Payson DECA program took 25 students to the Future Forward Conference at the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium in Phoenix on Sept. 30. Students could pick workshops in the areas of entrepreneurship, sports and entertainment, and hospitality.
Keynote speaker Tony La Russa, the chief baseball officer for the Diamondbacks, talked about a career that started with his work as an everyday student, led onto his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and finally to his current position.
He said a leader must inspire, follow the Golden Rule and find a positive way to approach a negative situation.
DECA members then attended four different sessions led by experienced speakers including marketing representatives
from the Diamondbacks, members of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Arizona, operations managers and sales executives from Marriott, brand managers and sales representatives from the Phoenix Suns, and the co-founders of the clothing line, State Forty Eight.
In the Diamondback session, students had to choose an item out of a hat and try to sell it on the spot. Then they receive feedback from the Diamondback representatives.
Another group of PHS DECA students were fascinated by the clothing company, and rising brand State Forty Eight. State Forty Eight’s workshop was held by co-founders Mike Spangenberg and Stephen Polando. They discussed their products, the process they took to build their brand, and tips for young entrepreneurs.
One DECA survey showed 27 percent of the business students want to start their own business.
In high school Spangenberg was a DECA member and loved every minute of the program.
Following his dream of fashion, Spangenberg partnered with Stephen and Nicholas Polando to create the State Forty Eight brand.
They wanted to share their story to DECA students. Spangenberg says, “I continue to be impressed with DECA students and hope our story can motivate others to follow their passion.”
To wrap up the conference, DECA members attended the final D-back game of the year.
“A big thank you goes out to all of the business sponsors for DECA,” said PHS DECA adviser Joe Parone. “They have not only provided young entrepreneurs with networking connections to real business partners, but have shared insider information.”