2017 Fall Marathon Training Week #5

Miles: 41ish (race week means fewer before and after)

Good and bad week. Hit my bridge pace more or less, really failed on race day as you saw yesterday.

This hereby marks the end of part 1 of marathon training. I've built a base (and will continue to up the longest run, but otherwise my routine will be fairly similar). And the results thus far are encouraging in every way except for racing. My form is improved, my cramping has gone away with the salt pills and I lost some weight. But races are what it's about and so I need to do more.

Monday and Weds nights have thus far been a quick weight lift and not much else (unless I go out). Those resources (ie, time) are being diverted to training, with an additional five miles (solo) Monday nights and a recommitment to the track Weds nights. I've been thinking and talking and reading, and I think my race day issues are that I haven't been training to keep up with slightly faster people like I used to, which means on race day, when people pull ahead, I mostly let them go, and once you let them go, psychologically, it's hard to stay as focused on excellence and it becomes more like survival and hanging out. This started during the marathon last year and has continued this year through all but two races. It ends now.

By the 5k in a few weeks I want, no, need to be able to keep up with my teammates. And by the Bronx, I want to be able to say I have a good chance of leading the team. I definitely want to lead the team on marathon day. And I still have the skill to do so, provided I focus up.

I'm cutting back on the drinks - I upped them after Boston as it got warmer and, in truth, I was kind of upset to do so poorly once again - and will also take a monthly cliche mirror pic to see if I can visually see the difference as I recommit. I've already lost some weight, but I can tell I'm still a bit more bloated than I want to be, and I want to go lean as the fall approaches.

If all this works, I'll have my formula forever. If it doesn't, maybe I'm just losing my touch. But I don't think that's true yet. We'll see. 20 mile training run next Sunday.


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Race Report: 2017 Team Champs

Time: Ha

How did you feel? Nope!

My legs felt and feel fine. I just couldn't breathe. It was super humid. I want to do better for myself and for the team, but the conditions just weren't there. My training is going fine. I just wish I could be at my fastest again.


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Salaries, Nonprofits, and Other Thoughts

I'm not sure how organized these thoughts are. So I'll just number them.

1. I said this on facebook earlier this week, but I truly hate that so many jobs (especially in the nonprofit sector) hide their salary for the longest possible time. People are not stupid. We know if the salary was high (and not whatever BS "competitive" means) it would be posted, or at least revealed early in the process. With my previous job, I wasn't told a salary or even a range until I'd gone through a phone screen, an online application, a second interview, a third interview, and then a "tryout." I suppose they figure the process will squeeze out anyone who isn't truly committed, but it's just as likely people will agree to it out of sheer exhaustion. I realize that my current job is unique in that academia (since I technically work for a school) must share their salaries, but still. I'm hopefully never going to go through such a process again without knowing what I could hope to receive. And nonprofits, stop doing this. You think you're getting more committed talent this way, but you're just going to waste time. If the salary you can offer is low, and you're afraid people won't take the job because of it, either find a way to raise it or just be up front, because no one is going to work on pure love.

2. In America, it's gauche to discuss your salary for... some reason. We're a bizarrely private country career-wise. One of my favorite blogs, Ask A Manager, every so often runs a post that asks for people to share their salary so people can be aware of what to expect. It's still anonymous, though. I'm not saying there aren't downsides to this - people will compare and compete, etc - but people compare and compete anyway. We do a lot of nonsense in this society to try and avoid feelings, but the emotions arise no matter what. I mean, I only know the salary of my wife (because we share finances, obv) and one of my friends, who told me in confidence when I asked. One can guess about those of others, and you are lying to yourself if you say you've never wondered. But the real benefit of such transparency is I think it allows people who are newer to their careers a real chance to understand what growth they can hope for. I know I didn't start saving as well as I could because I assumed, wrongly, that I would never really be at a solid place. I think transparency is beneficial. And I know some folks would feel some sort of way - myself included before this year - but I think the pros outweigh the cons. 

3. Related to the last point, I know when I went to the management training course in which I met my wife, I found out how much more similarly titled people were making at other agencies. My first reaction was dismay and shock, and my wife could tell anyone how childishly I reacted when I found out how paltry my salary was by comparison. But I did, eventually, start to think about what I needed to do to get to higher levels. I was spurred into action.

4. Surely, salary is not the end all and be all of life. Making more doesn't make you a better person, or else Trump would be a good human being. But compensation matters. The word descends from various Latin and Old English phrases meaning, roughly, a weight against a loss or difficulty. If our work is, indeed, work, then it stands to reason we should be compensated justly. The world, of course, is not fair, and neither is the market. But as much as I love and cherish the work many nonprofits do, we need to stop pretending that compensation doesn't matter. Again, if salaries are low, they are low. Just say so. You'll only get a subset of possible applicants, and it's best to come to terms with that.

5. And then there's credentials. Credentials are not, by themselves, experience. They can substitute, but then experience should be able to substitute in return. I say this as someone with plenty of credentials who is considering acquiring more, but if you have been able to do a job, or show you can in interviews with some sort of assessment or practice, then if we're going to have these butt-low salaries, how on earth are we going to require so many degrees at the same time? Do you really think your productivity will suffer if you hire someone personable and smart who doesn't have an MA? And I am not speaking of jobs that require certain licenses (LMSW, etc). I just mean an office job with fairly standard duties. Is it truly impossible to train someone green? Having an advanced degree certainly doesn't make someone office ready (indeed sometimes the opposite). And of course, we value certain schools more highly, and those certain schools have very very pricey advanced degrees. So what we're really doing, by creating this tail-eating system, is telling people that to get in the door at a Certain Type of nonprofit, we need to go 50k into debt and be okay with barely paying it off, because, and this isn't said out loud but it's true, most of who we hire will come from comfortable backgrounds and be able to be supported and certainly won't have dependents. And that's how you get places like "We Got Y'all" from Insecure, or real such places here.

6. This ended up being more about nonprofits in general than salaries, huh? But it's all connected. If you can pay more, do it, and don't get huffy about your cookie-cutter mission. (Side note: come up with more compelling missions.) People can't pay rent on mission. Write their phone bill a check and sign it "100 missions and love and kindness." If you can't pay more, say so, and accept what you'll get, which is probably not the cream of the crop. And especially if you can't pay more, do not fall in love with credentials as the marker of sophistication we assume they are. There are some real morons out there with advanced degrees. And some sterling potential employees without them. But a lot of places will truly never find out because these people don't "fit" what they're looking for (and hoo boy, don't get me started on "fit").

7. I am not a fan of the private sector. It's craven and I don't find much of the work interesting. I'm an educator and I don't believe in for-profit education, so there isn't much space for me in the private sector. But the one thing they have going for them is they don't delude themselves, and many find the directness appealing. I find i-banking gross and almost wholly useless, but, although they give lip service to platitudes about changing things, they don't pretend the salary isn't a big deal. Our society is messed up enough that we force nonprofits to plug all the holes our government agencies can't (or won't, in conservative states). And yeah, you shouldn't go into any such thing to become enormously wealthy, no. But there's a big giant gulf between mansions and the way nonprofit folks are compensated, and then the subterfuge and chicanery that tries to hide it until the last minute. (And of course, if you even ask about salary, you are labelled a Suppressive Person and may be tossed aside.)

As Kanye says, money ain't everything, but not having it is. And we shouldn't be making it so that committed, caring people aren't able to save for the future while, at the same time, trying to help people in need.

8. Fix yourself, nonprofits. I believe in you. We need you. But you gotta do better. Mission isn't everything, and sometimes, if you handle things poorly, it's basically nothing.


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Role Playing

We all live many stories in our lives. And often how we feel about ourselves is related to what we think we are. Are we go-getters? Are we ne'er-do-wells? Are we champions of industry, as my dad always wanted me to be (whether or not I wanted to)?

The easiest way to change the story you tell yourself is with concrete facts, evidence of achievement (or lack thereof). It's why I started running, although I didn't understand it at the time: because I wanted proof I could do something well.

I loved my school growing up, as it nurtured my creative side and my ebullience. But we didn't really get grades as such, and so, because humans are human, we found other ways to prove achievement. Eventually, I entered some contests and took APs and SATs and SAT2s and such, and of course everyone talked about their scores.

And then I got to college and people didn't really talk about their grades much - unless forced to take time off - so we sought other ways to achieve. I was mostly a middling student until I got to writing my longer papers my last two years. But even those didn't garner awards or honors, nor should they have (they weren't exceptional).

For really most of my first twenty years, inside of my head, the role I played was that of the "gifted but insignificant boy." It's why I acted out and was a bit of a class clown, and why I didn't work as hard as I should have. I don't think I actually was insignificant (or any more so than others), but it's the role I considered mine. 

And I wasn't comfortable inside of that cocoon. So when I got to new situations - a summer trip to France with an academic program, freshman year of college, and again in Korea - I, not particularly consciously but somewhat, decided I would be "sarcastic, brusque, life of the party guy." I still didn't fully consider myself attractive, mostly because I was short, but also, in retrospect, because I lacked social confidence and thus wasn't very good at speaking to new people without ten layers of sarcasm and jokes.

Eventually, though, since I was still not really comfortable in this persona, I started pushing people away. I started writing long facebook notes with the hope for intellectual connection, though mostly fell flat. I got more engaged in politics. I absolutely didn't really think towards the future career-wise as I mostly had a series of short-term jobs while I was in grad school, though in retrospect the career trajectory looks better than it felt at the time. But this was the time when I built - and I did it consciously - my "urban tribe" and fancied myself a bit of a social leader among the group. But because I had few concrete goals outside of this social stuff, "urban tribe leader and social planner" became the most important thing for me. It was all about the next event we had together. And we had a lot of short-term fun. And I finally did feel desired by peers and partners.

As that started to fizzle, and more important as I started to age, I searched for my new role. And I started racing. And racing gives you concrete goals and achievements that can never be undone unless you're Lance Armstrong. I started realizing what my particular talents were. To wit, I get things done and I'm a strong communicator. Everyone wants to be a leader and I'm not sure I'm there yet, not in my career or really anywhere else. So for now, I am finally comfortable with the role I am playing, with all of the authenicity I can. I'm an "achiever and communicator." I may yet be a true leader in a few years, as it will depend on the next steps. But instead of changing roles because I was uncomfortable or having roles thrust at me by the world around me, ideally all my future roles are ones I will choose from among the options at hand. It's fortunate to understand that I may have these choices going forward. I only hope I can remain this lucky, and that all those I care about can choose the roles that best suit them, too.


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

2017 Fall Marathon training week #4

Miles: 57, highest so far

Great week in a boring way.

Missed my paces on the bridge by only 2 seconds on Tuesday, then hit them on Thursday. A relatively cool week weather-wise helped, but this was the first time I hit my paces while also doing high mileage and theoretically being sore or tired. The other times I beat my bridge paces, I had either rested the day before or wasn't running as much. So that's a good sign.

My long run was great. I finally discovered the benefits of salt stick capsules. I wondered what the difference would be - would I just have a boost of energy and run faster? Well, no. What happened, slightly more than halfway through my run, my hamstrings started to cramp the way they did during my last two marathons, but then they just... stopped. I mean I was still tired by the end. But the cramping just subsided immediately. And now that I know cramping isn't inevitable, I can push a bit harder in the second half of long races. That's huge.

Next Saturday, first big test of the season, the five mile team championship race. Selfishly I'll admit I want to lead the team because I've been languishing in 3rd and 4th for races this year (aside from one 2nd place in my one great race this year). But mostly I want to feel strong and forceful like I haven't since last summer (again, aside from that one race in April).

I've got the mileage, and I've been doing my bridge/speed/hills work religiously. Aside from the weather, all that's in my way is simply running the race well, as I've trained away the 5 extra lbs I carried in the winter and spring, and I've done enough new stuff (yoga, massage, stretching) that I should have the right biomechanics to avoid bad habits. Plus the salt stick caps.

We'll see. We're in the thick of this now, with only 14 weeks to go until race day.


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality


I think that, for a lot of privileged folks, we are told we can do anything under the sun. And, at age ten, that's probably true.

We get to twenty-five, though, and some of us still harbor these fantasies. I know I did. And putting your head down and going through the steps to truly build a career seems like what everyone else is doing, and like something you can do better than. Just getting a job and excelling isn't sexy. Designing an app and selling it for millions, that's sexy. Starting a company and ending up on all the "30 under 30" lists, that's sexy. And if you don't do that, you're not doing what you should do, because you should be on an endless upward trajectory.

Who tells you what you should do? Maybe some friends, or maybe not. You probably hang out with people in a similar situation, and so it might not be your urban tribe (as they call it). But you hear about your classmates, you hear things from your parents, you watch the news about your Zuckerbergs, and you think just building things brick by brick isn't up to the standards of what you should be doing. But ultimately, this "should" can paralyze you.

If you have the ability and the opportunity, sure you absolutely should figure out the type of career that can make you happy. But should isn't a goal. Should is amorphous and unclear.

Just like anyone else, even the ones with much less privilege, we all need to think about our early careers as building lines on our resumes and obtaining glowing references. That doesn't mean we think only of that. And I'm sure that seems purely transactional. But it's the truth. When we do something professionally - or even a hobby or a volunteer opportunity - we must think if we can do it well, if we can do it in a way others will appreciate, and if, and only if we're lucky, we can do it in a way that's fulfilling.

Of course, my handful of readers are older than twenty-five, mostly. But hoo boy, trying to build a career from scratch after thirty is tough going, though not impossible. Eventually, we all have to forget about should and think about must.

Easier said than done, of course. But should will be the death of us. Find your excellence and use it to help you build concrete goals. And then knock them down one after the next.


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality


We talk about this a lot in education, but it covers several fields and frankly should be useful for anyone who ever has to talk to anyone for their work.

Just like anything else, educators have to be great at building rapport in a short period of time in order to achieve their goals.

I see a lot of advice for how to build rapport. Things like, "make sure you say everyone's name during the class." But this robotic advice only works if you make your students or audience feel like you genuinely care about their progress.

I suppose you don't have to actually care. I do, but I can't force you to care if you're coming off some sort of serious illness or family drama. But if you want people to find you interesting, what they need is to feel like you're interested.

Yes, to be perceived as interesting, you have to be perceived as interested.

There's a lot more to it than that, of course. Merely seeming interested doesn't mean you can teach a subject or win a vote.

But we sit here and bemoan people who support figures and ideas we don't agree with. It's not that complicated to say that, for complex reasons, people want to feel like they have a voice, and a person who can build rapport can make them feel that way. And if they're unethical, they can make them feel like they have a voice even if they absolutely don't, but that's a topic for another time.

I challenge all of you to develop your ability to create a rapport with people with whom you don't have much in common (because anyone can do it with their friends). You can be the smartest person in the world, but with zero emotional intelligence, you will achieve nothing, unless you truly have a career in which you never have to relate to others (day trading? I dunno).

And of course, even when you have developed these skills, there are still people you won't be able to reach, or days when you're not at your sharpest. The trick is to always keep learning how to connect, how to reach different groups.

Everyone is an acquired taste to some extent. Make yourself more accessible to more people, be able to build rapport in a snap, and it will carry you farther than you might think.


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality


We don't really like to talk about class in this country, or even this city. Yeah, there are sad stories about the rural poor, but for those of us here in and around NYC, it's always going to be at a remove.

Unlike suburbs and such, in the city, we're at least all aware of the truly poor. We try to ignore them but they're there, suffering publicly. And we go on with our lives unless we work with that population.

But aside from that group - an important group, just not what I'm writing about here - we still seek ways to separate ourselves from others in smaller ways. We just don't think about it in terms of "class," because it's not really about income.

First of all, we rarely know exactly how much other people are being paid. We can guess, but you can have a very similar job to someone but have a very different pay scale for many reasons. The fact is, I think because we don't actually know about salary, we seek to seem better than others in other, subtler ways.

Some construction workers, for example, make plenty of money. Roofers, electricians, plumbers, those folks were surely making a lot more money than I was when I was running an ESL department at a nonprofit. We tell ourselves we're open and kind to all, but a lot of us, we are sure we're above such work and the life we imagine they have. The Others, we think but don't say, they don't know anything about foreign cuisine, they don't know about independent movies, they've never been anywhere that wasn't a tourist trap. And I think the fact that they may have more money than us is part of this awful judgment we make, because we need a way not to be the worst.

A lot of us get upset at people in certain communities, working class whites who have plenty in common with working class people of color but are vocally racist. But no one wants to be the worst, so we create a strawman we can defeat, the same way those folks do. That doesn't justify it, but it makes some dumb human animal sense.

I mean, come on. Let's compare. Going tens of thousands of dollars into debt we can only barely hope to pay off in decades, are we truly the paragons of virtue we make ourselves out to be? Doing that means we're automatically smarter? Surrrre.

There's a third group, of course. The people who came out of school and hit it big fairly fast, like the handful of friends I have at Google and Facebook and Microsoft and JPMorgan etc. Maybe for them they have entirely different concerns and they're just out there buying boats. I don't know. A boat would be fun.

But ask yourself if you've ever told yourself you were "above" certain choices that would be perfectly solid for others. It's natural, this tendency to assign yourself sophistication that others lack. To think that your privileged experiences separate you from the chaff. I have certainly been there and am trying harder not to be, especially getting to know my students and colleagues at my current job. I make an effort to engage with tourists, fighting off my initial snap-judgment, even though I know it's still there.

I have written on this site before that I was "broke" for a section of my 20s, but the real way to describe it was that I spent all the money I had saved in Korea and, instead of getting my self together, continued to spend all my time and money on nights out and vacations I thought I deserved. I wanted the trappings of a sophisticated life without actually doing the work to earn it, probably because I was lonely and unfulfilled and sitting at home saving money like most other people would have had to do was sadder than I wanted it to be (and I had loud roomates, so being home wasn't super relaxing). And I guess I just assumed nothing catastrophic would occur. And I was lucky it didn't. I wrote all of this because it was a narrative I had told myself in order to avoid responsibility and guilt and shame.

I bring all that up because I think, unless I am woefully mistaken, that it's something a lot of us do. It's this arrested development pride face-saving thing. You get a Certain Type of education, you go on to do Great Things, which each of us defines differently but not THAT differently. And if you're not doing Great Things, at least you're not unsophisticated. But what use is sophistication if you can't actually support yourself or help support your family?

The calculus is different when you're single and not particularly close to having a spouse. It's real easy to live in the present when you don't know who will be around in the future, so I get it. I don't think the way I or others I knew lived their lives was bad, it's just important to recognize its temporary nature, which is a lot easier to do after it's over.

Ultimately, the only thing that's truly unsophisticated is being capable of supporting yourself but not exploring your options because it seems beneath your station or status or some such.

I remember, right before I got my last job, I took on a second job at night, tutoring people in ESL. I didn't stick with it once I got the nonprofit job, but I remember, one of the first times I went to see a client, and she lived on Central Park West. As I entered the building, I saw a longtime classmate (both high school and college) exit with her boyfriend at the time (husband now). I lied and said I was there "on business" (which wasn't entirely true, nor was it entirely untrue). But this woman was my age, and living on Central Park West, and hardly independently wealthy. It was definitely a "you put yourself in this damn position, Justin" moment, and there were a lot of those. The times I struggled to pay rent were entirely self-inflicted, and entirely based on a general assumption I'd be okay one way or the other, something most folks don't have.

Being born and raised lucky doesn't guarantee you a damn thing. It gives you opportunities most others lack, but for all intents and purpose, it's leading you, the horse, to water, and urging you to drink. To use another metaphor, it opens some doors instead of forcing you to break them down.

But you still have to take those extra steps yourself.

Again, this is not shaming anyone who is ill or something else. Please don't think of it that way. 

I just know, I would have stayed in a little circle of the same sort of job if I hadn't had a more grounded partner who thought I could do well at something outside the box. And I still have the little hero complex, the desire to do Great Things for my community. 

I write this only because I think a lot of people I know are "stuck" in the same way I once was. Too educated to consider XYZ but not educated or experienced enough to reach up and grab the brass ring.

I used to think I had all the time in the world, and then I was rapidly approaching 30 and knew that, if I happened to have a child, I would not have been able to give them a great life. I don't say this a lot, but it's the reason I refocused, to be a good father someday. Can you be a good parent without much money? Sure, though as I said at the start, you can be super educated and making peanuts. I am not sure how fair it is to your offspring to not try and make changes you are within your power to change, though.

And I think what stops a lot of us is the idea that we're too sophispicated for the type of hard choices we might have to make if we had different upbringings.

That's it, there, isn't it? The good fortune we had allows us to kick the can down the road and make the hard choices later than we would have been forced to. And it's quite a gift, this pause we get to have. But unless you hit the lottery or something of the sort, we're all going to have to make hard choices at some point. And I hope more of us can get over our pride and self-image.

Easier said than done. And maybe it's only my own warped mind that ever thought any of this.

But maybe it resonates with someone reading this. 


That's the hope, as ever.


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

2017 Fall Marathon training week #3

Miles: 53

Nothing much to report this week. I was just off my pace on Tuesday, farther off on Thurs due to the weather, and then felt strong for both long runs this weekend, the 3rd weekend in a row with back to back double digit runs (which will happen again next week).

I have no idea how ready I am or am not for the 5 mile race in 13 days. I want to crush it, and lead the team. I haven't run a race I was happy with since early April, and only three of my eight races this year have left me satisfied. 

What happened in the March and early April races was I had been putting in serious miles and so I was able to put it together. I'm doing that again now, plus far more work on hills than I did this winter, when I only did bridge work every few weeks for some reason.

I should - should - be much more prepared this time. We'll see.


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality


I really hate jargon. I do.

I don't hate large words, of course. I am not the President.

But I hate language that is used primarily to signify membership in an in-group.

I don't mean that every industry term is useless. Certain things deserve labels. A scientist studying an animal needs to classify it according to its Latin name. A lawyer needs to refer to an accurate statute.

But if what you are saying is intended for a broader audience and it is resolutely cerebral and inaccessible, it is of no use. None.

This is one thing I learned from teaching in Korea. I had a lot of colleagues who, faced with the challenge of making themselves understood, would start shouting in pidgin English. "Teacher go home now" and nonsense like that. It's the same thing that Trump's lack of vocabulary does. It dumbs down the discourse.

On the other hand, we all known there's a virulent strain of anti-intellectualism out there. Mostly nonsense, but I do have to admit that most people, even brilliant people, don't have the dexterity or will to change the way they discuss their own field so that others can understand it.

I'm an educator. I spend a lot of time talking about education with educators. And I don't think any educators are going to be truly impactful if they can't take their industry-speak and translate it into laymen's terms.

There is a value to laymen's terms. If what you are doing or saying can't be transformed into a digestible explanation, it is probably needlessly convoluted. Or perhaps you haven't figured out how to summarize it effectively.

Mind you, if you read this and other posts, I certainly don't skimp on the vocabulary. But there's a reason peple used to denigrate words like 'denigrate' as 'SAT words,' words people only memorized for a test only to never use them again.

Back to Korea. I don't know what I did consciously. I know that I heard many of my friends were speaking in pidgin English and I thought about how to make myself understood. Teachers (or anyone who speaks to an audience) want to be compelling, for sure, but you can't be compelling if you aren't understood. If you aren't understood, you might still be compelling to a small group of people, the people who are just fascinated by trying to crack complex issues. So you'll have adoring fans. I've had these before in class. But I realized, when I wasn't very well understood, that I needed to broaden myself and my message.

I'll always score most of my points through my zeal in the classroom (or on stage, or on a panel). I am almost embarrassingly earnest, much as I want to imagine I'm smooth or slick. I give off the impression that I'm competent and prepared and that I care about what I'm saying and that I'm not hiding behind any sort of pretense. I believe, truly, that that goes much farther than trying to impress people. In fact, I think trying to reach people ends up being far more impressive than trying to impress them, if that makes sense. In fact, I think the contrast between my somewhat polished look and my sincerity is its own strength. I wonder.

This isn't always true in my personal life. I still get anxious and worry I'm not impressive enough to people close to me. I know I do well at work these days so I'm not so worried in my career.

You can come off as very sharp without trying to show off. As I finally get to a place where my achievements can speak for themselves, it's worth remembering that connecting with a class or an audience without jargon is far more valuable and effective than trying to bowl people over.

Honestly, when I (and you!) find a way to relax and demonstrate true skill, the rest comes along behind it.

Leave the jargon in the books where you heard about it. It has its place there. Talk to everyone else like they're people instead of talent scouts.


That's all.


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality