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It’s No Soap Opera: Courage Can Be Found in Many Forms

By LeiLani Cauthen

Courage is the confidence of reaching out, rushing toward whatever it is that needs to be attacked and overcome, accompanied by an assumption of success. It’s also, in some instances, a willingness to lose everything, including possibly your life. Someone who has charged forward in battle has discarded all other intentions or interests anywhere in life in exchange for a raw emotion that takes over them that can best be characterized as charge-fight-win. They become this singular, intense force. Thoughts like, “if I fail, my kids won’t have a parent,” or “I’m not paid enough for this,” or “I’ll wait here and hope maybe the enemy will take out others and not me,” or “where’s my next meal coming from,” are all repressed. There is no thinking; there is a concentrated roar of energy. Cues from others or past memory are discarded wholesale. That is the way emergencies work. You go, you do not think, you throw your all at it, win or die in the attempt.

Forming courage or falling into cowardice

Courage, then, is when you form emotion and will, not thought. Let’s call this will something like can, go, and nothing-will-stop-me; not a full-sentence formed thought, but an in-motion wordlessness. It is lethal in war and any other human pursuit. 

Courage takes risks. That is intrinsic in the definition of courage because why be courageous if there is nothing to be courageous about? 

On the other side of the coin, cowardice cringes and goes motionless, quivering in place while assuming some loss or failure is imminent. Perhaps total failure and total loss. In these times, it’s understandable, but not on every level.  Cowardice takes all of its cues from others, dwelling on them to sink lower and shy further away from motion of any kind. Cowardice makes a point of wantonly absorbing stories of others failing or rumored to be failing and sympathizes and syncs up with those as justification for stopping, stalling, and weakening self. Cowardice thinks too much, conserves too much, goes protectionist. Here’s the kicker: cowardice always loses something small or large. 

We see these two opposites, courage and cowardice, at play right now with COVID-19. We are on new ground. We can go big or, well, we’re already at home, so the new thing to say is not “go big or go home,” but “go big and stay home,” rockin’ the smartphone, computer, and wireless. 

Empire building

It’s important to retain loyalty to grow at all and, in times like these, retain an audience or students. Today, loyalty can be maintained from going outside your comfort zone and saying I can, and let’s go regarding spending with your partners and charge-fight-win to provide any service needed for your students/parents or customers. Those are empire-building moves. That is what true leaders do.  

From the Mad Men

One story from the Great Depression era of our grandparents was why businesses talked for decades with reverence about how the Mad Men of Madison Avenue were the real saviors of our economy back in the ’40s and ’50s. Those messaging, advertising, and media geniuses in old New York could teach any leader a thing or two. They created the want for all kinds of products and services out of thin air when there was virtually no ability by anyone to spend. They found fountains of revenue in a desert economy. It was pure magic.   

The best example was with Ivory Soap for Proctor & Gamble. It’s what gave us the term “soap opera” that we still use today. 

People were so poor that during the Great Depression, orders for soap plummeted. P&G, being courageous, did not cut back on their advertising because they saw the moment as a brand dominance moment, a way to make more money now and way more money later. Instead of shrinking in spend, they spent more than ever and ramped it up even further by going into the relatively new medium of radio to advertise their soap products instead of just print. Gutsy moves, and probably caused other things to be cut from budgets or debt incurred just to do.  

They sponsored a daily radio drama called Ma Perkins for housewives who could listen in during the afternoon. The response was so positive for sales that other soap manufacturers started sponsoring daytime radio dramas, too. Soon commentators were calling all daytime radio dramas “soap operas” in a sort of backhanded compliment that all started with Ivory Soap. Notice Ivory Soap is still a major brand today.

Take-away for companies

Here’s the take-away. If your EdTech marketing campaigns as a company are getting lackluster results, or if your school or district is awash in chaos and had been experiencing lackluster results or losing students to alternatives even prior to COVID-19, you have the power to control your destiny,  What you need is thoughtful innovation, the right sources, maybe a new groove that you can use to go boldly and amp up just like Procter & Gamble did. 

For EdTech businesses, you should be marketing like crazy, right now with the independent dedicated EdTech media sources. Many of you have phenomenal products desperately needed, but you are lurking in the background, not marketing. Schools are shopping, but unfortunately, they aren’t finding you. To help, we stood up Knowstory.com’s marketplace for you to put free ad-like tiles as another way to share your products with schools.

Also, a new Podcast is coming, so you can be just like P&G. The first recordings are about to come out.

Take-away for schools and districts

For schools and districts, be courageous. Please, please use this time to lead to a stable future. There will be magic you never saw coming from innovating right now. These are the days that try our souls, and what you do in this moment may be the bravest things you have ever done. You won’t regret it.  

This article originally appeared on The Learning Counsel.

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