Entrepreneurship & Language Learners
If you gradually build up your stamina, you can go a long way. And the same with language learning. Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here. And, uh, today I want to talk about language learning and entrepreneurship and how they're connected. And, uh, I would remind you if you enjoy these videos, please subscribe, click on the bell for notifications.
Uh, and if you are on Apple Podcasts, please don't hesitate to leave a review there. So, you know, for much of my life, I have been, I guess, an entrepreneur and a learner of languages. So both are very much a part of me. Uh, I started out as a Canadian diplomat for seven years, but then for most of the remainder of the period, I either worked for a large corporation or, starting in 1987, I started my own company in the wood business. And of course, 15 years ago or so can't remember exactly, uh, my son Mark and I started LingQ. So, you know, as I reflect back on this, I see some real connections between entrepreneurship and language learning. The biggest connection is that both require you are and very much a part of both these activities is creating value. And I can explain what I mean by that. Now, when we say entrepreneur, it's a word, at least the way I interpret it comes from French... to undertake something, to do something. And I think doing something, you know, Undertaking something. Being an entrepreneur is a big part of being a human being.
We have ideas, we have enthusiasm, we have curiosity energy, and we channel that into some activity, hopefully a useful activity. And where language learning and, and entrepreneurship come, come together is around this idea of value. If you are going to be a successful language learner, You have to believe that learning a language is valuable.
And so many times I will sit there and if I'm watching a movie that I can understand, or I engage with someone in a language that I've learned or I'm visiting that country, or I'm just sitting back with a book and sort of reaping the benefits of the effort that I have put into learning that language.
I get a tremendous feeling of value. This is very valuable. When I'm, um, learning Persian now, as I'm doing it, I learned about the history of Persia and that, or even I follow a current events in Iran, uh, in the Persian language, in Farsi. And then I look up Khuzestan, which is very much in the news now in Iran.
And I find out that it's a very rich area with, with oil and water resources and farming is open. So all of that brings me value. My activity brings me value, but in the case of language learning, you're bringing value to yourself. With entrepreneurship. I think the key to entrepreneurship is to provide value to other people.
Uh, only if you provide value to other people, are you going to be successful. Uh, other similarities are in my experience when I started my own company in the wood business in 1987, uh, you know, I had spent a long time listening to people. I worked for a large corporation. I had spoken to many people in the Japanese wood business.
I knew what certain people were looking for and what was not being provided by the major Canadian or other foreign exporters to the Japanese market. So I had to absorb, I had acquired a lot of information by being patient and then armed with that knowledge, I was able to put together some, you know, supply and sizes that were not otherwise available in the quality that was not otherwise available.
I was able to provide something of value to the market. Now, something else I think that's similar between language learning and, uh, and entrepreneurship is when you start out on your own, and as I've done now twice, uh, in the lumber business and then in language learning. It's a long road and you have some initial successes, uh, but they can be almost sort of a mirage because in both cases it takes a long time.
It takes a long time to build up to that point where say in the case of languages you're getting that value that enjoyment, uh, you know, it's like, um, I dunno, it's almost like it's a long distance run. It's a, you know, here in Vancouver we have a thing called the Grouse Grind, which is somewhat less than an hour climbing up a very steep mountain.
If you start too quickly, you're going to burn yourself out. Uh, if you're going to be in a long distance race and you start too quickly, you run out of gas. And whereas if you gradually build up your stamina, you can go a long way. And the same with language learning. It's not what you can do in the first little while that matters it's what you can do, you know, at the end of the journey or later on.
And the same is true, uh, the companies, I mean, whether it be LingQ or whether it be, uh, my wood business, it was a long road before we started to get any traction. We had some initial successes, but that wasn't enough to make these ventures viable. We had to stay with it, stay with it long enough for it to finally mature.
Uh, another thing about entrepreneurship, which I firmly believe, is that, you know, obviously you have to give value. So it begins with giving. You can't begin by taking you begin by giving and you also have to be, in most cases, that's not always the case, but I think largely you have to be a man of, or a woman of your word.
If you say you're going to do something, you have to do it. You actually have to deliver in entrepreneurship so that people will trust you. And that means obviously knowing your business. Not committing to do things that you can't do, uh, being honest and so forth and so on and staying with it. And I think language learning is the same way.
You have to be honest with yourself. You can't tell yourself that you're better than you are or criticize yourself for being worse than you are. You just have to stay the course, honestly, and eventually you will reap the rewards and the same I have always found in business. If you are honest with your counterparts in terms of what you can do without overstating, what you can do, but also not doubting that you can do it.
In other words, you have to have the confidence that you can do it without overstating what you can do. On that basis you will, in time because it doesn't happen overnight, and if it's based on your knowledge, knowledge of the market, knowledge of products, eventually knowledge of people, you will build them: the contacts, the credibility and so forth. And similarly in language learning, if you give yourself credit for what you have achieved, don't overstate what you can do, you will find that you will gain more and more confidence, and eventually you will be able to, you know, reap the rewards of those efforts.
So I wanted to mention that today because I think, uh, I might just over the next little while in these videos, talk a bit about my experience as an entrepreneur, things that have worked for me, uh, I don't know if that would be of interest to you out there. Uh, I'm also going to be talking in different languages.
I haven't done that for awhile because I think most people probably understand English, not certain that they all understand these other languages. Uh, if I do speak in other languages, we will make sure they are translated. Uh, when I speak in English, The video and the audio and the text are uploaded to LingQ as lessons.
Uh, we have had a policy at LingQ that we really only want native speaker content in, uh, you know, the library. So if I speak in another language, I'm obviously not a native speaker, I'm not sure it's appropriate to have that as content in our libraries. Uh, but at any rate, uh, that's kind of a kickoff to this idea of talking a little bit more about entrepreneurship as it connects to languages or even without any particular connection to languages. And so I'll be interested in hearing from you what you think of this idea. So thank you for listening. Bye for now.