Gratitude for Coaches: Part 2

By Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin

Last week I wrote about the chess coaches that helped me make master and allow Premier Chess to be a company. On December, 6, 2020, Grandmaster Max Illingworth, asked “Which non-chess skills are the most important for playing your best chess?” in the Facebook group. To improve in chess, one cannot just learn more openings, middlegames and endgames; he needs to learn business and life lessons regarding thought process, confidence, health and much more. With that in mind, I would like to express gratitude to some of the other coaches that have helped my business and I: Levi Welton, Mark Wildes, Mike Papapavlou, Michael Deutsch, Joe Rojas, Richard Pierce and Nilcee Schneider.

Three years ago I was searching for every single Jewish event in the country, asking the organizers who was providing photography and marketing material, on behalf of On the Spot Photo Magnets. While 99% of my business focus is on Premier Chess, I still do actually have a relationship with that company.

One day I sent a cold email to Rabbi Levi Welton about a young professional event he was organizing on the Upper West Side. While he didn’t need photo magnets for the event, he offered me a complimentary ticket for the event. I went and the rest was history…. He and his wife Chavi are dear friends and 1`mentors. Levi has become one one of my go-to spiritual and relationship coaches. I already even promised him that the day I get married, he will be the one officiating! Through Levi, I know that sometimes you need to go with your instincts, on or off the chess board. He and our mutual friend Reverend Gregory Livingston happen to also be great podcast guests.

I also learn a lot from Rabbi Mark Wildes, The Founder of Manhattan Jewish Experience where I am in the Senior Fellowship program. Each week I learn for three hours, one learning the weekly torah portion with my 1-1 partner Yosi Merves, another learning various topics with Pinny Rosenthal  and last but not least a class with Wildes. While I am often exhausted after a long day during fellowship, which ends at 10:15 PM every Wednesday night, I am also motivated to mow through the inspirational material. A few weeks ago Rabbi Wildes shared how during his first year of yeshiva in Israel, he learned how little he knew about Judaism from his years studying in Jewish Day School as a youth. As chess players grow, the less they are often sure about the evaluation of a given position and the more they realize they need to learn.

I first met Mike Papapavlou two years ago through the Astoria NY Entrepreneurs Club, a great group run by Pauline Zammit, Founder of Ceramic Creations. As the two people there that were not moms, we instantly became friends and referral partners. Mike has truly helped me unleash my inner rock star, as the Guitar Guide Guru tag lines alludes to. For the first time in many years, I’ve been playing guitar again; he’s taught me songs including “Ripple” and “Smoke on the Water.” As Mike and I often say “pame” (“let’s go” in Greek), just do it! Don’t hold back.

In July 2018, Michael Deutsch and I wore both promoting our services in the UWS Mommas Facebook group and realized we should join forces. We had a coffee meeting after our summer camp one day and the sparks were lit. He joined forces with Mike Papapavlou and I and we’ve become the three musketeers of education. Our three companies are providing extracurriculars for pods:

Much more than a colleague though, Mike is a health coach and accountability partner. He inspired me last year to start having green juices or smoothies for breakfast each day. We also keep each other accountable for our goals. For instance, he inspired me to hire Star Organizers to organize my home and I encouraged him to start Hands on Hoops Skills weekly newsletter.

Thanks to my good friend and podcast guest Raphi Salem, I have the privilege of joining Joe Rojas‘ Thrivers 360 mastermind group. While I’ve been to many business training and networking groups, none have been as productive as this one. Through this group, I am accountable for producing good video content, writing, introductions, etc. As he says at the end of each weekly meeting, “You are loved”. A good coach should build rapport with his client and be a friend but at the same time, constantly push him at the next level, sometimes requiring some tough love.

Through Joe Rojas’s group, I have had the honor of working with my other business coach Richard Pierce. Richard has helped me re-prioritize my goals and create a work-life balance. He is the driving force that inspired me to come up with my five whys. He also enlightened me that a lot more is in my control than what other’s think. I explained to him how COVID-19 is affecting our revenue as many of our school programs are not currently operating. He replied “It’s not the economy. It’s your economy.” We need to continue to think outside of the box, innovate and succeed. Thankfully, we have been able to and have had 300+ people signed up for our virtual classes so far.

Last but certainly not least, I want to thank Nilcee Schneider, a meditation and reiki another great friend I met in the Astoria, NY Entrepreneur Club. As Francine Steadman wrote in this recent  post, half the batte to becoming a successful chess player is gaining the potential to control one’s nerves and have the proper mindset. Nilcee always helps me relax and lose any stress indicators I may have. When you do not know what to do it in a certain situation, on or off the chess board, the first step should always be to take a deep breath and cool down.

Thank you Levi Welton, Mark Wildes, Mike Papapavlou, Michael Deutsch, Joe Rojas, Richard Pierce and Nilcee Schneider and many other great friends/mentors for always being there for me. Our successes aren’t our own; it is important to thank all that guided you along the way. Which coaches have inspired you the most? 

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