Activating Love to Educate All Learners with Jamie Farrell, the Chief Revenue Officer at Emeritus

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To be successful in business, whether founding a new company or climbing the ladder at one that’s already established, a person has to have a clear motivation. This is also true for a company. The question becomes: What is the strongest motivation for action? Is it ambition? Is it the desire for wealth? Could the answer really be… love?

On this episode of Business X factors, find out how a central value of love can motivate an individual and perhaps even an entire company. Jamie Farrell, the Chief Revenue Officer at Emeritus, explains how operating from a place of love is a core value of hers and how it may be a motivating force for Emeritus too. She chats about her own passion for education and how she determines if potential teammates have a sincere interest in learning. Jamie also discusses the importance of truly demonstrating to people that they are cared about through one’s actions.

Main Takeaways: 

    • Love as Making a Positive Difference: There can be a tendency at both the personal and business level to avoid talking about love. Perhaps this is because defining love often feels like trying to hit a moving target. That said, an integral part of love is acting to care for others. Farrell explains that Emeritus’s Founder and CEO, Ashwin Damera, defines his success, and that of the company, by how many lives they positively change. Love can be an incredible motivator and it ought to not be dismissed.  
    • Placing a Number of Bets: Farrell describes how Emeritus’s business model is different from others. Some companies narrow in on one thing that they do well and then grow that particular business. Alternatively, according to Farrell, Emeritus adds new businesses to its fold to generate opportunities for more learners. Farrell points out that this does increase risk. Of course, greater risk can also mean more reward if the additional business bets prove correct.
    • Global Affordability Plus Access = Success: From Farrell’s perspective lots of education companies talk about providing education at a reasonable cost while also increasing paths to learning. She points out that Emeritus does have a tiered cost for a number of learning products but she describes the mentality about language as breaking the typical mold. Emeritus turns its courses into a variety of languages so that learners all over the world can get involved. The takeaway here is that it is important to think globally and to meet customers on their terms and in their languages.

Key quotes: 

“Emeritus is the largest global ed-tech company in the world and fastest-growing.”

“As I watched my dad build his business and my parents as they built our network, it was all about people. How do you connect with people? How do you actually show [and] demonstrate love for them? My mom is the most thoughtful person on the planet. Somebody could sneeze that she’s met once; she’ll send them flowers and bring over tissues. And it’s all about connection and love.” 

“At a high level, what I was doing [was that] somebody would be on the internet. They would go to Google. They would type in, ‘I want a degree online,’ Kaplan would pop up and they would fill out a lead form. And it was my job to call that person back and enroll them. And I was like 22 years old. And I had no idea what sales even was. But all I knew was that my whole job when I got on the phone with people was to make them feel comfortable. I knew to do that by building a connection.” 

“So at Emeritus we have multiple s-curves. So every year we may start two or three new businesses. The propensity for risk is really, really high. And it’s always with the end goal of how do we serve a different market of students.”

“Just probably about a year, [a] little bit over a year ago, we said, ‘You know what, we have so many companies coming to us; we’re gonna launch our B2B vertical.’ So now we have about a hundred people working to enable companies to meet learners where they are.”

“I care that we hire people that care. I want them to care. I want them to have the ability to learn… I want heart and hustle.” 

“I can’t define what love means to Emeritus, but I do believe as an organization, we would define it maybe as impact — impacting millions and millions of people. And I think for me personally, love is all about connection.”

“The way I would think about it is, at Emeritus, we meet the learner where they are.” 



Jamie is the Chief Revenue Officer and works with the company’s global business heads and their teams to establish a focused revenue function across respective business lines. Farrell has spent a career impacting millions of lives through education, serving as chief operating officer, chief revenue officer, senior vice president of marketing and admissions, and vice president for business development at such ed-tech companies as Trilogy Education, 2U, General Assembly, Academic Partnerships and Graduation Alliance. She has an unwavering belief in the ability of education to transform lives and has demonstrated, time and again, her expertise in building and driving teams to achieve that mission.”

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Episode 44