Silence is the best negotiating strategy. Whenever in doubt, just stay quiet.
It all started in Kiev, Ukraine in 1984, back then the Soviet Union. Roman’s grandfather, father, and mother immigrated to Los Angeles in 1990 and settled in West Hollywood. Being an immigrant was not easy, but it gave Roman greater perspective of the things some might take for granted. By 1994 his family had moved to the San Fernando Valley.Skip a few years forward and he currently serves as the Director Student Success at A+ Tutoring, after being a science teacher at Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, CA. He is an experienced educator with teaching credentials in Biology and Chemistry. While teaching Roman worked with students from various backgrounds including students with learning differences and the IHP academy at Walter Reed Middle School, a highly gifted program that teaches Advanced Placement content to middle school children. Roman’s Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration provides Roman with the skills to venture into an entrepreneurial endeavour with A+ Tutoring, a one-on-one in home tutoring company. Currently, his company provides over 300 lessons per week to families in the Los Angeles Area. Roman has dedicated his professional career towards working with families and helping children reach their academic goals. All though he is in education, he was never a model student, which has allowed him a better perspective into the student experience. Roman and A+ Tutoring are active within the community and work with the local Child and Family Guidance Center and First Place for Youth organizations in providing tutoring to underprivileged, homeless, and foster youth. Roman enjoys traveling, watching soccer, and spending time with family. He is married with a toddler daughter.
Where did the idea for A+ Tutoring come from?
In the fall of 2007, I began employment with Los Angeles Unified School District, as an Intern Science Teacher at Walter Reed Middle School (North Hollywood, CA). Although I loved every moment of my time spent with students, I once again was reminded that the education system was less than ideal. There were students that could greatly benefit from some one-on-one instruction, which is unrealistic to do in a public-school setting with 40+ students per class. Students thrive with individualized support, yet it was a challenge to provide my personalized attention to everyone. I realized that not all students were actively learning nor were they being taught to. As educators, we want our students to be able to think and reason with clarity and logic, yet we were evaluating them with multiple choice examinations every 5 weeks that are meant to evaluate “learning”. Although many students were able to perform this task, I noticed that even those students with high test scores did not truly understand what they were ‘regurgitating’. The system was preparing students to strive for grades rather than knowledge. The huge gap in education was becoming clearer and clearer to me.
Further, many teachers were being discarded and laid off due to the budget crisis at the time. In fact, I too almost fell victim to LAUSD’s financial deficit. In 2008, only a year after starting my employment, I received a layoff/Reduction in Force notice. LAUSD had notified me that they were not extending contracts of Biology credential holders, yet they were renewing contracts of those with a Chemistry credential, even though I was still bound to teach Middle School Science. To protect my job, I quickly earned my credentials in chemistry and my layoff notice was rescinded. However, in 2009 I received another Reduction in force (RIF) notice. Although this second notice was also rescinded, I felt unstable and insecure in my future employment with the school district.
I had a yearning to make a greater difference than the one in my classroom. I decided become a Principal and earned a Master’s in Education, however I quickly realized that I did not enjoy the bureaucracy. I knew I could make a bigger impact with my own company rather than taking my ideas for a better system to LAUSD. Already tutoring on the side, I decided to turn my means of additional income into a legitimate business. I began marketing my tutoring services and my schedule became overwhelmed. In 2010, I hired a few peers and the seed to what is now my company was planted. Although I ultimately stayed with LAUSD until 2016, those two years of great uncertainty sparked the birth of A+ Tutoring. Today we have a beautiful location on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, we offer one on one in home tutoring, test preparation, and college consulting.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts at 7:30 am every day. I spend the first hour of the day with my wife and daughter. I do sneak in a check of my emails and texts, flagging the ones that will need attention. When our physical office is not open, all of the calls and messages forward to my phone, so I take calls and messages before showing up to the office at 10 am. At our office we have our Student Success Guru who oversees our day to day operations. We do a quick huddle meeting to discuss pertinent issues and move on with our day. My days are divided up into schedule blocks for the most part. We have 2 preset days during the week where we interview candidates for tutoring positions. I spend a good portion of the day on the phone with families, discussing strategies and ideas on how to help their children reach their academic goals. In order to be productive and not lose track of time, we have computer systems in place that create reminders and notes on who to reach out to, and what concerns to address. My typical work day winds down around 7 pm and I continue answering calls and messages till 11 pm or so.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By writing them down. I started keeping a journal in 2014. I am now on my second journal. At the very least, once a month, I will document my business best and business worst for the month, and write down goals. It is very interesting to go through your notes from a year ago, and see how many of the items written down have actually occurred.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Social media – Parents spend a good portion of time on social media, we want to provide them with resources to better manage the education of their child.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Persistency. I am always thinking about ways to improve my business, and am always willing to get into conversations with people about their children and their education.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The advice that I would give my younger self is to slow down, things will eventually fall into place. Life is all about the journey, not the destination.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Silence is the best negotiating strategy. Whenever in doubt, just stay quiet.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I care about the families we work with, we put the student, our client, front and center of everything we do.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? We are very focused on the quality of service that we provide. We have dedicated ourselves to maintain the highest possible reputation in person and online. This has allowed us to grow organically.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I believe I have had more than 1 failure as an entrepreneur. I try to learn from every mistake and have take aways on how to improve. The biggest failure that I can recall is accepting a contract for an assignment that was bigger than we could handle at the moment. It is important to only bite off things you are capable of chewing.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Online courses, teach a skill that anyone can learn and master. It takes traditional Universities a long time to adapt and provide relevant curriculum.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My wife and I went to see Aladdin the musical at the Pantages theater.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
We use Insightly as our Customer Relationship Management software. It allows us to effectively note communications, and to schedule reminders and follow ups.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Dale Carnegie – How to win friends and influence people
What is your favorite quote?
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest – Benjamin Franklin.
- Routines and Persistency will lead to results in anything that you do.
- Be willing to embrace change and grow.
- Education is not a privilege.
- Never trust anyone that says, “trust me.”
- Always try your best
A+ Tutoring on Instagram: www.instagram.com/aplustutoring/
A+ Tutoring on Facebook: www.facebook.com/wetutorathome
A+ Tutoring on yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/a-tutoring-studio-city
Roman slavinsky on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/romanslavinsky/