Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'Genuinely Hip Professor' Metaphor

Some professors are mediocre and some are good. Some are rather great. After a bit of thought on what makes a good professor great, I came up with three traits: (1) Contemporary, (2) Smart, and (3) Accommodating.

Because my thoughts so often veer towards marketing, I've developed the 'Genuinely Hip Professor' Metaphor. Any company that caters itself to the college-aged target market should think about these principles. Students in the 18-25 year old range can relate to the metaphor because most have dealt with the good and bad of professors.

Update: The professor in this illustration is Doug McKinlay, a former ad agency founder and owner. He exemplifies all the characteristics of a good professor. In the advertising program he is considered the King of Creativity.

First, let's analyze a bad professor. Usually bad professors don't care much about their students and they don't make many efforts to appear as if they care. In other words, 'accommodating' is not in their vocabulary. They see teaching as a 9-5 job and they rarely offer help sessions, office hours, or even in-class discussion or questions. Granted, I understand the difficulty some professors have in catering to all their students in large classes. Nevertheless, the good professors still find ways to accommodate students in the 300+ class sizes.

Bad professors are boring. They don't make efforts to teach in ways that spurn creativity and remembrance. These professors can often be worse than textbooks--because with a text book, one can at least read at one's own pace. These professors are also old-fashioned, often stuck on old-school teaching methods with old-school technology. These professors rarely relate to their students.

Students love great professors. Just take a look at As I come to the close of my undergraduate education, I can remember some of the thoughtful professors I've had. These professors exhibit all three traits.

If you're marketing your products to students, I'd keep in mind these traits. Here are a few questions you might want to ask:

"They relate to me." 
"I relate to [your] brand."
Do you relate to your consumer? Can they relate to you?

"I trust their knowledge about [your] industry."
Are you smart enough about your industry that your consumers can trust your services/products?
Does your consumer know that you have a wealth of knowledge/information about the industry?

"They care about me."
Do you care about your consumer? Do you show that you care?

I don't want to get into the LCV (lifetime customer value) factor, but if you really think LCV is important, you might want to measure yourself in these areas.

Update - Here are a some great professors I've had throughout my BYU education: Jaren Hinckley, Susan Eliason, Gary Hansen, Cindy Brewer, Hans-Wilhelm Kelling, Matt Holland, Arden Pope, Brent Strong, and Doug McKinlay

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Influences of Roger Williams on Thomas Jefferson

Although he is not predominantly famed, Roger Williams can readily be considered the man who innovated the great disconnect between the state and the church. Jefferson and Madison are the American founders who receive the greatest credit for a strict separation of church and state in the new US government, however, their contributions were not necessarily original. Williams initiated a “cause of conscience” (1867, p. 3) that has permeated American hearts since his time. It is the object of this work to show Williams’ indirect influence on the writings of Thomas Jefferson.

It is quite obvious that Jefferson was deeply religious over at least one moral particular—namely that “all men are created equal” (Declaration of Independence, ¶2). Thus his views on the church involvement in government were reflected to promote religious freedom. One of his most famous letters on the subject is his reply to Danbury Baptists at the beginning of his administration. He said that the Establishment Clause in the first amendment of the Constitution (an amendment developed by Madison), effectively built “a wall of eternal separation between Church & State” (1802). The origination of this metaphor actually emerges from Roger Williams over a century earlier.

Williams came to America after witnessing persecution against his own teacher by the Church of England. Upon arriving in the Massachusetts Bay colony Williams was accepted as assistant Pastor in the Puritan church in Salem. It was a good step and an open environment for Williams to affect change among a somewhat intolerant religious community.

Although the Puritans and Separatists had deserted to America on the grounds of religious freedom they still had not purged themselves of inherited religious culture and ideals of the European faiths. Government and religion were deeply connected in Britain and Europe. For centuries, kings ruled over England claiming divine royal leadership. The Puritans, seeking for religious tolerance, came to America to merely “purify” the Church of England. Although they claimed a disconnection between state government and the church, there were still highly religious ideals that affected the community and certain legislative measures that affected the church. For example, all citizens were required to attend church and pay taxes that benefited the church. Government officials were to make oaths with God concerning their office. These close connections between government and religion were a few of the items that Williams found it his duty to preach against. Consequently, it was local legislation that banished Pastor Williams from the community.

Roger Williams can be conveniently considered “a nonconformist in a land of nonconformists” (Moore, 1965, pp. 58-59). Competing with the Puritan John Cotton on a principle of free conscience, Williams wrote some influential papers that almost mirror writings of Locke, Madison and, most importantly, Jefferson. It was in “Mr. Cotton's Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered” that Williams penned the original metaphor of a wall of separation:

And that when they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the candlestick, and made his garden a wilderness. (Levy, 1986, p. 184)

Historians speculate on the different meanings that Jefferson and Williams had intended to portray with the metaphor. Both men called for a wall to protect both the state from the church as well as the church from the state. Williams noticed, in the Puritan community, the danger of a church imposing legislation among citizens, yet he was more concerned with a government that imposed upon the church. Jefferson was concerned with the danger of a church imposing on the government. This is where Jefferson and Williams differed about the metaphor. For example, Jefferson was strictly against any religious national holiday, whereas Williams, being highly religious, was hypocritical in his intolerance of the “unorthodox” practices of the Quakers that had settled in Providence.

Despite these differences, the writings of Jefferson and Williams are deeply similar. Jefferson, in his letter to the Baptists noted that “religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship” (1802). Similarly, Williams stated that “man hath not power to make laws to bind conscience” (1867). Roger Williams also employed Jefferson’s ideal that “the legitimate powers of government reach actions only and not opinions” (1802). Williams did not enforce obedience to the first four laws of the Ten Commandments or “the first table” (Moore, 1965, p. 62). These were commandments such as devotion and worship that dealt with personal opinions. Conversely, the “second table” of commandments that dealt with criminal actions such as stealing or committing adultery were enforced (Moore, 1965, p. 62-63).

Notwithstanding the many similarities between the two men, scholars agree that Jefferson was most likely not familiar with the writings of Roger Williams. At the time of the American founding in the late 1700’s, the name Roger Williams was not well-liked. He was remembered as an individual who was a radical that had personally defied the Puritan colony. Isaac Backus, one of the leading Baptist supporters of religious freedom, wrote an entire work that nearly copied the ideas of Williams; the work, however, never fully credited Williams (Moore, 1965, pp. 70-71). William Miller wrote, “The crotchety, disorganized, and insistently Christian writings of Roger Williams were not the sort of thing Thomas Jefferson was likely to read, but John Locke clearly had read them” (1985, p. 173). It is also known that Jefferson clearly read Locke’s writings on the natural rights of man.

Just six years after Williams’ death, John Locke published “A Letter Concerning Toleration” (1689). The letter is full of text that follows the ideals that Roger Williams had left behind. The subject of a free conscience was modeled by Locke: “Men cannot be forced to be saved whether they will or no. And therefore, when all is done, they must be left to their own consciences” (1689, ¶41). Locke argued for the natural rights of man. He explains in much detail the dangerous consequences of a government such as Massachusetts and those in Britain that infringed upon the natural rights of worship. He was right on with Williams. Nevertheless, there are some differences in the voice of the two men. Williams wrote from a religious viewpoint rather than political one. Locke wrote to a political audience that was not as inclined towards faith as was Williams’ audience. Leroy Miller designates Williams’ philosophy as “Let God be God!” while Locke’s as “Make way for Man!” (1965, p. 66).

Williams held two distinct roles. While (1) seeking to preach salvation, he acted as a religious leader. While (2) opting for religious liberty, he acted as a political leader. The roles were very different and the fact that he played both of them is ironic, seeing that his ideal world was a separation between the political and the religious. His motives were ultimately religious. Brilliance led him to discover that his preaching of salvation was in vain if religious liberty was not realized. He asked “Can the sword of steel or arme of flesh make men faithful or loyal to God? Faith proceeds alone from the Father of Lights.” (Moore, 1965, p. 64).

Jefferson may not have realized the importance that Roger Williams played on the early colonization of America. Jefferson also may not have known that his readings of John Locke were filled with the ideals of Williams. However, Jefferson did know that the spirit of America—liberty—was to be protected with all measures even if it meant erecting a “wall of separation” between church and state. The act of building this wall had already been started over 100 years earlier, brick by brick, by the revolutionary, Roger Williams.

Davis, D.H. (1999). The enduring legacy of Roger Williams: consulting America's first separationist on today's pressing church-state controversies. Journal of Church & State, 41(2) 201-213. Retrieved March 24, 2007, from

Jefferson, T. (1802). Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists: The draft and recently discovered text. Retrieved March 26, 2007, from

Levy, L.W. (1986). The establishment clause: Religion and the first amendment. New York:Macmillan Publishing Co.

Locke, J. (1689). A letter concerning toleration. (W. Popple, Trans.). Retrieved March 28, 2007, from

Miller, W.L. (1985). The first liberty: religion and the American Republic. New York:Knopf.

Moore L. (1965). Religious liberty: Roger Williams and revolutionary era. Church History, 34(1), 57-76. Retrieved March 26, 2007, from JSTOR database.

Williams, R., & Caldwell, S.L. (1867). The bloudy tenent of persecution. Publications of the Narragansett Club. (p. 3) Providence, RI:Stanford University Retrieved March 28, 2007, from

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Glamour and the Famine Mystique

I have seen monumental suffering housed in women's bodies. I have seen teenage girls watch their mothers starve, deny and hate themselves, call their distorted ideas about food "will power." I have seen these mothers teach this language to their daughters, usually unintentionally. I have seen vomit in toilets across America. . . I have seen the smartest college students in the world spend the majority of their days thinking about calories. I have seen shame, loads and loads of it, piled so high that women climb on top and reign there.

-Courtney E. Martin, The Famine Mystique

GlamourGlamour plays a pretentious role in the famine mystique. At first glance, the website displays perpetuations of the mystique by including the most important features in the navigation links: fashion; beauty; sex, love & life; weddings; health & fitness; body by Glamour. None of these words actually signify the quest for true depth and meaning in womanhood. The title of the publication, Glamour, stands next to words like allurement, animal magnetism, beauty, and attraction.

Innately, humans strive for betterment. As Martin noted, media have defined “betterment” in such unrealistic terms that “you feel bad.”  Glamour is no exception. Some of the headlines read “Model Beauty Tricks We All Should Know” and “50 Most Glamorous Women of 2010.” These headlines might support a woman’s notion that she isn’t up to speed on her image if she doesn’t know some beauty tricks and stars. Furthermore, blog headlines like “For $2,000, These Jeans Better Lose Five Pounds For Me” only relate the fact that thinness should be highly important as it seems to be the main purpose for spending $2,000 on a pair of jeans.

But how does Glamour actually make one feel bad? And, is feeling bad necessarily a bad thing? Scripture passages can definitely make one feel bad, especially if one isn’t living up to the standard. Quoting “love one another” after being cut-off by a crazy driver doesn’t always calm the nerves. Motivational books can also make people feel bad if they aren’t following the positive principles contained therein.

However, feeling bad is necessary for one to change. That’s why your conscience is so good at it—as well as media and advertising. If you feel bad about your image, you might try a new diet pill or go to the gym. You also might pick up a copy of Glamour, hoping to find the latest tips to make yourself become more attractive. Advertisers love to make people feel bad in hopes of increased sales.

But if feeling bad is a natural motive for change, why does Martin condemn magazines like Glamour and Cosmopolitan? Perhaps, it is the end result rather than the means that scares her. Martin claims, as do many social scientists, that Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa stem from media’s portrayal of beauty and attractiveness. The unrealistic expectations that women set out to achieve become unattainable and consequently, women begin to hate themselves even more. Self-hatred and subsequent eating disorders of more than 7 million women are not the most lovely outcomes of image-loving media. Unfortunately, Glamour editors and board members don’t think about the larger consequences of the material they publish. Rather, they hope to garner larger readership and increased advertising revenue.

I don’t mean to intentionally put a plug for Christianity, but I’m grateful to believe that perfection isn’t acquired by our personal efforts. A God who motivates change but never really offers the attainment of perfection is no God of mine. As life will teach us, we cannot achieve perfection in any form whether that’s personal righteousness or outward beauty. America’s top model, won’t be at the top next year and Angelina Jolie will eventually grow old and wrinkly. But, fortunately, the Christ who said, “Be ye therefore perfect,” also said, “Take my yoke upon you… For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Multitasking Life and Social Media

In the following post, I took a look at "Multitasking State of Mind," an article by Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson. I've responded with a look at my own life. In a nutshell, I agree and sympathize with Simpson's thoughts.

Social MediaI just checked twitter and three email accounts. I also skimmed a few blog posts and read some tweets. Originally, I sat down at the computer to write this essay, but I’ve just procrastinated for a few minutes in my social media circles. Pondering now, I think my time could have been better spent and, for the record, I’ve closed my browser and put away my phone.

Am I caught up in the multitasking, digital age? In comparison with some of my peers, I’ve just skimmed the surface.  I don’t have an iPhone and most of my social profiles were created for my job at an internet marketing firm. Yet, I still feel the effects of my heavy digital media use and lack of face-to-face socializing.

To me, the effects are largely negative. Rather than seizing the moment and talking to a professor, I shy away thinking I’ll just send a quick email. Rather than phoning friends, I’ll send a quick chat on Facebook. And frequently, I find myself on Hulu, Youtube, Digg, and many other online diversions while I should be utilizing my time in other, more “productive” avenues.

Two years ago, I hailed digital connections as innovative and the wave of the future. I saw how much time could be saved by texting or chatting online. I also applied the labels of “old-fashioned” to those people who denounced social media for its de-socializing effects.

As I watch my classmates meander on the web with laptops and smart phones, I somehow believe these students aren’t consciously choosing the multitasking lifestyle. Elements of a media-driven culture all play into the lives of students. Most of us were raised with the internet and the cell phone. Culturally, we’ve been raised to admire those with more innovative tech gadgets.

We also witness a great deal more interesting ideas, artwork, and cultures than our parents’ generation. Perhaps we let this constant exposure of interesting things others are doing invigorate our desires to do more and be more. Multitasking with digital technology is a way to do more and still stay connected socially.

Although mass media has been around for generations, new social media allows us have our own mass media community. We idolize ourselves in our “friend” and “follower” circles much like mainstream media idolizes a current pop star. In effect, we must be our own spokesperson, agent, and PR manager, while still doing regular tasks of day-to-day life like working and studying.

As I make plans to wean off social media an opposing thought comes to mind: “What if I miss something?” Students will have to decide on this tradeoff if they really want to add some “space in the mind.”

  • Interesting study surrounding this issue.