"People, why would anyone give us money for this?"
Our former marketing director, Derrick, used to ask this question at just about every staff meeting. It was a good way to re-direct all of the Ph.D.'s in the room to the business at hand. Yes, there is an epidemic of autism. Yes, there are now 13 categories under which children qualify for special education services rather than eight. Yes, using templates that give each page a unique URL is preferable to frames. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Here is the big difference moving from being a professor to being in business. As a professor, you only need to know stuff. In business, someone must be willing to give you money for whatever it is you are doing. If you are a good professor, a good teacher, you try to put yourself in the students' place, imagining what they will find confusing, what will relate to their interests.
The truth, though, is that lots of professors come in and give the same lecture they gave for the last fifteen years and they do not get fired. Business is less forgiving. If you cannot put yourself in your clients' place and meet their needs, you will be out of business. The smaller business you are, the quicker you find yourself in that position.
In a way, business forces more honesty.
There are a lot of great things about being a professor - the constant push to learn more and stay current with all the knowledge being added to the world every day. There are so many great things, it is the one job I have had in my life I would think about going back to. I think about it, then I look at the salaries professors make and get depressed, remembering that is why I left in the first place.
Maybe I will become a judo instructor and open my own school. Why not? I was the first American world judo champion, and I have a Ph.D. I love teaching. Oh wait, martial arts school owners on the average, make even less than professors. (Did I mention I specialized in statistics in my doctoral program?)
A few years ago, I was at a software conference with a group of very brilliant people, all of whom had lovely homes, great-paying jobs and were there on expense accounts in this beautiful resort. One turned to me and said, "I feel like I'm living the American dream, but it's someone else's dream, do you know what I mean?"
Yes, I did.
One world championships, four degrees, a million dollars in consulting contracts, four children and I still don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life. My goal over the next six months is to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.
Business - judo - disability - education ..... I couldn't even come up with a simple title for this blog. Is it a wonder I am so confused?
On the other hand, I am just a huge whiner. A few years ago again, I was complaining to another mother about my children. One was on the Olympic team but was not keeping up with her high school homework. A second had just graduated from NYU but was constantly complaining about how her career was not where she wanted it to be a year after graduation and the third was in her junior year of college but not working. The other mother replied, "I have three daughters who are strippers. My daughters dance naked for a living. Do you want to trade?"
So, maybe, instead of having a mid-life crisis, I should just shut the hell up.