Have We Got a Story for You!

Posted: February 7, 2023 8:15:00 AM CST

image of a typewriter writing the words once upon a time

Almost everyone loves to hear a good story, but it takes someone special to tell one. Students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s College of Business are treated to the fine art of storytelling when they enter Dr. Karl Borden’s classroom. His stories take them back in time to when he was a little boy learning the nuances of business from his father to his long career as a serial entrepreneur. With this much experience in the world of finance at his disposal, he uses his own life to teach his students more than they could ever learn by simply reading a textbook.Dr. Borden with students at a coffee shop

Dr. Borden, who is responsible for starting and running almost a dozen successful businesses, has firsthand experience about what he is teaching his students. From his chain of “ICF/DD” facilities (Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled specializing in caring for mentally retarded adults with a history of violence and sex offenses), to the diesel engine fuel conversion system manufacturing company he and his son founded, to a wholesale fashion supply company with 13 salesmen covering territory in 26 states, Dr. Borden has learned a lot about what it takes to implement business strategies successfully. For Dr. Borden, being successful in the world of business is all about creating win-win relationships. He believes that “If everyone doesn’t win, you don’t have a viable business model.” This business philosophy has helped him develop and grow many companies employing hundreds of people.

Dr. Borden makes clear, however, that his classes are not “fun and games.”  He has a reputation as one of the most rigorous instructors in the College of Business and Technology. But with his background he is in a unique position to help students anticipate what their future in the business world will look like and understand why rigorous preparation leads to success. “Stories are illuminating, but they are not a substitute for hard work and study.” By sharing his personal stories students have their imaginations stimulated, and it doesn’t take long for them to understand that their professor is sharing more than just textbook knowledge. Dr. Borden uses storytelling to help his students grasp concepts because he understands that it helps them retain and apply the information they’ll use in their future careers. He says, “It is not enough to get the right answer by pushing buttons on a calculator.  You must also know why it is the right answer.”  He has had occasions where former students have reminded him of a story he told in class many years ago. Not only do they remember specific details from the story, but they share with him the exact lesson he was teaching. By enhancing his class with storytelling to make concepts come alive students retain and apply what they have been taught. Storytelling makes this happen.your story matters.jpg

In his 37 years at UNK, Dr. Borden has watched many students leave his classroom and graduate. He’s lost count of how many have returned to share their success stories with him. Just as his former students continue to learn about the world of business, he’s always turning new experiences into new storytelling opportunities. Recently, while checking his e-mail, he read one that was an obvious story opportunity. The e-mail was the opening ploy for a classic “Spanish Prisoner/Honeypot” scam that Dr. Borden teaches about in his Short Term Financial Management class, where among other topics students learn about common frauds and confidence games.  Recognizing the financial scam contained in the e-mail he decided to take advantage of what he knew would be a perfect case study for his class. The scam is a sexual-innuendo trap that cons its victims out of millions of dollars in scam payments every year.  After informing both his wife (!) and several colleagues of what he was doing he played along with the con, over three weeks pretending to fall for the ploy. When it progressed to the point where the person on the other end of the e-mail exchange shared bank information in an attempt to get money from him, Dr. Borden knew he had all the data he needed for the case.  He turned his information over to bank and Federal authorities and started preparing to use the case to explain the psychology and strategies used in these financial scams. Dr. Borden is scheduled to present this e-mail fraud case study at the Financial Education Association in San Antonio, Texas.

Dr. Borden is more than just a veteran professor at UNK. He is a master storyteller who sees educational value in everyday life experiences. His published research examines the effect of storytelling and finds statistically significant evidence that student retention is enhanced in finance courses when storytelling is used, verifying the value of class time spent spinning yarns.  His ability to take what he has experienced and weave it through his courses is a gift that his students sometimes spend many years opening. After all, the best thing about hearing a good story is that the experience stays with you long after it ends. For almost four decades, Dr. Borden has used his life as an open book for his students to read. That’s just not something you get in many classrooms.

By: Sandy Brannan

Category: Marketing, Business and Technology

Power of the Herd. Top 10 University Best Midwest Public Universities | US News Rankings | Only in Nebraska a campaign for our future Power of the Herd. Be Bold. Top 10 University Best Midwest Public Universities | US News Rankings