Posts Tagged ‘training’

Response to Seth Godin’s July 7, 2012 Blog: “Thinking about your shoes”

Posted on: July 7th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Response to “Thinking about your shoes”

Hi Seth:

One of my most important precepts: At the end of a speech, program, or course, the participants, when asked about the course, should not say Tom. Rather they should be enthusiastically thinking about what they have learned and, more importantly, how they will use and benefit from the “learning.”

I have watched too many trainers, lecturers, professors, and teachers, going out for breaks and lunches with their students. Rather than listening to and enjoying the students’ experiences, the instructor spends the whole time regaling his/her students with stories reflecting how unbelievable he/she (THE INSTRUCTOR), is. Every student’s story is topped; every student’s “attempt” is denigrated.

Of course, the program evaluations (proverbial “happy sheets”) show overwhelming program success as a result of this incredible instructor.

Personal power over others can be formal or informal. Formal power comes from the person’s relative formal position compared with the rest of the group. A professor has formal power, and holds his/her students’ lives in the palm of her/his hand. There are many ways a student can receive top marks. Participation, group work, verbal exams are all, at least partially, subjective. Regardless of protestations that class evaluations are completely anonymous, students know that it is better to err on the side of “the professor is wonderful” that the opposite.

Informal power comes from “force of personality.” Those who talk longest and loudest overpower (especially when humor is involved) everyone else. Laughing along with the “professor/teacher” indicates “agreement and respect” and often the other students feel intimidated by the apparent approval and therefore “go along” with other students to give excellent evaluations.

It is also amazingly annoying for any teacher, professor, lecturer, trainer (or worse, those business coaches) to measure their success by the success of their best students. The bell curve clearly indicates that there will be students (far right of the curve) who DO NOT succeed because of anything the “teacher” does. The strategy for those students? GET OUT OF THEIR WAY!

The 34 % to the left of that group are keen but need to be reinforced, encouraged, and supported as they clarify and practice the concepts. The 34% to the left of the median, they are normally lacking in confidence, feel they are stupid, and need a great deal of practice to pass. That 34% is THE GROUP teachers are paid to teach. That is the group that needs our skills, our talents, and our intensity. It is the success of those students that most reflects the teacher’s ability. (And those students should be the ones who least notice the teacher’s impact at least in the short term.)

My company, Catalyst Consulting, (closed in 1999), created, marketed, and conducted programs that ALWAYS included a final day (not follow-up day) 3 months after the first three or more contiguous days. This day was not an option. The day was part of the program fee. This practice allowed so many good things to happen. The initial questions that began that final session? What worked, what didn’t, and why. After lengthy discussion (and demonstrations and coaching) the final question would be “where to do we/you go from here?”. Program evaluations at THAT point might be more accurate.

Just this past week I stepped away from an opportunity to team-teach with a friend (with whom I had a passing acquaintance) with years of teaching experience. The course: public speaking; two 3-hour sessions per week for 12 weeks. My co-teacher’s philosophy, always end the first class after 45 minutes. Always because students “love” it. And don’t worry about preparing much; it is just an “introduction” course. Not my way.

All of this to support your comment. The little things (right color shoes, or me throwing up (I did make it to the washroom, came back and continued) while teaching 300 people on ship in relatively heavy seas) are not more important IF the students are more engrossed with the ideas than in the instructor.

Below is the letter I send to the person I was to teach with:

I am up in the middle of the night struggling to think how I can ask you to re-consider your tradition of having the first class be only 45 minutes.

It is my feeling that the first class is incredibly important;

The experience of the first class sets the tone for the succeeding classes. If the expectation is that the classes are over in less than half the time for any session, it begs the question why a three hour class? And why all of this is schedule for 12 weeks? We only have 36 hours and to throw away 2 hours is over 5% of the class time available.

Each class is “only” 3 hours long. My challenge is never too much time, but too little time. I always start on time and finish on time. Finishing early for me means 5 minutes, and only if everyone has arrived on time, and has returned from breaks on time.

My initial formative teaching paradigm was teaching adults. To charge a substantial fee, and then begin late or finish early, infuriates adults. They paid 100%, they expect 100%. To let students out after 45 minutes of a 180-minute class is not acceptable.

I believe in the incitement of teaching. The first class demonstrates my passion for the subject, my ability to use a variety of teaching / training experiences to engage the different student learning styles, and my expectation of excellence in both student and trainer/instructor/teacher.

I love every class. I prepare for 3 hours each class. I give breaks. I vary the activities. I follow the Situational leadership process of being directive in at least the first class to create in the students the confidence that I know what I am doing and have the ability to help each student achieve the “university’s goals for the course, as well as, (and more importantly), their personal goals for the course.

As an ex-basketball coach and player, I knew the first practice would be/must be challenging, fun, exhausting and personally rewarding. Basketball (or any sport) requires hard work, determination and the willingness to push yourself to the limit of your abilities. (My favorite song of all time is “Take it to the Limit” by the Eagles.) Every practice has a purpose, and every practice is a full practice. And every practice starts on time, and finishes on time except in exceptional circumstances.

All of the above I believe fits within the way you and I think.

If there is any concern about 3 hours as too long for the first or any class thereafter, it is not shared by me.

I am prepared and excited to teach a full 3-hour class on Wednesday.

He was not amused, and he and I are not conducting the program together. C’est le vie!

On Jul 7, 2012, at 7:39 AM, Seth Godin wrote:

Thinking about your shoes

I woke up early to give a speech a few weeks ago and got dressed in the dark. Bad idea. I ended up wearing two slightly different brown shoes on stage, and I was sure that it was the first and only thing that anyone in the audience would notice. I was wrong.

People spend almost no time thinking about what you wear on your feet. A few hours after the meeting, we have no recollection at all about what tie you wore or how your hair was done.

On the other hand, we’ll long be impacted by your big idea, the project you didn’t launch and the gift you didn’t give.

It’s easy to obsess about trivia, mostly because the stakes are so small. What happens if we wonder about what we could to that might change everything instead?




Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi’s comments

Posted on: May 1st, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi’s comments are insightful. I want to focus on transitioning young women graduates into private business. While instantaneous change would be “nice” (government quotas and executive orders) we all know that those solutions do not last. Unless there is a fundamental shift in the way young women (and their parents and spouses) perceive the reality of private business, long-term change is unlikely to happen. I feel a cultural shift requires small steps to build understanding of, and confidence in, a private business career. My suggestion, using my personal example, is work with a small group of Emirati women graduates, to assist them to create a company to market and conduct Soft Skills Training Programs. Using my expertise in marketing and training, I would both instruct and mentor these women. Of interest are ideas already generated including day care facilities in the training facility and private marketing processes bringing potential clients to the facility to complement the UAE cultural sensitivities. I returned to Canada a year ago after 5 years in the UAE. Although I may be persona non grata in the UAE, I continue to be a passionate believer in the potential of Emirati women graduates. I have created and conducted many programs for Emirati organizations both private and public. I would be honored to have Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi read this comment.

How the UAE’s women flourish even in a man’s world
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the UAE’s Minister for Foreign Trade, holds the distinction of being the first woman to hold a ministerial portfolio in the Gulf. Here she evaluates the prospects for women in the male-dominated financial industry.
Why are so few women attracted to a career in financial services?

There are many factors behind this phenomenon. Some women find that the long hours associated with financial services work prevent them from fulfilling their family duties. Others lament the compensation and career development gaps that they feel favour men. There is also a fear that female-related concerns, such as going on maternity leave, could result in the loss of promotions, pay rises and other opportunities. Moreover, many women are caught up in the stereotype that, like the technical fields, the financial services sector is a world designed exclusively for men.

What can companies do to both attract more women and ensure that they are supported as they progress into senior positions?
Financial services firms should closely review their corporate culture and determine if it fosters equal opportunities for men and women. Any gaps should be addressed via effective measures such as schemes for mentoring, training and supporting women, policies that emphasise equality, and reward schemes that recognise best employees regardless of gender. Companies should clearly send out the message that their organisation encourages, supports and recognises women achievers. Cultivating a corporate mindset that fosters equal opportunities for both sexes will make it easier for women to aspire to and undergo the transition to senior positions. 

Governments, companies, associations and councils are all focusing on advancing women in business, but limited real progress is being made, especially in the private sector. Is there an opportunity for better collaboration, and if so, what could that look like?
Collaboration will need to start from the top. If the government shows a genuine concern for empowering women, then the concerned agencies, the private sector and the general public will follow suit.
Here in the UAE, for example, government has made great strides in improving the representation of women in the public sector and making us a leader in women’s rights in the Arab world. Emirati women, in fact, now account for more than 60 per cent of the government workforce.
This confidence in our abilities has had a spillover effect on the private sector, as our country now has the largest number of businesswomen in the region. A 2011 index of women in business in the Gulf shows UAE women topping the region in terms of business ownership, business and government leadership, workforce participation, regular employment opportunities, and education.
Of course, leading by example is not enough. There should be concrete programs for advancing women’s roles in business. Government should be vocal in encouraging private businesses to enhance the role of women within their ranks and make the workplace as gender-neutral as possible. Private companies in turn could coordinate with Government in reaching out to women through campaigns or sharing women-related information and statistics.
A good collaborative system would be one where communication channels between government and corporations are open, extensive and transparent.
We must also keep in mind that women in the UAE prefer government work due to its working hours, which allows them to both have a career and also focus on their home and children.

International practices include quota systems and reporting requirements for the number and skills held by individuals on boards. Should similar practices be considered in the UAE, or more broadly, GCC?

Women are typically under-represented in the boardrooms of financial services firms. A 2011 census of women executive officers of Fortune 500 companies estimates that women account for around 18.4 [per cent] of executive officers in the finance and insurance industries. Clearly there is a lot of ground to cover as women have more than enough expertise and capability to handle executive responsibilities.