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Lessons of control and interdependence

hyphensa CEO

Running a business is a profession in itself. Two years ago, I introduced the concept of parallelism to business and the human body. By correlating various human resources to the different parts of the body, the position of the business owner becomes the “brain” of the business “body”. If this brain is to guarantee the welfare of the body, it must ensure that all parts of the body are healthy and functional, but at the same time reserve enough food and oxygen for the brain itself.

In order to achieve this, you, as the brain of your business, have to admit that there are universal principles neither body nor brain can overcome, and that violating such universal principles means we contribute to the creation of an unhealthy environment, for the viability of us and everybody around us. This “unhealthiness” is obvious nowadays, both in business and social/physical terms. When a number of similar entities (human or business ones) gather antagonistically, then survival in an unhealthy environment becomes a much tougher issue.

This is when the brain must move onto a “meta-phase” of existence. At one time, the role of the brain was to ensure the viability of the body and itself. Now, in this new role, it has to be more sophisticated and devise strategies, techniques and long term plans to ensure “survival space”. This includes claiming land from another “brain” from time to time.

In the world of business, I would define this phase as “identity distancing”. My own company, hyphen, was just a concept once upon a time, and when it was conceived, it went through a period of gestation for the first years, experiencing hiccups, drawbacks and side effects like with every pregnancy. The development of an embryo doesn’t cease with birth. On the contrary, it continues after birth; mechanisms become consolidated and functions are established. And, of course, postnatal development takes place in the real world and not in the sheltered world of the womb. Predominantly, postnatal development occurs after the child detaches itself from the mother. Thus, in business, development in the real world takes place once the whole operation has detached itself from the brain that conceived it. The brain, as the parent, then acts as a close monitor to ensure the continuance of learning, feeding and growth whilst inspiring responsibility, self-protection, self-control, happiness and balance. This parent, however, has got to remember that a) the child/business is a separate entity, and b) too much interdependence can become suffocating.

Similarly, when parents are overprotective and overindulge their children by doing everything for them, they deprive them from the joy of initiative, experimentation and self-learnt effectiveness, thus producing lazy and disabled children. Every child deserves the freedom to grow creatively, but this must happen with the use of specific frameworks, restrictions and guidance.

What I have been telling my clients, this past year, is that my own business managed to breathe when I repositioned myself in relation to it. In fact, it was only then that I managed to breathe, too. My business is its own vision, human resources, targets and practices, and it is always closely monitored by myself to ensure that its practices cater for its survival, growth and self-respect. In return, I receive plenty of satisfaction in both material and spiritual terms.

This identity distancing meta-phase has created a whole new world in terms of running my own business, and it reflects the targets of every well-established collaboration between my business and its own clients. As with “unhealthy” practices, good practices reflect from entity to entity and can create a positive domino effect, which becomes increasingly evident in the wider environment. So much, in fact, that it gives you the strength and satisfaction to realise that one day, your “child” will have to detach itself completely from you. You either make a mature decision to set it free to develop its own strengths, or you let it grow old with you, only to die slowly with retirement. It all depends on what each one of us is prepared to leave behind.

As I’m writing, I consider hyphen to be my Number 1 client. We have a fair and just relationship of moderate interdependence: I offer my know-how, planning and guidance, and in return, I receive material and spiritual satisfaction. This is almost exactly the same kind of relationship I experience with my clients. I have chosen not to be my business or my children, my relationship with my wife or even my clients. All these entities grow healthily by themselves and within our relationships, as do I, alongside them, just as a brain exists alongside the rest of the body. Realism is the means by which we can prevent the violation of universal principles.

Being a mother is not the most important job in the world – duh – of course not!

Yannis Stergis, LLDr, President - CEO, hyphen SA

I’m rarely shocked any more. Still, life is full of surprises, and a little shock was waiting around the corner for me as soon as I woke up this morning. A friend’s post on Facebook had a link to an article by Catherine Deveny, Australian stand-up comedian and columnist. Please see her Wikipedia bio and her article in the Guardian, “Sorry, but being a mother is not the most important job in the world.”

Firstly, the definition of a job is bound to a salary/fee/payment, and one doesn’t necessarily identify themselves with a job (as by definition with motherhood), unless they really love it, are entrepreneurs (even then, not necessarily) or come from the Anglo-Saxon world.

Both prerequisites (payment and lack of identification) have nothing to do with being a mother, so let’s investigate what the article illuminates by omitting the term “job” and focusing on the word “important”.

Hmmm, important, for whom? The writer of the article, the reader, the mother (the columnist is a mother of two boys), the neighbour, the father, the economy, society, who? The child’s point of view is completely missing! And by nature and definition, the child is the only one in need, a non-autonomous life in the process of breeding. How do we value non-autonomous life in the process of breeding?

Quoting the columnist: “The deification of mothers not only delegitimises the relationship fathers, neighbours, friends, grandparents, teachers and carers have with children, it also diminishes the immense worth and value of these relationships. How do gay dads feel about this line, I wonder? Or the single dads, stepdads or granddads? No matter how devoted and hard working you are, fellas, you’ll always be second best.” Or, “Even if it were a job, there is no way being a professional mother could be the hardest when compared to working 16 hours a day in a clothing factory in Bangladesh, making bricks in an Indian kiln, or being a Chinese miner. Nor could it ever be considered the most important job in comparison with a surgeon who saves lives, anyone running a nation, or a judge deciding on people’s destiny.”

Let’s consider this one step at a time; unfortunately for our society, mothers are deified only by their children and their needs, and by nobody else. But to compare their experience to that of a father (which I am, and a very dedicated one), a neighbour, a teacher, a relative, a grandparent, a gay parent or a single male parent is entirely out of line. I wholeheartedly respect, value, support and am thankful for the contribution of extended families, neighbourhoods, gay parents and single male parents to the lives of children, but the antagonistic co-reference to motherhood is unacceptable, firstly, because none of those roles is antagonistic to that of a mother and vice versa. Each role within context holds absolute importance at a place and time, as long as it feeds the prospects and the selfless support of non-autonomous life in the process of breeding, the life of a child. So why should the owners of all these roles feel antagonism towards the role of a mother? Value of parenthood is not a battery with limited life that if taken by one pole, empties the other. And in parenthood, the focal point is the child, not the adult.

Furthermore, how can one compare motherhood to a 16-hour-day worker in a clothing factory in Bangladesh or a Chinese mine? Motherhood is the most challenging form of entrepreneurship on earth, born by millions of women who were not necessarily raised or programmed to be entrepreneurs. They survive every day successfully, not only for themselves but for their children, with no certainty whatsoever from the moment of conception. From the very first day, hormonal changes can cause women to experience sickness which can make their lives unbearable, and yet they manage to move on with hope and anticipation, full of feelings of regret and detest that they’re forbidden to express against “the gift they were offered”. Hormones also force some to fight clinical depression and win, day after day. They breastfeed or bottle-feed with sleep intervals every three hours, something that jobs and military service impose only for limited periods of time. The nervous system rots every single night and wakes up only partially healed the morning after.

And it is the same world that has made it compulsory that women, among them mothers, not only can make the choice to work, but have to work. Then the myth of modern couples who share everything pops up. For those who have raised children, it is common knowledge that for a well-intentioned and dedicated father, disappointment is a natural state as soon as the baby arrives at its new home. The baby doesn’t feed from daddy, isn’t reassured by daddy and doesn’t ask daddy for anything, unless harsh reality has made daddy the baby’s last resort. Daddy has to earn his child’s love every single day, whether we like it or not. Mummy is entirely depended on. This is nature. And this nature is a burden too, the entrepreneurial burden of being a 24/7 decision maker, a critical decision maker, for the survival of non-autonomous life in the process of breeding, whilst having your body, soul and brain relentlessly drained. In the eyes of those who belong to the 17 of the world that don’t live on one US dollar a day, it must be horrendous for those working 16-hour-days in a mine, but, excuse me, miners' wives exist too, bearing an entrepreneurially, emotionally, ethically and physically critical responsibility 24/7 that their miner husbands don't. Of course, the miner bears a different kind of agony, which brings me to my last point.

I’m actually thankful to the columnist for her article. I live at a time of sociopolitical turbulence in my country, and my instinct has always told me that something’s not right existentially with our times, but being unable to see the specifics of this wrong has always frustrated me. I’m not, at this point, particularly interested in why a mother would write such an article, what she’s trying to prove and to whom, or what kind of trauma lies underneath; this, existentially, has dwelled in my brain extensively for many years. What caught my attention in this article, however, was what I felt to be “the life of the battery”! The “why” one should consider deified motherhood as the potential cause of the deprivation of deity for any other important role to the life of a child, the non-autonomous life in the process of breeding. And then it all became clear! Humanity strives for wealth, not only material and financial wealth, but also emotional, intellectual and spiritual wealth. The trap humanity has fallen into is that it stopped producing wealth autonomously; it has focused only on existing and identified wealth. Therefore, if there are limits to wealth, there is a constant need for redistribution; if you have more, I have less. If you are deified as a mother, I’m less important as a gay or single male parent. If you have more money, you are the reason why I have less. If you are better educated, you are the reason why I am less. And then I remembered a composition I wrote in the 6th grade, back in 1983. It was another politically turbulent time in the world and we were asked to write a text entitled “The Sun Rises Every Morning”. I wrote, “It’s been quite cloudy for a few millennia, as education hasn’t matured enough to show humanity that distribution of wealth is not the problem. Capitalism and socialism are two sides of the same coin; who and how enjoys a limited quantity of money. The sun will rise when each one of us creates their own wealth in their own hands, hand in hand with everyone else around!” Of course, I was only 12 and my views have become a little more sophisticated since then, but overall, my existential burden still weighs the same. It seems like my mother was consistent over the years; hard job. Bless her! And of course, the columnist states: “And if being a mother is that important, why aren’t all the highly paid men with stellar careers not devoting their lives to raising children?” So, is it that all the highly paid men choose stellar careers rather than raising their children because the former is more important to the latter? No, I won’t take in more existential anxiety for today, thanks!

Focus on Publishing

Why young people love foreign language textbooks

Teaching a foreign language is a journey; it is a tour around the cultures of other countries and their communities. The window into this culture is the text, and in the case of foreign language textbooks, the learning experience is abundant with pictures, illustrations and audiovisual elements. Nowadays, education is becoming increasingly interactive by means of the internet and various electronic tools. Investing in both content and its presentation is what creates an exciting journey and learning path.

Through foreign language teaching books, teenagers and students familiarize themselves with the respective youth culture, history and human geography of another country. They discover a wealth of pictures which accompany and highlight the teaching material. Texts are brought to life through recorded narration whilst music embellishes the texts and creates a special bond between the student and the foreign language. Finally, videos adapted to learning goals contribute to the fulfilment of objectives whilst making the process more interesting.

Generation Z students have grown up in digital environments where multimedia and new possibilities in communication have enabled access to a wealth of digital experiences. Students now demand the same from their educational experiences, and it is the rich and enhanced teaching experience provided by foreign language textbooks that has succeeded in bringing students into contact with cultures that would otherwise have remained unknown to them.

The challenge in education is to understand and determine how we can benefit from enhanced educational experiences and integrate them into a greater range of courses and subjects for all ages. So, let us follow the example set by the foreign language textbooks and their creators.


Customer Spotlight

Young Pioneers: where learning and homework become fun!

by Foteini Mpoukouvala, M.Ed Special Education, Educational Programmes Coordinator, hyphen SA

Both the changes affecting the educational system and the time spent by children on their daily homework are parameters which not only affect the performance of students, but also their development of those skills necessary for the future of work.

Young Pioneers is a pioneering educational programme which helps students to study and prepare effectively for their next day at school. It not only provides the answer to exhausting homework timetables and the limited free time of students, but also presents the means for students to achieve the goals they set themselves.

On a daily basis, Young Pioneers enables students to complete their homework whilst developing a better understanding of the school curriculum. Concurrently, parents are able to monitor their child’s performance through Moodle, the educational platform on which it all takes place.

The key to the programme’s success is that students learn how to effectively use the knowledge they acquire in their daily lives. Students are encouraged to solve problems and develop their creativity by applying the knowledge they have previously learnt. In this way, students can practice and apply inherent skills which are vital for their future.

Young Pioneers is accompanied by Office 365, enabling students to collaborate online and develop projects in their desired space and time.

With Young Pioneers, homework becomes playtime, free time becomes fun and our goal is achieved!

Company News

protifora… ariston awards presented at hyphen SA Open Day.

Building on the success of the Open Day held by hyphen SA at the end of June, the group is looking to establish similar annual events with the aim of forging relationships with professionals from multiple fields. hyphen SA currently employs over 300 specialists in the fields publishing and educational engineering, as well as administrative and managerial staff in more than 20 countries globally. With the company’s continued growth, the hosting of events such as the Open Day will potentially lead to future partnerships.

Innovation, the use of digital technology and the design of an effective and systematic education that serves today and tomorrow govern the basic principles of hyphen SA, evident not only in the company’s modus operandi, but also in hyphen SA’s collaborations with all professionals involved in the implementation of projects.

Visitors to the Open Day were encouraged to submit their CVs and had the opportunity to register for workshops in Design, Editing and Differentiated Instruction, scheduled to begin in the new academic year.

During the hyphen SA Open Day, protifora αriston project scholarships and certificates were awarded to five participants who successfully completed the radio course at the end of May: Ms Sapfo Sakki, Ms Petroula Avramidou, Ms Eleni Triantafyllidou, Mr Harilaos Mintsoudis and Mr Yiorgos Tsiyannis.

The αriston project scholarships bestowed upon the course participants are educational programmes designed for school and university students, fledgling employees, professionals and entrepreneurs who wish to equip themselves to face the future challenges associated with technological unemployment.

the αriston project

Young Pioneers English STEAM: the innovative way to learn English

by Dora Papanagiotou, Senior Educational Consultant, hyphen SA

The need for communication and specialised learning methods has created more demands in the sphere of foreign language learning. We live in an age that requires students to use foreign languages in their daily lives, English in particular, not only to communicate with people from other countries, but also for their daily studies because many of the basic information sources are in English.

Young Pioneers English STEAM is a new English language programme. Founded on the flipped-classroom concept, it saves valuable time for students because they can access lessons at a time that suits them and from their preferred workspace.

The success of the programme is in its methodology. Students access lessons via an electronic platform where they engage with authentic material to develop their skills in English. Once a week, students attend a physical classroom in order to consolidate their learning, analyse their work and participate in collaborative projects linked to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) and the school curriculum. In this way, students broaden their vocabulary, but most importantly they understand how to use English in practical contexts and thus, can recognise why they are learning the language.

The Young Pioneers English STEAM programme enables students to develop the skills they will need in their future careers, such as virtual collaboration, critical thinking, transdisciplinarity and computational thinking.

Young Pioneers English STEAM motivates students to work creatively and develop new interests whilst learning English in an innovative and engaging way.


Realistic romanticism: towards a philosophy of sustainable teaching

by Maria Christaki Owner of Elaeon Christaki in Kalamata, Head Teacher & Differentiated Instructor

A teacher who has any hope of changing his or her students’ universe must first and foremost be a Romantic. She or he must become the voice inside the students’ mind (and soul) that says to them: ‘I have the ability to go beyond all those things that restrict both you and me, in order to help you to develop your better self on roots that will allow you to bear fruits that you never imagined existed in you. Even more importantly, to help you grow the fruits that will shape you, your family, your community, your world, the World, in ways that never existed before.’ A teacher must therefore, consciously or unconsciously, strive to improve her/his students’ DNA.

A teacher cannot be moved by failure, much less a temporary failure, for this wavering will destroy the student’s faith. ‘I believe you can do it’ subscribes to the axiom ‘Have faith and doubt not’. The student needs to see that the teacher’s faith is unwavering, steady as a rock and able to adjust, but not move even an inch away from the point of focus: the mutually agreed progress of the student. Only in this way can this faith become the student’s. For if you believe something will happen, it will; not because of the common saying, but because your faith is stronger than the other person’s doubt.

But then, this story, like all heroic stories, reaches a point of crisis, the crisis being the expectation rather than the hope for change. A one-sided Romantic teacher will most likely end up a bitter bureaucrat, apologizing to the world for no longer trying as a result of trying too much. A Realist Romantic tames their expectation every step of the way, constantly teaches themselves to perpetually adjust to setbacks, not be deterred or become bitter and resentful, and continually adapt the person into a hero that needs to cross yet another Rubicon. We humans are inescapably the creatures of Nature versus Nurture; but the Realistic-Romantic teacher subscribes to Nature with Nurture, defined as ‘I acknowledge all my positive qualities, I ignore what holds me back to change it around the corner or when the right moment comes, I pretend the parents’ or environment’s shortcomings are not there or not so important for the child to assume they will inevitably become his, I become the example that only a minority might choose to follow and I never expect, I just hope and once confident enough, believe.’

Like the primary school teacher who teaches a young child how to hold their pencil correctly, all teachers must guide their students not to hide what they are writing (their past), so as not to write under or above the line (balance themselves between their future and past so as not to exaggerate their present), so as to be able to correct themselves by being focused on their purpose, so as to be legible in order to be read, understood, accepted and socialized.

And they are never afraid to look back; after all, the anguish of realizing our own failures can only be overcome by accepting our imperfections on the road to progression. In other words, it might be worth aiming for the (im)perfection we aspire to (love).

P.S. You might have noticed how often it becomes confusing whether I am referring to the student or the teacher; that is because, at the end of the day, only when the connection between the student and teacher becomes a constantly evolving, mutually beneficial and character-building STORY can teaching become a truly SUSTAINABLE activity.


Acquire skills, not just degrees

by Dimitris Diamantidis,
New Media & Marketing Director - hyphen SA

According to the weekly financial newsletter of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises, Greece ranks amongst the highest in the percentage of employees considered overqualified compared to their job descriptions (28% vs 10%, which is the OECD average). The Federation also revealed that 41.4% (vs 39.6% for OECD countries) of employees work within a different field to that in which they studied.

The Federation found that Greece’s shortcomings in information technology related performances are noteworthy compared to other OECD member states. It appears that an unusually large proportion of the adult population in Greece lack significant skills in text comprehension (26.5%), mathematics (28.5%) and information technology (47.9%). “The country’s economy does not appear to be training its employees in the appropriate skills required by the job market: although both money and time are invested, the education provided does not lead to enhanced skills. A job market that evaluates typical qualifications instead of real skills goes hand in hand with an economy that seems unable to translate education into increased productivity – individually and collectively”, the Federation notes.

It is apparent that the lack of appropriate skills held by employees creates distortions in the job market. Since degrees alone are insufficient, training in Future Work Skills 2020 is necessary. The αriston project’s educational programmes fulfil this demand and are suitable for all ages, from the early age of 9 to the grand age of 99.

hyphen SA
Vas. Olgas 24b, GR-54641, Thessaloniki, Greece
T: +30 2310 888 125
F: +30 2310 887 208

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