My first week out, every night I turned to my traveling partner, telling her what a mistake I’d made trying to teach this class. “I’m not a teacher. This is a soft skill. They’re looking for someone like you - a public speaker who does marketing professionally. I’m quitting after this week.”
She reassured me that I’d be all right.
On the comment forms that first day the general consensus was, ‘He’s definitely an expert over the material, but a complete mess as far as teaching style,’ and an overall negative rating of the class itself. For me, that was a major accomplishment.
‘Really? I’m an expert on the material?’ I thought about it. I spend an hour or two every day reading the latest trends in the industry. I listen to half a dozen podcasts on the subject. I’d read a couple dozen books tracing out all the latest trends. I’d talked with various people knee deep in this full time. I guess I did know a thing or two. But only second hand.
People asked me questions the first day, and I didn’t have a clue where to start. I had no idea what an iframe was or how to sync youtube with twitter with facebook, or the professional options for tracking results. Those were actually the easy questions. The hard questions were, “How does this apply to non-profits?” or government agencies or schools where nothing can be posted online or a large corporation where no one actually lets them post. Etc. I didn’t know. It was that simple. I’d geared the class towards independent artists wanting to use social media to make it on their own. Not this crowd. A bunch of corporate types looking for something between a couple of tips and tricks to total online salvation.
That night I went back to my hotel room, and for four hours worked through answering all of the questions that I couldn’t answer in class. I modified the lesson plan to include those questions before they were even asked. I spent another hour listening to TED talks and the soothing voice of Seth Godin as I worked out.
The second day was still a disaster, but a slightly calmer one. No one cared about the questions from yesterday. They had their own set. A completely different set.
And that night I did the same thing. I spent four hours revising the lesson plan. Again. Answering the questions that I didn’t know the answer to - tightening up the places where people appeared bored.
The third day went a little better. The ritual continued, and on the fourth day people had a good time. I’d improved.
It was a trial by fire. Even with that, I told my travel partner, “There’s no way I’m ever teaching this class again.”
Next Week: Part 13. Which Brings us to the Present