If you’ve been following my posts for some time you’ll see this isn’t written in my usual style. It’s closer to a diary entry, but I wanted to share it with you because…well…I’ve got a message.
At the end, I’ll have something that will help you get started in the challenge this post refers to. But only if you read all the way. It’s two minutes of your time, so two minutes well spent I believe.
There is a Chinese(?) proverb that goes
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
Well, the world’s students are ready and waiting. They’re pacing up and down their homes, workplaces, hallways, bedrooms and studies. They’re joining social media platforms in the millions, groups aplenty hashtagging their needs in tweets and posts asking for help one way or the other.
But as teachers, you’re not very good at making yourselves seen let alone heard.
They can’t find you because you aren’t showing up for class.
Occasionally they do find you. They’re the lucky ones. Your stretch reached them.
Their search revealed a course you have written they can take online. They found your e-book they can download and read front to back. They print off useful sections that help bridge the gap between where they are as students and where they need to be as productive members of the wider fashion community. They’ve learned from you on how to overcome issues they are struggling with.
But there’s just not enough of you.
They need more experts to join the rest of us, willing and ready to make a difference across a planet that no longer has boundaries. Where we can reach students thousands of miles away in time zones we’re not used to, from cultures we’re yet to learn about.
Some of these internet savvy millennials and generation Y’s reach out to us personally and gift us the inspiration that has become our drug.
I recently awoke at 2 a.m in the morning with that familiar cool blue white light filling my bedroom. That glow that only comes when a notification wakes the screen of your phone first like a silent firework.
Fighting the urge to leave it until the morning when I could read it along with those others that are born before dawn, for some reason I couldn’t resist the temptation to check this one. Here’s what I read from a 17 year old called Joe. He wrote to me after we accepted him into our LinkedIn group for fashion students.
"I have a huge interest in fashion and online retail. My knowledge on this topic is limited tho, I would love any tips from you on how I can learn more about it, the process of how everything works from designing, finding manufacturers, samples to ordering and listing items on your store and everything in between. Ideally, I'd like to think I can build a team to do the actual design and manufacturing, whilst I drive the marketing, advertising, customer service and that side of the business, something I have huge interest in, and I genuinely think there's a huge ROI of being nice, which is why I'd love to do B2C, that's kind of off topic tho, I'd love to join your group, and or take any advice you have for me, I really appreciate you willing to help :)"
As if that wasn't enough to tell me that there is work to be done I then had another message this time from Mehram Saleem, who told me in a LinkedIn message:
"Good morning I hope you are fine? Can you pls help me? I'm Mehram from Pakistan. I belong Christian family. I'm 28 year old. I have 10 years experience in garments from top to bottom like pattern making, quality, cutting, stitching, sampling, development, shade checking, auditor, and other manufacturing work. I really need a job in another country any place can you please help me and something for me so pls tell me I really need your help and support."
There are so many Joe's and Mehram's waiting for their teachers to arrive for all manner of course subjects and support. They are waiting for you to show up.
The world needs changing. You don’t need me to tell you that. And you may well already be doing your bit to transform your corner of it. If that’s the case, then I applaud you. We need more like you.
But for the rest of you (and that tiny part of me that fights the urge to give up from time to time when the going gets tough), we need to become warriors for change and use everything at our fingertips to make a difference. After all, it’s our generation that has messed it up.
Education is the equaliser. It empowers and liberates. Never before in humankind have we ever had such an ability to teach others so easily with the potential to reach thousands of students and share our message.
Technology gives us the tools. The internet gives us the channels. Your expertise gives you the unique opportunity to educate, inform, enlighten and transform the lives of people you have yet to meet.
We must all step forward and do our bit to unfcku it where we can.
People often say to me that they don’t have a 'message'.
Messages “are for brands and politicians" they argue.
We all have a message. It’s not that such people don’t have a message, it’s that they don’t value their journey, their story and how the jigsaw of their life has come together and formed their potential messages. They see ‘messages’ as the realm of more influential and enlightened entities.
That’s just plain nonsense.
A message is something that’s worth communicating, something of significance to share to others, and we all have them. WE- ALL-HAVE-THEM. Your message is found in your life's adventures and in the lessons learned!
People with an authentic message connect with their own experiences, bringing forth their past struggles and how they overcame them. They tell it as they experienced it. Often it’s about a journey of personal development, of how they were transformed like a caterpillar into a butterfly.
Equally, it can be about how to make it in your field of expertise. Advice to someone entering the field for the first time, or to those that have somehow lost their way and need guidance to get back on track. It can be about how to make a career change or nail that important job interview.
Messages can be about how to increase your fee rates and still win clients, or how to start your business on a shoestring budget.
It could be about how to master a piece of software that transformed the way you work and relieved you of stress and inefficient ways of working.
Or it can be helping others to fulfil their dreams and ambitions like Joe or Mehram, step by tiny step.
I could go on, but I think you get the message (no pun intended there by the way.)
Your message is uniquely yours, to be told your way.
The technology companies that are developing ever smarter platforms so we can share our messages, educate others and change the world (or our field in it) push making money as the biggest benefit of creating and selling your own online courses or digital products.
But for many people, this isn’t the biggest driver at all. For them, it’s about making a difference in the lives of others.
So whether you are in it for the money, to make a difference or both, I’m happy to assist you on your path. I’ve created a short course for anyone that needs help to plan their own online course for the first time. Creating online fashion courses can be very rewarding both financially and for the intrinsic feeling of value as you serve your students. But success is not achieved in a haphazard way. It requires effective planning.
Take it this course with and see if you too can do your bit to transform the caterpillar in others.
Now's there's no excuse.
Cheryl Gregory is the Founder of The Fashion Student Hub, a marketplace for selling online fashion courses, and We Teach Fashion teaching fashion subject experts how to create and promote their own online courses, generate revenue and serve the growing need for online education in the fashion sector.
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