Swimming with the Sharks


“Of all of the nerve-wracking things I’ve done in my life, pitching my business on ABC’s Shark Tank probably ranks in the top five,” says entrepreneur, firefighter, and former Navy SEAL Phil Black.

Taking the Bait

Black had five minutes to convince five multimillionaire investors to fund FitDeck, a custom fitness card deck and mobile app that illustrates forty exercises.

While the sharks showed some interest in Black’s product, they showed greater concern over the profitability of his app and he walked away without a deal. But he didn’t leave completely empty-handed—the sharks recognized Black’s entrepreneurial potential. “I’m giving you a free pass to come back through the doors with a new idea,” said investor Kevin O’Leary.

Stroke of Genius

Black’s entrepreneurial days began at seventeen, when he and his sister started 540-NITE phone service. 540-NITE provided information on local movie times, concerts, restaurants, and comedy club events. Black refined his sales and marketing skills by pitching 540-NITE to business owners and closing deals.

FitDeck evolved from a card game Black created in college, called the Push Up Game (PUG). During study sessions, he and his friends took breaks to play cards. After one game, Black shuffled the deck, placed some cards face down on the table, and challenged his friends to do as many push ups as the number on the cards. PUG became a hit in his dorm and later among the SEALs.

Just Keep Swimming 

Black enjoys sharing his experiences with young business leaders and believes a successful entrepreneur possesses three qualities:

Self-motivation-—the ability to complete tasks without the influence or encouragement of others.

Passion about the product or service—a requirement to persevere through obstacles and challenges.

Resourcefulness—the ability to encounter new situations in a skillful manner, solve problems, and move forward.

Black suggests young entrepreneurs secure a job in an industry they love, or a position in marketing, sales, or accounting. “Success is not measured by what you ‘can’ do, but what you want to do,” says Black.

In the end, Black wasn’t disappointed he got away from the sharks without a deal. He owns a million-dollar company and he loves what he does. Not even a shark can snatch that away.

May Durkovic is advisor and outreach coordinator at Lord Fairfax Community College.

FBLA-PBL Video Contest

Video Contest Email BannerVideo Contest Email BannerVideo Contest Email BannerYOU COULD WIN $500 JUST FOR PRESSING PLAY!


  • Create an original, 2-minute recruitment video showcasing the benefits of joining FBLA-PBL.
DEADLINE: May 15, 11:59 p.m.





Playing for a Living: Ryan Changes


Surfing. Drums. Football. Video games. When asked what FBLA alumni Ryan Changes loves to do, all his answers seem to point to one thing: Ryan loves to play. And as Community Manager for a San Francisco-based gaming company, Gameloft, he’s made a career of it. 


It wasn’t always fun and games; Ryan worked into the gaming industry through a solo, cross-country move, a lot of hard work, and, of course, a little head start with FBLA. As a member at Potomac Senior High School in Virginia, Ryan sampled early success when he and two teammates took home the 2007 state title in Business Ethics. “That was my first experience competing in FBLA,” Ryan says.

Ryan went on to graduate from Old Dominion University with a BSBA in marketing and a minor in communications. Before settling into his current role, Ryan took on several internships and volunteer opportunities with companies that helped get his foot in the right door. “I started my career in social media with a small ovarian cancer nonprofit, CancerDancer, as an intern,” says Ryan. After expanding CancerDancer’s social media presence, Ryan volunteered with several E-Sports organizations before he ventured upon Curse Network’s LoL Pro gaming site. “While volunteering with LoL Pro and doing other part-time jobs, I was fortunate enough to be contacted by Gameloft . . .” and hired in July 2013.


Gameloft is one of the top three mobile game developers in the world with offices in twenty-eight countries and games published in over one hundred counties. “I am one of the voices that interacts with our players on social media, forums, and a variety of other community sites like TwitchTV, TouchArcade, and NeoGAF, ” says Ryan. “I get to talk video games with people for a majority of my day. It’s awesome!”

Ryan put his personal stamp on the company by creating a live-streaming program adopted by Gameloft, and by becoming the company broadcaster on TwitchTV. “I was able to present a project I was passionate about and show the benefits for streaming on a site that is gamer focused.” Ryan is now working with site headquarters and other regional offices to set up streaming channels to demo for other languages. “Gameloft is now the first mobile developer to consistently stream on TwitchTV,” says Ryan.


Ryan’s road to success included a narrow focus and a keen eye for opportunity. And he continues to keep his skills fresh by consulting as part of a social media team for Curse Network and prominent E-Sports organizations. “If I had to share one piece of advice that helped me, [it’s] to take every opportunity given to you . . . in today’s job market, jumping at any opportunity is key.” Like Ryan, you might even find yourself playing for a living.

Check out Ryan’s blog at blog.gameloft.com.

Do you know an FBLA alumni or entrepreneur with a great success story? Let us know at go.fbla.org/success! They could be featured in an issue of Tomorrow’s Business Leader!

Lindsey A. Frederick is the communications manager at FBLA-PBL. She’s always looking for a good story to share with members.

8 Tips to a Professional Press Release

press releaseHave you or your chapter done something great? Outstanding? Amazing? Let the world know! Grab the attention of busy reporters (and the FBLA-PBL National Center) by drafting a flawless press release. The following eight tips could mean the difference between your chapter’s notoriety or anonymity.

  1. Hook ’Em. Your first impression is the most important. Reel in reporters with a strong headline. Your headline should be descriptive, engaging, accurate, and no more than seven words.
  2. Get to the Point. You have three seconds to keep that reporter’s attention–don’t waste time with filler and fluff. Your first paragraph should get to the point and answer the five Ws of journalism (Who, What, When, Where, Why). You can add more detail in subsequent paragraphs.
  3. That’s a Fact, Jack. There’s no place for ornamental prose in your press release. Support significant information with hard numbers and facts. Did you hold a can drive to stock a local food bank? Awesome! Quantify how much you collected and how many people you helped.
  4. He said what? Now it’s time to add some color and life to those facts. Whenever possible, include quotes from credible sources or people present at your event. Not only is it valuable information, it provides a human element to your story.
  5. Keep it short. Less is almost always more. Limit your press release to one page. If you want to include additional information, provide links to your chapter’s website or blog.
  6. Include your contact info. You’ve written a brilliant press release that will hook the attention of the local media. Don’t forget to let them know who to get in touch with. Include your name, email, and phone number at the top of the page.
  7. Proofread. Don’t send that press release until you and at least one other person have scoured the page for errors. Even one typo could be the difference between making a headline or the waste bin.
  8. Say Cheese! If you’re submitting your press release to the FBLA-PBL National Center, include two to three photos showcasing your event or achievement.

Now that you’re a press release pro, what are you waiting for? Submit your news to the national center! Because good news deserves to be shared.

Lindsey A. Frederick is the communications manager at FBLA-PBL. She’s always looking for a good story to share with members.

FBLA Seniors, Your Journey Doesn’t End Here

Nearly a decade ago I began my journey with FBLA-PBL. The longer I am involved with the organization, the more opportunities and doors open. From my first chapter meeting, where we discussed personal finance, to teaching elementary students basic business fundamentals—I thought each experience was the pinnacle, but the organization surprised me with even more opportunities.

Once I attended the National Leadership Conference (NLC)  I was sure I  reached the pinnacle of my journey. Of course I was  wrong, the more involved I became with my state and national officers the more I was able to showcase and enhance my talent.

I was fortunate to intern with the national staff during an NLC, and as I sat at the  information booth watching hundreds of college students exchange business cards, I knew I had to continue my FBLA journey in college—I knew I had to join Phi Beta Lambda (PBL).

On my first day as a PBL member, I was anxious to network with members and climb the ladder to national officer. Serving as the PBL national secretary has been my dream come true, and I can confidently tell potential employers I am ready for the business world.

To all FBLA seniors, Step Up to the Challenge and continue your journey in the world’s largest and oldest student business association—join PBL! The opportunities are limitless!

If the school you plan on attending next year does not have an active chapter, check out our Virtual Chapter at virtualpbl.fbla-pbl.org.


Beau Cobb is the PBL national secretary. When he isn’t writing minutes and agendas, he is traveling, gulping down a Chai tea latte, or looking for an adventure!

Career and Technical Education Month Resources

We had a great FBLA-PBL Week, but the fun isn’t over yet! We’re celebrating Career and Technical Education (CTE) all month long. Here are three resources to inspire and equip your members.

  1. Equip CTE educators and students to Fail It Forward to Success
  2. Check out an important success strategy through this fun video The World’s Greatest Simon Says Leader
  3. Learn about A Different Approach to SMART Goals

Don’t forget to share how you’re celebrating CTE Month with us on the National Facebook page, and FBLA and PBL Twitter, using #CTEMonth.

Monday is Fight to the Finish Day [FBLA-PBL Week]


Kick off FBLA-PBL Week with the National Presidents’ Open Forum! All three division national presidents (FBLA PBL, and Professional Division) will host a live Google Hangout on Monday, February 10, 6:00 pm EST.

Another great way to start the week is with Business Achievement Awards (BAA). BAA is an aggressive, self-directed, results-based business and leadership program designed to compliment academics, while accelerating a student’s leadership skills. Promoting and participating in the Business Achievement Awards is an excellent way to begin FBLA-PBL Week and begin your Fight to the Finish.

The BAA is a great way for you to:

  • hone your business and leadership skills, from basic (Future level) to expert (America level)
  • showcase your talents and skills through integrated academic work and project-based activities
  • receive recognition at the local, state and national level

You can also compete in the  ”Fight to the Finish” contest recognizes the top 10 states with the most Business Achievement Awards completed. Using a weighted scale of awards completed (1 for Future and 4 for America level), the top 10 states will receive recognition at the National Leadership Conference Regional meetings. Points are based on state-level membership, so every state earns points based on awards completed, regardless of state membership size.

Do you have questions about the Business Achievement Awards? Speak to your adviser and start earning points for your state today, and don’t forget check out this BAA Tutorial.

Celebrate National FBLA-PBL Week [FBLA-PBL Week]

FBLA-PBL sets aside the second full week of February, each year, as National FBLA-PBL Week. Chapters are encouraged to use this time to publicize their activities and successes, boost their membership, and gear up for their spring activities. Each day has a special focus to help you get your members excited to participate, nationally, during FBLA-PBL Week!

Follow throughout the week by reading blog posts about the day’s activities:


February 10 – National Presidents’ Open Forum & Fight to the Finish

Kick off FBLA-PBL Week with the National Presidents’ Open Forum! All three division national presidents (FBLA, PBL, and Professional Division) will host a live Google Hangout on Monday, February 10, at 6:00 pm EST.

Have you completed the four levels of the Business Achievement Awards (BAA)? ”Fight to the Finish” contest recognizes the top 10 states with the most Business Achievement Awards completed. 


February 11 - Each One Reach One Day

Are you ready to double your membership? Discover fun and easy recruitment ideas you can use for “Each One Reach One” day.


February 12 – Professional Attire Day/Adviser Appreciation Day

Show off your professionalism by dressing for success and share your appreciation for those that teach, lead, and mentor your chapter. Read more for tips on how to do both.


February 13 – Connect with the Professional Division for Career Awareness Day

Get involved with your Professional Division and start connecting with community leaders. It’s the ideal way to celebrate Career Awareness Day!


February 14 – FBLA-PBL Pride Day

Show your true colors by posting a group photo to our Facebook page. While you’re at it, schedule a Google Hangout and celebrate with your national officers—FBLA or PBL! Your National Officer Teams are waiting to share successful FBLA-PBL Week tips on how to show your FBLA-PBL pride and engage your members in the experience.


February 15 – Community Service Day

Serve your community by planning a service project for your chapter. Volunteering at a homeless shelter, organizing a blood drive, and partnering with a local charity improves your community—and FBLA-PBL member team spirit!

Additional ideas to help spread the word about FBLA-PBL Week, locally:

  • Promote FBLA-PBL Week with a press release [sample]. Send a press release about FBLA-PBL Week to the local newspapers, radio stations, and television stations, including the local community access cable station. Send a follow-up reminder a few days before your event with a special page describing photo opportunities available during FBLA-PBL Week at your school.
  • Promote FBLA-PBL Week online. Blog, Tweet, or Facebook before and during FBLA-PBL Week. Create and post a FBLA-PBL Week promotional video to YouTube. And be sure to snap photos throughout the week and post them on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, etc. Don’t forget to tag the FBLA-PBL National Facebook page.
  • Download the sample Proclamation. You will need to research the process for requesting a proclamation in your area. Look on your local or state government’s website for contact information and procedures. Depending on the volume of requests their office receives, you may need to submit your request several days prior to the date you’d like to pick it up. Once you have a contact, send them a copy of your proclamation sample text and they will let you know when you can pick it up. Be sure to ask if a government official will be there to present it to you, and if so, be sure to bring a camera. If you are planning to receive your proclamation in conjunction with an event, send a press release to your local media.

Let the Competitions Begin!


With the National Fall Leadership Conferences behind us and some holiday downtime
ahead, now is the perfect time to start thinking about spring competitions. Did you know FBLA-PBL offers over 60 competitive events? Last year, top winners took home trophies and cash prizes from nationals. This summer, you could too. We’ve got the scoop on everything you need to know to put Excellence in Action and earn yourself a spot at the 2014 National Leadership Conference in Nashville.


Check out the FBLA and PBL competitive events page at fbla-pbl.org. Here you’ll find national guidelines, rating sheets, and even study materials. This year, there are many new and modified national competitive events. Not every state offers all the national competitive events, so check your state handbook or state website.


The following is a list of new, modified, and retired events for 2013–14.


  • New Agribusiness—individual event; objective test
  • New Insurance & Risk Management—individual event; objective test
  • New LifeSmarts—team of two; fall and spring competition (all schools eligible to compete)
  • New Mobile Application Development—individual or team event; prejudged; presentation
  • New Public Service Announcement—individual or team event; presentation
  • New Introduction to Information Technology—grades 9–10; individual event; objective test
  • Modified Business Ethics—team event; research topic found in Chapter Management Handbook; presentation
  • Modified Desktop Publishing—individual event or team of two; topic found in Chapter Management Handbook; create at the school level and submit for judging
  • Modified Hospitality Management—team collaborative objective test; top fifteen teams at the national level advance and present a case study
  • Modified Sports & Entertainment Management—team collaborative objective test; added entertainment component; top fifteen teams at the national level advance and present a case study
  • Modified Word Processing—combined Word Processing I and II into one event for all grade levels
  • Retired Introduction to Technology Concepts
  • Retired Technology Concepts


  • New Business Sustainability—individual or team event; synopsis; presentation
  • New Cost Accounting—individual event; objective test; production test
  • New Entrepreneurship Concepts—individual event; objective test
  • New Mobile Application Development—individual or team event; prejudged; presentation
  • New Organizational Personal Finance—individual event; objective test
  • New Organizational Behavior & Leadership—individual event; objective test 
  • Modified Desktop Publishing—individual or team of two, topic found in Chapter Management Handbook to create at the school level and submit
  • for judging
  • Modified Business Law—individual or team collaborative objective test, at the national level the top fifteen teams advance and present a case study
  • Modified Community Service Project—page limit reduced to fifteen pages
  • Retired Database Design & Applications, Digital Video Production, Free Enterprise Project, and Telecommunications


You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers.

Q: What do I need to do this year for Desktop Publishing?

A: This year, Desktop Publishing has changed to an individual event or team of two. The student(s) will have all year to complete the production topic listed in the Chapter Management Handbook. Students will need to 1) design a book jacket, including inside flaps and spine; 2) an event flyer; and 3) a full-color newspaper advertisement. The student(s) are also responsible for creating an author biography. Submit two copies for the national competition.

Q: How many pages are written reports?

A: American Enterprise Project, Business Financial Plan, Community Service Project, and Partnership with Business can be no more than fifteen pages, including appendices. Business Plan and Local Chapter Annual Business Report may be up to thirty pages.

Q: For the new Public Service Announcement  event, do we send in the video for judging?

A: At the national level, you only need to submit six copies of your script by the second Friday in May. The event is not prejudged, so make sure you bring the appropriate equipment to show THE PSA to the judges on site.

Q: I am graduating this December. Am I still able to be a PBL member and compete?

A: You can be a PBL member in undergraduate and graduate school. However, you cannot compete at the National Leadership Conference if you have started graduate school.

Q: How do I submit a new idea for a competitive event?

A: Submit new event ideas, modifications, and/or retirement recomendations online. The form is also located at fbla-pbl.org under PBL, Competitive Events.