Journalist Gina London Brings Message of Motivation to CompTIA – and Juggles Oranges

Emmy-award-winning veteran CNN correspondent and anchor turned international communications expert Gina London began her speech at the CompTIA Academy Educator and Learning Partner Conference at the Hilton Chicago this month by quickly admitting to the audience, “I don’t have the digital background many of you have.” Indeed, after her talk, she sought advice from CompTIA staffers on buying a new computer; she’s still on Microsoft Vista. 

But, moving to common ground, she stressed that education is what makes a difference in any field because it’s what binds us together as people. She challenged the attendees, “What is most important in our communications? To our wiring as humans?” The answer, she said, drawing out that this was a lesson she learned from her favorite teacher in high school, is passion and motivation. 

In her remarks, London proved unafraid to address both the successes and challenges of her career and those involved in working in education overall. She stated that journalism is a dying profession and described the work environment she faced during her time at CNN as cynical. She felt as if she was being told, “There’s a line around the block of people who will do what you’re doing for less.” 

Translating this to an educator experience, London acknowledged that a teacher can lose his or her spark at times – that it’s a draining experience to try to reach a student who doesn’t care or looks bored. The solution, she said, is to strive for motivation via a formula London calls AIM; audience, intent and message. 

Educators can arrive at this, London said, by customizing their messages for different audiences. This may involve, say, incrementally modifying an e-learning program for an IT department versus a marketing team. “It’s not about reinventing the wheel,” London said. She also advised educators to “break up [learning] into little chunks of information” rather than inundating students. 

London spoke to how much attention is paid these days to educating millennials, adding that this is simple repetition of a pattern, as the question of how to educate the incoming generation has been raised for decades if not centuries or millenniums. The critical factor, London said, in now combining education and technology is always going to be the human element. She summed this up as “be a geek who can speak.” She asked, “We take for granted that we can communicate, but as we doing so passionately?”

The answer, London said, is, again, for educators to keep motivating and keep themselves motivated, and she smartly advised that the way to do this is to attend CompTIA conferences and get involved in its communities. “That’s why CompTIA is so committed to making certifications part of the educational process,” she said. 

The following week, speaking on day two of CompTIA ChannelCon, co-located at the Hilton Chicago, London presented “Seven Steps to a Successful Negotiation” in a breakout session. Following a role-playing exercise that drew participation from the entire room, she broke down five types of negotiation styles; avoidance, assertion, compromise, accommodation and collaboration. London then laid out her seven steps: 

  1. Proximity: Personal closeness adds emotional value. This, London said, is “why you don’t just have virtual conferences,” but rather events like ChannelCon.
  2. Transparency: It’s better to share information than withhold it.
  3. Communicate: It’s important to properly frame the problem.
  4. Increments: In negotiation, work for a series of small successes. “Don’t try to get too much in one email, phone call or meeting,” London said.
  5. Standards: Instead of saying things like, “This isn’t fair,” she advised asking questions like, “But doesn’t your company build itself on its reputation of fairness?”
  6. Every situation is different: London pointed out that you might get a different reaction out of a person on a Monday morning versus a Friday afternoon.
  7. People are everything: She noted that something as simple as a gift, like a pair of tickets to a Chicago Bulls game, could affect a negotiation. 

As an unofficial eighth step, London advised tying up loose ends in any negotiation, a fitting wrap on her tour of the Academy Educator and Learning Partner Conference and ChannelCon. Follow Gina on Twitter at @TheGinaLondon.