An Afternoon with motivational speaker Gary Leboff

James R

December 15, 2016

During the half term break a few lucky tutors got the chance to meet with Gary Leboff. A motivational speaker by trade, his true expertise lies in performance psychology.

Gary has a wealth of experience in a wide range of fields and brought it all to bear as a group of keen tutors peppered him with questions about his work, and specifically how it can help us and our clients achieve the goals we set.



As many of you know, there can be extreme pressure placed on young minds in their educational journey as they try to meet expectations from parents, school, their peers and quite often themselves.

The need for higher and higher grades in national external examinations, along side places at various institutions, are the key drivers for most of the business from which we, as tutors, earn our bread and butter.

Many a time we find ourselves confronted by an able student, at a good school, who has benefitted from caring and engaged parents and quality teachers, and yet they do not feel comfortable and prepared for these big tests. This is where Gary can come in, or his insight can help.

So often, in various aspects of our lives, we fail to transfer great insights with results in one area into another. And so it is with psychology and education.

Often parents, teachers, tutors and students hammer on at the same old exercises, banging their heads against the brick walls of progress and all they get are bruises and black eyes. When it is not the subject matter at all that is the impediment to progress, but the mind.

It is becoming more commonplace, in sports, business and now in learning, to discuss the psychology of the pursuit, to consider the impact of mindset on performance and to nurture confidence, through myriad methods.

This is where Gary Leboff brings in his valuable insights.

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Let me share a few snippets of some simple ideas that we discussed.

We talked about confidence, and the fact that in reality everyone has it in spades, it’s just that some people’s confidence is in the fact that things will always go wrong for them!

We discussed the innate negative bias that all humans have. Inherited from our successful ancestral survivors, this bias leads to irrationally weighted worries.

We talked about the use of the phrase “don’t worry about it” and how we as tutors can make this more meaningful to our clients by discussing ‘controllables' and 'non-controllables’. We should concentrate our efforts on working on those things that we are empowered to influence and not to concern ourselves with those that are out of our control.

We also explored how our students view themselves, label themselves and become convinced that they are defined by how their teachers, parents, peers and communities view them.

Gary argued, however, that a simple exercise can change their own perceptions of themselves and energise their self awareness and positivity.

One way to achieve this is by getting students to tell their tutors about their achievements, passions and strengths, incorporating values and qualities not just more narrowly measurable abilities, and to have them draw and note these on a life-size poster of themselves.

Gary was quick to point out that at a certain point teenagers are less engaged with this and so its effectiveness diminishes, but that a 9-12 year old can have a fantastic reaction to seeing this positive poster of them on the back of their door each day.

It was also interesting to consider the more active things that we as tutors can do with our students to help them progress and grow, including, most notably for me, having them physically express their fears or release their emotions. This can help them better deal with their emotions so that engaged cognitive learning can continue unimpeded. ”

"By now I hope you can see my enthusiasm for Gary and his ideas. I would highly recommend you getting in touch with him to discuss if you think any of your own students might benefit from a few hour-long sessions with him. I would equally encourage you to seek out and attend future

Tutorfair events as they always provide a hidden gem or two, or food both for thought and the famished, and will help you become a better version of yourself."

James is one of the "Founding Tutors" of Tutorfair. A passionate and energetic tutor he can be contacted through his profile.  James graduated from Cambridge University and became a Stockbroker in the City before completing a PGCE in Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

Checkout out more Tutorfair blogs here:


  1. 'What Should we be teaching our children?'

  2.  Tutorfair Resource Sharing Day


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