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Brand Advocacy: Conflict, Relationships and Resolutions

One thing that I’ve learned along the way in my career is that there is nothing more important than the relationships that we build. I’ve been fortunate to have made quite a few strong ones along the way through my affiliation with SMART…even before I joined the SMART exemplary educator community.

What most people find odd about the event that led to my first brand advocacy post…was actually normal because when one has a strong relationship…there is an understood comfort in being exceptionally honest. We need more of that.

While I was basking in the glow of a great “moment”, and rightfully so, I didn’t want to hear anything beyond the positive. I wanted to be just as proud of me as my family was and any communication beyond that pride would not…could not be taken in any way but negative.

So, when I got the call that in essence brought me back to earth, I wanted to hear what I wanted to hear. I didn’t want to hear the truth about sponsored events…that even without a mention of product…there is ALWAYS an undertone and purpose of “product”. I didn’t want to hear that a “5-minute” talk is never really just a “5-minute” talk but one that lives on repeatedly through video playback. I didn’t want to hear the business side of edtech while I was focusing on the passion of who I am…an educator. The reality of what we do is that there is ALWAYS a corporate drawback and in this moment, my “unofficial mentor” was mentoring yet again…by showing me the parts that I did not want to see. The thing is…I needed to see.

The relationship that I have with SMART extends well beyond boards and software. For me, it was and is about people. My path into edtech began with SMART as I sat in a training, not listening…exploring on my own. I was more enamored with the speaker, herself because she was fantastic and I wanted to do that too. Over the years, that same person mentored me through trainings, made sure that my name was on the lips of conference planners and also made sure that I was in the path of any opportunities that would fit my goals…in and out of SMART. When I decided to leave the classroom, it was her that I consulted and she said…knowing that the school I was entering was void of any technology…”follow your heart”…and so I did.

I am a SMART Exemplary educator and voice in our SEE community. I’m heading to Canada this summer where I will, no doubt, be under NDA with SMART. I could not, in good faith, accept a trip to ISTE funded by SMART’s biggest competitor. That’s just odd.

What I learned in all of this drama is that relationships lend themselves to understanding when caring parties can sit down to listen. The fact of the matter is that my being in that space Saturday was bigger than the story that I was sharing. I looked at a list of panelist and saw a panel of educators that I have great respect for…while missing something that fuels me from deep within…diversity. So, of course I wanted to be at that event. I NEEDED to be at that event and I’m still proud that I did it.

Thankfully, the people at SMART heard me too. So, while I will NOT be at ISTE under the umbrella of a SMART competitor, I will be there…but with a group that I have a relationship with…SMART.

SMART’s message to me was “We believe you and want to support your goals”.

It wouldn’t be SMART to not let them.

When you have a relationship that extends beyond product…those words matter more than anything.

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