Filed Under Dr. De Mars General Life Ramblings
My next-door neighbor started college this fall and when I ran into him today and asked him how classes were going he said,
Last semester was harder, I took Botany and didn’t get a very good grade in it. This semester, I took Environmental Science and it’s really easy because it’s mostly about what’s bad for the environment and I knew that, hey, this is bad for the environment and that’s bad.
I sighed and advised him,
Seriously, don’t take any more courses like that. I’ve hired a lot of people in my life and never once have I said to myself that what I really needed in my office was someone to tell me it’s bad for the environment to throw your trash on the beach or have chemicals drain into the ocean.
Take our Chief Marketing Officer, for example, who works her ass off. In an average month she will write an application to an accelerator, including slide deck and corralling our staff into being a video, edit a couple of videos that go into the game, create a demo video, fly to Minneapolis for three days to present our game to teachers at an educational technology event, write 8-10 blog posts, organize a tweet-up in Las Vegas to meet with teachers in that state, fly into Las Vegas for two days, have 8 hours of staff meetings to monitor progress toward marketing milestones.
Now I can hear some of those people saying,
I could do that. I could put together slide decks. I’d like flying around the country. I’d be good at that.
Oh, really? Just like you were good at Botany (apologies to my next-door neighbor who is only a teenager and I think is really turning it around). Seriously, though, what do you, hypothetical person, know about our game or our company? Nothing. Which is okay, since you don’t work for us but really do click on this link and watch the video that Maria put together. One thing you’ll notice in it is that she combined screen shots, photos, video and animation plus she knows a whole lot about our game design and results. She also wrote the script and did all of the sound and video editing. She learned how to do all of that because it needed to be done and since she wasn’t going to help with the coding, this was where she could pick up the slack. Are you saying, “Well, I could teach myself to do that, too.”
I’m willing to believe that you could, but given your demonstrated propensity to take the easy route, there is nothing in your background to give me the confidence that you would.
On a regular basis, I meet people who want to be consultants, but when I ask them what they can do, they rattle off a bunch of buzzwords about strategic-leadership-partnership-team building-new media-search engine optimization and do I know that millenials are a $2 trillion market who can only be reached via Google glass? Actually, I really don’t know what they are saying because I quit listening.
Years ago, my late husband had a friend who had been laid off. Since Ron’s company had just landed a new contract and was in hiring mode, I asked him why he didn’t hire the guy, and Ron replied,
I need engineers, machinists, people who can read a blueprint, inventory control specialists. I asked him, What can you build? And he said to me, ‘Teamwork. I build teamwork.’ I told him that’s too god damn bad because we don’t build teamwork here, we build airplanes, rockets and missiles.
Last weekend, The Spoiled One convinced me to go to a movie with her (if your child at almost 16 years old is still willing to do anything with you, grab the opportunity while you can.) In it, the (villain) father, was mocked by his son as saying,
“You’re majoring in Communication? Why not just major in alcoholism?”
We had a talk about college majors the next day and I told her that I expected her to choose something that was hard because that is what people are willing to pay you for and it’s also where you learn the most. That doesn’t mean you have to major in math or computer science. One of her older sisters is a middle school history teacher in downtown Los Angeles. It’s hard. What it ISN’T is telling people how they should teach middle school, what someone said about middle school teaching or the post-positivist pedagogy versus pre-modern empiricism (any relation of that last clause to reality is indeed a fortunate coincidence.)