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Neuroheart Education and Adaptation: Doing Business in Europe with Rachel Paling

Rachel Paling

Neuroheart Education. Languages. Cultures. Adaptation. Flexibility. European business. These are some of the themes explored in our podcast with Rachel Paling, director of Efficient Language Coaching Global SLU as she has trained almost 1200 coaches across 70+ countries. She is now developing Neuroheart Education for educators worldwide.

Highlights:

Neuroscience, neuropsychology, neurolanguage coaching

What made Rachel successful

Experiences to help you thrive in global business

Adjusting to a market, if it doesn’t match what you know

Finding excitement outside of the business world

Rachel Paling Bio:

Rachel is an international businesswoman who transforms teachers worldwide with professional coaching and the added dimension of neuroscience and neuropsychology. She has trained nearly 1200 Neurolanguage coaches in just over 70 countries and now she is developing Neuroheart Education for all educators.

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Full Transcript

Hello everyone, and welcome to Global Gurus, where every Friday we explore stories of international business and speak with industry leaders operating around the world. I’m your host, Philip Auerbach, of Auerbach International (www.auerbach-intl.com).

Thank you for joining us. We’re going to start. We start each broadcast with a running segment called “Faux Pas Fridays,” where we explore a funny blooper or mistranslation that does not quite convey the professional image that your organization should project or wants to project. So, as an example, a sign in a Hong Kong dentist’s office said in English very simply, “Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.”

So, with that, today’s guest is Rachel Paling, and she is an international businesswoman who transforms teachers worldwide with professional coaching and the added dimension of neuroscience and neuropsychology.

She has trained nearly 1,200 neurolanguage coaches in over 70 countries, and now she is developing NeuroHeart Education for all educators. So please welcome Rachel Paling. So how are you?

I’m very well, thank you. I am delighted to be here. 

Thank you.

Delighted to have you. So before we begin, your wonderful introduction has quite a few words with neuro in them:  Neuroscience, neuropsychology, and neurolanguage coaching. Could you please let us know what all of that means for those of us who don’t speak Neuro?

Yes, there are quite a few there as well. I am fascinated with the brain, the learning process, and how we can enhance the learning process as educators. And the one thing I’m focused on is bringing in the research from neuroscience, from neuropsychology, from emotional intelligence into the learning process itself and also how educators can live the science. So, it’s not just about regurgitating and telling everybody about the research; it’s actually about what we can do to live it, to manifest it, to make it happen.

We could say that what we do is to make the process extremely brain-friendly. As a result, we get the additional benefits of optimized learning. And on the one hand, you have Neurolanguage Coaching, which was created for language teachers and language professionals, and on the other hand, I’ve created the Neuroheart education, which is for all other educators, whether they be maths, company trainers, biology, whatever, so that’s a little bit about all the new rows there.

That’s fascinating. Thank you. And I saw that you’ve got a neurolanguage coaching section as well on your website. Is that correct?

That’s right. So that’s the one that I was talking about for the language educators, and this is something that I started in 2012, so I’m celebrating 10 years this year. And we did the pilot with 12  language teachers back then and now there are nearly 1,200 all across the world in over 70 countries, all different languages and all different language combinations. It’s phenomenal. I’m very grateful to all of them. 

That’s outstanding. From your accent, Americans can tell that you’re British and you live in Spain, which is wonderful. And I know you’ve also lived in France and Italy and Germany if I’m not mistaken.

 That’s right. 

So,  Could you tell us a bit more about your background and how you grew up, and how you gained your global experience?

I’m well, I have to say. Firstly, I’m grateful to my parents because my father had a travel agency when I was a baby and, in those first 17 years of my life, we would always come to a place south of Barcelona called Stitches. And that’s where he would bring the people on holiday, and maybe three or four times a year, we as a family would come over. So, I think I was exposed to Spain already as a baby and that seems to have transformed my heart. So I would say I’m kind of Spanish and English. I do think I’m a little bit of a mix there, and at the age of 17, I stayed in Spain. I got married very early. at the age of 18, with a Spaniard. So, I became fully bilingual and integrated into life here. And fascinatingly, you know, you and I were talking about maturity, and I think now I’m at the age in life where I can look back. And I can see even that step of coming to live in Spain at the age of 17, just how impactful it was on being a teacher, being an educator, developing through life with different cultures, being able to manage people, connecting with different languages. And through life, I think I’ve had the gift of being able to live in different countries like Italy, France, Germany, and Spain. I’m from Catalonia as well, so I’ve been exposed to languages naturally, but it hasn’t been something that I ever sat down and thought, I want to be a polyglot.

No, it did come…

This happens…

With the gift in a crisis, absolutely yes.

And that sort of leads to other questions about, well, let’s come back to that in a moment. What does international business mean to you? You’ve done it, but for example, if a person sells a book overseas, is that international business, or do you see it in a very different way?

I see it in a very different way because I think if we use the term “business” and if we are running a business, I think it’s a little bit different to being what we would call in England, a sole trader. So maybe a person with their persona as a sole trader, sending a book, etc. Now if you’ve got an enterprise behind that book, then I would say, you know, we’re looking at more of a vehicle, a legal vehicle to run that business from.

So, for me, international business means that there is that enterprise or that business in whatever shape or form and that it deals with other countries, and multiple countries on various levels. So yes, that word “international” I think nowadays, Philip, we have to substitute it with “global”. Even now, what we’re experimenting with, and my new language coaches are on their way to becoming global. I do pronounce it. So we’re now having educators because of the pandemic, because of what’s happened. So many of them now have changed from a local market where they were going down the road to the local company to give training to developing their business to be cross-border and worldwide.

It’s phenomenal. That is marvelous.

That’s great.

I think it’s certainly much more common in Europe than it is in North America now because, obviously, the countries are so close together and it fits so perfectly with your background because, you know, you now live in Spain. And you’ve been to these other countries, and you came early, and so you were exposed at a very early age to understanding and knowing that there are other languages and cultures and how to interact with people in different ways.

Yeah, that’s right.

And so, as you’ve launched your ventures, is there one that you feel has been the most successful, and if so, what did you do to make it successful?

Well, I think I’m still in that developing-business stage.

You know, for the first few years, I was living in Germany and growing the business from there, so I was also quite local. A lot of local businesses, yes… I was traveling in the area of Germany, but little by little it was about developing relationships with other countries through other teachers and trainers, educators and that expansion has grown steadily, and we are now expanding quite rapidly.

I would say it’s all in that package of beautiful development, and I’m just so happy and excited about it. You know when you see something that you’ve planted as a seed. It’s still growing and it’s growing and now you see the petals are coming out and the flowers are starting to bloom and it’s like, whoa. Yes, I would say I’m still on that road too, and I don’t think you know, Philip, I think the word “success” is interpreted by everybody differently. 

Yes, 

For me, every day is a success. You know, every day that you have a beautiful day. We have amazing business happening in the background. You’ve got people learning, people happy with what they’re learning and receiving, and then they are going and transmitting this to their learners. For me, that’s the most beautiful part of this work. The feedback that we get from the learners.

Yeah, that’s very, very true. And of course, the other great reason to be grateful and happy is if we’ve got our health. And, we’ve got our families and we’ve got our relationships and all of that.

So that’s also part of just feeling successful as a person, naturally. 

Yeah, Absolutely, yes. 

And we had mentioned it earlier, but what did you think? Well, what did you learn or experience that helped you thrive in global business? Are there any lessons from your background?

Certainly, I believe the language aspect is important. Being able to communicate in many languages. It helps to understand more how to communicate because when we go into different languages, we’re going into different cultures, different temperaments, and different ways of saying things. And if you’re in a negotiation and you get offended because suddenly somebody has spoken very abruptly for your liking, it might be just that their language is one of that very direct language, and if you don’t understand that, there can be some misinterpretations that really can lead to stalemates. No negotiation and really, no deal? 

So, I believe that language and living in different countries have given me that broad perspective. And you know, through my life, everything that I’ve learned, everything that I’ve done has contributed to running this business.

It’s marvelous, it’s great. It’s extraordinary how we pull one background from so many different elements and influences to create another. Of course, we are the people we are because of all the past experiences we’ve had, and then we can channel that into our careers, whatever they may be.

And what we’ve done is superb. So, as you know, I run a 30-year-old language agency that does translation and interpreting in 120 languages. And certainly, as you know from having learned them, when you learn a new language, you learn a new way of thinking. And as you were saying about abrupt speech, it may be abrupt in our culture  but it’s perfectly natural for them. 

So, this gets into cultural differences. Have you ever experienced, since you are so aware of languages and cultures, a cultural difficulty, either you or someone you know of, that may have jeopardized or doomed an adventure? And then, how did you adjust to it?

I would say that I’ve always managed to try to understand, I think for me sometimes in Germany right at the beginning, when I was sort of trying to understand the language, trying to understand business in Germany and I have to say, in Germany, 20 years ago, and still a little bit nowadays, there are very hierarchical businesses, very much the old type where a lot of men are in the management. There were a few run-ins as a lady, especially as business lady, 15 years ago, it wasn’t so well accepted in some cases, and of course, I was struggling with the language, and I think that didn’t help. If I had been a little more open with the Germans and a little more cultured and cultivated in every aspect over there, maybe I would have handled certain situations better.

That’s fascinating. 

Yes, you’re right that many cultures, such as Germany and the Germans, are very hierarchical. And in Asia, of course, the most hierarchical, are Japan and Korea. 

And, if one goes into a situation without understanding that, or especially as an American, for example, because the United States was founded on the idea of equality and, to escape from, you’ll forgive me, British rule, which was much more about class and hierarchy, and from the Americans’ point of view, imposing the rules from the outside, as opposed to making our own decisions. This is something I personally very much dislike, but in the United States, people start to assume that they should first-name you when they meet someone.

Hello, this is John. This is Samantha, and this is Jill. And then you just start immediately. But in other cultures, of course, it’s extremely impolite and one should always say, “Signor, Signora, Monsieur, Madame, whatever the case may be. And you know, you’d never use the first name except when you become much more comfortable, familiar, and often until the person permits you.

That’s right.

That’s right.

And it’s fascinating, you know, because of the respect that some languages demonstrate just through the language. Is fascinating, it really is!

Yeah, very much so and you know, it’s because I’m sure you know, in other languages, in English, we have the word “You” that’s masculine, feminine, singular and plural. Unlike in most other, well, certainly European languages, there is always a formal “you” and an informal “you”, and sometimes in other languages there’s also masculine “you” and feminine “you”, and singular and plural “you”, so it lets you know, whereas we just use “you.” In general, you must be very careful about distinguishing between other languages and cultures, as well as how one behaves.

Yes, and Philip, I’m thinking you and I could be here all night in language paradise. Talking about that, right?

But, well, let’s move on to other things that may interest people a bit more. How do you adjust to a market, to a new market or a new country, If it doesn’t match what you know and if you’re plunging into it for the first time?

Definitely with the locals. So, I work with local partners. I have, at the moment, 30 teacher trainers in different countries. And I rely heavily on their wisdom, their expertise, and their knowledge of their own country. I do not know all there is to know. So, I really would recommend it to anybody who is going to go into a country where they need to have a local partnership there.

Local partnership or collaboration is essential.

How would you, how have you handled it, handled the situation where you don’t speak the language? Let’s say, for example, you want to expand into Poland. I presume you don’t speak Polish, or it’s not fluent and you may not know any partners there. What would you do in that case? 

I’d wait until I had the right contacts. I really would be waiting for Polish connections to come in, so working with teachers from all over the world, is how it has developed for me.

So, I have had those teachers come in, do my courses, and then they have wanted to really take what we do and develop it in their countries. And I’ve given them that sort of blessing to say, “Yes, let’s go with it, let’s run with it”. And in fact, I do have a, uh, an amazing business partner in Poland called Katarina Lipinski, and she’s been with me now for about seven years, and she’s phenomenal, and she’s really, really devoted to this over there, and is continuing to develop it. So again, I would say it’s more about being patient and allowing those countries to come to us and then finding the right partners that are going to develop it with us.

That’s wonderful. Yeah, that’s certainly a very valid model that a lot of people follow. 

If you had the chance to tell your past self, some advice from your current self, what do you think you would tell yourself?

My past self?

Actually, can I change the question for sure?

 If my current self could go back to my past self, I would have loved to know much more about my brain as a child or as a teenager.

Your brain? Fascinating.

How to deal with it, how to manage it, how to truly optimize, say, learning or mood, or whatever. And I wish, Philip, that we could get this information to children nowadays because we have this information. Whereas when I grew up, you grew up nobody spoke about the brain. You know, we all had one, but we never, ever talked about it.

Well, except for psychiatrists, perhaps, but yeah.

And then there was something wrong with you.

You are right, right. Exactly. 

But no, nowadays, really, I would go back to my young Rachel. And I would start explaining to her that this is why you’re upset here. Or this is what you could do here. And this is what’s happening here. And this is how you can manage yourself here. How different your life would be if you knew how to manage and optimize your brain throughout your life.

It’s fascinating, and you were right in rephrasing the question because my brain got it wrong. So I’m glad that your brain was smarter than mine. It’s excellent.

OK, I know it could be my past self giving me some sort of message now, it could be

It could be right So  tell me about, I guess, life beyond business. Is there something beyond business that gets you very excited?

Yes, there is, and I have become an avid paddle boarder in recent years.

I’m sorry, say again? Paddle boarder?

Yes, I love paddle boarding. I’ve got my paddle board now. I’m the proud owner of a paddle board, and I live next to the sea. So, my paddle board has a little place by the sea, and whenever I can, I’m a little bit like an addict, you know. I kind of get up at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I want to go down to the sea, and I’m waiting for that change in the weather to come to get down to my pad.

And over the last few years, I have to say as well, that I’ve stepped up my sport and I’ve been swimming a lot right through the pandemic. One of the only things that we could do was the swimming pools were open most of the time here in Spain. And so, I became addicted to swimming. So, every week, maybe three, four, or five times a week, I’d go swimming. Go to the gym, go to Zumba. I love dancing as well. Sports, movement, and in the summer… Well, in Spain, it’s kind of like a long summer. It’s like from March to November,  I’m on my paddle board.

That’s wonderful. And you’re illustrating another part of doing business globally, which I think is flexibility. You have to go with the flow, you know, and you can’t be very rigid.

Yeah, I feel it And, you know, I equate this to the paddle board. You have to learn to ride the surf.

Yes, correct.

And really, the equilibrium? You know, one day the sea is going to be rough, one day it’s going to be calm, and then running a business is precisely that, and then we have to be flexible, you know.

You’ve had this 30-year business, which is phenomenal, and it’s just that you know that you know there’s going to be times. When it’s stormy, there are going to be times when it’s calm, but we have to stay solid on that board. And keep that equanimity. This is my favorite word “Equanimity” has to be there.

That’s wonderful. There’s an expression, well, comparing Asians or Easterners with Westerners. Westerners are like an oak tree, you know, very rooted and very solid. And Easterners and Asians are more like bamboo. They sway with the wind, and they’re very flexible. 

Yes, a beautiful image there. Definitely.

So, before we close, is there anything else that you would like to share with us?

I guess I just want to share that I am passionate about changing education, not me changing it, but the collective of educators. I do think that we are in a shift, and I think many know that they feel it. Many teachers are intuitively shifting, and I think as well, Philip. I’d love to just take a second to acknowledge this and recognize and say to teachers worldwide that what they’ve done in the last two years has been miraculous. You know, we speak about medicine. We speak about so many other teachers who are not spoken enough about.

That’s true. And the resiliency to make it 

work. Yes, yes and

Or to do the best they can to make it all work.

That is correct, and I believe we are entering a new era, which I refer to as the neuroheart. We’re going to take neuroheart education one step further in the art education area. We’re bringing in the holistic human, the holistic approach, and we’re learning to adapt, and here I’m going to go back to the bamboo. Phillip, as educators, we have to become bamboo. We have to sway and bend with our learners instead of the learners having to adapt to us.

Very true, very true. Well, we need to convey that to many ministers of education worldwide, because education systems are not built that way.

I hope, honestly, Philip, that the teachers will change the systems.

I hope so.

We are going to change the systems.

That’s fantastic because, in most ways, schools need a change around the world.

Little by little, we’re getting there.

That’s correct. Well, thank you, Rachel. Thank you so much for joining us today.

It’s been a superb pleasure to gain your insights and learn about your business, your perspectives and points of view, and ways that other people can learn and adapt to global business based on some of your wonderful experiences.

Thank you, Philip. I am delighted to be here and send a lot of warm wishes to all the listeners out there.

So, this has been Philip Auerbach. Please join us again next Friday for another edition of Global Gurus and their stories of their impact on international business.

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