Evan Rabin, the CEO of Premier Chess, is a National Chess Master, and he has been teaching chess since he was twelve years old. I have a personal love of Chess, though I haven't played in years, because as I have written about in these pages before when I was writing about the marvelous Father and Chef Paul Gerard who has been teaching his own son Chess, my father taught me how to play when I was very young, and helped me learn the strategies of it from the view and insights of the high level Electronic Engineer he was. The thing that amazes me about Chess is that not only is it a game of strategy, but it is a game that can transfer its insights into real life and how to think about a strategic approach to dealing with many different situations. Teaching young people about Chess helps them think in an analytical way, and though I have not done reasearch on it, it seems it must also help activate the part of the brain that learns to be patient and thoughful while analyzing the possible moves and motives of the person you're playing with. In these days of mindfulness and all sorts of philosophies that are meant to help people to take a careful step by step approach to their daily lives and decision making, to take time without rushing ahead and to sometimes take a step back to view the overall situation, it seems that Chess by its very nature can be a calming force that can help train the mind to deal with complex ideas and sort out a strategy of how to move ahead and be successful in an orderly, planned and careful fashion. Learning the strategies of Chess can improve confidence and focus, and the game is also known for the well mannered and respectful behavior of the opponents, so that although the desired outcome is to win, the game is played in a way that both parties are encouraged to show respect for each other, even to the point of shaking hands at the end of the match.
When I went to watch Evan in the classroom, I knew that it would be interesting, but I wasn't prepared for the type of thoughtful teacher he is. As I've mentioned before, I only write about people who do things with excellence. Whether they be Entrepreneurs, Artists, Designers, Writers, Humanitarians, Chefs or any other type of business owner, my effort in this blog is focused on people who are working toward their highest level in their craft and in their interactions with others. I want to celebrate and encourage those people who are using their skills in the highest way possible so that in turn others are given the light of their knowledge and creative passion. Evan Rabin is one of those rare people who not only is excellent in his knowledge of Chess, but he is able to teach in a way that is empowering, engaging, encouraging and transforming.
I've worked with children on and off for many years, and it's not an easy task to keep a room of young people engaged, never mind trying to teach them something as intricate and thoughtful as a game of Chess. The children who were in the class I watched Evan teach were thoroughly engaged, and when they sat down to play, their skills were at the highest levels. Of course there was some goofing around, some behavior that was very child-like in a healthy and natural way, and each time Evan respectfully brought them back to focusing on the task at hand, whether it be a game or a puzzle he'd put before them. I'd never seen anything quite like it - many times teachers just either give up or give in or get annoyed, but Evan kept his positive and even tempered joyful and conversational tone, while continuing to encourage the children to focus and complete the game or puzzle and answer questions he asked about game strategies.
After the class as we walked together to the bus stop where Evan would take a bus to the next private lesson he was teaching, I told him that the work he was doing was not only extraordinary, but incredibly important, because no matter how good parents may be or what type of background children have, having a positive role model who is also teaching them life skills can change the course of any child's life. I thought back to my own childhood and not only the Chess lessons my father gave me, but the many mentors and teachers I've had over the years who changed my view of life for the better and helped form who I am and the way I think about my life today. If not for those wonderful people who did their jobs with excellence, I might have ended up in a very different way. A teacher like Evan Rabin is rare to find, and he uses his knowledge and skills through his company Premier Chess to teach and train other teachers. It seems he's creating a strong army, in a way that reflects the pieces on a chess board, one that will go forward thoughtfully and carefully, empowering lives, building confidence, and gaining ground with the youth and children of today to help them move toward a much brighter tomorrow.
Evan Rabin, CEO