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The Narrative of the Student Intrigues Me

I’m often asked why it is that I do what I do for a living. I actually don’t think we choose what we do, but more that it chooses us. However, we make the choice of whether or not to pursue that which beckons to us, and I have but one reason for doing that. I like helping people. I’m sure that sounds cliche and silly to some, but it’s absolutely true. I get no greater joy than when someone emails me ecstatic with what they’ve learned in one of my courses. Ultimately, the reason I do what I do, is the narrative of the student.

Where I Came From

I tell the same story all the time about how I got into this business. I was in college, majoring in Graphic Communications Management, a program focused on print production, and I found myself lacking in basic software skills needed for the work I wanted to do. Our program, at the time, was not very software-centric, so I had to read books and watch podcasts to learn new things. The problem with that approach was that these were very static materials and I had no way of reaching the instructors directly. Even when I would find their email address it was very difficult to get a response. Seeing this and realizing that other people must be experiencing the same thing, I decided to get into writing tutorials and doing videos, and I promised myself I’d always be accessible to those who took the time to consume my material.

Unlike some, I don’t teach because I like the sound of my own voice. In fact, I hate my voice and rarely listen to the videos that I produce after they’re completed. I teach because I want people to succeed by learning new things, and I want to hear about those things by communicating with them. At the beginning of each one of my courses for lynda.com, I create a movie called “How to Send Feedback” wherein I give members several avenues for contacting me with questions or comments they may have regarding the course. This gives them a direct line to me, anytime they need it. While it’s difficult to keep up with all the correspondence I get, I relish every minute of it because I know that the day those emails stop coming in, people aren’t watching, and I’m no longer bringing value to my community.

Your Story Matters to Me

The narrative of the student intrigues me. I love seeing how different people learn or interpret my work. I get messages from all over the globe and it’s a very powerful thing to know that I’m touching lives somewhere far across the world with nothing more than the knowledge in my head and the sound of my voice. It’s a high that I cannot describe, and it’s what keeps me coming back for more time and time again.

I’m not a guy that puts heavy emphasis on numbers. I let the bean counters take care of all that stuff. What I care about most is community and relationships with my students. I want to hear from them, and I need to hear from them in order to make myself a better teacher. That means listening to every single comment or question, good or bad, right or wrong. I never dismiss anyone without first listening to them and letting them know that they’ve been heard. I know what it’s like to be ignored, and I know how hard it is to learn new things on your own. I do what I do, the way I do it, because I would want the same courtesy afforded to me if I were in the shoes of the student.

Conclusion

If you’re reading this, thank you. I’m honestly humbled and excited any time that I hear of someone reading or watching what I do. Your feedback means the world to me, and I always want to hear from you, no matter what you have to say. Thanks for being a part of my little community, and thank you for reading this!

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4 Comments

  1. Hi Justin! Great post! I wholeheartedly appreciate all that you do for the community. I know for one there are at least two things that I always remember everyday that I learned from you.
    The first thing is about community. I remember when you where on CreativeLive, you talked about rather having a small engage community verses just a large community who doesn’t engage. And like you said in the post it is not about that numbers. I agree with you on this. I have found that having just a few great people outweighs having a 100 people that “know” you.
    The second thing that I have learned from you is this praise; Work Hard, Stay Humble. It was awhile that I saw that you posted a picture of this on your facebook. And since then I have it as my iPhone lock screen, on multiple post its, and I alway say that to myself everyday before I start my work day.
    I absolutely appreciate your engagement and friendship via social media, your knowledge that you share here, on Lynda, Twitter, and Facebook. Thank you for it all.

    With much appreciation,
    Oliver

    Reply

    • Hey Oliver,

      Thank you for reading/watching what I do. I truly appreciate it and your friendship as well. You’re one of my biggest supporters and always sharing/commenting on my work. That kind of stuff means the world to me and lets me know that someone’s watching. Be well, my friend!

      - js

      Reply

  2. Justin, not only are you an expert in what you teach, but you also come across as a very amiable person. I’ve watched just one of your courses for Lynda.com (Photoshop for Web Design 2012), and I had a feeling I was being taught by a good friend in a laid back atmosphere. That course was concise yet quite instructive.
    Greetings from Serbia!
    Branislav

    Reply

  3. You hate your own voice? To me, your voice is very good!

    Reply

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