A couple of times a month I write a message to all my teachers and staff, and I thought I’d post my most recent one to other school owners as well.  (It will go out to my staff at the beginning of next week, so they don’t receive work messages on a weekend.)  I think … Read more

MY Principle 1: We Start with Questions

(This is the third post in this series on Purpose and Principles.  You can find the first post here.)   When initially holding small-group discussions among our staff at MY English School, a couple of groups commented in their notes that they saw this as a principle applying to the classroom, not management.  Yes, Finding … Read more

MY’s Purpose – We Grow Success

(This is the second post in this series on Purpose and Principles.  You can find the first post here.)   About a year ago I read the book The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz.  It was first published in 1959, so the language is very male centered and parts of it feel … Read more

Purpose and Principles

I’ve always been a big proponent of focusing on a strong school culture.  After reading a blog post by Simon Moran about two years ago and other articles and resources on the value of a strong culture based on shared values, such as this one from Harvard Business Review (HBR), we decided it was time … Read more

Measuring Teacher Effectiveness with KRAs

What are the qualities of an effective teacher?  How do both they and we know what success looks like, both in the classroom and at the school in general?  We’ve developed Key Result Areas (KRAs) to help answer these questions.  As it states in the introduction to our Teacher KRAs:   “The purposes of these … Read more

Consulting an Attorney

  Coming from America, my impression of attorneys is that they are expensive.  I never thought about consulting one in regards to our school because of the imagined costs.  This meant spending lots of time asking questions of other owners, trying to find answers online, and essentially bumbling around trying to find advice and answers. … Read more

How Much to Automate?

  We are developing our own software for operating and automating our schools, after not finding anything on the market that really fit our needs.  One question that has come up, however, is how much we should automate.   I believe the most important factor that will set successful schools apart in the near future … Read more

People Become Trustworthy because You Trust Them

Tim Ferriss recently interviewed Jim Colins on his podcast, with one of the themes being trust.  Please listen from the 1:08:00 time stamp here ( until the 1:16:30 point, about 8-1/2 minutes.   Colins’s stance is that we should start from trust.  Yes, we will get burned sometimes, but the benefits of starting from trust … Read more

What Are Budgets for?

I have to admit that I am a school owner first and foremost because I was unhappy with the restrictions on teaching I encountered in my other teaching situations.  I wanted to teach the way that I felt was most effective and create a school with that same emphasis on education.   Even now, I … Read more

Taking Care of Staff

One of my staff members recently sent me a link to this podcast (length 4:45) with the message that it “reminded me of you and your ownership of MY.”  The podcast is mainly about the story of a construction contractor who gets more from his workers because he treats them well.  I don’t always succeed … Read more

The Biggest Bluff

  What are your thought processes for making decisions? How do you view risk and probabilities of success? Are you able to separate a good or bad outcome from solid or weak decision making? If you are successful, is it a result of luck or skill? What is within your control and what isn’t? How … Read more

Unquantifiable Business Decisions – No Campaign Promotions

The second unquantifiable business decision we’ve made at MY has drawn even sharper reactions than closing enrollments ( no campaign promotions. This strategy can elicit such strong reactions that once I even got kicked off a Facebook group for school owners after proposing it, being told that I was making the suggestion only as an … Read more

Adventures in Renting as a ‘Gaijin’ School Owner

With rental discrimination being legal, renting school locations and teacher apartments can be difficult for ‘gaijin’ (foreign) school owners in Japan. I’ll write about three of my experiences and what I learned from them.     Experience 1 – Soon after taking over MY English School in 2008, we were looking for an apartment for … Read more

The Future of Conversation Schools

What will be the future of English conversation schools in Japan? This is not a new question. I made a bet with another school owner back in 2014 about whether or not children would still be learning English in ten years, due to the developments in machine translation. (I look forward to my Guinness in … Read more

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