Q&A with Michael Myers, teaching associate professor of digital marketing and academic director of the Denver MBA
Michael Myers has taught in the Department of Marketing at the Daniels College of Business for 12 years. He is the current academic director of the full-time Denver MBA. He received his International MBA from the University of Denver in 2004. Outside of DU, he sits on the Board of Advisors for Tattered Cover Bookstore. He has lived in Denver since he was 5 years old and has visited both Casa Bonita and Red Rocks hundreds of times, making him a de facto Colorado native.
We sat down with Myers to discuss his work with Entrepreneurship@DU and the South by Southwest Festival, and his work creating numerous DU classes.
Q: Could you tell me about the work you have done with Entrepreneurship@DU?
A: Before there was the Fourth Industrial Revolution class, it was Gateway to Business. Before that, Stephen Haag and I piloted a course called The Killer App Class, or something along those lines. It is ancient history now, but it’s fun because everything starts somewhere, you know? Nothing is fully cooked coming out of the gate … I remember now! It was the Ultimate App Contest. The goal was to have students create mobile application-based business plans. They would then present those ideas. We actually had a student develop something exactly the same as Uber, about two months before Uber’s official launch. It was a little slower, but the idea was there. I imagine he still cries himself to sleep every night … I would. [Laughs].
It really is a challenge. I teach the Fourth Industrial Revolution class now, and students come up with ideas. I say, “that’s great! Now, Google it and see what else is out there.” So often, they realize the idea is five years old. Timing is everything. It is hard to pick something that hasn’t been done.
Q: What is one of your favorite courses to teach?
About eight years ago, I was interested in getting students out of the classroom. I had heard good things about the South by Southwest festival, because there is an interactive media track, a music track and a movie track. I went down there to check it out and, typical of first-time attendees, I had my mind blown. I said, “we need to bring students here as soon as possible.”
In 2016, I brought my first group of students down there. It was an awesome experience. Super intense sessions, lots of great music and good food … Austin, Texas, is a great place to be in March. Now, they cover everything from blockchain, to all the different flavors of artificial intelligence … there is a lot of content there. It is easily one of the most intense educational experiences you will ever have. Because you are picking the topics, it is super applicable to what they want to be doing—I don’t have to convince people to engage, because they pick what they are learning. So, the class is mostly conducting research. At the end of the quarter, we fly down to SXSW and attend and document sixteen sessions. That turns into one big deliverable at the end of the term.
Another class you might find interesting: we are taking students to the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. That is going to be an exciting class for sure.
Q: It sounds like you have had your hand in the formation of a number of classes. How has DU supported you in these efforts?
A: Colorado has traditionally been a state with lots of entrepreneurs. It just hasn’t been as localized in one city as it is becoming now. I think DU is working to become a hub for that innovation. If you are an entrepreneur in healthcare, or AI, or several other fields, you can come here to work with experts, vet your ideas and determine if there is a real opportunity. As far as the classes I have created, I have worked hard to develop courses that are pertinent to right now and to the next two years. When I was hired, I was told by the man who hired me, Paul Ballard, “I need you to teach what’s happening in the last six months and the next two years.” I said, “no problem,” because that is what interests me the most.
DU has afforded me the opportunity to create numerous classes. The next class I am creating is Marketing with Amazon, so we are going to walk through Cloud Services and those advertising platforms; I’m excited about that. I think what Daniels does is, they allow their instructors to have freedom. They trust them to know what they are talking about, and they give them the freedom to create content and classes that will help students thrive.
Q: It seems like digital marketing is at the core of many of your wide-ranging interests. What drew you to this line of work, and how has that translated to your educational work?
A: Lots of people get bored pretty easily—and I am one of those people. If things are constantly changing in my work, I don’t have to find something new because that change finds me. Digital is a huge topic that covers a lot of ground. Because of the pandemic, the need for digital expertise has accelerated. So, it’s a good time to be in digital, and we see a lot of businesses acting and growing aggressively in that field.
In my corporate life, a lot of my time was spent educating. I was educating clients as to what was best for their business models. When Paul Ballard asked me to come in and guest lecture at DU, things clicked. Students were receptive and asked great questions. It was a natural transition for me to get into education. Good marketing, at its core, is education. You are helping people understand what it is they can have or do with your company—and if you can educate customers properly, you will be successful.