“From Social Worker to LEGO®️ SERIOUS PLAY®️ Trainer”
Written by Victor Chan
Imagine you only have HK$5 a day. You could only afford one piece of bread for the whole day’s meal. It is your breakfast, lunch and dinner combined. You eat so little that you almost look like a skeleton.
You chose to go through this because you want to follow your dream. You don’t want to be trapped in a dead-end job. So you took the risk to start a business, although you are not sure if it will pay off in the end.
Such was the trouble that Kenneth Yu went through after he quit his job as a social worker. Now he has found a thriving business. His clients include big multinational investment banks. How did he manage that?
JCI Changed His Life
Kenneth Yu has joined JCI for over 10 years. After becoming the president of a local chapter in 2016, he maintains an active participation in JCIHK. For example, he’ll be the National General Legal Counsel in 2022.
Little did Kenneth know that joining JCI would be the turning point of his life. Back then, he was a social worker with a dream of helping young people, but he felt that he had not lived up to his potential.
“I felt that I could do something in a different position. “After working in a JCI project for local Youth Leaders, Kenneth’s management ability was quickly recognised by another member in his chapter.
“That member offered me a change in career by working for him.“It was how Kenneth went from social work to corporate training. It seemed like a bright new start, but more difficulties lay ahead of him.
“During that time, after giving money to my parents, I only had 5 dollars for meals each day. I could only afford a bun for the whole day. I usually ate it with milk or water. That’s why I was so skinny back then.”
At this difficult moment, another JCI member pointed him to a new direction. “That member told me about a LEGO®️ SERIOUS PLAY®️ training course in England. He said I should probably go there and take it for the sake of my career.”
Build a Career with LEGO®
At the time, Kenneth had almost no money, and he was not certain if it was worth it. He had no idea how a toy for kids could be used for training, but he went anyway and took the course with his savings.
It was a big gambit, and it took a lot of time to make it work. But to cut a long story short, it had eventually paid off. Now LEGO®️ SERIOUS PLAY®️ training has become a unique selling point for Kenneth’s training business.
“At least, when companies hear about it, it gets their attention.“But how exactly can LEGO®️ be used for training, especially when these bricks are used on senior executives for big multinational corporations?
“LEGO®️ bricks are used as a tool of expression. For example, inside a meeting, we ask each participant to make something out of the LEGO®️ bricks. Each of them has to explain how it expresses their thoughts.”
The advantage is that each person could speak when they normally couldn’t . “From time to time, many people just want to hide in a corner and avoid speaking. This breaks their barrier of communication.”
It was a slow process, but Kenneth’s business was finally taking off. Then disaster struck, unfortunately. First it was the social unrest in 2019. Then came something even more terrible: the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adapt or Die
The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. The global economy has never come to a halt like this before. Large gatherings are prohibited at a certain point. Demand for corporate training has vanished overnight.
As a result, Kenneth’s company was unable to make money for months. Soon he figured that he could not just sit and wait. He must explore new paths before his company runs out of money.
“We had to try something new. So we began to experiment with online training. We sent the LEGO®️ bricks to each participant’s home. And then we conduct the training just like in a face-to-face meeting.”
It is not easy to start a new thing from scratch, but the move paid off. Thanks to this newly discovered way of business, Kenneth’s company is now able to reach clients and connections which they could not before.
“We are now able to conduct training with overseas participants. This is especially useful for multinational companies. Their staff from different countries could learn together without any travel restrictions.”
It is a long way to go from an ordinary social worker to a thriving business owner. How did Kenneth remain undaunted and faithful along the path of struggles, difficulties, and disappointments?
Thoughts on “Lying Flat”
Tang Ping, or “Lying Flat”, has become a popular philosophy among teenagers these days. The basic idea is to do the minimum just to get by, because it is believed that there is no hope even if one works hard.
“I think it’s okay to lie flat for a while. After all, we are all humans with emotions. We could all feel blue. We could all be tearful. We could all get disappointed. It is not a shame to take a little time off,“said Kenneth.
What kept Kenneth going, however, was his conviction that he was doing the right thing. “It is important to believe in what you do. Once you know that you are doing something of value, you will persist no matter what.”
“If you are doing the right thing, I do not believe that you cannot succeed. It may take 5 years, 10 years or even 20 years, but eventually you will learn all the necessary lessons, and begin to see the signs of success.”
Kenneth said it is also important to emphasize on people as much as results. “It’s easy to overlook that people are the key to your success, especially when you are under pressure to achieve certain goals.”
Believe in what you do. Persist in it. Have empathy with people who are working with you. These are the insights which have shaped Kenneth’s career. I hope you find them equally useful in your own life.