It’s five minutes before class is set to begin on a Tuesday in the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis, and nearly all the students taking professor Bob Grimm’s Fundamentals of Business course are in their seats—waiting.
“This is no surprise you’re all in your seats,” professor Grimm tells the students, all of whom are Direct Admits to the Kelley School and first-semester freshmen. Many of them are in the Honors College. “This is a testament to the talent and drive of our Kelley Direct Admit class.”
On this day, Grimm, a clinical associate professor of management, opens class with a story about the importance of being in your seat early, especially in business meetings. He describes his experience with rigorous corporate conferences run by his executive development staff while working at May Department Stores in the 1990s. He explained the CEO of May Company David C. Farrell was typically the first presenter, beginning at 7:30 AM sharp. However, if conference participants weren’t in their seats by 7:15 AM, they could miss the CEO’s remarks. You see -- Farrell had a reputation for arriving early and starting immediately.
“If a merchandising manager or store manager was in the hallway when the doors closed to the conference room, he or she had to wait until the break. Mr. Farrell did not like interruptions and distractions. ‘Focus’ was the operative word,” remembered Grimm.