A Simple Template to What Students CRAVE

I’ve been watching celebrities who’ve made their way onto center stage of the media and marketplace. The ones who’ve captured the attention of America, especially the emerging generation, are ones who don’t merely imitate what others are doing and do it better, but who begin a whole new way of doing something. They are, in fact, leaders. As I study these leaders, whether they are entertainers, tech gurus, athletes, or business icons, I notice some common characteristics, some of which we can learn and practice ourselves.

What would happen if we learned what captures the imagination of our students, and found our own way to apply it as we teach and lead them?

Case Study: Chance the Rapper

photo credit: evolverphoto Chance The Rapper #1 via photopin (license)

Chance the Rapper has appeared on late night shows, talk shows and even on Saturday Night Live. At the 2017 Grammy Awards, 23-year old Chance won Best New Artist and Best Rap Performance, beating out the likes of Drake, Jay Z and Kanye West. He’s a twenty-something who is secure in who he is. Performing at the Grammy’s, he brought in a Gospel choir and sang about his life and his faith. More than once, he’s performed on network television and done things that are just rare—whether it’s dancing, singing, acting or speaking. Yet, he’s disarming and humble.

So why was he able to catch the ear and gain the applause from young people who might not listen if someone else did what he does on TV? Let me offer a simple template we can use whenever we must engage students. This is within the reach of every one of us.

These Leaders and Artists Offer What People CRAVE:

photo credit: kamera kızı 4/365 via photopin (license)

1. Creative 

Chance is extremely creative. While he’s swimming in the same ocean as others in the hip hop industry, he has his own unique flavor and mix. It catches your ear. We don’t get the feeling he’s imitating anyone else. He’s unique.

Question: How can you introduce more creativity in your communication?

2. Relevant 

Chance’s message is timely and timeless. It feels like something new, but it reveals something ancient that we all need. It addresses your need right now. Unlike other artists who sing only of traditional feelings, Chance tackles what we feel today.

Question: How can you relay to your students that you understand their world?

3. Authentic

He is himself. He’s living out of what’s inside. It feels real, not contrived or forced. He is disarming because it doesn’t feel like he’s selling you something . . . but he is. He is a genuine person, which is why he’s appealed to both celebrities and common folks.

Question: How can you send the message that you embody your message?

4. Valuable

Chance has sung about hope, in a difficult year for Americans. He meets a need. What he offers is worthwhile—it is helpful and hopeful. It adds value. In a genre that is filled with four letter words, anger and abuse, he offers what we want and need.

Question: How can you add value in every interaction with students?

5. Excellent

His music excels above others, including his mentor, Kanye West. He brings style and spiritual truth into a dark lyrical world. His “what” and “how” are superior. When we listen to him, we can tell he’s spent time taking his work to the next level.

Question: How can you excel above your colleagues in your industry?

Bottom Line: How can YOU provide what your students CRAVE?


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A Simple Template to What Students CRAVE