Educate and be educated

Teach for a week a year – be taught for a week a year.

Recently, I went to Griffith University on the Gold Coast to address first year marketing students. There was probably about 100 in the class. I was asked to address the students on my career story; what I see as being good marketing and, what I see as being some of the future issues that these students will one day confront in the workforce. It reminded me of the importance of educating and being educated.

Some of the students seemed quite interested in what I had to say; others chatted amongst themselves; others were preoccupied with their MacBooks and iPhones. I always find the questions interesting. Some are predictable. Some are not. A mature aged student asked about the falling standard of grammar in advertising. I advised the questioner that she was talking to the wrong person! A younger guy asked about getting a marketing job without marketing experience. I suggested he pursue work with something he is passionate about – gaming, sports, the arts, politics, etc. He can offer a prospective employer lots user knowledge. It could be his only way in. Another young guy asked about curating his online presence. I suggested he have two channels – a private one and a public one. I have two online personas – my public one which includes Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr  and LinkedIn. I then have private facebook and Twitter feeds for just my friends and family. These are the inner circle – the people I trust. I can relax around them and them around me. I spoke for 90 minutes. We all got much out of it.

I find giving presentations to students, business groups and others to be very interesting. I learn a lot from the audience. I meet interesting people. I go to interesting places. I can ‘road test’ concepts with audiences to see how they react. It also makes me collect my thoughts and, at times, challenge them. All in all, it is a worthwhile exercise in terms of it being like a bit of a ‘health check’ on your professional thinking and standing. I also try and mentor one person throughout a year. It works for them. It works for me. 

Over the years, I have worked with some wonderful people. I have met some amazing people in my industry. I have also attended some great presentations at conferences. These wonderful colleagues, peers and conference speakers have been generous with their time and taught me and others so much. When I go out and give my presentations or time for mentoring, I look upon it as being my way of ‘giving back’. People have been generous to me. I will be generous to others with my thoughts. It is like a personal ‘knowledge transfer’ program. I think it is very important. 

I take the view that you should educate and be educated each year. There are 52 weeks in a year. I think it is important to take four weeks vacation every year to give the brain a break. It is good for you, your colleagues and your employer. It is also OK to be sick for a week or two each year. By my calculations, that leaves 46 weeks a year. I say for a total of one of those weeks, you should get some professional development. Attended a conference. Do a course. I say for a further week, you should educate or teach. Go and give some presentations; be a mentor in an industry organised program; give students some career advice. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just share your mind. Answer their questions. Hear their opinions. You then have 44 weeks a year to do your job. That’s more than enough! 

You are in the position you are because others shared their minds with you. You should do the same to the next generation. I do.

PS: I have also worked with some absolutely dreadful people. Here’s what they look like… LinkedIn article

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