Hello Instructor Community!
It’s that time again! Each month we put the spotlight on one of our Community Champions so you can get to know our most active instructors on a more professional and personal level.
Today, we are putting the spotlight on a member that needs no introduction, it’s none other than the Instructor that everyone wants to be when they grow up, Lawrence Miller! Not only is he a familiar face in the community, but he has been with Udemy for a whopping 7 years and has over 175k students! Larry teaches people management skills, organization strategy and design, and lean and team management. (Fun fact: His 3 children are also involved in management consulting!)
Get to know more about Lawrence in our interview below:
Who is Lawrence Miller?
I grew up in New York, after High School went into the Army for three years - Europe and Vietnam - then college. After college, my first job was working in the North Carolina prisons as a counselor. There I began to work on the system... the system that conditions behavior, often the wrong behavior.
In 1973 I moved to Atlanta to join a training/consulting firm that was the first to apply behavior modification to business. I became president of that firm, wrote several books, then started my own company. I had my own consulting firm for fifteen years before selling.
All of our work was focused on the culture of organizations, team management, lean/Toyota Production System, and redesigning systems to empower employees. I burned out on the constant travel and in 1998 I sold the company to Towers Perrin and retired to spend a good bit of time sailing.
After a few years, I began doing solo consulting and writing again. Seven years ago I discovered Udemy and developed my first course on team leadership that was based on all the consulting work I had done for forty years.
How did you first hear about and/or become involved with Udemy?
I found and started to take an acoustic blues guitar course (Jim Bruce). Then a consulting client had a need to train 250 managers over a very large geographic area and I started to develop my team leadership course for them.
What is your teaching style?
What is one thing you wish that every NEW Udemy Instructor knew?
Prospective students buy, or don't buy, YOU! You have to present yourself as credible, friendly, someone they will want to spend a lot of time with. Buying is more often an emotional rather than rational response.
Can you share your favorite experience/interaction with a student?
My favorite experiences are with company and leadership teams when they go through one of my courses and I coach them as they apply the lessons and assignments to their workplace. I am a big believer in "action-learning" and learning in teams.
If you didn't teach on Udemy what would you be doing?
Probably slowly working on another book.
What is your favorite thing about being an online instructor?
Having a marketing partner. I know my subject and I enjoy teaching, but I am not particularly good at marketing. I am happy to let Udemy do the marketing.
Who would you want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
That is a really dangerous question. I am married!! My dog, Bella.
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?
The power to cause people to think about facts and understand facts.
Have a question for Lawrence? Ask him in the comments below!
Thanks Larry, for taking the time to help other instructors here in the community.
You mention in the interview that you sold your company some years ago and retired from traditional work, and that your first Udemy course was based on the consulting work you did for many years. I'm curious how you stay current in your chosen field. Are the principles that you teach timeless or do they evolve quickly like technology?
I'm asking because I'm also retired and see staying current with my topics as being a major challenge.
Thanks in advance.
@StanVangild204 That's a good question. I am a bit lucky because the field of management evolves relatively slowly compared to technology. There is no software update that I have to respond to. However, there are trends. For example the importance of ESG ratings is relatively new. The move to remote work and remote teams is new or at least grown dramatically in importance. But, all of these things are well reported in the press and business publications, so I do follow them closely. My most recent course is on designing the post-Covid organization.
I have another advantage. All three of my children, all grown, are doing similar things. One consults on agile/scrum, another had her own consulting practice in China and recently moved back here to join a major consulting firm, and the third started a not-for-profit organization twenty years ago that helps women refugees fleeing violence. If you google her she is more prominent than I am (Layli Miller-Muro) Her organization was name by the Washington Post as the best management non-profit in the Washington DC area (and there are alot!). She just retired from that and is working on a book and will be developing a course on Udemy on non-profit management. So, the three of them challenge me. I guess that is an advantage.
I think in most fields there are ways of staying in touch with new developments. But, I don't think we need to jump into every fad either.