Confident, yes; arrogant, no: The John Robert Powers way

Confident, yes; arrogant, no: The John Robert Powers way
By Walter Ang
April 20, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer

"There is a huge difference between confidence and arrogance," Marivic Padilla says. "It all goes back to 'The Golden Rule.' That will never be passé." Padilla has been helping Filipinos find their own sense of self and style for the past 25 years as international director of the John Robert Powers school.

The school is popularly known for its "personality development" courses. Towards this end, there are classes in social graces, poise and carriage, grooming, communications and even modeling. Padilla notes that the school's mission is to "help individuals achieve their maximum potential through confidence building, communication proficiency, and image enhancement."

The school follows a core curriculum developed by John Robert Powers. Powers is credited for starting the professional modeling industry when he started training actors in New York City to pose for magazine advertisements in the 1920s. He founded a modeling agency and, eventually, his personality development school.

Powers has said that "there is no such thing as an unattractive person, just some people who do not know how to make the most of themselves." There are now more than 70 JRP schools worldwide.

The school's defining thrust is on building "the entire personality." "You can take workshops to learn how to speak English well, but you might not have good social graces. You can learn to model but not know how to speak well and that would affect your chances of getting modeling jobs. You can be very good at your job but maybe you always wear the wrong outfits, making people think you're not that good," she says.

"We help our students become well-rounded individuals. Our programs are tailor-fit for what a student needs. We conduct consultations first to guarantee the sessions we give you are relevant to your requirements."

This formula has worked for many of their alumni. American First Ladies Jackie Kennedy and Betty Ford and many celebrities attended Powers schools. For parents who might need an extra push in convincing their children to take classes, they can drop names like Katie Holmes and Ashton Kutcher as recent alumni.

"Teenagers come in here with their heads bowed, barely speaking a word. They go through our courses and really blossom. It's very fulfilling to see them change and to hear later on that they're doing better in school," she says.

As a testament to the usefulness of the programs and how much it can potentially change people, she shares, "One of our alumni recently came back to enroll her own kids."

Students, whether children, teenagers or adults, won't suffer through stuffy lectures. Classrooms are done in a plethora of colors for stimulation. There are rehearsal halls with wall-length mirrors and make-up rooms where students actually "walk the talk."

There are even dining rooms where students learn table manners. All classes have less than ten students to ensure the facilitators can monitor and encourage progress.

Professionals can avail of career-oriented programs to help them no matter what field they work in. "We have modules for people in corporate environments and even for the fashion or the performing arts industries," she notes. "Working on the skills that allow you to be comfortable and confident enough to let people get to know the real you can really help push your career and life to higher levels."

The corporate programs include topics like executive grooming as well as building proficiency in communications and English. There are also programs geared for adults who'd like to break into the performance industries that include components such as hosting, runway, photo posing, stage presence, audience appeal and theater work.

While the summer break usually allows younger students to attend classes, Padilla notes that classes are held throughout the year and there are several class schedules (e.g. night and weekend classes) to choose from for students who are already working.

To provide students easier access to these programs, there are JRP school branches in Makati, Quezon City and Alabang.

On top of overseeing the schools in Manila, Padilla also handles the Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East region. "In the Asia-Pacific region alone there are already 11 JRP schools in Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. We're opening schools in China and Malaysia soon."

Going back to Padilla's reminder about following the Golden Rule, the school is "doing unto others" in a very big way. "It is in the Manila schools that most of the programs and materials are developed for the entire region."

Call 892-9511 (Makati), 927-0465 (Quezon City), and 659-0052 (Alabang).

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