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  • Dina Newman

What School Doesn't Teach You About Work

Updated: Sep 1

Who Rules Your Life? Podcasting with the people who live their purpose

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/who-rules-your-life/id1527796605





Hosts: Dina Newman and Tine Bieber


Guests: Wing Yan Man and Ngunan Adamu



Here's a thought: in the past, we were told to "sell ourselves" on our curriculum vitae. Today, we are told to "be ourselves".



Background:



Wing Yan Man is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and is the founder of 3310, a school for millennials. The name of her school is a bit of a mystery to us, while the purpose is pretty clear: millennials don't need to learn how to use a smartphone, but they need to learn how to create a healthy life-work balance and thrive in a rapidly changing world, not be crushed by it. Wing's purpose is to inspire others by being herself. Her mission echoes the current trend: "stop being perfect and start being real" is a motto for our time.

Find out more at:

https://www.3310.school/about-1




Ngunan Adamu is a radio host, a journalism trainer and the founder of a unique social enterprise, Iwoman Academy, based in Liverpool, UK. Ngunan's purpose is to help women all over the world. She's an motivational speaker, a role model for independent women ("hmmm, I am always battling with this 'independent' business!) and a proud mother. With her trademark red lipstick and massive hoops, she is a real inspiration to the next generation of professional women. ("It's ok to be you!") Follow Ngunan on social networks for great one liners, real life stories and photos which will put a smile on your face.


You can find out more about her social enterprise, and donate, here

https://www.iwoman.co.uk


If you want to find out more about social enterprises, start here:

https://www.the-sse.org/resources/starting/start-social-enterprise-10-steps/


I will add a blog explaining this concept soon, as it is a great way of running a business and living your life purpose.


This is the full transcript of our conversation.


Wing:

So mentally, I was exhausted. And I had to go back to my parents to say, Well, you know, I know you've worked really hard, but I just cannot do it. Apparently, I just get so stressed.


Ngunan:


I think in this day and age, you know, it's all about innovation. It's all about seeing yourself in the person and not necessarily just me being a black woman, is being fun and taking risks, and saying to young people, it's okay to take a risk, it’s okay to have big earrings and wear red lipstick, you know, you can still be successful. It's okay to be you.


Dina:

Welcome to Who Rules Your Life, Podcasting with the People who Live their Purpose. 


I'm Dina Newman, I am a journalist, I live in London, UK, and I am looking for a life purpose. Like many other things, this project has come out of the pandemic, the stress, the fear of an economic downturn - when I realised that at some point you need to find firm ground, your purpose, to keep doing your work. In this series, we are talking to the people who have done just that. Check out our website, who-rules-your-life.com, there are some interesting stories there. 


I don’t think school teaches us anything about our life purpose. It usually teaches us to work hard. But what happens if you work in the job that doesn’t suit you? Or if you burn out? And what about all these people, highly educated and very hard workers - who nevertheless face discrimination and are fighting an uphill struggle? We see this in the workplace quite a lot. We see young people who want to contribute, and be themselves, be able to speak out. And so many eventually change gear, start “playing the game”, or switch their priorities elsewhere. So today we ask how do we connect to the world of work in a more meaningful way, and can we help others to do the same?  


Now my co-host, Tine Bieber, is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, she’s one of those young people who is determined to keep her work aligned with her life purpose. Over to you, Tine. 


Tine:

Hi, there. Hi, Dina. I'm very looking forward to today's conversation. And I'm happy to welcome our guests Ngunan Adamu and Wing Yan Man. Hi. Let me introduce to you guys Wing first. So Wing is the founder of 3310, the school for millennials, and she's a millennial herself and founded 3310, several years ago in Amsterdam with the intention to actually redefine education. So Wing had followed an 80 hour work week as a consultant for some time. And then she got to a triggering moment which made her actually pursue this completely different career path. So welcome Wing. 

Wing:

Thank you.

Tine:

Happy to have you today. And Dina please go ahead and have us meet Ngunan. 

Dina:

So our other guest is Ngunan Adamu. She is a multi-talented woman, a radio host, a journalism trainer and also the founder of quite an unusual social enterprise called I woman Academy based in Liverpool, UK. Ngunan, what is I woman Academy? 

Ngunan:

So I woman Academy is a social enterprise that I launched back in 2016. And it's using radio as a well-being tool. But the focus is women. It's not about being in the media. It's about using the skills that you know, that you learn from the media, especially radio, to gain confidence, and teamwork. And so yes, that's I woman in a nutshell. 

Dina:

Right, thank you, Ngunan. It’s a pleasure to have you here today, and I am sure we can learn a lot from you, and hopefully, you might also take something away from this conversation. 


Ngunan:

Oh you know what I love? What I would love to take from today is, number one, sisterhood because I love working and talking to other women, in different parts of the world, that's it, that's, it always puts a big smile on my face. And also just how we've all managed to get to where we are, with the different advice and advice being given. And seeing that as we are all so different if, you know if we've actually had the same or similar uphill struggle. 


Wing: 


I think it's very fun for me meeting new people, and especially while we're all in different places, all from different backgrounds, which I always find interesting. And I actually agree with Ngunan with sisterhood. Actually, I studied engineering, so I'm used to a man's world, and I don't have girlfriends basically. So for me, that's always a new thing. So yeah, I'm excited.

Tine:

Cool. Dina, what about you? 

Dina:

Well, I'll tell you what I'm hoping to lose after the conversation today. I have a secret fear of education, to be honest, anything to do with education sends me into panic. I don't know why, don't ask me. I'm a victim of communist upbringing, I don't know. I hope to lose this fear today and gain a new perspective on the topic.

Dina:

So both of you, I understand, Ngunan and Wing, you have founded your own organisations, in order to train people in something that the society doesn't provide. What is it? Do you think the school should be doing the job that you're currently doing? Is it something that can be taught and should be taught widely? Wing, what do you think?

Wing:

Well, the reason why I started the school is because I had a corporate career and then I also had a career switch, I got a burnout. And then I realised that a lot of things that led me to this burnout, I've haven't been taught that at school, for example, yeah, I was raised with a lot of hard work. I saw it with my parents. And I don't believe hard work is a bad thing, per se. But I would say how to protect yourself, and how to listen to your body, and listen to your feelings. I haven't been taught that at school, or confidence, or a resilience in how to fail, that when you make mistakes or things don't suit you, that doesn't mean that you are wrong, per se. I think we live in a society where we have a certain image of what is perfect or what is success. I do think and fortunately it is changing a bit. So purpose and happiness is coming. But still, it's not what you earn money with and we live in this capitalistic system. So I think we're in a certain transition we were not prepared for. 

Tine:

So what is success for you?

Wing: 

Well, before his power was even though I didn't want to admit it out loud, but yeah, you want to have good money, you want to have stability, a house, a family and all those things. And at that turning point, I realised, that doesn't mean necessarily that you're happy. I didn't know what happiness is, you know, I haven't been taught that. And also I don't have to follow what other people say going on. 

Dina:

Nguan, what I'm wondering about your company, your social enterprise, it appears that you're just teaching people to have fun, fun, fun. Instead of teaching them proper job skills.

Tine:

 Sounds wonderful, I think

Ngunan:

The whole idea behind Iwoman was aimed at creating a safe environment for women who were unemployed and felt that they had lost their confidence through not being given a chance. So some of these women had been unemployed for say six months and above. Some of them had been carers for their parents, and had felt that the left, they had no skills or their skills have in the way expired. And really, when I started I woman, I wanted women to have fun learning, and also supporting each other as well. And I didn't want it to be really academic, but I wanted them to learn skills. So I actually ended up going back to university myself, and doing a teaching degree to make sure that these women weren’t shortchanged, you know, and I wanted to put my spin on what I felt education was, you know, because I think sometimes we learn more when we're practical, we're having fun, we're enjoying ourselves and we feel safe. There's no one telling you that you're stupid. There's no one marking your work. It's all about learning, and just learning new skills. 

Dina:

But I understand even to start your own enterprise, you took some risks, because you did have a safe job in a big company. And then you took quite a drastic step to go part time in order to pursue this particular path. So you must have felt very strongly about education to go to those lengths?

Ngunan: 

Oh, goodness, yeah, yeah, well, you know, I'm a single mom, and I was working full time earning a nice wage. And I just felt something was lost. You know, I felt like I was losing parts of my soul. Dina, you know me, I'm all about the universe and spirituality, and happiness. And, you know, I've never wanted to make decisions based on money, I've always wanted to make decisions based on how I feel the world should look, and the kind of legacy I want to leave behind for my little boy. And then, with that connection, I thought, you know, I wanted other mothers to feel that they could be the best mothers they could be, or women could be the best version of themselves. So it was it was, it was a risk I was willing to take, and it's paid off, you know, and you know, everyone, if you’ve read The Universe Has Your Back, you'll understand that when you surrender yourself to the universe, you will gain so many different ways. 

Dina:

Ngunan, you're getting so spiritual now, and I tell you on this podcast I have heard no end of spirituality, or my God. 

Tine: 

Oh, come on!

Dina:

One thing you said that resonated with me also, being a single mother and I'm just wondering, to ask this of Wing. I mean, your parents presumably played an important part in your life. You said they were the ones that pushed you to work hard. 

Wing:

I think it's not pushed, it's more like, well, my parents were immigrants in the Netherlands. So you just see that they are surviving for you to have success. Basically, they want you to succeed in life. Their picture of success, of course, is having a degree, go to a good school, go to university, and then find a job, that makes a lot of money, basically, because that's security. And so my parents had a big part of my life as in showing the example, but they never said like, Hey, you should work hard and you should really do this. Otherwise we punish you! I never got that feeling, fortunately. 

Dina:

So where were the immigrants from? 

Wing:

They were from Hong Kong. 

Dina:

So they came from Hong Kong to the Netherlands, and what they must have worked hard themselves, providing you with the role model? 

Wing:

Yes. So they, my dad started his restaurant. I think he was 18. So he owned a restaurant when he was 18. And then he's just worked for like, you know, 30 plus years every day, no holidays, seven days a week. Because yeah, holidays when you will lose customers. So you just see that, yeah, they sacrifice basically their lives for you. So you feel a lot of pressure that you don't want to fail them. In the Asian culture, at least, you want to make your parents proud, so that they will be talking highly of you, towards the other community members. Losing faith is an expression in that sense. So you definitely don't want to be the one that is the black sheep and just you know, fails in life basically. 

Dina:

But hang on a minute, so that's what I don't get, Wing, and maybe you can tell me because you understand millennials, right? How come that generation were able to work so hard, seven days a week, push themselves. They didn't burn out. They did just fine. And then these millennials come along, and suddenly all the burnout and life is so tough. Oh my god! 

Tine:

The lost generation. 

Wing:

I know. I know. It's funny because actually I was in a corporate job and I had a I was really doing really well. And then I got burned out, and I didn't realise how I got burned out. Because for me, it didn't feel like burnout, because I thought if you're burned out, you cannot get out of bed anymore. You cannot do anything anymore. But I was perfectly fine. I was still doing sports. But still, I was diagnosed with burnout. So mentally, I was exhausted. And I had to go back to my parents to say, Well, you know, I know you've worked really hard, but I just cannot do it. Apparently, I just get so stressed. So I do believe that these millennials, of course have this upbringing of this wealth. But on the other hand, with wealth these days becomes a lot of pressure with choices. And we live in a world like I said, we transitioning from old values to new values, and I think we just finding our way. And our parents were not raised with internet or not having a job for life. We know we can choose everything and the world is changing so fast with these jobs, which we did not prepare for at school. I even know students that just do study right now or something, and they probably cannot find a job because it's already over. So these change is just too difficult to deal with. I think change in general for humans, we are having difficulties with, but the pace is going right now is really tough. And we get paralysed. So all these choices come earlier what they would call the midlife crisis, we got like an earlier crisis basically. 

Dina: 

Oh, right. So that's what… Okay, good! Because I'm having my midlife crisis right now, in my 50s... 

Wing:

Yeah, same thing. 

Dina: 

I can resonate with millennials who are having it like 20 years earlier, right? 

Wing:

We're too young, you know, we're too young, we don't have a base as in self-knowledge, we don't have a base in what is right and wrong and yet, so we're so easily to get moulded in that sense and to just follow the flow, how it's been laid up for us. And that makes it really difficult to go down.

Dina:

You know what, I am beginning to suspect that this whole thing “a crisis”, is simply a call for change. It only becomes a crisis if you are stuck in a particular mode. Your heart is indicating that your life purpose has moved elsewhere. Your energy is withdrawing, if you keep ploughing on, you might well end up with a burn out! Ngunan, so for you, your spirituality helped you at that particular junction, but to start with, presumably, your parents also pushed you to work hard. And did you get all the excellent marks at school and university as well? 

Ngunan:

Well, I didn't have a choice, like Wing said. My dad was a doctor. And you know, and everyone assumed that I was going to be a doctor. So when I came home and said, That's not the path I want to take, and actually, I'm leaving school to go to college to do media, it was as if I spat in their face. Honestly, it was like, there's no security, what are you doing? You know, there's no jobs, there's nothing and I said, trust me, trust me on this. I'll make it work. I mean, university was hard for me. I was the only black student in the whole of my course. And I had a couple of lecturers that just didn't like me. And, you know, I never want to say it's because I was black, but when you looked at my marks and what I was doing compared to, you know, other students in my year, you could see there was definitely some kind of racist undertone, but all I wanted to do was to graduate and prove to them why I was going to, why I needed I was going to be successful. I need to show them how intelligent I was, through my success. So it wasn't an easy road, you know, but I ploughed through, and now I'm always at Universities giving talks.

Dina:

Well done, now they're listening to you and so they should!

Ngunan:

I think they bring me in as a different voice because a lot of people that used to come and that they used to take on to do these talks, were white males over the age of 40, you know who were quite boring, and what millennials… 

Dina:

Wow that's a big statement! White males over the age of 40 are boring! They are my age group! I quite enjoy talking to some of them!

Ngunan:

 I think in this day and age, you know, it's all about innovation. It's all about seeing yourself in the person and not necessarily just me being a black woman, is being fun and taking risks, and saying to young people, it's okay to take a risk, it’s okay to have big earrings and wear red lipstick, you know, you can still be successful. It's okay to be you. And I think that's the most I'm always trying to show them. And that's the reason why I do get called quite a bit. You know, they want something different. They want something quirky. And journalism is fun. It's, it's an amazing industry to be in. 

Dina:

Well, I'll tell you, I'll tell you one thing. Your earrings today are a big hit on this particular podcast. I can't stop looking at them. I love them. They're clearly the path to success. 

Wing:

Can I add something? Ngunan, I really hope that I had you through my university years because I was one of these five women, the only Asian woman in my class with like 80 men. And I remember very well the first year when I just started University, and I just came from high school so I was wearing skirts, you know, and high heels and all that stuff. And in the second year I just thought I'm tired. I'm just tired to be this object or not being taken seriously. So I just wore track pants every day to university. I think it's sad. And then maybe realised too late in life like in actually being a woman is like a strength and it's not saying something about you how you dress, right? 

Tine:

But the concept of marks like it's so dominant in the educational sector of course, and Wing, I mean you told me, well I practically built my own school, the school for myself, you said? and how do you address this topic? Is there any, you know, rating or I don't know…

Wing:

No, it's funny. It's I think it's what Ngunan was saying, it’s a similar thing.

One, I want to have people to have fun. And I think the most fun in learning is like we learn as a kid. So just by playing basically and by experiencing and interacting. And with the school, I know I'm very easily bored. So if I watch a presentation or a lecture, it should be really, really interesting. Otherwise, I just zone out and my mind is somewhere else. So I need to be active, I need to talk to people, or do exercises. And with my school, I'm trying also to do exercise where you actually physically have to move. So you also live basically what you're learning. For example, it will be shouting or standing in a certain row or one of the workshops or shows, I call it shows, because it's a better the term for millennials to show up basically, but we let them learn how to deal with opinions of others. And then we do let them do a walk of shame, basically. So a lot of people stand in a row, and this little group of people have to just walk through it. Well, all these people just throw paper and shout at them and just do experience you know how it feels, you know?

Tine:

I think Dina thinks like, why would I do that now? Never, ever. I see it in your face.

Wing: 

So one of the students actually says, so why would I do this to myself? Well, you know, the thing is like in it when we're younger, it, of course, is it's a lot of impact what we experience when we have that when you're bullied, maybe and all these things, but I want to teach them that now you're old enough to actually to survive this. 

Dina:

Now as we grow into our life purpose, in this fast changing world, we find that certain things we were raised with don’t apply any more. And this is the question we sometimes ask our guests, can you think of three things that your parents taught you once upon a time that were really, really useful at the time. And come, you know, a few decades later, they're not relevant anymore?  

Wing:

No, I think I do think when we, when I was raised, you have a certain image of a job. And I think I still see that with students that your job is for life. Like you only have one specific profession for the rest of your life. So you have to make the right choice right now, especially when you started studying when you're 18. I think that's really too young to figure out where you really want in life. But that's how we are trained to be, you know, let's say your doctor. Yeah, you become a doctor your whole life. That's it. And nowadays, as you can see, the world is changing so fast, and jobs that I didn't even know they existed before, like, a lot of millenials are influencers now, for example, well, yeah, I didn't study for it. I didn't know I could apply for that even. So, all these things are changing so fast. And I think that's the beauty of the life that we live right now that we can choose all these things, you know? I started as an engineer, and then went to corporate consultancy, and right now, I'm giving trainings, which I also didn't study for, but I'll just try it out. And if it doesn't work out, I can try something else. You know, that's just how it is right now. And I think that's really nice. So we have multiple lives in one lifetime. 

Dina:

I think when both for you and for Ngunan, I've got good news for you. You're both influencers, definitely in my book, at least, in the sense that you're actually influencing people on a daily basis whether you wear big earrings or not, you are still influencers! 

Ngunan, and what about you? Did you find that what your parents told you once upon a time is not relevant anymore? Or does it still apply? 

Ngunan: 

My parents always were saying work hard, work hard, and work hard doesn't necessarily, you know, turn into success. It's about opportunity and spotting those opportunities. And if you're busy working hard, you'll miss the opportunities because you're too tired, working hard. And so that's probably one thing that I'd say I've changed. I still work hard, but more strategic. And, but also, I think, do the thing my mom was always keen on telling me was be independent. And that hasn't changed at all, you know? And there are times when I do things myself, I wish I wasn't independent. 

Dina:

I was taught to be independent also. And now I wonder if it’s always a good idea.

Ngunan:

I sit here as a single mum, and I'm like, I wouldn't mind having a man to look after me, and I wouldn’t mind a mansion with a swimming pool. I wouldn't mind that. This be independent business, I'm always battling with this.

Wing:

I do have something to add. Actually, I realised something that my parents taught me. Like I said, it was very money driven, basically, you know, lots of money is success. And they've worked so hard, and been so stressed that they're right now you see, their body is just expressing all this stress right now. They have pains all the time and are tired all the time, a little bit sick, and they have shifted because of me, in some way, that health is more important than money. So just take care of yourself better. 


Ngunan: 

I think definitely with what's been going on presently, it tells me that still as a black woman I still need to work harder, to be seen, to support other women to know to do more. And now I'm  actually going back to the drawing board with my business, to see what else do I need to do? What haven't I put in place? I think talking to you ladies has allowed me to really think again, about what my what I need to do going forward.


Wing:

Being here confirms that still following your passion, like Ngunan did, you know you have this urge of just doing, and you want to let it out, you need to let it out, and I really had the same feeling that you still get where you want to be. And that's really nice to hear from you ladies also that just do it and you're on the right path. That's really nice for me.

Tine:

Beautiful. Yeah, yeah, what I'm taking away today is I'm really inspired by your girls. Like I love the energy you know, you can just feel like okay, we do our thing you know, we're following our intuition and our heart. And I think this is exactly not what we're actually learning in our like, let's say the major part of our educational system. At least I didn't. I  didn't learn that with a bit of Business Administration background. And I always felt a bit like okay questioning the whole system, and now connecting on that level and saying, okay, we have different kinds of opportunities, because we have a shared vision to you know, like to do things differently in a more holistic approach, which is more 2020,

I love and I find this really inspiring so thank you guys so much. 

Ngunan:

It's been an absolute pleasure. I've loved every minute. It's so nice to be connected to different women from different parts of the world, different parts of the UK, I just think we are taking over bit by bit step by step. And we're in it together. There's no you against me or you know, what a family you know.

Dina:

And this last point from Ngunan, it’s really heartwarming, and that’s exactly the quality that comes up when you rule your life. Competition and jealousy fade into the background. You do the work that is yours. And another point from Wing, about building up resilience in her students. When you live your life purpose, believe it or not, your thrive on criticism - because you make your own decisions, and you can always improve. 


Please share your experiences about ruling your life. We have already had some lovely feedback, and some of it is on our website.  email us; visit our website, subscribe and review our podcast. Let’s help more people to find meaning in the world of work.. 



Music


For now, that's it from this episode of Who rules your life, podcasting with the people who live their purpose.  Many thanks to our guests, Wing Yan Man and Ngunan Adamu, and it's goodbye from us Dina Newman and Tine Bieber. Until next week.



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