Vaughan Town: Let Your Passion for Learning Pay for Your Holiday and More
Six Lessons I’ve Learnt from Vaughan Story.
The English teacher, who came from The United States to teach English in Spain, did not imagine that he would spend his entire life in that beautiful country. Teaching English would make him an ingenious millionaire with hundreds of teachers and coaches working with him. His clients would include companies like Microsoft, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Pfizer and his TV channel would be watched by millions of people worldwide, reached out by newspapers such as The Times, and programs like 60 minutes.
Richard Vaughan started his career as an English teacher, but he mastered his work. He was always striving for excellence and improvement, and in 1977, he founded a small company that became influential and attracted other teachers. Over 42 years, the company diverted from the traditional teaching methods to the use of technology and later the vast territory of the Internet and social media.
In 2000, when the Internet began to spread, Vaughan launched an untrodden adventure in teaching English. He wanted speakers from different disciplines and from all over the world to meet and chat with learners. The process turned from learning a language to learning about the cultures and experiences of many. Vaughan took advantage of a deserted village in the countryside of Spain and prepared some classes.
The experiment started with bringing 20 business students and employees who wanted to improve their English, and their teachers were 20 volunteers from all over the world. The company would pay all costs of the company stature, food and entertainment, instead of spending a week with learners, and all they do is speak and listen in English. It was a win-win experience for volunteers and an opportunity for students to listen to different dialects and speak the language and learn about other cultures.
Since that day, thousands have been involved each year in the village’s programs, which have become known as the city of Vaughan. The opportunity is available for everyone who speaks English to participate in this experience, including identifying some landmarks of Spain. Vaughan’s ambitions did not stop there; he launched a television channel specialising in teaching English. Two years later, he launched the first English video game on PlayStation. This triggered the major Spanish newspapers to participate in the production of an English language course.
According to Vaughan Systems, participants from all over the world join the program in Spain, exchange conversation with Spaniards and, in return for their time and their input, have their full-board and lodging covered by the program. The Spaniards, meanwhile, get to improve their fluency in the quickest, most intensive manner possible on earth. Both groups prosper, exchanging culture, conversation, knowledge and friendship during a great week.
By the end of the program, once the group arrives back in Madrid, lifelong friendships and exciting anecdotes and stories here are the lessons learned from Vaughan:
1. Follow your passion. Dedicate time and energy to make things happen when you are driven by passion — follow your passion and dedicate time to make things happen. Richard fell in love with Spain. He followed his passion in helping learners, not only English but also helping others learn the Spanish culture and created a meadow for people to become friends and exchange learning; yet, to have fun and a lovely holiday.
2. Continuous improvement — many would copy your business ideas, but you will always be a trailblazer if you keep improving and raising the bar. Richard kept offering new services and programmes the holidays can extend from one day to one month. He expanded beyond Vaughan city to several other locations, but he broadened beyond Spain to Latin America. There are 15 companies in the group employing 300 employees with a revenue of US$ 37 million.
3. Power of Networking — People are social creators, so optimise this to benefit everyone. Richard’s Vaughan Systems Group relies on their volunteer and learning word of mouth, maintaining a vast network.
4. Build a Collaborative Advantage — this is the currency in this era; building and sustaining successful partnerships can take us to further heights. Without collaboration with individuals and organisations, Vaughan Systems would not have reached these heights. Use collaboration to create and sustain Collaborative Advantage.
5. Education is the best investment at all times — investing in education is always one of the most successful investments, provided it is a mission, not a mere business.
6. Productise your knowledge — We must learn how to productise our expertise and knowledge and optimise our strengths. I have learnt this and managed to put it into action last year; it is paying off.
I have benefited from those approaches; I put those six lessons into action. Recently, I managed to productise part of my knowledge and expertise into two professional qualifications in organisational learning and a bestseller book titled The Learning-Driven Business. Through collaboration with individuals and organisations, I managed to get those professional qualifications accredited in the USA and the UK, and there is more in the pipeline.
Acknowledgement: Thank you to my friend Don Johnson for his insights that helped me to write this article.
1) Vaughan Systems: https://volunteers.grupovaughan.com/
2) Vaughan Systems Profile: https://www.zoominfo.com/c/vaughan-systems/346788508