#58 Sean Weisbrot – Motivating China’s millenniums toward a brighter future
Sean is an American with a degree in Psychology and a passion for travel, language, politics, history, geography, science, cooking, and just about everything that defines us as humans. He’s fluent in Mandarin and has been living in China for almost 7 years, first as a teacher, and now as a social entrepreneur. He currently runs a free English-speech event, similar to TED, in Shenzhen called IdeaXchange.
If you can be one of those people who speak Mandarin, you’ll have a lot of doors open for you.
How he got to China
From very early on Sean knew he would live outside of the US after university. He spent his senior year researching over 60 countries around the world and settled originally on Japan. He looked into the JET program to teach in Japan’s public school system but he missed the deadline by a hair. Next in line (primarily at that time due to it’s proximity to Japan) was China. His first stop was Wuhan where he taught English for four years.
His current project – IdeaXchange
Sean’s company is called Be New Me and is a cultural communications company. They started up a year ago by organizing a free monthly English speech event called the IdeaXchange, which has it’s roots in the TED model, with a focus on personal growth and development. They started out of a need in Shenzhen (and China in general) for people to have a place to go where they could freely learn about themselves and the world, free of judgement, racial bias, generalizations, etc. Now, he hosts an event almost monthly and it draws a diverse crowd of 700 people.
There was a time last year when Sean wanted to start charging for the event because everyone kept telling him the event was excellent and worth paying for. In response, he publicized the event with a fee for one day, and when he saw that just two people had signed up, he realized they were wrong and they might kill their event if they charged. They changed it back to being free and never tried to charge again. Sean realized that the free event wasn’t the avenue to create revenue and he needs to figure out another way to do that.
Advice for budding entrepreneurs
Learn Mandarin. Sean says that the people that may help you the most in your entrepreneurial efforts might not speak English. To avoid the hassle of an interpreter, put the leg work in yourself and make it a priority for success.
Connect to Sean
Email Sean at Sweisbrot@gmail.com or follow his public WeChat: ideaxchange