Wednesday, 26 March 2014

From Nightmare Scenario... To Living the Dream?

It's been an interesting week... One where a lot of work over the past year is starting to come together. 

The week started with a visit to the cinema with my kids to see Turbo... and I sure could I relate to Tito, the owner of a run down Taco restaurant who discovers Turbo, and his being misunderstood because of his continued attempts to find and convince people of the merit in his wacky ideas!

I read Alex Banayan's post called "
5 Books Every 20 Something Needs to Read" where he asks; 

"Did you chase the dollar or did you chase the dream? Did you do what seemed safe or did you do what felt right?"

I have read three books from this list and 2 are among
 my all time faviourites and both have play a role in making me make unconventional, value-based, risky decisions that others have advised me against... and suggesting that I should "play it safe" instead. 

I got confirmation that one of the ideas that I had  would become a reality.  I had the #EdTechChat inspired idea of #startupeduchat which I presented as "a Twitter chat that was a PLN for suppliers." The presentation for this wasn't quite right, so integrated it with a similar idea that other educators had.

I think this is quite fitting, given that my work over the last 14 months has been all about the need for EdTech suppliers to develop their ideas in collaboration with educators. Please support @Mr_Isaacs and @Katyamuses on the 2nd April with the inaugural #EdTechBridge chat session

Two EdTech suppliers that I admire followed me on Twitter. This was followed up with emails from these startups, who asked me to provide input on some of their latest developments. When I provided some comments they were delighted with my suggestions and invited me to contribute to their blog. How cool!

I have a number of very interesting companies approaching me to see if I would be interested in working with them. All of these organisations are keen to incorporate 
my current plans... the same plans that have previously been rejected by a number of funding bids, whether by mainstream FE bids or application to EdTech Startup organisations.

I look forward to 
weighing up these new opportunities with the proposed roles with what I believe HR departments call "Person-Environment Fit" for my personality as well the position that is the best match for my career and personal goals. I am currently preparing for the first interview which is on Friday.

I have been short listed to attend the first interview for one of these roles, which is an exciting new position with a market leader in UK education.

Good Week for me... But where's the "So What!"

So a good week for me? But "So what"? Why would my having a good week be of so much interest to blog about it? Am I reverting to one of the less desirable aspects of social media and saying "Look at Me... Look at Me..." self promotion and hype? 

Definitely not!  I would like to focus on Monday's post by Banayan and to let any 20-somethings who are just starting out to consider taking "The road less traveled," and to tell anyone who is going through a rough time in their work or studies to hang on in there!! 

Nightmare Scenario

Just over a year ago I left paid employment. The reason? Because I had worked with two startups over the last 13 years who had promised much to all stakeholders but, ultimately, failed to deliver... You know how the saying goes "Once bitten, twice shy, three times a fool"

I was keen not to make the same mistake for a third time so undertook a search for the right organisation to work with. Dave Feinleib highlights how difficult such a search is

"Nearly everyone has an idea for a product they could build or a company they could start. But eight out of 10 new businesses fail within the first three years. Even only one in ten venture-backed startups succeeds, and venture capitalists turn down some 99% of the business plans they see. The odds appear to be stacked against you!"

Finding an organisation with the right product, the right market, the right team and culture is challenging in any sector, its even tougher when you're a "random sales guy" in a niche area of education.

The Best Laid Plans 

Having discovered the joys of inbound marketing within my education contacts, I wondered if I could to the same with the community of EdTech suppliers. I undertook some research which would incorporate what I had learned in traditional sales, inbound marketing and the advice from educators, startups, VC's and other experts from Scilicon Valley, MIT and EdTech incubators.

The plan was that this research would take 2-3 months to complete, which I managed to do. I had sourced all the data and pulled a draft together between January-March 2013, and shared with some critical friends. The only problem was that some critical friends were, well... critical. Here's a comment from what I thought was the finished report;

March 2013

"As an educator I was losing the will to live as you gave context and detail to the technology adoption cycle." 

Six months later and after two complete restructures of the report the same critical friend had this to say;

Sept 2013

"I have read this report again and again believe it is very timely and interestingly reads a lot better. Is that because I am reading second time round... or has there been an evolutionary process in place. Whatever, I am challenged by it and reminds me of my responsibilities in regards to future proofing and engaging in the debate linked to teaching  and learning"  

So things did not work out regarding the schedule I was working to with this report... The same might be said of my expectations.

I was delighted at the comments people made about the final report, but disappointed that the offers didn't come rolling in; or that the area of education I work in didn't respond to the report in the way that I had anticipated.

Undeterred I continued with my goal over the next five months, which is to make it easier for good suppliers to reach educators in the community that I work within. This week it felt like real progress was being made.

Do you see the significance of my week for a wider audience now?

How Many Time Should You Try - motion graphic

I wanted to share details of my week to let people know that
I'm starting believe that creativity is really just persistence, I'm also getting first hand experience from some of the things I've blogged about other people in the past about the value of persistence; 

Persistence - Never Give Up
Persistence - Temporary Setbacks
Lessons in Adversity

Will You Succeed!
Now this has been a positive week, but I'm still pragmatic about the situation and I am aware that my chances of success may be the same as my chances of failing. But I believe Roosevelt was onto something when he says; 

“It's not the critic who counts. It's not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled. Credit belongs to the man who really was in the arena, his face marred by dust, sweat, and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs to come short and short again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. It is the man who actually strives to do the deeds, who knows the great enthusiasm and knows the great devotion, who spends himself on a worthy cause, who at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement. And, who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and cruel souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

On a more positive note there is the fantastic comments and insight from James Allen in his 1902 publication "As Man Thinketh" which encourages you to cherish your dreams - James Allen: Visions and Ideals

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