Why I’m Shifting My Coaching Business to Focus on Working with Trainers
How do you know your (professional) purpose in life?
Or have you figured out how you can most be of service to others?
Many people spend years in thought and reflection trying to answer these fundamental questions that guide so much of what we do. Yet I’ve known what I was meant to do since I was 16 years old and was promoted to “crew trainer” at the pizza place where I worked: I was meant to teach. More importantly, I’ve known for awhile that what I really wanted to teach, was how to teach. But how or when that would come to fruition I didn’t know – until now.
There have been 3 key experiences along the way that have shaped the new direction my business is moving towards:
True Story #1
About a year ago my training partner and I were speaking with a client who told us that another trainer they worked with was frustrated because her RFP’s were consistently being rejected. She felt she was being treated unfairly and had filed a formal complaint; this was exacerbated when she found out we were being offered repeat work, without having to go through the RFP process at all. What she did not know (nor was she told, which is a whole other blog post), was that her trainings were deeply ineffective, and the client had decided not to hire her again. Like many trainers, she spent her entire session lecturing with dense PowerPoint slides, failed to evaluate whether she’d made an impact, and left without an action plan in place to ensure her trainings were implemented. She didn’t know what she didn’t know, and it was damaging her training career.
True Story #2
In 2008 I attended a two-week long corporate training for the learning center company I worked for. I had been hired as a managing director, and because curriculum programming was involved I needed to spend time with the corporate trainers learning as much as possible so I could best serve the students. However, the trainers were ill-equipped to teach us what we needed to know. They had never worked in the learning centers they were training about; they spent the entire day lecturing us, without any opportunity to practice what we were learning (“You can practice when you get back to your center,” was the stock response); and when we asked (increasingly hostile) questions, they didn’t know how to address them. By the end of the two weeks, many of the training participants were in full revolt because they weren’t learning anything. A couple months after that, the company scrapped the trainings altogether for being “too expensive.” The irony of an education-based company having terrible trainings was not lost on me. They believed a pervasive myth that adults learn differently than kids, and tailored their trainings accordingly.
True Story #3
During my first year as faculty at a small art and design university, I was asked to help a fellow instructor who was struggling with his class. He had been a world-class animator for Disney for 25 years but didn’t know how to translate that experience in a way his students could learn from him. Because I have a formal teacher education background, the school wanted me to observe his classes to identify what the problem was, and help him resolve it. After watching a few of his classes, I realized something few people understand: just because you’re a subject matter expert, doesn’t mean you know how to teach that subject. Teaching is a completely different set of skills!
This spring the path to teaching others how to teach opened up before me, and upon reflection I realized I could be of most service by teaching professional subject-matter experts how to create lasting impact through the art of teaching. If you’re a trainer, talent development professional, consultant, etc. and you work in the space of developing people, let’s connect.
As for my public speaking clients, no worries! I’m still here for you because at its core, public speaking is teaching, and all teachers and trainers need exemplary public speaking skills.
My goal is to make bad trainings and ineffective/boring adult learning a thing of the past. Let’s do this!