For the love of money

Cherubs enjoy a branding workshop. Staff photo

“I remember thinking that it was a Ted Talk,” said Carmen Molina Acosta, a cherub from Bethesda, Maryland.

Cherub instructor Mary Lou Song discussed her experience with eBay and other start-up businesses, giving students advice for their journalistic futures.

Her key point was to walk on fire.

Walking on fire calls for three steps. First, stay calm and avoid overreacting to challenges. Second, look away from the hot coals and avoid homing in on the problem. The best solutions arise when you look past the problem with a relaxed mind. The final step is to walk with confidence as you solve the problem.

“It was one of the more memorable speeches of the program,” said cherub Max Hayes, of Lake Forest, Illinois.

Related classes included cherub instructor Desiree Hanford’s efforts to teach cherubs how to effectively use numbers in stories.  

Hanford showed it’s crucial to make numbers easy to read and understand. She also advised students to make small numbers into ratios, such as infant mortality rates. Large numbers should be rounded and simplified. For example, the total gross domestic product of the United States should be broken down into gross domestic product per capita.  

“Without numbers and hard facts, the story doesn’t have the support it needs,” said Sam Zukin, from Los Gatos, California.

In her workshop, “Using Numbers in Stories,” Hanford stressed reporters must remain skeptical of numbers. Some can mislead and be inaccurate, and a journalist must fact-check to make sure the numbers are correct. Attribution should always be attached to numbers as well.

“I never thought of business and journalism together,” said cherub Kaitlyn Tom, of Hillsborough, California.

In “Covering Money,” Hanford taught students that Generation Z is transforming businesses. Goldman Sachs reported that the 69 million people born between 1995 and 2005 are more focused on saving money and gaining experiences than having possessions.

Hanford also taught the cherubs in the “Covering Money” workshop about the Rule of Thirds. The rule advises people to split their income into thirds: everyday use, short-term goals and long-term goals.

“They were useful lessons you don’t get in your regular curriculum at school,” Hayes said.

Besides teaching students to walk on fire, Song also taught a workshop about starting a technology company. She said innovation is the creation of any product or method that solves a problem. She introduced the 10 types of innovations referenced in Ten Types of Innovation by Larry Keeley. One of the 10 is the profit model, which outlines how a business will make money.

Song’s experience with business after attending Medill had an impact on many cherubs.

“It showed me you can study journalism, and it doesn’t necessarily dictate exactly what field you are going to go into,” said Celine Macura, of Great Neck, New York.