Monthly Archives: August 2012

What the Olympics can teach all of us

With the spectacle of the Olympics over and the Olympic athletes returning to their home towns and civic receptions we are all having to get used to life without the likes of Usain Bolt on our television screens. Despite some reservations about the cost of the games there is no doubt that Britain made them a success. It made me proud to be British and that the whole world was able to see us as friendly enthusiatstic people with an amazing historical and cultural heritage.Lets hope that the £10 billion cost proves to be a good investment.

But the legacy of the games is far more than encouraging more people to take up sport and be challenging for Oylmpic medals in the future. The legacy is also something that is intangible in that the efforts and sacrifes of our athletes has a lesson for us all. To have a chance of an Olympic medal athletes need to train very hard. It can take 4 years of training and personal sacrifice to reach the pinnacle of your sport. These athletes had a vision and a goal. They knew exacltly what they wanted and they were prepared to put as much effort in as was needed to succeed.

It’s a well known fact that if we don’t have a goal in life we will not get there, so that’s the first lesson. Write down your goals, have a vison of what you want in life and aim high. Once you have you goals you need to work out a way of achieving those goals. They won’t just fall at your feet. This usually involves getting to be good at what you want to do. Whether its football or working in a restaurant. If you are good at it you will progress, and the way you get good at what you do is to be enthusiastic and to train/work hard. It means being the best you can be!

Just like the Olympians we need to raise the bar that we set ourselves and also we need to raise the bar in education. As A level and GCSE results for this year are released we have the annual debate on whether the exams are hard enough. Whether that’s true or not we need to raise standards and one way of doing that is by making the exams harder. If everyone is getting A’s or A * how can we pick out the exeptional ones ?

One thing that I really liked during the Olympics is the way the parents of the athletes were treated. They were interviewed on TV and treated as VIP’s. I think we can learn from the praise that was heaped upon these parents. An athlete or indeed any young person will find it difficult to succceed without support from parents.It’s the same with succeeding in education and gaining qualifications. Parents need to be supportive of their childrens aspirations and teachers need to become very good at inspiring children with the love of learning.

There is no doubt that we have plenty of people who have a vision and a goal and have the support and self determination to achive in sport, education and in life in general. The Olympics showed everyone that we are genuine, friendly and can organise a hell of a party.

The Olympics also showed us how to succeed in whatever we do. There is a lesson for all of us !

Pushing the boundaries in business and education.

For companies, organisations and retailers one of the biggest challenges they face is establishing themselves in the online market place. This involves much thought and planning to implement a strategy that works and is going to be competitive. Being online is far more than having a website and putting some products in a database and hoping that you might sell some. Once you have your website you need a marketing plan and I would encourage any business that has a website to think about this before setting up the website. I would also strongly suggest that you look at Social Media Marketing but above all else I suggest you think about how you will engage your customers. What I mean is that you must use your website as a method to “talk” to your customers. You can answer questions and this builds trust – vitally important if you want to be a success in the online world.

My online travel business, Global Holidays, was set up in 1996 and I was one of the first travel agents to have a website. I added videos of holiday destinations way before anyone else did ! I wanted to be a pioneer of the online travel world and by 1998 I had a full blown e-commerce travel website.

In the last 12 months I have got involved in teaching travel and tourism students and have since then been gradually introducing new e-learning methods of teaching into my classroom. I am no expert yet in e-learning but I will try to be. I have written articles about online universities being the future, and I can see private companies trying to muscle in on the act and being a threat to universities and colleges.

I like it when organisations look to the future and make an attempt at doing things differently. The same applies to colleges and schools. I love it when they try something new to improve learning.It’s essential to do this to improve.

When I heard about South West college in Northern Ireland having a “Virtual Week” I was very impressed. For one week the majority of the students stayed at home and had their lessons online. The lessons were taught by teachers using multi media and connected together in an online classroom. The Virtual Week must have taken a lot of planning and organising but the results seem to be that the week was a success.

To make progress both in life and business you have to push the boundaries, go outside your comfort zone and try something new. Mistakes will be made but we all know that that’s one way we learn.

One of the reasons South West College say they had their virtual week was so they can teach when students can’t attend due to bad weather. There are though far more uses for this type of teaching.

So, what can education learn from the online business world? Well, e-learning needs to be user friendly, it needs to be reliable, it needs to offer the best learning experience with plenty of choice. There needs to be plenty of support available. Far too many e-commerce sites have no telephone number to call if you have a question. 

If anyone is interested in watching a short video of the Virtual Week you can watch the video below.