Name: Bechem Ayuk
Title: Ed-Tech Consultant || Web Developer || Newsletter Author
Organisation: The Value Junction Newsletter
Bechem Ayuk is an award-winning edtech consultant, web developer, and newsletter author. He helps educational institutions successfully use technology to grow from where they are to where they want to be. His newsletter, The Value Junction, is read in 14 US States and 30 countries worldwide.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Bechem's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Without a doubt, one of the most difficult aspects I've faced as a leader is keeping my team members consistently motivated and driven. It's been a recurring obstacle that has tested me.
I often see peaks and valleys in engagement and morale from my direct reports. When we hit milestones or make breakthroughs, energy is palpable, and people are firing on all cylinders. But when we hit roadblocks or fall into ruts with processes, motivation starts to wane.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Around three years ago, I began to feel accountable for the ongoing issues plaguing my community, even if I wasn't directly causing them. I realized my passivity was enabling these problems to persist. This spurred me to take action for change.
However, I understood that to truly change the world, I first needed to lead the change within myself. I had to model the improvement I hoped to see. So my leadership journey began with striving to become a better version of myself through personal growth and reflection.
This taught me that effective leadership starts with self-leadership. Before you can lead others, you must first learn to lead yourself in positive directions. This is an endless journey, as there is always room for self-improvement.
My decision to take responsibility and work on myself empowered me to then provide direction to others. I learned that leading by example is the most powerful way to guide. Progress comes when we hold ourselves accountable and manifest the change we wish to see. My leadership capabilities grew tremendously when I focused first on developing my own abilities and mindset. This is a timeless principle of leadership that continues to shape me today.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My natural energy levels tend to align with the profile of a "night owl." I find that my cognitive peak hours occur later in the evening and extend into the early morning. As such, I structure my work days to capitalize on when I feel most productive.
Structuring my work rhythms this way ensures I tap into my peak energy times for the work modes that require the greatest mental acuity and stamina. I essentially ride my natural productivity waves and that enables me to optimize output while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle balance.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
One of the most profound leadership lessons I've learned is the importance of maintaining an open mindset. This was driven home during my experience as a Peer Mentor at YouthxYouth, where I work with education activists from an array of cultures and viewpoints worldwide.
Engaging with these dedicated yet different-minded peers expanded my perspectives tremendously. Like the optical illusion of a 6 appearing as a 9 from another vantage, I learned to consider other lenses. An open mind does not mean lacking convictions, but rather continually elevating one's thinking.
Now as a leader, I strive to exemplify open-mindedness when collaborating or providing guidance. Seeking first to understand diverse perspectives has enabled me to expand my capabilities and become more unifying. I've found assuming good intent and listening without prejudice often reveals common ground.
In leadership, humility and flexibility are strengths, while rigidity of thought is a liability.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
A good number of books have had a profound impact on my leadership so it's quite hard to pick one. But there is this quote by Malcolm X "When 'i' is replaced with 'WE', even illness becomes wellness." This has helped me to always remember to put the team before any individual.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Memento mori - "Remember you will die." This stoic phrase means death is inevitable and unpredictable. Contemplating one's mortality may sound grim, yet I've found it enlightening.
Knowing this moment could be your last encourages you to stay focused on what matters most. When you awaken each morning, remember it may be your final sunrise. With this perspective, I try to live and lead in alignment with my highest values. Why waste time on petty conflicts or superficial pursuits when every second is precious?
Memento mori guides me to lead with purpose, integrity and compassion. By embracing mortality, I stay present to fully experience each fleeting moment. I look for opportunities to positively impact others since our days are limited. Though uncomfortable, meditating on death provides motivation to live and lead well - to leave every situation better than I found it.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
Organizing my first edtech workshop for educators. I assembled a talented group of youths to help plan and execute a workshop focused on equipping teachers across all levels with skills to implement education technology effectively.
While passionate about the topic, I underestimated the massive undertaking it would be to pull off. Yet through rallying this driven team, we handled every detail - from curriculum to catering.
In the end, the event exceeded my wildest expectations. The turnout was tremendous with engaged participants from elementary to high school teachers. Seeing the impact firsthand as we helped upskill these educators to enhance instruction was tremendously fulfilling.
More so than the success itself, I valued the relationships built with my teammates through shared purpose. Every contribution fused together to create something meaningful. The experience illuminated how empowering diverse voices generates innovation.
Looking back, this workshop launched me fully into the beautiful world of edtech with a sense of community and capability. More importantly, it reinforced my belief in the power of bringing passionate people together around a purpose for positive change. This memory motivates me to continue pursuing bold visions.