Select Page

Language with Erik Seversen

Today, Erik Seversen is speaking to us from lock down in Los Angeles about language. He’s got fingers in all kinds of pies. He’s a guest speaker and he has a company that helps people who speak English as a second language.

Erik Severson on the next 100 days podcast with Graham Arrowsmith and Kevin Appleby

Where a love for teaching languages began…

Back in the nineties, Erik joined an American campus in Japan. He was a liaison between the students and teacher because, though they all spoke English, there was a cultural barrier. Erik’s job was to help students feel comfortable with Western teachers.

It was an excellent introduction to education and the ability to change lives. It gave an intercultural experience which he loved and gave him an experience if teaching.

After a detour into kickboxing in Thailand, Erik returned to Richmond, Virginia to spend more time with a girl at home. He ended up working at some community colleges and then got hired at a university as an instructor of English as a second language.

Teaching to business

After marrying said girl, Zip, and starting a small family, Erik enjoyed teaching. Great colleagues, great family, great life. But he found he couldn’t raise his family on his teaching salary. As a result, begrudgingly he moved into business…

…and loved it.

He became part of a company in international development. Through business he was using all of these strategies of success to inject into motivation, practical skills and inclusivity. But he realised no-one was using these in education and so wanted to get back to his first love.

But, he wasn’t going to be a teacher. Erik had a vision to teach teachers and students how to be successful with all of the business formulas he has learnt. That was the start of Language Linq.

What’s the main ingredient of helping somebody to learn English as a second language?

The more that we are scared, the worse our ability to communicate naturally is. Therefore, the more relaxed we are, the better communicators we are. One of the first things Erik asks his clients to do is to dream in English.

What are the last 5 minutes of your day? Do it in English. Whether that be praying, meditating, thinking about breakfast for the next day. Just do it in English. It won’t take very long for you to tend up dreaming in English as a result! Once you dream in English, your English is great and you might not remember what you say but your confidence has lifted. Why? Because you realise that English is inside of you. It’s all there for you to use and you don’t need to be nervous.

Confidence, pursuing passions and the coronavirus

Erik did a LinkedIn post regarding this. His routine is shattered and speaking events postponed and cancelled. We can focus on these things and wallow in our sorrows, or we can do something different. Reset your mind and think about what you can do with what you have got. What’s your Covid-19 next 100 days going to look like?

  1. Focus on helping people
  2. Make lists of what is working, what’s not and where we need to focus – lists make reality
  3. Inspiration is nothing without action. Act.

What terror taught about business

Erik has had the unfortunate experience of having a gun to his head (argh!). But it taught him a very valuable lesson about business.

To back track a little, Erik was at high school and had an average record until he realised he wanted to become a professor. Having a goal set in his mind really helped him motivate energy to learn and work hard.   He applied to UCLA and was rejected but went to community challenge and was doing very well. However, he needed to set himself apart from all the other A students and went to Africa. He was crossing the border in Nigeria and going through checkpoints when something went wrong and he had a gun to his head – even in his mouth. He was accused of being a spie!

6 weeks later he was back in America, preparing for the job in Japan and he wanted that role so bad. He studied some Japanese,  got a suit, etc. But before the interview he started shaking and sweating. He couldn’t even remember his name. And then, something just stopped. Actually, 6 weeks ago he had a gun stuck to his head. Yes, he wanted the job a lot but it’s not the end of the world. So he relaxed, shook hands with the interviewer and got the job. He realised that he was able to use this mentality to put all things in perspective and to use fear to sharpen him and not create a negative experience.

Ordinary to Extraordinary

Erik Seversen's book, ordinary to extraordinary

What can we do? Stop, pause and ask yourself ‘what invisible doors of opportunity are right in front of my face?’ Peek through them, Choose some. Erik considers the actions he does as extraordinary, not himself. What the book discusses are various narratives from his life and what he learnt about these.

He framed them in four meanings:

  • Belonging
  • Purpose – so something beyond yourself
  • Transcendence – a moment of awe that creates a perspective shift
  • Storytelling

Here are 4 pillars to create meaning from your life. These pillars don’t have a hierarchy but are there to hold up your thinking.

What do you talk to people about? What can people take away from your public speaking?

Change. There’s a misconception that change is so hard. Change is easy because it’s a choice. If we truly choose, it’s easy. We do have to take action steps toward those choices, whether it’s small or big. Try out Erik’s free resource, the extraordinary habits challenge. Take 21 days of small changes that can make positive habits and generate change. The change can happen immediately or you can build up to it.

The next 100 days

It’s a big up in the air. But, the main thing is rewriting strategy and public speaking remodelling. Erik’s number one motto is that things work out. However, what route to get to the ‘green on the other side’ is a wide open road. Covid-19 is generating a lot of change and struggle.

It is a worrisome time and completely un-chartered territory. At the moment, it’s difficult to find a guide and help when no-one knows what is going to happen. In a few months time, hopefully the economic bounce back has come in style.

Who do you go to in a time of crisis for guidance?

For Erik, he believes in God and it puts a release valve on worry because he knows he isn’t in control. It allows him to relax knowing that he can’t fix anything and he can only deal with the situation that God has given him. A main goal is to help people.

Who is God to Erik? What’s the image?

For Erik, he buys into the Christian paradigm of Jesus died for his sins and that’s his God with whom he has a personal relationship.

When it comes to speaking, are webinars in the plan?

A lot of people have told Erik he should speak through webinars. However, it’s a new skill that needs energy and time invested in it and he isn’t ready for that.

For a man who’s in his fifties, he’s covered a lot of ground and is such an inspiration in what can only be called unusual and grey times! Thanks for joining us Erik!