In the video above, Build-A-Bear CEO Sharon Price John ’94 discusses her experiences as a student at Columbia Business School, her new book, and offers insights on business leadership.

For a transcript of the video, read below:


CBS: Tell us about your experience at CBS.

Sharon Price John: I chose to come to Columbia for reasons that might have been different from a lot of students at the time. I had been in more of a creative industry, the advertising industry in New York, and the experiences that I'd had with best in class clients -- M&M, Mars, Hershey -- at two different agencies really piqued my curiosity to the client side; the broader aspects of business, not just the marketing and advertising side. And I felt like I needed to have more of that traditional background to be able to make that leap to the client side.

That's where Columbia fits the bill. I learned the language of business. I learned a tremendous amount about the finance side, and accounting. I'd never even had an accounting class, so you can imagine starting Columbia where there's already a lot of CPAs in the actual business school. So I was doing a lot of racing to catch up on some of those harder core, linear sides of the business. But it's been invaluable for me, and I don't believe that I would be able to do what I have been able to do without achieving that goal.

CBS: What do you think of the new Manhattanville campus?

Price John: The new facility in Manhattanville is absolutely gorgeous. It's impressive. It is what Columbia Business School deserves, given the credibility of the school itself. I'm so energized by the possibilities of of where this could go.

CBS: What has changed since you were a student?

Price John: It's great to see that Columbia is keeping up with the demands of the time and with what students need today. I think that so much of what we learned, of course, was appropriate for the time, maybe even in specific learning sectors and functional areas. And we were checking a lot of boxes, which was traditional for a MBA that many years ago. But now students really need to be exposed to more of an entrepreneurial penchant -- fresh ways to think about innovative constructs. Breaking down old traditions about what could work and might not work.

This generation of graduates is going to help lead us to so much change and evolution that we really, really need in the world right now. Whether that's the way we engage with the broader community and the workplace, or how we engage with our environment. And I think that type of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, and the willingness to challenge and question and have those open forum discussions with some of the best minds, and great training, is where we're going to have to go.

CBS: Tell us about your new book.

Price John: The book is called Stories and Heart: Unlock the Power of Personal Stories to Create a Life You Love.

I can't say that I had always thought that I would write a book, but I was approached by Forbes to do so, and they wanted me to do a business book. But I didn't want to write a business book. Well then they asked me to write a personal book, and I didn’t want to write a personal book. I’m not ready to write my autobiography -- I’m not old enough yet! So I thought that some combination of those things might be interesting -- of different events that had happened in my life, and how those events molded and changed and influenced my life. And then combine that with a lot of data and research that supports some of the things that I was thinking in that moment.

CBS: What career advice do you have for current CBS students?

Price John: A lot of people ask me about career advice that I can provide to students. And even though this is age-old advice, I'm going to stand behind it: you really do have to pick something that you love. You have to really think about a way to weave your career and your life together instead of this old school work-life balance, as if there’s some big bifurcation between those two constructs. If you truly love what you're doing it doesn't feel so much like work. It will take the same amount of time and energy and effort for you to be successful in whatever you choose to endeavor.

There's something about loving what you're doing, where you believe that there is a bigger outcome, a goal that is bigger than yourself, that is energizing. You will wake up every day ready to put your feet on ground, ready to get moving. And that is so much more empowering than something that you believe is just a job.