Trade Fair Troubles

For the last three weeks I’ve been able to attend the school to help advise the companies in how they should approach the remaining two trade fairs, the trade fair aftermath, the report compilation and the presentations.

Trevor and Jess from my work have been going too so there’s plenty of support for the students from the three of us, along with that of the Centre Lead (their Teacher).

Lack Of Direction

The Thursday they were preparing for the third trade fair at Shrewsbury, this was their second event. Upon arrival at the school there was obviously a lack of direction in the younger team, there was some fooling around going on and not much in the way of useful  contributions. The MD of the Coin Ring company Anillos was also to be seen messing about and not keeping the rest of the team in check.

As a business adviser I tend to be a “good cop” to other’s “bad cops”. My style of advising the students isn’t what I’d call directive usually. This changed at this meeting, I couldn’t stand to see the members of the company not achieving what they are capable of so I started being a little more honest and providing them with my ideas rather than expecting them to get it together themselves.

Making A Stand

First off was the trade fair stand, nothing had changed from the first tradefair, their Manufacturing process was still an A3 sheet of paper with one photo of a ring and tons of text detailing every part of the process. This wasn’t read once by anyone so I advised them, again, to change it to a picture based process with one or two descriptive words under each photo, all joined by big colourful arrows. The person on the team responsible for manufacturing most of the stock of rings had these images so started to print them out.


They also had no photo of themselves as a team or individually on their back-boards so I suggested that it could be a good addition to the stand. “We haven’t got any photos of ourselves” said one of the young adults. “How are we going to get those?” said another.

For the generation with the largest number of photos ever taken, each of them with a smart phone including camera function in their pockets, it was a huge task. A simple suggestion to line up each person for an individual picture with the same background should have seen them produce a small photo with their role and name underneath.

The logo that had taken weeks to create now sat printed on an A3 sheet with a white logo on a black background. One of the team thought that it would make sense to have it in a bright colour and told a few of the others to make it so.

With No Responsibility Comes No Action

The common theme here is that no-one took responsibility for anything, nobody said “assign that action to me” or “I’ll get that done this afternoon” The immature attitude  caused them to start messing about again and soon they were cutting up the photos to make funny faces, the pictures were all different sizes with no labels or captions and the photos of the manufacturing process were all pinned onto the board with no discernible reason for them being there.

At this point their teacher arrived to ensure that they understood the instructions for getting everything printed and being ready in a set place at a set time so that he could take them and their equipment to the shopping centre. Frustration was building up inside me at this particular moment as none of the boys turned around to pay attention or to even acknowledge the information they were being given. I pulled them up on the rudeness and ungratefulness of their behaviour and there were a couple of apologies but none really heartfelt.

They started to produce photos of themselves with a smartphone and a standard background. They printed them out which was promising and then they stopped there. The photos printed were all different sizes with no names or roles attached to them. They’d simply got distracted again. After a few more nudges to get some pictures of the team and the process onto the board I had to leave to return back to work.


I left feeling a little disappointed that the students weren’t listening to the advice that I and my colleagues were imparting. It’s probably the least useful I’ve ever felt to a YE Team. Nothing that I’d said, done or helped with was going to make this trade fair any more successful than the previous one. I wouldn’t see the results of this trade fair in real life though as I was filming for a game show in BBC Glasgow on the Saturday. Needless to say though, looking at the photos,  that there were no real improvements to their whole presentation of goods or back boards.

Maybe they’d be more focussed next week!


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