Reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, I was struck by the story of something that happened to him in elementary school. Jobs was, of course, a brilliant child and, not surprisingly, he was very bored with his education. He entertained himself by playing pranks that caused increasingly more trouble as they become more complex and were able to fool more and more people. Finally, in fourth grade, his principal realized that something needed to be done. Jobs was moved to an advanced class with a new teacher.
He described that teacher to his biographer as “one of the saints of my life.”
“If it hadn’t been for her,” Jobs said, “I’m sure I would have gone to jail.”
Imagine that. A teacher meant the difference between Steve Jobs becoming … well, Steve Jobs — and a convict.
How many of you have had a teacher or coach that had a life-changing effect on you? Many people owe their success to a teacher. So let’s break down why that could be and ask what it could mean for your business.
A great teacher has the power
- To change your behavior
- To inspire you
- To make you see things in a way you never saw them before
- To make you see something in yourself that you didn’t know was there
- To infuse you with passion through her own passion for the subject
When a great teacher teaches, you don’t necessarily learn a step-by-step approach. She teaches the principles and the concepts but leaves the details up to you. The only thing that everyone comes away with that is the same is a commitment to that teacher and a love for the subject. And that teacher, in the case of your business, will come to represent your brand.
Oh yes, and a great teacher can hold you in the palm of her hand.
Several months ago, I wrote on Social Media Explorer about how education is the new marketing and if that is so, then:
Teachers are the new marketers.
If you look at the most popular Ted talks, you’ll discover that many of the presenters are professors. But whether they hold the job officially or not, you’ll recognize great teachers in the field of marketing, and in any other field, if you think about the criteria in the bullet points above. Oprah, for example, whether you happen to be a fan or not, is a great teacher. People in business you’ll certainly be familiar with, like Seth Godin or Gary Vaynerchuk are great teachers.
Great teachers are important because content is so important. You can’t just take content and put it out there. You’ve got to take your content, add conviction, caring and passion, and communicate it in a way that makes an impact on people so that they will want to share it.
That’s why teachers are the new marketers.
What if the Fortune 500 companies, (or your company) went to the top universities and found the most beloved, world-class educators of English or physics or psychology who happened to also be passionate about health or fashion or cars or wine (or your product) and hired those people to work in your company, evangelizing your product? Or, what if you found people with the qualities of a great teacher?
Take a look at this video from a doctor who is trying to sell people on the benefits of a particular form of preventive medicine. If I were a health insurance company, I’d hire him and pay him a generous sum of money to evangelize this and possibly other messages about staying healthy in order to help keep the costs of insurance coverage down for my members.
Imagine what it would mean to your business if you hired a great teacher and gave that person an opportunity to develop and use media that reach well beyond a classroom? Who can you think of in business that fits the criteria of a great teacher and what else would you add to the list?
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