If innovation equals success in today’s business world, the ability to problem-solve is the magic property that drives every solution. And engaging math curriculum is the cornerstone of problem-solving ability.
Jacob Lyman (Vice President of Product Operations at ZipRealty), knows this to be true from experience:
“What I think kind of caught my attention when first hearing about the IMP [math] program, was ‘Hey, we wanna take real life situations, a very large real life situation, and break it down into small units, and solve it.’ And to me, that just sounded so much more interesting than sitting and memorizing math equations.”
As one of the first students to use IAT’s Interactive Mathematics Program® (IMP) over 15 years ago, Lyman has relied on the skills he learned in math class to help him navigate the complex world of business management including team-collaboration, problem-solving and product development.
With the recent announcement of two new editions of the IMP, teachers will be able to empower more students to solve real-world problems after they graduate high school, much the way the program inspired and empowered Lyman over a decade ago.
But, as with any progressive program, all administrators and teachers want to know is: Does it work?
That’s where Jake Lyman comes in.
Lyman knows the business value of solving problems. In his position at ZipRealty (@ziprealty), Lyman and his coworkers (operating in the true spirit of collaboration and teamwork) were instrumental in developing the Powered by Zip real estate CRM, which led ZipRealty to become one of the leading national real estate brokerages, with 23 offices around the U.S. and $2.7 billion in closed sales.
When it comes to his role on the ZipRealty team, Jake Lyman credits IMP with helping him to embrace the collaborative creative process and to develop killer problem-solving skills:
“A key part of my job right now is sitting down with brokers and agents and figuring out what their existing problems are, and how our software can help them. So throughout life, I think [IMP] played a much larger role in developing that strong skill set of problem solving.”
As one of the first students at Berkeley High School (@BHSinfo) to take IMP, Lyman recalls how the unique structure and integrated quality of the program significantly affected how he worked with people and solved problems:
“There was a lot more collaboration in the class than I think you would see in a traditional math class. It taught me to be able to collaborate on large problems and to divide workloads among people, and then come back and work together on the larger problem, as people work on various pieces.”
Even though high school is many years and millions of dollars behind him, Jacob Lyman (like Rex Moribe, another IMP-Alumni successful entrepreneur) still recognizes that his IMP high school math courses have been instrumental in his success in business. And, if innovation is the name of the game, Lyman’s is a problem-solving all-star!
Education Insider: How were you introduced to IMP?
Jake: My first introduction to the math program was when I was in eighth grade. They approached all the parents of eighth graders that would be moving to Berkeley High about this new math program. I remember sitting at a classroom at night with parents and Ms. Alper, who was going to be leading up the class, and them talking to us about this new program that they were developing. So starting in ninth grade all the way through 12th grade, I was involved in this special math program (IMP). And, I think but we were one of the first classes that went through that program.
Education Insider: There were traditional math classes at Berkeley, weren’t there? Why did you choose to be in the alternative program?
Jake: My parents, I would say, are fairly progressive thinkers. And it sounded really interesting.
Education Insider: As a high school student, what attracted you most to the program?
Jake: One of the interesting parts, outside of the actual math, was that we were with the same group of students all four years, unlike traditional math class. The math classes, especially at Berkeley High, had such a large number of students.
Also, my peers not in the program were focused on a traditional sort of math learning. The math that we learned was less about memorizing equations and formulas and patterns. It was more about figuring out how to be a good problem-solver. And taking back a solution, looking at a problem as a whole problem and figuring out how to solve it from beginning to end. And so for me, I think that’s played out through my entire life until now.
Education Insider: What do you do now? What is your role with ZipRealty?
Jake: My role specifically is in product operations. That entails everything that goes into product development, minus the engineering portion of it. So working through integrations, finding partners, and really problem-solving through solutions for real estate agents and real estate brokers that use our technology. It’s a very, very collaborative environment.
Education Insider: In what way?
Jake: It’s all about pulling people together. Well, everybody has their particular job, but there’s not a traditional hierarchical organizational structure where you’re “siloed” into only doing your job. There are less people trying to carve out their own little kingdoms within the company. It’s great. It’s a challenge as we add people to the team to make sure that we have appropriate people in the culture because we really pride ourselves on having that collaborative environment. And I think that’s how we’ve been able to build what we have so far.
Education Insider: Do you think that there’s a bit more of a struggle to adapt to that collaborative environment for people who were not taught how to collaborate?
Jake: Some people just want to take their little portion and go off and work entirely on their own. And if you haven’t had experience working with other people and having to adjust it can be challenging. If you don’t have exposure to that early on, like in a program like IMP, you’re at a disadvantage. You may learn problem-solving, but you’re doing it on your own. You’re not doing it with a group. Learning those two, simultaneously, I think, is really powerful!
Jake: I would say “embrace the challenge” is the first bit of advice for the teacher. It’s going to be tough with the students to get them there, but really emphasize how the skills they learn in math (like thinking about problems in a holistic manner) will really serve them well later, as it has served me very well in my career. It’s easy to memorize with all the information that’s available out there today. You can always go look up a particular fact. But understanding how to approach a problem, dissect the problem, break it into digestible pieces – that’s a skill. That’s something that has to be taught.
Jake Lyman’s Bio
Jake Lyman has served in a variety of roles at ZipRealty since 1999, most recently as Director of Solution Architecture. His primary focus is facilitating the successful delivery and use of the PbZ platform by brokers, agents and customers. He also serves as Account Manager, working primarily with the Western half of the US. Jake is a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area.
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