Moran Actually https://www.moranactually.com Writings from Japan Sat, 03 Oct 2020 04:40:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://www.moranactually.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/favicon.png Moran Actually https://www.moranactually.com 32 32 Destroying Education https://www.moranactually.com/2020/10/03/destroying-education/ https://www.moranactually.com/2020/10/03/destroying-education/#respond Sat, 03 Oct 2020 04:38:32 +0000 https://www.moranactually.com/?p=839   In August I took part in MOOSE – massive open online sessions – facilitated by Online Teaching Japan. OTJ arose as teachers organised to help each other to transition online during the COVID-enforced lockdown. It’s a great group. This is the session I lead. (Video and more document links also below). Destroying Education Education […]

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In August I took part in MOOSE – massive open online sessions – facilitated by Online Teaching Japan. OTJ arose as teachers organised to help each other to transition online during the COVID-enforced lockdown. It’s a great group.

This is the session I lead. (Video and more document links also below).

Destroying Education

Education is not fit for purpose.

The educational, industrial complex creates compliant workers based on an outdated, Industrial Age premise.

In many places “21st-century kids are being taught by 20th-century adults using 19th-century curriculum and techniques on an 18th-century calendar.” (Tom Hierck, education consultant and author)

Legally-mandated and institutionally organised education is standardised to a bell curve. It truly only truly suits a small cluster within that, and refines that cluster to an elite as we go through elementary, junior high and high school and university; perhaps on to post-grad or doctoral studies and become a professor or a fellow.

Organised education an exclusive, elitist, pyramid scheme supported by tax and private finance, often leaving graduates in huge debt with no guarantee of net gain.

It is the modern form of indenture.

The duty of schools

We believe it should be the duty of schools to help learners find their innate talents, help them to develop those talents, and turn them into skills they can use in the working world so they can lead meaningful, happy lives.

Schools should not:

set entrance qualifications
be repositories of knowledge
Use legally-mandated curricula or dictate study methods
group by age or subject
grade or test
pass or fail
set homework

A learner should not be able to fail school.

Schools must realise only THEY can fail the learner.

Schools should:

be places that facilitate learning
prepare learners for the future
take a personalised, holistic approach – mixing focus on the mind and body, combine the theoretical and the applied – not the academic and the vocational
facilitate work in groups, on multi-disciplinary projects, across national boundaries.

Learners should:

choose
discover, develop and revel in their talents
generate a body of work, a portfolio of achievement, not a resume or a collection of badges and certificates
gather testimonials
become masters of practice – not of ologies

 

I’ll follow up with notes on the session in subsequent posts.

The presentation slides are here.

The opening statement is here.

The task is here.

The questions of the day are here.

Please contribute and get in touch.

Organise. Destroy.

Thanks.

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M, M, M, M, My Corona https://www.moranactually.com/2020/07/10/m-m-m-m-my-corona/ https://www.moranactually.com/2020/07/10/m-m-m-m-my-corona/#respond Fri, 10 Jul 2020 12:41:00 +0000 https://www.moranactually.com/?p=831 Running a school in a time of crisis In my time in Japan as a school owner, we have seen several crises. The SARS epidemic, a massive drop in the market, the NOVA collapse, the Lehman shock, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Fukushima and the fallout and, of course, many localised earthquakes, tsunami and floods. […]

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Running a school in a time of crisis

In my time in Japan as a school owner, we have seen several crises. The SARS epidemic, a massive drop in the market, the NOVA collapse, the Lehman shock, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Fukushima and the fallout and, of course, many localised earthquakes, tsunami and floods.

Early this year, news of a potential new pandemic began to break.

This is how the Corona crisis affected us and some of my thoughts on what I saw around us.

Justifiably concerned, panicked even, many people posted, questioned and pontificated online.

The talk ranged from: What should I do? How can I make money out of this? How can you conscionably do/not do this/that? I’m staying open. I’m closing. Oh my God, what on earth am I going to do? We’re all going to die.

After much hem and haw, and volte-face aplenty, some would later claim this as leadership.

We had all seen it coming, but nobody knew how it would play out.

We had all been preparing, but nobody can ever be fully prepared for an unprecedented situation.

We had done our calculations. We could have survived on our cash for 12 months with no income. We wouldn’t have done this. With no income, we would have closed after three. I would have driven a truck.

I had been using a pro Zoom account since July, 2019 for business meetings and to demonstrate software and products.

As it became inevitable we would have to close our schools, I contacted the nice people at Zoom and they gave us free pro accounts for all of our teachers at all of our schools, which expired two days after we went back into our classrooms. (Shy bairns get nowt.)

We integrated Zoom into our scheduling app, so teachers and students could join lessons at the click of a button, with no need to generate meeting IDs, passwords or QR codes. We added file exchange and content upload and download. All this within the security of a password-protected app.

We engaged more experienced Zoom users than us to train us, then trained all of our teachers and franchisees and invited students and parents to ‘How to Zoom’ sessions.

These were very successful, calmed a few nerves, and kept us in touch with people.

We closed our office and the staff teleworked. That our financial figures for this year (we close our books at the end of July) predict a small percentage increase from student fees, is testament to the good work they did communicating with our students and parents, all without the phone in the office and free-dial number we have used for twenty years.

We own and run schools, franchises, affiliates and have clients in 10 separate cities and prefectures in Japan. The respective governing bodies all had a different approach and different rules.

Pre-lockdown, we closed on the Saturdays and Sundays the cities and prefectures advised, and we all knew a lockdown was coming.

When it did, we brought our two-week Golden Week holiday forward to give us some extra time to prepare and then went fully online via our app and Zoom.

We didn’t change any conditions to leave, take a break, cancel lessons or take make-ups, with the exception that, not knowing when we would be back in the classrooms, we extended the validity period of make-ups.

In the two-week holiday and the rest of April, to keep in touch with people, improve my skills, and help people get accustomed to an online environment, I taught between three to five free Zoom lessons every day, open to all students from all schools. I estimate I taught more lessons in the ‘Corona Holiday’ than I’ve taught in the last ten years.

Students from our different schools met each other, and I put faces to student names I’ve known for 17 years.

We went as low-tech as we could and focused on learners, and to support parents and teachers. The environment changed the delivery, but our focus remained to make learning happen.

Some students preferred Zoom, some couldn’t wait to get back to school.

We collaborated with a school outside of our group, in another part of the country. We offered lessons they couldn’t provide to their students, and our students were invited to join theirs.

Oddly, some of my kindergarten lessons were so popular I was encouraged to continue until June.

We saw different approaches and different types of lessons. This was a valuable learning experience for everybody.

I attended dozens of Zoom sessions with teachers and school owners, most of them Japanese. These are the people I feel I can most learn from. I live here, after all.

In the past 18 months or so I’ve been researching how Japanese-owned schools are run. From what I’ve seen, compared to foreign-owned schools, many are way ahead in ICT. There are big changes already implemented in school curricular with more technology changes to come. I truly believe many foreign-owned schools are way behind the curve on ICT and curriculum and are in for a big shock.

Technology itself, and using buzzy apps, is not the point. It doesn’t matter if you look funny with a virtual cat on your head if you’re not delivering to learners’ and parents’ needs.

Word, Excel and Powerpoint will likely still be with us in twenty years. I wonder if Loilo, Padlet and Flipgrid will?

As I’ve mentioned previously in this blog and as this article and paper show, for future career prospects, at the moment, Japanese people do not really need English.

In the search for an answer to the problems brought about by Corona, as school owners, how did we all approach the situation?

Were we focused on our own economic problems? Teachers’ problems (financial and work style-related), parents’ problems or students’ problems?

I sent some bamboo from our garden to some Demon Slayer fans and had an emotional, thankful reply from one parent saying this had made her children’s day, cooped up as they were.

These are the connections that make things real. These are the things that make a difference in my working life.

Many of our elderly adult students – we are about 50-50 kids and adults – continued to pay their monthly fees until they can take in-person make-ups. We all fully know, based on past experience, they may not be able to take all of the make-ups they have accrued. They continued to pay us out of loyalty and support and we have very much felt the love.

There are those who always see a crisis as opportunity. And indeed it is. Fortunes and huge estates in Britain were built on the land of those that died during the bubonic plague.

Schools and teachers here in Japan that profited, or attempted to profit from the misfortune or fear of others, either in the guise of helping them by charging for online help sessions, or offering to take over struggling schools or students, should hang their heads in shame.

As Online Teaching Japan, a Facebook group that grew rapidly shows, communities work best when they come together under a shared need or desire.

Our schools reopened on June 1st. Students are back for face-to-face lessons, albeit behind masks and acrylic sheets, with sanitised hands on sanitised surfaces. A very small number continue to attend via Zoom in hybrid lessons.

Who knows when we might have to close again, for a single day or an extended period of time.

Either way, we are prepared.

I gained five kilos working from home, but revelled in the Kyoto countryside, enjoying the sunrises my new sleeping pattern showed me.

The extended bucolic reverie allowed a more detailed drinking in of sights and sounds as wagtails gave way to warblers, swallows and cuckoos; owls were nightly companions and I saw every inch of two full phases of the moon as it shifted slightly from east to west.

In the garden and surrounding hills, we met badgers, foxes, hares, tanuki, itachi, frogs, snakes and lizards and a raccoon had the temerity to land nosily on my roof during a Zoom session.

The grass began to grow, the weeds needed attending, the air turned humid and things seemed to be getting back to normal.

Things will never be normal ever again.

The rush online has shown everybody it’s possible and can be beneficial.

We also integrated Stripe into our app and opened a ‘borderless’ Zoom school. Students from anywhere can now buy points to learn what they want, when they want, from whom they want, how they want. Who knows, some teachers may even provide their services free of charge.

For bricks and mortar schools that to date have only needed to be better than the nearest competition, they now have to compete with the rest of the world.

More than ever, we need to find a way to differentiate on relevance and quality of service, and absolutely not on price.

Like many, I had mixed feelings about returning to regular work. In truth, I didn’t really want to.

Now, I feel we are better placed than ever to organise others together to achieve our greater mission: to destroy institutional education as we know it.

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Running a School: What I learned about business from travelling the world, Part 8: Heading South https://www.moranactually.com/2020/03/25/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-8-heading-south/ https://www.moranactually.com/2020/03/25/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-8-heading-south/#respond Wed, 25 Mar 2020 12:12:47 +0000 https://www.moranactually.com/?p=812   Leaving Cairns we headed a little further north and stayed at Port Douglas, then turned around and headed back down south, stopping off at beaches and flying kites, before arriving back in Sydney, and my old job at the CB Hotel. So much for the Never Again List. Knowing it was only short term, […]

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Leaving Cairns we headed a little further north and stayed at Port Douglas, then turned around and headed back down south, stopping off at beaches and flying kites, before arriving back in Sydney, and my old job at the CB Hotel. So much for the Never Again List.

Knowing it was only short term, and that I was working for double pay during holiday shifts made it much easier.

Having saved up again, we headed south, camping with kangaroos, dodging bushfires, hiking through the Snowy Mountains and learning Aussie rules in Victoria.

Briefly stopping in Melbourne, we boarded a ferry to Tasmania.

The following time in Tasmania, and the remaining travels before arriving back in the UK, have taught me valuable lessons I still use in my business now.

I’ll go into those in detail in future articles, but for now, I’m going to pause for a little while.

 

 

We now offer a consultancy service with a no-obligation first contact.

If you would like help systemising your business or anything else, please get in touch.

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Running a School: What I learned about business from travelling the world, Part 7: Cairns https://www.moranactually.com/2020/03/16/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-7-cairns/ https://www.moranactually.com/2020/03/16/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-7-cairns/#respond Mon, 16 Mar 2020 01:00:56 +0000 https://www.moranactually.com/?p=808 We put thoughts of anarchy and fears of violent intrusion behind us, got back on the bus and headed further up north. Stopping off at Bundaberg, the Whitsundays, Magnetic Island, and a series of islands, landmarks and beautiful spots where Captain Cook and his crew must have passed, short on inspiration: Long Beach, White Beach, […]

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We put thoughts of anarchy and fears of violent intrusion behind us, got back on the bus and headed further up north.

Stopping off at Bundaberg, the Whitsundays, Magnetic Island, and a series of islands, landmarks and beautiful spots where Captain Cook and his crew must have passed, short on inspiration: Long Beach, White Beach, Grassy Island, Pine Island, Stone Island and my favourite, Dent Island, complete with dent.

We dived and snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef, hiked and camped in the wilderness of the uninhabited Hinchinbrook Island with giant goanna and saltwater crocodiles for company, learnt how de-husk coconuts, picked fresh mangoes from the roadside and seemed to be living in a bountiful paradise.

Thoughts of cash, however, or the lack of it, were never far away.

Pulling into Cairns, we found digs at a reasonable backpackers’ hostel. It had become something of a routine we were tired of, settling into the lounge and swapping stories. Been here, seen that, done that. Doubtless everyone was travelling for their own experience, but a one-upmanship on the length of time away travelling was aired everywhere we went.

Once more we needed employment, and once more my face, or rather my gender, didn’t fit.

My girlfriend found a job in a bar very quickly, but I was struggling. I answered all the ads on the noticeboard and cycled hither and thither, all to no avail.

Poor, unemployed and young, I was in my prime, but could not find a job.

Remembering a casual conversation from a campsite somewhere some months previously, I got up one morning and took things into my own hands.

I went to Woolworths, bought a bucket, a squeegee and some detergent and borrowed some towels from the hostel.

I then walked as far as I could to the far reaches of the business district and started knocking on office doors.

“Would you like your windows cleaned for $10?”

“Only ten?”

The woman behind the reception desk looked to her right, over me and then to her left, and I realised she was looking at yards and yards of plate glass windows.

“$20.”

“It’s way too cheap. I’ll give you thirty.”

It was the second place I’d tried, and they were probably the easiest windows to clean. Plate glass windows with no frames. A small amount of detergent in the water; swipe, swipe with the squeegee; wipe, wipe with a towel. Done.

It was hot and I was sweating, but it was a pretty easy way to earn $30.

I marched on.

I had an amazing amount of success. I couldn’t believe dirty how many of the windows were, and most people were thrilled to have them cleaned.

People chatted, wished me luck and asked me to come back next week.

Within a few days, I had a window cleaning round. It was hard work, but got me outside and exercising, and was pretty lucrative.

I didn’t have to deal with rock-throwing customers, and everybody seemed grateful for my graft.

Exhausted, I slid into a pub, and on seeing me in my work clothes with my equipment, the woman behind the bar offered me some repair work at her house.

“A coupla hundred bucks.”

Done.

I couldn’t believe it; it seemed so easy. It seemed too good to be true.

It was.

My girlfriend had run into problems at work. She walked in on one of the managers and a customer in a compromising position in the office, and he decided she would have to go.

I also got the impression he didn’t like her shaved head, nose ring and Dr Martens boots.

He concocted some lie about money going missing from the till and used this as an excuse to sack her.

A truly good-natured, honest girl, she was devastated.

I wasn’t sure the window round would work out long-term, and she didn’t fancy another job in a boorish bar.

Once more we had to go.

I’ve often joked that had things been different, within a month to six weeks, I could have had a very lucrative business washing windows, tending to offices and shops, being the outsourced solution for all the dirty jobs they didn’t want to do.

http://www.cairnswindowcleaning.com.au/ in Cairns charges “from $99” for window cleans.

That could have been me.

So, what did I learn about business from this?

Get on your bike, take the initiative, don’t be afraid to ask, work hard and smile. People will pay you and treat you well.

And bar managers are ****s!

 

We now offer a consultancy service with a no-obligation first contact.

If you would like help systemising your business or anything else, please get in touch.

 

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Running a School: What I learned about business from travelling the world, Part 6: Brisbane https://www.moranactually.com/2020/03/09/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-5-brisbane/ https://www.moranactually.com/2020/03/09/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-5-brisbane/#respond Mon, 09 Mar 2020 01:00:06 +0000 https://www.moranactually.com/?p=797 The warmest summer I ever spent was a winter in West End, Brisbane. Or so I wrote, paraphrasing Mark Twain for pretentious literary effect, on postcards back home. At the beginning of July 1993, as the days drew short, the sun didn’t rise so far and fires had begun to be set in the hearths […]

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The warmest summer I ever spent was a winter in West End, Brisbane. Or so I wrote, paraphrasing Mark Twain for pretentious literary effect, on postcards back home.

At the beginning of July 1993, as the days drew short, the sun didn’t rise so far and fires had begun to be set in the hearths of the suburbs in Surrey Hills, we took a bus from Sydney and headed north, stopping off at Byron Bay, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast and others. We camped and tramped our way until we arrived in Brisbane, where we stayed with friends in a fantastic 100-year-old Queenslander on the banks of the Brisbane River.

A temporary stay, walking up Hoogley Street to the shop on Hardgrave Road, I noticed an equally fantastic-looking Queenslander on the left, this one painted bright pink.

In the alternative bookshop window, a postcard advertised a very reasonably-priced rented room in a share house on Hoogley Street.

Could it be, I wondered, the pink house?

It was, and we took up digs with a bunch of teenage anarchists.

Anarchists live here

At the time, West End was home to artists, activists, anarchists, vegetarians and vegans, an active community that would now be called LGBTQ+ and a collection of ne’er-do-well, ragtag loafers and travellers.

We found work in local restaurants, and cultivated a wonderful group of friends.

The anarchists, meanwhile, refused to work and set about their mission to antagonise authority, with the aim of toppling it and establishing disorder.

Part of this meant not paying the rent.

Anarchy on the balcony

To their, but nobody else’s surprise, this was of great concern to both the landlord and the real estate agent, the notorious Mr Magaffey, legendary for setting dogs on people and running them out into the street in the middle of the night.

He and a friend arrived one day in a truck and, on demanding the rent, which wasn’t paid, angrily said he would be back with The Regulators.

This was ominous.

The anarchists had a variety of friends that used the pink house at their leisure. One of them, named Bryan, had assumed something of an inspirational leadership role among them. Eloquent and talented, he was well placed to do this, also being the singer-songwriter for a band, Thugs and Terrorists.

As night fell, Phil, the largest, and actually the gentlest and kindest of the mob, was busy hammering three-inch nails into a large stick with which he intended to ‘defend his property’.

Bryan walked off into the early evening, saying he had some urgent things to attend to.

My girlfriend and I stayed up all night, and we all feared less a knock on the door, more a battering ram through it.

Thankfully it never came, but Bryan managed only to sheepishly return around 11:30 the next morning, saying he’d unfortunately fallen asleep at his girlfriend’s and couldn’t be woken to take his rightful place on the ramparts.

It was obvious to all this wasn’t true.

Magaffey returned in the early afternoon, somewhat chastened, and in a much more civilised frame of mind. Holding a tape measure and a clipboard, he inspected the walls and counted things, making sure everything was in place.

The electricity had already been cut off, and people were leaving. We had to go.

We bid our friends a reluctant farewell and continued our journey north.

Anarchists woz ere

What did I learn from this that relates to business?

Threats may be empty, not as bad as they seem and often mere negotiation tactics. People often don’t follow through on the things they say, whether they be threatening or evangelical.

If you choose to lead, be resolute and true to your word. If you follow, test your leader before they are truly tested.

 

We now offer a consultancy service with a no-obligation first contact.

If you would like help systemising your business or anything else, please get in touch.

 

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Running a School: What I learned about business from travelling the world, Part 5: Sydney https://www.moranactually.com/2020/03/02/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-5-sydney/ https://www.moranactually.com/2020/03/02/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-5-sydney/#respond Mon, 02 Mar 2020 01:00:43 +0000 https://www.moranactually.com/?p=792 November 1992 saw me arrive in Sydney. I’d crossed the equator for the first time. Once again I pounded the pavements. The results were much the same as in New York. I had no experience working in restaurants or cafés, and because I wasn’t an attractive, young female, it was difficult to get a job. Luckily, […]

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November 1992 saw me arrive in Sydney. I’d crossed the equator for the first time.

Once again I pounded the pavements. The results were much the same as in New York. I had no experience working in restaurants or cafés, and because I wasn’t an attractive, young female, it was difficult to get a job.

Luckily, a friend of mine worked at a budget hotel, and an opening came up there.

Pretty soon I was working there full time, including night shifts, when I was responsible for a 200-bed hotel.

The work wasn’t difficult and mainly involved checking people in, checking them out and taking money.

The hotel itself had quite a lot of character, and contained a huge amount of characters.

There were about 50 permanent residents, some of whom lived on benefits, guests receiving support from the government after getting out of prison, travelers and those just staying in town for the weekend.

During the seven or eight months I worked there, there were enough incidents to fill a book.

Rocks were thrown through the window, one guest was carried out wrapped in bedsheets by the crews of two fire engines, and one guest ran into reception dripping, dressed only in a bath towel, looking for his ‘new girlfriend’ who had made off with his wallet while he showered.

There was rowdiness, drunkenness, ribaldry, and also a lot of good times.

The pay was good, and just about helped the good times outweigh the bad.

The job was a means to an end as I lived the life of a Sydney beach bum, but I realised, having also worked in retail, and now in the customer service industry, that perhaps it wasn’t my forte.

Never again, I said.

This has given rise to the idea of the Never Again List.

We often say never again, only for the pain of the mistake or incident to wear off, leading us to repeat it.

This is what the CB Hotel taught me about business. When you say never again, more often than not you have the right idea.

Compile a Never Again List and refer to it when tempted.

 

We now offer a consultancy service with a no-obligation first contact.

If you would like help systemising your business or anything else, please get in touch.

 

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Running a School: What I learned about business from travelling the world, Part 4: Thailand https://www.moranactually.com/2020/02/24/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-4-thailand/ https://www.moranactually.com/2020/02/24/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-4-thailand/#respond Mon, 24 Feb 2020 01:00:34 +0000 https://www.moranactually.com/?p=788 After the non-appearance of the A and R man at the Dog and Parrot and the decision not to swap one air-conditioned office for another, I saved as much money as I could from my temporary job as a data input clerk, a position also known at the time as a Man or Woman Friday, […]

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After the non-appearance of the A and R man at the Dog and Parrot and the decision not to swap one air-conditioned office for another, I saved as much money as I could from my temporary job as a data input clerk, a position also known at the time as a Man or Woman Friday, and left England in September 1992.

I was relieved to be on my way. The job at the catering supplier was both mind-numbingly boring and punctuated with two daily doses of a large amount of stress.

I received orders from the telesales department, noted by hand with pen on printed forms.

I then typed these into the database.

When I was finished, I had to key them all in again; such was the checking process at the time.

There were then two windows in the day when I connected my computer to the company central database and sent the data via a modem over the telephone line.

The number of orders in the day could not always be predicted, and on a busy day it was a race against the clock.

The culture in the office was less than progressive, and reprimands never seemed far away.

Occasionally, I woke up in the middle of the night, worried and sweating.

Never again, I thought, as I boarded my Lauda Air flight from Heathrow via Vienna to Bangkok. This would be my first visit to Asia.

I had read a lot about Thailand before arriving and was hugely excited. My travelling partner and I negotiated the local transport and arrived in a guesthouse just off the Khaosan Road.

We had a great time in and around Bangkok visiting places historical, cultured and not so.

This was my first experience of western expats of the impecunious variety. Many of them were great, others boastful of the time they had been on the road and the things they done and seen, and frankly some of them seemed unhinged.

We left Bangkok and headed north to Chiang Mai, then travelled around the Golden Triangle.

It was a truly wonderful time, packed with new experiences and points of view.

Lighting candles in temples was familiar from my grandmother doing the same in Catholic churches in England, as was the smell of incense, but I’d never seen monks in saffron robes who weren’t allowed to touch women.

After several weeks of urban and mountainous travels, we arrived at a beach hut on Koh Phi Phi.

We soon got into a routine, eating, drinking and talking at night, rising when rested, shuffling out for breakfast, aiming to get back to the hut for some time on the beach before it got too hot.

During some of these moments, soaking up the sun and drinking in the view, I seemed to be in a new kind of mood; something unknown. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, so strange it was.

After some time, I realised I was feeling something I don’t think I’d ever felt before, ever in my life. I was totally, completely, and utterly relaxed.

I fretted about and wanted for nothing. All was well.

It truly was a joy to realise that I felt nothing and I just was.

I’ve no idea what the sales processing system was like before it gave me night sweats in the summer of 1992. I suspect it’s much better now. I also imagine much of the human work has been eliminated or automated. Nothing wrong with that.

Away from people of my own background, I was learning to deal with different approaches from people who spoke my language, and completely different ones from those that did not. Often, the latter were easier to deal with.

So, what did I learn from this and take forward into my business?

There is always another point of view. It may be difficult to understand the point of view, but if you can attempt to find empathy with the thinking that produced it, this may give you the opportunity to learn and benefit from it.

Also: Eliminate, automate, delegate. Relax.

 

We now offer a consultancy service with a no-obligation first contact.

If you would like help systemising your business or anything else, please get in touch.

 

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Running a School: What I learned about business from travelling the world, Part 3: M1, M18, A1 https://www.moranactually.com/2020/02/17/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-3-m1-m18-a1/ https://www.moranactually.com/2020/02/17/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-3-m1-m18-a1/#respond Mon, 17 Feb 2020 01:00:35 +0000 https://www.moranactually.com/?p=783 I ran out of money and had to curtail my trip to New York and the wider U.S. I had imagined following in the steps of my sister and going down to Mexico, then possibly into Guatemala, Honduras and further on. I didn’t make it. I still haven’t made it. Back in England, out of […]

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I ran out of money and had to curtail my trip to New York and the wider U.S.

I had imagined following in the steps of my sister and going down to Mexico, then possibly into Guatemala, Honduras and further on. I didn’t make it. I still haven’t made it.

Back in England, out of university, living in a squat and playing in a band, I had no money, but I still needed to travel.

I had some experience hitchhiking. I put this to use and expanded on it.

I did a bit of research – I asked people, and I looked at maps – I gathered data.

An acquaintance was a truck driver, so I asked him about busy junctions and traffic flow.

I also researched my routes. I had two main ones: Nottingham to Whitley Bay and Nottingham to London.

Both were straightforward enough, but I quickly learned that while sticking out your thumb gives a certain amount of useful of information – I need a lift – not as much information as a sign with your destination: Whitley Bay.

I then found most people didn’t know where Whitley Bay was, and while most people had heard of Newcastle, not all knew the best way to get there.

Cardboard boxes and a marker pen soon set them on the right track.

Newcastle
The north
M1, M18, A1

Simple instructions letting people know what I wanted.

It was very successful. I don’t recall ever having to wait more than 20 minutes for a lift.

In my own country, mixing with people I was familiar with, I never felt particularly at risk.

However, to mitigate any risk, I’d picked up a couple of techniques from some hitchhiking veterans.

I never actually used it, but I always had an apple and a penknife in my pocket or in my bag.

The thinking was, if there was a hint of menace, or the situation turned risky, taking out the apple and peeling it with the penknife would let the other person know I was potentially armed.

I’m very glad I never had to use it.

I’m also very glad I did my preparation, got out a clear message, and had contingency plans should things go wrong.

 

We now offer a consultancy service with a no-obligation first contact.

If you would like help systemising your business or anything else, please get in touch.

 

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Running a School: What I learned about business from travelling the world, Part 2: New York, Carpe Diem https://www.moranactually.com/2020/02/10/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-2-new-york-carpe-diem/ https://www.moranactually.com/2020/02/10/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-2-new-york-carpe-diem/#respond Mon, 10 Feb 2020 01:00:44 +0000 https://www.moranactually.com/?p=776 Sometimes opportunities just present themselves; sometimes we have to go and make them. Back in New York in July 1989, I had made an opportunity for myself simply by opening the Yellow Pages. However, not everything was as rosy as the impression I gave. During the conversation with the Cheshire Cheese Restaurant manager, several questions […]

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Sometimes opportunities just present themselves; sometimes we have to go and make them.

Back in New York in July 1989, I had made an opportunity for myself simply by opening the Yellow Pages.

However, not everything was as rosy as the impression I gave.

During the conversation with the Cheshire Cheese Restaurant manager, several questions asked and some comments made gave me a certain amount of trepidation and no little fear.

I have already mentioned that New York was a menacing place, and as a naïve, 21-year-old Geordie in the Big Apple, I felt very uneasy.

More than this, I feared for my safety.

So, I made a quick choice after a quick internal chat.

6 o’clock came and went and I didn’t go for the job.

I really was concerned for my safety, but assured myself that given this opportunity had been so easy to come by, others surely couldn’t be much more difficult.

The next day I continued where I left off, calling restaurants. No bites.

So, I went out and pounded the pavement. The questions were always the same.

Do you have a Social Security number? Yes.
Do you have any experience? No.
What are the main ingredients of a Caesar salad? No idea.
What things contribute to the ambience of a successful restaurant? Er…

It was pretty obvious I was not a good candidate to be a waiter in a restaurant and couldn’t even get a job as a busboy.

After a while, I became disillusioned and sought solace in Carty’s Bar on Third Avenue.

I then took a short walk to Washington Square Park where I bought a well-thumbed copy of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and this is what I did: I took the train from Grand Central Station up to New Haven, Connecticut, found my way to Route 95 and stuck out my thumb. I was hitchhiking.

On reflection, this seems a far riskier endeavour than going to the Cheshire Cheese Restaurant to see how things would turn out.

What I learned from this was to investigate situations thoroughly and to rely on data and references, rather than uninformed opinion and emotion.

And also, to seize the day.

 

We now offer a consultancy service with a no-obligation first contact.

If you would like help systemising your business or anything else, please get in touch.

 

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Running a School: What I learned about business from travelling the world, Part 1: New York https://www.moranactually.com/2020/02/03/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-1-new-york/ https://www.moranactually.com/2020/02/03/running-a-school-what-i-learned-about-business-from-travelling-the-world-part-1-new-york/#respond Mon, 03 Feb 2020 01:00:04 +0000 https://www.moranactually.com/?p=767 In the summer of 1989, I travelled to the U.S. with BUNAC, a work and travel exchange programme that provided a working holiday, J-1 visa. There were lots of opportunities to go and work with kids on summer camps, but I didn’t fancy this. I rather fancied living and working in Manhattan, enjoying one of […]

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In the summer of 1989, I travelled to the U.S. with BUNAC, a work and travel exchange programme that provided a working holiday, J-1 visa.

There were lots of opportunities to go and work with kids on summer camps, but I didn’t fancy this.

I rather fancied living and working in Manhattan, enjoying one of the world’s most vibrant, if somewhat menacing cities.

This was only 7 months after the Lockerbie bombing, a disaster which saw Pan Am Flight 103 crash in Scotland, killing 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 people on the ground.

After a three-hour check-in at Heathrow, during which the security staff made sure my Sony Walkman actually played the tape inside it, I boarded (from memory) the renamed Flight 113, bound for JFK, arriving on the evening of July the 4th.

If ever there was a good day for a bomb, it was this.

I arrived safely to see the Empire State Building lit up in red, white and blue.

We stayed the first night in the YMCA on E 47th Street, and after an orientation, were set free.

My first memory of that morning is a group of us being yelled at as we were blocking the pavement. I quickly learnt to say both sorry and sidewalk.

I managed to find some good digs, right in the heart of sleazy downtown on E 14th Street between First and Second Avenues.

New York had passed its worst, but there were still empty crack pipes on the streets in the morning.

I bought a copy of the New York Times on the first Sunday, and even though there were pages and pages, the want ads hinted the search for work was going to be pretty tough.

I had to differentiate, and I turned instead to the Yellow Pages.

I had very little experience working in restaurants but decided to use my unique qualities to my advantage.

I searched for a British or English restaurant. There was only one, the Cheshire Cheese Restaurant, a little further uptown.

I called on spec and asked for a job as a waiter. They had no vacancies, but could I come that evening and try out as a busboy?

I said I could, and I would be there at 6 o’clock.

That was it. Easy. First call, job in the bag.

Standing out from the crowd, differentiating, may be as simple as just being yourself.

 

We now offer a consultancy service with a no-obligation first contact.

If you would like help systemising your business or anything else, please get in touch.

 

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