I want to tell you a story of something that happened to me in Brazil 25 years ago that taught me a ton as I was getting started as a coach.
I went to Brazil to chase a girl who at that time I thought was the love of my life. The truth is she was my first girlfriend and that was about it.
I went there chasing this girl and the plan was to live with her together forever. After I got there, two months later, we split up which wasn’t exactly the plan. But frankly, it was for the best.
I was completely depressed; totally beaten up and upset about the whole thing. I was feeling really down. I didn’t know what to do or where to go.
I rang home and I was telling my folks about it and they put a family friend on who was kind of pretty successful. He’s the only business guy I’d ever met because our family didn’t really do that stuff. He said, “Taki, just so you know, there’s no shame in coming home. And I saw you…”.
I hung up thinking there’s no way in hell I’m going back. I had way too much ego and too much pride to admit defeat and tell all the friends I made a mistake after telling that I was going away for at least a year.
Luckily, one of my cousins had married a Brazilian woman. And her family was way up in the northeast of Brazil and I got this phone call from these distant relatives who I’d never met in Portuguese which was hard.
I didn’t really understand it. I had to get my ex-girlfriend’s mum to translate for me. That’s how it was going. And they said, “We heard you’re having a tough time. Do you want to come up here and stay with us for a little bit?”
I was like, “Please, could I?”
And so, two or three days later, one of these distant cousins had come down to Sao Paulo where I was and was going to catch a bus back. And he said, “You come with me. I’ll ride on a bus.”
It was 26 hours by bus. I bought a bus ticket, went up with them, and my life’s changed.
I came up to northeastern Brazil without knowing what will happen and they just embraced me and they took me in, and they treated me like their son even though they had no real reason to. I certainly didn’t have anything to offer them, and they looked after me.
One of the family members, in particular, had a daughter called Bella, who really was just an incredibly generous listening ear. We talked late to the night, I’d pull my eyes out. She’d listen and didn’t tell me what to do, but just kind of help me through went out the other side.
One of the things you need to know about this area is it’s where the cacao comes from. Cacao that becomes cocoa, that becomes chocolate. The area was super, super well off a long time ago. But when I got there, they’d had some kind of fungal infections, hit the plantations. It was called Witches’ Broom and basically, it killed all the cacao which meant that the region had almost no money and unemployment was super high.
Bella’s family was desperately poor and she went out every single morning looking for a job. And in the afternoon when she came back unsuccessfully, we’d hang out and talk and she’d help me. It was just in a battle, doing her best to get by to help her family —six brothers and sisters and all that.
Every day for six weeks, she’d go out looking for a job. I should also say by way of background that nobody in this town spoke English. I was the whitest guy by a long, long way, and I was the only gringo. I didn’t speak Portuguese.
When I got there, but I learned pretty quick because otherwise, I would’ve starved. Anyway, so Bella would go out every day and she comes back every night having been rejected a dozen times.
One day, she comes home, jumps through the front door with this huge grin on her face. “Taki! Oy, Taki!”
I’m like, “Yes?”
And she goes, “Taki, guess what? I got a job.”
I’m like, “What do you mean? Congratulations, that’s amazing.”
We hugged. Tears of joy. She was just like on top of the world. Tears of joy. I said, “Bella, that’s amazing. What’s the job?”
She was all proud, “I am an English teacher.”
I was like, “Oh, my God. What do you mean you’re an English teacher? Bella, you don’t even speak English.”
I remember I was the only guy who did.
She said, “I know. But you do.”
I’m like, “I don’t like how this sounds. What on earth were you thinking?”
And she said, “Well, here’s what we’ll do. I’ll take the books home. At night, you can teach me the next day’s class. We’ll record it and so I can listen to it that night as I go to sleep. I can listen to it on the bus on the way to work. And I’ll teach the class. The kids will hand in their homework, and I’ll bring it home, and you can help me mark it.” And then that’s the plan.
I’m was like, “Dude, this is not a good plan. I don’t like the sound of this at all.”
It sounds super dangerous, but frankly, she’s been busting her gut trying to get a job for six weeks — probably longer. And this was her chance, so she took it.
Every day, she’d come home from school. I’d help her correct the kids’ work, and then I’d teach her the next day’s class. And she would go to school, she’d teach it. They don’t need to know any better, they didn’t speak in English.
She was amazing. She was just doing a bad version of what I taught her the night before and on the tape recorder. And we did it. She did it incredibly well. In fact, we got away with it for six weeks.
After six weeks, something happened. After six weeks, a new student named Rosa joined her class, and she just spent a year on exchange in the US.
One day on Rosa’s first day in class, halfway through Bella teaching the lesson as best she could, this girl Rosa puts up her hand and says some kind of question in English. Bella didn’t have a clue what it was.
She comes up that night and she goes, “Taki, I was halfway through the lesson and this girl put up her hand and asked me blah blah blah, and I had no idea what she was saying.”
I was like, “Oh my God, Bella, what did you do?”
She said, “Well, I got indignant. I threw my shoulders back, I puffed up my chest. And I looked at her and I said, ‘Rosa, who is the student?’ ‘I am.’ ‘And who is the teacher?’ ‘You are.’ ‘And who decides what I teach, in what order, and when?’ ‘You do.’ ‘Exactly.’”
I said, “Bella, that was clever. I wouldn’t have thought of that. Well done. This is going to difficult. By the way, what did the girl say?”
In her broken English, she said, “Can I go to the toilet?’ What does that mean?”
I’m like, “Dude, she’s just asking if she can go to the toilet.”
Bella wasn’t the best English teacher in Brazil. She probably wasn’t even the best English teacher in this town. But she was the best in their world. Right?
She was one step ahead of the students. I guess the first thing I want to say is this, I want you to get world-class at your thing; at coaching, at teaching, at marketing, at selling, at creating content, at all of the stuff. I want you to get world-class. That’s my goal for you.
I mean, you don’t have to start world-class. If you can get somebody a result faster than they could on their own, you qualify to begin this coaching journey.
Certified or not, if you can get them the result quicker with you than they can without you, then start helping and start sharing. You just have to be one step ahead.
Is that good enough long term? No, not even close. But it’s where to start.
There’s this old saying that says, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
If you’ve done something yourself, if you know more about it than anyone else or more about it than most people or you’ve helped somebody else to it, get busy sharing your stuff. You don’t have to be perfect.
You don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it started.
I don’t know where you’re up to in your coaching journey. If you’ve looked in the mirror and doubted yourself whether you’re good enough or you know enough or you got enough credibility or whatever, I want you to be like my cousin Bella and just grab the reins and just be one step ahead of your dudes.
Bella speaks exactly as much English now as she did 25 years ago. I was her English teacher and she’s been definitely, my Portuguese teacher. What’s even cooler is that she’s just starting a new business as a coach.
Be like Bella. All you have to be is one step ahead of your students.
Big love from me and take good care. This has been Taki Moore. Out.
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