Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tyra Banks to Teach Stanford M.B.A. Class

For two weeks next May, M.B.A. students at Stanford University will be taking tips in personal branding from the former host of “America’s Next Top Model.” Tyra Banks is slated to make her teaching debut at the school as a guest lecturer, co-teaching a class on creating and protecting a personal brand.

Some 25 graduate students will receive instruction from Ms. Banks on how to harness all forms of old and new media to showcase their strengths. The former Victoria’s Secret model and chief executive of TYRA Beauty will also deliver tips on handling press exposure as a business leader. The first assignment for the class, “Project You: Building and Extending your Personal Brand,” asks students to create a short video introducing both themselves and the vision for a brand, according to the official course description.


Ms. Banks, 42 years old, said her teaching style will be engaging and fun, but tough: “If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them.”


She added that she makes it her goal while speaking to college-aged audiences to keep them off their phones, unless it is to “tweet something I’ve said.”

Celebrity sightings have become increasingly common on the campuses of the nation’s top business schools. In 2000, Oprah Winfrey taught a “Dynamics of Leadership” class at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Notable students are making star turns at B-schools, too. In the wake of a doping ban, tennis player Maria Sharapova enrolled in an executive-education course at Harvard Business School this summer. Ms. Banks herself completed an HBS executive-education program in 2012.


In June, rapper LL Cool J and National Basketball Association players Pau Gasol and Chris Paul attended a four-day course at HBS on the “Business of Media, Entertainment, and Sports.” In that course, actor Channing Tatum participated as a “live case” study.

Ms. Banks is planning the course with co-instructor Allison Kluger, a management professor at Stanford, and a former producer for “The View” and “Good Morning America.”

Ms. Kluger approached Ms. Banks with the idea of teaching a short course after seeing her speak at a recent Stanford event. During her talk, Ms. Banks shared anecdotes about her transition into entrepreneurship, which included cold-calling CEO Tony Hsieh of online shoe and clothing company Zappos for guidance about how to start her own company.

“I was mesmerized,” said Ms. Kluger, who teaches courses in leadership and communication. “She’s a natural.” Ms. Kluger and Ms. Banks will spend the next few months planning the details of the course, which will be available for registration on a first-come, first-served basis.

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