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Summer 2009

Conexión rises to a burgeoning market

Where demographers see change, Lauri (Smith) Jordana ‘88 sees opportunity.

Jordana is the founder of Conexión Marketing in Seattle, which is dedicated to marketing companies to the rapidly growing Hispanic/Latino market.

When Jordana graduated from Washington State University in foreign language and literature, she immediately left for Spain, which she’d fallen in love with during her year abroad, intending to spend the rest of her life there. But her life plans were pre-empted when she got homesick and returned to Washington after a year.

Back home, with fluent Spanish, she embarked on a series of positions with various companies, helping them reach Hispanic consumers. She … » More …

Spring 2009

Jason Ambrose ’99 – Counting beans in Costa Rica

Jason Ambrose learned to drink coffee as a college freshman. “Then it was more about function than flavor,” he admits.

These days, Ambrose starts his morning with a French press. He heats milk for his son Jackson, who is not yet two, and water enough to make two big mugs of Ethiopian-grown coffee for himself and his wife Julie (Dertinger, ’94).

It’s a far cry from the cafeteria cups he first sampled back at WSU, he says.

Moving to Seattle after graduating from Washington State University in 1999, Ambrose couldn’t help but get caught up in the coffee culture. Today the 33-year-old Starbucks employee has … » More …

Winter 2008

Joey Nelson – What he saw

In the rough-hewn world at Columbia Vista Corp.’s lumber mill near Vancouver, the sight of Joseph “Joey” Nelson ’00 pushing spectacles into place might invoke visions of Clark Kent there among the conveyor belts and screeching saws.

But if the workers around him knew that it’s Nelson’s laser-scanning equipment–technology he started developing as a high school kid–enabling their mill to convert raw logs into perfect lumber within seconds, they’d recognize a technological Superman in their midst.
Nelson founded his company, JoeScan, from his dorm room in Washington State University’s Streit Hall in 1999, the year before earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

A … » More …

Winter 2008

What I’ve Learned Since College: An interview with Sonny Spearman

Sonny Spearman ’86 has traded technology for toys. As co-founder and chief marketing and operating officer of Matter Group, she leads a company focused on creating products to foster awareness of the environment.

Spearman started her career in technology and media, riding the wave of the Seattle-based tech boom in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She’d still be in the tech sector if she and company co-founder Amy Tucker hadn’t decided develop a business focused on sustainability.

Their first product, which was released in 2006, is Xeko, an award-winning eco-adventure game for children eight and older. With a force of “secret agents” intent on … » More …

Summer 2006

Can America compete in a 'Flat' World?

Many of you are familiar with Thomas Friedman’s argument, in The World is Flat, that technology has eliminated many barriers to competition and thus created today’s globally competitive economic environment. His dramatic examples of outsourcing show that key services, including high-level engineering and scientific tasks, can be effectively accomplished without regard to the workers’ physical location. This allows imaginative businesses to tap talent from around the globe, often at considerable savings.

Friedman, a foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, uses this evidence to reach some alarming conclusions about how America will fare in the future. After establishing the central thesis that location is … » More …

Spring 2008

Closing minds: How layoffs can be bad for business

One of the best ways to kill a worker’s creativity is to tell him his job is on the line.

Tahira Probst, an associate professor of psychology at Washington State University Vancouver, has explored that notion through a combination of laboratory experiments and field studies at businesses and schools in western Washington. She was able to prove that workers who believed their jobs were in jeopardy lacked cognitive flexibility.

Her study on job loss was published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology in 2007.

Workers whose jobs are in danger are less healthy and happy. That’s been common knowledge for years, says Probst. … » More …

Summer 2008

Breathing life into Pullman’s economy

In 2007, a marketing class at WSU surveyed undergraduates to determine what businesses they would most want to see in Pullman. At the top of their list: Red Robin, American Eagle, and Circuit City. They shared their findings with the Pullman Chamber of Commerce in hopes that these companies could be convinced to open establishments in Pullman. For years chamber officials have been trying to lure such companies to Pullman. In the mid-1990s, hopes were raised when Applebees showed interest. The company sent representatives to assess Pullman and found a great location—in Moscow. Flat land and a lower minimum wage would reduce construction and operating … » More …

Summer 2008

The Coming Depression

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been waiting for this all my life. Growing up with parents born in the crash year of ’29, and with grandparents marked and ennobled by sacrifice and ingenuity in living well with nothing, I’ve amounted to nothing but a Baby Boomer: first coddled and spoiled, and soon to bring down, single-handedly, the world’s climate stability and Social Security.

But now I have a chance to redeem myself. Pretty soon I’m gonna experience some real honest-to-goodness privation, my own little corner of a general decline in living standards in the U.S. of A.

I’m psyched. A Depression of my … » More …

Winter 2001

Investment Madness: How Psychology Affects Your Investing and What to Do About It

In Investment Madness: How Psychology Affects Your Investing…and What to Do About It, John R. Nofsinger (’88 Elect. Engr., ’96 Ph.D. Fin.) debunks the accepted wisdom that people make rational investment decisions. They don’t. The book lays out the psychological biases and emotions that often trip up investors, impair their decisions, and consequently jeopardize their wealth.

Unlike other books on finances, this one “focuses on the reader—the investor, rather than on the stock market and investment strategy,” says the Washington State University assistant professor of finance.

While investors blame financial analysts and overhyped stocks for the depressed state of many nest eggs following the recent … » More …

Fall 2004

Is Self-Employment for You?

Anyone can start a business, but only a few can sustain one. That’s the premise of Paul. E. Casey’s new book, Is Self-Employment for You?

Casey Communications Inc., the company he founded in Seattle in 1988, is still going strong. He attributes his success in selling and placing broadcast and print advertising to hard work, continuous “cold calls,” and “street smarts.” In his book, he shares some of the mistakes those in business for themselves make, and discusses how those pitfalls can be avoided.

It’s not the business plan that dictates whether you will be successful, but rather your experience—particularly life experiences, Casey contends. Some … » More …