The Extra Mile
We recorded on location at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and we have two fantastic guests for you today!
Lauren is a Kumon success story and is the new Marketing Coordinator for the learning center. She talks about the challenges of school and how she overcame her obstacles to build an amazing life.
Money, I’m Home! From finance to fitness!
00:06 Lynne Jarman-Johnson: Money, I’m Home. Welcome on in. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. From finance to fitness, it’s all about your success. And today, we have an amazing success story to tell you about. I want to introduce you to Bincy To-the-Rescue.
00:23 LJJ: Okay, it’s actually Bincy Teodorescu. But you really are known as To-the-Rescue, and I know why. Welcome in.
00:32 Bincy Teodorescu: Well, thank you. I’m glad to be here.
00:34 LJJ: So Bincy is a financial advisor with AXA, but you’re also an owner of Kumon.
00:40 BT: Yeah.
00:40 LJJ: And Kumon is an after-school program that helps with math and with reading, tutoring.
00:46 BT: Yes.
00:46 LJJ: So Bincy, how did you get involved in so many different avenues of success to help people?
00:51 BT: Well, I’ll share with you my little story. I was a mom at age 20, and a single mom. So, I started a career path in computer technologies for quite a few years because I thought that was the quickest way to earn an income to provide for my daughter. When my daughter was in first grade, I noticed that she was struggling with school, was having a hard time recognizing letters, saying the sounds. So, as a working mom, I decided that I need extra help outside of school and I started looking out for resources for her, and I found Kumon. Initially, I thought it was only for smart kids so I’m like, “Well, I have a child that’s struggling so definitely not a good fit for her.”
01:44 LJJ: That’s really interesting.
01:45 BT: Yeah.
01:45 LJJ: That was your assumption.
01:46 BT: That was my assumption. And later on, I learned more about it and I thought, “You know what, I’m going to go check it out.” So, I went to a local center, and noticed that a lot of the friends that I have had their children in this program so I said, “You know what, I’m going to just do this and see what happens.” Although she is not as smart as the other kids, I thought, it can only benefit not hurt. So I ended up enrolling her in the program and a few months into the program, she started reading, she felt really comfortable, more confident with reading, which got me thinking that I’m sure I’m not the only parent that has these issues with learning and providing the right support for their child. At one point I was working in the technology field, and I was ready to move on. Because I’m a people person, I really love interacting with people, I found out one day, I was just online, looking at the Kumon methodology a little bit more, I wanted to learn more and I saw a little link on the bottom right that says franchise opportunities available, clicked on it, sent my name in. [laughter]
03:08 LJJ: Wow!
03:09 BT: And they contacted me a couple of days later or a day later and said, “You have to come in for a test before we can consider you as a potential franchisee.” And I went in for the test, passed the test, and they said, “Well, you qualified to move to the next step.” While I was still working and being a mom, I ended up going through the training, it took me about a year and then I was awarded the franchise in 2004. And I’ve been doing that since then, I was 24 or 25.
03:42 LJJ: Twenty-four, you open up a franchise, that is just an amazing success story. So, when you’re looking at deciding and opening a franchise, that’s a little bit different even then a start garden is per se. I mean, they have specific brand and specific thoughts on placement. How did that go?
04:08 BT: Actually, the franchise development program that Kumon had at the time was pretty simple. They said, “You need to go through this training, you need to find a location, and we’ll give you the support you need.”
04:22 LJJ: Wow, that’s awesome.
04:23 BT: And the entry point into the franchise was pretty low and so I cashed out my retirement plan [chuckle] to start this business, and the return has been pretty amazing. So [laughter] as a financial advisor, I don’t recommend that.
04:40 LJJ: Well, you know what is really truly interesting about that though is that risk that you said, “Look, I have a passion for this. My daughter has been helped by this, and I really want to be able to help others succeed.”
04:54 BT: Yes.
04:54 LJJ: Now, fast forward, you have a wonderful new marketing coordinator. Tell us about the success of Lauren and how in the world… I read about this with you, and I thought this is such a phenomenal story.
05:14 BT: Yes, this career of mine have afforded me a lot of opportunities to hear success stories. And Lauren actually reached out to me a few weeks ago and said, “I’m back from college, and I’d like to talk to you about what this business world looks like,” and see if there are any opportunities out there for her. So, Lauren came into my life when she was in third grade, I knew her mom, and her mom and I were friends. Her mom reached out to me and said, “Lauren has an IEP.” IEP is an Individualized Education Plan for a student that’s struggling in school. And I said, “Well, you need to bring her in to Kumon. Let me test her and let me see what’s going on. Let me put her through the program and see what happens.”
06:07 BT: So, she came right before summer, enrolled in the program and went back to school the following summer and following year and she didn’t need the IEP anymore. Eventually, she went on to high school, she stayed in the program for quite a few years, went on to high school and I had to scale back on Kumon but I would get periodic update from her mom hearing how well she’s doing in school and also she was into softball and track, and just had a very normal teenage life even though she had so much struggle during her earlier years of schooling. And then I heard that she was going to Loyola and eventually got a degree in International Business. So, I am incredibly proud of her.
06:56 LJJ: Well, to hear Lauren’s side of the story, Lauren Parnell, you are now the new marketing communication coordinator for Kumon, third grade, and now here you are in business. Is this the coolest?
07:11 Lauren: I know. Yeah, it’s kind of crazy, but it’s so cool.
07:14 LJJ: Do you remember what you felt like as a third grader walking in the door?
07:19 Lauren: I always enjoyed school but I just always knew I was different than the other kids, I just knew, ’cause how they had it at my school was, I would do some class with everyone and then during the half day mark, they would pull me out and I would work with other people.
07:37 LJJ: So that made you feel different?
07:38 Lauren: Yeah. And then I kind of knew it was because of the intelligence so I just kind of felt like not as smart as the other kids, which makes you feel kind of terrible. And it was just like…
07:51 LJJ: Well… and isn’t it interesting because it’s not about being smart.
07:54 Lauren: Yeah.
07:54 LJJ: If you have a reading disability or you have a disability where you can’t see numbers, you just learn differently.
08:04 Lauren: And it was just like, I know I’m different, but how do I get the help and change? And it was just very much like your kid, and you see this difference. That’s like, how do I change that? How do I get to the level as other kids, and it’s very hard.
08:22 LJJ: So, your mom says, “Hey, we’re going to try this program.”
08:25 Lauren: Yeah.
08:26 LJJ: It sounds to me like there was drastic change because you started in the summer, literally, you went back to school, and it was life changing?
08:37 Lauren: Yeah. And I remembered the day when they came into the classroom and was like, “Oh, Lauren doesn’t have to go to that extra class.” It was crazy ’cause I was even like, “Wait, aren’t I supposed to go see the other teacher?”
08:49 LJJ: It kind of makes you want to cry.
08:51 Lauren: Yeah, and I was just like… And all the teachers were asking me like, “How did you do that? This is crazy.” They were even surprised… they were just amazed and that was just like I did extra work in the summer.
09:03 LJJ: Well, but it also takes someone, A: the mentality of you saying I’m going to do it, but also making sure that the fit is right.
09:11 Lauren: Yeah.
09:12 LJJ: Right? Bincy just told us that when she first started, she thought, “Oh, my child maybe couldn’t go there.” And what a difference in philosophy of saying “No, we need to.”
09:25 Lauren: So it’s great that I had the parents plus Bincy to be like, “No, you can do this and this is how we’re going to do it,” and making sure I followed that plan so I was able to get to where I’m good at.
09:36 LJJ: You know what, you’re in third grade, it’s summer, do you remember ever feeling like, “Oh my gosh, do I really have to go? It’s summer?”
09:43 Lauren: Yeah. She would catch us if we were slacking off, she’d be like, “Hey, I know you’re better than this.”
09:53 LJJ: I love it. So fast forward, you get through high school, it sounds like you were very active.
09:58 Lauren: Yeah, mm-hmm.
10:00 LJJ: And then what made you decide to continue on and what was your thoughts of what you wanted to do?
10:07 Lauren: I always knew I wanted to go to college, I always enjoyed learning and just even that great achievement I was like, “This is amazing, school’s amazing, learning is amazing.” So I was just like, “Let’s go, we’re going to college.” So, when college came around, I chose my school, which was Loyola, and I really want to do business beause I enjoy math and also interacting with other people, and that happens to business a lot. So, then I also wanted to travel so I was like, “Oh, let’s do international business.” So, we’ll just combine it and…
10:45 LJJ: And away you went?
10:46 Lauren: Yeah.
10:47 LJJ: So, tell us about how you came back to your roots.
10:50 Lauren: So just after college in Chicago, I was just like, “I don’t really know how to start off,” so I was just like, “Let’s go back to Grand Rapids, go back to the roots, and go back to where I came from, figure out what my values are, and back to the people that raised me and start from the roots basically.”
11:14 LJJ: Beautiful.
11:15 Lauren: And then I got in contact with Bincy, which was great because I was like, “Bincy is basically part of my roots, too. She helped me so much.”
11:25 LJJ: Third grade on.
11:25 Lauren: Yeah. And she was just like, “Hey, I have a position for you,” and I was like, “What better person to teach me in the roots of business was her success story, and just also how much she has done for me.”
11:37 LJJ: Well, you know, it’s not just a mentorship.
11:40 Lauren: Yeah.
11:41 LJJ: It’s really turned into a success for both of you and for… As you grow, what do you see in being able to help Kumon?
11:53 Lauren: It means so much to me, so it’s great that I get to start off with a business I have such a passion for and also such love and care for it, because it’s like, I don’t want to mess up because like it’s…
12:05 LJJ: You’re not going to mess up.
12:05 Lauren: Yeah, that has done so much.
12:05 LJJ: Yeah. You know, you always say fail fast, fail forward, don’t worry about messing up. You will not have that issue.
12:05 Lauren: But also, I just want to try my hardest and help other kids because honestly, I know there’s kids like me out there that think they’re different or they’re not as smart and I want to tell them like, “No, you can do this. You can go to college and do what you want to do.”
12:05 BT: Yes, and in getting her back on when I… It clicked for me that I could hire her, and I could afford to hire her, I was excited too to have her. She understands the Kumon methodology. She understands the program.
12:05 LJJ: Lived it.
12:05 BT: Lived it. She actually helped students in the center, too. I want her to get a full experience so that she can get out there and promote.
12:05 LJJ: So, you really are a Bincy to the rescue.
13:07 LJJ: Right there. [laughter]
13:07 BT: I love helping people, it’s just my thing.
13:10 LJJ: You have a very similar philosophy and passion as does Consumers about servant leadership, and that’s truly where you shine, Bincy, we know that, and we’re so proud to have you as a partner of ours, a member of ours so thank you. How’d you find out about Consumers?
13:31 BT: So, I belong to an organization called Northeast Business Association. I was the treasurer a few years ago and Chris is a member and…
13:42 LJJ: Chris is our manager in the Plainfield office.
13:46 BT: Yeah, in the Plainfield office and I just really liked how he interacted with me, he didn’t have the typical banker mentality and so I started asking him some questions. I am with a couple of other things as well, but I’m wanting to consolidate things and so a lot of things have popped into my head and so I started asking him some questions that he told me about Consumers Credit Union and I met you years ago.
14:16 LJJ: Years ago.
14:18 BT: And so, I asked him some questions about you, and he mentioned how great you are. I just feel like this is the right fit for me at this point in my career to be kind of helping with you.
14:33 LJJ: Well, we are really just very excited for you and congratulations on Kumon. And Lauren, thank you so much. A truly amazing story. Mentorship success, the passion to do what you want to do. That’s what Money, I’m Home from finance to fitness is all about, and we heard it today. Thank you so much. Oh, my goodness. Bincy and Lauren, have a great week. Jake Esselink is our producer. Thanks, Jake for today and for always. And guess what? You could do this in the next week, too. Money, I’m Home from finance to fitness with Consumers Credit Union.