As a child, I was every bit the trouble maker you’d expect an ADHD kid to be. Not only was I rebellious, but I struggled to get grades over a C. Flash forward to over 12 years later, and I now run and own several companies, with over 59 staff, many of whom accomplished much higher than I in their schooling years.
I don’t have a business background or degree, but I was able to achieve what I have by the age 25 through the lessons ingrained in me in my 13 years at Emmanuel College. Below are my top 5 business principles that were planted as seeds through my 13-year journey of school from year 1-12 at Emmanuel College.
Seed 1 - That Special Feeling
It was in Year 10 when I began to realise that I was capable of much more than I was currently achieving. This change of attitude was catalysed by specifically two of my teachers at the time, Mr Alan Reid, my Marine Science teacher, and Mr Gordon Johnstone, my Mathematics teacher. What these teachers did for me was not a grandiose act, but little subtle things which completely changed my frame of mind. They made me feel special.
I began to really feel respected as an individual, and I wasn’t just another kid in the class. They were able to see past my trouble-making ways and harness the potential they knew I had. Through that simple act, it was almost as if a switch had flicked in my mind. I wanted to prove them right, show them I could achieve what they knew I could.
I began to do extra work for those subjects, much more than majority of people in my class, which began a positive feedback loop between the positive attention and my level of work. In the end, I had achieved the highest mark for Marine Science from years 10 to 12, and finished second in the class for Maths B.
That special feeling was the very first thing that allowed me to harness my potential, and I have taken that lesson with me to my businesses. When I first began to tutor, I made a point to make my students feel special, and let them know that I believed they were able to achieve all they wanted.
By creating this positive feedback loop and mindset that my teachers once made with me, it allowed me to attain excellent results from each of my students, and thus my tutoring venture grew into the 1200 students I now teach and mentor today. Click here to learn more about my journey.
This skill however is not limited to students, and I have learnt it works excellent with staff. From the beginning of on-boarding, I meet with all my new staff and get to know them as individuals. As the course of the year runs I aim to meet with each of my employees regularly to see how they are, and how their views of the company are developing.
These one on one sessions not only provide me with great insight on my staff as individuals, but also give them a platform to share their ideas, which are often novel concepts which I have adapted into my working model. Essentially, I try to make them feel special. A Team Tuition is renowned for its beautiful culture and I believe this is where it begins.
Culture is directly driven from creating experiences such as these that mould and shape staff beliefs about the business. Their beliefs then dictate their actions which naturally lead to their results. Therefore, to attain amazing results, it begins by creating an amazing experience right from the beginning.
Seed 2 - Frame of Mind
When staff and teams have the same aligned goals and frame of mind, mountains can be moved. Once I began to realise my potential in Marine Science and Mathematics, I strived to have similar results in my other subjects. I began to meet with my teachers, let them know I was aiming for A’s, and I would do anything and everything that needed to be done to achieve them.
Knowing my goals, they began to work with me to help me achieve them. For example, my English teacher would go through multiple English drafts thoroughly, until it reached a stage where I would be handing in up to 10 full drafts on some assignments, while many of my class mates would only do 1 or 2. It was due to the verbalizing of my aims, and having the common mindset with this teacher that allowed us to work as a team to achieve the grades I wanted.
This same message goes with my business, you need for all your employees to buy into the mission of the business. If we’re not all heading the same direction, there will be no movement and it will also impede on the growth of the business.
It is very difficult to create change alone, so by being very open with goals and ideas, I employ like minded individuals who will work with me to go above and beyond to transform our students and thus change their lives. And for the people who don’t buy into the mission, they naturally fall out of the company, making room for more like minded people.
It was through the confidence I had in approaching my teachers at Emmanuel College and convincing them to buy into my frame of mind and the grade goals I wanted to achieve, that taught me the value of this lesson.
Seed 3 - Nothing is Set in Stone
Through the support I began to receive from certain teachers and my parents, I began to grow a new-found confidence which allowed me to grow to a new level. I began to ask questions, not only in regards to the content but also about my grades. All my teachers at Emmanuel College were extremely supportive, answering my questions instead of shutting me down.
This carried onto my tertiary schooling, where I had the confidence to question the grades I received, often earning me a couple of extra marks which at times pushed my scores up from Distinctions to High Distinctions. While this inquisitive attitude served me well in my education, it made it difficult for me to be an employee and my managers and superiors would see me as being threatening, instead of exploring possible options and improvements I had suggested.
This is something which is very common in the workforce, where bosses are often quite poor leaders, suppressing the views of an employee to assert their dominance. At A Team Tuition, I aim to do the opposite. I know the brilliance of my staff, that is why I hired them.
I have a very open door policy, and welcome all my employees to express their thoughts and any ways in which the company can be improved. The world can be seen in 7 billion ways, and the more input I receive from various individuals, the better I can run my business and appeal to a greater audience. Besides 59 brains are 59 times more powerful than one...
Seed 4 - You Make Your Own Walls
One of the most important lessons I have learnt is that we make our own walls, and things only become obstacles if we allow them too. I have been faced with adversity for as long as I can remember, with my ADHD often impeding me from achieving my full potential. As a primary school student, there came the point most children with a behavioural or learning difficulty come across – do we continue with normal schooling or adapt a program with less workload to help me get through schooling easier.
My mother, being the strong woman she is, refused to have a ‘special program’ for me, forcing me to need to work harder to keep up with all the other children. With the support of the school, I was able to overcome the difficulties facing me through the strong support network I had. I did not allow my condition to be a barrier, and came out the other side a much stronger individual. Please note that this did take years and was not an overnight process for any other parents out there that may be going through the same thing. After years of commitment, it took until year 10 for me to really take off!
This attitude carried me through life, not allowing anything to stand in my way. With my companies still being quite young, there have been numerous issues and obstacles that have come up along the way. Instead of letting those road blocks stop me, I made paths around them. The ability to overcome such issues has also allowed me to create a much more resilient business model, so if any similar situations arise in the future, I have the ability to bounce back at a much faster rate, and keep moving forward.
At A Team Tuition, I am time and time again re-programming damaged students through our tutoring program due to school’s confusing ADHD as a learning disorder instead of a behavioural disorder. Unfortunately, ADHD appears this way as the behaviour ends up impeding on the learning process.
It is however, a behavioural disorder and needs to be managed as one. Unfortunately, these misdiagnoses end up leading to decreased workloads and isolation of the student throughout their classrooms. Consequently, this indirectly labels the student as disabled to both themselves and their peers, destroying any chance of them succeeding into the future and the real world.
Fortunately for me, Emmanuel College allowed my parents to keep me off medication and learn to cope within the school environment as a normal student. By sticking it through without any additional help, it taught me that there was nothing wrong with me and that I could conquer anything I wanted too.
If it wasn’t for my parents and Emmanuel College’s support in pushing me to become resilient through my schooling, I would not be where I am today. It certainly wasn’t easy but it was one of the most powerful choices that have led me to where I am today.
Seed 5 – Legacy
The final lesson I learned at Emmanuel College which has carried me through my business career has been the essence of Legacy. I first came across this concept through Dr Terry King, who mentored me through my high school years. Dr Terry King is now the Managing Director at Mission Educate, a non-for-profit organisation that focusing on developing schools and universities through Mozambique.
It is through his teachings that I learned the benefits of giving back, and how that can fulfill a person much more than monetary or materialistic values. I was lucky enough in my senior year to go on a mission trip to Dalby, which gave me ample opportunity to experience the rewards of helping other people.
Although I was pushed into the trip by Terry and was certain that it would be “uncool”, through this trip I learnt the power in giving back and how amazing it felt to create a legacy through what we achieved with the community in Dalby.
The power of self-actualisation is greater than anything on this Earth and is what I believe is the foundation of the human spirit.
To this day, my businesses are built upon building a legacy. I very quickly learnt that monetary goals would only take me so far, having been able to purchase all the things I had wanted all my life by the age of 23. After this my aims quickly shifted to something much more holistic, wanting to change the face of education.
At A Team Tuition we strive to change the lives of students, and help them achieve all they want and more. All my Gold Coast tutors implement the aforementioned skills, and we are helping to create a wave of young adults who themselves will leave behind a powerful legacy, creating a positive loop which I hope to see grow and continue for many years to come.