Chicago native Keisha Kidan, Ed.D. feels she is an entrepreneur at heart who was called to education.
Once an owner of a boutique real estate firm, there was nothing she enjoyed more than offering real estate sales and brokerage services in her community. However, in 2006, Keisha began teaching online business courses in marketing, entrepreneurship and professional development as an adjunct professor for City Colleges of Chicago.
Her experience teaching online merged two of her passions: technology and education. As a result, Keisha decided that she wanted to create exciting and interactive educational materials, courses and media. This fuels her passion and mission, which she says is to “train and teach the world.”
Dr. Kidan recently graduated from Concordia University, finishing her doctorate in education. She is committed to the merger of education and technology and acts as a consultant and content creator in her latest business, a consultant company called Professor Kidan & Company.
Keisha’s primary focus is to continuously make use of innovative educational tools, video, and social media to engage learners around the world. She works with experts in business, education, and real estate to create web-based educational content (webinars, videos, online courses, master classes, etc.). When she is not in front of the computer, Keisha enjoys being a mom to her daughter, listening to live music, fine dining and vacationing with family and friends.
N’DIGO recently sat with Dr. Kidan to learn more about her foray into education and what she has in store for the future.
N’DIGO: In your own words, tell us who is Keisha Kidan and a little about your background.
Keisha Kidan: I am a native Chicagoan, born, raised and educated on the South Side. I was raised by a single mom who was a CPS teacher for over 40 years, but I always had a lot of love around me. My grandmother, great-aunts, cousins, stepdad and my father all spoiled me in their own ways.
When I think about my background, I always feel that I had a lot of love and support. My mother was my rock and she loved everything related to education. She was always working on a class. Always. Growing up, I spent a lot of time at the school where she worked, but I also would go with her to her classes at night. I think that birthed an intellectual curiosity within me and definitely pushed me toward education as a cornerstone.
As a child, what did you originally envision yourself doing as an adult?
As a small child, I wanted to be an aerospace engineer because my father was one. I always just thought it sounded cool to be a person who worked with planes. What I wanted to do changed quite a bit through my childhood. But when I went to undergrad, I was accepted into the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Champaign, and planned to major in marketing. I loved the idea of helping to create campaigns and promote products, which is what I thought marketing was.
What is Professor Kidan & Company and how did it come together?
Professor Kidan & Company is an educational consulting company I started because I was working a job in public education and began to understand the many layers and complexities that arise when working with students and trying to educate children. I call myself an “entrepreneur at heart” so there is always some idea for a business brewing in my mind no matter what I do. Some of the ideas I had, I knew had possibility and could be shared widely. I believed I could do a better job of helping with some of the challenges I was seeing if I had my own company.
What happens when you merge technology and education?
Oh, so many things! When I first began working with technology, it was almost 20 years ago. There was a curiosity about the worldwide web. People were just getting home computers and upgrading from dial-up to high speed internet. Once I started teaching online in 2006, I noticed that despite teaching from my home on the South Side of Chicago, my students lived from one edge of the city to the other.
The conversations we were having were so varied and colorful because the experiences of those taking the courses I was teaching were so varied. I couldn’t help but think of how that would work if we could use technology to gather students and voices all around the world. Then, there is also the ability to break down cultural and location barriers.
So for example, right now, I can earn a graduate certificate from Harvard University online. It doesn’t matter that I have obligations here in Chicago and can’t get to Boston. Their online programs are very robust and they even have free courses they offer online.
I use that as an example because that is literally something I would have never considered before education merged with technology to create that type of access. It is something I am fascinated by and a champion of. I love the possibilities and see them as endless.
Please give us your opinion on the importance of STEM programs in inner-city schools.
The push to have STEM programming is not new. I was in a pre-engineering program at Chicago State University in the early 1990s! But actually bringing in engineering and technology professionals into a school building, to plant a seed in a young mind everyday, is not only important, it is truly remarkable if you think about it.
Often times, teachers who teach engineering and technology in elementary and high school are former professional engineers, developers, and technologists who are giving back by teaching. I believe the experiences these teachers can share with students, and the connections that can be made from the classroom to real-world practice or career opportunities in STEM fields, can be indelible. Every child may not choose a professional career in STEM, but having the classes and programs opens up the possibilities for children. That is hugely important.
Name three principles or ideals you try to abide by in your business dealings?
Well, the three principles I abide by in business are similar to those I abide by in life. First, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s cliché, but karma is real! You will often hear me exploring the other side of a coin or considering someone else’s perspective. They say life is unfair, but I say it can be as close to fair as possible if you treat people as you would like to be treated!
The second thing is I strive to keep an open mind. While working in education and technology, I encounter people who generally have strong opinions about both. From those who are generally “tech dismissive” to those who have theoretical solutions to complex problems, I have found that I have to embrace the range of people who I will encounter and push to impress a new perspective on them at times, while also taking in and understanding their place and position on how we can change education and how we can use technology to bridge gaps or make things easier. There is always something to learn if you keep an open mind.
Lastly, I believe in the law of attraction, or speaking my goals or desires into existence. This grounds me because I know that what is happening in my business and in my life are for my highest good. Now, sometimes I end up asking myself, “How did I get here again?” and that can be both in good times and when I have had challenges.
But I really try to keep my thoughts positive and spend time with people who are encouraging, ambitious and supportive. It goes a long way in business…especially as an entrepreneur when you don’t always know where or when your next “payday” is coming.
Can you name a book that changed or really impacted your life?
I read a lot, but a book that really impacted my life was Asaata: An Autobiography by Asaata Shakur. I am a huge fan of autobiographies and really kind of stumbled upon it some years ago. However, this one? I couldn’t put it down! It starts off strong and doesn’t let up. The story she told of her life gave me insight into a woman of power and of courage. I was completely inspired by her intelligent gangster.
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
Well I have always said I am not a book you can judge by its cover. I inherited that from my mother. I am at times soft spoken and can spend time quietly listening for a while before saying anything. However, I am not shy. So when I do have something to say, people are sometimes surprised by my ability to be very candid and expressive.
Best advice or words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Just do something! I meet a lot of entrepreneurs with wonderful ideas. They are well thought out and often have potential, but then I hear them talk themselves out of executing them. We are all imperfect. Everyone has flaws and off days and challenges in life. But trust that those moments will pass and the world will keep turning whether you move on your ideas or not. So just get out there. Don’t think or talk about something. Do something!
Favorite quote or affirmation?
I am a person who is always thinking about the next thing. So my favorite quote/affirmation reminds me to stop worrying so much: “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” That’s Matthew 6:34.
What’s next for Professor Kidan & Company?
Oh, so many things! To start, the mission of Professor Kidan & Company is to “Train and Teach the World!” I believe the internet allows us to reach people all around the world and I want people to expand and grow. So I have really taken to focusing on that mission. Then, I am constantly creating content to train and teach people all manner of things related to technology and entrepreneurship.
You can visit my website, www.trainteachtheworld.com for a ton of free videos and content to see what I mean. I’m also working on a documentary called the Lady Leadership Project to explore the voice of emerging lady entrepreneurs in Chicago. I am also doing a little bit of group coaching and aligning with events to promote the content I have.
Finally, I am producing online courses, master classes and content for entrepreneurs, realtors and others who want to use technology to grow their reach. Each year, I hope to double the number of people I train and teach. So I am always thinking of what’s next.
(For more information on Dr. Kidan, visit www.professorkidan.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org)