Tahfimul Latif

Here I (Tahfimul Latif) share my recurring experience as an engineer.

Opportunities

You always have to take advantage of opportunities.

Photo by Jonatan Pie

As I have been mentioning in my other stories, programming and coding are my passion which I aim to get better at. However, it is equally beneficial to sometimes branch out into other subjects. In August 1, 2017, I was given the perfect opportunity that existed within an opportunity which I didn’t know about.

As part of a free college prep course through Let’s Get Ready(LGR), I was given an opportunity to go for a tour at LIU Brooklyn. I was late, but still managed to get the tour. I thought it would be a general tour of the school. But I was wrong. It began with a class.

Intelligence vs. Being Educated vs. Smartness

Professor Benton spoke phenomenally about the difference between intelligence vs. being educated vs. smartness. We all think that all of these three components fall into the same niche. However, the professor explicitly described the attributes that make them unique. Intelligence is about how fast we can process things. Being educated is about how knowledgeable we are. Smartness is about how efficiently we can combine intelligence with knowledge.

Professor Benton focused on his disagreement toward the education system. We are taught that sitting in a class in front of our beloved professors or teachers will make us smarter. However, smartness is earned from observations, experiences and applications. He told us about a man whom he admires for his smartness. This man does not have a lot of knowledge and intelligence. However this man is extremely smart. He can combine his intelligence and knowledge effectively to solve problems. Smartness is not being able to show off the quantity of one’s knowledge or at the rate they process things. Rather, it is about how efficiently they can combine the two to solve a dilemma.

Professor Benton pointed out that college is not just about sitting in a classroom to learn something from the books. It is also about socializing and networking. We as students have no right to be bored by college. As a student, college should be exciting to attend to learn and explore to become smarter.

Making money when sleeping or dead

Professor Benton then asked us if it is possible to make money while sleeping. My answer was, “Yes!”, based upon my knowledge of rich entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Professor Benton said that he is missing this element. He can not make money if he does not come to LIU Brooklyn to teach his students. He gave the example of toilet paper companies. The CEO of these companies make lots of money while asleep just by selling toilet papers at places like the Met’s Stadium. He wished to make a living just doing that.

Next he wanted to speak about making money while dead. But due to lack of time, he only gave an example about popstar Michael Jackson who still makes money in his grave.

Smart Everything

His next point extended the three components that he spoke about (Intelligence, Being Knowledgeable, and Smartness). In today’s world, smart appliances are becoming part of a huge industry. For example, smart cars have the potential to save lives. Professor Benton counted up to 5 seconds to show the frequency of car accidents in the United States. This is truly tragic.

He then says smart cars will soon make our grandchildren laugh at us if we stop at red lights. Smart roads will be built to handle the smart cars. The cars will be driverless and know how to get to places.

He gives another example, but this time about smart medicines. Today, doctors prescribe chemotherapy for cancer patients. This therapy actually kills all of the cells in the body and only the good cells grow back. In the future, smart medicines which are under development, can look for and decide to kill only the bad cells. This way, the good cells will remain in the body.

Another application of smart medicine can be its ability to provide patients with the exact amount of medicine needed. Medicines are prescribed in the form of dosage and is never the exact amount that we need. It is always a bit more or less than the dosage we need. As a result, our bodies suffer from side effects. However, smart medicines can overcome this issue by prescribing patients a dosage such as the number 9.334587.

After speaking about this topic, we took a break to tour the school. We were shown the swimming pool, some history of the school and we spoke to some of the alumni.

After the tour, we came back to another classroom where Professor Benton teaches his class and had lunch. There was a group of 12 students including me. When we sat down, Professor Kurt asked us about where we are from and our objectives in life. Professor Benton complemented our mannerism and our backgrounds by saying that we are very intelligent and smart.

Marketing lesson began

After eating, Professor Benton began with his marketing lesson plan.

Being trained vs. Being taught

He told us about being trained vs. being taught. Being trained means that we adapt to one kind of scenario and get real good at it. But this makes us static and we fail to be successful in other scenarios. However, being taught means that we are dynamic. This way, we will be able to adapt to any scenario. This is what marketers do.

Definition of marketing

He asked us if we knew what marketing is. I was the first to raise my hand to give my definition. I said, “Marketing is being to sell yourself, your company, brand or anything else to others”. He said wonderful and says, “Most professors will not be able to answer you if you asked what marketing really is. They will pull out a definition or two from a textbook. But that is not how marketing works in the real world. I will give you one nice word to describe marketing and that is manipulation.”

Marketing is manipulation

Then he asked me about my clothing. He says, “You have these what they call “shoes” now a days on [your feet] and it’s from a brand named Nike. What makes you choose the brand?”. I answer, “The shoes look nice, Nike is popular, Nike is worth a lot of money and the shoes are comfortable”. He summed up my words and said, I am wearing Nike because they are a reputable brand. He showed us the process in which marketers manipulate us.

  1. Marketers control our thinking
  2. Marketers control our thought process
  3. Marketers control our feelings
  4. Marketers control our actions

He gave us the example of the jeans industry. Back in the 1950s, jeans were meant to be worn in rich blue color. If there were rips in the pants, people were considered poor and criticized. However, some years later, the perception changed when companies decided to introduce jeans in a new form. They are called distressed jeans which have rips. The industry was able to manipulate the customers and have them buy these jeans for the same price as the ones from before. In other words, marketers actually never care about adding value to the customers. However, we believe that marketers think about the value they sell to their customers because of the way marketing is portrayed.

To show us another example, Professor Benton brings up Nike again. Nike sells their shoes for hundreds of dollars. However, their shoes cost approximately $5 to make. Nike as a marketer does not care to add value to us. Rather, they care about our pride for their brand.

The 7-points

Next Professor Benton showed us the 7-points. They are:

  • Invent
  • Innovate
  • Reason
  • Maintain
  • Resolve
  • Predict
  • Prevent

Marketers absolutely love these points. If they can find someone with one of these qualities, they will pay them top dollar. The reason is simply because these kinds of employees will add value to the company.

History must be loved

In order to make a successful brand, history must be understood. I am the guy that hates history. According to Professor Benton, if marketers do not understand the past and learn from its failures, they won’t understand the present and future, leading to an unsuccessful brand. He told us to study the history of the United States and specifically New York. He was astonished by the fact that America became the top country in less than 100 years and eventually fell apart too quickly due to the civil war. From this I understood that if a business rises too fast, then it will fall apart too soon.

Marketers prefer the word like not love

Marketers prefer to follow the word like instead of love. Professor Benton explained that love and like are two different tracks. An example that he gave is that I can love someone but I also can kill them. However, if I like someone, I will embrace them. For this reason, marketers target their audience through manipulation to like their product.

Marketing activity

Once Professor Benton finished giving the lesson, it was our turn to be marketers. We were put into 4 groups of 3 team members and each group had to market a lemonade product.

There are 6 components to marketing a product:

  1. Coming up with a catchy brand name
  2. Coming up with a catchy slogan
  3. Coming up with a great price tag.
  4. Deciding where to place the advertising.
  5. Knowing what kinds of advertisements were posted in the place.
  6. Deciding who the target audience should be for the product.

Upon presenting, the feedback from the judges let us know that me and my teammates did not adequately market our product. We failed to grasp the audience’s attention. As a result, we missed to convey to them the reasons why our product should be embraced. Our presentation was simply boring.

However, Professor Benton was still very impressed by all of our efforts. Not only that, his colleague Professor Kurt was equally impressed in addition to the judges. The 6 components to marketing a product takes at least a year to master. This unfair activity as mentioned by Professor Benton had only given us 30 minutes.

Resolution

Before attending the tour, I had no clue that Professor Benton would prepare amazing lesson plans to teach us. But after going to the trip, I was shocked and happy to have been able to learn from and connect with two wonderful professors.

I realized that in life, it is important to take advantage of opportunities that come my way. The opportunity might take me to another part of life that I do not know about and make it better.

Follow up with me

Visit my portfolio website: tahfimul.github.io/TP./

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