Dog Tag, Inc Fellowship Program – Week 5

This week was the end of the first round of classes and rotations of the Summer 2016 Dog Tag, Inc Fellowship Program!  I can’t believe it’s already been 6 weeks of the program, time has flown by and so many memories have been made.

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That handsome man in the blue shirt in the center of this photo is my Georgetown University Professor Charles Skuba.   I had the pleasure of being in Professor Skuba’s Principles of Marketing class and learned an incredible amount from him about branding, marketing, and so much more!

Top 3 Marketing Lessons I Learned from Professor Skuba

  1.  Your Customer is #1 – Everything you do as a business owner needs to be centered around who your customer is, what is important and valuable to them, and what they want.  Once you figure out those things, you can create a product or service that will not only bring more customers to you, but will give you repeat and loyal customers!
  2. Develop a Marketing Strategy – A business can’t just expect to open up shop and hope for the best.  Identifying your strengths and weaknesses as well as any external opportunities or competition are essential to helping develop an effective marketing strategy to grow your brand.   Then, you must decide what your objectives are and make obtainable, measurable goals.
  3. Branding is Key – Not only does the name of your company matter, but the colors, fonts and logos you create all become essential to creating equity in your brand.  Make sure to create a logo that means something to your customer that is not only ascetically pleasing, but is memorable as well.

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On Thursday morning, Professor Skuba gave us our Final Exam which I got 100% on! I was incredibly worried I wouldn’t do well on it and actually surprised myself with a perfect score!  I guess I really did learn a lot from this class!

I also found out that I passed the Principles of Management final exam I took last week!! We’re graded on a pass/fail basis only, so I won’t know what my exact grade was until I see Dr. McCabe again, but HALLELUIA!!! I passed both my finals!

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Monday, we had the fabulous Jackie Nedell teach our class how to speak in front of a camera for media appearances.  Jackie was a television news reporter for more than a 16 years and for the last 15 years has been a national communications expert with focus on broadcast media training/messaging and outreach.  She was also on two episodes of House of Cards on Netflix!

This training with Jackie came at the most perfect time because I am going to be the feature of a mini documentary put together by Boeing and the USO and that filming begins later this month!

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On Thursday afternoon, Dog Tag Bakery hosted a VIP! Mrs. Ellyn Dunford is the wife to General Joseph Dunford, USMC, the current Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Mrs. Dunford had 3 guests with her from Israel and were treated with a tour of the bakery along with a visit to our classroom.

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I was asked to give my final presentation (with my small group including Sharod and Meche!) for my rotation while Mrs. Dunford and her guests visited.  Kyle & Megan (our Program Director and CEO) wanted to give them a sense of what the program does and what better way than with our presentation!

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Our presentation recapped all the things we learned during our 5 week Product Development Rotation with Executive Pastry Chef Rebecca Clerget. I won’t hash through everything I learned, but you can check out the slides from my presentation if you want to get an idea!

Just so you can get an idea of how excited I was to work with Rebecca… check out her credentials from the Dog Tag website!

Rebecca has worked in Five Star restaurants, Relais and Chateaux properties, and luxury hotels in the United States and in Europe. Rebecca has worked with some of the most accomplished pastry chefs in England, France and Spain. She won “best young pastry chef” in the United Kingdom in 2006 from the Academy of Food and Wine and represented England in the first ever Roussillon Dessert Trophy in the south west of France. She has worked part time at The White House since the end of the Bush administration and spent the last four years as Executive Pastry Chef and beekeeper for The Fairmont Hotel, Washington DC, Georgetown where she ran a successful and creative pastry department. Rebecca is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

So yeah, she’s pretty awesome and I learned SO MUCH!

Dog Tag, Inc Fellowship Program - Summer Cohort 2016

Top 3 Bakery Lessons I Learned from Executive Pastry Chef Rebecca Clerget

  1. Running a bakery kitchen is no joke! – In all seriousness, if I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to work side-by-side with Rebecca to see how incredibly difficult it is to be a the head pastry chef but to be responsibilities for the management of bakery operations, execution and implementation of menu items for our retail bakery, and overseeing the baking and pastry training for our veterans and their spouses.  After seeing all she does, it became clear to me that being a baker as a profession is not something that I want to do.  I want to run a business, but not from the kitchen.  I need to hire someone awesome like Rebecca to do it for me!
  2. I’m flouring my work space all wrong. – As I was rolling out dough, Rebecca stops me and says, “The amateur way to flour is by sprinkling it around (and demonstrates how I just did it).  Instead we toss it across like this (and with the whip of her hand like she was skipping a stone across water) she flours the counter with perfection.  My mind was blown and my life was changed.  It’s a simple thing, but for someone who makes hundreds of cookies, pies and doughs a year… it’s a game changer. I even made a video about it!

  3. Yeast is no longer scary! – For the longest time I’ve been afraid of yeast.  I could never seem to get the dough right and to be honest, I never knew how to treat the yeast or what it should look like or smell like.  Rebecca changed all that for me.  On the day we made yeast dough for pasty, I think I wrote down everything she said about yeast! In fact, a yeast pastry was our final project for our rotation and this Peaches and Cream Danish will be sold in the bakery!

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This Fellowship has been so incredibly challenging, fun, and emotional.  I can feel friendships for life forming and I have a great suspicion that I just may be beginning a journey of a lifetime!

I can’t wait for next week!

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