Technically, I Graduated

Dan Seidman

How to get smart — even degreed — online

The world is digitizing everything.

My brother “Kenny B” was a DJ during the disco era, late 70s to mid-80s. His tools included 33 RPM records where the trick to keeping people on the dance floor (and increasing thirst or drink sales) was to blend songs according to beats per minute (BPM). His turntables allowed him to speed up or slow down records and his albums were sorted by BPM. A great DJ could merge music to where you didn’t know where one piece of music was ending and another began. Suddenly you’d be dancing (or drinking) to a new song.

Trouble was, records weighed a ton and were a pain in the back to transport, so along came CDs, which weighed significantly less. That was fairly short-lived, as songs were soon completely downloadable and the weight of a music collection dropped to zero, while also massively increasing.

This increased business as well; he could accommodate any audience from any era (think Sinatra to Queen to Madonna to Gaga). The latest addition is music in video format, with words. That would be karaoke, which accommodates heavy drinkers who can no longer dance, but can hold a microphone.

The digital journey in education

Enough about the evolution of the record player. Let’s look at how this same digital journey can enhance our ability to get smarter on the job. This means you might want to go full bore and attain a degree or just find some ways to enhance your contribution to the company.

Major universities are offering world-class courses to those who want to simply sign in, view or listen in. Three things you need to know, before we get into courses:

  • Most are free! Though some classes can actually give you credit, for which you’ll have to pay.
    Most you can take at your leisure, while some are only available when they run on a schedule.
  • Classes can sometimes give you access to a professor and other students.

Any way you take it all in, the educational opportunities are truly priceless. Let’s look at some options that would serve you well as sales and marketing professionals.

Coursework for sales and marketing professionals

At the head of the class sits the EdX platform: A peek at their educational partners reveals some of the most elite academic organizations on the planet. A sample includes MIT, Harvard, Berkley and CalTech. Outside the U.S., contributors include schools from Australia, Japan, France, England, India, China and more.

You’ll love getting into coursework that can make you a better business pro. Some are easy, others both dense and intense:

Contracts; High-Dimensional Data Analysis; Leaders of Learning (Hey, sales trainers out there!); Marketing Analytics related to Pricing, Promotion, Measurement, Distribution, Competitive Analysis (UC Berkley — separate courses); Selling Ideas (Wharton School).

I have to admit I struggle with noticing all the coursework related to poetry. My opinion (not this publication’s) is that this is old and outdated as a topic for school, including all the focus in high school (one-third of the reading portion of the ACT test is on poetry). Can’t remember attending or reading about a poetry slam recently. Or ever.

There are also online universities, some of which you and I have never heard of, that can provide tons of courses, many of which you can work through to get degreed.

You can have fun learning, too. Just find some of those quirky online offerings that might be solely worth the value of entertainment:

  • Elvish, the Language of “Lord of the Rings:” This is taught by a leading language expert who actually consulted on these films.
  • Arguing with Judge Judy: This focuses on argumentative logic of plaintiffs and judges in these type of TV shows.
  • The Living and UnDead: Just what it says, let’s learn the history of zombies — on the screen and in books.
  • Age of Piracy: Thank you Johnny Depp for reviving interest in pirates, a comeback that’s waited since the 1950 film Treasure Island.
  • The Science of Superheroes: These characters are used to teach physics.
  • Street Fighting Mathematics: It’s a math class to analyze fighting with science.

Build education into your corporate culture

Here’s a strategy to make this brainpower available to all of your corporate team members. Have your learning & development department review courses and begin posting the links for staff. Get them engaged and give them credit and badges, if your company uses an LMS and tracks learning. If you’re a smaller company, have your trainer or HR person do some research and share some choices. Having staff post or share in team meetings is a great way to build into everybody.

It’s easy to find subjects of value to you. Simply put your topic in the search box on the home page of any these websites and find coursework that would serve to strengthen your company’s brainpower. When you find something that makes a difference, let me know how that plays out in your organization.  

Dan Seidman of GOT INFLUENCE? is still traumatized by the accordion lessons his father forced on him at a young age. He is a three-time World Masters Gold Medalist, playing basketball for the U.S. Dan received the International Sales Training Leader of the Year in 2013 for his work developing the 544-page “Ultimate Guide to Sales Training.” Is your training truly improving sales team performance? It’s time to redesign! Contact Dan at or 847-359-7860.