The first step in bringing an idea to life is to get out of your head and see what might be possible. Ideas do not work unless you do.”
Christopher Pappas is the founder of eLearning Industry , the largest online community of eLearning professionals in the world. Christopher established the company as a safe online community for eLearning professionals and instructional designers to connect and share their knowledge. Christopher holds an MBA and a Master of Education from Bowling Green State University.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
By listening carefully! There was a huge need to democratize the eLearning field. I set out to take the knowledge and experience that eLearning professionals had and make it accessible to anyone. I wanted to aggressively promote this information without censoring it.
I was always passionate about online learning, and I had the ultimate goal of creating a vast pool of knowledge that would be available to everyone for free. It wasn’t until I finally developed the skills necessary to create an online publishing platform that I was able to make my vision a reality. Building an online publishing platform with eLearning professionals at its core was an amazing adventure.
How do you bring ideas to life?
For me, it always comes back to the same principle: Get things done! The first step in bringing an idea to life is to get it out of your head and see what might be possible. Ideas do not work unless you do.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am fascinated by the many advantages of machine learning for online learners. I suspect the technology will transform eLearning as we know it. Artificial intelligence and its various subdisciplines have fascinated me for a long time. Big data and the vast amount of information available today have transformed AI, giving it limitless potential for countless industries. Particularly in eLearning, I think AI’s ability to adapt to new situations will allow us to solve problems that currently seem impossible.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I focus on building deep relationships with people I admire. That includes the authors, clients, and employees who work with me on a regular basis. I go out of my way to remind my employees how much I value them and their contribution to eLearning Industry.
I also try to solicit constructive feedback whenever possible. The feedback I get from people about my work and its impact on their lives fires me up and keeps me going. I appreciate people who inspire me, and I know that keeping the inspiration chain alive creates outstanding results.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
As I mentioned above, I ask questions designed to draw out constructive feedback. I constantly strive to be a better person than I was the day before. This push to be the best version of myself allows me to innovate and be creative more easily, which helps me inspire other people to join my cause.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being honest, listening to feedback from anyone, and asking questions designed to elicit constructive feedback. This has fueled my personal and professional growth throughout my career.
Beyond that, I have worked to diversify my company whenever possible. I enjoy exploring uncharted territory, so broadening the range of eLearning Industry’s services from the moment we began to establish a loyal client base was a natural progression.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
It wasn’t a recent purchase, but the best $100 I’ve ever spent was $10 to buy the domain name eLearningIndustry.com and $90 to take my wife out for dinner at a nice restaurant to celebrate. During dinner, I let her know that I was quitting my high-paying job to pursue my dream.
While the $10 was definitely a smart investment, I would say the $90 was actually the better use of my money. Appreciating the people who matter to you and who support you is the key to a happy and fulfilling life (both personally and professionally). More importantly, you don’t need to talk to show people that you value them and their support. Actions truly do speak louder than words.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read?
I highly recommend reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion.” Gary talks about why the present is the best time to do anything, emphasizing the importance of creating projects you’re passionate about without any fear of failure. The idea of relentlessly pursuing your dreams resonates with me. Forget the fear of the unknown, and act as if there’s no chance of failure. Just do it!
I’d also suggest checking out “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini. Robert explores the psychology behind persuasion, diving into what causes people to change their behavior. The book offers tips on both becoming a skilled persuader and defending yourself against persuasion. It’s a tremendous read for anyone, but it would be particularly useful for anyone in sales, marketing, or communications.
Tell us something that’s true that almost no one agrees with you on.
Perfection is often an excuse for procrastination. The key to making forward progress is following through. I’ve seen incredibly talented people start work on amazing projects only to give up because they get bored or discouraged by their project not being “perfect.”
Finishing tasks is extremely important if you want to accomplish anything. It’s impossible to reach the idea of perfection because it doesn’t actually exist. Making things happen requires action, and finishing jobs helps us decide how to continue to make progress. You can always go back and improve upon your earlier iteration or realize you’ve gone in the wrong direction, but you need to make some progress first.
Mark Twain said it best: “Constant improvement is better than delayed perfection.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! They are your biggest chance to get better and learn lessons. But here’s a brilliant shortcut: Read about other people’s mistakes, and learn from their experiences.
What is your favorite quote?
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” — Warren Buffett
- Perfection can often get in the way of progress. Done is better than perfect.
- Show people in your sphere of influence that you value them and appreciate their opinions.
- Soliciting constructive feedback can provide tremendous fodder for personal and professional growth.
- Read “Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk and “Influence” by Robert Cialdini.
- Don’t fear mistakes! They offer an opportunity for improvement.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.