Yesterday, I was invited to do a guest talk at Riga’s International School, to a group of captivated Economic students. The age group of the students was around 17 years old and I went in with the mindset of giving them some career’s advice that I certainly never received when I was as school.
I remember at 16 / 17 years old I did not really have a clue what I wanted to do (my careers advice assessment recommended becoming a land scape gardener) – but the expectation was to do the ‘normal thing’. Complete your A Levels and head off to university! Fortunately, I did take a year out to go traveling, and it was that year that fundamentally gave me the insight of my why: to get paid to travel.
Whether going to Leeds university, supported this key objective is debatable, yet the key benefit was the network of friends that i am still in touch with despite living in a completely foreign land. (social media, skype and many other new tools certainly does help on this front). This was never emphasised to me during my decision process at school.
Therefore, you could say universities sell a network – that is their why!
There is a mattress company and their why is to sell dreams.
Restaurants – sell culinary orgasms.
Travel Out There – sell Team Spirit
Teachers – sell development.
Students are not customers….they cannot be considered customers and are certainly not always right. The teacher has to make it clear that in order to develop you are going to have to work hard and it will be painful at times. Just like a coach has to enforce to develop a professional athlete. Sacrifices have to be made, determination installed, inspiration to learn, discipline and a desire to succeed. There is never a moment when we stop learning – we just have to continue to find the right teachers (mentors / role models) at different periods of your life.
Having a clear Objective (your why), allows you to create a sound strategy (your how) and the tactics (your what’s) to achieve it.
Too often, people do this in reverse when developing an idea or aiming to solve a problem. You start with the what’s and finish with the why’s. (I have fallen in to this trap many times – you focus too much on attention to detail and lose focus of the big picture).
What advice do you think you could share from your professional life to help some kids in a local school find their why? Why not give up some time and offer to be a guest speaker or a mentor – that 30 minutes of your time might be that inspiration a child needs to find their why?
I feel closer ties have to be made between education and business, otherwise the gulf between the two will become increasingly bigger. Mentors, role models and out side influences can only help develop the next generation. The education system has to remain in touch and relevant to the rapidly evolving world we are living in. We do not want a generation not trained and equipped with the right tools and techniques to value the importance of teen spirt!