Author: Bear Studios

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About Bear Studios

A company founded and run by students that focuses on strategy, design, and technology for clients in St. Louis and beyond. www.bearstudios.org


Brock Mullen, BSBA ’23, wrote this for the Olin Blog. He is majoring in finance and Chinese.

We all have difficulty processing change – not knowing what the future holds can be intimidating. However, by embracing differences and learning to love them, we can improve our future.

Confronting change

On my first day at WashU, my dorm went through a roll call to make sure everyone had moved in. While waiting to be called, I realized I had never heard almost any of the names being called out: “Ezinne,” “Ishana,” “Hans,” “Karinne.” These were nothing like the names from back home; I was used to the five Jakes and seven Graces I had grown up with since preschool. I later recognized I had been presented with the first major change of my college experience, and I knew there would be a lot more heading my way.

My hometown of Parker, Colorado, is quite different from WashU. Parker is virtually homogenous racially, politically and economically. I got used to being around people just like me, so it was uncomfortable to be around so much newness. In my initial shock, I wasn’t sure how to address the variety of novel perspectives now presenting themselves as names, ideologies and more. I knew that this change was happening whether I wanted it to or not. I needed to learn how to cope.

Coping with change

I spent a lot of time reflecting on my new experiences. Soon after processing the new faces, ideas and perspectives, I came to realize that college is about more than learning from lectures and textbooks. It’s about learning how to handle change. Life is not predictable. So, in order to take full advantage of my life and time at WashU, I needed to master the skill that is processing and internalizing change.

To grasp change and make it easier to handle, I always look for the positive in every situation. There is always something good to cling to! Through my optimism, I enhance my ability to accept change. Focusing on the benefits, especially when facing inevitably uncomfortable situations, will allow you to overcome them and seize the opportunity to learn.

Chasing change

Since learning how to embrace change, I have been the recipient of seemingly endless benefits. Still, it’s not easy to immediately absorb and accept the changes thrust upon my day-to-day. It is through consistent reflection that I continue to learn so much about other cultures, people, and lifestyles different from mine back in Parker. By seeking out opportunities to engage with change, I am a more well-rounded person and better prepared to tackle the future challenges of my life.




Claire Huang, BSBA ’23, wrote this for the Olin Blog. She is majoring in finance and economics and strategy and minoring in data analytics.

When a swimmer dives into the water, their arms automatically join together in front of them, forming a hydrodynamic point meant to maximize momentum and minimize drag. This is a streamline, a technique I have practiced many times during my 14 years as a competitive swimmer.

Although I no longer swim, I am now a first-year at WashU, and I believe we could all do well to follow the swimmer’s lead and implement streamlining in our daily lives. As a first-year, it is especially easy to get overwhelmed with clubs, activities and academics. It gets to the point where covering all of your bases can feel like playing a game of Twister.

Streamlining at school can be a great way to maximize our time and energy while minimizing unnecessary commitments to focus on what matters to each of us.

Identifying key values

My first step to streamlining my WashU experience was to create a list of my commitments—everything from classes to clubs to sports teams. I had a lot to write down. I am one of those students who grabbed every flyer from the Mudd Activity Fair and signed up for any club I found even remotely interesting.

After creating my list, I needed to identify my key values. I started by thinking about what I hoped to gain from my college experience. I knew I wanted to prioritize academics, but also explore as many professional opportunities as possible. While widening my social and personal network was also important, I felt that was a natural process that became secondary to my two primary goals.

Paring things down—streamlining

Finally, using the values I identified, I evaluated my list of activities and decided which to keep and which to drop. I chose to keep plenty of professional development extracurriculars, including Phi Gamma Nu, a professional business fraternity; Arch Consulting, a case competition team; and Bear Studios, a student-run consulting firm.

In particular, Bear Studios appealed to me as it provided an amazing opportunity to implement the strategic business development concepts I learned in management 100 to real-life client projects ​and ​receive compensation for my work. Bear Studios occupies a unique place in my life at the intersection of both my academic and professional goals.

Looking back, I’m thankful I was able to streamline my interests so quickly as a first-year. It saved me time so I could pursue what mattered most.

In turn, I am more satisfied with my day-to-day work. I have more energy to pursue my goals and more momentum that propels me to achieve them. However, this isn’t to say I’ve completely decluttered my life. I still look for ways to streamline, out of the pool and in my new school.




Emily Su

Emily Su, BSBA ’22, is a strategy fellow for Bear Studios, a student-led consulting firm on campus. She wrote this for the Olin Blog. She is studying finance and economics and strategy with a minor in philosophy.

Students today seem to approach life full steam ahead, fielding questions like, “Where are you working next summer?” or “What are you doing after graduation?” It’s not often that you hear people talk about time as something that can, or should, be slowed down.

In high school, I watched a TED talk that introduced the idea of recording one second of each day. By the end of 2016, I had a roughly 6-minute long video of the past 365 days.

This project, not one of physics or science, enabled me to slow down time and rewatch my life. After all, the more memories we have in our memory network, the more reference points we have to look back upon, and the fuller we perceive our lives to be.

Now, each time I rewatch my videos, I travel back to 00:00:00 and relive that year.

There are always moments of simplicity—moments easily forgotten, but nonetheless integral to my college experience, like a St. Louis sunset overlooking Mudd Field.

There are memories that I would have rather forgotten in the moment, like walking out of a technical interview where I couldn’t answer half of the interviewer’s questions.

But there are also moments of pride and joy, like being admitted into one of WashU’s business fraternities and meeting new mentors and peers who would become my closest friends.

Together, these clips are no more than a few gigabytes of data on my computer’s hard drive, but they have contributed more to my perspective on life than I ever would have imagined.

When I sit down to rewatch one of my videos, I am reminded once again of the incredible brevity of time. I’ve realized that both the ups and downs are always going to be present in my life, and thus can be vital learning experiences if reflected on properly.

Now, as a sophomore in Olin Business School, the benefits of my recordings are indisputable. I almost forgot that in early 2016, I volunteered at a nonprofit that taught underprivileged children the basics of saving and spending.

This experience is what prompted me to apply to business school in the first place: I had realized that I wanted to find the intersection between business and philanthropy.

After watching my 2016 video and re-familiarizing myself with my original passions and interests, I joined Bear Studios with the hopes of uplifting companies and individuals in a business environment.

Beyond redefining our professional aspirations, these videos can also push us to live more in the moment. What use are disappearing Snapchats or Instagram stories when we have everlasting highlight reels of our lives?

As students, we’re constantly searching for the next rung of the ladder: the next class, the next internship, the next step in our lives. But we now have the ability to slow down time and keep everything in perspective—and if we can take advantage of something that unthinkable, we can apply it to the challenges that lie ahead.




Julie Wang is a rising sophomore in the Olin Business School studying Marketing and Economics & Strategy. Julie works as Strategy Fellow for Bear Studios, an undergraduate, student-run consulting and design firm.

Julie Wang, BSBA ’22, is studying marketing and economics & strategy. She wrote this for the Olin Blog.

We always ask ourselves: What’s next? After one chapter ends, what’s the next one?

These are questions that I’ve been asking myself a lot in the past year, as one natural “chapter” of my life — high school — closed and a new one started at Washington University in St. Louis. As I approached the last page on graduation day, I realized how I content I was with that chapter. The ending to this part of the story brought me to a destination toward which I had been working for so long and it all seemed to perfectly set me up to write the next four years.

To my surprise, I got to campus in the fall and the words started to fail me. Although I had years of experience as the author of my own life novel, I realized that for once in my life, I didn’t exactly know where the plot was going next.

What I prided myself on so much in high school — knowing clearly who I am and what I wanted to do—seemed to crumble when an environment filled with new people and opportunities tested me. I started to ask myself questions that had no answers.

What do you want to major in? At the moment, I thought I couldn’t possibly pick a major without knowing what I want to do post-graduation. What are you going to be involved with on campus? A question I once thought to be effortless to answer suddenly seemed just as enigmatic as the other.

All my life, it’s been one chapter after the next. I saw life in a way that seemingly reduced my options, because if something didn’t contribute to the next chapter, then it wasn’t anything at all. I limited my growth to my academic and extracurricular environments; when those chapters ended, I thought I was left with little to substantiate my “story.” If I didn’t have a destination, it seemed like I didn’t have a purpose.

Coming into college without a single ounce of confidence in what I want to do in the near future opened my mind to the idea that perhaps I don’t need to be certain about the contents of the next chapter to begin writing my story. This shift in perspective allowed me to find opportunities I otherwise may have never discovered if I had confined myself to a single mindset.

Refocusing my direction led me to consider Bear Studios, a student-led consulting and design firm that was recruiting strategy fellows for its consulting practice at the time. I had little idea as to what consulting entailed but was intrigued by the opportunity to interact with real-world businesses in the St. Louis area.

Before coming to college, I had never envisioned myself as a consultant—it wasn’t a part of my story. Yet, participating in Bear Studios has since been one of the most formative learning experiences of my first year.

During my second semester, I also decided to take a step out of my comfort zone by rushing a business fraternity. Although I wasn’t sure what was to be of my experience, the organization has shaped my growth tremendously, building my first-year story and introducing me to new ideas, opportunities, and networks on campus and in the business world.

Now, with the end of my first year of college and the start of summer break, I am faced with a re-evaluation of how I want to sustain my learning in these next few months.

Sometimes, it’s still difficult to grapple with my goal-oriented and destination-focused past self—because not knowing can truly be intimidating. But if there’s anything I do know now, it’s that I want to see life not in chapters, but as a continuum of personal growth and sustained learning. We don’t need a new “chapter” to start new projects or grow in different ways and we certainly don’t need to know how our story ends to begin writing it now.

Pictured above: Julie pictured with members of her professional fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi.




Max Klapow, LA ’21, is a psychology-neuroscience-philosophy and cognitive neuroscience double major from Birmingham, Alabama. Max joined the Bear Studios team as a strategy fellow in December 2018. He wrote this for the Olin Blog.

When we think about innovation, a lot of business-school buzzwords come to mind. “Tech,” “corporate shake-up,” “industry disruption”—the list goes on and on. Rarely, however, do we include words like “human,” “heart,”  “connection,” or “understanding” among that list.

By failing to link innovation to its human-centric conception, we further the idea that business is logic and nothing more. Business is spreadsheets, go-to-market plans, careful research, and analytic approaches to engagement.

“It’s nothing personal,” we even say, “It’s just business.”

We’re quick to draw a dichotomy between logic and emotion. It makes sense; emotions seldom line up with the objective reality, so we’re hesitant to trust them.

But this separation has become extreme. Think how we assess skills in the workplace. There are the “hard skills”: spreadsheets, word processing, research abilities, and meeting quotas. Then, we have the “soft skills”: communication, teamwork, problem-solving and understanding the big picture. These so-called “soft” skills are, in fact, essential to making change to both the business world at large and the collaboration and innovation within in.

Emphasizing the human connection

First, however, we must recognize that innovation requires empathy.

In a world where technology is ubiquitous, solutions that offer humans more benefit are the key to engagement. It’s a wickedly simple concept. People want to like what they use. The hang-up, however, tends to lie in the approach.

This where human-centered organizations like Bear Studios, Two Ravens (where I interned last summer as an analyst), and the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship make an impact. Whether it’s regular team brainstorming at Bear Studios, design thinking seminars at Two Ravens, or venture opportunities and networks at Skandalaris, it’s nearly impossible to miss the emphasis on human connection in business.

It is not just small startups or student-run organizations that are capable of human-centric innovation. Large companies are comforted with this opportunities as well. Size may be a factor for the magnitude and ease by which companies innovate, but the capacity exists.

Where companies often misstep is in the front-loading and data collection processes. These two concepts have roots in both the philosophy of science and the scientific method itself. Getting in the habit of expending resources on the initial stages of problem-solving can do wonders for designing an effective and efficient solution.

That’s not to advocate that all problem solving should use the scientific method, but rather draw lessons from the approach. If we can start by defining a problem that needs to be solved and identify the assumptions required for the problem to exist, it might go a long way in developing a solution.

This is because we frequently jump in to innovation and problem solving by spitballing—throwing ideas against the wall and prototyping the ones that stick. It’s expensive, time consuming and often fruitless.

Why? Because it lacks empathy.

Empathy drives innovation

To be clear, empathy is not a complicated procedure that requires company-wide buy-in to be effective. It does not necessarily require extensive training or an immediate overhaul of processes. At its core, empathy asks us to acknowledge each other’s humanity.

In a corporate setting, this can be as easy as beta testing product based on its minimum viable experience, interviewing prospective buyers to understand their pain-points in engaging with your company or product, or grounding a solution in principles of human behavior.

It’s a wickedly simple concept that often eludes even the savviest businesses. Innovation requires empathy because empathy drives innovation.

Olin Business School shares this mindset. Olin’s values-based, data-driven branding promise encompasses both the numerical and relational aspects of business. Olin prepares students to arrive at innovative solutions to the most challenging business issues in a way that leverages both research and relationships.

Whether it’s collaborative case competitions within the classroom or student-run startups outside of the classroom, Olin’s students understand that innovation is more than just a numbers game.

For other companies and institutions, arriving at a point of human-centric innovation takes time and may seem unnatural. Companies exist to make a profit. This premise is simple, but its implications for vulnerability are incredible. Vulnerability means uncertainty.

For investors, for executives and particularly for the students planning to work in industry, we have to start becoming OK with not having all of the answers in order to be able to find them. That means education and organizations that emphasize connection.

If humans can innovate, companies can, too. We just have to be willing to see the bigger picture.

“It’s nothing personal, it’s just business,” creates a transactional view of business. Yet, business has always been personal. It has to be. We are and always will be inextricably tied with the numbers. Whether we can use them to innovate—along with our own humanity—is simply up to us.