The answers are not in the textbook

By Ray DePaul


One of the best parts of my job is watching young people find their groove and graduate as remarkable young adults. Last month we said goodbye to one of those students who we convinced to hang around the university for an extra year working for the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Institute for Community Prosperity. I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell one of my favourite Dustin Paisley stories because it epitomizes the entrepreneurial mindset. 

Dustin was in a marketing class when a case study was assigned as a midterm. Case studies are true, historical cases of a business facing a challenge. Students have to dissect the case, apply business theory, and recommend a course of action. While other students got to work reading their textbooks and looking for hints in the case that might guide their analysis, Dustin put on his entrepreneurship hat and headed in a different direction. 

After countless entrepreneurship courses, Dustin knew that the answers weren’t in the textbook or case study. He did what any self-respecting entrepreneur would do… he called the CEO mentioned in the case. He leveraged the business development skills he had mastered and had a one hour conversation about the case study with the guy who actually lived it. The CEO was so taken that he suggested if Dustin were ever in Victoria, he should come by the company and they would continue their conversation. Well it turns out that Dustin had access to Westjet free passes and quickly took him up on his offer. He spent another few hours with the CEO talking about business, the future of the company, and I’m sure singlehandedly redefining the CEO’s perception of millennials. 

Needless to say, when Dustin handed in his case study analysis and recommendation, it was far more insightful than his peers. To be fair to the professor and other students, this is clearly not a realistic approach to doing a case study. The CEO would not have been so generous with his time if 30 students had phoned him. But the point is, 30 students didn’t phone him - one remarkable entrepreneurial student did. 

Thanks Dustin and best of luck as you continue to find unique ways to solve real problems.