanted to be and nobody could tell me to “shut up!”) I gave my elevator pitch to my Uber driver on the way to Creighton (I actually screwed up twice in the car! I got it right on the third time. Third time’s the charm, right?).

I practiced in front of my family at the Josie Harper Hospice House.

“Do you guys want to hear my elevator pitch?” I said.

“How long is it going to be?” my mom said.

“It’s supposed to be 60-90 seconds,” I said.

“Good. So, I don’t have to listen for that long,” my mom said.

“You know what? I don’t feel like doing it anymore,” I said.

I looked at my phone and pretended like I was busy.

“We want to hear you!” Aunt Carol said.

Everyone looked at me. What was I going to do?

“OK! I’ll do it,” I said.

Aunt Teri, my father’s sister, timed me on her phone. My brother, my sister-in-law, Aunt Carol and my mom listened to my pitch.

“It was good, but you went over 90 seconds. You also said ‘um.’ Try to practice in front of a mirror,” Aunt Teri said.

Practicing in front of mirror helped me become more accustomed to doing my pitch and more comfortable standing up in front of an audience. In addition, it was helpful to time the elevator pitch on my phone and cut out parts in order to make it fit the time length.


For the delivery of the elevator pitch, image counts. I was dressed appropriately for the business pitch. I got a lot of compliments for dressing nice!

I think the advantage of looking nice when you are doing an elevator pitch is confidence. You look better and you feel better.


After I finished my pitch, the class clapped for me! I wasn’t expecting that.

Also, I was surprised that I didn’t make a mistake during my pitch.


In sum, I learned that it’s important to practice your elevator pitch a lot.

Because this is a group project, it’s also a good idea that your group is on the same page about what content is going to be in the elevator pitch. This is so that you and your group partner are not saying radically different things during your separate elevator pitches.

Additionally, it’s important to be yourself. You cannot be someone else.

It’s significant to breath and feel relaxed before giving your pitch. Somebody in the class told me to take a deep breath before starting my pitch. This was helpful!

Moreover, elevator pitches are useful in the real world. In class, we learned about a Creighton student who went to her first job and the first thing they had her do was work on her elevator pitch.




This Flickr photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0.

Research shows that employers want employees who can talk in front of people. The thing that every college student hates the most is what employers are looking for.

So, why not learn how to do an elevator pitch if it will help you in your future?

This blog discusses the elements of a good elevator pitch, and it suggests tips for doing well during your presentation.


Kurian Tharakan says that elevator pitches should include the name of the company, the product, the target consumers, the unique selling proposition and a call to action.

This is similar to what we learned in class. For instance, it’s important to come up with a name for your idea. Another element of an elevator pitch is that it should include an overview of what your business does. Additionally, it should include details about the main market and who you are selling your product to. Also, an elevator pitch should include a value proposition — what you are doing better than anyone else that’s going to make someone buy your product.


The author says that it’s important to present your elevator pitch in layman’s terms.

“The purpose of an elevator pitch is to get your message across clearly. Using complicated business jargon and buzzwords that don’t really add any value to your message can undermine your message,” according to the article.  

This reminds me of the example in class of how you should develop an elevator pitch geared to your grandma or best friend.  The idea is that your grandma or your best friend would be able to understand your elevator pitch.


Also, it’s important to tell the truth. If you exaggerate what your product can actually do, this is a bad thing because it shows that you don’t know what you’re talking about.


The article suggests to start with a question when you do your elevator pitch.

Similarly, Daniel Pink suggests using more questions in your elevator pitch in the video “6 Elevator Pitches for the 21st Century.”

“Questions are active,” said Daniel Pink.  “Statements are somewhat passive. So, if I just make an assertion to you, you listen. When I ask a question, you inevitably have to respond. [Questions are] more likely to move people. Because what happens? They start thinking about it, and they begin to articulate their own reasons for agreeing with you.”


The article says elevator pitches “should focus on telling listeners how it can help solve their problems.”

I think it is important to develop value propositions about your product so that you know how it will help your customers. What problem is your product solving for your customers? Also, why should customers buy it?


The more you can put in facts and figures in your elevator pitch, the better off you will be.

In elevator pitches, you should “put [investors] at ease by telling [them] that you have a product or service with proven results,” according to the article.


Also, it’s important to have business partnerships in order to enhance your startup.

For example, the article mentions that the parking app called JustPark is endorsed by BMW, and this partnership makes the app seem more credible and trustworthy to customers.


I think it is important to practice your elevator pitch so that you make a good first impression.

“An elevator pitch is a prime chance to make a good first impression and generate interest in the company,” according to the article.  

In class, we saw examples of how you can make a bad first impression.

For instance, Anthony Ameen, the CEO of Wings for Warriors, was an example of a terrible way to do an elevator pitch. He was holding his phone. He was really nervous.

So, it’s important to be confident and enthusiastic when you are giving your elevator pitch.

According to the article, “leadership expert Simon Sinek believes that it is important to show enthusiasm and help people see why you do what you do.”


An elevator pitch should be conversational.

According to the article, an elevator pitch “is a personal interaction, and it should feel natural. It should not sound too rehearsed.”

Sometimes people can tell when it’s fake or too rehearsed. So, it’s important to find a middle balance and be natural.

Also, you should avoid using a salesperson tone during an elevator pitch. You don’t want it to sound like an infomercial.


In sum, an elevator pitch should address what the need is, how your startup is fulfilling it and why you and your colleagues are the right people to do it.

It’s important to be natural and conversational during your elevator pitch.




“Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016” by GES 2016 is licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0. 


I was shocked that most startups fail. According to the article, research from Harvard  shows 75 percent of all startups fail. That’s crazy! I’m thinking of starting a business after graduation. I think, even if I fail, at least I will know that I tried to follow my dreams.


The author discusses that oftentimes startups fail because they create a product that customers don’t even want.

Instead, entrepreneurs should “summarize their hypotheses in a framework called a business model canvas. Essentially, this is a diagram of how a company creates value for itself and its customers.”

I think it is important to develop value propositions about your product so that you know how it will help your customers. What problem is your product solving for your customers? Also, why should customers buy it?


I liked that the author said that it was important to listen to the constructive criticism of your product from your customers.

According to the article, “The [startups] that ultimately succeed go quickly from failure to failure, all the while adapting, iterating on, and improving their initial ideas as they continually learn from customers.”

The author suggests it is important to listen to customer feedback and make adjustments or iterations of the product based on constructive criticism. I think it is an excellent idea to get feedback and incorporate that feedback into your products because it allows you to resonate with your target audience.


I like the example of the lawn-mowing startup that the author used to demonstrate the lean startup principle of “agile development.”

Two of the author’s classmates envisioned starting an automated lawn-mowing business that would automatically mow golf courses. His classmates talked to 100 people and discovered that their target audience wasn’t interested in this product.

Yet, when they talked to farmers who had a problem with weeds on agricultural land and wanted an automated way to kill them, they adapted their product to solve this problem. The product obtained more than $3 million in venture funding and was ultimately successful.

I think one reason this product was successful is because the author’s classmates solved a problem. They actively listened to the concerns of the farmers and addressed the problem with weeds directly.


The author states, “Using lean methods across a portfolio of startups will result in fewer failures than using traditional methods.”

That’s good news! People should be listening to this method and not relying solely on traditional models to develop startups.


I never knew about Y Combinator and Techstars. These are companies that actually fund new startups. For instance, Y Combinator has helped fund well-known startups such as Airbnb, Quora and Reddit.


The author mentions, “MBA programs are adopting [lean] techniques.” Likewise, there is a company called Retail MBA that helps people get their products into retail stores. Retail MBA was a company started by Karen Waksman. She has years of experience in retail, and she teaches her students through her online class how to develop a startup. Also, she has an annual live event where she will pitch your product to major retailers for you. I really want to take this class after graduation!


It’s interesting how the lean model can have a positive economic impact on businesses.

According to the author, “If the entire universe of small business embraced [the lean method], I strongly suspect it would increase growth and efficiency, and have a direct and immediate impact on GDP and employment.”

The author uses the example of how General Electric developed a new battery by listening to its customers. General Electric found that their customers in developing nations had power outages and therefore needed better batteries for their cellphones. According to the article, “demand for the new batteries is so high that General Electric is already running a backlog of orders.” It really pays off to listen to your customers!


My biggest takeaway from this article is to listen to your customers’ problems and feedback. Startup companies should think about how they can solve and address the problems of their customers. This is important because, if a startup is just developing a product that a customer doesn’t even want, it is just wasting time, energy and resources. Startups that solve their customers’ problems utilizing the lean method are more likely to be successful in the current innovation economy.