All the schools were in action this past week preparing for a very special man, Jacob Toren, our EF kids and teens global president was coming to visit. He was visiting our schools in Chengdu and all the higher ups were on edge and dashing around all the centres making sure everything was above par. I was given the opportunity to attend a focus group with this all important man the morning before he was due to visit my centre. I went along with all these amazing impressions and stories of this man and was expecting to see some king like figure part the crowds but what I saw was everything but. He was a tall grey haired man who was very humble, looked content and soft spoken. When he opened his mouth to speak no one made a sound and his very presence commanded attention, without ever raising his voice. He was mesmerising to watch and here’s some things I learned by listening to him.
1. You don’t need to be loud to command a room.
During the focus group we were allowed to ask questions about the company, about our roles and even Jacob himself. After every question he took the time to pause, to think very carefully about his answer and then he would calmly answer. Never once did he raise his voice or have to ask us all to hush. It was reassuring, calming and very wonderful to see.
2. You can achieve what you want.
One of the questions put to Jacob was about evolving our own careers and if we could ever end up in a position like his. Jacob gave a very honest answer; yes. He imparted some of his wisdom after telling a very brief and concise story of his rise to where he is now. “Make a plan and stick to it. Some of you will be here because you don’t know what you want to do and that’s ok. But when you know, make a plan of what you want, even what you don’t want and stick to it.” This is something that can be applied to anything in life and it’s often something none of us ever think of doing.
3. Be true to yourself.
Following on from the question above he mentioned that you can identify what you definitely do not want to do in your job role. He mentioned there are some things in your job role that have to be there and you’ll find you don’t like them and that’s ok, but don’t let yourself do anything you don’t want to do. In jobs as in life there are always going to be things that are boring but they come with the territory and you get on with them. But then there are things you hate and that you can avoid. Why make your life miserable by doing something you don’t agree with?
4. Be humble and remember the “little people”.
When listening to Jacob talk he seemed very humble and thankful for every effort we put in to make his visit go smoothly. It reminded me that the “little people” are worth thanking no matter what your position or role is. Always be thankful for any help from other departments and people and never be afraid to ask for help from those departments either. It can make both your roles easier and there won’t be any awkwardness in the staff room either.
5. Have respect for everyone.
When Jacob walked into our school and we had finished our welcoming he gave us a little speech about great our team looked working together. At no point did he focus on one person. His eyes kept moving around to look at all of us. A simple sign of respect but very affective. After he had a tour of the school and we had all started to plan our lessons and do other tasks he took the time to talk with a few of us. Asking simple questions, some nothing to do with our school just asking how we were that day. He didn’t mind if we were teachers, PA’s or CC’s or even foreign or local. He took the time to acknowledge every one of us. This to me is the ultimate sign of respect that I think we should take into consideration. No matter how big or small our company is, we all need to respect each other.
Meeting a man of Jacob’s position is very rare in a lot of big companies and organisations so it’s great that we were able to do this. There are a lot more things I could have written here about his visit but these were the ones I thought were important.