I got mine the hard way…

So I was sitting in a meeting a few days ago (because that seems to be my professional raison d’être). I won’t go into the specifics of the discussion, but the general topic was the virtue of in person training versus “virtual” training delivered online. As I was only tangentially involved in the discussion, I quickly found myself engrossed in whatever notes I had previously scribbled onto my yellow legal pad.

What pulled my attention back into the conversation was a crack out of nowhere about not really thinking of academic excellence from people who get online degrees. Now what you should do when someone five steps above you on the org chart says something that ruffles your sensibilities is sit quietly and do absolutely nothing, lest in responding you incur their wrath. Sadly, as many of you know, sitting quietly and keeping my mouth shut is something I tend to struggle with on an almost daily basis.

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t go to Harvard, or Columbia, or the Wharton School of Business. I took my classes one at a time in the evenings and on weekends, while working full time, and traveling 2-3 weeks each month because that’s what Uncle said he needed me to do… so if you want to talk to me about academic excellence, I’ll be happy to go a few rounds with you on the virtue of an online education. Now I can be as elitist as anyone else, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m the one who got mine the hard way and if that doesn’t satisfy your century old notion about what constitutes “real” education, well that’s ok because I’ll be around long after your Paleolithic point of view is consigned to the pages of history.

I could have said more on the issue. That part of me that likes a good fight desperately wanted to go a dozen rounds, but I had to satisfy myself with looking an individual in the eye and telling them that as the holder of one of these online degrees, I didn’t feel educationally slighted in the least. I scored my point, but it wasn’t particularly satisfying. I didn’t want an apology or even a “present company excluded.” I simply wanted to provide a gentle reminder than no matter how high and mighty, it’s always best to know your audience before firing off at the mouth and losing credibility in the eyes of those who you would lead.

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