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Matt Ford's School House Rock

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You can help us build the UMV syndicate.

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Editors note: The following is written by Matt Ford, Assistant Professor of Management at Northern Kentucky University's College of Business. Matt is a long-time partner of the 'Ville and is making great strides in applying the Minyanville experience to the hallowed walls of higher education.

A thousand miles can lead so many ways
Just to know who is driving what a help it would be
So if you want this world of yours to turn about you
And you can see exactly what to do please tell me

--Moody Blues

My name is Matt Ford and I'm an assistant professor of management in the College of Business at Northern Kentucky University. I'm also a long time (Old School) Minyan.

During Minyanville's nascency, an email exchange with Toddo found the following message in my inbox:

Any shot of working MV into [NKU's] curriculum? There will be a "University of Minyanville" on the site...classes in various topics...Our goal is to educate and inform, and reaching the college crowd is important to us.

I can't help but smile when recalling the operational context of Todd's question. The MV website had been up and running for only a couple days. Charter Minyans will fondly recall the white on black 'Raider' color scheme that framed the early commentary. And at the center of the commentary was the president of a hedge fund sharing market insights while tradin' 'em daily. Not exactly the type of environment that befits a university setting.

From the outset, however, Todd's query resonated with me. Even in the venture's nascency, he clearly 'saw' a critical link between Minyanville and the university community (Toddo has shared his vision of the 'Ville's educational imperative and the role of university presence on more than one occasion; here's one of my faves). I also knew that I was personally learning a ton about financial markets (and other things) by reading MV content. It was easy to envision how directing Minyanville's powerful learning mechanism toward collegiate education could elevate the fiscal literacy of tomorrow's decision makers.

Thus began my (very fortunate) trek on the road to what has come to be known as UMV.

There is much about UMV that I'd like to share, but we're operating in space-constrained, temporary digs until construction of the new university campus is completed as part of the website upgrade. Given the tight quarters, I wanted to brief you on a couple UMV initiatives.

Through an academic lens, the primary learning mechanism embedded in the Minyanville approach can be viewed as an observational, or 'vicarious,' learning model. Vicarious learning is grounded in social cognitive theory (e.g., Bandura, 1986) and stems from the notion that most learning generated by direct experience can occur by observing the behavior of others (Manz & Sims, 1981; Rosenthal & Zimmerman, 1978). If you ever began a new job by 'shadowing' an expert or role model, then you engaged in vicarious learning.

Similarly, when Minyans read News and Views or Buzz and Banter content, they are 'observing' the thought processes of experts (i.e., the Minyanville professors). Repeated exposure to these thought processes, so the theory goes, should help observers adopt similar thought processes over time.

Although the observational approach has been around for many (thousands of) years, organizational learning strategies based on vicarious methods have recently been gaining traction as a means for developing deep-seated decision-making intelligence (e.g., Leonard & Swap, 2005). Minyanville's educational opportunity, it seems, lies partly at the nexus of an age-old learning model and emerging technology to operationalize it in the dynamic world of financial markets and decision-making.

Here at NKU, we've become a beta test site of sorts for a number of UMV-related ideas. Our finance faculty has received gratis passes to the Minyanville website and they're considering how Minyanville might be woven into course syllabi. Last spring Todd opened up the MV website for a research project involving NKU students that has generated findings for publication of quality papers as well as useful market research for MVHQ. Findings from this project suggested that undergraduate b-school student exposure to the Minyanville website is significantly related to financial market awareness (i.e., there is indeed a measurable 'Minyanville Effect'). We have another project underway this fall in which we're probing the effectiveness of various instructional aids such as structured lessons grounded in the Minyanville 'body of knowledge' and a 'Buzz lite' that seeks to filter signal from noise for novice readers and beginning students. We plan to post some of this 'learning structure' on the updated Minyanville website.

Here at NKU we've also tapped the 'academic value' of the Minyanville network. Minyanville professors have graciously opened their firms' doors during student field trips. Laurie McGuirk met with a group of NKU students during a summer swing Down Under (students still buzz about the subsequent beer venture with Professor McGuirk). John Succo has been on campus to speak to our students a few times and has recently agreed to serve on our Dept of Economics and Finance advisory board (huge for us). The 'capstone' event came earlier this month when Todd and John held court in a town hall meeting with 100+ students, faculty, and guests here at NKU. It was truly a marvelous event and one that we hope to repeat in the not-too-distant future.

Critical to the advancement of the UMV project will be connecting to a larger group of universities that can help us take the initiative to the next level. We're labeling this group the UMV 'syndicate.' The idea is basically this: Offer participating institutions access to the MV website under very favorable (perhaps gratis) terms for a defined period of time (perhaps one academic year). In exchange, syndicate members would promise to try Minyanville in their classrooms and provide feedback on what did and didn't work. Although many avenues may lead Minyanville towards a stronger university presence, a key road runs thru college faculty since they are the gatekeepers of the syllabus.

Other opportunities may stem from college investment clubs and from institutions that operate trading labs.

You can help us build the UMV syndicate. Many Minyans possess influential connections with universities across the country-either as alumni or as corporate resource providers. Are you interested in helping us build the UMV syndicate by tapping your university influence? If so, we would love to discuss the opportunities with you. Please give me a shout at fordmw@nku.edu.

Finally, let me offer that while the 'dare to dream' approach has brought us a long way from the initial UMV concept, we're merely scratching the surface of what's to come. My sense is that UMV will be a work in progress that, like all things Minyan, is grounded in the interests and effort of the MV community at large. As we progress, I'm hopeful that you'll play a role in developing our institution.

It goes without saying that it is truly humbling to be involved in this effort. Minyanville is a very special place to me. As Todd notes, it's about the journey and what we build along the way.


References

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Leonard, D. & Swap, W. (2005). Deep smarts: How to cultivate and transfer enduring business wisdom. Boston, Harvard Business School Press.

Manz, C.C. & Sims, H.P. Jr. (1981). Vicarious learning: The influence of modeling on organizational behavior. Academy of Management Review, 6: 105-113.

Rosenthal, T.L. & Zimmerman, B.J. (1978). Social learning and cognition. New York: Academic Press.


R.P.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at todd@minyanville.com.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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