Would you ever take on the task of giving a talk, an inspiring talk, to teenagers at a local college?
Since my 50th birthday, I have given over a hundred such talks on behalf of the Swedish volunteer organisation Transfer,
At the start, I gave a traditional "This is the working life of an Entrepreneur" lecture and followed up by answering students' polite questions about what such a person does on a day to day basis. Can you guess their most frequent question?
As I learned how to engage with teenagers - whose minds and bodies are not yet fully developed into their adult form - I also learned to trust that the students' questions were more important than my life and work experience. Yes, you read that right, more important. And yet, my assignment was to share my life and work experience. So how do those two add up?
If you have ever spoon-fed porridge to a baby, you will know that the first thing you have to do is to get the baby to open its mouth. Not using force, but by gentle persuasion. And adding a little jam to the porridge always helps.
The following text is an excerpt from my book "The Coach in the Classroom" which tells of Teacher / Coach Riccardo's adventures in feeding life and work experience to teenagers.
Opening the door, Melissa continued her education of Riccardo. "At this high school there is an entrepreneur program supported by 'Young Enterprise', a non-profit organization which provides advice and support to new companies during their start-up phase. 'Young Enterprise' has for many years paid for motivational speakers at this high school to deliver their message to students about the services they offer."
She rounded on Riccardo, "I see that you are going to give a talk on 'Starting and Running a Company'. We have asked the teachers to gather the first year students in the Assembly Room. There are about a hundred of them. They are aged between 16 and 18, and have been at here for less than a week. This assembly is part of their orientation to the school."
True enough, there were about a hundred teenagers in the Assembly Room.
"Welcome," Melissa concluded her speech to Riccardo, and walked on stage and stood behind the podium, picked up a microphone and tapped it. The room hushed.
Standing onstage at the podium in the front of the Assembly Room, Melissa greeted the students and said, by way of introduction, "We are going to hear from Mr. Midwinter about his company. We look forward to an interesting and inspiring talk." Melissa passed the microphone to Riccardo and walked offstage. The students applauded politely. They had little idea about what was going to happen.
Neither did Riccardo. His heart was pounding in his head.
"Read the room, listen to them, contact and engage," intoned Riccardo's inner voice.
Riccardo held the microphone to his chest and began his introduction, "My name is Riccardo and I run my own company. I have almost always run my own company. I started when I was young."
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I am a teacher, a business-owner, a public speaker, a coach and an author.