What can a hat teach you?

Teachers, much like hats, come in all shapes and sizes. I have had the good fortune of encountering many excellent teachers through out my years of schooling. Each step of my educational journey has been highlighted by a string of distinct characters, beginning in elementary school with a thin, excitable kindergarden teacher, continuing to the present with my loud, towering Business Law professor and a round, jolly, unforgettable Accounting professor. Teachers like these have helped teach me how to function in the world and how to be a more structured thinker.

Despite the gratitude I hold to my group of school teachers, many of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned have actually come from people without graduate degrees, people who do not call themselves teachers. Some of my biggest lessons have come from my mentors and my business partners who I have met on my journey to adulthood. These people are down to earth, knowledgable, and, most peculiarly, they tend to wear awesome hats–It’s true!

The fact that they wear hats may be a coincidence, but in doing so they all convey a common lesson. It’s done as a statement of their individuality. Being a great educator is about delivering a message and being memorable. Those things are accomplished by moving beyond the basics of reciting facts and by taking measures to create an experience that resonates deeply with the learner. It doesn’t have to be high-tech, and it doesn’t have to be hard either. It just has to be enough to make the observer ask questions, and to give them reason to remember it. Ultimately, it is about creating a human connection. And that idea is easily lost in this transition to digital learning. We mustn’t forget the importance of crafting the learner’s experience, because without the ability to establish a human connection there is no education. To commit to the future of eduction we should all explore our own awesome hats, finding new ways to make knowledge interesting, and to resonate in the minds of tomorrow.

As a final, closing inspiration I present you now with a short but sweet list of my hat wearing heros:

Two of my most admirable life mentors. From them I have learned deep lessons on psychology and finance, Pictured above they are setting the mood at a seminar, breaking the ice for all the first-timers.

My friend and business partner. A completely anonymous individual who has taught me much about patience, ambition, and commitment.

A trio of student business owners, presenting at a local entrepreneurship event. This group, which I am a part of, empowers students to take their personal and professional development into their own hands, and promotes the benefits of business ownership. I’m the gentleman featured on the left with the big smile and the inconspicuous blue top-hat, a tribute to all the awesome hat wearers in my life.

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