Episode 40 – Marc discusses the pivot that took him to an inner-city high school, and how he decided that his career pivot was not yet over.
Marc discusses his career changes and the traumatic events and job conditions that led him to resign, and turn to teaching high school. That pivot taught him a number of things, most of which were different than what he had convinced himself about his motivation. He explains how he got into teaching, how it changed him, and how he got out of it.
Listen in for a look at a career pivot that turned South quickly, and caused a major rethinking of a life.
[2:37] Marc begins his story of going from high-tech training to teaching high school math in the inner city, and why he returned after 18 months. Marc was very successful but seduced himself into thinking he was something he was not.
[2:56] In 1990, while working for IBM, Marc moved to a technology transfer group, to prepare for selling a leading-edge product, by developing curriculum, and delivering it to over 1,000 salespeople and sales engineers. Marc did that for three years and was really good at it. He spent the rest of the decade presenting.
[3:36] Marc had transformed himself from being an introvert to appearing to be an extrovert. In the late 1990s, IBM started layoffs. After a bad pension deal, Marc left in 2000 to be a trainer for a startup. He developed curriculum, had a small team, and taught leading-edge router and communication companies how to use a network chip.
[4:26] The team developed very sophisticated curriculum and taught the class about twice a month. Marc spent much more time preparing than he did delivering. He is a much better curriculum developer than a presenter. After the dot-com boom, he flew to Asia regularly to meet with manufacturers.
[5:28] On July 11, 2002, Marc was riding with his bicycle club on a difficult route. Going at 25 mph downhill, around a blind turn, Marc found himself slamming head-on into a ‘96 Toyota Corolla. His body and bicycle totalled the car. Marc was taken to the emergency room. He spent five days in the trauma center with various injuries.
[6:30] Marc was walking on crutches in three days, and back on a bicycle in 10 weeks, and flying back to China in four months, right into the SARS epidemic. Marc wondered what he was doing! The company was bought, and his stock options were worthless, but he received six-figure retention bonuses, and paid off his house and debts.
[7:26] Marc decided he would teach high school math. This was his MSU moment. In 2003 the company was laying off, and Marc was pursuing teaching certifications. He went for the alternative certification for teaching, and saw several signs he didn’t quite fit the mold of the ideal candidate, but he proceeded.
[10:29] He took the THEA test in English, and had to write a 600-word essay in pencil and paper. He hadn’t written with pencil in 25 years. While he was going for his certification, Marc volunteered to take a layoff, and got a severance. Then he got his rejection letter from Region 13 of the Texas Higher Education Assessment.
[11:08] Marc wondered what next. He saw Austin Community College was launching an alternative certification program. Marc applied and was accepted. The programs was of low quality, and didn’t prepare him to teach math. He took the test anyway, and passed.
Then he, and other men over 40 with the certification, found they couldn’t get interviews.
[12:56] The schools didn’t want guys over 40 because they don’t do what they’re told. However, one week before school started, an opportunity came up at Akins High School, and he applied and was hired. His five-day new teacher orientation was useless. For a week he couldn’t access the attendance system.
[14:13] Marc was assigned two sections of Algebra 2 and three sections of Algebra 1. That put him ‘on stage’ for 25 hours a week, which was exhausting. As a first-year teacher, every lesson was new to him, so he spent hours prepping. By Thanksgiving his morale was low. Marc found out, he does not get his energy from being ‘on.’
[15:46] Marc got lesson plans for Algebra 1 from the lead teacher, and that helped. Algebra 2 lesson plans were harder. He borrowed from another teacher, staying two days behind her. Then, he was challenged by students that were nothing like him, by background culture, or financial class. Most were poor, and many had probation officers.
[17:49] Marc had never dealt with a culture of poverty. He finished his first year exhausted. He had about 100 people that he emailed every week about the classes, and one student, Julio, who was a hard worker. People wrote him back like a fan club.
[20:01] Marc spent the summer preparing for the next year, with about 10 weeks of lesson plans. When the year started, he got in and got going, with five sections of Algebra 2. Marc has a lot of stories, but the year was really sad. Grace was pregnant, kicked out of her home, and her baby was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.
[20:56] Marc went downhill fast. Once the time changed in October, it got worse for him. He discovered that being ‘on’ just wore him out. He’s not an extrovert, and he doesn’t get energy from presenting. He was really struggling, and moderately depressed. He turned in his resignation in early December, for the end of the semester.
[22:02] The school accepted his resignation. By the way, the first year, all but one of his junior students passed their exit TAKS test in one or two tries. The school average was 30%. No one noticed.
[22:50] Marc has learned by reflecting back and realizing how much he had conned himself into believing he was something he was not. It took six months after leaving teaching for Marc to feel normal again, it so wore him out.
[23:14] How are you really different than what you think you are? Marc is a closet introvert. He was a very shy kid. Seeing him on stage, it does not show. He will be on, on stage, then walk off and collapse, almost exhausted. Who Marc is, is not what he appears. Think about that for yourself.
[24:07] Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. In 2016 Marc wrote a post, “What Skills Will You Use in the Second Half of Life?” Read that post to consider what skills you want to carry forward, and, more importantly, what skills do you want to leave behind?
[24:38] Please pick up a copy of Marc’s book, and write an honest review on Amazon.com. He is working on the audio version next. Marc is also working on the Career Pivot Community membership website. Watch for updates in the coming months.
Mentioned in This Episode:
Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life, by Marc Miller and Susan Lahey The paperback and e-book formats are available now. Marc is recording the audio version of the book, and he plans to have it available in September 2017.
Marc is taking on new clients. Contact Marc, and ask questions at Careerpivot.com/contact-me or call at 512-693-9132, and leave a message with your email address. Marc will respond with a link to his calendar, to find a time to talk.
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