Here’s the transcript :
[00:08] Hi everybody. It’s Adam from this, the pixel and I have a very special treat for you once again, a very good friend of mine from a different neck of the woods than we’re used to. We’re not talking about a visual artists, not primarily a visual artist, but a dance, dance instructor. In fact, a very big name in the dance community here in Montreal. Ilias Benz, why don’t you introduce yourself to everybody. Let everybody know what you’re about.
[01:02] Alrighty then. I own a dance school. I have three dance schools in Montreal, the greater region on Montreal. I’ve been going at it for the past 20 years. Also running it as a, trying to run it as a healthy business. I didn’t know you were doing it that long? Yeah, I started in 98, 98 back then, you know, back then and uh, so yeah, I’ve been doing it full time before I was more concentrating on music and now dance took over and I’m doing it full time and making sure everybody’s happy at our school. Yeah, very cool. What else do you do when you’re not teaching dance in your school? Me, myself, we have, we have a very similar hobby or passion in our lives. What would that be? Please tell me you’re a youtuber.
[01:56] So Ilias, a friend of mine, we met actually through the dance community and when I first met him, my first impression of Ilias was he was the guy who I had a secret jealousy for because all the girls kept talking about how much they enjoyed dancing with him all the time and yes, being the narcissist, I am I took that very personally and tried everything I could to overcome that. I never did. He Won. As you can tell, he’s the one with the dance school, but um, we ended up becoming very good friends. And you when you, when we first met we, how far back do we go as far as that goes? It’s been a long time. Ten, 15 years for sure. Fifteen years out. And when we did. Where was your life? Fifteen years ago? Business was just starting out, you know?
[02:42] Uh, I started out, I started to teach salsa directly in Montreal with a friend that asked me to assist her and um, I started with her and we taught a couple of years and then I opened up my school and a little further down in Montreal. And uh, from then on I opened in another city and another city and soon Paris, London and Sydney. Think big. So this is where I started, you know, it started with a very small class and then built from. That the main goal of our school is to make it fun, to make it pleasurable and also to treat clients properly also, which is a kind of rare sometimes, you know, so we, we really banked on that and I think that’s why we’re, we’re successful.
[03:36] This is exactly why I brought you on this channel and a lot of you are visual arts, you might be asking yourself, why am I bringing a dance instructor, uh, into the conversation on my particular channel for multiple reasons. Number one, the arts are the arts when it comes to working in the industry. Um, we all pretty much follow the same lifestyle, deal with a lot of the same obstacles, the same growth as far as artistic versus technical, how to build a business. But the thing I love about Ilias and one of the things that we talk about at length, um, oh yeah, and a little tangent here, a little sidetrack is we’re also audio visual geeks. So we like had these little nighttime affairs sending each other facebook posts as well. Dude, did you check out this hot lens? Yeah, that kind of stuff.
[04:21] We do this kind of stuff all the time. I have listened to les for years talk about his work ethic as an entrepreneur, as a self employed guy who builds his own business, which is something I have less experience as in um, but very much respect and follow the same methodology and that is something we were just actually we started talking about it today when we’re sitting down having a drink and that was where your priorities are when it comes to building a business and when it comes to building a clientele and making a name for yourself where you’re focused business wise will have a direct impact on how things turn out. Okay. So you, you remember what it was we were talking about when we’re sitting down together? Yeah, definitely. I think, um, the core of the business has to be customers like, and, and we, we hear it every time we hear it sounds almost like cliche, but it’s also like treating customers or people that go in to your, to your dance school the way you like to be treated, you know, and uh, there’s one, there’s one of my coaches when I evolved in this industry, I asked him because he was doing tons of privates who were thinking was doing 40 privates like a week, you know, and I told him once I asked them, I said, well, don’t you get over tired or, or demotivated by by giving those privates?
[05:44] And he said to me like, playing, no, never. And I go, how do you manage it in your brain? And he goes, every single time, uh, this I see a client going through my door, I tell myself this client enables me to do what I love the most is teaching. Yeah, I remember that to this day. Shout out to you Gil Sanchez. Oh really? Yeah, yeah, yeah. If, if you’re in the Salsa scene you’re going to go. Oh really? That’s so he’s, he’s also a well known name in the industry. Okay. See, this is the thing because I have walked into this doesn’t only have to do with running a dance school. This doesn’t only have to do with running an art school. This has to do with running a big multibillion dollar corporation who specializes in shipping of Goods Online, Aka company like Amazon for instance, or a telecommunications company or Microsoft.
[06:34] How you treat people should be at the forefront of your focus. Right? And um, I find that the distinguishing factor between somebody who’s more self centered versus somebody who’s more of a leadership character is somebody like you and I watched the way you are with your students. I’m watching where you are with, with, with everybody and your focus is always on everybody else’s comfort. And I think that’s probably one of the things that makes you less self conscious when you’re performing, when you’re dealing with people when you’re sitting down in front of a camera, is that you’re not focused on, I wonder how people see me. I wonder. I wonder how people think I am. I wonder. I wonder if I’m impressing them enough to give me their money. Right. Instead, you’re sitting there going, no, I don’t give a crap about that. I want to make sure you walk out of here happy, enlightened, inspired, invigorated.
[07:29] That’s the main thing, and everybody who walks out of your class has a big smile on their face. Everybody walks out of your class feel they walk out of there going, wow, what an experience, and I’m not. I’m not pitching his school and this is the Bible truth. He’s loved because of his authenticity. It’s written in the Bible. Actually. It is. Yeah. Holy smokes. I go, I’ve been schooled once. I think it’s very important that it’s not about ourselves and it’s a state of mind. It’s when people go into my, to my school or go through my door. I really checked my ego at the door. I checked my problems at the door. It’s really not about me at that point. Yeah, and it’s actually good for me too because I come out of it happier, you know, so very important. And it is an intention.
[08:16] It’s a mindset. Something I repeat myself when I go through those doors, I checked my problems at the door. It’s about the client’s 100 percent. It’s a core belief. 100% . It’s not. You don’t just walk in through the front door and say, you know, today I’m going to make an effort to be thoughtful, know who you are . I read a book on marketing once and in the book that we’re talking about having a clear mission statement. Right? And at the beginning I was like, yeah, a mission statement, you know, what do you want me to write a mission statement and I know what I’m doing this, but then further down in the book he said You’d be surprised how many people in a company that worked for a company but don’t even know what the company stands for.
[08:55] And it goes, that’s a big problem because how, how would you unite everybody’s effort for one single goal? If the persons, the people inside that company, will it say the majority don’t even know what the company stands for and it has nothing to do with the size of the company at all. It’s how the communication is done, so it was very simple for me. Every time I do the meeting, I’m meeting with my staff. I just repeat. I just say I opened my meeting with why are we here? Why are we doing this? It’s not about dance at all. Thank you. You’re you’re, you’re an artist and you teach art, but it’s not so much about that. It is a. it’s a tool to interact with people in a positive way. This is this how we see it. The end creating an ecosystem where other people feel welcomed to feel that we’re inviting other people to feel that way too.
[09:44] Exactly. I think the, the, the learning aspect could easily be done, let’s say very a very disciplined person could learn to dance alone, so even if they interact with me, I will help them to get there faster, but I believe it’s. It’s a. The technique itself is a very cold process, like it’s just technique, but what you put or how you deliver technique or, or how, how you concentrate or how fast, what can you say to the person so he gets it faster but not, not using any, you know, like I take down my, my, you know, my whip and I and I come down on the person because he doesn’t have it or, or, or you see that sometimes where people, they, they, they see that, that let’s say dancers just don’t get it. They get annoyed or it’s like they project their own frustrations on the people and that I find this appalling.
[10:35] I think the people are there to receive a service and my goal within that short hour is that yes, they will learn how to dance, but they have to come out lighter, feeling lighter, feeling happier, you know, and not by a lot, just a little bit, just a little bit. We accomplished our mission. So here’s a question for you. How do you know who to pick? How do you choose who you want to hire as your instructors? You go out and interview them or how does that process work? Um, it’s actually quite simple. So what I do is, is, uh, first of all, we’ve got a whole bunch of, uh, of clients, you know, that that learned salsa and evolve in our, in our company. So this is the prime area where I look to see if somebody would be an interesting fit for our company. And I always a look at different things I look at are they naturally smiling, are they polite?
[11:33] Uh, are they, when you correct them, do they take it personally or did they resist a correction? Like you’re trying to correct somebody is like, Hey, I know, I know, I know, you know the, the yes men no. Yeah, know I know. No. Okay. So if, you know, you taking lessons, but. So, um, so all these different aspect, how do we insert the interact with everybody? Are they naturally, uh, um, I did go towards people, but those are important factors when I hire somebody because the technique, I know the technique they’re going to get. So I wait for them to go to the advanced class. If they stick around long enough and I see all these qualities, I approached them and I approached them and I tell them always the same thing because sometimes they’re surprised. They go, oh, you were thinking of me. You know what the teacher, I never saw myself as a teacher.
[12:18] Other were wishing to teach at my company. This even more flattering and I always say to them, teaching you how to teach is the easiest part, but what your mother and your father did as a job raising you did a wonderful job and that was the hardest part and it’s already done. Yeah, so I know I don’t have to teach them how to do customer service. I just have to teach them our ways, how we do business, how a couple of tricks here and there to teach. Most of the time these people are already sensitive to teaching people because I already saw them doing it. When you said something, you said something that really, really resonates with me too. What generally the qualities that you look for in other teachers is that they’re very good students. Teachers are very good listeners and very often a good indication of somebody who is probably probably wouldn’t make a great teachers that they don’t have the patience to learn.
[13:11] They’re not good learners, they’re not good listeners. Anybody who didn’t know what all is going to be very limited in their ability, in their scope as far as teaching is concerned. Furthermore, how much they will grow from the experience. But otherwise it’s an ego thing and people just kind of get defensive. I know everything already that is very alienating to your client. It’s not fun, you know, to and the students, it’s very alienating, but it’s also an indication of the fact that they probably have very unpleasant personalities. If a student says, oh, I already know that move the, the kind of one of the teacher, the teacher doesn’t freak out and go, thanks. You know, they, they would, they would appreciate that and feed that information to the rest of the class. Right? A hundred percent. Yeah. That’s huge. And also what I, what I noticed in myself that say I’ve been teaching for 20 years and if I’m not in a position to learn something, it could be anything, could be pottery classes, it could be a guitar, it could be anything.
[14:04] If I don’t put my myself in a position where I’m learning stuff or take classes as a pure beginner, after a year I will feel demotivated. Like I, I, I feel my teaching motivation starts to go like, okay, this is getting, I need to be a student again. Like I really feel that need. So sometimes I would go and take classes, have another dance style. We do that often. Like I just go and, and I’m a beginner. I don’t know how to move this. And I just love that feeling. When I go back to my classes, I’m like, you’re 10 times better. Yeah. Yeah. It feels good. So that, that feeling of letting somebody else give you information and appreciate the interaction of teacher student, I think it’s very important. that student can give you that lesson that makes you a better teacher at this happens to me all the time.
[14:52] I was just speaking, I had a, it’s not on my on my challenge, but I had a conversation with Antonio who I see very carefully say one of my ex students because I don’t regard them that way anymore. We’re both, we’re both professionals and stuff and he has taught me huge. I basically wanted to speak to him because of what he taught me as a teacher and he’s only been in the game for a couple of years now. He’s very new to the art institute, but he’s gotten. He’s, he’s that good. But that’s the thing. I love that attitude and that to me is probably one of the things that attracted me to you in the first place was your incredible authenticity, your incredible generosity and, and your baritone voice.
[16:35] So He’s a lot of fun to watch and there’s tons of stuff to learn. I so strongly recommend you open yourselves up to this. Whether you have ever danced a day in your life or not, it will change you forever and this is the best place to start. So his youtube channel is called Baila productions. I’m going to, of course, I’m going to leave a link in the description below and if there’s any questions that you have that we’ve grazed onto the or stuff we haven’t spoken about today, let us know in the comments below because you’re talking to two people from two very diverse art artistic practices that that could very much benefit from their feedback as well. So definitely let us know in the comments below. Thank you so much. And uh, yeah, so have fun teaching your classes. I’ll do the same thing and we will see you soon. Take care.