As a marketer, this video was one of the most interesting videos I’ve ever seen. It gets right to the core of why people buy what they buy. It gets right to the core of their human nature. It caused an instant mass of marketing ideas to flood my mind:
But as I kept watching this video, instead of simply spurring marketing ideas, it caused me to ask: Why do I do what I do? Why am I working for a small company that promotes literacy? Why have I been doing this for almost three years now?
Well… here is my truest, deepest, unfiltered reasons as to why I work for Reading Horizons:
I started working for Reading Horizons because I was desperate. I was fresh out of college with no experience and I got one single job offer: here. I was in no position to turn it down. Because the company is small and still growing, I took the small hourly wage they offered me and told myself I would take it as a learning experience and look for a new job a year later. I also told myself it would be my service project to the world since literacy is undoubtedly a good cause. A service project I would work on for a year. Service is good, right? That was three years ago.
So why am I still here? Why am I still working for Reading Horizons? With the skills I have gained I could easily find another job and make a lot more money. So, although I do need to make some money and my employment helps in that regard, the money is not the reason I work here – I could make more working somewhere else.
My next thought was because it’s our purpose. I love working for a good purpose. I value learning and I love knowing that what I do is helping others gain what I believe is the chief skill needed for continual learning. But in actuality, there are other companys that work for the very same purpose. There are other companys that produce curriculum for struggling readers. We’re not the sole providers of reading curriculum. If it was a love for literacy that provided the true core as to why I do what I do… I would probably get my teacher certification and start teaching reading. That’s not my chief desire. It’s not literacy in of itself that keeps me working for Reading Horizons. I love working for a good purpose but I could do that elsewhere…
But I think I know what it is. I think I know the reason I can’t leave Reading Horizons… but, in order for you to really get it, some background information is needed. When I was in high school I felt like I was living a joke. I felt like my teachers were doing the bare minimum to keep their jobs. It was a shrine to mediocrity. I felt like I rarely learned anything and that high school was holding me back in my progression as a human being. I knew I had to finish and had to get my diploma, but I actually didn’t even go to my graduation because I didn’t even value the “achievement” of graduating from high school. It didn’t even feel like an achievement. It was too easy. It was too full of pointless information. It was too big of a joke.
I remember feeling embarrassed walking down the halls of my school at the beginning of each day because I was embarrassed that high school was even a part of my life. I would get to school as close to the tardy bell as possible as to minimize my exposure to the institution. Because I got there as late as I could without simultaneously getting a tardy, I was always one of few people walking down the halls at that moment each day. I would hear the laughter coming from the classrooms and I would hear people going along with the joke that was our education and as I walked down that hall each day I remember being shocked that we were all going along with it. We were all playing this stupid game… and I wasn’t even referring to high school drama and pettiness, I was referring to the actual education. If it hadn’t been for my AP classes, I probably would’ve had to become a high school dropout just to avoid the stupidity of what was going on. After experiencing another mindless day in the life of a high school student I was writing in my journal… I was listing all of the things that I wanted to do with my life and one thing wrote down was that I wanted to reform education. I apparently thought it was as simple as writing it down.
Fast forward past the 3 years I spent in college and my first four months working for Reading Horizons. Although I’d thought I would stick it out for a year, I was miserable. My starting tasks included coding vocabulary words onto our website for four hours a day, followed by four hours of looking for people that I thought might be willing to link to our site and then asking them to do so. I hated it. I knew we had a great cause, but I didn’t know if I could stick it out for even the year I had originally committed myself to. I had grown up with teachers and advisors freaking out over my potential every second and there I was with a college degree, doing mind numbingly boring tasks that anyone could do - all day everyday. I hated it. Not only was it boring, but it wasn’t working. Emailing people and asking them to link to our site… not an effective movement. Trendy... yes. Effective… no. So ineffective that I finally had it one day and started ranting in one of our meetings that for four months I had done nothing but contact people to link to our site and for four months of effort there had been ten people that had linked to our site, I could hardly see my work as being valuable.
The next day we had a huge shipment that had to go out and our Company President, Tyson Smith, after hearing my rant about the lack of effectiveness of all of the things I was doing, decided to recruit me to help with the shipment. So there I was, a college graduate, working in a warehouse because that was the most value I could offer my company. It was the most terrible feeling I’d ever had. Shrink wrapping materials? That was where all of my potential had brought me? That was the only thing of value I could do for my place of employment… menial work that high school boys did? A great high school job, yes, a great career, no. But that day changed something for me.
As I copied, packaged, and shrink wrapped materials for eight hours… I held Reading Horizons curriculum in my hands. As I saw everything our program covered and how perfectly it covered that material, all of my memories of my best friend mocking me (with love of course) as a child for saying “library” as “liberry” and “Wendy’s” as “Windy’s” and “breakfast” as “breakfrest” … I remember thinking, if I had learned this way, I probably would’ve pronounced those words correctly. I would’ve understood the components of the English language in a near perfect manner. Not only did I gain respect for our method, but I instantly became jealous of all of the students that got to learn in such a perfect and thorough manner. I placed a bet in my mind that the students that learned with our method probably didn’t have best friends that were mocking their speech. Because they were being thoroughly taught how to blend letters and sound out each word. And at that moment Reading Horizons was no longer just a do-good company that promoted literacy. At that moment Reading Horizons became the best literacy curriculum available on this planet. I wasn’t just working in a warehouse shrink wrapping materials… I was shrink wrapping materials for the company that was the best of the best at teaching the most important skill a person ever learns. I was working for the company with the best method for teaching reading.
The small company I worked for wasn’t going to be a small company forever… because we were producing materials that were the most effective at teaching a skill every single person on this planet needs to learn. I was no longer jealous of my friends that had fancy jobs at Goldman Sachs… because I was somewhere that I could truly change the world. My claim as a high school student that I was going to reform education became instantly possible… almost too easily.
I work for Reading Horizons because Reading Horizons is the best way to teach any student, no matter their ability and regardless of learning disabilities, how to read. Anytime my mom tells me (with love of course) to look for a new job that will pay me more, I can’t consider it for long because I know I couldn’t find what Reading Horizons has anywhere else. I don’t think I could end up at another company that is truly the best of all of their competition at doing what they do. There is not a better methodology for teaching students to read English available. And I like working for the best.
I beg and beg all of my friends that teach reading to at least learn Reading Horizons methodology through our free 30-day online reading workshop… most just resist the opportunity to enlighten their mind to better ways of helping their students… but, you don’t have to resist: start the workshop today!