The hardest class of the year

Honestly speaking, I have been teaching for more than 10 years, from high school professional and technical courses (my first guinea pigs) to business owners under suggestive names such as presidents MBA, I think I got it all.

This Fridays class was special for many reasons, first of all the number of attendees, 60 plus, which would make attention a scarce resource, more 6 other teachers, to make sure I keep my mistakes to a minimum, and above all, one special student, Santiago Viana, my 9 year old son, no wonder I was delaying this moment for few months.

The chosen thematic, due to my last 40 years of life experience shouldn’t be a problem – different cultures – but the idea to keep sixty plus 4th graders focused on the topic for almost one hour, without leaving an image of pure madness to my pears and walk out the door feeling few inches taller (which could be useful for a man like me) to my son, seemed quite challenging at 8.00 AM when I start revising the final presentation deck.


Santiago and me choose one country per continent in order to give a little overview on famous expressions, national food, special scenery and some curious facts.

The first challenge was actually to agree on the number of continents in the planet, and believe me it was not easy, 4, 5, 6 or 7?

Well I guess it really depends on the perspective but all the above are right 🙂

Just like in many other things in life.

Armed with incredible pictures and a story to back up each one, I felt ready for the final assault, still, and just in case, I put in my bag few packs of gummy bears…if everything else would go wrong, and “Murphy” would decided to appear in form of a cable to connect a Mac to a pc based wallboard, I would still have the gummy bears.

At 11h00 pm (sharp) the room was (literally) invaded by a horde of little creators, dozens of eyes with XXL size of curiosity, with just enough adrenaline running in the air, Santiago’s teacher ask me to present myself briefly.

It was a striking moment, unexpected, with consequences that were promising to last in the years to come.

I was tempted to say something that could get me as fast as possible into the power point waiting for me, an easy introduction, would have been, something like;

– Hello, my name is Joao Viana, I’m Santiago’s father and I am a teacher.

In my brain a teacher is a serious person, that everyday, year after year, from 8 to 5 goes to a school and teaches, but I am not really that person, even knowing that I do teach a lot during the year, in different countries and for more than 10 years, I am not that serious of a person, so…I could not use this descriptor.

Another idea that cross my mind, I was to say something that would put me in a comfortable unreachable position (for my little new friends);

– Hello, my name is Joao Viana, I am Santiago’s father and I am an entrepreneur.

Indeed when a person is somehow involved in creating more than 10 companies in the last 15 years, with an acceptable rate of success (all taxes paid so far), one could describe himself as such…but truly speaking I do not feel like a true maverick that turns the world around to sell an idea pursuing fame and richness, actually most of the time, I just like the idea of riding along with other people that I respect and care…it would not be a good descriptor either.

When I start running out of ideas, my spirit becomes very sarcastic, and I really felt that I should just stop all the nonsense (the seconds were passing and my mouth was still closed) and say out loud;

– Dudes, my name is Joao, Santiago’s father and I am a corporate bitch!

I guess I earned the right to say so after firing more than a couple of hundred people, but not only I am afraid the word bitch would have been an issue in such environment, I also hired hundreds of talented people with the purpose to raise them and make them much better than myself, all of that decorated with a handful of hardcore experiences that would have ruined my attempts to keep a reputation even before the first slide was out on the screen…so not an option either.

Looking in despair to my son’s eyes, he calmly said to his classmates;

This is my father Joao, and he is my inspiration.

Without having a chance to add something on the last sentence, Santiago was already on the way to the United States of America, the first country we were going to talk about, and I was going after him.

My son’s words were one of the triggers (among others that I will refer later) to start this writing and sharing exercise, an attempt to inspire people, including myself, in those days that the sun only shines above the clouds or we enjoy understanding that we are not alone in this journey.

This is a borderline walk between private and public, national and international, praising and critic, always with a common goal…looking up and forward with positive ideas (if possible).

I guess I am not the only one that thinks that the current days ask for Dylan to sings us a song, because,

– The Times They Are a-Changin’

Fortunately for all of us, the one-hour presentation, turned into two, the level of curiosity and participation were amazing, probably helped by the famous story about the fish Fugu from Japan or the supposed responsibility of Portuguese sailors regarding the name of Madagascar.


The energy gummy bears were guaranteed to be able to provide were highly surpassed by the flying happiness around the room and the window that was open to all this kids to a wider and multicolored world.

The beautiful eyes and souls of each one in front of me, reassured me that again and again, new and renovated generations are coming out with oceans of good and creativity inside their hearts.

Watch out world! We will be better in the future compared to what we are today J

It was a little hard to start, but I guess now that I did…I will not stop