I’m that kind of person: Another business lesson from judo


Me, judo students and a llama
Me, judo students and a llama

Many years ago I met a teenage girl who said she wanted to go to the Olympics . I had visited her club a few times, practiced with her and gave her a few tips about competing and training.

One day, when I took off my judo gi after practice she said,

“Ew! Look at your arms! You look like a man!”

I was surprised by her reaction, and told her that it was normal to put on a lot of muscle mass if you were weightlifting and doing judo. I explained that being stronger than my opponents had often been the deciding factor in matches and since it was something over which I had control, unlike, for example, the availability of training partners, that I highly recommended strength training .

She made a face and said, 

“No thanks! I’m not that kind of person ! If I have to look like you to be a world champion, I don’t want it!”

I was kind of amused that she didn’t realize how insulting that was. Since I wasn’t really concerned about the opinions of random teenage girls about my looks, I took a shower, got dressed and drove home without giving her another thought . As you might expect, this girl never went on to win anything of note .

What, you might ask, does this have to do with business?

We make educational software and I want more people to use it. I want more schools to install Spirit Lake and Fish Lake in their computer labs.

Fish Lake
Get Fish Lake

I want more teachers, and parents, to put Making Camp Premium on their iPads. I know we make fun games that teach and I want more people to use them .

Lately, I’ve been telling almost every person I meet about our games. If I meet someone at a wedding who happens to sponsor an educational foundation, I follow up with him. Every teacher I know, I’m sending an email and telling them about our latest software. 

Sometimes, I think, “I don’t want to be that person who is continually pushing their company. I don’t want to be. A SALESPERSON.”

Of course, that is equally stupid as the girl who wanted to be a world champion without muscles. Sometimes we have this idea that products should sell themselves. It’s really not realistic. If you ever want to see Maria Burns Ortiz lose it tell her that all we need to sell a million games is a “viral video”.

In fact, the truth is that you do have to directly say to people , “Hey, you teach 6th grade, Fish Lake and Forgotten Trail would be great for your students .” Or “Are your students advanced? Are you fortunate enough to teach at a high-performing school, check out Aztech : The Story Begins

It would be nice if we could have conversations about issues in education or parenting, you’d be so enthralled you’d check out our website and download Making Camp Premium for your fourth-grader but that’s not how it works.

So, here is the lesson I learned from being a judo champion , you may not be “that kind of person” but if you want to achieve your goal sometimes you need to BECOME that kind of person.

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