Tag Archives: Seth godin

Are you willing to take the hit?

I was recently listening to a Seth Godin podcasts regarding “Startups“, and it reminded me of something earlier in my life. Having grown up playing any sport I could try at a young age, I at one time played baseball. It was not my favorite sport nor was I particularly any good, but it was something to do in the summer. Like most young kids, it started with TeeBall, and then a coach throwing, followed by kids allowing to pitch.

As I got older, I remember one pitcher who threw so fast, yet so wild. Nights before the game against his team, I would stay up all night worried about getting hit hard by a pitch, like I saw so many others going through. I remember thinking, “I really don’t like this sport that much to get hit in the head”, and at the end of the season, I quit.

Godin used the analogy about his own childhood in Buffalo playing hockey, and he described three ideas that stick out to him if you are going to be successful.

It helps if you know what to do.
Are you able to do it?
Do you care enough to get hit?

To be successful, we know that it takes hard work and to develop skill in any area, but we rarely mention and focus on the “hits” that we could take. Every time I write a blog post, I’m vulnerable to criticism and pushback, but I want to develop in what I do because I am passionate about my work.

I watch young Vine celebrities with millions of followers, get criticized often simply because they make videos. Brandon Bowen talked about some of the taunts he received about his weight, and he simply said “I just block out the haters”, and continued to do what he loves.  I am sure that it is something that sticks with him, but not to the point where he would quit.

Anything worth doing is going to be risky and open to criticism. Sometimes justified and sometimes simply because of  schadenfreude. But I love the following saying:

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That’s why I have never really focused on celebrating “failure”, but on grit and resiliency, as on any journey you will take a couple of hits, and fall a few times, but as the movie character Rocky famously said,

“But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits…”

Sometimes we have to realize that some of the hits we have taken are not worth it, not because we are weak, but maybe it’s just not something we love. Sometimes quitting shows more bravery than continuing to do something you don’t love. But if you truly are passionate about something, don’t let falling down keep you from getting back up to do what you love.

Making Meaningful Sense of Our World

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Spree2010

I asked a group of teachers, “When you need information, what do you do?”

Think about the question yourself…what do you do?  Do you ask colleagues? Look at encyclopedia? Throw in your “Encyclopedia Britannica” CD Rom into your computer?

What they ALL said (all of them) was that they “google it”.

The ability to google something is important, but assessing that information is imperative.  Many have advocated that students should have the ability to have a device during exams.  Wouldn’t that create a better test?  Finding the information is important, but what you do with the information is where the rubber really hits the road.  If I can google the answer to the test, is the assessment any good?

If you think about it, how many adults go to a textbook to find information? Honestly, why do we even teach with textbooks anymore? Because they are engaging and mirror what we see in the real world or because they are the easiest way to deliver a packaged curriculum? Nowhere outside of schools is “science” that packaged.

Now, when I think about how I look for information, “googling” something is not on the top of my list. Often I ask the question on Twitter and get fewer results which are always better, because they are researched and used by teachers that I have connected with.  Can anyone do that at this moment?  Probably not, but I have taken the time to develop a network of educators that has actually saved me time in the long run.  The time spent following and learning from other educators has been invaluable to my work and is actually a “21st Century Literacy“:

Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought.

I also have learned where to get information on specific things such as hotels. Searching google might lead me to the hotel’s website and let me know what the people who own the place think of it but Trip Advisor tells me what people who have stayed at the establishment think of the place.  How many hotel websites say that their establishment is just “ok”.  Sites like Trip Advisor keep many organizations “honest” and actually forces them to produce a better product.  Having a “name” as a hotel is no longer enough; you have to back it with quality.  If you aren’t using sites like this already, what information are you losing out on?

I have thought a lot about this topic when I saw the following quote:

“When we teach a child to deal with a changing world, she will never become obsolete.” Seth Godin

The technology will always change, but the skill to find information, make sense of it, and then do something meaningful with what we have learned, is essential.

Learning to Care

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by Noukka Signe

Recently reading the Seth Godin book titled, “Stop Stealing Dreams”, one of his stories really stuck out to me.  He talked about the low number of people that can actually find Greece on the map and how this would be a growing concern for many.  What he talked about was not necessarily a lack of knowledge, but a lack of something else:

“…the problem isn’t that we haven’t spent enough hours memorizing the map. The problem is we don’t want to.”


I think about my own work and I have actually really focused on moving away from teaching anything without focusing on why it is important first.  I never just start showing people how to use Twitter, but actually show them why they should care to learn it in the first place.  My whole focus has been on why we should do something before I even start to do it.

Do we do this enough schools?  Does the curriculum that we have to get through give us enough time?  Do we do this enough in our staff meetings?  I have seen far too many meetings start with simply doing a learning activity without any discussion on why it is important in the first place.

Think about anything that you have learned in a deep manner; did you care about it?  What made you care in the first place?  Even thinking about my best teachers, not only did I know they cared for me, but they also made me care for the subject matter in a deeper sense that I wanted to learn about it, not that I felt I had to.  Even the stuff that I memorized and aced as a kid (100% on my “Parts of a Microscope” test!), I probably could tell you nothing about now, unless I cared about them.

How do you get your students to care about what you are teaching, and maybe, more importantly, what if they never do?  Will they ever really learn if they don’t ever really care?  Not care about learning, but care about what we are teaching.  The notion of having people care is not only about how we teach, but how we lead.


Personal and Professional vs. Public and Private

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker

During my time over in Australia, there was a lot of talk about the notion of having both a “personal” and “professional” identity on social media. The “personal” account would be one that is used with friends and family, where as the “professional” account would be one that is used with the work that you do in school.  Although I understand the notion behind what is being said here, I don’t know if this is what I would really be focusing on when working with students or educators.  We should really be focusing on the notion of “public and private” and how that works in our world.

This is not to say that you can’t have separate accounts.  I, for one, choose not to and blur the lines between personal and professional all the time.  For example, on my Facebook account, I have “friends” that are both people that I have grown up with as well as educators I learn from.  On Twitter,  I follow educators as well as celebrities.  What I am always aware of is that no matter who sees what I put out there, anyone can see it eventually, whether if it is through me or someone else.  I don’t “friend” students or their parents on Facebook, but I have no issue of them following me on Twitter, since that is totally open and anyone can see what is up there whether they have a Twitter account or not.

For example. let’s say a student wrote about how much they hated another student and started bullying them online.  Does it matter if the student said, “well this is my personal account”?  Even if the student wrote it in a “private” email, it can become public with a quick screen capture and shared with the world.  To me, anything that is posted online, you should consider “public” no matter what your “privacy” settings are.

Take this recent article from the Huffington Post regarding teachers being reprimanded for some of the things that they posted online after the US election.  Here is one of the statuses posted that got a teacher into trouble:

“Congrats Obama. As one of my students sang down the hallway, ‘We get to keep our fooood stamps’…which I pay for because they can’t budget their money…and really, neither can you.”

Do you think that it would matter if this is a personal or professional account?

What about the Natalie Munroe situation last year?  She actually tried to defend some of the extremely innappropriate things that she had said about students and parents:

Following the suspension, Munroe defended her online postings by writing on her blog that she had tried to remain as anonymous as possible (blogging under the name Natalie M.) and noted that she never mentioned her school or students by name. “I had 9 followers–2 of whom were my husband and myself, the other 7 were friends,” she wrote. “There’s this perception that I was trying to lambaste everyone in the school without heed. That’s bollocks. What bothers me so much about this situation is that what I wrote is being taken out of context. Of my 84 blogs, 60 of them had absolutely nothing to do with school or work.”

I am sure that every educator (and person for that matter) has said something inappropriate, but posting it online is probably not the smartest option.

Although the “Personal and Professional vs. Public and Private” is an important conversation, there are others ones that we should be having as well. I have been challenged before how kids and adults should stay offline totally as they will do nothing but cause issues for themselves in the future and I am reminded of this Bud Hunt quote:

“Do you ever want to say to folks who scream they don’t want their private lives online: ‘Maybe you should just try to be a better person.’?”

As I said before, you are more than welcome to have both but be fully aware of the consequences professionally that can happen from a “personal” account. I really think we should be talking to our kids about what stays offline (private) and what should be public, no matter who they are talking to online.  Also, is it really bad if we mix some of our personality into a “professional” account?  If we are thoughtful about it, could this not help our students and school community as see as more than simply “teachers” but as people?  The best teachers that I know always connect with students on some personal level, but they always keep it appropriate.  Is that not the rule of thumb that we could use online?

It is not that we can’t be ourselves online, but we should just be more cognizant of what we do there. Many of us, including myself, talk differently when we are around our closest friends and family.  I know that what you post online can take opportunities away from you, it could also provide opportunities as well.  I use the example often in workshops of two people applying for a job as a mechanic and one person writes on a resume that they can do an oil change, while another candidate posts a video on YouTube of them doing an oil change. Who would you hire?  In most cases, the one that has put their learning public and you know they can do the job (it still has to be good work), are at an advantage.  There are definitely some things that you want public. Seth Godin shares his belief and how we should put our best work online:

“Everything you do now ends up in your permanent record. The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.”

The “blur” in our world is ironically becoming clearer to me.  Personal or professional is not necessarily the conversation we should be having as much anymore with our students and each other.  What we make “public” is something we need to be taking more into consideration.

You Should Read…(February 27, 2012)

Hope you have a great week and do something special for February 29th :)  Here are some great links that I would like to share; some new and some old.

1.  The Myth of the Echo Chamber – In this post that is almost two years old, Karl Fisch discusses the idea of the “echo chamber” and debunks the myth through social media.

There is no “echo chamber.” It’s a myth.

Do you follow at least one person on Twitter? Then you’re not in an echo chamber.

Do you have someone’s blog other than your own in your RSS aggregator?Then you’re not in an echo chamber.

Do you teach/work in a building with at least one other person that you talk to? Then you’re not in an echo chamber.

Do you have a family? Friends? A neighborhood? Then you’re not in an echo chamber.

As this is something that I have struggled with tremendously, it is important to not only understand that there are many different opinions on Twitter, but it is also essential to go out and seek those opposing views.  Through the conversation, many great ideas are shaped.  It is also important that if you disagree with someone that you speak up and share those opposing views.  This is necessary to not only the growth of individuals but education as a whole.  The way we do it is important, but more important is that we have those conversations.

2.  Wine and EducationCale Birk, a principal in British Columbia discusses how we often talk in terms not understood by the general public, leaving many of our students and stakeholders behind:

I realize that oftentimes, I speak in ‘educationese’, in terms that are puzzling (and sometimes outright offensive) to people in business, industry, the trades, or to the general public (including our students).  In order to create positive partnerships with our ‘consumers’, we need them to be very knowledgeable and informed about what we do at schools and the value of this education for our students as contributors to society.  We need to be able to clearly articulate the skills that kids are learning in our buildings and how these will be transferable not just to something such as post-secondary education, but to business, industry, the trades, or whatever our students may choose to do.  And perhaps most importantly, we need to articulate this for our students in our buildings TODAY.

Cale’s focus on partnerships is so imperative to our school system.  We do not just work with students to do well at school; we work with them to do well in life.

3.  The Trip Advisor Tail Wagging the Dog – In this Seth Godin post, he discusses how industry has changed and how the consumer is really driving the way we do things and get better.  I related with this post as I just recently planned an entire trip using the Trip Advisor site, and the comments were so imperative to where I booked.  Here is a quote from his post:

Today, it’s sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp (among many others) that are transforming the way service businesses operate. Here’s how it works: at first, a business might try to ignore the system, but then they notice their customers talking about the reviews and their competitors. So some stoop so low as to attempt to game the system, sending sock puppets and friends to post reviews. But that doesn’t scale and the sites are getting smart about weeding this out.

The only alternative? Amazing service. Working with customers in such an extraordinary way that people feel compelled to talk about it, post about it, and yes, review it. It’s not an accident that Hotel Amira is one of the highest rated hotels in all of Turkey. They didn’t do it with the perfect building or sumptuous suites. They did it by intentionally being remarkable at service. And yes, the Holiday Inn in Oakland has the same story. They took what they had and then they deliberately went over the top in delivering on something that never would have paid off for them in the past.

Amplifying stories causes the stories that are built to change. Outliers are rewarded (or punished) and the weird and the wonderful are reinforced. Once people see what others are doing, it opens the door for them to do it, but with more flair.

I wonder how this type of site will impact education.  Sites like “Rate My Teacher” already exist, but have they hurt or helped our profession?  It seems that more sites will continue to pop up like this in education as social media continues to grow.

4.  Literacy in the Digital Age – This is just a great site and wealth of resources from Kathy Schrock regarding the continuously evolving nature of literacy.  Definitely take a look at all of the resources she has compiled.

Have an amazing week!

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by mrsdkrebs