The following are excerpts from a telephone exchange with renowned master educator and speaker Dr. Adolph Brown
When and why did you begin consulting and training?
“Wow, over two decades ago. It’s not really something I wanted to do. I am an educator at heart. At the time I was at a university and the president of the university would have me go places in his stead and it kept happening. He was a friend with Retired General and Secretary of State Colin Powell at the time and he asked me if I would mind working with him on a campaign called America’s Promise. Shortly later I became the co-chair for that movement and one thing lead to another and my classroom just got bigger and bigger.”
How would you best describe your presentation and training style?
“Being that I’m an educator, my dissertation was on that I can teach anyone anything once I get your attention, a part of education that we haven’t paid a lot of attention to. We have content and we have a message, however we haven’t always done the best at getting the attention of every single student. That takes different approaches from the educator and that’s not always easy. I guess I would say I attempted to engage every single student in my audience.”
What kinds of things do you speak about during each of your presentations?
“I speak to about 60 percent corporations, 30 percent educational schools and colleges and about 10 percent face communities. I don’t stray too far away from two major topics: my expertise in educational excellence and serve and leadership. It has to fall into that or I refer them to someone else. Each of my presentations involves messages of accountability and responsibility. That’s the one thing that doesn’t change during any message that I give, but the rest of the message depends on the focal points that I get from the organization. None of the messages are the same because the audience is always different.”
Why do you enjoy the Q&A portion of each of your presentations so much?
“I love that exchange. There are people just sitting in the audience and they think ‘wow this is great’ but they have questions, personal questions and when you allow them to ask that question they feel like it’s really relevant. A lot of people communicate, very few connect and one of the ways that I connect is by going to the audience and asking questions. If we can’t do it in a huge Q&A which I love, often times afterwards people will come to the table and I spend time with them, sometimes hours.”
What is it that you enjoy so much about being able to educate people like you do?
“Just being able to help and inspire people. But it’s more than inspiration…people don’t know that all educators should be enthusiastic and inspiring with their content and should connect students to other students and connect students to the subject, but they should also connect themselves to the students. I like to disseminate knowledge, information and practices in a way that gets your attention but also that when I’m gone, the message is not. And that’s the major difference between a motivational speaker and an educator. I’m going to present in such a way that the message is beyond the classroom, beyond the auditorium and beyond the presentation. Ultimately I love meeting people and engaging.”
What do you think makes a good educator and expert and speak?
“Head, heart and hands. Head for best practices and knowing that we never really know it all. We’re constantly learning new things and new ways to presents. Hands for knowing it’s hard work. Educators have to understand that it’s not a job. It’s a marathon without a finish line. And often the part that is missing that we don’t talk about enough, especially in higher education, heart. Heart is when you bring your integrity into the mission. It’s the place where your emotional self, spiritual self and intellectual self all integrate. Often times we think we can train someone out to teach, but it’s really about developing their heart for the capacity to teach and that’s where these connections come from.”
Who would you consider your mentors?
“Dr. William Cosby, retired Secretary of State Colin Powell and Don Perlyn. They’re great human beings and have great character. They have really helped me understand the importance of keeping everything in balance.”
What’s the one piece of advice you would give our readers?
“Human beings, we’re the only species who will beat ourselves up for our mistakes. So just because you messed up doesn’t mean you have to give up or something my grandfather always use to say: just because something goes wrong doesn’t mean you have to go with it. There are so many people, young and old, that will stumble and they don’t realize that even though you fall you’re still making progress. No one is perfect and I think once everyone realizes that most people will have healthier existences.”