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‘It all starts with a handshake’

Six Hancock County high school students have worked hard throughout the school year to prepare for a learning workshop, which was Feb. 22 at Lake Hill Winery.

The group invited guest speaker Bob Schultz to discuss communication as a leader.

CEO students held the door open for guests as they entered the winery to shake hands with each person as they entered.

The event was hosted by the Hancock County Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunites program, which is comprised this year of four Illini West High School students, and two from Warsaw High School.

After a group team building activity at each table, CEO Class President Connor Artman and IWHS junior, started the CEO student panel by introducing himself and his classmates, and told the crowd of about 100 why the class has benefitted him.

When he first heard about the class, Artman said he wasn’t interested in owning a business or studying business, but the class has since changed his college plans.

Blake Dade, a senior from Warsaw High School, was raised to know that anything can be accomplished with the right amount of drive.

“Connor drives us everyday to be better,” he said. “It’s given me the want and drive to run a business.”

WHS senior Trevor Sandidge is a second-year CEO student. He has a successful business that he started last year, and he has enjoyed the different twist of leadership while part of the CEO class.

“Last year, I was the president of the class,” he said. “This year, I’ve been able to lead in different ways.”

He also said the CEO program has more than tripled the amount of community service work he does.

The students invited those in attendance to the individual business tradeshow May 2, at Lake Hill Winery in Carthage. During the panel, students gave brief descriptions of their ideas for their personal businesses.

Carthage Chamber Director Amy Graham, who helps recruit students to join the class, asked the panel what recruiting improvements they want to see for next year’s class.

IWHS junior Hunter Wilde said meeting with potential students in smaller groups would give them more time to ask questions, and would give current students more time to talk about their own experiences.

The class will meet in Augusta, Hamilton and Warsaw in addition to Carthage to allow interested students a chance to sit in on a class.

All CEO classes are open to the public.

At the end of the panel, Artman thanked the 14 sponsors who make the CEO program possible.

Speaker

Schultz opened his discussion with a story about Artman’s email inviting Schultz to speak at the workshop.

“Connor emailed me saying the group wanted me to do my presentation on communication,” Schultz said. “But he wanted me to change a few things.”

Schultz said the Hancock County program’s facilitator, Christine Murphy, was considered one of the best facilitators in the program. Schultz believes there will be about 50 CEO programs across the country by next school year.

Schultz’s tips on the art of conversation began with something that may seem simple, and unimportant to some: the handshake.

He gave the crowd three tips for the perfect handshake, which were firm grip, eye contact and a smile.

Schultz advised thanking the person for meeting that day, and giving them a small smile would make a better first impression than not making eye contact and not feeling confident.

He then told the story of a former CEO student near Effingham. This former student was awarded a full-ride scholarship to a state school after being interviewed by a group of college representatives.

One of the interviewers spoke with Schultz and said the young man was given the scholarship because, unlike his peers also interviewing for the scholarship, he went to the table where the interviewers were seated, and shook the hand of each person.

Other important topics of Schultz’s presentation included social media use and SWOT.

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. He mentioned ideas for business owners to turn threats into opportunities and weaknesses into strengths.

Schultz believes every employee in a business has ideas that can benefit the company as a whole, and those ideas should be taken seriously.

As far as social media, he addressed the millennials in the crowd and emphasized how their posts on social media can keep them from getting a job.

“Posts of you drinking can have a negative affect,” Schultz said. “It communicates something you might not want to communicate to a potential employer.

“Remember, it all begins with a handshake.”

Source: Hancock County Journal-Pilot

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