The Problem with Continuing Education

The problem with continuing education is that it’s not all created equal. Certifications, badges, the way employers view it and what they’re looking for. It varies too much.

Today, more companies than ever before are offering educational opportunities. There are schools that offer courses long after you graduate, startups offering free or low cost online courses and diplomas in a never-ending variety of fields, and products or services that come with their own certification courses.

With all of the options available to us, and no clear sense of what employers value, it can be hard to navigate the waters.

But that does not mean it’s not important. In fact, it’s more important now than ever before. And it will be more important tomorrow than it is today.

A traditional college degree is no longer enough. Most of what you learn in college will have changed in some dramatic way within the first 5 years after you graduate. Therefore, continuing to learn while you pursue your career is vital. Employers have come to expect it.

But what are they looking for?

For the most part, that is left to us to figure out. Obviously any continuing education is better than none. It shows that you are committed to your field, your career, and to being the best possible candidate for any new job that exists.

There will be a time in the not too distant future where all the options out there are condensed, ranked, systematically brought into line with one another. A day when our resumes may feature badges earned in addition to our degree. But that day is not here yet.

Happy hunting!

The Future of Education

Prediction, there will be a well-respected, free online university supported by advertising and partnerships that will drastically change the way we think about higher education in the next 5 years.

Does that sound ridiculous to you? Have you heard of Coursera, or any number of online education startups that are taking the tech world by storm?

It’s true, it takes a lot more than money and online buzz to make a dent in the education world. Technology news is often fickle and doesn’t always translate to real world success or failure. But as a country we’ve finally come to the very true conclusion that education is in dire need of a fix. Higher ed is too expensive, and too slow to change. The best systems are underfunded, and the entire system is underappreciated by our politicians.

Combine all of that with the investment dollars that are flying around the education startup sector in 2012, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for something big to happen. Startups are working with respected universities to try to change the way we learn from the inside. Others are trying to change education from the outside.

In an age when online degrees are gaining validity and respect from both educators and employers, it’s only a matter of time before someone starts offering advertising supported degrees, or company-sponsored degrees to people all over the world. And all it takes is time to establish credibility of such a system before it starts becoming a very realistic substitute to a traditional 4 year college.

So 5 years might be too soon. But if it’s ever going to happen, it’s going to happen now. We’re standing at a crossroads, and the tech world is holding almost all of the solutions available.

uBoost and a New Breed of Students

Education is an industry (yes, an industry) prime for a makeover.

Costs to students and parents are high, and benefits are lower than ever before. Our schools underperform compared to many other countries around the world, and the underwhelm when it comes to preparing people for the jobs that are needed in today’s world.

Innovation, a buzzword of the Obama presidency, is needed here as much as anywhere else in our society. And there are companies out there that are slowly starting to get some attention for taking the first steps.

It all starts with identifying with today’s students. They are different than students of the past. They have grown up with Facebook and social media. They have more opportunities at their fingertips, but also less direction and focus. Schools and educators of any kind need to adapt to the student, and not the other way around. That’s the world we live in.

One company that I’ve been lucky enough to get a peek at is uBoost.

uBoost and companies like it are providing a way for schools to offer students a new way of tracking progress. By making education more of a game, and incorporating the social aspects that kids are used to, they make it more likely that students will take the necessary steps to complete their coursework and prepare for what comes next.

Education is boring, and traditional, and slow to change. In today’s world, that won’t work for very long. It’s time we give education a much needed boost and changed the way we think about preparing students for the world to come.


Ad Education, or ad-ucation, can mean one of two things. The first is a general principle that I think anyone in the marketing or advertising field should live by. The second is an idea.

Ad-ucation #1:

In marketing, as in any other field in the digital age, things are changing fast. And if you allow yourself to get complacent, you will quickly fall behind the pace of your competitors. And by competitors, I mean both the companies that are competing with you for the attention of the consumers, but also other marketers that may be gunning for your job.

If you want to be involved in social media marketing, get involved in social media. Read the blogs that cover social media. Have an understanding of what other companies are doing, and how it’s working for them. The same applies to any other aspect of marketing, because if you don’t keep yourself informed and educated in your field, than you might as well go find another field.

Ad-ucation #2:

The internet has paved the way for “free” services to become a viable alternative to paid services in many different areas. Offer something for free, get a lot of people interested, and pay for it with advertising. That’s the formula that Facebook is famous for.

Why is there no free, ad-supported, education? A YouTube strictly for training, tutorials, or classes?

Maybe it’s time for YOU to create one.

Marketing Tradition in 5 Easy Steps

Last Sunday was Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a special ceremony that welcomes back New York Yankee players and managers from years past and gives fans of the team a chance to show their respect for some of the greatest names that baseball has ever seen (I won’t ever apologize for my Yankee pride). This post isn’t about the Yankees, but it is inspired by them. Because the Yankees, more than any other organization that I can think of, market themselves on tradition.

Some organizations in some industries build their brand around tradition. Tradition means something to people. It means loyalty, consistency, longevity, and stability. It feels like respect, and it lets customers know what to expect.

If part of your message is about tradition, here are 5 things you need to know to help your marketing.

1. What is tradition?

    Tradition is all about taking something that works, and sticking with it. Tradition works for financial institutions, education, organization with older customers, and organizations who’ve been around a long time. Tradition is not easy, it takes effort to build and hold on to. It’s built from the ground up, with all employees learning what it means to be a part of the team, and what the customer expects with each interaction.

    Not all traditions are the same, obviously. So it’s important to define your company’s traditions for yourself before getting started. The New York Yankees market a “tradition of baseball excellence”.

    2. What has it meant to your company?

      For a message of tradition to work, everyone in the organization has to believe in it. Almost like a secret society, the hiring and training process needs to involve heavy emphasis on what it means to be a part of this team. Zappos is well known for instilling great customer service skills in every new team member.

      When your employees believe in the tradition, it takes on a life of its own. And in every interaction with a customer, that tradition will come out.

      3. What does it mean to your customers or clients?

        When marketing tradition, it has to be for a reason. If you believe that the tradition that your company values gives you an advantage over the competition, you have to explain why. What value have you provided to customers past and present as a result of that tradition? That’s what a new customer wants to know before they take any action, and it’s what you advertising and promotional material should communicate. It could mean better service, higher quality, the notion that you’re safer or more secure.

        4. How can you convey that message best?

          Tradition is about consistency. Because of that, the marketing of that tradition should be consistent. Throughout all facets of your marketing campaign, you need to be thinking of the underlying theme of tradition. Television will allow you to speak genuinely, showcase leaders or employees demonstrating what tradition means to you. Print ads should be familiar and formulaic. Your website should be detailed, containing messages from people at the top of your organization, maybe a quote from the founder, and testimonials from customers who attest to what that tradition has meant to them.

          Tradition also needs to be truthful. It’s hard to fill the gaps if you get caught in a lie. Because tradition is more personal than a lot of other points of differentiation between companies, it will be even worse for you if your company does not deliver on the value that you promote. So consistency in customer experiences is almost as important as consistency in marketing.

          5. Who cares?

            There will always be people that your marketing just does not speak to, whether you’re marketing tradition or not. So you need to make a decision. Either those people are outside your target audience and you are okay if you lose out on their business, or you work some other things into your marketing specifically to attract those customers. Personally, I think it’s okay to admit that your market is not infinite. And consistency here is key, so creating alternative marketing messages might hurt you in the long run. But I leave that decision up to you.

            What did I miss? Share your thoughts on marketing tradition in the comments below.