Thursday, September 1, 2016

My last blog post

Over three years ago I launched Figment Consulting with the plan to right the virtual school ship. Since then I have had some wonderful opportunities to work with some school leaders who are truly working to build virtual schools that work -- for families.

It renewed my hope in what virtual could be, and should be.

However, over the past three years, I have also had the opportunity to expand the role of Figment and branch out beyond the confines of education. In doing so it allowed me, and us at Figment, to play in fields that produce inspiring work.

Most recently we helped launch former American Idol Terrian's music career with her debut single, 'I Am Free.' And, we continue to work with her, guiding her as she moves into her next stages beyond the launch.

Also, we have had the pleasure of working with Disney Master Artist, and celebrity artist, Kevin-John. He is an amazing talent and a wonderful personality. Currently, we are working to expand his brand in new and exciting ways that could propel him far down the path of celebrity over the next few years.

We have also had the pleasure of one-off efforts with some unique talent in a variety of fields, fields that lend themselves to producing good (not just good work, but good overall). To say it has been fun would be an understatement.

But, what to do with my passion for virtual schooling? What should I do with my desire to help schools build virtual schools that serve families -- I still recall the tens of thousands of families I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking with over the years. And recently I have been able to present my message from Pennsylvania to British Columbia.

However, I thought about leaving it all behind, and I was close to doing just that. In the end, though, after months of contemplating, soul-searching, and planning, I have decided to let Figment continue to evolve down the path it is headed -- talent management, marketing consulting, sales training, SEO, design, and simply producing great, fun work. In other words, putting good in the world.

With that decision, I then turned my attention to continuing the effort to help virtual schools. In essence, I am splitting the two, separating them. Moving forward Figment will concentrate on marketing, sales, and talent management, with me continuing to lead the charge.

I will also be launching a new endeavor that will allow me to continue working to expand the message of what virtual schools need to succeed. It will continue to be based on my Virtual School Manifesto: Nine Essential Ingredients. 

It will allow me to produce material, further conduct seminars, training, and speaking engagements focused on virtual schooling, but it will be separate from Figment. Soon I will launch it under my own name, Houston Tucker.

So, while this is my last blog post at Figment, I am not leaving (Figment will be taking over this blog). I care too much about the work we are doing at Figment to let it go. However, I also care about helping virtual schools serve families the way they deserve to be served.

Thank you, readers. Over the years it has grown from my family reading my blog posts (mostly because I asked them to) to hundreds and thousands reading it daily.

Stay tuned. More to come from Figment and me.

Friday, August 26, 2016

One Little Spark: One customer's response makes all the difference to one mom

So much of what we read these days is negative, with a capital NEGATIVE. Add in a presidential race and the negativity seems to escalate.

In hopes of offering something different, I wanted to share this with you. It is a story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from Aisha Sultan.

In this story, you will see how one customer's response made all the difference in the world to a mom with a high-functioning autistic child. It gives us all something to think about and my hope is it encourages each of us to proactively look for ways to bring a little spark of encouragement to someone this weekend.

Monday, August 22, 2016

92% benefit academically, according to K12

The press releases sent out by K12 look impressive: 92% of parents in Utah Virtual Academies agree they benefited academically

It is even conducted by Edge Research, so it must be impressive. I mean, 92% is an overwhelming percentage in agreement. And, we all want kids to 'benefit academically.'

Take a closer look at the survey and the results begin to unravel. Let's look at the details:

1. 92% is actually based on the number of parents who responded to the survey, and not an overall percentage of families. That means the survey was conducted as a response survey. This typically means you will receive biased results because it is not representative of the overall population but rather dependent upon the response of the participants of their own volition.

2. According to the survey, to achieve a 100% response rate, the UTVA survey should have received 1,510 responses -- that is how many parents there are in the UTVA database of families.

3. How many responded? 1,000? 800? 500? -- actually, only 142 parents responded -- that equates to a 9% response rate. You read that correctly, only 9% of the potential population base responded.

4. A more accurate assessment would be 92% of the 9% of parents who responded agreed their children benefited academically from the curriculum (130 of the 142). 91% of parents in UTVA did not respond to the survey.

5. This means the headline of the press release is, at best, inaccurate. At worst, well, I will leave that one alone.

What does this mean overall? K12 is working hard to write a story, and they hope you only read the headlines.

It's time to stop blurring the truth. It's time to spend less time on press releases, and more time on crafting a story worth writing that leads to one worth sharing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I Am Free

'I Am Free' is the debut song of former American Idol contestant Terrian Bass. It is a beautiful song from a wonderful young lady whose story is an inspiring one.

We here at Figment were proud to be part of Team Terrian and the launch of her musical career. And while the story we have to share with her continues, the beginning of the journey was a huge success.

We invite you to visit her re-imagined website, download her debut song for free, and become a part of her story.

Figment handled:

* Website re-imagining
* Marketing strategy and development
* Public relations
* Lyric video development
* Social media strategy
* Overall messaging strategy

At the end of the day though, her success is due to the beauty of her song, and the message it holds.

Thanks Terrian for allowing us to play a small role.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Walk the thought

I know, it is supposed to be walk the talk.

But, we can deceive ourselves and others by saying one thing -- something that sounds so wonderful -- yet not actually doing it.

However, when it comes to walking the thought, well that is absolutely what we do each day, whether we believe it or not, like it or not.

Whatever we believe about ourselves manifests before us. Whatever stories we tell ourselves show themselves in our lives. Whatever thoughts dominate our minds display themselves in our daily walk.

If you desire to change your walk, don't start with your talk. Instead, begin with your thoughts.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How much is a piece of tape worth?

If you stop at Target, you can pick up a roll of Duct Tape for around $6-$8 plus tax.

Measure about a 6 inch length and cut it off.

Then, tape it across your mouth, and it becomes priceless.

Can you see the ordinary in extraordinary ways? If you do, you have the potential of creating something magical.

Figment Consulting looks for the extraordinary in the ordinary, bringing out fresh ideas that stick.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Can we stop putting the student in the center of it all?

After 16 years of "putting the student in the middle," "surrounding the student with excellent resources," and "making the student our number one priority," the results have demonstrated that virtual schools got it wrong.

So, let's remove the student from the center of the virtual learning universe. Let's quit surrounding the student with the latest technology and academic fads expecting them to latch onto it and thrive. And, by all means, cut the word "individualized" out of the virtual school vocabulary.

How much more data do you need before you understand the current model simply won't work.

"It works for some," will be the retort. Then, serve the some and not the many.

Better yet, radically alter the model. Redefine the possibilities. Start from scratch and build with completely different blueprints.

Where to start?

Start by placing the teacher and student relationship at the middle. Let it be your foundation to build on.

Figment Consulting offers sales & marketing training, executive coaching, and consulting services that offer our clients effective ways of increasing revenue and decreasing costs.