Video 3: The No.1 Mistake that all School Owners make

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Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

75 Responses to “Video 3: The No.1 Mistake that all School Owners make”

  1. Margit

    Great video.

    Put me on the list for more, of course.

    I think you talked about the most important points here:
    1. Being yourself.
    I have a gut feeling, this is the most difficult one, too.
    Especially for teachers who are in a culture, not speaking the language, not understanding the differences in humor etc.
    And often it means to also show my weak points to students, or on the other hand present my strong points.
    For many the “Middle” is so comfortable.

    So, absolutely “being yourself”.

    And Blogging; my best new students and parents are the ones who come because they have searched the net and found my website. They know exactly what they will get and this is what they want.
    Now, a concrete example with many many thanks to you, Richard:

    Last year, you shared a TED talk here.
    I loved it and put it on my blog:

    Now, right after that I got 2 new students calling. I had to tell them I was booked, but that there was a possibility 6-8 month later.
    There answer was:
    “I have seen your blog with the TED talk, the other day, and a teacher who shares something this wonderful is amazing. YOU are the teacher I want and I will wait patiently until you can take my daughter, even if it will take a few years.”

    you can imagine I was blown away, and this feed back of course got me on my legs to work something out getting them over.

  2. Ewa

    As always it’s been a real pleasure watching you and listening to your invaluable tips. Keep ’em coming.

  3. Susy

    Thank you so much Richard for taking the time find ways to help us grow, as people and as teachers.

    Love your enthusiasm when you share things with us.

    This was a great video with some great tips ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Anna Jany-Pietrazewska

    Terrific video. Your enthusiasm, useful tips are extemely inspiring. I hope to watch more. Looking foward to your next video!

  5. Richard Graham

    Thank you, thank you everyone for the kind words! It is so nice to hear!

    I’ll get working on the next video for you now. Is there anything in particular you’d like me to cover?

  6. Dr. Ingrid R. Yap

    Great tip. I am an advocate of inclusive education i.e. making quality education accessible to all kinds of children , especially those with special needs. And you are right. We get more students from families who believe in our philosophy and mission.

  7. Wayne Green

    Thank you Richard. I teach part time and I believe in being myself, if they don’t like my lessons that’s fine.
    I use genki english and I also teach children art, so I combine english and art together as well as singing your songs and jumping around. Be yourself and people will appreciate it.

  8. olga

    Great job! Thank you for your love and energy in teaching English. I’m always excited by all your works.

  9. Richard Graham

    @Ingrid: Fantastic – love what you are doing!

    @Wayne: Great stuff. I’ve actually got a friend here who is doing some amazing, like crazily amazing, stuff with art in class. I’ll see if I can pop down and make a video for you!

  10. John

    Thank you for the video. I’d like to see more

  11. Dan Burgess

    Hi Richard, I like the “be yourself” idea. You certainly practice what you preach! ๐Ÿ™‚ However it still requires venues for your potential clients to see you! One time I heard you mention the idea of being seen in the community. Not just in the context of teaching English, but doing other things like volonteer work. That can be your best publicity.

  12. Todd Finnigan

    Thank you for continuing to give back, again and again.

  13. Richard Graham

    @Dan: Yes indeed, was just giving one tip at once here ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Tood: Thank you, much appreciated!

  14. Milona Simeun Carmichael

    Great video.
    It was inspiring to hear that being yourself can help.
    I would like to hear more.

  15. RM.Murugappan

    Hi Richard
    This video is really pragmatic… Offlate I see lot of schools spending a lot of money in advertizing for growing their school strength. As you said people could believe only if they know you better. So blogging and demos are cool ideas.
    Thanks a lot

  16. Elena

    Thank you, Richard for the such positive message!)))

  17. Claudia Borghese

    Thank you so much Graham for your precious advice!
    Look forward to your next tips. Thumbs up!

  18. patrizia bini

    Hello, Richard you are always inspirational, it’s a great idea. So many people have web sites, and their own pages, but all they do is fill it up with, often videos taken from other places, or it is purely publicity which only shows, for example, english lessons with happy kids. It is certainly more interesting for people to get to know you on line, and then choose, and so one more time such a simple idea, and so effedtive, thank you!

  19. G. Wagner

    Thank you Richard for the lovely advice. I have a direct question. How much is the hourly going rate for a private lesson in Japan that is not held in a big city. Not too many foreign teachers in my area. Thank you.

  20. Zhazira

    Hi Richard, thanks a lot for your video and for sure i liked your ideas about being yourself and blogging ! i’d like to get some videos with fantastic ideas.

  21. Ivana Virga

    Great! I really enjoy your teaching. Congratulations and thank you for sharing!

  22. Anastasia

    Good tips! Thanks, Richard!

  23. Kheng Bunny

    I totally agree with you.

  24. Anna

    Richard, I call you the “God of English”. Because the songs you come up with are so amazing (even moms are singing them), the ideas that you share are so valuable, the energy that you give to teachers around the world is worth a lot!!! Thank you so much!!!!

  25. Julia

    Hi Richard and everybody!

    Being yourself is just the most important thing when you follow a great leader, because you never can be an exact copy of him.
    As I saw how Richard works I thought to myself: I like it so much but I don’t think I can do what he does, and HOW then can I teach GenkiEnglish? So it took me some time to “tame” GE, to find a way how I can be myself and use all tips and techniques Richard shares with us.
    But frankly speaking I can say that ‘me’ before using GE is not the same as ‘me’ now ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Uli

    Hi Richard
    thank you thank you thank you! I am using Genki English already for 9 years and it is simply the best.
    I am always preferring teaching at Kindergardens. Using their rooms……….
    I come and I go ………easy!!
    My problem are the mornings. Kindergartens are having their programs usually in the mornings, therefore they want me to come in the afternoons from 2 -4 pm. How can I find ways to teach Genki English in the mornings?
    Any idea?

  27. Richard Graham

    Wow, thank you everyone for the nice words!

    @Uli: Great idea to use kindergartens! For mornings, although it probably wouldn’t use Genki English, Mum & Baby classes are really popular. Or of course you could just enjoy the time off! ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Fleur Paumen

    A very inspiring and motivating video Richard! Exactly what I need to keep moving โ€ฆ towards my goal : opening an English school in two monthโ€™s , in September. I want to do this in a room in my house and I am exciting about it! Your video’s make all the difference to push me in the right direction. Thanks a millions!

  29. Nina

    Richard, thank you, you’re saying all the things I’ve been thinking about lately. I’ve got my own school and…yeah, you’re right, the rent sucks up all of my savings, especially in the summer. The thing is that I’m not sure if my landlord will ever agree to sell one part of the building (I’m only renting a half of the first floor) and that means we’ll have to move which doesn’t sound very nice ‘cos we have lovely design and everybody knows we’re here… and we’ve already moved three times))….but thank you for sharing your great ideas!

  30. Richard Graham

    Hi Nina, as long as you have a good excuse for moving everyone will be fine. But do it soon, as soon as you take that weight off your shoulders you’ll get your whole life back!

  31. Nina

    Wow, Real Richard (hopefully:) has left a reply to my comment)) Thank you, you’re closer than you seem to be! -) Thank you for sharing these simple but so valuable things, I’m sure that the more we share, the more we get back, don’t we))

  32. Angelika

    Hi Richard,
    Your vidios are as amazig as your work shops.Thanks!

  33. Angelika

    I’m going to have open doors on several days at the beginning of September to present the Genki system.

  34. NoemiNishi

    Hello Ricahrd! You are always here for us, newbies or experts. And I want you to know that I am very grateful for that. Everytime my email notifies me, I am rushing to check it on because i am waiting for some inivitations for a job interview. But then, It was always you. I just thought that, ”wow!this guy never stops” . As much as you are helping us to teach english effectively, you are also teaching us to keep our passion and positivity AND the fun! I just had one adult student and I tried to teach not by Genkli English but with the boring stuffs so, i guess, I scared her away. BUT i learned my lesson, and i see you as my very optimistic and energetic mentor, I will pursue my home-based teaching and if i fail again, i will never give up to try different ways to do it. Thank you for the videos and for your inspiring attitude. More power to you, Richard. I will always read anything that you posts and implement them as much as possible.

  35. Julia

    Hi Richard!
    Thank you very much for your desire to see every single teacher happy.
    It’s amaizing how many people you help and how thankful they are for your tips! I’m also among them.

    The second video made me clear that financial literacy is a subject I was never taught. So now (never late, hopefully!) I have to cover the field to get onto next level.

  36. Trevor

    Hello Richard,

    I started my own school in Japan just shy of two years ago. It has been going well with steady growth despite the average turnover you get with students coming and going. Going solo was the best professional decision I’ve ever made hands down. However, one point I struggle with is parents who feel their children are not doing well because their children aren’t immediately able to produce what they are studying or to explain what, exactly, they learned in their last lesson. This is especially the case, it seems, with beginners learning new grammar points. They have no foundation to speak of so it will inevitably take more study and time for them to put things together. A lot of parents don’t speak any English themselves so there’s no real frame of reference for the either. I know for sure, though, that continued study and attendance brings results. Any advice on how to get this one across to potentially concerned/doubtful parents?

  37. Cecylia

    Greetings Richard,
    Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put in to spreading the Genki word. I really appreciate all the information you impart.
    I am eagerly looking forward to your next video. I teach in rural Poland where there is high unemployment and money is tight, so I really don’t want to out-price myself from the market.

    My biggest problem is. . . myself! I really must draw up a contract. At present, if students don’t come for a lesson, they don’t pay. Some parents really mess me about and cancel at the last minute etc. I’m sure everyone can sympathise with that.

    So, I would really appreciate guidelines on what to include in a contract, and should clients pay upfront? If so, how far ahead, bearing in mind that I’m worried about losing clients if I charge too far ahead.

    Incidentally, I have offered some free English lessons for the school children from my local community and am thrilled to have just found out that the first two classes are full and the third class has only 3 places left.
    I will be teaching them in a room in the local library.

    Many thanks once again, Richard.

  38. Bobby Hornbeck

    Hey Richard,

    Thank you for doing this. Renting by the hour isn’t an option in my area, nor is buying at this momento. So maybe some does and don’t on renting??

  39. Chris

    I always wanted to start my own school and didn’t know how.
    Thank you for your ‘tried and tested’ advice !

  40. Leonardo Dias

    Very cool, That was exactly what I had been thinking by myself. It is always good to see something you get just as an intuition been put into reality and working already planned and done. Thanks, surely you motivate.
    But I have some questions: how do we know we are good enough to be by ourselves? How long do we actually need our bosses and their work for then owning a company?

  41. Richard Graham

    @Angelika: Thank you & good luck!

    @Noemi: Thank you and have a look here for your next adult class!

    @Julia: Do check out “Rich Dad Poor Dad”!

    @Trevor: Congrats on starting! First thing, get rid of the grammar and start teaching Genki English instead. Then the next key is to attract the parents who want what you’ve got, rather than trying to change the minds of ones who aren’t on the same page. Video 1: There are plenty out there for you!

    @Cecylia: Let me see what I can do about the contracts – it is a popular request! You can never over-price yourself, you can only ever under value yourself. As long as you deliver tremendous value you will always have amazing clients!

    @Bobby: Get a friends spare room, spare office space, community centre, garage, anything really, there’s plenty around, especially in Madrid!

    @Chris: You’re going to love it!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks everyone, keep them coming and I’ll try and answer when I can!

  42. Richard Graham

    @Leonardo: Now that is a very deep question! I guess the answer is “as long as you think you need them”

  43. Josie Carvalho

    Dear Richard

    Thanks for sharing all these tips with us. In my view you are absolutely right.
    I am looking foward to see your next video.


    Josie (Brazil)

  44. Collins Ando Kajisi

    Hi Renard
    Thanks for your regular emails. You are really great and committed to help the needy ones. Young people in Kilwa,Tanzania in 2012 still remember you for the permanent foundation built in English Language through genki English. Establishing my own school where genki techniques will dominate.
    Thanks once again God bless you.

  45. Bob

    Hey Richard,
    Good video and I agree with renting by the hour…to a point…but in Tokyo the hourly prices can actually end up costing you more than renting a place by the month.
    I started out in a Community Center and that worked great but typically you can only rent those for one day a week (in my case it was only 3 days a month). The price for a place in like Open Office in the nicer areas of Tokyo can be cost prohibitive. 5 hours a day, 2 days a week costs more than renting a place outright and putting up signs. Additionally, having a brick and mortar establishment lends a bit of credibility to your school and cements it as part of the community. It’s a bit easier to become famous when the people in the community can see your face plastered on the side of a building that they walk past every day.
    As for buying, I bought a house here in Japan and did the 15 year option. It will be paid off in about 2 years but it’s only worth about 60% of what I paid. Still, 60% is better than nothing. The prices in Tokyo are….crazy. The rate of property devaluation is even crazier! Still, it’s food for thought.

    So, bottom line. Yes, if you can work out of your house, do it. If you can’t work out of your house then, Yes, start off renting by the hour, BUT know where your cut off point is. Why pay for a place ‘by the hour’ that is, for the most part, far less than ideal when you can rent a place, benefit from signage and decorate it to fit your image/style for the same price or less?

  46. Richard Graham

    Hi Everyone, listen to what Bob says above, he’s a Samurai Master of all this stuff!

  47. Karomat

    It’s fantastic. Thank you a lot Richard. Look forward to see more and more tips like this.

  48. Orlaug Randi Fukuzawa

    I love to listen to your videos. It encourages me.
    Even if I do not intend to start any school now. I enjoy watching them because I think the points you make apply to every walk of life too.

  49. Svetlana Ivanova

    Hi,Richard!Thanks a lot for your video.I’d like to see more.I realy enjoy your teaching

  50. Mary Ann

    Thank you for all the tips.I just started my own small school here in Korea, and part of the process of getting a license from Ministry of Education,we have to let the Ministry of Education know our pricing computed by minutes/hours and it has to be approved by the standard rate according to the income of most families where I put up the school, and we have to post our rate outside the school to let the public know, the numbers of maximum students per class is also been regulated according to the measurement of the classroom.Everything is regulated,and this rule is for small academy or study room set up.

  51. Mauclair Alcira

    Hi Richard, Your work is really ineresting. Thank for sharing it.


  52. Richard Graham

    Thank you Karomat, Orlaug & Svetlana!

    @Mary Ann: Super useful to know! That’s actually really good for you because it means everyone will be charging a fair rate ( as opposed to most schools who undervalue themselves!) so that you can really differentiate yourself on the extra amazing value you can give. Would love to keep in touch and hear more about your fantastic adventure!

  53. Nicola Eaton

    Thank you thank you thank you. I have been toying with the idea of starting my own school for ages but never quite getting around to it. After watching these videos I am now ready! In fact I,m going to get started right now on the plans. Thank you so much for being so generous and sharing everything

  54. Mukomela Olena

    Hello, Richard ! I do not have my school yet , but as a teacher in different schools and as a tariner for adults, I have already done this mistake . I thought I was not good enough, not well trained, not skilled enough. then I started searching on the internet, looking for some interesting tips and information and the result was that I tried to use different resources, Genki English first, of cours, with my students and everybody liked my way of teaching. I was trying to adapt myself with each group and each person and that is a great value for these kind of lessons. So, never think you are not good eanough at something you want to do. if you are motivated and always trying to reniew , to do your best and to be up to the date, you worth it!

  55. Evanilde

    Dear Richard,
    how nice to listen to so much encouragement and value to the work we have being doing over so many years. Thatยดs the point, price up!

  56. Leonardo Dias

    Thank you. I will practice the step by step before start part. I am no enough confident because of the lack of knowing, what I can think of. Anyway, see you soon. good bye.

  57. Mukomela Olena

    And thank you very, very much !!!!:-)

  58. Jim

    Thanks, Richard. As usual, well-said. One other thing you might emphasize is he positive results of increased revenue: we have more energy, resources, and motivation to deliver excellent teaching, care, and professionalism to our students. There’s also a danger: feelings of entitlement–we must never take the parents’ trust (and money) for granted. Hanks for your help as we learn to be Genki.

  59. Gergana

    Great video, Richard! You already touched upon that topic in one of your blogposts, but this video brings about even more and makes it clearer and more understandable. I’ll definitely take your advice! Count me in for the e-book. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  60. Carolyn

    Well, this summer I was hoping to go for classes at home again, seeing I’m off from the school I work in during the school year. The plan was to do a small workshop with 6 kids a class and two groups. Easy, simple and not too much work, but a lot of fun.

    We did the advertising thing, I know, you don’t believe in it, but that’s how they seem to do things here, so I followed suit. Got some flyers ready and sent out my daughter and a friend to spread them out when the kids came out of school . Also had posters put up in various places and more flyers added to it.

    There seemed to be plenty interest as these were going out a couple of weeks before most people start with their advertising (including my boss LOL), we even had to make more flyers, but in the end……..not a single call.

    Ok , so competition is tough, the main one being the pool! We have 100ยบF temps here and the pool workshops are the most popular. We also had the annual fair here, which finished this last weekend. And here I am, June 30th and not one call…….

    Disappointing, but not necessarily surprising. I am now hoping that something comes up and I can turn my workshop in a 2 week one – same hours, same prize, but in 2 weeks. Very possible, it was one of the possibilities I considered, but when I thought of what I was charging, I figured people would probably feel more comfortable if it was a month. Yeah, silly, but people actually think that way! (you know, like the product that says “sale” and is only 1 cent cheaper?)

    Anyway, the price was one of those issues I had. I thought of what my boss is charging (way too little) and what I thought I deserved. To me, I am the best! I am enthusiastic, passionate, and I give each kid all the personal attention they need. I also include the materials in the price (avoids the endless “I forgot”s!!) and I use the best material I can find. I also go a step further and if I can teach more than what seems, I will. For example, doing a reading that teaches some history. (I do try to use cool stuff that kids get enthusiastic about it and it’s never failed me!), some exercise that teaches a life lesson, or some craft that teaches about a holiday (Thanksgiving), etc. I use Genki and interactive material – always hands on!

    What more can a parent want?

    I’m good with kids, and parents are usually very surprised to see how much I’ve learned about their characters in a short period of time (a lot of observation!). I finally settled for an amount, just above average. I am happy with my choice.

    If nothing pulls through this summer, I hope to try again once the school year starts. I’ll have to wait to see my hours at the school, but once I know those, I will try again and see what happens. I only need one group of 6 students and they’ll do the rest for me. That’s how good I am! The kids love my classes! They always want to repeat with me!

    I don’t want to do this full time. I do like being under someone elses’s responsibility, but because I’m not allowed to do things my way, I want to do this at home so I can satisfy that need. If I ever accumulated too much interest, I guess I could leave the school and keep my work at home! That would be quite nice! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thank you for helping us move forward and loose that fear to take that step. You give us confidence and enthusiasm!

  61. Smita

    Hi Richard. Thanks for this video. I’ve been dreaming of starting my own school for really long and this series seems god sent and pushed me into searching for a place for my school. I actually went out and checked some places yesterday. Thanks so much. God willing, I’ll have my own school soon.

  62. mari morita

    Hi, Richard ! Thank you for all the great tips . I love your enthusiasm ๐Ÿ˜Š, watching these videos make me feel that “I can do it !” ๐Ÿ‘

  63. Beverley

    Hi Richard,
    I’d just like to confirm everything you’ve said in these videos. I took part in the summer coaching series last year and my work, both professionally and economically literally ‘exploded’ It’s been the most rewarding year, in every way, since I started teaching and keeps on getting better and better.
    I haven’t had time to post on forums etc due to my schedule but hopefully sooner or later I’ll catch up with the other participants and see how they’re doing ๐Ÿ™‚
    Anyway, I’d just like to say that the summer coaching was ‘priceless’ and taught me many things that ‘I didn’t know I didn’t know’ and I am so pleased that I took the leap and signed up for it. It has literally changed my life ๐Ÿ™‚
    Once again, THANK YOU!
    Best regards,

  64. Steven

    So I have been thinking of raising my prices. The thing is I am already the highest paid teacher in town, and from what I know one of the highest paid in the region. I teach individuals – children and adults – It is a very specialized teaching – would you raise your prices even if you were the highest paid teacher?

  65. Chris Sharp

    Richard, My wife and I own a school together. She’s Japanese and I am American. We feel it’s a strength of our school that is seldom matched anywhere else in our area. We began using Genki English this year for our elect art and ore-school students. It’s been fantastic! However the elephant in the room is our pricing. We’ve added so much more value to our school since we started eight years ago but our prices have increased just slightly. We have a bit of a conundrum because we feel if we raise our prices too high the students we’ve had for years may leave us. With new students were not that worried about raising prices or having a higher price however having people at different prices is a bit odd I feel. So we’re trying to find a way to go forward with our school and make more money without losing any of our valued long time students. As a side, we’re considering your special program that allows parents to buy the videos for home use next year.

  66. Richard Graham

    Wow, thanks for all the comments everyone!

    @Maayan: You see Dacha in the video there? Well, yep, she is in France. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s all about keeping your mind open and seeing the possibilities that there are for you out there.

    @Steven: Yes, if you believe you are giving them way more value than they are paying then yes, you can go even further with your prices. Before Starbucks, coffees cost $1 or $2, now people see the extra value and spend $4, 5 or $6. And just look at Michel Thomas, $10,000 for just one weekend of language lessons. So yes, as long as you keep on giving value then the sky really is the limit. Also check out the BBC article about the Korean English teacher who makes $500, 000 per year from her very happy students.

    @Chris: You know I used to recommend “airplane pricing” where the ones who booked/started a long time ago pay less and the newer ones pay more. People are used to that (mobile phones, banks, hotels etc. use this model) But ….. in the last few years we’ve found it’s so much easier to just rip off the bandaid in one go and put all the prices up. You’ll be surprised at how much positive reaction you get from the parents!

  67. Steven

    I just want to say thank you. You are a genuine person. One who cares and takes time to answer the questions we send.
    I subscribe to some ‘motivational’ entrepreneurs, and for me you are one of the best. You don’t hold anything back and you are here. Just letting you know how awesome you are.

  68. Anna

    Thanks sooo much for the great tips! A few days ago I was in this torturing situation I had to decide what’s the best pricing for my lessons. I do believe I made the right decision. But your videos really help me move on after I’ve been down and unsure. You help me believe in myself and what I am just beginning to do. Thank you, God bless. ๐Ÿ™‚

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