Archives For Building

Foreword

I have a confession to make: I get extremely excited every time I come across a creative person, or a person that holds within them such exuberance that it often manifests itself in a delicious cacophony of quirky character traits, unique stylistic choices, tangential thought patterns and behaviors, and an uncanny knack for seeing the world in a way that most do not, that when all combined, I find equally intoxicating and endearing.

For me, it’s the creatives that push the boundaries of what we collectively believe is possible. They dare to imagine, dare to dream, dare to believe, and in their own process of creation, create the world as they see it.

In this editorial series, I reach out to a curated list of creators who not only live and breathe the art of creation but undertake to pass on their learnings to the next generation of creatives. I find this combination of creativity and education noble, and use this editorial series as a way to delve deeper into these minds in the hopes that we too, can get a voyeuristic glimpse into the lives of such noble creatives. Who knows, perhaps we will learn something along the way too.

When you think about what you teach, what is the most memorable moment that comes to mind?

I will never forget looking out across the crowded room and the sea of happy faces, and how incredible it was to have grown from one small class to the enormous community of students and teachers we have today.

Adriane Strampp, Founder at Fitzroy Painting. Melbourne, Australia.

It was Sunday 15th December 2019. We were holding our annual student end-of-year exhibition in the studio and were also celebrating our tenth year in business. As I stood to give a speech celebrating the occasion I will never forget looking out across the crowded room and the sea of happy faces, and how incredible it was to have grown from one small class to the enormous community of students and teachers we have today.

Sue and her sisters were the catalyst for me moving The Humble Dumpling into the world of Zoom and understanding the amazing potential for technology to really make a difference in people’s lives.

Angie Chong, Founder at The Humble Dumpling. Melbourne, Australia.

I don’t really think of what I do as teaching.. at least not in the traditional sense. It’s more about the experience of simply sharing some knowledge I have about food and food culture with people who are open to listening and learning.

However, there is one very memorable moment I have from COVID 2020:

It was very early on in 2020 and I was still very skeptical about my ability to connect with people over the computer via Zoom. For me, the business has always been about making real connections with real people through food and I just didn’t think Zoom was an option for me until I met Sue and her sisters.

Sue and her sisters lived on a remote cattle station in rural central NSW. They appeared on my Zoom screen beaming and brimming with excitement about their first-ever cooking class. They lived thousands of miles from the nearest shop and further still from the nearest cooking class. I was fascinated and just as excited to be meeting and talking with them. I wanted to know about their life, their land, their thousands of heads of cows! It was like something out of “McLeod’s Daughters”. Truly, I was so excited to be “in their kitchen” hearing their stories that I almost forgot about the dumplings.

Within minutes, another sister in Brisbane and another in Hobart joined us, and together we laughed and cooked and ate. These beautiful sisters were the catalyst for me moving The Humble Dumpling into the world of Zoom and understanding the amazing potential for technology to really make a difference in people’s lives.

Sue and her sisters have certainly left a beautiful memory and image of teaching and learning.

We seated two ladies who shared an unusual name together. It was apparent their lives were woven together by more than just this workshop.

Belinda Galloway and Bree Hankinson, Founders at The Windsor Workshop. Melbourne, Australia.

One of our most memorable moments was having two gorgeous ladies do a weaving workshop with us. They both shared an unusual name, so obviously we thought it necessary to seat them together (as you do). As the morning progressed, it was apparent, their lives were woven together by more than just this workshop. Bree and I were thrilled to learn that they in fact stayed in touch after the workshop via a love for slow art and craft. We were even more delighted to see them turn up time and time again, together, for more of our creative workshops at The Windsor Workshop. THIS is why we do what we do.

Our memorable moments are when deaf children actually begin to sign to their parents so that the parents finally can understand what their children want to communicate. I feel blessed that I am able to make a difference.

Darren Roberts, Founder and Director at The Auslan Company. Melbourne, Australia.

When l teach l am thinking about the end result; what is the aim of the course and what do l want each student to achieve in this course. Then, how will l ensure that aim is met? This leads to the creation of the curriculum, the resources, and the methodology of teaching. The experience namely to be firm, to guide, and to ensure that the experience of learning is fun.

Auslan is fun. It is visual, it is a performance, and it is a movement that cuts across every spoken language on earth through the use of iconic signs.

Our memorable moments are when deaf children actually begin to sign to their parents so that the parents finally can understand what their children want to communicate. That’s the beginning of unique communication between hearing parents and their deaf children. I feel blessed that I am able to make a difference.

When past students approach me from behind a coffee bar and say, “Hey, David! Do you remember me? You taught me how to make coffee!”. There’s nothing cooler than seeing students of mine succeed in gaining meaningful employment in arguably the toughest city in the world to work as a barista.

David Seng, Director at The Espresso School, Board of Directors and Head at Barista Guild for Australian Specialty Coffee Association, World Certified Judge WCE WBC. Melbourne, Australia.

There are a few things I like to keep in mind when teaching:

  • Are my students engaged?
  • Are they understanding the content I am presenting?
  • Are they enjoying their time with me?
  • Are they able to successfully carry out the tasks assigned?

As a teacher, it is obviously difficult balancing all the different learning styles in one room, but if the answer is “no” to any of those questions, I will immediately change my teaching style to accommodate.

I have had many memorable moments in the classroom. However, many of them happen in interactions outside of the classroom in cafes where a past student will approach me from behind a coffee bar and say, “Hey, David! Do you remember me? You taught me how to make coffee!”.

There’s nothing cooler than seeing students of mine succeed in gaining meaningful employment in arguably the toughest city in the world to work as a barista.

Showing my mistakes and disasters modelled an experimental and risk-taking way of working which gave the students permission to do the same. The result was an outpouring of exciting and amazing work.

Graham Hay, Expert Ceramics Educator. Perth, Australia.

One that fundamentally changed my teaching was during my time at the National School of Art in Lahore. The National School of Art in Lahore is the second oldest university art school in Asia, and despite the students being exceptionally bright, they just didn’t seem to “get it”.

One day I had a crazy idea, and I created a slideshow of all my failures. Suddenly, the students started making amazing work. The learning here is that presenting only my best work, set impossible standards, so the students “gave up”.

Showing my mistakes and disasters modelled an experimental and risk-taking way of working which gave the students permission to do the same. The result was an outpouring of exciting and amazing work.

Now my demonstrations are sloppy and take unnecessary risks, and sometimes this approach backfires. But what students now expect is not to get it right every time, and to push through setbacks. Surprisingly demonstration accidents are also now a source of new ideas in my own work!

Throughout the introduction and demonstration, they were stony-faced and silent, which made me think that my class was going down like a lead balloon. So I was slightly dying on the inside. It wasn’t until they started playing with the techniques I was showing them that I realized they were just concentrating intently and that they actually were really into it.

Nadine Sharpe, General Manager at MakerSpace and Co. Sydney, Australia.

I was teaching a particular type of jewelry making to a class of 14–15-year-old young women. Throughout the introduction and demonstration, they were stony-faced and silent, which made me think that my class was going down like a lead balloon. So I was slightly dying on the inside. It wasn’t until they started playing with the techniques I was showing them that I realized they were just concentrating intently and that they actually were really into it.

They opened up, started chatting and asking questions, and at the end of the day, all told me how much they enjoyed the class. I walked away on a massive high, thankful I’d kept going, despite my internal panic. The moral of the story, while you need to read the room to understand if your class is meeting expectations and keeping everyone engaged, sometimes it’s best not to overthink it!

Teaching often reminds me of how joyful my trade is. My students bring the wonder, curiosity, and enthusiasm back into the workspace and this never fails to renew my passion.

Natalie Delaney-John, Founder at Rest in Pieces. Melbourne, Australia.

Sometimes I experience burnout in my profession. I forget what makes me love it because when one is a small business owner, one often gets stuck behind a computer doing admin or having to shoulder a lot of responsibility.

Teaching often reminds me of how joyful my trade is. My students bring the wonder, curiosity, and enthusiasm back into the workspace and this never fails to renew my passion.

My most memorable moments occur when people visit the store to pick up their online orders and take the time to thank me (and the team) for “saving them during pandemic“ and expressing how much they appreciated having our classes to break the hardship and monotony of lockdown.

Phil Hude, Founder at Armadale Cellars. Perth, Australia.

With the advent of COVID-19, we moved to create Zoom tastings with local and overseas winemakers and they took off like a skyrocket. My most memorable moments occur when people visit the store to pick up their online orders and take the time to thank me (and the team) for “saving them during pandemic“ and expressing how much they appreciated having our classes to break the hardship and monotony of lockdown. I feel very proud of my team and their ability to bring joy to so many during difficult times.

I never thought in my wildest dreams that someone would offer to pay me for something that I love to do each day.

Sarah Schembri, Director of Sarah Schembri Ceramics. Melbourne, Australia.

I’ve been fortunate to have been teaching for about the last ten years, and I say fortunate because I never thought in my wildest dreams that someone would offer to pay me for something that I love to do each day.

Teaching is such a rewarding and very satisfying experience for me on many levels. I love being able to share my knowledge and experiences with others who are willing and eager to learn.

I’ve taught many students over the years and have experienced many memorable moments, each one very special to me. What is most satisfying is being part of a student’s development, from their very first time on the wheel, being a part of their creative journey, and seeing their progress each week as they participate in classes working on refining their skills, ultimately with a goal of selling or exhibiting their own creations.

What do you think?

Do you agree or violently disagree with anything shared in this article? Or do you have any of your own stories that you want to share? Pop them in the comments and I will personally reply.

Call to action 

My goal is to help 1,000,000 people. My wish is to have these articles shared 1,000,000 times through the various social networks. For this reason, I provide this collection online for free and all I ask of you is this: If any of these articles have helped you in any way, please take a moment to share on social media, email to someone you think will find benefit, or print and leave it on the desk of someone whom you believe has the motivation, but lacks the tools to take themselves to the next level.

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The word “entrepreneur” actually sucks. Being an entrepreneur is not cool. Building something successful is cool.” — Alex Louey

Being an entrepreneur is hard. You have no money and it’s a struggle. It’s hard but if you continue, and you persevere, and you keep on pushing to find different angles, you will succeed. With your ideas, don’t be precious about them. The reason why my business partner, Nick, and I work together well is because we are not precious about our ideas. In business, there is no place for egos.” — Alex Louey

Culture and values are actually the most important part of our hiring process. If we have two candidates and Candidate B is less skilled but has an awesome personality, will be a benefit to the culture and there is drive, we’ll go with Candidate B, even if Candidate A is a superstar. The team doesn’t win with one person.” — Alex Louey

Just because a customer says, “I want this done,” or “I want it by then,” doesn’t mean we say “yes”. If we can’t achieve what the customer wants, then we can’t create the desired experience, and so we need to make our expectations clear. The hardest thing to do is to actually say “no”. For too long I was surrounded by people who said, “Yes, Shan,” and that didn’t help. It may stroke your ego temporarily but it won’t help. I now look for people who say, “You know what? It’s not gonna fly. Not today. Maybe next week but not today.”” — Shan Manickham

Putting together a bunch of core values, that’s a piece of cake. Get a whiteboard, get everyone to put up their concepts and ideas, pick the most popular, put a few emojis up, and bang you’re done. That’s easy. The next thing you need to do is believe in them and get them instilled so that they are being used on a daily basis to make a decision within your business. And once that happens, things become a lot easier.” — Shan Manickham

A key thing is believing in the people that work for you. If you’ve selected the right people, you got to believe in them. You’ve got to be able to hand over reigns. It probably feels like you don’t want to hand over the reigns and you probably feel like you can do a better job but at some point, you have got to be able to say, “I’m gonna hand this over. I’m gonna believe in you. I’m gonna put the right measures in place.” So you’re going to trust and verify, but you’ve got to start with the trust first. Verifications come later.” — Shan Manickham

I don’t think you will ever know if it’s the right move, but I think you can make it the right move. You can sit there and do a lot of research, it all tells you the right stuff but if you can’t execute on it, all that research means nothing. Did I know the moment? Absolutely, not.” — Alex Louey

With thanks to

Alex Louey is the founder of Appscore, the team behind Yarra Tram’s famous Tram Tracker app. Alex knew nothing about building apps when he went into business, but he knew all about project management. He recommends working with your strengths and surrounding yourself with people who can do things that you can’t.

Shan Manickam is the MD and owner of warehouse solutions business Cross Docks Australia. Shan tried to go into the business through a management buyout which failed, but it pushed up the price for the buyer, so they sacked him. That was enough to put a fire in his belly to form his own company. He recommends hiring for culture rather than skills.

About Masters Series by WeTeachMe

Masters Series is a show about inspiring entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and visionary dreamers, and the stories behind how they built their companies.

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Question of the day

What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.