Recruiting Using Bad Acting
What do you do when confronted with this situation? You’ve been invited by the Austin Chamber and Watertown Herald Journal to hold seminars for business owners in these communities. Their caution: “These owners have seen a zillion “business development” presentations. They will be expecting talking heads, or worse, death by PowerPoint.”

You do something completely different.

Armed with the acting talent of camp counselors, Minnesota Mentors (aka Small Business Management instructors) created Minnesota Mentors Predicts! This fortune telling format was first invented by Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon of the Tonight Show. It featured Carnac the Magnificent divining answers hidden in an envelope, ceremoniously ripping it open, and revealing the question. In the case of the Tonight Show, the questions always made the answers twistedly clever. In one of his famous bits, Carnac holds an envelope to his forehead and intones: “The answer is…Supervisor.” Carnac rips open the envelope and says: “What does Clark Kent wear to keep the sun out of his eyes?”
carnacJohnny Carson as Carnac The Magnificent
If Ed chortled or gave Carnac a hard time, Carnac would respond with an insult: “May a large camel leave a gift in your sock drawer!”

It turns out that Carnac is alive and well and predicting the fortunes of Minnesota business owners. For the year 2012 he offered 10 predictions. The envelopes were handed to a fully costumed Carnac (Scott Taylor or Chad Oudekerk) with the aplomb of Ed McMahon (Duane Hoversten) and explained by Dan Sprague (Carnac was indeed cryptic and often needed help.)

Carnac prediction: “Five and dime
Ed hands envelop to Carnac, who reads: “How much will business spending and retail sales grow in 2012?
Explainer: “Business spending will grow 5% and retail sales will grow about 10% in 2012.”

When a member of the audience shouted, “I hope you’re right, Carnac!” he responded with an appropriate business insult: “For doubting the word of Carnac, may your balance sheet…tip!”

That set the mood for the evening, with friendly banter between the “actors,” audience and Minnesota Mentors. This was not your usual recruiting effort. However, members of the Austin and Watertown communities got to see that learning is fun at SCC and being a student of the Minnesota Mentors program offers valuable insights.