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Supermodel Tyra Banks to Teach Stanford MBA Class

Banks, who is a business powerhouse and TV producer, is co-teaching an MBA course on personal branding.
BY Uttara Choudhury |   25-04-2017
Tyra Banks

Model turned business mogul Tyra Banks will make her teaching debut next month at Stanford University as a guest lecturer, co-teaching an MBA class on creating and protecting a personal brand. For two weeks in May, MBA students at Stanford will learn valuable lessons on personal branding from Banks who has successfully parlayed her supermodel allure into a global brand as a TV producer, talk show host and businesswoman with her own self-funded cosmetics company and music business.

The Stanford MBA course, called “Project You: Building and Extending your Personal Brand,” is a class that will help students jump-start their personal brands through three media platforms; Facebook Live, local television and YouTube. The veteran Victoria’s Secret model and chief executive of TYRA Beauty has already assigned the first task for the class, asking students to create a short video introducing both themselves and the vision for a brand. Banks will also deliver tips on handling press exposure as a business leader.

"I'm beyond excited to teach. It's in my blood and I can't wait to meet my students," Banks tweeted.

"Class is in session (in May 2017). And there will be no Smizing course. Sorry to disappoint," Banks posted, using a term she coined to mean smiling with the eyes.

Banks is co-teaching the course with Allison Kluger, a leadership management professor at Stanford, and a former producer for “The View” and “Good Morning America.”

Kluger approached Banks with the idea of teaching a short course after seeing her speak at an event in Stanford. During her talk, Banks had her audience riveted with amusing anecdotes about her transition into entrepreneurship, which included cold-calling Tony Hsieh, boss of online shoe company Zappos.

"Years ago, I read "Delivering Happiness" by Tony. I was struck by how he saw company culture, and I knew I wanted to build a business like that one day. So I pushed past fear in my belly and picked up the phone and dialed his number. He didn’t believe it was me! Over time we developed a friendship, then a mentorship. I’ve learned so much from Tony. Especially the HR nuts and bolts," said Banks, who bounced back from her failed attempt to create an app in 2012 called “Smize Yourself.” 

Banks completed a Harvard Business School executive education program in 2012. She made the Forbes “Models Turned Moguls” list in 2008 after her production company, Bankable Productions, churned out several hit reality television shows. In 2003, Banks created and became the host of the long-running reality TV show, "America’s Next Top Model," which launched the careers of at least a dozen top models.


Uttara Choudhury is a writer for Forbes India and The Wire. In 1997, she went on the British Chevening Scholarship to study Journalism in the University of Westminster, in London.

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