Delegate the menial tasks so you have time to do what you do best. Yes, you are totally capable of payroll and correspondence, but is that the most efficient use of your expertise? Hiring an assistant was one of the best decisions I made for my business.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Wander.
Lindsey Wander, Valedictorian of her high school, originally enrolled at Cal State Fresno to study Biomedical Engineering. In just four years, he graduated with a Bachelor’s in Biology, a Bachelor’s in Chemistry, and a Minor in Mathematics. Several domestic and international internships later, she discovered her passion for teaching and re-enrolled in college to earn her teaching credentials.
For several years, Lindsey taught math, biology, and STEM in the low-income neighborhoods of California, making it her mission to create a learning environment that was so engaging that it motivated her students to come to school. They explored, questioned, investigated, learned, laughed, and loved — all within her classroom walls.
However, time and financial restraints, added to endless bureaucratic red tape, prevented Lindsey from being able to dedicate the 1-on-1 time to her students who needed it. Thus, many of her “kids” fell through the cracks — and there was nothing she could do about it.
So, when Lindsey moved to Chicago at the ripe age of 30, she decided to start her own tutoring business, which later officially became WorldWise Tutoring. Her mission was to help students of all abilities to not only improve their grades and scores, but to also learn the skills to become confident and independent lifelong learners, and grow into competent and conscious leaders. She sought to empower our youth with the tools to succeed in school, work, and life — so that they were in the powerful position to direct their own lives.
Lindsey’s methodologies were so effective that her business quickly grew beyond what should could handle alone. So she started to “teach the teachers,” guiding tutors dedicated to her cause with her best practices. Now, years later, she has seen her kids return home from college as accomplished, self-sufficient adults who are still eager to learn more.
Lindsey found a career that she loves and that makes the world a better place. Her goal is to inspire her students to do the same.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
My love of nature and all living things started with my early childhood experiences of hiking and camping. My enjoyment of working with children started when I began to help take care of my baby brother when I was ten. My enthusiasm for travel was ignited by adventures with my best friend’s family in high school. But my passion for learning and helping others is innate — I have always been curious, innovative, empathic, and devoted. These are the ingredients that led me to grow into the educator and social entrepreneur that I am today.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Benjamin Franklin’s quote “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn” has been my driving force as an educator for the past 15+ years. It reminds me that students need to be involved in their learning every step of the way in order for it to be effective. As adults, we tend to underestimate kids, thinking we know better. But not a day goes by without one of my students impressing me with his/her deep understanding, perceptiveness, creativity, or empathy. Kids are wiser than we may think. They usually just need the proper support to lead them down their own path of discovery and growth.
I also recently heard “Small changes are big changes” which I utilize to inspire parents and educators. Some my suggested reforms can seem daunting, and they are. But even changing the language we use when speaking to kids and the opportunities we expose them to makes a huge difference in what they see themselves as capable of.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
One of my mentors gave me the book “Teach like a Champion,” by Doug Lemov. Nearly 15 years (and many cross-country moves) later, the book still sits on my shelf full of tabs and highlighting. Doug Lemov provided with me so many easy to apply strategies that helped me evolve into the educator I am today. I would love to sit with him to discuss our shared passion for empowering our youth through engaging learning.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I actually enrolled in college to pursue a career in Biomedical Engineering. I loved learning about genetics, but the labwork was so uninspiring. So I switched my emphasis to Ecology, and my “lab” moved to the streams and fields of Yosemite. I still finished my studies in Chemistry and Math, and graduated in 4 years with 2 bachelors and a minor. Unsure of which career path I should follow, I spent the next couple years in various internships across the country and all over the globe. It was an Environmental Education internship in Pennsylvania that brought my passion for teaching to light. I went back to college to attain my teaching credential, and taught middle school biology and math in low income minority neighborhoods for several years. I truly loved my “kids” and inspiring in them a love of learning; but when I moved to Chicago in 2011, the political red-tape and the extreme emphasis on test scores left me little room to actually teach. So I decided to tutor full time. My methodologies were so effective that I outgrew myself within a couple years and began to hire tutors. I found myself in the interesting position of “teaching the teachers,” and the success stories grew exponentially. Now I mostly manage the business and provide support for my tutors and parents, but I make sure to also work with students a few days a week — since that is where my true passion lies.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
Though I started WorldWise Tutoring LLC many years ago, the pandemic brought about some unique challenges that caused me to pivot. I immediately utilized methods, such a surveys and social media posts, to learn more about my potential clientele’s specific pain points. Then I devised solutions for those, including webinars for parents and educators, Learning Pods, engaging online Enrichment Classes, and daily Standby Tutoring. I also began to actively work on PR and networking, which allowed me to meet some amazing people who introduced me to new ideas for my business. One in particular, Shannon Ferguson, the Co-Founder and CEO of FanSaves, suggested I start a Student Sponsorship Program. The idea was that partnering organizations would contribute funding for tutoring for low-income minority students in exchange for feel-good marketing. Loving the win-win aspect of this, I got everything set up immediately and began to fundraise. Though I did acquire contributions from four amazing individuals, the 500+ organizations that I reached out to repeatedly expressed that they loved the idea of helping underprivileged students, but they could only give money if it was a nonprofit with 501(c)3 status. Message received! I decided to pivot again and form the nonprofit “Educate. Radiate. Elevate.”
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
My background is teaching STEM in South Central Los Angeles. This is where my heart lies — helping those who are most vulnerable in order to propel them, their community, and our society forward. Once I began my tutoring company, however, I shifted to working with students from families who could afford to pay for the support. I always knew that one day I would return to my passion of helping the underserved, I just wasn’t sure how. So when Shannon introduced the Student Sponsorship idea to me, it was electrifying! Finally, I could use my expertise as an educator and social entrepreneur to spark change where it is needed most. I already had the staff, systems, and proven effective methodologies — I just needed the idea. Now that the idea has momentum, I am excited about being able to truly help ALL students not just with their academics, but also with their learning and life skills so that they can become confident and independent lifelong learners who grow into competent and conscious leaders.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Now that I have decided to revise the Student Sponsorship original idea into the nonprofit Educate. Radiate. Elevate., the support has been overwhelming. Everyone I have spoken with agrees that the Achievement Gap is being widened with school closures. Black and Hispanic students living in poverty are among the hardest hit, resulting in long-term economic costs for local and national communities, such as higher rates of incarceration and more citizens living in poverty. There is a massive waste of human talent and opportunity that we risk if achievement gaps are not closed. We are not only still leaving behind whole groups of children, but our failure to educate all our children to the highest levels means students in America overall are being left behind in a world where global competition is increasingly tough. I have people lined up to help in any way they can because they understand that strengthening the educational achievement of our youth will provide economic stability for us and future generations. They know that race and poverty are not destiny; large steps forward are possible.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Time and time again, my college friend Sarah Anderson has been a sounding board, coach, cheerleader, and idea generator for me and my business. Though she and her husband have busy Physical Therapy careers in California and three very active children, Sarah always makes time to test out my latest concept, to suggest improvements on my ventures, and to encourage me through the tough times. She and her husband actually helped me come up with my company name. Sarah was the one who encouraged me to hire tutors once my business outgrew myself by telling me, “The first one you hire will be the hardest; after that, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!” She also recently introduced me to a Virtual Assistant, whom I have hired and whom has been an amazing asset to my business’ recent growth. Sarah is now a Director on the board of my nonprofit, eager to help. I am so thankful for Sarah’s continued support and guidance through the ups and downs of my career.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
A testimony to the need for this service is the number of people offering support, often even before it officially started. People contributed before I even considered making this a 501(c)3, knowing their money was going towards a good cause even though it was not tax-deductible for them (it is now!). I had so many people eagerly volunteer to be on the Board of Directors that I even had to turn people away. And now I have many individuals and organizations that are planning to gift a donation to Educate. Radiate. Elevate. for the holiday season. The enthusiasm and support in just these past few months have been so overwhelming that I have no doubts about the success of this organization.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Choose a business name that is simple. I first named my tutoring business Tertiary Tutoring Ltd. While it had meaning to me, others did not get it. Plus, most could not pronounce, spell, or remember the name.
- Seek advice from legal and tax professionals. There were many mistakes I made when first forming my business, like not filing the annual report which cause it to be dissolved.
- Carefully select who you surround yourself with. Choose to be around other like-minded abundance-mindset people who not just about the sale or transactional relationships. This has led my business to make leaps forward.
- Network early and often. Attend free workshops, be a guest at meetings, ask for introductions. Again, go into each relationship authentically and with a giving mindset in order to weed out those who are not like-minded.
- Delegate the menial tasks so you have time to do what you do best. Yes, you are totally capable of payroll and correspondence, but is that the most efficient use of your expertise? Hiring an assistant was one of the best decisions I made for my business.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I intentionally monitor my negative self-talk. Doubts, stresses, and insecurities often try to creep in. When they do, I identify them for what they are (lack-mindset habits) and shift to have a dialogue with myself like I would with a friend I was trying to encourage. “This won’t work” becomes “This will be amazing!” and “You are an imposter” becomes “You are an inspiration!” I also deliberately surround myself with people who are willing to be vulnerable, but still choose to focus on the positives. This reminds me that we all struggle; it is our attitude that makes all the difference.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would inspire a movement to redefine success. People ought to understand that success is more than high grades and lofty titles. A real leader is not just intelligent, but also conscious. This would mean we have to re-imagine how we educate our children, making lessons more reality-based and student-centered. We would also need to alter the conversations and opportunities presented to our youth in order to more effectively inspire them to find their own unique voice and follow their personal passions. We need to stop equating success with stagnant numbers, like scores and income, and start equating it with personalized intangibles, like joy and fulfillment. We have way too many adults who are “successful,” but miserable — and that negativity spreads to those around them. In order to invoke real change in the world, we have to look within at our own misconceptions and be willing to re-evaluate what we have been told.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
My biggest passions are nature and education. I am always seeking out ways to improve the lives of those most negatively impacted by human selfishness. Raphael Amiens, founder of 2worlds is an environmental educator, ecopreneur, and advocate who seeks to inspire ecological, cultural, and social change. I would love to sit down and talk with him about sustainable solutions that are inclusive and progressive.
How can our readers follow you online?
- Facebook — personal: https://www.facebook.com/LindseyWander24
- Facebook — business: https://www.facebook.com/WorldWiseTutoring/
- Facebook — group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WorldWiseTutoring.LifelongLearners/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/WorldWiseTutoring/?hl=en
- Linkedin — company: https://www.linkedin.com/company/worldwisetutoring
- LinkedIn — business: https://www.linkedin.com/in/worldwisetutoring/
- LinkedIn — personal: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chicagotutor/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/worldwisetutor?lang=en
- Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/WorldWiseTutoring/
- YouTube — https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzmHvAEv6InRTM-h5e8L5bw
- Blog — https://www.worldwisetutoring.com/blog/
- Student Handbook — https://www.worldwisetutoring.com/handbook/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!