An English-teaching content creator, Jennifer Lebedev, hit two significant milestones last year. Her “English with Jennifer” YouTube channel reached over 1 million subscribers after 15 years, and she became 50.
To her, focusing on positive energy and a growth mindset helped propel her success. And she’s ready to continue for another 15 years.
“I think I'm more and more convinced lately—and I’ve been hearing so many different people say this—what you put out is what you get. You put out positivity, you receive it,” she told The Epoch Times.
“I’ve really tried to embrace this positive mindset and say, ‘This is who I want to be. There are different parts of me, but I choose which parts to embrace and which parts to share with others,’” she added. “And making those good choices has brought good people into my life, from learners to others I collaborate with.”
‘Shared Life Journey’Most of Ms. Lebedev’s students speak English as a second language. In her view, her interactions with them have been a “shared life journey.”
“It’s the students who give me energy,” she said, crediting her learners for carrying her through occasional fatigue at her job and challenging moments in her personal life. She has been a certified English teacher for over 20 years and began teaching independently after leaving a full-time job at a private language school in Boston in 2006.
She didn’t start to be an English teacher. Instead, she was initially on the path of becoming a Russian language teacher. While living in Russia between 1996 and 2001, she took up teaching English to different age groups to earn some extra income. Through that experience, she realized that her real passion was in teaching English, not Russian, and that she enjoyed teaching adults more because of their growth mindset—they made their decision to learn English.
And the growth has proven to be mutual.
“It’s been fun. I love that these people really challenge me and have helped me grow as a teacher,” she said. “I loved it when they pushed me to see how much more I could explain and how to find answers to questions that I hadn’t considered before.”
She said her students inspire her when they overcome their daily challenges, and in turn, she is the “cheerleader” for them during their moments of self-doubt or frustration. Her empathy comes from her five years in Russia: it’s an extra effort to laugh, cry, and express oneself in a second language.
Therefore, her shared journey with her students is beyond just language. In her view, it’s also about life, culture, history, and values. Even though engaging a million subscribers regularly is challenging, she said she still dedicates time daily to reading and responding to her audience’s comments.
‘Hold Onto Your Core’Ms. Lebedev’s playbook for another 15 years of success is centered around staying true to herself.
“I want to believe that the core of me hasn’t changed,” she said, adding that as long as one holds onto one’s core values, “growth goes around it,” and one should be able to “move forward long-term on a positive track.”
“So my message to Gan Jing is: it’s a beautiful mission. Hold onto your core and find beautiful ways to sustain it. For me, it’s been my interaction with people, with learners, and other teachers. And that’s what sustained me,” she added.
“And I'm so happy and blessed to say this goes back to the idea that if you put the positivity out there, the kindness should come back, and the people you’ll be attracting should be like-minded, making the journey all the more pleasant. It has for me.”