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The Modern Butlers’ Journal, January 2021, In Their Words

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How those trained by the Institute’s trainers feel about their experience

On-line Training, Private Service Graduate

All my life I have had a secret fascination with the life, role, art, and skills of the traditionally trained British Butler—the refinement of character, sense of morals and ethics, integrity and decency, and a good grasp of taste and personal refinement.

I wanted to integrate everything about being a butler into my personal and professional life, to use the valuable skills and knowledge on an everyday basis and to grow as a person. I could not afford to go to a bricks and mortar school in another country, so I decided to look at one of Mr. Ferry’s books that had been in my library for 15 years and then do an internet search, during which I discovered the IIMB website.  I found other online and distance learning butler trainings as well, but even after reviewing these I could see from Mr. and Mrs. Ferry’s vision for the program and their personal experience, along with the development of the material and Mr. Ferry’s writings on the subject that I had already had experience with, that the online private-service butler course was the one for me. That is, I could study the art of being a butler even though I was already involved wholeheartedly in another profession and could not take off for 8-12 weeks to study at a bricks-and-mortar school. I was able to work on the course around my home/social/professional life, which wonderfully enough, turned out to be the very training ground where I could practice immediately whatever I was studying and working on.

The two principal textbooks of the course are by Mr. Ferry and associates, and they immediately set in place the centrality of the integrity and related ethical principles of the butler and the course builds on this foundation, and you repeatedly refine these qualities throughout the course. This was a dream come true for me because I always loved studying these qualities and the way they were tied into every part of the course was immensely satisfying; even in the seminary I attended, I never received this kind of focus on creating a sure moral and ethical foundation.  

There are a number of other texts required for reading with the knowledge and detailed instructions on such as cooking, cleaning, driving, packing a suitcase, handling difficult situations, discerning and handling wine and cigars, overseeing staff, refining one’s personal character and even how to walk and stand and move smoothly and gracefully. I was treated to a volume of very deep and thoughtful essays on the profession included in one of the principal texts which introduced me to “life technology” which I found I can use to improve myself as an individual and the quality of all the spheres of my life.  I believe essays such as these are so insightful and essential to day-to-day living, regardless of one’s profession and state of life. There is plenty to benefit from in this course, let there be no doubt about that.

I was so pleasantly surprised by how the course really exceeded my expectations and hopes. You get out what you put in, and every challenge that came my way simply became part of my lessons, tests, quizzes, and ability to refine my abilities and recraft how I approached problems.  I found myself creating magical moments for others, including my employer, all the while staying in the background.

The course took me 14 months, which gave me enough time to grow in a variety of ways mentally, emotionally and even physically during this training, as I came into a new appreciation during the many practical assignments of my strengths and weaknesses. I took on responsibilities in increasing measure as I realized I could handle quite a bit and handle it well. What had started as a fun challenge in short order became a passion—it’s immensely satisfying to see someone’s day or life made more special as a result of something I did to help them while taking myself out of the limelight so that it’s not about me but them. This, to me, is the core of the Service Heart.

My supervisor, Mrs. Monica Ferry, was absolutely outstanding in her role: Every day, I would correspond by email about the course work and my assignments. I did not receive limited and impersonal email acknowledgments to my essays and projects, giving me a pass if I were in the ballpark and that was the end of it. On the contrary, the interaction was most delightful and thought provoking in a highly professional atmosphere with plenty of detailed feedback and upbeat, enthusiastic encouragement. I learned even more from these discussions, tips, the unpacking of the course material, along with some solid advice and further challenges in the do-overs on the essays or video and sound recordings that I had submitted. On these, and where I needed to dig further to understand and practice certain disciplines, Mrs. Ferry was both understanding and at the same time, “Let’s get back on the horse!” My work was always promptly responded to, evaluated, critiqued and my understanding of the material was so positively influenced by this virtually daily interaction. 

My hat is off to everyone involved in putting a course like this together. It just happened to be a dream come true for me, but I have no doubt that anyone pursuing the profession and lifestyle of a butler will emerge from a course like this prepared and at the same time enthusiastic about the possibilities of the road ahead. 

In summary, I cannot recommend this course enough, and my hope is that many will benefit from it and take the art of butling to the next level of caring service in these current times.  I also hope that there may be others who will take the course and use it the way I have, as a means of celebrating the joy of being alive and sharing some part of the ‘good will and spirit’, butler style, with others and making the world that much better a place. WH

The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.