Sometimes music makes the moment.

If you’ve ever earned a degree you have most likely celebrated your achievement by parading to the music of a rousing march while dressed in a cap and gown en route to your waiting diploma. But, what is that march called? Today’s Music Monday explores and answers this for you.

The march you almost always hear is one part of a series of marches composed by Sir Edward Elgar that is most commonly referred to as “Pomp and Circumstance.” More specifically, the “Trio” portion of Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D (also known as “Land of Hope and Glory“) is the part of the composition to which graduates traditionally march.

Video of Elgar conducting a performance of it follows:

Why did I feature this piece today? For starters, this is the time of year when graduates celebrate their achievements by enduring commencement speeches of often questionable candor.

I also chose this piece because on May 7, 2005 I participated in graduation ceremonies for my MBA program at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA (although I completed the coursework in August 2005).

Matthew A. Gilbert, MBA -- Graduation Ceremony with then Woodbury University President Dr. Kenneth NielsenNotably, while earning my MBA at Woodbury University I also received the “Outstanding MBA Scholarship” award in the process.

My time at Woodbury was incredibly formative — equal to if not more so than my undergrad years at UC Santa Barbara — because experiences in and out of the classroom compelled me towards my current career as an educator.

Despite being one of the oldest business programs in Los Angeles (Woodbury was founded in 1884 as Woodbury Business College) it is lesser known than other Southern California schools. But I believe there is sometimes strength in smaller stature.

Case in point: my experience as a bigger fish in a smaller pond was one I could have never experienced at a larger school. And, I believe, it was precisely because of my more personalized engagement with professors that I took the first steps necessary to get where I am today.

Specifically, it was due to the direction of Satinder Dhiman, Ph.D., Ed.D. — a Professor of Management and Accounting, Associate Dean of Business, and MBA Program Chair — that I submitted my first academic paper to a conference.

The paper, “Intranets: Catalysts for Improved Organizational Communication,” was accepted by the International Academy of Business Disciplines (IABD) and was published in Vol. X (pp. 221-225) of the organization’s Business Research Yearbook.

Over time I would go on to attend nine such conferences and publish eleven papers! I look forward to future opportunities to publish and present.

Through my participation in these important events I perfected my presentation style and learned about the inner workings of academia. I remain friends with many people I first met at academic conferences and treasure the relationships I share with these unique individuals.

Given my experience, I encourage those of you evaluating educational programs to first consider your goals in enrolling and, second, the overall experience you might enjoy. Don’t buy on brand name alone so to speak — consider the holistic education you will receive during your matriculation.

One of the most important lessons I have learned about learning is that it is often less important what school you went to than it is what you got out of that experience and how you applied the knowledge you gained after graduating. Often the School of Hard Knocks is the best teacher of them all — Steve Jobs is proof of that!

At the same time, wherever you go, consider a degree that is universally recognized and understood — or one that is at least directly related to your reasons for having pursued higher education. That is one of the reasons I chose an MBA program and not others that I was considering.

In closing, for those of you graduating this year I congratulate you. For those of you just beginning your journey I applaud you.  And, for those about to rock, I salute you!

Have you met TED?

Founded in 1984 TED is an annual conference of ideas intended to unite leading thinkers and doers from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design. During each conference speakers share their thoughts in 18 minutes sessions. For those not part of the limited in-person audience, TED has made videos of more than 1,900 talks available online.

The collection of presentations is nothing short of infectious. And I mean that literally: at the February 2009 conference in Long Beach, CA Bill Gates released a jar of mosquitoes, emphasizing that people in developed countries are not concerned enough with the impact of malaria in the developing world.

Sir Ken Robinson speaks about creativity and education at the February 2006 TED Talk.Another talk of particular interest to me as an educator and lifelong learner was given by Sir Ken Robinson at the February 2006 conference in Monterey, CA.

Robinson — who earned a PhD for research into drama and theatre in education — is a British creativity expert who challenges the way we educate ourselves.

Recognizing that formal education is unequally focused on linear, quantitative subjects, Robinson proposes a radical re-imagining of our school system that more effectively cultivates creativity and acknowledges multiple types of intelligence.

I can relate to this as I’ve always been one to “think different” (as the famous Apple advertising slogan once encouraged us to do). Specifically, I test poorly on standardized tests: my brain just isn’t wired that way. This is a significant concern as I draw closer to applying for PhD programs.

I need to find an effective and, given my present circumstance, outrageously affordable way to elevate my GRE scores to ensure my application is viewed competitively by admissions committees. (Perhaps at a later date I will discuss my thoughts on the highly questionable financial stranglehold ETS — Educational Testing Service — has on the high education process).

I personally enjoyed the video a great deal — it reminded me of my teaching philosophy which is anchored in the idea of generative learning. The “tipping point” that motivated me to post this blog was that shortly after watching it I logged into my WordPress.com account and read that the system now supports embedding TED videos.  Serendipity!

I couldn’t resist the urge to share this video. Although the talk occurred more than three years ago the ideas seem timeless and more relevant than ever. My two favorite lines from Robinson’s talk are:

“We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather we get educated out of it.”

“Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”

Truer words were never spoken!  Additionally, I also found these comments particularly insightful — especially since they reflect my views on education and seem to validate my desire for an interdisciplinary doctoral program:

“We know three things about intelligence:

One, it’s diverse, we think about the world in all the ways we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound, we think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms, we think in movement.

Secondly, intelligence is dynamic. If you look at the interactions of a human brain, as we heard yesterday from a number of presentations, intelligence is wonderfully interactive. The brain isn’t divided into compartments. In fact, creativity, which I define as the process of having original ideas that have value, more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things…

And the third thing about intelligence is, it’s distinct.”

And so, without further adeiu, here is Sir Ken Robinson (you can also watch it on the TED website and follow along with an interactive transcript):

Hopefully you found this talk as encouraging as I did. You can also read a transcript of Robinson’s entire talk. Additionally, earlier this year Robinson published a new book, “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything,” which presents a deep look at human creativity and education.

I invite you to explore some of the videos on the TED website or to visit the organization’s “TEDTalks” YouTube channel. I don’t think 18 minutes of your day could be better spent!

Carl's Jr. Happy StarOn Saturday, January 31, 2009 Beth Mansfield, the Public Relations Manager for CKE Restaurants, Inc. (Carl’s Jr.), visited my UC Santa Barbara Extension “buying behavior” class.

She discussed the popular restaurant’s marketing strategy and, in particular, how the company uses social media in its outreach efforts.

Her two-hour presentation was exceptionally interesting and provided my students with tremendous insight into how a large corporation is embracing social media.

What you might find equally interesting is the process by which Beth wound up speaking to my class in the first place. A chronology of the events that transpired is provided below — note the pivotal role Twitter played in all of this (short version: without Twitter none of this would have happened).

It all began with a burger!

On December 20, 2008 iJustine tweeted that she was going to eat a cheeseburger (one of her more “insightful” posts!). I replied with a tweet in which I asked her what her favorite burger was — and included Carl’s Jr in the list of options (one of my more “insightful” posts).

Although iJustine never replied to me, Carl’s Jr. began following me almost immediately. This was ironic because I had no idea Carl’s Jr. was on Twitter and just three days earlier, on December 17, I had experienced a mild issue at a Carl’s Jr. near my house about which I intended to blog.

A week later, on December 24, I did just that and posted a sensational blog post about a negative Carl’s Jr. experience.  Then, to test the power of Twitter and the responsiveness of Carl’s Jr. on December 31, 2008, I tweeted about my aforementioned blog post, hoping to get a reply from the company.

A day later — New Year’s Day 2009 — I received a reply tweet from Carl’s Jr. along with a direct message (a private communication) from Carl’s Jr. explaining crisscut fries are always more expensive than regular fries, but, as a gesture of good faith, the company would send me some coupons.

At this point I still had no idea who was behind the Carl’s Jr. Twitter account.

Amazingly, the next day, January 2, 2009, I saw a tweet from noted technology writer Shel Israel promoting an interview he conducted with Beth Mansfield, the Public Relations Manager of Carl’s Jr.!

After reading Shel’s interview with Beth, I found my way to her personal Twitter account. I then realized she lived in Ventura, CA (which is just a few miles south of Santa Barbara).

I was surprised because I thought Carl’s Jr. was headquartered in Irvine, CA and assumed Beth would living in that area (in retrospect, I was thinking about Taco Bell which has its headquarters there).

This was really the “tipping point” because, prior to it, I did not know that it was Beth who was behind the Carl’s Jr. Twitter account and that she was so close to UCSB.

Realizing a potential opportunity, I sent Beth a direct message  to clarify if she was indeed in Ventura. She replied, indicating that Carl’s Jr. was based out of Carpinteria, CA.  It was at that point I invited her to speak at my class.  I did not know what to expect, but was relieved when Beth was immediately agreeable to the idea.

We went back and forth via direct messages on Twitter to determine the best date and everything. We confirmed the plans once more via e-mail, and then it all came together on January 31, 2009 — slightly more than one month after iJustine‘s tweet put this entire chain of events into motion.

If you’re interested in what Beth had to say (seven previously posted YouTube clips of her presentation were removed per a request from UCSB Extension), her PowerPoint presentation is available online at SlideShare:

Special thanks to Beth Mansfield for spending time on a Saturday to share some of Carl’s Jr.’s social media marketing secrets — and for Twitter, Shel Israel and iJustine (Justine EzarikJustine Ezarik) for helping to make this all happen.