Steven Greene of Make the Grade
Steven Greene joined us on the OMG show today to talk all about his experience as an entrepreneur!
Steven is a full time educator who also runs an education and tutoring company. Steven went to college in the early eighties and got his teaching certificate. He was high school teacher, middle school teacher, and eventually a college professor. Steven left his position as a professor to become a stay at home parent. As technology advanced, Steven came to the realization that becoming an online tutor and starting a business was becoming a reality. Steven has taken tutoring, which was once a remote business model, and is expanding it globally. His main passions are helping people reach their goals, set goals, and try to maximize their education. He is also an author, who’s book (maximum education) aims to give people the tools necessary to help themselves.
Steven is a wealth of knowledge, having been teaching for over four decades of time! He discusses with us many great tricks and tips for how your child can maximize their full potential in school, as well as discuss with us where he sees the future of education going!
Maximum Education Book: https://www.amazon.com/Maximum-Education
Jamie: Hey everybody, it’s Jamie here with the OMG show. I am very excited to be here with Dr. Steven Green today. Stephen, welcome to the show.
Steven: Thank you, Jamie. I am very happy to be here.
Jamie: Super excited to have you here. So tell our listeners a little bit about yourself.
Steven: Well, I am a full time educator. I started and run an education and tutoring company. I’m based in Pennsylvania, but I unfortunately am able to work with people literally all over the world. My main passions are basically helping people, helping them reach their goals in some cases, set goals, try to maximize their education. Another kind of aspect of my life I guess is that I, I’m an author, I wrote a book and the book is kind of the cornerstone of how I try to give people tools to help themselves. So a couple, yeah, a lot of copies fortunately. I think the reason I sold them is not necessarily because it’s such a fabulous book, although I think it is, it’s really more because the need is so broad and the need for the material in the book is so universal because so many people struggle with education and, and schools are good at teaching topical things and math and science and English. But most schools don’t really worry about the tools studying, how to outline, how to make flowcharts and tie management and information management. So that’s the sort of stuff the book addresses.
Jamie: And what was the name of it?
Steven: The book is called maximum education and it actually has its own website, Maxim education.net. I didn’t one day just write a book. It was sort of evolved from working with hundreds and hundreds of people and noticing common challenges. And I started to create things and, and um, things like, like tasks for them to do to help them improve these deficiencies in their skill set, like note-taking or outlining or, or there’s a bunch of them, but those are pretty easy examples. And I kept doing the same things over and over. And then literally one day a parent came to me and said, you know, you should write a book. I’m like, Oh, that’s a good idea. I thought about it. I’m sort of actually the original, the original manuscript of the book is just a stack of papers that I had printed out there.It was in word processor or something, which kind of dates this process a little bit. I took it over to the copy center and just made like 10 copies and I figured out my next 10 students, I’ll give this out to instead of me having every single time somebody came over who needed the support, printing it out from the printer and it went through those first 10, like seriously in like two days. And then I went back and, and, and fast forward, it became a real book with a cover and art and sells on Amazon. It was actually a number one best seller, which I’m almost embarrassed to say in a good way. So it opened a lot of doors. It’s enabled me to make a lot of connections I may not have made otherwise, but really most importantly, cause this is what I always come back to. I think it’s really helped a lot of people. It’s giving people tools and techniques that they didn’t have before that are important and they don’t just end in school. You know, I’m, I’m about academics, but people go on and get jobs and have careers and a lot of these things, are very, very useful in those settings as well. And I’ve actually done work the entrepreneurial and the business space, but I don’t focus on that.
Jamie: Yeah. And so I’d love for you to kind of talk about, cause you kind of have a cool story, which is also very kind of similar to my business and your business originally started very much locally and now it is really evolving. So I’d love for you to kind of speak to that process cause I think, for many of our listeners, they probably have a similar story or experience where they’re trying to go from being all local to online. So I’d love for you to kind of speak to that cause I think that’s a cool
Steven:I went to college in the really early eighties and got my teaching certificate and became a teacher and I was teaching in the classroom. I was a high school teacher, middle school teacher, eventually a college professor, up until the middle nineties. And then, you know, it messes up your whole life if you have kids, right? Not really. Not really, that was sort of a joke. Anyway so I had this watershed moment, I like a lot of parents where it was almost cheaper for me to stay home than pay for childcare and which is really kind of a shame and that’s probably a topic for a whole separate podcast. So I was able to take a year off from my teaching. Well my, at that time university position, they basically gave me a sabbatical year so I could stay home. I was basically a stay at home parent I’ve got like a quarter of my salary or something like that. So that wasn’t quite enough. It was still saving money on childcare, but the differential wasn’t getting me there anyway. So that’s when I started what has now become my business, the tutoring and education company. But to your point, at the time 100% of my business was face to face and local. You know, I’m in tutoring. People are not going to drive seven hours to see a tutor. Maybe my radius was six to 10 miles and I’m going to populate an area. I’m in a big city area. So there was competition and certainly other choices people had, but for the first 10, 12 years of my business, I would say 100% of my work was face to face, either in my office, in a school, maybe it’s somebody’s house, maybe at a library.. Well, the big shift was around 2012, 13 plus or minus, at least for me, was starting to take the business online.
The technology had evolved to the point where it was decent, webcams and audio online started to actually be decent. It wouldn’t freeze up all the time anymore or would be really expensive to do. I slowly started transitioning to that and I’ve always been kind of a technology of file and, you know, I got all kinds of gadgets and stuff like that, so I kind of just gravitated toward it naturally, but the transition was taking a service that’s typically very hands on, you know, teaching people math, you’re holding the pencil, you’re, you know, working with them to doing it, using the what’s now really, really accessible technology online. I’m at the point now where on any given day or any given week have to two thirds of my client a caseload I’m doing online and doing remotely. And I really honestly don’t think there’s any drop off in terms of service quality or results.
There’s limitations in some ways they balance in some ways it’s easier, some ways it’s harder but, the results I think are there and I, you know, all kinds of documentation to substantiate that. But, but what it’s done from a business standpoint is taken my footprint, which was maybe a five mile radius around my office to literally global. And yeah, well obviously it makes a much bigger market or market potential. It also grows a lot faster because I’m in a business like many people where I live in die for the most part by referrals. Referrals are from happy clients. So the more of them that exist, the more, you know, the threshold and critical mass of people referring into the system are, but, it’s i a big shift. I could see very easily a situation where I’m 100% remote or 100% virtual.
Jamie: That’s crazy. And, and one of the things that you’re working on, one of your big initiatives for 2020, I’ve insider information that you launched a membership site as well.
Steven: And I think in some ways that’s kind of the end result of all the stuff we just talked about.
Jamie: Yeah. So I’d love for you to kind of talk to our listeners about that. Cause I know for many of our listeners, they have students, they might have a child that’s in middle school or high school, and kind of what, what is your plan for that? I’d love for you to kind of speak to that cause I think that’s something that’s really, really cool that you’re doing
Steven: Well. The mission statement of the community is very, very similar to the mission state, my business, which is to help people to work towards whatever goals they have academically. The functionality of it is to help to provide them with those tools, and to also provide them with support. It’s a place to get questions answered. It’s a place to post ideas. Hey, I tried this and, you know, get feedback on things like that. It’s a place to, for me to provide information in more of a mass setting, which is much more efficient than Africa to do everything one to one. We’re through just a strictly outbound mechanism, like a podcast. So I think from a parent’s viewpoint, this is number one. It’s a location where they can go very, very easily. It’s a, it’s a Facebook based group and get information from an expert. I’m going to call myself an expert. Number two, it’s a place to hobnob with likeminded people. Everybody knows people who have kids in school, especially if you have kids in school, but a lot of people are, are, are not the most forthcoming when their kids have challenges. Now people, it’s not comfortable, you know, if you see somebody at soccer game or at the supermarket today, Hey, you know, my kid just got an F in math, how are you doing?
Jamie: It just doesn’t happen.
Steven: Not much. So I look at this as kind of a safe Haven yeah. For people that are comfortable to have these kinds of discussions, there’s going to be me live, there’ll be live events within the community and I think best of all I’m trying to make it so it’s very, very affordable. It’s a business model. So I’d like people to say, Hey, did this is something I can do. I can knock into it. I, it’s worth it to me.
Jamie: Yeah. And I think, I think one thing that’s in, you touched upon something that is at least deep near and dear to my heart, because I know I’m very early on in my son’s or one of my son’s educational journeys, and we had to make the hard decision of whether or not for him to do a second year of kindergarten, he’s got a late June birthday and he was kind of struggling his first year around and no one had that conversation with me about, Hey, maybe you shouldn’t put him in school this year because his birthday’s late. And then vice versa. Hey, what is the right thing to do? And turns out, like when I actually started having those conversations, there were so many other people who had had a similar experience. So I think part of what’s really cool about what you do in general and what you’re doing with this community in particular is you’ve worked with so many students throughout the years. You can help us parents understand what to expect when it comes to these things and help us make better decisions around this stuff. Especially with when your first kid’s going through that, right? So like if I have two, three, five kids, it’s really easy for the fourth or the fifth one cause I understand what to expect. But with that first one you just don’t know. And so I’d love for you to kind of speak to that.
Steven: Well, number one is I’ve been around long enough and you know, without giving away too much, I’ve been, I’ve been doing this almost 30 years in some capacity. So there isn’t a whole lot I haven’t seen. So in terms of experiences people have had, will have, and you’re right, the isolation is uncomfortable for people, right? You know, am I the only one who has this issue? The answer has to be no, but how do I connect with like minded people? It’s a lot easier now with social media, but can you trust everybody? I mean, there’s a lot of weird variables there. So number one, I think I look at this community as a place for people to get legitimate professional advice and not just from me. I have in addition to the members of the community, one of my initiative here is to bring in, kind of people on a parallel level to me who are psychologists, who are college counselors, who are aligned professionals who are doing, working in the same space, but it may be different aspects of it.
And it becomes a very micro thing. I know a psychologist who only works with five to eight year olds, which is not a big band of the population, but you know, the needs there, the caseload there. And these are all people I’ve network with for years and I know their strengths. I know what they can do and I know what they can bring to the table. So yeah, there’ll be a lot of information about guest blogging or whatever you want to call them, guest experts. Right, but I, I think that your concern in your particular case, you could multiply by a hundred different things. Like I get people saying to me, well, a parallel thing, my kids taking honors algebra, well, why are they taking honors algebra? Because it’s going to look better on their college application, but they’re struggling. So is it better for them to get a B or a C in honors algebra versus an a in regular track?
You know, good question, and the answer depends, depends on a lot of things, not just the isolated idea of the, of the individual classes. Another thing I’ll tell you is, and I don’t want to preface this by saying I have to spend a lot of time making sure I’m in the right place for this, is things change all the time. What was good advice a year ago or three years ago or five years ago may not be good advice today. The world changes around us. It’s the same thing with marketing. It’s the same thing with advertising. I mean, just when you think you figured it all out, they changed the rules, right? So, yeah, like we were talking before about Facebook ads, right? So, the same thing happens in everything that happens in education. You know, something if you have multiple children who are enough age differential, yep.
By the time the younger one gets to where the older one was at that point. It may be, it may be not radically different, but you may have a different playing field. It’s one thing you said always reminds me of the joke, you know like you get to the photo album thing where like the oldest kid, just like 4,000 pictures, he got the one picture in a bathtub or something. It’s kind of reverse in education is that people figure it out as their kids make their way through. But that’s what happens a lot is what’s correct. Quote unquote at point a, I may not be the best advice two years later, five years later. Yeah.
Jamie: And I love what you say. I love that you say that about that too. Cause I think, you know, and we’ve talked about this, it’s like when is the right time to get someone like you involved, right. And you always say to me, ideally it’s when they’re younger, before there’s stuff going on, right. Instead of that crisis mode. Right. And I think that’s really the beauty of this membership community. Because you are making this accessible from a financial perspective, just so many that they can start to get involved in this and setting themselves up for success when they’re in sixth grade, seventh grade, eighth grade, rather than waiting to that moment where everything’s falling apart.
Steven: Yeah. Listen, I being proactive is 4 million, 528,000 times better and being reactive in this stuff. You know, in fairness, sometimes people just don’t know, you know, how do you know in seventh grade your kid might struggle with something in 10th grade,and sometimes people, parents, I mean, I’m just going to say this, just there is a denial level sometimes, Hey, Oh my kid’s fine. They’re struggling this year. It’s just a phase. We get that and sometimes that’s legit. Sometimes it’s social, you know, sometimes kids are shy or you know, you’re still in school. I mean there’s, there’s other dynamics going on in the school beyond just teacher students. So this can be a complicated thing, but, but yes, that is one of the missions of this community is to give people kind of a taste or okay, knowing, Hey, wait a minute, is this right?
Is this, this doesn’t feel right to me. Let me just make sure, let me get advice from the right people and maybe everything’s fine and just didn’t know enough to make a judgment yet, but you know, I look, it’s when we’re recording this, this in January in high schools, it’s midterm season. I get people calling me the night before midterm, Hey, my kid’s got a midterm. Can you prep them? Sure. When is it? Oh, it’s eight o’clock tomorrow morning. You know, can anybody out care you? Nobody can teach three months of math in an hour. It’s not, it’s just not realistic. So, you know, some of this is his planning head. Yeah. Some of it is information access to it. Some of it is trust. You know, there, there’s personal, you know, vulnerabilities here, and, and one extension is the, the community is primarily for parents because they’re usually, and frankly usually mothers cause they’re usually the ones that manage the educational experience.
But there is, there’s going to be in or already are things in there for students as well. Cause I don’t need every parent on earth to be a co-teacher. I don’t necessarily need a circumstance where I have to teach the parents and the parents go teach the children. So there’s going to be things in here, some prerecorded, some live that are specifically for students. So for example, I’m planning to do a live event for juniors in high school or I’m sorry, 10th graders who are going to be juniors in high school the following fall and say, look, here’s things you’re coming up on an important stretch of time in your high school academic career. Here’s things you really need to be thinking about over the summer or spring into the summer to really position yourself as strongly as possible. And I think hearing your first hand is going to be better than the parents trying to communicate it because you have little kids. But trust me, you’ll reach a point in your life, Jamie, where you can say whatever you want to your child, they’re not gonna listen to you. And somebody else randomly almost can say the exact same thing and they will listen.
It’s even younger. It’s worse, but it’s unbelievable. I will sit here working with a kid and my are online and the parent will pop in and, and the parent will say like, you know, so you’re going to do your homework now or whatever. Yeah, mom, I’m going to get this like attitude and stuff and I’ll say the same thing and they do it. So talking is also great. Or I have any kind of, you know, spin Dali power, just, it’s a weird thing. You know when you’re parenting you got all kinds of levels that you got to communicate and deal with your children with and sometimes you gotta pick your battles that way. So I’m not, just to be clear, I’m not representing this community as the solution to every issue. Every parent has raising children, that’s a little more than I put it off, but from the academic standpoint, and that, but that’s a big tension.
When parents take school seriously for their children and the children aren’t performing up to the expectations of parents, that’s a huge tension creator and a disharmony creator in households. And I, I’ve probably literally held 20,000 stories of fights that have happened in homes cause the parents are chasing after kids to do homework and they don’t want to do it. And you know, blame video games, you can play whatever you want. Sometimes kids are just lazy when they have other priorities. And that’s a huge cause of friction in households is just academics in general. And of course some kids are great, you know, not ever, this isn’t 100%, but at least in the case that I have, it’s almost always in the discussion.
Jamie: Yeah. And I love, I love, I love the fact that this is meant for parents to help them support their children better because I think we as parents, we’re like going into this blind, right? We don’t have any experience of what that’s like other than our own high school experience, which may or may not have been positive. Right?
Steven: Well, yeah. Well, I don’t know what they’re saying, you know, kids don’t call it the manual. Right. That’s, you know, I’m sure somebody said that many people say that and you know, and even when they’re little, you don’t know, am I teaching in diapers? Right? Am I feeding them right? Is milk too hot? I don’t know, and I know I, and I parented my kids from literally birth til four or five. And I, I’m not saying I was father of the year or parent of the year by any means, but you know, sometimes you don’t know if you’re doing the right thing or not. You do what you think is best, you know, so this is where, this is what it is. This is my goal. This is something I, you know, I’m very, I feel very strongly about, dedicated a ton of time and energy, not just the community, but to just this whole thing that aren’t you every day, all day. I think ultimately I would, one of my goals is not just for this to be me being the epicenter of this community. I’m hoping as it grows and as it evolves, that there’ll be people who just become, I don’t know what the best word to use. Leader is, not the best word, but a little higher profile, you know, be people that will be sort of sharing information and then commenting about it and that this, it’s not unique. There’s other groups that have this kind of structure. So that’s one of my hopes.
Jamie: Yeah. And I love that. And I think it’s so cool. I’d love for you to, for our listeners to really speak to what are some of those symptoms that, you know, kids will say when they need help because teenagers aren’t like, Hey mom, Hey dad, like I suck at math. I need help. So what are some of the things that, you know, parents can pick up on to identify, Hey, I should get my kids some help in this area?
Steven: Well, the most obvious one would be some sort of quote unquote bad crates, right? Report card tests. Nowadays just like I can tutor online anywhere in the world, it is super easy for parents to get access to grades. You know, almost every school I know of has some kind of online, back office where a parent can login and see. Great. So the kind of the, the mask is off there, so to speak. But so number one would be poor performance, whether grades is the only metric of that. Another one that’s not as obvious is when kids just avoid doing the work. It’s human nature. If you’re not comfortable with something or you’re not good at it, you avoid doing it. Right. So I’ll use math as an example. Maybe somebody has four topics they have to do for homework and they’re always doing math last and then it seems to take three times as long as it should.
But why are they doing math less well? Cause the good French, whatever, they’re good at history. They’re good at or comfortable with English. They’re comfortable with biology and I’m just, these are random, but they don’t like algebra, so they just put it off till the end, because they don’t want to do it. Not comfortable, just like anybody. They avoid painful things. Yep. That’s, that’s a subtle thing. Sometimes a third one would be an inability for the kid to sort of connect past to present to future. And that that’s a little harder for a parent to gauge. But, but this is where communication is really important. But from strictly an observational standpoint, um, I think those are some, some ones I see all the time. Another one would be if, and this doesn’t work in every case where it kind of usually parents know friends of their children, right?
So if they’re in the same school offering the same classes, they have similar teachers, sometimes you’ll see things like that. You know, you’ll notice what other kids are doing. And I’m not saying you should be comparing your child to an inner child, but you get information that way as well, for example, I found out my kid was going to the prom through his friends, friends were over one night or watching something and playing and doing something and yeah. Do you know he’s going to the prom with so-and-so? Oh no, I didn’t know that.
Funny you should mention it, does he need a talk or a suit? I don’t know. So, and the thing was like three weeks away. So, you know, it’s funny what, what you’ll learn just kind of being present and not, not to tell anybody how to parent, but it is important to be involved and it is important to communicate it. It’s, it doesn’t work well as a parent parent, if you’re absent for whatever reason, some are really legit. And then two years later, all of a sudden that you want to get really involved in your kids’ education. That doesn’t usually work very well and kids don’t like that. And, and parents will say, well, but I’m the parent. This is my right because I’m the parent and it’s important, you know, if I can give a little advice to start a lot of these things young, you know, start communicating with your kids young and just get them used to that.
He was just sitting around dinner or just, you know, what’s going on in school, what’d you learn today? What’s your favorite subject? A little stuff. You don’t need to have a whole explanation of everything. Okay. Because if you wait until they’re in 10th or 11th grade and you’ve never talked to him about it ever, and all of a sudden you’re out trying to speak, sit down about why are you struggling and you know, history, you’re probably not going to get the same level of genuine communication. So, you know, just put, add that to the list of the 100 million things, busy parents have to do. But, but this is part of parenting, you know, education is, you know, a huge component of everybody growing up. Yeah. Unless you’re homeschool, they’re going to go to school. I know if you have homeschool, you have to deal with it. So, you know, probably is the biggest time commitment kids have until they’re 18 or so probably beyond that. So, you know, it’s a matter of making it a priority as a parent.
Jamie: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. Cool. So I ask every guest on the show if they have any Ninja tips for our listeners.
Steven: Yeah, well, I will say one thing I said before, which is proactivity is really important, at least in education, little things add up to larger things. So just planting seeds, getting processes in place, creating communication systems, little stuff over time really compounds. And I think you reap benefits later. I think it’s also important to just consider where you’re getting information from. And frankly, you can consider me that. Put me on that same list. The place to learn about what to do in school is not standing in the supermarket line talking to somebody, you know, or somebody down the street who’s, you know, Oh, my kid did this, but it’s unbelievable. Well, maybe not so unbelievable where people take advice from sometimes, that isn’t really helping them. I would caution people about that. And then the last one I can think of now is just be, be aware that things are gonna change, you know, just because it worked for, well, two things.
Things are going to change around you in the academic universe and you could have two kids completely different skill sets. Yeah. Don’t assume just because they both were born from the same parents or whatever, that both your kids are the same. They’re gonna have different personalities. They probably have different academic interests that may have different academic abilities. So, you know, sometimes you gotta have almost two sets of rules or guidelines for every or more for every kid that you have, and I, I think that’s more common than, so that, that’s kind of an addition to the, you know, first child versus fifth child, just awareness thing. It was just to be sensitive. The fact they’re going to have different goals. They’re going to have different ways they get things done, things like that. So, I’m not sure if they qualify as Ninja tips, but, uh, yeah, education is not the sexiest thing to talk about.
Yeah. I can’t really tell you, you know, the best way to market your book or anything but, but you know, in terms of just baseline and stuff that most people as well, once you’re a parent, you’re always a parent, right? So this is a lifelong 30 whatever, 50 year education really. And like I said, I’m not a parent coach. I’m not telling anybody anybody I would parent on any level. But from the academic piece, it’s something you have to invest in, you got to work with, you’ve got to stay with, and it’s worth it by far to learn about it and educate yourself about the process as a parent so you can help your kids.
Jamie: Yeah, I love that. So Stephen, how do we get in touch with you? What is the best way for us to reach you? Well, I would probably say email.
Steven: That’s still, you know, still exists, right? People still email, right? Sgreen@makethegrade.net and website is makethegrade.net, book websites maximumeducation.net. I am on all the social medias, I am not the world’s most prominent poster, but you know make the grade on Twitter, on Instagram, on all whatever. But the community specifically, at this point I would just ask people to email me or whatever and I can direct them to that. Yup. And you also have a podcast, right? I will make a great podcast. Imagine it’s called that incredible, incredible name. Creativity. They’re short eight to 10 minutes. The whole goal is actionable things. I would like people to listen to podcasts and when they get done listening to it or even halfway through it, they can hit pause and actually go do something that’s going to help them to further and to maximize their education.
That’s what it’s all about. Sometimes I’ll talk about case studies. Sometimes I interview people, but generally it’s about, Hey, here’s a tip for today. Here’s an action step that you can do. Podcasts are an interesting journey. I mean, I don’t have to tell you that cause you’ve been podcasting, but, sometimes it’s hard to think of things to talk about. Well, because consistency is really important in the podcast, right? So sometimes I sit in and go and see where do I want to talk about? All I gotta do is never have a shortage. I just think about, Hey, what, what’s happened the last couple of days? You know, what, what has students brought me? What did the parents bring me? I can always think of something that is going to apply, at least I believe, to a larger audience. So, yeah, so that’s really what I’ve been tapping into is, Hey, you know, I was working with a parent, I was working with a family and here was their challenge.
Here’s how we address it. Here’s how we solved it. Maybe this will help you. There’s a lot of seasonal things too. You know, like September is back to school. And, you know, right now in January, it’s midterms, finals if you’re on a after your schedule sort of thing. So there’s things that kind of just pop up because it’s that time of year. Podcasts have been interesting kind of goes along with the whole technology evolution that we talked about earlier for sure. Who was podcasting in 1998? I don’t even know. No one really. I don’t even, I don’t even know when they even started, but, yeah, now there’s millions of them, I guess. Hundreds of thousands for sure. For sure.
Jamie: Awesome. Well, Steven, thank you so much for coming on this show today. I super appreciate having you here and for you sharing all your wisdom.
Steven: Hey, I thank you for the opportunity and I hope if this helps, you know, even one or two people, it was well, well worth it and, you know, we keep moving forward.
Jamie: Yeah. Well, thank you so much and we’ll talk to you all soon. Have a great day.