As part of an ongoing conversation about making stuff that people actually want to watch, we’ve started exploring the novel idea that, although they’ve graduated, alums might still appreciate getting knowledge from their college. (“Knowledge from your College” might even make a good YouTube playlist title. It’s yours if you can put it to good use before us.)
Naturally, we’ve considered packaging faculty expertise into a social media friendly format. There are a few schools already doing some version of this concept. Higher ed video producer and podcast episode #2 guest Tom Malkowicz made a few cool WashU faculty hosted videos for a new science channel called Ultra Condensed Science. Check out the most popular episode – Hidden Talents of the Colorblind.
But think of how many of your university’s alumni are out in the real world accumulating practical and professional knowledge across a variety of fields. I’ll bet the CEO of a PR firm knows as much, if not more, about achieving marketing success than an associate professor in your business school.
To be clear, the Azusa Pacific University alumnus profile that inspired this blog post is not an educational video. Like all the other videos in their Stories series, it’s an ad. A very good ad, to be certain. I’d love to hear what the creators have to say, but I would imagine that it’s mostly meant to appeal to potential students and prospective donors. Come to our school or give to our school. Chose your call to action based on your affiliation. This video is so good that some will eventually do both.
But here’s another meaningful function that might not lead to an application or a gift…
I wasn’t expecting to learn something that I could almost immediately apply to my life. It earned my click because I recognized the name of the video’s subject, not because I was seeking wisdom. Stephen Vogt is an MLB All-Star catcher for the Oakland Athletics, which means he’s one of the best at what he does ‒ an expert in the field, if you will.
Here’s Stephen’s first line in the video, which we hear as he steps onto the diamond a few hours before a home game:
“I think one of the biggest things that people don’t understand about the baseball world is that it doesn’t take talent. It’s not who the best players are. It’s who can deal with failure the best.”
No one knows failure like a baseball player. Even for the game’s best hitters, 2 out of every 3 plate appearances end in an out. It’s worth noting that before Stephen’s walk-off single in game 2 of the 2013 ALDS, he was “punched out” 3 times. Vogt started the season, his first in the majors at age 28, on a different team. He was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays after going hitless in 32 consecutive at-bats. This Azusa alumnus could teach a master class on confronting failure.
Here’s the line that’s been hanging with me for the last few weeks:
“For me, it’s so much easier to bring a bad game home. I had a coach tell me early in my professional career that before you go home, you sit and you make sure you’re ready to wash the day off in the shower. Good or bad it’s over and you go home and be a husband and a father.”
Before watching the work of Azusa’s video team, I don’t think I’ve ever considered a strategy for keeping professional stress from encroaching on personal interactions. Because of my team at Northeastern, I get to go home happy almost every day. But by sheer coincidence, that day happened to be a rare opportunity to experiment with Stephen Vogt’s method. Even without a shower, it worked.
Universities are getting so caught up in trying to be everyone’s social media buddy, news source, or entertainment provider that they’re missing opportunities to do what they do best: transmit knowledge. Azusa Pacific demonstrated that alumni can extend its areas of expertise beyond the list of offered majors. And I’ll bet Stephen Vogt feels a little more engaged as an alumnus.