LearningPro E-Zine

Welcome to ATD-LA’s LearningPro E-Zine, your resource for articles on a variety of talent development topics.
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  • 03/03/2014 6:32 PM | Deleted user

    Coaching for Training Transfer

    In the United States corporations spend $210 billion annually on training employees. Yet according to the U.S. Business Leadership Review only a small portion of learning is actually transferred to the workplace. After the training program takes place, about 62% is transferred; this is reduced to 44% that is applied after 6 months; and further drops to only 20-30% applied after one year. These are staggering statistics and there are a number of factors that play into why this happens.

    Some of training transfer being reduced can be attributed to the following factors:

    • The training content was not relevant to the job the employee was performing

    • The time that the training took place was not simultaneous with actual application on the job

    • The work place was not conducive or supportive to the trainee applying what had been learned

    The principle factors identified in research by Love (2001) were lack of encouragement, support, and reinforcement of training by the manger or supervisor.

    This is where coaching can enter the picture to help bridge that gap from the training event to application on the job and even better, integration of skills into everyday behavior. Coaching can help take Kirkpatrick's model of evaluation from Level 2 Learning up to Level 3 Application. Dennis Coates in his article for ASTD Info Line, Enhance the Transfer of Training says "While only the direct manager can provide effective performance coaching in the workplace, they can be supported in this role. For one thing, trainers are uniquely qualified to get involved in follow up reinforcement."

    What would our training transfer rates be if Trainers were to follow up with their participants as a group, team, or 1x1 to help facilitate the support, knowledge and learning integration that participants require to make that connection from classroom or online content to their everyday world?

    Coaching can be utilized by Manager or Trainer to help facilitate the process of training transfer. The leader has the benefit of being able to see frequently how the employee is performing with the new knowledge and skills.  This can be very useful if the leader is willing to coach and provide timely feedback for the associate. The Trainer can also play a role in scheduling follow up sessions with participants in a team, group, or 1x1, to further coach and help the students make connections in their daily routines.

    Trainers can be actively involved in the support and transfer of knowledge into application on the job and integration into a new behavior set. They are intimately familiar with the content and materials of what was trained and can play a vital role in communicating and coaching students through the process of shifting perspectives and habits. This ideal is that coaching becomes a requirement of training so that all participants know that follow up coaching sessions will be inherent in the training process to support the transfer of knowledge and skills.

    By Karen Osgood




  • 02/17/2014 2:46 PM | Deleted user

    Time, Time, Time – What’s Become of Time?

    Did you know, time management is the most Googled training and development subject today?  You’d think with all the smart phones and planning devices we’d have this one down by now – surely? 

    Time management is really a dichotomy – can we really “manage” time?  On one hand we cannot really manage time – as the old saying goes, ‘time waits for no one.’ On the other hand, we can manage our priorities. It’s almost as if time is a free gift voucher we can redeem at any store – we just need to budget, spend, and invest wisely because there’s only so much time on the card; trouble is we don’t know how much!


    Subjects that are within the same family as time management are work/life balance and stress management.  If you were to ask me my top tip for work/life balance or for stress reduction, I’d say be clear on your priorities in each of your roles in life.  No-one likes to work with or for a bent-out-of-shape workaholic; we much prefer to work with or for people that are balanced; who have a sense of clarity, calmness, and purpose.  


    Priorities are those things that matter most.  Pause right now and ask yourself:

    • What your highest priorities are for this week in your work role
    • What are the vital few things that if you get them done this week will make the biggest difference in the work you do?
    • What about your roles outside of work: perhaps as a husband, a father, a wife, mother, son, daughter, friend, or community member? 

    We have to be very intentional about focusing on and completing priorities. It’s almost as if the busyness of life works against us, bringing everything faster and faster.  We have all these communication devices, yet we seem to effectively communicate far less.  Its almost as if life out of the box, plug and play, default living is go, go, go, rush, rush, rush – now, now, now.  We have to swim upstream to get the things done which matter most in life.


    Have you mastered best practices for email, phones, interruptions, procrastination, and meetings?  These five most common time challengers need to be mastered to help us be as effective and efficient as possible to squeeze maximum juice out of not only our working day but also our personal time.  That’s an interest thing about life isn’t it?  If we only put in 70% today, we don’t get 130% tomorrow.  Life doesn’t work like that.  If you’d like a list of the best practices for email, phones, interruptions, procrastination and meetings that we have picked up from our experiences and from serving clients all over the world now, let us know.


    So time is a dichotomy – it exists outside of us; it marches on without our acceptance or instruction.  Our choice is how we invest and spend our time. Great leaders, great spouses, great parents, great friends, and great community members all discipline themselves to focus on what matters most.



    We deliver seminars, keynotes, coaching and online to help people and organizations better manage themselves, lead others, and build business financial intelligence.   





  • 08/12/2013 5:30 PM | Deleted user

    How Did We Get Here?

    There’s a song by a great band from the 80’s (Talking Heads) with the lyric – “how did we get here?” When we work with teams on strategic planning, we often ask that exact same question: “well, how did you get here?”

    Someone once said that “vision without action is hallucination” and there’s much truth in that. In business school, the vast majority of leaders learn how to create strategies but few people learn how to execute. Setting a strategy isn’t the problem; executing the strategy is the problem.

    So why do most strategies fail?

    It’s because most strategic plans begin and end with the numbers (the measurements) and pay lip-service to how the numbers are going to be achieved, by whom, and what the role of leadership is in achieving the numbers.

    Effective strategic plans not only identify the vision (what we refer to as the desired state) but also the customer behavior needed to help make their desired state a reality.

    For example, LA Fitness’s desired state is to increase membership dollars and the customer behavior they require is positive attrition – meaning, new members greater than lost members – simple, yes?

    An excellent strategy will identify the key drivers to obtain the required customer behavior. Using LA Fitness again as an example, they realized that some people were canceling their memberships as they were unsatisfied with the children’s nursery facilities and services at the gym! Surprising eh? So they went to work on impacting the key driver to get the customer behavior required to achieve their desired state.

    LA Fitness came to realize they needed to recruit people who actually wanted to work in the children’s nursery facilities.

    A good gardener will tell you that you need the right environment for your garden to grow. In strategic planning, these are the conditions. Good people can perform as great people in the right conditions which include pay, bonus, information sharing, comfortable office space, areas for collaboration, effective meetings, etc.; all of these are conditions that help the garden to grow. An effective strategic plan includes time to review the conditions in which the organization expects its people to thrive and contribute their best efforts.

    Mediocre management can still make a mess in a good garden and so it’s imperative that management look at their actions as leaders. Are they consistently demonstrating that they are trustworthy leaders? People follow leaders they trust and trust is the commodity in which leaders deal.

    Now we can start looking at measurements. Notice it comes last. Why? Well, most organizations have it upside-down. The numbers are really just the fruit that comes from having the roots well planted (desired state, customer behavior, key drivers, people behavior, conditions, and leader actions).  Consider the following:

    • How does the organization measure success?
    • Are these the right measures?
    • How does the organization know if its customers are satisfied or not?
    • How about the employees?
    • How does the organization know how engaged its employees are in their partnership with the organization?
    • Are there any contradictory measures? For example, in the hotel industry, controllers measure how quickly a room can be cleaned, whereas the customer is interested in how clean the room actually is. This is a contradicting measure.

    How about your team? As you begin to think towards the next financial year, is it worth investing a day to sit down with your team and chart the course and develop a strategic plan? It could be the best investment you make this year.

    We deliver seminars, keynotes, and coaching to help people and organizations better manage themselves, lead others, and build business financial intelligence.  Newleaf Training and Development offers a seminar to assist with strategic planning called Charting the Course.

  • 08/05/2013 5:55 PM | Deleted user

    The Golden Rule of Business

    We have all probably heard the old adage: “He who owns the most gold, makes the rules.” While this is certainly not the traditional golden rule, it highlights the leverage power of possessing a valuable commodity. One such commodity that every business must take stock in is excellent customer service. Like a storehouse full of gold, a good business reputation and excellent refer-ability pave the way for a business to continue, to grow and to have a greater impact on the community at large.

    How does ensure great customer service? Well, this is where we re-visit the “real” golden rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Could you imagine a world in which everyone practiced this rule? Whether the specifics of a particular business model involve making customers feel as if they were in your own home with hospitality, engaging with a proactive approach that anticipates their needs and offers a solution as soon as possible, or just simply makes a point to treat them with the dignity, good customer service is imperative to successful business.

    An important note to remember is that everyone is in the customer service business. Every business has customers, even if those customers are, in fact, other businesses. It is easy to get far away from focusing on the importance of positive relationships with customers when the red tape piles up, and when policy issues, licensing concerns, expenses, etc., all threaten to drown the operations of the enterprise. However, when one remembers that the business literally would not exist without the customer, it is vital to remember that the customer, then, is the boss.

    Businesses have internal customers (colleagues) as well as external customers. It is especially important that support departments (such as IT, Finance, HR, etc.) be customer centered to delight their internal customers. Superb service takes a transactional customer and converts him to a client.

    At this elevated place, the relationship becomes most important and it reduces the tendency for the client to commoditize a product/service (i.e. it becomes less about price). When the client thinks about your business, do they see a static picture of the end product? Or do they see a movie playback of all the great experiences and warm interactions they have had with the people there?

    In today’s highly diversified marketplace in which the customer is bombarded with nearly infinite choices, customer service is the only true differentiator. Technologies can be copied and products imitated. However, cultures take years to establish. A good team culture that focuses on the customer is a long-term investment that is worth making.

    Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, is a great example of someone who took this lesson to heart. He created a culture in which people were willing to pay a premium for the product because they received more than a fair return from the service (individualized drinks, calling out the customer’s name, etc.). At Starbucks, and at every business, it must be ALL about the customer!
    We deliver seminars, keynotes, coaching and online to help people and organizations better manage themselves, lead others and build business financial intelligence.  

  • 08/05/2013 5:28 PM | Deleted user

    The Role of Roles: Employee Engagement for Each Generation in Every Season

    Picture this: It is your first day at a new job. Your anticipation mixes with apprehension and anxiety. All sorts of questions fly through your mind:

    • Is this where I’m supposed to be?
    • Will people like me?
    • Can I really make a career out of this?

    Now flash forward 25 years. You have spent the last two and a half decades working for that organization, building a legacy that will live on even after your departure. You have helped your company build its brand and increase revenue; you have empowered those around you through meaningful relationships; you have been successful by all definitions of the word.

    Every employer dreams of having an entire organization of this type of person. Managers often ask themselves, “What made (or makes) them stay for the long term?” Employee retention is one of the leading concerns of most organizations, yet we think they are asking the wrong question. Instead of asking “what” makes people stay, perhaps the question should be “who.” Over 70% of people leave their jobs because of the way they are led, not how much they are paid. It stands to reason that if we want employees to stay, we have to become better leaders. But how? The trick lies in recognizing a few essential leadership roles.

    The Employee Cycle
    Like your washing machine, dryer, and life, employment comes in cycles. Your employees navigate key phases, performance milestones and challenges as they move from recruitment to departure. To be an effective leader, you must recognize what stage each of your employees is in and respond accordingly. In each stage of the Employee Cycle, the individual has different needs that must be met and questions they ponder:

    1. ProspectIs this where I want to work?  Am I a fit?
    2. New HireWhere do I fit?  Am I welcome here? Am I getting connected to the job, the culture, and the social network?
    3. LearnerAm I learning what I need to know?  Do I have the tools and information I need to do my job?  Am I growing and developing?
    4. PerformerAm I acknowledged for my contribution?  Am I motivated to accomplish my goals?
    5. Legacy LeaverAm I sharing my knowledge?  Do you know what I know?

    Once you accurately assess which phase each person is in within their cycle, you can step up and engage them with the tips we’ve outlined here. Be prepared – what follows is packed with a lot of powerful information that will challenge you to grow as a leader and will equip you to engage employees of the multigenerational workforce. But it is only as effective as your commitment to taking action on what you read.

    This is arguably the most important role a manager plays. As the talent scout, it is your responsibility to recruit and hire the most talented individuals who are committed to the vision of your organization. This means that it is not only up to you to accurately assess the skills of the prospect, but to clearly communicate the value of your organization to the person. If they are going to commit to the company for the duration of their career, they have to buy into the vision, mission, values, direction, etc. of your company. It’s up to you to help the best candidates fall in love with your company even before they first punch in. 

    To Each His Own
    Engaging the generations in each stage may be difficult, but here a few ideas to help you out. Understand what attracts each generation to an employer, and then customize your communication to attract them. For instance, try these promises:

    • Millennials - There’s a lot of challenge and a lot of structure here; you won’t be bored!
    • Generation X - You can be entrepreneurial and highly skilled here.
    • Baby Boomers - We need your unique contribution; you’re part of something bigger here.
    • The Silents - Your experience is welcome; teach us what you know.

    Once your prospect joins your team as a new hire, your role shifts from one of recon to one of integration. It is up to you to help your new hire acclimate to the culture, embrace the position, and connect to the social network. The best managers recognize the importance of monitoring and guiding the interconnections within the group, the socio-organizational norms that create (or diminish) the collaboration and cooperation critical to delivering a stellar product or outstanding service. Truthfully, the first 30 days determine the next 10 years for new hires.

    To Each His Own
    Try these generation-specific actions to ensure that new hires of each generation remain committed:

    • Millennials - Provide a buddy and a social network. Fill them in on the “unwritten rules."
    • Generation X - Describe the performance expectations and measures. Answer the questions, Where do I fit? What will this job do for my skills portfolio?
    • Baby Boomers - Describe where their experience fits. Provide introductions to senior leaders; build the new Boomer’s visibility.
    • The Silents - Share the organization’s history and mission. Let them know why people are proud to work here.

    This critical role empowers employees in the Learner stage and guides them to the Performer stage. The performance coach is responsible for reinforcing positive behaviors and correcting negative ones. As the performance coach, you provide career insight and on-the-job feedback to assist in development; you prepare your team members for future positions and are not afraid to have realistic career conversations; you are their advocate, cheerleader, and the voice of reason on a daily basis. Development is everywhere – you just have to commit to helping your team members grow!

    To Each His Own
    Manage members of different generations in ways that are meaningful to them:

    • Millennials - Explain the importance of seemingly routine tasks. Expect a lot, give a lot of feedback.
    • Generation X - Build their skills portfolio (change it up, job rotations, job swaps, management training). Candidly discuss reputation.
    • Baby Boomers - Freshen up jobs with lateral moves. Keep their skills up to date; fight skill obsolescence.
    • The Silents - Discuss retirement/transitions. Have them mentor others.

    The engagement expert is tasked with fostering one-on-one connections to keep the talent you fought hard to get and grow. Performers who are inspired, motivated, and challenged will continue to contribute at high levels. While the other managerial roles listed here focus on the success of the group, the engagement expert needs to hone in on individual needs and be very deliberate about creating a strong, trusting relationship with each person. You must let each person know he or she is valued and successfully motivate each to achieve organizational objectives.

    To Each His Own
    Try these techniques to engage members of each generation:

    • Millennials - Personalize their work. Create a collegial work climate.
    • Generation X - Resist micromanaging. Offer flexible work hours, flexible work.
    • Baby BoomersOffer work-life balance (take all that vacation!) and new challenges that match their skills.
    • The Silents - Create significant mentoring roles. Appreciate and acknowledge.

    Last but not least, the leader as legacy creator ensures that the know-how of employees doesn’t get lost in transition. This managerial role assists legacy leavers in sharing their knowledge with others in the organization. As the legacy creator you are responsible for creating a talent foundation that is necessary for your organization to be successful in the future. You foster resilience, continuity, knowledge sharing, and teachability, and equip your team for whatever may lie ahead.

    To Each His Own
    Need ideas on how to effectively capture the knowledge of legacy leavers from each generation? Try these:

    • Millennials - Reverse mentoring / adopt-a-Boomer. Ask them to document critical knowledge of highly skilled employees and use creativity (documentary film, YouTube clip, story, desk guide, etc.).
    • Generation X - Ask them to be a subject matter expert on a specific topic/be a resource.
    • Baby Boomers - Use their experience to lead critical initiatives, implement change.
    • The Silents - Redesign their jobs so they have the time to teach.

    The Ball Is in Your Court
    Just as the wheels on the bus go round and round, so does the cycle for employees and managers alike. The challenge is for you to recognize what role best suits each of your employees, and engage the multigenerational workforce accordingly. You never knowundefinedyou might just be investing in the success of the next Steve Jobs.

    Diane and Devon are Co-Founders of The Learning Café, a consulting organization dedicated to bridging the generation gap and inspiring all generations at work. We research, write, speak, and train about the multigenerational workforce. Taylor is the new Millennial voice at The Learning Café. As a young professional, she is passionate about helping other young (and "well-seasoned") people find success and fulfillment in their careers.


  • 05/13/2013 7:49 PM | Deleted user

    How to Build Trust On Your Team

    Gaining trust from others
    begins by giving trust to others.

    "I'll get back to you on that."

    I uttered these famous last words to a graduate student at UCLA when I worked for Siemens many years ago. I never did get back to him. I don't remember why.

    Two years later, when I became chief administrative officer of an institute at UCLA, my failure to follow through cost me, big time. This graduate student became a young professor in our institute and told my boss, the director of the institute, that he preferred not to work with me on any of our project teams because he didn't trust me. Ouch!

    For me, the moral of the story is that trust is often difficult to establish, easy to break, and hard to reclaim. I share the story with you to introduce the idea that despite the fragile nature of trust, there are four steps you can take to establish and maintain trust (at work or home).

    • Understand the nature of trust
    • Appreciate the high cost of low trust
    • Assess trust on your team
    • Tackle your top trust-busters

    Understand the Nature of Trust
    To build trust, we must first define it. Trust is the decision to be vulnerable to the actions of others, based on our expectations they will perform a particular action. A careful reading of this definition reveals that the nature of trust:

    • Asks us to choose to rely on others. To trust or not to trust is a choice.
    • Puts us at risk. Without vulnerability, trust is not needed.
    • Involves our prediction about the behaviors of others.

    To further understand the nature of trust we must also realize that there are four categories of trust within any organization1:

    1. Strategic: Is there confidence that senior management is setting the right direction?
    2. Organizational: Can employees rely on the organization itself?
    3. Personal: Do employees have confidence in their manager?
    4. Team: Is there trust among members of a team?

    If any one of these takes a hit, it often damages the others. This brief article will help you build team trust.

    Appreciate the High Cost of Low Trust
    Professor Robert Hurley from Fordham University surveyed 450 leaders from 30 global companies and found that half of them didn't trust their senior executives.2 Another survey of 12,750 U.S. workers at all job levels and in a variety of industries came to these conclusions:

    • 39% of employees at U.S. companies trust their senior leaders.
    • 45% of employees say they have confidence in the job being done by senior management
    • 43% of employees say they trust the way their company manages change (e.g., restructuring, downsizing, merging, expansion and growth).3

    This epidemic of low trust infects employee morale, retention, recruitment, productivity, sales, customer service, product quality, and the long-term financial performance of the organization.

    Failure of team members to trust each other is especially problematic in today’s increasingly interdependent work environment. Although matrix management (where employees report to more than one boss) may offer benefits in this environment, there are several potential disadvantages of the matrix approach. These include heightened conflict, power struggles, and slower decision-making.4 If team members do not have the trust needed to combat these matrix challenges, the matrix structure becomes a spider web – attractive from a distance, a trap in practice.5

    Low levels of trust also have profound implications for senior leaders of organizations. When Professors Tony Simons and Randall Peterson studied 100 CEOs and executive teams, they found the teams whose members distrusted one another were less effective in collaborating and endorsing strategic decisions.6 No wonder the bible teaches that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

    Assess Trust on Your Team
    The survey below assesses overall team trust by asking you to indicate the extent with which team members act in the manner described by the question. Although there may be differences among team members, this assessment asks you to consider the general tendency among all members. There are five response options for each question.

    • Never = 1
    • To a Small Extent = 2
    • To a Moderate Extent = 3
    • To a Large Extent = 4
    • Always = 5

    Read each question and decide which one of the five responses best describes the extent with which most team members behave.

    Overall, to what extent do you think team members...

    1. Willingly share information, ideas, and suggestions with other team members?
    2. Engage in cognitive/task conflict as needed, while minimizing emotional conflict?
    3. Employ a quality, transparent, and collaborative process when making team decisions?
    4. Manage the tension between self-interest and the organization’s interest well?
    5. Act in a manner that is congruent with their words?
    6. Provide honest, open feedback even if it challenges the prevailing point of view?
    7. Manage their emotions well and respect the emotions of others?
    8. Openly discuss challenges, knowing others will respond constructively and caringly?
    9. Demonstrate their competence consistently as they fulfill their responsibilities?
    10. Stay focused on key tasks and priorities?
      Score your team trust survey
       Scores 40 -- 50 = Team performs well most of the time.
       Scores 30 -- 39 = Team performs fairly well, except under pressure.
       Scores 20 -- 29 = Team performs poorly.
       Scores 00 -- 20 = Team does not perform.

    Tackle Your Top Trust-Busters
    How did your team do? Don’t be upset if they score poorly, the first step of any journey is to understand where you are -- to increase your awareness of your landscape.

    If you read the 10 sentences in the above survey as statements instead of questions, you’ll know the top 10 keys to building and maintaining team trust. That’s right; the survey questions are also the answers to how to increase trust on your team. So, the next step is to try one of following three approaches to tackle your trust-busters.

    1. Invite each person on your team to rate the overall team on these ten statements (like you just did). Then, have the team brainstorm ways they could improve the lower-scoring statements.
    2. Rate yourself on these ten. Then, decide how you want to work on areas that need development.
    3. Ask each team member to rate every team member. Then, tally the scores to gain an excellent idea of how each team member is perceived by all their peers.

    I recently followed a variation of this third approach with an executive team. After reviewing their feedback with each of them during a one-on-one debriefing, each executive chose to work on his or her own trust issues. The CEO called last week to tell me how pleased he is with their progress.

    Our willingness to trust others
    is not always about the others.

    I wish I could report that I used these ideas to build trust with the young professor at UCLA, discussed in the opening story. But I can't report it because I didn't do it. I didn't have the knowledge to build team trust. You do. Let me know how it helps you and your team.

    Keep stretching when you're pulled,

    1. Robert Galford and Anne Seiblod Drapeau, The Enemies of Trust, Harvard Business Review, February 2003, 89
    2. Robert Hurley, The Decision to Trust, Harvard Business Review, September 2006, 55-62.
    3. WorkUSA 2002, Weathering the Storm: A Study of Employee Attitudes and Opinions, http://www.watsonwyatt.com/research/resrender.asp?id=W-557&page=1
    4. Mohammad El-Najdawi and Mathew Liberatore; Matrix Management Effectiveness: An Update for Research and Engineering Organizations, Project Management Journal, March, 1997, 25
    5. Thomas Sy; Stephane Cote; Emotional intelligence: A key ability to succeed in the matrix organization, The Journal of Management Development; Vol. 23, No 5, 2004, 437.
    6. Tony Simons and Randall Peterson, When to Let Them Duke It Out, Harvard Business Review, June 2006, 23-24.

    P.S. Dave Jensen and his team transform proven leadership tools into your success stories. Dave is also a popular speaker at conferences, meetings, and workshops. He can be reached in Los Angeles, CA at (310) 397-6686 and http://davejensenonleadership.com/index.html

  • 05/06/2013 4:07 PM | Deleted user

    What’s In A Name?
    Three Essential Elements to Building Your Personal Brand

    What do Apple, BMW, Coca-Cola, and Brad Pitt have in common? In addition to being fabulous, they all have a well-known reputation, a brand. Now, if you are anything like me, this seems obvious for the large organizations on this list but Brad Pitt? A person as a brand? Doesn’t that only work for people like Mark Echo?

    Beyond the Buzzword
    The short answer is of course no. Everyone has a brand (whether you are keen to admit it or not). The term personal branding is a pretty hot buzzword being thrown around these days and you are probably familiar with the concept. But for those of you who may not spend your afternoon reading miscellaneous business blogs littered with the newest lingo and for those of us who can always use a refresher, here is a simple definition of personal branding: a self-application form of marketing, where you articulate your value to an audience, with the sole mission to build a reputation and credibility for your niche or idea - essentially, how to be yourself with skill.

    As a millennial business professional, I realize just how critical this task is. With a world of possibilities in front of me it is essential to brand myself in such a manner that intrigues future employers, empowers the team around me, and sets the tone for my career development. The same is true for you.

    However, knowing about this concept and actually using it are two very different things. So this leaves us wondering, “How can I use personal branding to advance my career?” This is an excellent question. While personal branding is an expansive topic and we will not be able to cover everything right here and right now, I want to share a few things that can help guide you when developing your personal brand.

    1. Embrace the Youness of You
    First, do you know what makes you exceptional? A wise man once stated, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” While the little children who read these words of the trusted Dr. Seuss often wonder, “how can I be anyone but me,” it is scary how often we lose sight of who we are in the midst of the humdrum of everyday adulthood. The first step in developing a powerful personal brand is simply getting to know you.

    Ask yourself: What do you stand for? What drives your motivation? What defines success? What do you LOVE to do?

    2. Stand Out Above The Crowd
    We intuitively know that everyone is different, like snowflakes taking on unique shapes and patterns, yet we are taught from a young age to only focus on similarities so that conflict will not arise. Often we revert back to this habit in the workplace and mute our differences for the sake of corporate culture and not wanting to rock the boat. Yet the truth is everyone has something that marks him or her as a unique asset. Something not limited to a company or position (although certainly something that benefits the organization). Something good. The challenge is to find what differentiates you and how that difference is a strength, not only for your company and team, but for your career. Now is the time to stand out, not to blend in.

    Ask yourself: Why are you different? What makes you better, different, or more special? What makes you unique? What makes you stand out?

    3. Marketing Matters
    After establishing what you stand for and what makes you stand out, the question remains: “What makes you compelling?” The third element of an effective personal brand lies in your ability to articulate your value. You know what you do for your company better than anyone. You know the intricacies of the work, the role that you play, and how your efforts contribute to the success of your company. Marketing yourself in the workplace may seem shady or selfish, but it is critical if you desire to grow your career. Let me suggest a paradigm shift from marketing to markEDing – where your goal is not to sell yourself but to educate your audience about the awesomeness of you. While possibly the most challenging of the three, this is the most important for advancing your career because it involves making connections, knowing your audiences, and communicating your value.

    Ask Yourself: What is one thing you have done for your current (most recent) employer that wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t there? In what critical areas do you add value? How does your team and/or organization benefit from your work?

    The Light At the End
    Using these elements to craft a well-executed personal branding campaign creates a strong, consistent, and specific association between you and the value you offer. To say that creating a brand and living up to it is easy would be a lie. It takes commitment to create, cultivate, and maintain a positive brand, but the results far exceed the effort.

    Personal branding:

    • Is the most effective way to clarify and communicate what makes you different, special, and valuable to employers and customers – and use those qualities to guide your career
    • Is the most effective and innovative strategy you can use to achieve professional success and fulfillment
    • Allows you to clearly communicate the unique promise of value that you have to offer
    • Enables you to leverage what distinguishes you from others with similar skills and abilities

    There is no time to waste! Figure out what you stand for, what makes you stand out, and what makes you compelling. Then, craft your personal brand statement - just do it.

    Devon Scheef, The Learning Café
    Contact Devon at DevonS@thelearningcafe.net or join The Learning Café on LinkedIn

  • 03/24/2013 9:20 AM | Deleted user

    Unhappy and Overworked!

    When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recently banned Yahoo employees from working from home, it fired up a heated national conversation about work-life balance. It makes sense that this issue would hit people in such an emotional way; Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, a country where so many people were dying of stress-induced heart attacks and strokes that a new term was coined - karōshi, death by overwork. Here in the U.S., 86 percent of men and 67 percent of women work more than 40 hours per week, 70 percent of children have parents who both work, and more than 90 percent of American parents report work-family conflict.

    Unfortunately, a lack of work-life balance can lead to serious health problems and lower quality of life. Stress is the #1 cause of health problems in the U.S., and a lion's share of that stress comes from our propensity to tipping the scales towards work and not enough towards 'life.' Leaving work at work and prioritizing exercise, hobbies, and enjoying personal time with friends and family is vital for maintaining a balanced life.

    So what's the root of our overworking? Occasionally it's due to external factors entirely out of our control, but very often if we're honest, our overworking is self-imposed. We've overcommitted, said 'yes' a few too many times and put too much on our plate. We all have different reasons for doing this, but fear is often at the root of these decisions.

    Here are some common fears and some helpful reminders when trying to get your life back in balance:

    • If I don't work harder, I'll be let go. You might feel the pressure to maintain an aura of constant busyness to prevent the boss from thinking that they can function without you. Ironically, this can actually lead to a lack of productivity. Studies show that overworking actually makes you less effective, and our desire to be perceived as being 'busy' can override our desire to do good work. When you're struggling with this, think of a few great leaders that you know. They tend to have a work-life balance, don't they? Working hard and doing a good job is important, but to ensure that your work is effective and that you don't burn out, make sure that you are taking breaks, eating meals, and leaving at a reasonable hour.
    • I need the money! Maybe you've been through a time of lack and now that there's work to be had you're taking as much of it as you possibly can to earn a higher commission or a big raise. Our culture teaches that money can buy happiness, so we're afraid that we won't be happy unless we make as much as possible. However, problems at work go home with us and vice-versa; so if you are working so much that it's causing problems in your personal life, no amount of money is going to fix that. Money doesn't buy happiness! Having a balance will actually enable you to enjoy the fruits of your labors.
    • My colleagues won't understand. You know you should leave on time to get to your personal training or to bring your kids to a playgroup, but you're afraid that your colleagues will resent you if you leave before they do. When this is an issue, remember that people prefer to work with others that are balanced. It's no fun to be around someone who is constantly spinning their wheels and going in a million directions. Make sure that while you are at work, you are focused on work and not dividing your time by dealing with personal matters while on the clock. That will serve your colleagues much better than staying an hour or two late and adding to the stress in the workplace.

    And remember, our work is important but no-one on their death bed has ever been reported as saying, "I wish I'd have spent more time at work!"


    We deliver seminars, keynotes and coaching to help people and organizations better manage themselves, lead others and build business financial intelligence.  

  • 03/18/2013 5:46 PM | Deleted user

    Starbucks MUST be Making a Lot of Money!

    Let's face it: a trip to Starbucks is not cheap. No matter how much you love your favorite blend, you gotta admit that nearly five bucks for a cup of Joe is amazing! Books have been written about the phenomenon of Starbucks undefined I mean how do you take a commodity as old as the hills, wrap an experience around it, and price it so high? As interesting as that is, the focus of this month's newsletter is to use Starbucks as a simple way of explaining the three levels of margin within a business undefined gross, operational, and net.

    Margin is often referred to as an efficiency measure undefined how much of every dollar in sales can we hold onto at each of the three levels of margin.

    Let's look at gross margin first undefined what is that?  Well if a business has a cost of goods sold (also known as cost of merchandise sold), that's deducted from the sale to arrive at gross margin. Service businesses don't have a cost of goods sold as they don't sell a tangible product, but Starbucks does of course! What are the costs of goods sold items at Starbucks when they sell a café latte for example? Well it would be the consumable items such as the cup (if it's disposable), the stirrer, the plastic lid, the card sleeve, the sugar packets, etc., and of course, the oh so glorious, expensive, special coffee! Taking a quick peak at the latest annual report from Starbucks shows their gross margins to be about 75% (so there's about 25 cents of product cost on every cup of Joe!)

    What about operating margin? Well hang with me a while in the Starbucks Store undefined what do you see, hear, and feel as operating costs that are deducted from the gross margin to bring us down to operating margin? Yep, you got it undefined that would be the staff, the store rent; advertising, utilities, and insurance for that store, Wi-Fi costs, etc. Looking over the latest annual report on the coffee table (forgive the pun) shows this at about 27% (so there's about another 48 cents of store costs tied up in that same cup of Joe).  Are you feeling for Starbucks yet?

    Now imagine ALL of the operating margins from all 20,266 stores being dropped on the doorstep of the corporate headquarters in Seattle. What do you see has to be paid for at the overhead level to get us down to net margin?  Yep, you can see it undefined all the central functions such as human resources; finance; I.T.; sales and marketing; research and development; legal; as well the executives (and they earn more than minimum wage!) and of course all the utility and property costs associated with that big office building. So what are we down to now, I hear you ask? About 10% net margin! So for every $1 in sales, Starbucks holds onto about 10 cents of profit at the bottom.  So next time you're in Starbucks, feel sorry for them, upgrade your product choice, and give them a lift on their margin!

    What's the point of this little anecdote?  Well, think about the work you do everyday undefined where do you impact your organization's money-making model? Can you help improve gross margin by reducing the cost of goods sold? You are most likely part of the operating or overhead expense of your organization undefined what could you start, stop, or continue to improve margin at these levels? How could you educate your team and colleagues on the importance of margin? Remember from a previous artile, every wasted dollar has tremendous ramifications on margin. In the case of Starbucks they need to generate $11 of new sales for every $1 of wasted expense just to still get a 10% margin based on their present money-making model!

    It may just be a cup of coffee, but it all adds up!
    We deliver seminars, keynotes and coaching to help people and organizations better manage themselves, lead others and build business financial intelligence.  

  • 03/08/2013 3:54 PM | Deleted user
    Reverse Mentoring: Why and How To “Do It Yourself” With a Cross-Generational Mentoring Program by Devon Scheef & Diane Thielfoldt, The Learning Café

    Part 2 of a 2 part series, part 1 published on Jan 28, 2013: Reverse Mentoring: Why and How to “Do it Yourself” with a Cross-Generational Mentoring Program

    Five Steps to Success
    Because this is a DIY mentoring project, we recommend keeping things simple. But you do need one or more managers who agree to oversee or coordinate your reverse mentoring program. This can be an informal role with fairly light responsibilities, which include:

    Step 1: Define what you want to accomplish. Many companies have straightforward objectives that range from simply creating positive work relationships between older and younger workers, to more ambitious outcomes such as transferring technology savvy and new industry expertise or trends or cross training.

    Also consider whether you’ll need the support of senior leadership to help your program succeed. If so, identify the key stakeholders and describe what their involvement will look like.

    Step 2: Pair up mentors and partners. To a large extent, how you determine who will participate, and how you pair off participants, depends on your specific goals and the needs of the individual and the company. When pairing, consider that personal “chemistry” is often overrated.  The best matches are often mismatches, which broaden the opportunities for growth in both participants.

    As you match mentors to students, consider the characteristics of each. Are they motivated to learn? Willing to be mentored by a younger colleague?

    Step 3: Plan the launch. To kick off your program, host a two- to four-hour orientation meeting with all participants. The program’s coordinator can explain the definition and benefits of reverse mentoring, introduce partners to each other, and go over goals and guidelines. This meeting should be a comfortable, informal forum for everyone to get grounded and organized. Pairs can begin to discuss their own goals and expectations.

    If possible, give each pair some brief training on how to teach and learn, and provide a planner that serves as a guide for the partnership. At minimum, describe a typical first meeting or activity that partners can use to get started. (See The First Meeting below.)

    You should also cover tips regarding generational differences. Caution everyone about stereotypes and perpetuating stale messages. Comments like, “They don’t want to pay their dues” from tenured employees; and, “They’re stuck in the past” from newer employees, will shut down reverse mentoring efforts before they get off the ground.

    Close the meeting by outlining any logistics and details involved in checking progress of the partnerships.

    Step 4: Prioritize and persist. Your follow-up and tracking is crucial to ensure the program is effective. We recommend that for the first two months of a mentoring initiative, the program’s coordinator or sponsor plan a pulse-check every two to three weeks to confirm that your guidelines and ground rules are still in place. After the first two months, scale back to a monthly check. Ask for participants’ feedback, focus on catching any problems early, and ask about successes. Remind each participant that you’re available for support and troubleshooting.

    How can you tell that the mentoring relationship is working? Look for the following success indicators:

    • Are people taking the time to meet and work together?
    • How satisfied are the partners with the progress?
    • Are they benefiting from and enjoying the partnership?
    • What ideas do they have to improve the program?

    Many partners report that the most valuable part of a mentoring partnership is the opportunity to learn and stretch personally and professionally.  Publish, share, and celebrate these successes!

    Step 5: Measure progress. Part of your plan should include means for evaluating the success of your program, including measuring and quantifying outcomes. The coordinator of the program should perform all monitoring of participating pairs, though he or she may need some help with evaluation.

    Your evaluation might include questionnaires or surveys of participants, individual interviews, and/or observation of their meetings. You are seeking to measure some difficult-to-quantify outcomes, including individual attitude, behavior, as well as accomplishments.

    If evaluations indicate that the program is not meeting its goals, be prepared to make some changes to the program, re-train participants, or otherwise support the program to ensure it is successful.

    Success Story
    A small group at Milbank Manufacturing in Kansas City, Missouri, started their reverse mentoring program in October 2012. “It’s gone well and I think we’ll learn a lot from each other!” says Millennial Christine Henry Vetter, a marketing specialist for the organization, who is paired with the CEO. “My overarching goals are to gain a better understanding of how Milbank operates at a 30,000-foot view, as well as to develop ways to make Milbank more multi-generation friendly.” CEO Lavon Winkler wants to use the program to understand the dynamics of Millennials and how companies can create opportunities that are exciting for members of that generation.

    The Milbank pairs have agreed to meet once a month during the first year of their DIY program. After this pilot period, they will roll out reverse mentoring company-wide.

    In Conclusion
    Reverse mentoring can be a winning situation for everyone involved.  You can cement the loyalty, interest, and talents of your Millennial team members, and more experienced employees will realize that opening up to new and different ideas will more effectively serve their clients and drive earnings.  In other words, when you mix fresh, unbiased perspectives with detailed knowledge and strategic skills, the results are innovation and increased employee engagement across the board.


    The First Meeting

    The first meeting between the mentor and partner is like sitting down to write a book and staring at a blank piece of paper. How do you get started? The answer in this case is, by getting to know each other.

    The mentor -- that is, the younger employee -- here takes the role of teacher. Regardless of who leads the conversation or sets the agenda, it’s essential that both partners remember the goal is for the manager or tenured employee to learn from a younger counterpart, and not take over the mentor’s role.

    The mentor can start the conversation by telling stories, and encouraging his or her partner to tell stories, giving specific examples related to his or her personal and professional experiences. Share lessons you’ve each learned from experience -- whether on the job or outside of work. This will increase your credibility and breathe real life into your recommendations.

    Here are some conversation starters to kick off meaningful conversations or conversations that count:

    Talk about your work and life experiences. What have you done that was unusual or controversial? What experiences do you hope to have in the future?

    What is something that most people don’t know about you?

    Discuss strategies to balance work and personal life. What have you leaned that you could share? What compromises have you made? How do you feel about them?

    What mistakes have you made that you thought would have a negative impact on your career? How did you learn from them?  What would you do differently?

    What is the smartest decision you ever made, and why? What did you learn that you’d like to apply to the future?

    What legacy are you creating or building? What kinds of things are you doing to pass along your expertise?

    What is some of the best career advice you’ve received? Why? How have you put it into practice?

    What makes a conversation comfortable and candid?  The formula is simple and the results can be extraordinary.  A great conversation simply takes curiosity and a willingness to be changed or stretched by another person’s experience.

    For more information about mentoring as a talent development strategy, and leveraging the generations in your workplace for exceptional business results, contact Devon Scheef at The Learning Café. DevonS@thelearningcafe.net or (805) 494-0124.


ATD-Los Angeles Chapter
9852 W. Katella Ave. #187
Anaheim, CA 92804
Chapter Code: CH8028

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