The purpose of this column is not to sell you my course (which I will by the end of this blog anyway with a special gesture to thank you for reading it), but to tell you why and how I do it. So many people have asked me how I created this whole Rock Your English! shizzle and Niels said I have to do it in 2.5 pages max. Now THAT’s funny. 12 years ago I had a job that was a 20-minute bike ride from my house. It was safe, predictable, well-paid, at one of the most prestigious language institutes in Europe, and I was experiencing acute soutache (this is not a word; I just made it up, because it’s the only thing I can think of to describe how I was feeling at the time). To make a long story short, one of my students at that time asked me when I was 8 months pregnant to become the teacher on this crazy idea he had for a TV show called Starmaker. I jumped at the chance. ‘Just let me figure out this childbirth thing first.’
And there I was. Pumping breast milk in Lionel Ritchie’s dressing room. Peeing and forgetting to turn off the mic I was wearing constantly. And using my heart and soul and creativity to help this band get better. Bingo. A personal English coach to artists was born. Long story short(ish). Then I met Dennis, Dinand (Kane) and Edwin Jansen who basically told me to follow my dream. To leave my safety net and dive deep into waters I had only dipped my toe into for a brief moment. I was going to become the First Personal English Coach for Artists in The Netherlands Whatever The Hell That Meant. I left my job. Few people understood. They said I had just had a baby. They said The Hague was really far away – I’d actually have to change trains. They said that no one would understand what I wanted to do. Because it didn’t exist. But it did, in my heart. And that’s all I needed to know.
Edwin gave me some names. I went around Hilversum. Talked to some big boys. Mostly they were too busy. Only once did it really get me down. I had just had a depressing day in Hilversum. Heard lots of coffee-laced no. And one glimmer of hope which came in the package of ‘How much do you cost?’ And the only honest answer I had was ‘How much do you want to pay?’ It was raining. I was carrying heavy bags and had the wrong (read: gorgeous) shoes on. I was tired and having a pity party for myself. I thought maybe I was shooting blanks. Just because it was a huge success in Buffiland, didn’t mean shit to anyone else. Pack it up, and pack it in. I walked past a bank. The walls were glass and I stood there, mesmerized. There were people typing. Looking at screens. Answering phones. Writing stuff. EMPLOYED. I thought ‘Damn, those people are all working. Getting shit done. People call them back. What the fuck is wrong with me?!?’ And then it hit me. Like a goddamn ton of bricks. Nothing. There was nothing wrong with me. These people work in a BANK, for god’s sake. Did I want that? No fucking way. I had already left corporate for a reason. No way back now. Or ever.
Fast forward. Now I’m not living the dream. At all. I’m living my dream. I nurture emerging talent at amazing schools every week, with a dedicated commitment to innovation in education. I coach top artists and know their hearts and souls in a way that no one else ever will. I work in different countries and sample their fine gin after a hard day’s work doing what I love and was born to do. This is what I know in my heart of hearts. I need to share it with you, as readers of this blog:
- Find out what you are deeply passionate about and make sure you become excellent at it. Think Malcolm Gladwell. Beatles’ Hamburg Period, Lefsetz (if you don’t know what any of these things are, start figuring that out first).
- Give yourself time to connect the dots. I was in my 30’s before it all came together.
- Share your skills and your passion with others, whenever you get the chance. If you don’t get the chance, create the chance. If you are not willing to create a chance, then you’re not passionate enough.
- Learn from others who do your skill or service really well. Take notes. Ask hard questions. Make them think. Leave them with an impression of you. Leave them curious.
- You need help? Ask for it, for fuck’s sake. If you want to get better, and someone can help you, and you DON’T ASK, then you don’t want it badly enough. Get it?
- Go up to people you (gasp) don’t know and talk to them. This is what ‘networking’ is. Maybe they are famous and you get scared (been there). Maybe they are busy and don’t have a lot of time (been there). Maybe they have huge egos and don’t see the value of what you can offer (been there). But get out and get in the game. No one ever scored a touchdown from the sidelines. Ever.
- If you can’t support yourself by doing what you love to do, do something that pays enough money so that you can do what you love when you’re not working at that shitty job. If you have a crap job to help pay for your studio time, your gear, your lessons, etc. be GRATEFUL that you are using the money to help finance your gift. So many of your colleagues are using that money for unimportant shit. They don’t have a gift or a dream to finance. And as a result, they’re going to be working at that shitty job a lot longer than you will be.
- If you have good news, spread it like wildfire. Be proud of what you have accomplished. If you’re not proud of it yourself, why should anyone else be? OWN YOUR TALENT. So many Dutchies have trouble with this. Stop making yourself small and start CELEBRATING what you got. Get OUT THERE and shake what your mama gave ya.
- Surround yourself with people who are better than you will ever be at the things you suck at. I have a brilliant team who teach me things I ‘m crap at. As a result, I will never arrange to do a workshop in Leeuwarden and Breda on the same day (well, you know, again...).
- Let me set the record straight. Normal gets you nowhere. Get me interested because you are different, special, hungry, curious, and willing to learn. If you have my favorite cocktail of passion, dedication, discipline, and talent, combined with not being afraid to take risks and talk to strangers, then there’s no stopping you.
- There is no 11 (I wanted to make a top 10).
With gratitude, love, happiness, exhaustion, pride and an empty gin glass, I remain, your buffi. x
Buffi Duberman (twitter, Facebook) deelt haar tips & trucs hoe je je Engelse uitspraak en songteksten verbetert. Eerder zette ze Nederlandse songwriters op hun plek, had het over die altijd lastige 'th'-klank, de V en F in I Lof You Fairy Much, blogde over je songteksten (en nogmaals), woorden aan elkaar breien, ambities, gaf je een gratis worksheet, analyseerde met veel succes Ed Sheeran's 'The A Team', de bestgelezen post van vorig kwartaal, Bruce Springsteen's 'Born In The USA', Ben Folds' 'Fred Jones, Part 2' en vergeleek James Blunt's teksten met die van Ray LaMontagne. Driemaal raden wie won? Lucky Fonz nam het voor hem op.