4 months ago

Inspiring teenagers

Riccardo paused and

Riccardo paused and scanned the room, assessing their level of engagement. There was room for still more. He pointed at the pictures. "What do you think those pictures mean?" "Places you’ve lived"; "They are Swedish companies."; "Your customers." Dozens of answers began flying across the room. It sounded for a moment as though Riccardo had lost control of the students. Melissa, the teacher who had introduced Riccardo, looked a little nervous. "I think you have lit their fires enough," noted Riccardo’s inner voice. "Now you know a little about me and my company… what else do you want to know?" Riccardo challenged. "What do you do?" prompted one student. "I teach English. Business English Communication. That’s all explained on my website," Riccardo replied flatly. The silence that followed prompted Riccardo to give the students a nudge, "You can ask anything, as long as it’s not something you can Google." "How much money do you make?" "Why did you move to Sweden?" "How did you start?" "What feels right?" queried Riccardo’s inner voice. "How I started my first business," replied Riccardo. "Double-check before you dive in," reminded Riccardo’s inner voice. "So would you like to know how I started my first business?" Riccardo studied the faces around the room, "Is that a good place to start today?" he asked. 32

"Ready, steady, and GO!" called out the voice in Riccardo’s ear. Riccardo stood comfortably and calmly in the middle of the stage and spoke in his strongest, clearest voice. "I started my first business when I was young, about your age," he began, gesturing with his arms to include everyone in the room. Riccardo imagined he was a teenager again, starting high school, borrowing from his own memories and also from the body language and facial expressions he observed in the room. He mimed a teenager pose, and for extra effect, he put on a slightly confused, searching, lost expression, and says "I had just finished secondary school and was starting at the high school." Riccardo shook his head emphatically. "At the time, I was not interested in starting a company at all. I had never even thought about it." He continued, "I expected to go through the entire curriculum at high school and then go on to further studies, maybe, or get a job." Riccardo nodded, seeing that many students were recognizing themselves in his story. Continuing in the pose and expression of his teenage self, Riccardo edged the story forwards, "Almost all of my school friends left secondary school and went straight into jobs. They had been earning money all summer. Me, I was broke." To show he was telling the truth, that his trouser pockets were bare, he drew out the lining and showed his empty pockets to the students in the front row. In a less exaggerated voice and manner, Riccardo shared what was going on with him during the summer before he started high school, "I had spent my summer relaxing, sometimes indoors, sometimes outdoors. But not studying and not working. I was resting, getting ready for high school." Riccardo grinned at his memories of the laziest summer of his younger life. "And then I was here, in the first days of term, sitting in an assembly like this." He waved at the room, "for the whole year group, about a hundred of us. We were going to listen to a guy from ‘Young Enterprise’." 33

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