Virtual Coaching


If you are just DECIDING WHAT YOUR ISSUES/TOPICS WILL BE FOR YOUR CASE see the right column of  this page for tutorials including our new video tutorial. They are helpful for focusing your issues and generally understanding the flow of the case from up here (pointing to head) to down here (pointing to paper/computer).

Below is sample text with some email advice to a Hot Mommas Project case author who sought feedback on her case.  This post will be updated as we have more similar sessions with case authors. [updated 1.17 08]


Q: Can you look at my case and tell me if it’s what you’re looking for?

A: Okay – I looked at your case.

Important to know up front: I am not a judge, so, I can only speculate as to what the judges will be looking for based on the judging criteria).


a. It is perfectly fine to not worry about the competition. Many are not, and just want to help and share their experiences.

b. One way to be helpful, is to focus on this case from an educator’s perspective. What “lesson” can students learn from a professional standpoint? Are there any links/readings? The personal lessons are really something we “sneak in”.  We know that educators will, first and foremost, go for the professional/hard skills. Having the personal lessons and teaching points in there is a sneaky move on our part to get real examples of role models (in and out of the office) in front of students and readers everywhere.

Now, comments on the case:

1.You are awesome. The major categories you mention in Step 6 of the wizard are GREAT ISSUES. It takes bravery to discuss them honestly.

2. First section – Intro. I would continue to flesh out the intro and hint at the issues/challenges you mention as your major categories (Professional = scaling/growing business & Personal = Divorce). After the intro, head back in time (see 3).

3. Second section – Background. Go back farther in your background. Have it center on your first “ah ha” moment when you realized “Hey – I am motivated.” Then work back up to the present. Students really need this to identify with you. They don’t always “get it” when they see this uber successful and motivated person years ahead of them. How did you get there? A rinse repeat of the feeling from your “ah ha” moment. You may have been born running. That is okay too. Just put it out there.

4. Third section – Professional. Then bring the case back up to the current professional challenge. What is it?  If exit strategy, then e.g. “My business is successful, but I need an exit strategy. Where to start?  How does one get an exit strategy?”) What have you pondered? Include a few notes about this in the case or the “notes” section of the appendix. A link to an INC (or other) article on “How to Exit Your Business” adds something for readers to really learn from and sink their teeth into, and increases the chance educators will use it in the classroom (the project’s ulimate goal).

5. Fourth section – Personal. Then, transition into personal challenge. (E.g. This business happened because of a horrible personal situation. Vanessa remembered walking through an empty house one day and her heart dropped. What happened? The balance she had achieved was slowly melting away.)

6. Wrap up. Last, wrap up with a nice meaty challenge that gets people thinking and positions them – mentally – for the discussion questions. You don’t have to wrap it up with a nice little bow. Give them some tips and solutions, and then hold back on others – include in teaching notes – and let readers dig into it and solve for you.

7. Discussion questions

Professional – I would leverage the info put forth in the case (e.g., exit) and come up with a question that makes people think, and teaches something. For instance (Act as Vanessa’s growth consultant and do a Google search on growth articles. Pick your favorite three and share your #1 recommendation for the exit for Vanessa’s business. Why did you come up with this recommendation?) Another could be (Find a model of a similar business that has been sold, merged, or another exit strategy.  Could this be applicable to Vanessa’s company? Why or why not.). Personal preference – then, I would go in to more personally oriented questions (I tend to lead discussion questions with professional/hard skills).

Personal – Sharpen the questions to direct the readers…they will always go off on tangents on their own, so, to be specific is helpful (I think). For example: Look at Vanesa’s schedule, what time does she have left for her business? What would you change about your day if you were Vanessa, and why? Or “In the background section, Vanessa talked about an important mentor early in her career. Talk about a mentor you’ve had” or “Research a successful mentoring relationship. What impressed you about it?  Come up with 3 steps you’ll take to find your own mentor.”

8. Appendix – Use your appendix (Notes, links). Blowing it out of the water would be a You Tube video linked to the appendix. I am waiting for someone much more tech savvy than I to do that.



I developed this worksheet for my students in my Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership class at the George Washington University.


In this exercise, students write their own case to serve as role models to other young women – as well as promote class peer mentor relationships. The case has four sections: Introduction, Background (including Aha moment), Professional or academic Issue/Challenge, Personal Issue/Challenge. Students can start by thinking of major strengths, weaknesses, and stories associated with that. From there, a case outline can develop. The introduction is often decided upon last. (Cases can be written in 1st or 3rd person). Example:

Sample student brainstorming worksheet:

Professional or Academic Issue/Challenge

a.Challenge = Prioritization. “I did not always prioritize my school work as I should have. Recently, I made improvements in my academic performance by applying myself. I regret not doing it earlier.”

b.Story that describes this: “I remember getting my grades in the Fall semester of 2008. I was so disappointed. I dreaded telling my parents. I took out a piece of paper, wrote down some actions for how to improve, and scheduled talks with my professors to run the plan by them. When I went home for winter break, I was armed with that plan to show my parents. Things were going to be different.”

c.Interesting discussion point for a class reading my case: Is it too late? Karen is a junior now. Will grad schools and employers say her actions are a day late and a dollar short?

Personal Issue/Challenge

a.Challenge = Sacrifice. “I am now making many sacrifices in my personal life to improve my academic performance. Sometimes, this seems easy to do because my friends are not ‘grading’ me. But, how will I feel later about this?

b.Story that describes this: “My friends Jai and Erika walked out the door to go to the party. They looked great. I sat at my desk, in sweats, glasses on, looking at my computer. I had to believe that this decision was the right one. It seemed so juvenile…belly-aching about a party. But, that is such a big part of college life, and I was missing it.”

c.Interesting discussion point for a class reading my case: Is it worth it?


a.What information will help lead us up to the challenges described in the case? “I was always a child of peaks and valleys. I’d start off on the wrong path, but, ultimately get on the right one”…..information continues, influencers, etc.

b.Ah ha moment when you began to realize “Hey – I can be successful at something”: “When I was 8, my friends all took a certain dance class each Wednesday after school. It was the social event of the week. However, I didn’t like dancing. I just had no interest in going. Looking back, I realize how unusual it was to escape peer pressure to follow my own path. At 8, I had the ability to say ‘Not interested.’ That ability to follow my own true instincts showed up during many key decision points in my life.”

c.Interesting discussion point for a class reading my case: Do you relate to Karen’s background and tapping into her sense of self? Why or why not?


I walked in the door, suitcase in hand. I was home for winter break. This was going to be ugly. I reached in her bag and, without saying a word, handed my report card to my mom. My parents gazed at the paper, and I saw the same expression on both of their faces: Horror. That was their reaction. I could only imagine the thoughts racing through their heads, “We took out a second mortgage for this?” The next piece of paper I gave them would change everything. Throughout my life I had a way of turning bad situations around, and this would be no exception.

(To use third person, “I” would be replaced by “Karen”, “Her”, or “She.”)

To write a case:

1. Students login into

2. Click “Write a new case”

3. Move through the case wizard, saving frequently.

4. Complete the case prior to 2/24/13 12:00 MIDNIGHT EST (and click “publish”)

5. Identify your case as affiliated with the class by typing “UNCW – Waxman” in the last step of the case wizard under “How did you hear about us”

6. Click “Publish” and send Prof Frey the link to your completed case.

For those with morbid curiosity:

Here is the link to where I assigned it to my class

Here is a general blog post on the topic I did:


Hope this is helpful everyone!

Contact us if you’d like to request your own virtual coaching session (first come, first served).


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