National cyclist and artist Michael Phillips smiles at students of Providence Girls Catholic High School yesterday, during an autograph-signing session. Phillips was the feature speaker at the school, as the Trinidad Publishing Companys Guardian in EducationMaking a Difference programme continues. Photo: Lester Forde
By Valdeen Shears-Neptune
Do not be upset or disappointed when someone tells you no. Instead, rethink your strategy to get them to say yes. Bear in mind, however, that in life, no one owes you anything.
This was just one piece of valuable advice given to eager students at Providence Girls Catholic School during Wednesdays opening session of the Trinidad Publishing Companys Guardian in EducationMaking a Difference programme.
Renowned national cyclist and artist Michael Phillips addressed the students in the schools auditorium, offering not only words of advice, but life experiences and how they affected his character.
Rethink how you treat people and the kinds of relationships you form. You never can tell from whom or when you may need help, he told the excited Forms Four and Five students.
Phillips recalled an incident a few years ago, in which his prized antique car was hit from behind by a young female driver.
He said the typical person would possibly have verbally abused the woman.
His decision to placate her worry, however, ended up benefiting him instead.
Just this year, I was before a committee trying to gain a source of sponsorship, and at the head was this young woman who was to determine if I would get it and who looked vaguely familiar.
She acknowledged that it had been she who had hit my car, but remembered my positive response to the accident.
Had I treated her harshly, chances are I would not have gotten that sponsorship at all.
Common courtesy, he said, did have a dollar value.
The students were encouraged never to be discourteous, unfriendly or end up in situations where they were remembered as not being nice.
Their good name, he told them, was their most valuable asset.
Phillips, who focused for a while on the topic of names, admonished the society for the value it put on brand name items.
He appealed to the students to create their own products, as far as legacy and accomplishments were concerned.
Recalling a near-death experience and another in which a friends daughter, who had several achievements to her name before an untimely death, Phillips urged the students to make an early positive impact in life.
Become your own brand name by leaving people with a good impression.
Although most of what you will learn here may never be used after school, the environment and demands are not much different from the workplace, he advised.
When Phillips asked how many of them intended to be millionaires, all hands went up. And how would they go about becoming one?
One young lady said she would become a high-priced doctor. Several said they would win the Lotto, and another said through marriage.
His advice to them, however, was that they become passionate about any God-given talent, find ways to turn their talent into a business, balance their time, and save religiously.
The more you put in, the faster you will get there. You also need to learn the difference between an asset and a liability.
Instead of buying a piece of KFC, why not buy into the franchise and own a piece of KFC? he advised.
His artistic ability was also used as a teaching tool, displaying a blank, black and eventually painted canvas, saying that this was much like the process of character- building.
Phillips, who will hold his sixth solo exhibition next month, then treated the students to a viewing of one of his new pieces.
The school was then presented with a basketball and career hand book, courtesy of the Guardian, after which Phillips autographed book marks and magazines for the students.
In closing, Guardians marketing manager, Cyntra Achong, informed the students of the benefits of winning the programmes essay competitionhow to make a difference in your lifewhich comprises student scholarship assistance, a computer and printer, as well as a cash prize for the school.