“I don’t think you should be working for us, I think you’re in the wrong place”.
If your manager ever said that to you at work, it would be probably a cause for concern. For Gary Seckerson, it was the advice that motivated him to pursue an education.
Gary, 50, was born and raised on the industrial streets of Stoke-upon-Trent in the United Kingdom. Today, Gary works as a teacher and resides on the other side of the world in Canberra, Australia.
During the recession of the 1980s, the citizens of a working-class Stoke-upon-Trent would struggle to find employment, and university degrees seemed to be reserved for upper-class citizens.
“I left school in 1981, most people just went straight on the dole,” said Gary.
“There was never really any motivation to learn or to go to university, it was something that I never even aspired to”.
Gary landed employment on a construction site, however, he never belonged there.
Then one day at work he found himself borrowing a book about the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan at the local library that “opened his mind up to the world”.
It was the best decision he ever made.
“I was reading the book one day and a senior executive came up to the building site” said Gary.
“He was quite taken back… we stood talking about the book for a few minutes”.
It was at the end of that conversation that Gary heard the words that he needed to hear his whole life.
You’re in the wrong place.
The idea of going to university seemed unrealistic and unconventional at the time, but Gary’s decision payed dividends.
Gary believes that education is a vital part of life, which is reflected in his own story and his work as a teacher.
“It’s important because it enables you to be an active member of society,” said Gary.
“It’s not just about getting a job, it’s about being aware of what’s going on and being able to look out for yourself and make good decisions”.
You can hear the full interview with Gary below: