Jay Eitner is a proud product of the New Jersey public schools. A graduate from Union High School in 1997, Jay attended The American University in Washington DC with a BA in interdisciplinary studies. He began his teaching career in Roselle, NJ teaching a variety of subjects, including social studies, computers, and literacy. Known for being ‘outside of the box’ and for strong technology infusion, Eitner strived to make a learning environment that was technology infused, student-centered, and data-driven. Jay received his Masters Degree in 2004 and was hired to teach 8th-grade social studies in the nationally recognized East Brunswick Public Schools. During his time in East Brunswick, Eitner has written & received over $140,000 in grants for his students. Grants ranged from podcasting equipment to creating a fully-interactive goldrush experience, where students dug for gold during their westward expansion unit. Jay obtained his supervisor, principal, and school administrator certificates from the NJPSA NJ-EXCEL program in 2009. Administratively, Eitner has served as a middle school Assistant Principal, a K-12 Supervisor of Social Studies, and a Superintendent in two New Jersey Districts. This past summer, Eitner successfully defended his dissertation on the importance of Professional Development for educators. He has presented a series of workshops on digital leadership, technology infusion, and student achievement for grades K-12. Accolades include received the honor of ‘National Superintendent of the Year’ in the Educator Voice Awards from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
Back in 2005, the internet truly began being injected into daily use in schools. While it had abundant resources, it was not necessarily harnessed in a way that would help students and teachers grow, learn, and move forward. It was also around the birth of social media. Safe and relevant navigation was needed to help educators and administrators understand the potential of the Internet and how scads of websites and social media platform could be used in the classroom.
How do you make money?
I offer customized, affordable professional development for all educational levels that is both fun and effective. Few can say that today. Professional development can range from learner-active classroom techniques for teachers to effective goal setting for the Board of Education.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
In 2005, I was still teaching full-time and was only offering workshops through the technology center in my school district. When I became a school administrator and eventually a Superintendent of Schools, I began to adjust my rates to reflect the needs of the district. Profitability does not happen overnight; as the saying goes, ‘slow and steady wins the race’.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
When I first venture on my own, I was very scared that I would not be able to make enough to provide for my family. I did what I had to do to keep things afloat, including using my 401K and taking a pension loan. While I know that doing such was not the best thing to do, it was the best option to keep my family and house afloat.
How did you get your first customer?
My very first customer was after I presented at the New Jersey Association of School Administrators on the 30 greatest apps used in schools today. Another Superintendent approached me and asked if I would be interested in coming to their district and presenting. I was happy to oblige, and from there, it’s been word-of-mouth since!
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I am huge advocate of social media because I am cognizant on how to use it. Educators and Administrators took a long time to come on board because of all of the negative attention it first gained. Now that it is a staple in so many lives, it’s much easier to use and harness the positive power of it. I have been a huge fan of Twitter, Instagram, and even FaceBook. When new apps come out, I try them as well because I want to meet my customers on the platforms that they use.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
One of the hardest decisions I had to make was not accepting various opportunities in other states that were far away from home. I have twins who are almost 4. Being away from them for several nights, if not several weeks, takes a toll on everyone. FaceTime can only help so much. My family will always come first.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
What makes me most successful is my persistence. I do not quit, despite any barriers that are thrown my way. I don’t care what people say; I don’t care what people think; I don’t care about people who troll me on social media. I care about what’s best for our future. They will be taking care of us in 30 years; we have an onus to take care of them.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Nothing ever beats making a connection with your clients and giving them the information they need to succeed. My job is useless if I don’t deliver meaningful and effective ways to make teachers and administrators better teachers and administrators. Seeing someone walk away with that ‘a-ha’ moment is and will always be the most satisfying moment business.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Education has changed more in the past 6 years than it has 60. With over 700 new apps coming out for schools each week combined with how and what students are learning today is bringing in a whole new way of thinking along with how and what to educate. I embrace change and see it as refreshing and meaningful for our future.
What business books have inspired you?
Two of my go-to books are “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F-ck” by Marc Manson and “The Do-Over” by Jon Acuff. In Mason’s book, he shows us that the key to being happier is to stop trying to be “positive” all the time and instead to become better at handling adversity. This is essential for those in business and in schools today. Life is not all unicorns, puppy dogs and rainbows. We need to at the very least acknowledge that in order to realistically fulfill goals. Acuff’s book speaks of four elements that all great careers have in common: relationships, skills, character, and hustle. The book’s unique approach will give you the resources to reinvent your work, get unstuck, and get the job you’ve always wanted.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
I recently purchased a series of social media monitoring and detection software to keep me abreast of the latest trends and what people are looking at. While I know that I am more than what I am portrayed to be online, I want to see what people are writing about me and what they are saying about me in order to properly address it. I could deny all day and night, but I am a firm believer of speaking to issues, not running from them.
How do you plan on staying relevant in your field of business?
It’s paramount for all educators to connect, engage, and continue to grow. If we do not meet our learners where they are today, we will do a disservice to our future. I will continue to grow, learn, and move onward so that meaningful, affordable, effective, and fun professional development will be available for our educators and administrators.