Scene: Most Professional Networking Event/Happy Hour/Mixed Company
Gentleman: Hi, I’m Pete, what do YOU do?
Renee Morton: I own my own Mortgage Company!
Professional Gentleman: No, really…what do you do?
This isn’t the first time Renee Morton, founder and CEO of Morton Mortgage Corporation, has been doubted. Frankly, she’s used to it. She knows it’s uncommon for a woman to own her own mortgage company, even in 2017. Never shy to back down from a challenge, Renee has been proving for years that competitive rates, exemplary customer service, and great attention to detail are just a few of her super powers. So sorry boys, but this mortgage superwoman have already landed on the scene and are now at the forefront of it.
“For some reason when I meet someone in my industry and I'm asked who I work for and I tell them myself, they always ask ‘no WHO do you work for?’ For some reason men and women both don't believe that a single mother like myself can own a mortgage company. Most are backed by large financial institutions that have deep pockets to help pay for all of their expenses. My business is solely supported by myself.” –Renee Morton
The story of our mortgage superwoman, Renee Morton has very humble beginnings. Born in the small town of Gary, Indiana, Renee grew up idolizing her grandfather, Grandpa Morton. Despite being born in the depression and weighing two pounds at birth, Grandpa Morton was inducted into two Halls of Fame, invented the texture on the Fridge and even made it as a pitcher with the Chicago Cubs! Clearly, we can see where Renee’s superhuman traits came from. –“He taught me to be strong and go after everything and anything I want” says Renee.
The Lone Star State and the promise of new opportunities caught /Renee’s superwoman senses. She jumped into her superhero outfit consisting of red snake skin shoes and a self-designed dress, then promptly went on to beat out 19 other seniors in her high school class for a coveted position with Criminal & PI attorneys. She was soon a newlywed and young stay-at-home mother selling $120,000 worth of hand cream for Neiman Marcus. She continued to refine her skills, joining forces with upscale beauty brands Versace, Bobby Brown, Vincent Longo and Laura Mercier.
Never complacent, from 2001-2003 Renee launched and ran a successful sales and marketing company called, The Camille Picon Group (Picon after her great grandfather from Spain.) She was now working in partnership with beauty industry retail giants Neiman Marcus, Saks and Nordstrom. At the end of 2003 Renee continued her superwoman journey, caring for her 3 children while getting her mortgage license.
Renee worked in the mortgage industry until 2014 learning from all of the market’s ups and downs. She knew early on she wanted to start her own mortgage company, and after receiving an email from a friend that said, “Fear is the Devils way of holding you back from God’s blessings” she made her vision a reality, and Renee Morton Home Loans was born. In the past three years Renee has focused on maximizing her business model while living out her company’s mission. To reflect all of her progress and positive momentum, she has changed her company’s name to Morton Mortgage in 2016 and in 2017 moved to a brand new office in Spring, Texas and has hired 6 new Loan Officers.
Renee Morton’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed! In 2017 she has appeared twice on Great Day Houston and has plans to be a regular guest as their “Mortgage Expert.” Modern Luxury has named her one of the Dynamic Women of the Year! Follow her on Facebook to experience her Mortgage Monday’s live every week!
As you can tell by this point, a woman like Renee Morton is much more than just her business. She is very involved in the community with The National Association of Professional Mortgage Women (NAPMW.) The Greater Houston Association of Mortgage Professionals (GHAMP.) Houston Mortgage Banker Association (HMBA,) Kids Meals Houston, Child Advocates, Habitat for Humanity and The Brookwood Community. Renee’s closing gifts are crafted by the special needs citizens of Brookwood. She takes that relationship a step further and brings friends and co-workers to volunteer there several times a year.
Renee and Morton Mortgage host a local artist every 8 weeks. Each local artist is able to hang their art throughout the Morton Mortgage offices and an Artist reception is planned for each artist during their nesting period. Supporting local artists is just one of the many ways Renee connects with the community.
Renee’s positive customer reviews prove that others are noticing her superwomen traits as well. “Renee is incredibly professional and will go above and beyond for her clients in terms of communication and attention to detail…” says one of her many clients.
The story of our superwomen in the mortgage industry is far from over. Have not doubt; Renee Morton is here to stay, and here to give her clients the finest lending experience they can imagine!
Virtuosi of Houston hosted the 9thAnnual Small Ensemble Summer Workshop for a group of young musicians ages 10 to 18. The faculty instructors for the workshop were professional musicians from the Fidelis Quartet. The ensemble consists of violinists Rodica Gonzalez and Mihaela Frusina, violistWei Jiang and cellist Jeffrey Butler who are also musicians with .the Houston Symphony. Additionally, professional musicians from the Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera also assisted in the workshop: violinist Chavdar Parashkevov, violist Dawson White, cellist Wendy Smith-Butler and bassist Curry Duffey.
The purpose of the workshop is to offer the opportunity for training to any young musician in small ensemble performance plusintroduce the Virtuosi of Houston degree of professionalism and quality to new students that may have an interest in audition for the Virtuosi of Houston orchestra. The workshop also provided classes in Music Theory, Yoga, Alexander Technique, Solfeggio and Deportment.
The two-week workshop culminated in a recital concert where each of the small ensemble quartets perform their quartet piece they had worked on during the workshop. The recital was hosted at the Virtuosi of Houston’s studio at Memorial City Mall. In addition each ensemble had the opportunity to perform again as the preconcert entertainment at the Texas Music Festival at University of Houston’s Moores Opera House.
● Join the waiting list now for the 10th Annual Summer Workshop in June 2018
ABOUT VIRTUOSI OF HOUSTON
Virtuosi of Houston is a young artist’s chamber orchestra ages 11 to 18. In this our nineteenth season they come from 32 different schools, and from four counties. They play at an exemplary level about 80% pursue a career in music and 100% attend college. Virtuosi alumni are all over the world. We have a first chair cello at the Hamburg Symphony, a principal and solo flautist at the Luxemburg Symphony and a professor of cello at a New Hampshire college. There are numerous alumni in music education and others who have successful careers in performance.
DEIDRE N. MATHIS "Owner of Wanderlust Houston, Budget Travel Book Author, Keynote Speaker, Budget Travel Expert, 36+ countries traveled"
Most stories I’ve read about successful millennial entrepreneurs start after the win; after the company, has opened, after the funds have been raised, after the first six figures have been earned.
While most of these stories are inspirational, motivational, and encouraging, they just don’t do IT for me. What is the IT? The IT encompasses the personal stories and experiences that made the company what it is today—the turmoil, heartaches, pains, and frustrations; the ups and downs of starting and building that company. The IT tells a story.
Let me share my story. My name is Deidre Mathis, world traveler of over 37 countries, author of the budget travel book, Wanderlust: For the Young, Broke Professional, and owner of Wanderlust Houston, a private and shared modern accommodation that will be opening soon in Houston. I was born and raised in Florida, attended graduate school in Maryland and upon earning my master’s degree, quit my “good government job” to embark on a gap year where I traveled to over a dozen countries solo. I always knew I was entrepreneurial, and I knew I would eventually run my own business. I just didn’t know how. I had a mediocre credit score, only a few thousand dollars saved, and no experience with writing a business plan. To accomplish this goal, I had to stop dreaming and start working.
First things first: debt. I called my creditors and arranged a debt elimination plan and began making small payments. Soon, my debts (excluding student loans) were all paid. I cut back on credit card spending, using only 10% or less of my credit limits, and I signed up for credit monitoring services to ensure my score was going to be protected. After one year, my score increased by more than 100 points and finally put me in the 700 club. I visited my local SCORE business centers and began working on my business plan. I entered local business plan competitions. My very first business plan was about 12 pages and, looking back in hindsight, it was pretty bad. But I refused to give up. After more than six months of late nights, hard work, and countless revisions, I had a viable business plan. I eventually won two of those business plan competitions, accumulating over $5,000 in prizes for my business.
The next step was, by far, the most stressful part of this journey: the money (it’s always the money, isn’t it?). I started an Indiegogo campaign to see if the community was even interested in my business idea, and they responded favorably. More than 80 supporters helped me raise $5,100. I met with a number of investors, some of which got me absolutely nowhere. After countless meetings, I received a gracious investment from a loved one that gave me the flexibility I needed. I soon met with local banks to shop my business plan and idea. I received positive feedback from two banks, both of which offered me six figure loans! Wow, this was really happening!
Last, but not least, was learning how to maintain a thriving personal life, all while dedicating most of my time to my entrepreneurial journey. Most of my friends have jobs where they physically go to work at 9AM, begin the day’s scheduled monotony, and clock out by 5PM. The more adventurous ones proceed to their nearest Happy Hour by 5:15. But my job is different. I don’t clock-in; I’m always on duty. I don’t drive to work or have to sit in rush hour traffic; my work is done from home or my neighborhood coffeeshop. Soon after starting this endeavor, I immediately noticed that people did not understand the constant work that goes into being a business owner. As an entrepreneur, my work is never done. So now, when I hear, “You don’t have a real job,” I think to myself, “No, I have the realest job.” I work for myself, and for this, I never clock out. My job includes 12 hour shifts, with no guarantee of health insurance or a paycheck. My days are spent in meetings and working behind a computer. It can be stressful, and the lack of sleep would leave others sidelined. But the fringe benefits are amazing.
My entrepreneurial journey is still evolving as I enter the next phase: renovation, marketing, and getting the word out about Wanderlust Houston. Now, when you read about our upcoming success I want you to come back and read this transparent article so you know that before the win came so much more!
Wanderlust Houston, Owner
$45 PER PERSON
Restaurant will donate $7 to the Houston Food Bank from each dinner sold. Food Bank will provide 21 meals from this donation.
SPRING MIX SALADcherry tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, croutons, shaved red onions & balsamic vinaigrette
SOUP CREATION OF THE DAYSecond CourseFILET MIGNON8 oz filet mignon, chateau potatoes
FILET MEDALLIONSbordelaise sauce, chateau potatoes & thin green beans
NORTH ATLANTIC SALMONlemon butter sauce, thin green beans
CRAB CAKEScajun lobster sauce, thin green beans
FILET MIGNON 12 OZ ($15 SUPPLEMENT)PRIME NEW YORK STRIP 16 OZ ($15 SUPPLEMENT)PRIME RIBEYE 16 OZ ($15 SUPPLEMENT)
add oscar style (crab, asparagus & béarnaise) +$10
add wild mushroom sauce +$6
add bacon au poivre with bourbon demi-glace +$6
Third CourseSTRAWBERRY CHEESECAKEWARM BANANA BREAD PUDDING
Aug 1 – Sept 4, 2017
LUNCH MENU$20 per person
Tax & gratuity not included. Wine sold separately.
StarterChoice of one:
CLASSIC CAESAR SALAD Crisp Romaine Lettuce, Shaved Parmesan Cheese & Texas Crouton
SPRING MIX SALAD Cherry Tomatoes, Blue Cheese Crumbles, Croutons, Shaved Red Onions & Balsamic Vinaigrette
SOUP CREATION OF THE DAY
FILET MEDALLIONS* Bordelaise Sauce, Chateau Potatoes & Thin Green Beans
NORTH ATLANTIC SALMON* Lemon Butter Sauce, Thin Green Beans
AVOCADO CHICKEN WRAP Quinoa, Shaved Lettuce, Tomato, Whole Wheat Tortilla, Choice of Chips or French Fries
WAGYU FRENCH DIP Au Jus and Horseradish Sauce, Choice of Chips or French Fries
Dessertchoice of one:STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE WARM BANANA BREAD PUDDING
2014 Ehler’s Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, $65
2013 Terlan Pinot Bianco, Alto Adige, $60
2013 Bodegas Fillaboa Albarino, Rias Baixes, $50
2014 Copain “Les Voisins” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, $67
2013 Schild Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre, Barossa Valley, $36
2010 Chateau du Coureau, Pessac-Leognan, $60
VIP MARTINI Svedka Clementine Vodka Infused with Fresh Hawaiian Pineapples, $14
*These items are served using raw or undercooked ingredients. Consumption of raw or undercooked meats, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase risk of foodborne illness.
Before placing your order, please inform your server if anyone in your party has a food allergy.
"I retired 20 yrs from the Navy and open my LinkedIn account and was playing around on it for a year because a Work Counselor said it was a good idea . To be honest, I put in minimum effort and had minimum results. After working with Freddy and his LinkedIn Workshop, I have 2 offers paying me $15K-$20K more than what I am making now!
YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE ON LINKEDIN!
Did you know 41% of millionaires use LinkedIn
Want to learn how to be a LinkedIn Marketing Expert and how to turn on your LinkedIn Sales Funnel? Right now, there is a huge demand for this skill.
We are offering to a small group, the opportunity to learn these skills that will exponentially grow your business and brand.
This is an in-person training, so you must be willing to travel to our location in Humble, Tx (If you are not able to attend in person, please let us know so we can Skype)
"Freddy came to our Corporate Office and did his LinkedIn Workshop to our Sales | Marketing | Catering Team! He talked about how with LinkedIn that YOU are the Brand and he showed our team how to find our ideal clients and as a result we have more catering and corporate event opportunities!
THIS IS NOT:
"I was just promoted as a new General Manager for a Boutique Women & Men high end retail store. I have used LinkedIn as a job seeker but never as a Hiring Manager. Freddy took the time with his LinkedIn Workshop to show me steps by steps how to find the right candidate and even help create some marketing collateral . Freddy went over and beyond! - Amanda B."
THIS IS ABOUT:
"I run a sales team of Insurance agents and we are always on LinkedIn! Freddy's LinkedIn Workshop gave us valuable tools and he showed our team new ways and shortcuts to save time and how to better use LinkedIn for Business Development, Marketing & Sales- Bill B."
My LinkedIn Results:
"As a Human Resource Manager for an International Pharmaceutical company, I was looking for new ways to find ideal candidates that met our corporate profile. I was looking for real results, someone who had more than a LinkedIn Certification, someone who could show me their results that they have achieved themselves and who can teach my team of 25 recruiters. Freddy and his LinkedIn Workshop was the answer and Freddy was that guy! - Forrest S."
"This offer is only for serious people and you must apply to get approved for this training. "
The investment for this course is $297
[You must pay in full if you need to Skype in the workshop!]
*BONUS FOR BUYING TODAY
Last time we did this it filled up within 2 days so if your interested message me right away for more details.
Please request dates for ongoing Classes and Workshops
TEXT "LinkedIn Workshop" 713-409-6127
Freddy Goerges, CEO & Founder
Houston Young Professionals
"I helped Randall Chestnutt and his Advertising Agency with one suggestion and minor change, he was able to receive over 1,790 Likes | 15,601 Comments | 1,587,301 Views and all of this in 16 days and with new clients as a result!"
Numbers don't lie and the stats below show that LinkedIn is the world’s largest social network for working professionals. In fact, it’s one of the largest social networks in general. Here are some impressive statistics and figures that explain just how important LinkedIn is to the professional world
Below is a comprehensive list of all the LinkedIn statistics and facts that you need to know as a B2B marketer.
Young Professionals, meet Trend3r – a tech startup bringing Houston the new way to visualize ideas and projects!
Trend3r (pronounced “trender”) is a Houston technology company that has evolved from a traditional digital marketing firm (formerly known as PVW Marketing) to a tech startup that brings its clients the latest and best tools that visualization industry has to offer. We took the harder route and decided to grow our company organically from the grass roots and so far, it has been an exciting and rewarding journey. We are local to Houston and we take the time to get to know our community and to understand the needs in the Houston market to ensure that our services make our clients’ lives better. We utilize the best among the latest technology tools for visualization to help our clients enhance their business experience and make their work easier. We actively participate in conferences and educational efforts to help people embrace, understand and find practical uses for different visualization technologies.
Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) are the three terms describing visualization techniques that trace their conceptual ideas back to the 1800s but only started receiving significant attention and fascination from people over the last three decades. Deeply rooted in the gaming industry, these technologies began finding their way into practical business applications during the last decade gaining more traction since 2015 when the first Samsung Gear VR device was released to the public allowing for easy and affordable access to VR content. Since the first Gear VR device many more came and even more are in the production pipeline to be released in the near future. The technology that once was a prerogative of sci-fi movies and fiction is now becoming a part of our day-to-day life and sets the standard for running a business better.
Trend3r is an experiential innovator of the 3D modeling technology. The firm brings the latest and best virtual reality and augmented / mixed reality tools to its clients to help them visualize their ideas and projects before significant investment is made in production / creation. Trend3r also helps document and capture existing projects and sites to help clients showcase their work and market it.
The technology used by Trend3r has applications in nearly every industry. Our early adopters include builders and developers, aerospace companies, non-profits and educators, artists and gallery owners, building owners, commercial real estate brokers and property managers, architectural and design firms, furniture dealers, manufacturers, and the list goes on.
We are looking for more collaboration opportunities from businesses who are interested in implementing the latest visualization technologies into their business model and setting themselves apart from the competition through innovation.
Trend3r is located at 1022 Wirt Road, Suite 326, Houston, Texas 77055. For additional information, call Maria Shumilova, the company COO at 281.606.9369, email email@example.com or visit www.trend3r.com.
We opened our doors 5 years ago on White Linen Nights and this year we’re throwing our biggest party yet!
Can’t imagine we’d still be here if it wasn’t for the support of this amazing neighborhood and the hard work and dedication of our team! Since opening our doors 5 years ago – we’ve donated to multiple local school fundraisers, sponsored little leagues and supported community charities – and we can’t wait to continue for this next 5 years!
We invite you to join us as we celebrate with a HUGE party (Sonoma style!) on #WhiteLinenNight Saturday, August 5th starting at 6pm! DJ Thomas Cauley • Sangria Stand • special guest: Buffalo Bayou Brewery • Chef Matt’s Passed Bites • Bottle Specials • Raffle Prizes and more!!
White Linen Night on White Oak and White Linen Night in the Heights are both Neighborhood-wide events and due to the expected high-volume crowds we will be taking limited reservations in the dining room – keeping our bar, lounge and 3 patios open for walk-ins. We look forward to seeing everyone out and about enjoying the beautiful Heights neighborhood ––– be sure to stop by and enjoy the festivities!
Houston Inventors Association & Young Inventors Showcase offers Houston’s Young Professionals Mentoring Opportunities
Sean Gilmore, now a Junior at Strake Jesuit, invented, as a sixth grader, a “Slumber Separator Tent” that sits on a bed. He called it “The Sleepover Bed Tent”. Flash forward to today, and Sean is running a thriving business. He recently negotiated a partnering relationship with a major hospitality group.
Sean is a successful graduate of the Young Inventors Showcase (YIS), now in its 30th year. YIS is a STEAM-based curriculum, taught in K-8 classrooms, that leads students through the process of inventing. The program is taught as an in-school lesson plan during the academic year, or as a five-day summer camp. In a typical year, 20-25 schools participate throughout the Houston Gulf Coast region, with 2,500 students presenting their inventions in preliminary competitions. Approximately 60-70 inventors make it to the finals, held on the third Saturday in May. This year, the finals were held at River Oaks Elementary on May 20th.
The entire YIS program is driven by a core group of volunteers, as follows:
and, Brice Everhart, of Vallaire’s for Men. See: http://www.vallaires.com .
“Our YIS program is poised to see tremendous growth, both here in the US, and internationally”, said Greg J. Micek, Founder. “We have recently aligned with Lamar University to launch the program into the Beaumont area. Also, Lamar has a satellite program, based in the United Kingdom, which will allow YIS to have an international presence.” See: www.tablet-academy.org.
"It has been my pleasure to work with and for the Young Inventors Showcase, over the last few years,” stated Max Martin. “Nothing comes close to the personal gratification I've received, from witnessing these young students presenting their projects for judging. Innovation and invention-ism are the way forward in the 21st century. Come join us, as we open the doors for young students world wide." Mr. Martin is the CEO of Smart Kids Software, which is now in its 20th year in business offering an array of educational and STEAM-based technologies to teachers all over the US. See: www.smartkidssoftware.com.
The Young Inventors Showcase was born from it’s parent, the Houston Inventors Association, which was itself launched by Greg J Micek in 1983. For the complete history, see:
There are significant opportunities for Houston Young Professionals to engage with YIS. Among the various roles available are as judges, outreach to schools to expand the program, as mentors to the young inventors, etc.
For further information on YIS, and to volunteer, please contact:
SKS-Smart Kids Software, Inc.
YIAA Executive Director
International Focus “HOUSTON IS 25 YEARS AHEAD OF THE REST OF THE COUNTRY. SOON ALL OF AMERICA WILL LOOK LIKE THIS CITY.” ~ STEPHEN L. KLINEBERG, SOCIOLOGIST, KINDER INSTITUTE
Sonia Guimbellot is a writer, editor, media correspondent, activist and organizer. Sonia is founder/shareholder and director of International Focus Magazine, Houston only publication with an international footprint in every embassy domestic & abroad. She was awarded Top 30 Influential Women, Woman of Empowerment, Top 10 Bachelorettes, a Congressional Honor for Cultural Awareness, and International Trade, & Humanitarian efforts. Her high profile and organizing skills have led to many successful campaigns and creation of numerous chambers of commerce organizations. She is often sought out for her acumen in diplomacy and influence to serve in strategic partnerships working in a collaborative leadership role.
Sonia has led campaigns for the city controller and worked with the VA in bipartisan private sector initiatives where she united businesses, politicians, and sports celebrities. Sonia’s love and optimism for the city of Houston has garnered accolades from many civic groups and women’s organizations. Her current major initiative, is a campaign to help the Houston Sports Authority, a body that manages all of the city’s stadiums to ensure a seamless management of large scale sports events such as the World Corporate Games in November.
Another altruistic endeavor for Sonia is the Brilliant Lecture Series with two former Secretaries of State, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell. This will be followed by actress, Sally Field, who will relate her fascinating legacy as a performer and activist. As an influencer, she works with all consulates, chambers of commerce, the UN, port authorities, airports, sister cities, local and national business networking groups.
Sonia works with the Houston First- an initiative that funds the city’s New Years festivities and the past Super Bowl. Sonia’s social media and social groups footprint is extensive as a who’s who in Houston that you can see in #iF on the ‘Seen on Scene’ section. Sonia’s philosophy & actions/initiatives for the community can be summed up in her belief of, “Education is the new & lasting diplomacy.”
iF Magazine’s concept is unique and amazing. With Forbes ranking Houston as the most diverse city in America, Houston is certainly the new mecca for attracting, engaging, and building international business relationships. Add that we have 92 foreign consulates with a presence in the city, and the more than 190 foreign languages spoken here, iF Magazine is the only one of its kind targeting this diverse, upscale group. Each issue features a different Consul General on the cover … and we started with the Dean of the Houston Consular Corps! Honorable Sultan bin Abdullah Al-Angari, Consul General of Saudi Arabia in Houston on the cover and have followed up with every issue featuring an in-depth, one-on-one interview with one of the 92 Consul Generals also represented in Houston. No other magazine in Houston can make that claim! More importantly, we have given an insightful look at what makes Houston new mecca for attracting, engaging, and building international business relationships.
Each issue is filled with interesting stories about business, lifestyle, and culture … but what makes us embraced are the exclusive photographs about this affluent community shot oftentimes inside their homes and exclusive engagements that no other media outlet is privileged to access.
What makes International Focus Magazine a superior advertising vehicle:
• 20,000 circulation monthly (combined print & online)
• Hand delivered to guests at exclusive parties & events
• Distributed to many area businesses
• Printed on premium glossy stock
• 4-color included with all advertising at no extra cost
• Coffee table quality gives this publication longer shelf life
• More cost-effective than daily or weekly advertising vehicles
• Stand-out quality advertising production at minimal cost
• Top magazine quality advertising at newsprint prices
• Ad sizes to meet every budget
• Responsive customer service — customer satisfaction is our top priority
A great resource for those interested in other cultures & networking opportunities with our partnerships! Are you intrigued? Do you wonder where to go to see our events? My business page on social media will divulge the high-profile & secret locations~ https://www.facebook.com/iFSoniaGuimbellot/ -plus photos to show who we are & next steps. Perhaps you can leave me a message to come in as a volunteer, any type of (even in- kind) sponsorship, possible employment positions available...we are looking growing fast!
Photo credits are:
Victor Escalante, Heidi Powell-Prera, Vicky Pink, and Scott David Weitzenhoffer
HOUSTOn we have THE WORLD RIGHT HERE IN OUR BACK YARD! "Teach me a new Language & I will teach you a new skill"
It’s becoming no secret that Houston is now the most diverse city in the USA, and the international influence means you can find most anything in the world here. From samples of the best food around the globe, to art and other cultural representations, Houston is a microcosm of the world right here in our back yard. However, with all of this variety, sometimes we overlook the most obvious asset—people. Of course, businesses have known for quite some time having the best and brightest worldwide all in one city has its advantages, but what about the rest of us? We are just now waking up to the cool factor of what it means to culturally sample the entire planet all in one place.
Ten years ago, David & Mandy Brake met each other and started Teachers To Go, a company that brings certified Texas classroom teachers to your home for academic tutoring and private lessons. Mandy was an international engineer who spoke three languages, and David was a teacher and musician who created a new niche by providing social services for learning. Things were going well, and a few years later the two were married. By that time, they had grown the company to hundreds of teachers, covering most of greater Houston.
The only problem was, not everyone could afford the services of professional instructors, and they would often get calls from people who needed help and couldn’t afford a qualified tutor or professional teacher. In particular, they found this happened a lot with folks who had moved to Houston recently from overseas who needed to improve their English.
David & Mandy’s solution for help with learning English at no cost was a little thing called language exchange. Language exchange is just what it sounds like: I’ll help you if you help me. (Someone who needs to learn English is paired with an American partner who wants to learn his or her language - in exchange.) For instance: “I’ll teach you English for ½ hour if you teach me Spanish for ½ hour”, or “I’ll help you practice your English if you help me practice Mandarin.” Language partners usually pair up and meet at a library or coffee shop to practice and help each other once or twice a week.
There are millions of people practicing language exchange worldwide, and there’s a reason. You might think it’s because it’s effective, and that part is true: it is effective. (Language exchange has often been cited as the fastest way to get a second language under your belt for work or travel.) This is because to learn a language, you have to practice (ie: you have to “do” it), otherwise you are only studying it instead of gaining the actual ability to communicate. But that’s not the only reason why millions of people are practicing language exchange, they’re also doing it because it’s fun. In fact, the real secret is, even if you learn absolutely nothing, language exchange is the most effective way to make friends from other cultures outside of your usual social circles.
David & Mandy soon turned their solution into a not-for-profit organization called the Houston Language Partners. The Houston Language Partners promotes language exchange, and hosts monthly speed-friending events to help everyone find a partner. “Finding a partner is not as simple as meeting just anyone who is your language match, it’s more like picking your friends,” says Mandy. “You have to like and respect them to get along.” The Houston Language Partners membership has now grown through word of mouth only to over 5,000 members including all social media channels, a growth David & Mandy both attribute to Houston’s international influence. The story doesn’t end there though.
Early on, the organizers noticed a supply and demand issue with some languages. For instance, there were more Urdu & Turkish speakers wanting to learn English, than English speakers wanting to learn Turkish or Urdu. The solution was two-fold: 1) ask for volunteers to teach English (which they still do), and 2) open it up to other subjects. For example: If my language is Urdu, you might not want to learn my language, but I can teach you computer programming or how to play the guitar. The second solution has taken on a life of its own.
www.LRNGO.com is a mobile teach and learn marketplace where individuals connect nearby to meet and learn from each other. David & Mandy started LRNGO.com a few years back as a company in their spare time, and LRNGO now has thousands of local users in Houston, as well as almost every major city in the world. It is free for anyone to use, and as simple as typing in your zip code and a subject you want to learn. (For free exchange, you can narrow down the search results by also typing in a subject you teach to get an exact match.) You will find all levels of teachers on LRNGO (from hobbyists down the street to PHD’s and well-known experts) and pricing levels (from free to hundreds of dollars an hour), and can contact anyone at any time at no cost. LRNGO also allows you to find nearby practice partners by searching for members who are learning the same thing as you.
David & Mandy are quick to point out that LRNGO is a free open directory resource, and as such there is no guarantee of results. However, one thing they say is guaranteed. If you meet a learning exchange partner who is the right fit for you, whether through LRNGO.com or at one of their speed-friending events, you will enjoy the experience. Bringing people together to make new friends and help each other, they say, makes everything they do worthwhile.
What's Up Houston is a collaboration of Influencers, Business Owners, Individuals, Citizen Reporters, Bloggers and Writers ! You have something interesting to say or share? Share it with What's Up Houston