My initial Personal Futures workshop was not a roaring success, at first.
The local Chamber of Commerce helped set up and promote the workshop, but only six people showed up. Half were Chamber staff. It was actually a good workshop. Everyone got involved, asked questions and participated. They learned about their futures, and I learned quite a bit about conducting workshops.
The real payoff came about two weeks later. One of the participants from the workshop came up to me after a local meeting and made the whole workshop experience worthwhile when she said, “Your workshop has changed my life!”
My next workshop was for a World Future Society meeting in Toronto. This time there were a dozen participants, all paid! Not financially exciting for WFS, but exciting for me. Again, everyone who attended became involved in the discussions, and along the way I gained some experience in dealing with people who wanted to take the session in different directions, but I was able to keep the group on track. I still get emails from people in that group.
One lady came from Turkey to attend that workshop, then flew home the next day. Didn’t stay for the WFS conference. Within months, she started a business to teach Personal Futures to high school and college age students. She translated and adapted my workbook to Turkish culture and wrote a book of her own. Another year late, she organized Turkey’s first international conference “Futuristler Zervesi.” I was invited as one of the main speakers.
I could see that my workshops were in fact changing lives. Quite a responsibility. Very rewarding.
At that conference in Istanbul, I spoke about Personal Futures, explaining futures concepts and methods. All of this was translated to most of the audience, although I learned later that there were a large number of English speakers in attendance. The PowerPoint slides were displayed on two screens, one in English and one in Turkish. I spoke a little bit more slowly and paused for the interpreter at each slide, There was very little lag and the audience was quite responsive.
I learned early with my workshops and lectures that right after a presentation, everyone is enthusiastic and congratulatory, which is gratifying for the speaker, but brief. What surprised me in Istanbul was the number of people, largely English speaking students, who sought me out in the hallways during the breaks and at the end of the conference. They had clearly understood my message, and asked questions. Good questions.
Since then, I have been working on a book, It’s YOUR Future…Make It a Good One! which will be published during 2010. Although the book is for all age groups, I had young people in mind as I wrote. Partly because this is an age group that is making big decisions about their lives, and partly because of the enthusiasm of the university students I met in Istanbul.
Once the publishing details for my book are sorted out, I plan to return to speaking and conducting workshops. I expect to make a specific effort to contact Community Colleges and Universities and offer to speak to students and faculties about the future and, of course, about their personal futures.
If you know someone who is looking for a speaker to talk about the future, anywhere, I hope you will keep me in mind. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.