The last time I was in a classroom was July of 2014. It was the day that I officially surrendered my title of teacher.
This was a well thought out, purposeful choice that I made to go practice what I preached for over a decade - that one’s words and actions had the power to change the world.
And while I loved teaching and know that my strength as a marketer was heavily influenced by experience in the classroom, I quickly found myself hiding this part of my professional experience for fear of not being taken seriously. I hated when I had to share my background in a meeting or someone would say, “well you were a teacher so…”.
It was after hearing this phrase during an interview that it dawned on me that this characterization was not being seen as a deficit but as a strength. It was not a lack of experience that was being pointed out, but a new and different perspective.
Yes, much of marketing is educating your audience, but as I overcame my imposter syndrome to embrace my experience and identify as a teacher, I discovered a few more lessons that I learned as a teacher that I think make me a better marketer.
Not everyone learns the same way so messages and experiences need to be tailored to your audience.
Showing you are human builds trust and allows you to ask people to stretch beyond their comfort zone.
Not every activity needs to be graded. Sometimes we need learning experiences before we are accountable for results.
Know the data and use it to guide decisions. You may not ever need to share it, but you need to be prepared to do so when asked.
When you have the opportunity to make an impact larger than a single interaction, it is your responsibility to make it count.
I use these lessons to guide the marketing strategies and tactics that I work on everyday. I always have, whether I wanted to admit their origins or not. What made me a good teacher was not that I knew more about English than other teachers or that I read more books about teaching. It was that I took the time to know more about my students.
The same can be said about what makes me a good marketer. I take the time to know more about my customers, my employees, my company, my colleagues than anyone else. These lessons are the tools that I use to make sure that I don’t lose sight of this.
People like to say that those that can’t do, teach.
I think that all great marketers have a little bit of teacher in them. So maybe the saying should be, those that do best, also teach.
Regardless, I now proudly wear my teacher title alongside my marketing title and share my learnings with other amazing marketers that believe that words and actions have the power to change the world.