Today, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Gary Gil. Gary Gil is the Founder & CEO of Podclass.com, a new website that allows you to teach online courses on any subject, share information, collaborate and learn from other experts. Gary is also a great networker (as I met him through Facebook) and an overall nice guy to talk to. He put a lot of effort into this lengthy interview but you will really benefit from his expertise and his social networking website. Don’t we wish all teachers we grew up with would be as inspiring as Gary.
Me: Why brand yourself as a teacher?
Gary Gil: When a person brands himself or herself as a teacher or instructor, there is an immediate and automatic boost to his or her credibility. Why? Because in most cultures, the label “teacher” or “instructor” is associated with knowledge, trust and respect. In our culture, we automatically associate teachers as being smart, knowledgeable, trustworthy and credible.
It’s like being a published author. If you are a published author, you automatically have more credibility in your field compared to someone who is not, irrespective of the quality of your published book. The fact that you ARE a published author, the public perceives you as being more trustworthy, knowledgeable and credible. Branding yourself as a teacher gives you the same kind of automatic boost to your credibility and reputation. This is why many famous people including NY Times best-selling authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Jim Collins, Chris Anderson, Tim Ferriss all identify themselves as teachers, instructors or lecturers and often print this badge of honor on their bios.
Me: Does Podclass allow everyone to become a professional instructor?
Gary Gil: No. I wouldn’t say teaching a course in Podclass instantly elevates you to the level of a professional instructor. I would say that Podclass enables people, anyone with expertise, to teach and share their expertise with others and earn money for teaching it. Technology has and continues to enable ordinary people to uncover extraordinary talents and abilities they have. If you look at the proliferation of amateur videos, music CDs, literary works, news-casts and the like, you quickly realize that our society has extraordinarily talented people, both young and old. Large companies (like Doritos for example) are beginning to tap amateur talent for their own TV commercials.
But what about the millions of talented people who don’t get recognition by having their home-made creation picked up by a Fortune 500 company? Those individuals can now teach their talent and expertise to others through Podclass, earn income, and gain the recognition and credibility associated with being a teacher or instructor. And what most people don’t realize is, it is very easy to teach a course in Podclass. It less than 5 minutes, a course can be listed in our directory and content can be added at any time in the future.
The message we want to send to the world is that all of us are experts at something, and technology continues to foster that expertise. And Podclass enables people to teach and share their expertise with others.
Me: What are the benefits of holding these sessions?
Gary Gil: There are many benefits of teaching a course in Podclass, but I would say the most significant benefit of teaching a course in Podclass is the ability to build a community of like-minded students who share an interest in you and what you teach. In addition to the obvious benefit of earning income from the sales of the course, the instructor is in a position of leadership, trust and credibility with his or her students.
Teaching a course in Podclass is like being a public speaker in a virtual environment. A public speaker can have an audience of hundreds or thousands of people sitting in a room or stadium who are gathered together to hear the speaker speak. The speaker has a captive audience. The speaker is the respected leader and the audience are the students. In Podclass, your course becomes a virtual community of like-minded individuals who have signed up for your course to learn from you. There are forums, a Wiki and a chat system where students can interact with the instructor or among themselves. The instructor can create assignments for the students or create questionnaires to engage students.
Another benefit of teaching a course in Podclass is it allows you to learn new things. That’s right, when you teach, you learn. So offering a course in Podclass challenges you to learn your material enough to teach it and respond to questions from students.
So to quickly summarize the benefits of teaching a course in Podclass, I would say that Podclass enables you to get paid for your knowledge, positions you as an expert and showcases your talent to the world, boosts your credibility as a respected expert in your field, enables you to build a virtual community of “fans” who are gathered together “virtually” to learn from you, and it allows you to sharpen your saw, intellectually.
Me: Why do you feel it’s important to share your learnings and expertise with the world?
Gary Gil: There are only two ways we can learn: 1) From our own experience, and 2) From the experience of others. The only way we can learn from the experience of others is if people pass on their knowledge to us, enhancing and enriching our own experience. Sure, we can study the results of famous people, read biographies and interviews of certain people to try to uncover “clues” about how they think (observational learning). This is an example of learning from our own experience, and is just one of the ways we learn. If we could take a class directly from an expert in a particular field, learning takes place at a much higher level because we then learn from both our own experience and the experience of the teacher.
Most people have so much knowledge locked up in their heads and the only way for it to impact others is to share and teach that knowledge. I’m not suggesting that everyone share their proprietary or competitive business ideas, per say. I’m suggesting that knowledge shared is a priceless gift a person can offer to others.
On a more pragmatic level, when you teach a course, you learn the material at a much higher level. I touched on this earlier, but when you are in a position of being the instructor, you are forced to know your material in an articulate, eloquent, intelligent and organized manner. The ultimate level of knowledge is erudition and elocution, that is, having profound knowledge and having the ability to speak publicly about it. Teaching a course, whether in a formal classroom environment, on stage as a lecturer or through an online course in Podclass, forces you to know your material at this ultimate level.
Me: What made you want to start this site and how does it portray your brand?
Gary Gil: I have always believed that technology will not only enhance life, but transform certain aspects of our lives. In January 2005, I set out a personal goal to start a new technology company that would impact society in a lasting way. The entire year, I observed trends in technology and tried to identify emerging technologies that I felt would fundamentally shift some aspect of our society.
Then in October of 2005, I began to take notice of the raising popularity of podcasting. I have to admit, at first I didn’t quite get what all the hoopla was about. But as I spent more time thinking about podcasting and how it might impact society, I was struck with how this technology would impact education. In fact, I became convinced that educators and students would ultimately be the greatest beneficiaries of podcasting. I consider myself a life-long learner, and the idea that a technology such as podcasting could transform my ability to learn (and teach) was very exciting. So I acquired the domain name of Podclass.com and began by journey of building the first online marketplace for the buying and selling of knowledge in the form of online courses and educational podcasting. The business model changed once along the way, but after over 2 years of development, we finally created Podclass.com.
Podclass is a platform that enables people to teach and learn. I position myself as an expert in enabling people to achieve their goals. Admittedly, I haven’t spent as much time branding myself as I should. I’ve always tried to let the products and services that I create be a reflection of who I am. And Podclass is no different. Podclass is a reflection of my personal dream to revolutionize teaching and learning and enable every person with a talent to teach and share their knowledge and expertise with a worldwide audience, and enable learners across the globe to learn about any subject through Podclass.