Decision Vision Episode 91: Should I Become an Adjunct Professor? – An Interview with Gary Clement, Clement Asset Management
Gary Clement, Clement Asset Management, joins host Mike Blake to discuss his experience as a financial services professional who also teaches as an adjunct professor. “Decision Vision” is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Gary Clement, President, Clement Asset Management
Clement Asset Management LLC is an advisory firm that offers financial planning services and recommends investment management strategies. They have been providing services and financial expertise to assist clients since 2006.
Gary O. Clement, CFP®, CRPS®, CRPC®, MPAS® is President of Clement Asset Management, LLC and a lead instructor in the Kaplan Schweser Certified Financial Planning Program. He has been educating clients and helping them reach their financial goals since 1998. Even before 1998, and steadfastly since then, Gary has been an ardent student of the financial services and investment world and considers himself both a lifelong student and teacher of personal finance. He enjoys educating groups, large and small, about money, personal finance, and the myriad financial products, vehicles, and strategies available to them.
Over the past 19 years, Gary has worked with various discount brokers, independent broker-dealers, and wirehouses. Today, Gary, as President of Clement Asset Management, LLC, focuses on providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services to help clients achieve their financial goals.
Gary has held FINRA Series 7, 63, 65, 3, 31, and 24 licenses, and has been a Certified Financial Planner since 2006. Gary also holds the Chartered Retirement Planning Specialist, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, and Master Planner Advanced Studies designations. He’s also taught Financial Planning, Investment Management, Retirement Planning, and Estate Planning courses for the Certified Financial Planning programs at Oglethorpe University, the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, and now teaches for Kaplan Schweser.
Gary is a proud graduate of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, a graduate of the Oglethorpe University Financial Planner Program, and holds an M.S.F.S. degree from the College for Financial Planning. He is also currently pursuing a Ph.D. in financial planning at the University of Georgia.
Mike Blake, Brady Ware & Company
Michael Blake is the host of the “Decision Vision” podcast series and a Director of Brady Ware & Company. Mike specializes in the valuation of intellectual property-driven firms, such as software firms, aerospace firms, and professional services firms, most frequently in the capacity as a transaction advisor, helping clients obtain great outcomes from complex transaction opportunities. He is also a specialist in the appraisal of intellectual properties as stand-alone assets, such as software, trade secrets, and patents.
Mike has been a full-time business appraiser for 13 years with public accounting firms, boutique business appraisal firms, and an owner of his own firm. Prior to that, he spent 8 years in venture capital and investment banking, including transactions in the U.S., Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
Brady Ware & Company
Brady Ware & Company is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm which helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality. Brady Ware services clients nationally from its offices in Alpharetta, GA; Columbus and Dayton, OH; and Richmond, IN. The firm is growth-minded, committed to the regions in which they operate, and most importantly, they make significant investments in their people and service offerings to meet the changing financial needs of those they are privileged to serve. The firm is dedicated to providing results that make a difference for its clients.
Decision Vision Podcast Series
“Decision Vision” is a podcast covering topics and issues facing small business owners and connecting them with solutions from leading experts. This series is presented by Brady Ware & Company. If you are a decision-maker for a small business, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at email@example.com and make sure to listen to every Thursday to the “Decision Vision” podcast.
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Intro: [00:00:01] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast series focusing on critical business decisions. Brought to you by Brady Ware & Company. Brady Ware is a regional, full-service accounting and advisory firm that helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality.
Mike Blake: [00:00:20] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast giving you, the listener, clear vision to make great decisions. In each episode, we discuss the process of decision making on a different topic from the business owners’ or executives’ perspective. We aren’t necessarily telling you what to do, but we can put you in a position to make an informed decision on your own and understand where you might need help along the way.
Mike Blake: [00:00:40] My name is Mike Blake, and I’m your host for today’s program. I’m a director at Brady Ware and Company, a full-service accounting firm based in Dayton, Ohio, with offices in Dayton; Columbus, Ohio; Richmond, Indiana; and Alpharetta, Georgia. Brady Ware is sponsoring this podcast, which is being recorded in Atlanta per social distancing protocols. If you like this podcast, please subscribe on your favorite podcast aggregator, and please consider leaving a review of the podcast as well.
Mike Blake: [00:01:07] So, the topic for this episode is, Should I Become an Adjunct Professor? And I want to cover this topic because I think almost every accomplished professional at some point or another gives thought to this particular path, whether independently you start thinking about what would it like to be a professor or maybe you’re recruited, maybe somebody sees you out in the wild, so to speak, and they think you’d be a great professor and they try to recruit you in. But whatever the path is, I think most people are confronted with it.
Mike Blake: [00:01:49] And, you know, I’ve been a guest speaker for more classes than I can count, but I haven’t been an adjunct professor formally, necessarily. But it is rewarding. It is fun to get in there into a classroom and teach people who want to learn. And to lead an audience through an education experience of some kind. And I imagine being able to do that over the course of a semester where there’s a long narrative, a long instructional narrative that you’re leading your students through, I think, has the potential to be immensely rewarding as well.
Mike Blake: [00:02:31] And I think some people look at becoming an adjunct professor relatively early in their careers. It might be something they do to help build their personal brand. It might be something they do to build a resume. It might be something that they do to, frankly, get extra income while they’re getting their main career or their business off the ground. I’ve even seen the case where you might want to be an adjunct professor because it’s a great way to source young talent for your business. But, you know, whatever the reason, you see a lot of people who are, you know, early to mid part of their career, they decide on that path.
Mike Blake: [00:03:12] And then, there’s the other category where it’s somebody who’s kind of in give back mode. It might be somebody who’s already retired or somebody who’s contemplating retirement. They’ve more or less made their dollars. They’ve made whatever brand they’re going to make. And now, you know, they see being a professor as a second act or, at least, part of a second act and which is a side gig. And unless you know an adjunct professor, it’s hard to kind of understand exactly what you’re in for. And there isn’t actually a ton of material on the Internet. There’s some, but not necessarily a lot. So, I think I know I’m going to enjoy this interview. And I think you, the listeners, are going to as well because if you’re thinking about this at all or at some point you will be, I think, getting inside the head and getting inside the life experience of somebody who’s walked this path is something that you’re going to find very helpful.
Mike Blake: [00:04:08] So, to that end, joining us is my friend, Gary Clement, who is president of Clement Asset Management. And is a newly retained assistant professor at the University of Alabama. And he is speaking with us from Tuscaloosa today. Gary is a financial services professional with 20 years of experience in the financial services industry with discount brokers, independent broker dealers, and wire houses. He has extensive knowledge of financial service business models and delivery channels, investment strategies and approaches, and investment products and vehicles. He’s a passionate instructor and financial coach, both to individuals and large groups. Gary is an accomplished communicator with proven leadership qualities and holds just about every license that FINRA makes you hold if you’re going to be in that industry or can offer for you to be in that industry. It’s more than you need to.
Mike Blake: [00:04:59] Gary has been an adjunct professor at the College for Financial Planning and adjunct professor at Clark Atlanta University and an instructor with a CFP certification program. Gary, himself, is a graduate of – Gary, you have to help me pronounce this. It’s Cheyney University?
Gary Clement: [00:05:17] Cheyney.
Mike Blake: [00:05:17] Okay. Cheyney University of Pennsylvania with a Degree in Mathematics, summa cum laude. I did not know that. That explains why he kicks my ass in chess all the time. And has passed Level 1 of the CFA Institute’s Chartered Financial Analyst program. And is a doctoral student at the University of Georgia’s Financial Planning Study. All around good guy, phenomenal chess player, Gary Clement, welcome to the program.
Gary Clement: [00:05:41] Thanks for having me, Mike. Thanks for having me.
Mike Blake: [00:05:43] So, what does it mean to you, just sort of definitionally, to be an adjunct professor? What is it?
Gary Clement: [00:05:52] Well, I think, a lot of the things that you talked about in the intro are really important in terms of thinking about being an adjunct instructor. But, you know, one of the things that I think is important is, you got to have a vision for why you want to do it, what do you want to accomplish in doing it, and who do you want to impact by doing it. So, when I think of the idea of adjuncting, one of the things that comes to mind is, do you have a love for teaching? Do you enjoy teaching? Do you enjoy being around people that are learning? And that, I think, fuels a lot of it. When I look at it, I look at it as something that should be fun because, although, it’s rewarding in a lot of different ways, it’s not really rewarding financially.
Mike Blake: [00:06:39] So, nobody is thinking they’re getting rich by being an adjunct professor?
Gary Clement: [00:06:45] No. And I don’t think that that should be the purpose for doing it. One of the things that I found in doing it immediately after I got my CFP was I wanted to have some adjunct as I was building my business. I want to have some adjunct means of earning some money. But I found that I enjoyed it so much. But I also found something really important. I found that it was really synergistic with what I do. So, as I got better as an instructor, I got better as an advisor. As I got better as an advisor, I got better as an instructor. So, I think that if you’re looking at doing something that will build your skills, keep you engaged in a way that you wouldn’t normally be engaged as a professional to get better continually, incrementally, adjuncting is a great way to do that.
Gary Clement: [00:07:34] And part of the reason is, you really never know what the limitations of your knowledge really are because you don’t necessarily have to confront that. But when you have to study hard enough to present a class and when you have to respond to questions that you may not have anticipated, it gives you a great opportunity to continue to learn on a much deeper level. And, of course, just the repetition of doing it over and over and over again, you know, you get to be really fluent in your subject matter. And there’s no other way to do that other than by teaching. And then, it gets down to how we learn as people. And they say that, you only learn a small percentage or retain a small percentage if you read it. You only retain a small percentage if you attend a presentation. But you really retain a whole lot more if you teach that subject matter. And I think that all of that is really true.
Mike Blake: [00:08:35] You know, one of my mentors – I have not had many in my career, but one who I did have – told me that, if you want to ever learn something, teach it. And I found that to be invaluable advice because I found – I’m curious if you found this as well – when I am called upon to teach something, and sometimes it will be a very advanced subject matter, sometimes it will be very basic, but in either case, when I think about presenting it and I think about how I’m going to explain it, I realize that there are some things that I’ve sort of taken for granted and never really fully explored the why. There are some things where, maybe, my knowledge isn’t state of the art. There are some places where I’ve gotten to bad habits. There are places where I thought I learned something and I didn’t. And it was only because I was forced to look something up and nobody ever caught it. And I think that happens a lot or nobody ever called me on it. But there’s something about knowing that you’re going to present to an audience that just makes your focus that much more and sort of take care of the rigor. Have you found that as well?
Gary Clement: [00:09:55] Absolutely. I mean, I think you really encapsulated that. You know, you really do have to study much, much harder. You have to anticipate some questions, particularly around subject matter that’s a little bit more challenging. But then, there’s going to be those questions that you could never anticipate, you just never thought about. And that’s where the real learning opportunity comes from. Aside from the work that you have to put in to prepare, it’s those questions that just come out of the left field that cause you to really stretch. And you may not have an answer for them, but it’s just another opportunity to go look something else up and figure out an answer. So, all of those things happen when you’re teaching and, especially, if you’re teaching on a regular basis.
Gary Clement: [00:10:40] Now, for me, lucky enough, when I started out, I was teaching adults. So, these were folks that were industry professionals for the most part or career changers. So, people within the range of 30 to 40, sometimes a little bit younger, sometimes a little bit older. So, it was great to get questions from people that were actively engaged in the field and get an opportunity to pursue some areas of inquiry that were really within their wheelhouse, but not yet in mine. So, that really was a good way to do that. So, that’s absolutely true.
Mike Blake: [00:11:18] And you know, that highlight something that I’d like to share an observation. As long as I’ve known you, you’re a low ego guy. That doesn’t mean that you’re not aggressive, it doesn’t mean you’re not driven. But you are a low ego guy. And I think that a low ego personality both is more effective as an instructor and I think benefits most from being an instructor. Because when somebody asks you a question to which you don’t know the answer, you don’t try to tap dance your way around it. You don’t get defensive. I’m betting that when you’re asked that question – and you have. You’ve been around too long not to – your answer is, “You know what? That’s a great question. Let me figure it out and get back to you.” And then, you both learn, right?
Gary Clement: [00:12:09] Yeah. I think that that’s a whole lot safer than trying to fudge an answer that’s completely wrong. And you’re right, I mean, a lot of times teachers want to be right. They want to have the answers. But sometimes you just don’t have the answers. And it’s not only safer to say, “I don’t have the answer at this time. But I can find the answer and get back to you.” But it also gives you a certain amount of cachet as an instructor, because we don’t have all the answers and we shouldn’t fake it if we don’t have the answer. And at the same time, it really leads to being a teacher with integrity because you’re not trying to fake it. And I think that that really helps students understand that this is all a process. It’s a process for students and it’s a process for instructor.
Mike Blake: [00:12:58] So, what was your first position? I know it wasn’t Clark Atlanta. Was it College for Financial Planning? Was that your first?
Gary Clement: [00:13:09] No. No. It was actually Oglethorpe.
Mike Blake: [00:13:14] Oglethorpe. Okay.
Gary Clement: [00:13:14] Yeah. And to be honest with you, a lot of that ties into what we just said. You know, one of the things that I think is important about being an instructor, especially a new instructor, is what I mentioned just a second ago, it’s a learning experience. So, when you’re coming in and you’re teaching for the first time, you can’t expect to be great the first time. You know, but what I think is, you’ve got to really make peace with in order to be good, sometimes you have to be bad. And I’m going to rephrase that a different way, if it’s worth being good at something, it’s also worth being bad at it until you can get good, as long as you learn from the lessons that you take day after day after day.
Gary Clement: [00:13:56] So, you know, the first class that you might teach might be kind of rough. You know, maybe you’re asked to teach something that you haven’t taught before. I always looked at that as an opportunity to learn something better that I didn’t know as well, even though, I had to take my lumps in the classroom by not understanding things well enough to explain it well, not being able to answer their questions really well, and really having to rely on coming back to folks to answer questions. But if you can make it through those times – and relatively short if you put the time into really learning the subject matter – it’s a really great, great thing to go through that and be good enough to teach that with confidence as time goes by. But it’s a process.
Mike Blake: [00:14:42] And for those of you who are not in the Atlanta area, Oglethorpe University is a private institution that is here in Atlanta. And, actually, it’s about three miles south of where I live so I’m very familiar with it. So, you’re so right about if you want to be good at something, you have to be willing to be bad. Not that I’m a great cook at all, but I’ve always thought and told people that, every great chef got to that point by making a ton of lousy food. And I like to think in my profession, you know, the best appraisal that I ever do or the best strategic advisory engager I ever do is the last one that I do. I’m not going to get better. I just walk off the floor and off we go. That may or may not be realistic. But you’re right, I mean, it is a skill and it may be rough. So, I want to dig deeper into that. So, your first teaching gig was at Oglethorpe. How did you get it?
Gary Clement: [00:15:45] It was just pure luck, to be honest with you. It was a situation where I knew that I wanted to teach. I didn’t know how to go about getting the job. I inquired. I didn’t really get too much of an answer on inquiring. And, basically, I just fell into the position at the right time. Oglethorpe had a program director in a CFP program that defected and went to University of Georgia and started their certification program at their location at Lennox in Atlanta. And it just so happened, I sent a huge package over to Oglethorpe right after that happened. So, they had a new program director. A program director that was there before it took almost all the instructors. So, they had a need for somebody and I stepped into that void. So, it is that easy for me, but it was just something that was just luck at the time.
Gary Clement: [00:16:46] I think, though, that colleges have a pretty consistent need for adjuncts. So, I think that it’s important to continue to really pursue those opportunities, make relationships, or establish relationships with people in departments. Because when they do have a need, you know, they’re going to think of you and calling you to take advantage of that opportunity. And that’s what happened at Clark Atlanta. I wasn’t pursuing that. It’s just that I knew somebody who was the program director there and they had a need. They called me up with that need. I was able to do it and it worked out fine.
Gary Clement: [00:17:26] So, those are the things that can make the road a little bit easier for you. But I think that even if you just really just pursued it on a regular basis, colleges do have those opportunities that come up all the time. And one of the things that makes that something that you can really latch on to is the fact that when we talked about it, there’s not a lot of money in adjuncting. So, you know, you’re doing it for lunch money for the most part – maybe a little more than lunch money. But it’s not a lot of money. So, there are times when people that are adjuncting, [inaudible] a lot of those jobs because they have other opportunities. So, those opportunities are continually coming up.
Mike Blake: [00:18:11] So, while, perhaps, there was some luck involved just because of the timing, they knew to call you because you said you sent a package to the program director. When you say you sent a package, what does that mean?
Gary Clement: [00:18:25] I sent my resume. I sent some articles that I had written. I really put it together with color and all kinds of things. And I put it together in somewhat of a portfolio. So, it was more than just a resume. You know, it really was a well-rounded idea of what I could bring as an instructor to the university. So, it was more extensive than a resume. But I think a resume might have done just as well, to be honest with you.
Mike Blake: [00:18:57] Well, you’ll never know. But I think the approach is interesting, right? Because, to me, it makes perfect sense. If you’re going to pursue an academic position than demonstrating that you have an academic mindset, meaning that you research, that you communicate, and you have an interest in making an intellectual contribution to your field, I think that that’s helpful. Just putting myself in the hiring position, if I had somebody that not only sent me a resume and not a CV, but here’s, also, you have to go looking for it, here are my three favorite articles or four, whatever you did. Here are the three favorite things that I’ve done and that I’m passionate about and I think I’m an expert on, I mean, it just makes it easier to hire you if nothing else, right?
Gary Clement: [00:19:54] I would like to think so. But like you said, I’ll never know. I think it was a combination of that and being in the right place at the right time.
Mike Blake: [00:20:03] So, I do want to explore this and I think a lot of people they think about being an adjunct professor. I think they’re in your shoes. They’re, “I’d like to do this. I have a passion for teaching.” And the things that we talked about, how do you get started? And what you described to me is it’s really no different than landing any other position. It’s about networking and building a brand and building relationships. And the more that you do, the more likely it is that you’re going to “get lucky” because you’re going to get more opportunities.
Gary Clement: [00:20:40] Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that puts it together in a nutshell.
Mike Blake: [00:20:46] Now, when you got started – now, you hold a master’s degree, if I’m not mistaken, correct?
Gary Clement: [00:20:52] Yes.
Mike Blake: [00:20:52] And is that kind of the table stakes to get into an adjunct position? Do you have to have a master’s degree or are there people that hold less advanced degrees than that that are able to find adjunct positions?
Gary Clement: [00:21:07] You can. You can get an adjunct position without a master’s degree. However, it’s easier if you have a master’s degree. And part of the reason I went forward and got the master’s degree is this, when I went to Oglethorpe, I went into the CFP program as an adjunct, which didn’t require that I had a master’s degree. But what I noticed was that a lot of the certification programs were being pulled into degree granting programs and colleges. So, knowing that I wanted to continue teaching, I knew then that I would have had to at least get a master’s degree, to at least make sure that I was going to continually have those opportunities. So, I went forward and got the master’s degree and it just made it easier, because many schools do require it, some do not. And if I had to say, I’d have to say that most of them do require master’s degree. So, it just made it easier for me to step in and teach in programs.
Gary Clement: [00:22:03] And then, of course, going through the master’s program, I got attracted to the idea of doing a doctorate, which makes it even far easier. And if you wanted to go further with teaching and be a full time teacher or even a part time teacher in a regular program, this is really a great way to do many of the things that you talked about a second ago, find new talent and provide opportunities for them. You can also find a way to ease into retirement because teaching is great. And as you teach the same subjects over and over again, it gets a lot easier. And being an academic in that regard is a really good way to, not only ease into retirement, but if you’re doing it full time with a big university, you’re talking about a whole lot more money that you’re making as well. So, these are all things that you can do while you’re running another business. And if you find that it’s time to transition out of the business, you’ve got a soft landing space that you know is almost hard to beat.
Mike Blake: [00:23:07] Now, how is the subject matter chosen? I suspect that many people considering an adjunct role think about, “Okay. I’ve got this great class that I want to teach. I really want to teach somebody on option theory. I want to teach medieval Russian history. I’ve got a specific subject that I want to teach.” How does the subject to be taught get chosen or assigned and/or match with the instructor? Do you have any say? Or is it decided, “Hey, we need somebody to teach this class, do you want to teach it?”
Gary Clement: [00:23:52] Initially, you don’t have any say. You really have to go based on what the needs of the college actually are. And they’ll let you know what they need you to teach. But one of the great things is, after you teach at an institution for a while, when they get to know you, if they have a need, or if they’re thinking about bringing on a new program, you’re now in that institution. And if you’re one of the people that can actually teach that class, you’ve got an opportunity to create something new. But generally coming in, you know, they have their needs, they know what they want. And you’ve got to teach what they have available for you to teach. But beyond that, you can create some new opportunities.
Mike Blake: [00:24:36] So, in your mind, looking back at how you started and how you’ve developed, you’ve probably observed other adjuncts as well, you know, if I’m taking a skills inventory for myself, I’m thinking about becoming an adjunct professor, what skill set do you think sets a person up for the greatest success?
Gary Clement: [00:24:56] Well, a couple of things. I mean, of course, being able to communicate is important. But not just that. You really have to be somewhat of a performer. You know, you’re presenting in front of a class, it could be 12 students, it could be 100 students, we don’t know. But you’re in front of the class and you’re no different than any other person who’s on stage doing something. So, I always think that being a teacher and being a presenter is not just about the information. You have to present the information in a way that people can grab onto that information. You have to make it somewhat enjoyable. That’s one of the reasons why I say you’re somewhat of an entertainer or a presenter because you want to make it come alive for people. And at the same time, you want to be able to develop relationships because it’s not just about presenting to students. You have to make a connection. And that connection is a personal connection. So, all of those things are important.
Gary Clement: [00:25:53] And then, the most important thing is just to have a great deal of inquisitiveness yourself, because you’re going to be dealing with the subject matter. You’re probably going to go forward and do more study around the fringes of the core of the class. So, those types of things are all very, very important. But the most important thing goes back to what we said before, you know, you can’t be afraid to fail. You have to have that muscle. You have to be able to say, “I’m going to go in here and give it my best shot” knowing that, you know, it may not be great, but the next time a bit better, the next time will be better. And each time after that, you’re going to be better. And you have to be able to do that. And the bottom line is that, if you do that enough, you’re going to gain the kind of skill and confidence to go anywhere after that and then teach in any kind of environment.
Mike Blake: [00:26:48] Now, in order to be sort of an adjunct type instructor, do you necessarily have to teach at a college or there are other outlets that are available for that kind of energy or that kind of design?
Gary Clement: [00:27:02] Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Now, you know, I teach for Kaplan as well. So, Kaplan is a business, not a college. Although they merged with College for Financial Planning, at least the division that I’ve been in. And there’s all sorts of classes that can be taught. There are classes that help people prepare for exams, standardized tests. There’s classes that are designed to help people get a little bit more knowledge in a specific area. So, all of those are opportunities and those are actually opportunities that don’t require an advanced degree. But you do have to have a lot of experience and have the ability to present the material well and bring something to the table.
Mike Blake: [00:27:49] You know, and I think that’s an important area to be mindful of if you’re thinking about getting into teaching, is that, although, your obvious target might be universities or colleges, there are lots of adult education outlets that need and want teachers, particularly ones with experience. But, you know, they need people that can do that content. And, you know, frankly, it’s not everybody that wants to do this. You know, a lot of people still have stage fright. And it’s like the person that’s simply willing to get on the ladder to get the job to fix the gutter, basically. And I think, you know, instructing can sometimes be that way, if you’ve sort of overcome the inherent fear of performing that many of us have, you know, there are lots of outlets. And I would imagine it can be that gig at Kaplan, for example, can help set you up for that university gig later because they see you have that teaching experience.
Gary Clement: [00:28:57] No question about it. I’m at University of Alabama today because of Kaplan, because of Oglethorpe, because of University of Georgia. So, it takes that first opportunity to gain not only the skill and confidence to take on the next opportunity, but these things snowball. So, Oglethorpe was my first opportunity. I taught there for five years. I left there and went to the certification program at University of Georgia, and was there for a year. Then, got the opportunity with Kaplan. And then, got the opportunity with College for Financial Planning. And, ultimately, here. So, this can be something that you build incrementally. And each step builds on the next step. So, absolutely, that is true.
Mike Blake: [00:29:44] So, you’ve talked about building the muscle and becoming better over time. Can you say, specifically, where do you feel like your skills have improved or, at least, your confidence in them has improved over time throughout your teaching career?
Gary Clement: [00:30:00] Well, it’s really just a matter of being around and going through this over and over again. And I happen to be a glutton for punishment with regards to studying this stuff. So, you know, it really is repetition, study, really taking note of things that happened in the real world, things that happen in practice, things that went well in class, things that didn’t go well in class. You know, I’m like you in this regard. What really drives me continually is to be better. And what drives me to continue teaching is I’m always looking for the perfect class, knowing that there’s not going to be a perfect class. There are going to be things that come up. There are going to be things that I can’t answer right off the bat. There are going to be things that I say I could have explained better. And it just drives me forward to get better and better and better at it. And that’s the type of thing that’s exciting and never ends. And I think that as you do that, you’re going to get better, and it’s just a desire to keep doing that.
Mike Blake: [00:31:06] Now, you mentioned before that also being an adjunct professor has helped your business, which is in the investment and wealth advisory space. Talk a little bit about that. Talk about how your time in the classroom has made you more effective in that side of your professional life.
Gary Clement: [00:31:23] Yeah. It’s really been very synergistic in that regard. When you’re used to going over concepts over and over and over again, it makes it easy when clients have questions. And I always look at myself as an educator, whether I’m in the classroom or dealing with clients. So, the ability to explain things and break it down to a level that anybody should be able to understand is a skill that really cuts across either type of endeavor. So, that really is the basic thing that has really been helpful.
Gary Clement: [00:31:57] The other thing is, you know, when you have a wider base of knowledge, then you’ve got a lot of different tools that you can use to help a client meet a specific objective. So, those things are really helpful in practice. But the major thing is just being fluent, being fluent in all the things that you need to explain to someone. Even though, again, you may not have all the answers for your client, but if you’ve got a lot of the answers, they roll off your tongue like you’ve talked about them a lot and you have it if you’re a teacher, it’s going to be easy for you.
Mike Blake: [00:32:29] Now, what about the time commitment outside of the classroom? I liken teaching to what John Elway said when he retired from football. He retired after having won two Super Bowls, finally, at the end of his career. And when asked about why would you retire on top of the game and he said that, “If all I had to do was play on Sunday, I’d still play. But it’s the other six days that I can’t do anymore.” And I think teaching is like that too. The glory part is that performance time, the hour, the two hours, or three hours in the classroom. But talk about the investment time that’s required away from the classroom so that you can do that effectively.
Gary Clement: [00:33:12] Yeah. Initially, it’s a lot. So, you could probably count on doing two, maybe three hours for every hour that you’re in class just to prepare, make sure that you’re ready, make sure that you’ve got an idea of where the questions may come from. And then, be practiced enough to go in there and really do a good job during that particular hour of teaching. Over time, however, if you do it over and over again and you’re teaching the same class, that prep time goes down dramatically. And if you’ve done it for years, then that prep time might be close to zero, which is great when you get to that point. But it does take time. Initially, you’ve got to put in a lot of time just to be relatively good at it. And I say relatively good, again, because, you know, you’re not going to have everything in place in terms of your knowledge and your ability when you step in the door to teach something for the first time.
Mike Blake: [00:34:09] So, let’s change gears here for something, this is a question, I think, is very broad application. And that is, you know, have you been put in a position since the pandemic, or maybe you’ve done it otherwise, where you’ve had to teach remotely?
Gary Clement: [00:34:25] Yes.
Mike Blake: [00:34:28] And I have a view on this, but I don’t want to skew it. How do you find that as a teacher? Does it make it easier? Does it make it harder? How do you have to adapt to be in that environment?
Gary Clement: [00:34:41] Well, you know, lucky for me, I’ve been doing it for a while. Because when I went with Kaplan, which is eight years ago now, that was all virtual. And even though it was set up in a situation where the students can see me, I can’t see them. And it was a little weird at first. What I found was, it’s not that different than being in a regular class. The major difference is you don’t have spontaneous conversations. So, that’s a little bit of a missing. But for the most part, you know, you can really approach it like you’d approach any other class.
Gary Clement: [00:35:14] Now, last year was different, because at Clark Atlanta, we went virtual when things hit in March. So, we went to Zoom and we’re doing a lot of that here at Alabama. And that’s a little different. But, again, I pursue it just like I pursue any regular class. The students are there. And in that scenario with Zoom, you can see everyone and they can see you. So, it’s even more like a regular class. Where it’s different is, if you’ve got an asynchronous class, which I do with College for Financial Planning. So, there, you don’t really have that connection. And you’re really interacting with people who are posting things and discussion checks and sending in assignments. So, you don’t have that same kind of connection.
Gary Clement: [00:36:00] And the only thing I would say about that is, you want to try to create that kind of connection in other ways, whether that means meeting with students outside of class, on Zoom, or FaceTime, or emailing them back and forth. That kind of gets you that kind of connection. It’s tough, but it is a good transition to anybody or for anybody that can do it, because those are the opportunities that are going to be coming up more and more and more.
Gary Clement: [00:36:34] We see now a lot of people have to do that. A lot of people that didn’t expect to do that have to do that in this particular timeframe. But I think colleges are going to really note that there’s a lot of opportunity there. Because so many more people in the classroom, they’re not bound by any geographic location. And it just makes sense because the technology can support it.
Gary Clement: [00:36:57] Here’s the other thing I would say too – and this even gets beyond adjuncting. You know, it is the opportunity to create the class that you want to create and market and sell it yourself. So, I think that that’s something that people should think about as well as they’re going through the process of considering being an adjunct.
Mike Blake: [00:37:16] Well, that certainly is an option. YouTube makes it easy and you might even be able to put on Udemy or something like that. So, you’re right, we haven’t even talked about the virtual delivery platform in that way. I have taught some classes virtually. I did one that was asynchronous. Asynchronous was rough for me. And that was also very long and it was right after COVID hit, so I was not prepared for what to expect. And, quite frankly, it’s probably one of the worst classes I ever taught. But the thing that hit me was, you realize how much energy you receive from your audience when it’s not there. When you have to produce every amount of energy yourself, that is mentally and physically a massive toll that I think you have to be prepared for if you’re going to teach virtually. And I was not prepared for it. It stunned me how hard it is.
Gary Clement: [00:38:23] Yes. I can underscore that a thousand percent. If you are teaching a class asynchronously where you’re recording yourself doing a lecture and there’s no audience, not having an audience makes it really incumbent on you to build the enthusiasm, to present as though there’s somebody there, and to create the kind of excitement around the subject matter that is easy to do when you’ve got an audience, but very difficult to do if you don’t have an audience. You have to generate that all yourself. And sometimes it’s a pale second to actually doing it live with somebody in class.
Mike Blake: [00:39:09] And that’s probably the new skill that is going to be in demand, as people are going to develop remote presentation skills and techniques and such. And somebody that I follow on the Internet told me that what he’s doing, he started using a standing desk for delivering virtual presentations because he just finds he has more energy when he does that. I think that’s an interesting idea. And that that in itself, I think, is going to evolve into a separate skill set, virtual instruction versus physical analog instruction.
Gary Clement: [00:39:45] I think you’re right. I think you’re right. Because when you’re sitting down doing it, it’s not the same. It is not the same at all.
Mike Blake: [00:39:53] So, as an adjunct, I’m curious if you ever had a chance to interact with full time faculty. I know there are full-time faculty at Clark Atlanta, for example. So, maybe that’s going to be the case study. Have you ever had a chance to interact? And what I’m getting at is, you know, there’s all kinds of data suggests that the market for full time captive instructors, professors, is drying up and tenure is really hard to come by. And those positions are being replaced, frankly, with adjuncts. And no industry is happy when they see their jobs being taken by another group. We live in a country where that is an ongoing discussion front and center, whether we like it or not. How do you find your interaction with full time faculty? Are they willing to be accepting of you? Do they put you in a distance? Are they, in some cases, hostile?
Gary Clement: [00:40:55] Honestly, my experiences have all been pretty good. But I will say this, it depends on when you’re teaching. Like, if you’re teaching and your classes are evening classes, you’re not going to have that much interaction with other professors. But if you’re teaching during a normal college day, yeah, you’re going to have interaction with them. And luckily for me, you know, I’ve always felt like I was part of the team. But one of the things you have to recognize also as an adjunct is, those people that are there that have tenure, you know, they’re safe. They’re not really feeling threatened by your presence. And a lot of times they know that you’re needed.
Gary Clement: [00:41:29] On the other hand, the great thing is, if there is an opening that comes up, and in the rare times that there are, you know, that person who is adjuncting has a leg up because of those relationships they have. So, if they wanted to transition to a position like that, they could easily do that. So, no, I have not felt any other way other than part of a team. And it’s always been a good experience.
Mike Blake: [00:41:59] We’re talking with Assistant Professor Gary Clement of the University of Alabama, and should you become an adjunct professor. We’re coming up on our hour time limit here but I do have a couple more questions that I want to get through. And, one, I think really resonates, I think, with your personal life experience. So, you’ve done something kind of interesting, I would like to get your input on this. Is that you’ve moved from kind of gig professor, to adjunct, and now you’ve gotten a full-time position as an assistant professor. In the university world, assistant professor means that you’re a professor, just not tenured, basically. And, first of all, congratulations. And second is, how hard is that to do? I mean, when you start off as an adjunct, is that a realistic path? Or, frankly, are you kind of a unicorn in that regard?
Gary Clement: [00:43:05] I don’t know that I’ve considered myself a unicorn in that regard. And I should be where I am now to having gone through the process at University of Georgia in the graduate doctorate program. I think that if you’re willing to do the work that it takes to get a doctorate, then that’s certainly a possibility. As far as having a master’s degree and going on as a full-time professor, that’s a little bit more difficult. Not to say that it’s impossible. But it’s certainly more difficult. And having a doctorate makes it far easier to transition into a position like that.
Mike Blake: [00:43:44] Gary, this has been a great conversation. I think people that are interested in pursuing this path will have learned a lot by listening to this podcast. If somebody has more questions that we weren’t able to cover today, can they contact you? And if so, what’s the best way to do that?
Gary Clement: [00:43:58] LinkedIn is probably the best. It comes straight to my phone. And I like having that connection, so I can see who’s actually reaching out. So, that’s always helpful as well.
Mike Blake: [00:44:11] All right. Well, thank you so much. And that’s going to wrap it up for today’s program. I would like to thank Professor Gary Clement so much for joining us and sharing his expertise with us. We’ll be exploring a new topic each week, so please tune in so that when you’re faced with your next executive decision, you have clear vision when making it. If you enjoy these podcasts, please consider leaving a review with your favorite podcast aggregator. It helps people find us that we can help them. Once again, this is Mike Blake. Our sponsor is Brady Ware & Company. And this has been the Decision Vision Podcast.