This is the transcript of episode 12
Click here to visit the full episode page and listen to the interview.
Hi. Welcome to this week’s episode of the Hired Trainer.com podcast.
Today we’re talking to Sandy Chernoff from Vancouver in Canada.
Sandy has a wonderful story. She’s a formal dental hygienist and she made a move into training, having been trained by an international women’s organization to be a leadership trainer.
I really love this episode because Sandy did most of the talking, but I learned so much.
It’s a fantastic story. I enjoyed listening to Sandy and I know you will too,
This is Episode 12 of the Hired Trainer.com podcast. (Cue the music).
Welcome. Thanks for coming by today and for taking time to listen to this podcast.
I know there are lots of podcasts out there which you could listen to. I do, I listen to at least four podcasts regularly every week, including Pat Flynn, David Siteman Garland, Rob Moore and others.
Anyway, I appreciate your time because I know the time and commitment it takes to follow a podcast.
This show is for self-employed training consultants – people like you, and I and the goal is to help you to get hired, to learn more and to earn more.
Every week we invite a different guest on the show. They come from a range of backgrounds. They could be coaches. They could be organizational psychologists. They could be speakers and trainers, trainers and coaches, coaches and consultants and so on.
And what I ask them to do every time is to share their learning and development journey with you.
Where did they begin? What mistakes do they make? What do they learn along the way? How do they correct those mistakes and what advice, success and tips can they share with you, so you can apply these to your training business?
Today’s guest, as I said at the outset, is Sandy Chernoff from Vancouver in Canada.
She is a communications skills and soft skills trainer.
Her website is called softskillsforsuccess.com.
She has over 30 years of experience training non-profits, law firms, teaching institutions, various professional organizations. She’s been a conference speaker. She produces e-learning programmes and modules in conjunction with another organization – I’ll mention that in today’s episode – and she’s written a book called The Five Secrets to Effective Communication, which can help people to reduce conflict, resentment, disappointment and so on.
I know you’re listening to today’s episode, Sandy, so wherever you are, thank you so much for being on the show.
Now let’s get down to business.
Sandy, hi, and welcome on the programme.
Thanks so much for taking part in today’s interview.
Let’s start with the first question, which is do you work with your own direct clients or do you work with training companies as one of their associate trainers or freelance trainers, or do you do both?
I do both, Mark. That’s what’s interesting.
I am subcontracted to a very large payroll company – and here’s the interesting thing. They have a division called Life Works and they offer their clients about 80 different workshops on a whole whack of thing but many of them are soft skills.
I do workshops for their clients and they actually send me their materials.
The interesting thing is that the person who does the research for their programmes does an excellent job but is terrible at Power Point.
They send me their Power Points. I’m not supposed to change it, but I do.
I don’t change the content, but I animate the slides and I make the fonts bigger because she uses fonts that are like 14 and 18.
Now, if I’m in a training room, no one can see that.
I don’t like to use fonts that are smaller than 24 or 28, if I can, and bigger ones are better.
So the first thing I do when they send me the programs (and I’m just on another one today because I’ll have another contract for them next month), was to go through and change all the font sizes.
And then in addition, she mostly sends me bulleted lists. No one remembers bulleted lists.
So I tend to make the slides have less on them and at least animate the bullets so that I can bring them on one at a time and talk about them.
Of course, what happens when you bring on a whole slide full of text, your audience can read it faster than you can speak it, so they disengage.
What do they need you for? You can stand at the back of the room, “So, have you finished reading the slide? Good, I’ll change the next one for you.” What does that do?
And I also tend to add more pictures to her slides because she has very few pictures.
And again, people are usually better at visual learning than they are at verbal learning.
So if you can really force the point you’re getting across with a picture and a story, they’re going to remember it much better than just a bunch of words.
Then I also work for a guy who has a company called Lunch and Learn.
I have some of my programmes up on his website and if his clients want it, then I go and do it for him and he pays me, but they’re my programmes.
The rest of my clients and the rest of the training that I do is all my materials and they’re all my clients.
Here’s the interesting thing that I discovered after a while. It took me a while to figure this out, Mark.
I get about 80 to 90 per cent of my new contracts through my website because what you discover with soft skills training is this:
Most people don’t buy soft skills training from an ad in a magazine or a newspaper or booths in a trade show.
When they have a problem, they Google the problem.
So if your website doesn’t work well and you don’t come up on the first or maybe the second page, no one will find you.
I have a guy who’s fantastic with SEO and I have him tweak my website at least a couple of times a year, or if I have anything else done to the website I just get him to tweak it.
When I had it put onto WordPress, I had the person who did it come to my house. I paid them an extra hour to teach me how to use the back end of WordPress.
I can do a lot of stuff myself, so I blog on it.
The other thing is Google has bots that they send out over the Internet to see what’s going on with the websites and with your social media profiles and stuff.
If your profile and your website are not actively growing – if you’re not sharing information that they feel is important and good quality – your Google Analytics go in the toilet.
I actually blog on three sites.
I have two websites. I have my softskillsforsuccess website is my training website and then I have another website called paladincoaching where I have e-learning programmes and I have a partner in that business.
Then I also blog on another site that’s owned by a guy in Tampa, Florida.
It’s called bizcatalyst360 and it’s a blog site that has all kinds of business information on it and he has a guest columnist and he has regular columnists.
I’m a regular columnist. I have my masthead on his website. It’s called Soft Skills Matter.
I send him articles and they put them up about every ten days to two weeks.
Then he has groups on Facebook and LinkedIn and he sometimes republishes through there.
And in addition, he has a newsletter that he sends out.
He’s got hundreds of thousands of followers, and he sends out this newsletter and he chooses articles from his regular columnists to put in that newsletter.
So sometimes I’m in that newsletter.
In addition, he collaborates with other websites and sometimes my blogs get picked up by other websites too.
So it’s really good for your profile in terms of people realising that you must know what you’re talking about – (which is key when you’re a trainer).
You’ve got two minutes to grab your audience and if you don’t grab them in that first couple of minutes, you’re going to be chasing them for the whole time you’re standing in front of them. So, you’d better have an opening that grabs their attention.
I usually start with either a question or a challenge or a game.
That way I get them talking to each other and I always bring prizes when I do the games.
I don’t give lectures, Mark.
My workshops are very interactive.
What I do is I teach a concept and then I give them something to do.
Either they answer a questionnaire and we debrief it, or they do something with a partner or they do something in groups.
What I usually do when I have a new client is I sit down with them, either face to face or over the phone, and actually with one group that was in a far-out suburb and I didn’t want to drive for an hour and a half to talk to them, we did it on Skype.
I have what I call a discussion interview.
I want to really drill down and find out what their problems are so that I can create a programme that will address their specific needs and provide their people with the skills and strategies and tools that will help them to overcome these issues.
I always say to the client, “I’m very sorry, but I’m going to have to put you to work,” and they look me and go “What?”
I say, “Listen. Here’s what I want. I want you to give me the typical scenarios that they’re struggling with.” Situations that they haven’t good outcomes from.
And then what I’m going to do is I will put those into the Power Point, but I will also hard copies and I’m going to put them into groups and after I’ve talked on some new strategies and approaches, I’m going to give the scenarios that they know.
And now they have new ways of approaching them so that they can have better outcomes.
And it solves a number of problems.
First of all, they see why they’re learning this stuff.
Secondly, when they see they can get a better outcome, we have a far better chance they’re actually going to start doing what I’m teaching them.
Those are always good exercises.
I’ve had people come up to me at the break and go “How did you know that stuff?”
I can make up scenarios but if they don’t resonate with the people, it’s not going to be helpful.
I’d rather have situations that they’re familiar with, so that it will resonate, and it will make sense.
It’s usually an HR person or a training and development person who contacts me. So, they understand why I want that, and it usually works out very well.
I like to have fun.
I want the people that are in my workshop to be having fun because if people are enjoying their learning experience, you have created a far more conducive to retentive learning atmosphere and you’re going to have much better outcomes.
I’ll tell you another thing, Mark, that’s interesting and different about me.
I have a degree in education, but I’m a dental hygienist.
I practiced clinical dental hygiene for over 40 years.
Now here’s something interesting about dental hygiene.
Your most important role as a dental hygienist is you’re a dental health educator.
If your patients don’t understand why you want them to brush and floss and why we are recommending certain treatment protocols, they won’t move forward with it and they won’t do it.
You want them to be informed and the only way they can be informed is if we educate them about their dental health and how it relates to their overall physiology.
It’s very important to understand these things.
I was trained as a volunteer to be a leadership trainer because not-for-profit organizations that rely on volunteers who don’t build leadership, die because they burn out their leaders.
If you aren’t replacing your leaders, people just get burnt out as volunteers.
But they have a problem – they don’t have the money to hire professional facilitators on a regular basis because not-for-profits don’t have a lot of money.
So, it becomes a conundrum.
So, this large women’s organization that I belong to, about 25 to 30 years ago, the woman who was the National President and the woman who held the portfolio for training and development – both of whom were volunteers – were very smart and put their heads together and said “Do you know what? We have some very remarkable women in our upper echelon of leadership?
Why don’t we make an investment in a group of volunteers so that we have in house volunteer trainers?”
So, they hired a woman who had done some leadership training for us. She came from California.
They had a conversation with her to discuss what the needs were in the organization at the time and this woman developed a Train the Trainer programme.
They chose nine of us from coast to coast.
They flew us to Toronto. They paid for our flights and they paid for our training.
We were there for a week.
We paid for our hotel, for our meals and our incidental taxis, but at the end of a week they had nine professionally trained volunteers who could now provide them with in house training.
They would pay for our transportation. If we drove somewhere, they paid for our gas. If we flew somewhere, they would pay for our flights.
But the local community would organize the event and the women there would pay a fee, and they would usually billet us in somebody’s house, so we were not out of pocket.
Now they had a really good training team.
We mostly did this on weekends. They have to love your kids, Mark!
So, I’d come home from training and my 17-year-old son looks at me and he goes, “Mum, you’re really good at this. You should do it for real.” And I looked at him, “For heaven’s sake. I do do this for real.” He says, “No, I mean for money.” And I said, “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m an old hygienist.”
I was still practicing, and he looked at me and he said, “And how much longer are you going to be able to do that? You have a sore back and you have hand problems and all you’re doing is working one day a week.”
He was right. I knew it.
I stood back, and he said to me, “Listen. You have a list of your modules. You have a CV. Go to Kinco’s and get a business card and start soliciting business.”
I stepped back, Mark, and I thought, “What have I got to lose because as a solopreneur who doesn’t need a store front, it’s not expensive to open a training business.
I work from home and I already had a computer and all the materials.
So, I stepped back and thought, “You know what?” Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea.”
I actually went to Kinco’s and got a business card and I started with large law firms.
My husband’s a lawyer and I knew that the large law firms had training budgets.
So, I started phoning lawyers, which was a huge mistake. They just all kept saying “We don’t talk to HR.”
So, I would just phone the large law firms and talk to their HR Managers and I started doing lunch and learns for large law firms.
Then, because of my experience as a volunteer in putting on large events, I had a little conversation with myself and I said, “How is anybody going to know you’re doing this?”
So, I got out the Yellow Pages, because back then we still hard copy Yellow Pages. I phoned every professional organization in the Yellow Pages and I asked them the following questions:
- Do you provide continuing education courses for your members, because most professional organizations require that you do continuing and to maintain your licence?
- Do you have an annual conference?
- If so, how do you find your speakers, and would you be interested in the programming I could provide you?
So, I started getting in front of potential clients by speaking at professional conferences and providing continuing education courses to a wide variety of professionals.
The first thing that happened that was so funny was I started to get this question – “Do you have a website?”
I didn’t even know what a website was!
For me, as an older person for whom the computer is not intuitive, it’s been a huge and very steep learning curve.
Most of my friends think I’m completely crazy and can’t believe what I’m doing because most of them are retired.
But I’m just having so much fun and it’s very good because it forces me to learn new stuff all the time – which is good for an aging brain!
It’s been a very interesting journey!
I got a website and I actually had one of my nieces design it for me. She was dabbling in web design in high school and I used it as a virtual brochure.
Then I realised I wasn’t getting any business from my website, so I go back to my kids and my daughter looks at me like I’d landed from the moon.
She said, “Of course you’re not getting any business. You need your SEO fixed.” I went, “My what!!”
She gave me the name of a guy who’s been working on my site since 2003 and he’s fantastic with SEO.
He explained to me and they started talking text speak and I said, “Listen. Just tell me what you need from me in English and I’ll give it to you.”
He rebuilt my website and he’s the one that helps me with different kinds of things.
Then when it transferred onto WordPress, I sent him an email and said, “I probably screwed up the SEO. You’d better fix it.”
Then when I had it made mobile friendly, the same thing, but by then he knew I was pretty familiar with the back end, so he writes me an email and he says to me, “I’ve done everything I have to do, and I know you know how to do the back links on your website. You don’t want to pay me $100 an hour to do it for you, so go in and redo all your back links.” It was very funny.
You have to learn these things because today that’s where we are.
If you aren’t able so somebody can pull you up on their smart phone, you don’t exist.
You have to learn these things. There just isn’t a choice and so you just have to bite the bullet and learn what you have to learn.
I’ve just found it very interesting because I actually like learning new things. I find it fun.
I get bored if I don’t have things that are challenging me.
I never do exactly the same workshop twice because it’s not applicable.
The other thing people say to you, Mark, is “You should have a target market.”
I always look at people and I go, “Yes, it depends on your business. Here’s my problem. Name me an industry that doesn’t have people.”
People look at me like I’ve landed from the moon.
I say, “Okay. That’s the reason why I don’t have a target market because every industry has people and I solve people problems.”
It doesn’t matter what industry it is, they need my help.
In fact, when I teach presentation skills, Mark, I turn my back to the audience and I go, “Can you see my invisible backpack?” It’s full of what ‘if’s’. What if this happens? What if that happens?
In other words, it’s the anticipation exercise that you do before you stand in front of an audience.
Every time you’re in front of a new audience, you have no idea what the dynamic of that cohort is going to be.
The more experienced you are – and if you get some information about the audience ahead of time – it can be helpful, but it doesn’t mean that something won’t crop up that you didn’t expect.
My attitude at this point is I’ve seen this, I’ve seen that, I’ve seen this, and I can do this and this and this – and if something else happens I’ll figure it out.
You can tell when your audience is engaged because they are asking questions, they’re nodding at things and they’re smiling, and you can see that they’re taking it in and it’s making sense to them.
If it isn’t, you have to say to your audience, “Well, obviously I didn’t explain that very well, so how about if we try that again?”
Another thing that I tell people when I teach ‘presentation skills’, I say, “If all of a sudden you realise you’ve forgotten to tell them something that you think is really important, don’t tell them you’ve forgot.”
Instead, just say, “Here’s something really important I want to make sure you take away,” and then give it to them.
Sometimes when you take it out of context, out of a list of things, they’ll actually remember it better.
So, it’s not necessarily a bad thing if you suddenly remember something that you wanted to get across and you haven’t included it yet.
The audience doesn’t need to know you forgot.
No, they don’t. Absolutely not.
How many years have you been in the training business, Sandy?
I’ve been doing this business now for 15 years, but I had been teaching for 35 years, (almost 40 years), because not only did I do one-on-one teaching with patients, but I got involved in doing continuing education for my profession.
A colleague and I started the first dental hygiene study club in Canada because dentists had those continuing education opportunities and dental hygienists didn’t.
So, Steph and I sat down one day and said, Well, don’t we have them? Dentists get to do it and they get all kinds of credit hours for it. How comes nobody has one for us?”
So, we looked at each other and went, “Fine, we’re going to start one.”
We ran it for ten years and we ran it in two locations. We ran it in my Dad’s office in Vancouver because he had a big clinic.
Steph had a contact in West Vancouver, which is where she lived.
So, we ran one over there as a well. So, we ran two.
We never had trouble getting people to come to it because the advantage to what’s called a study club is that it runs for a year and you meet once a month.
So, for example, if you go to a one-shop workshop and then you walk away, sometimes afterwards you’ll have questions, but now you don’t have access to the facilitator.
But when it’s an ongoing thing, if something crops up later when you go back to the office and you go, “Oh, this isn’t working out” or “Hmm, I should have asked this question,” so next month when you come back you can ask the question.
It’s actually a better, more reinforcing way of doing continuing education.
The other thing people fear is questions that they don’t know the answer to.
I always tell people, “Yes, what you have to do – and that’s part of the ‘what if,’ – try and anticipate what sort of questions your audience might want to ask and prepare answers for that.”
However, you can’t anticipate every question and if someone asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, never, ever, ever, fudge an answer.
There are two things you can do.
The first thing I always do is I go, “Great question. Anybody out there know the answer?” because likely somebody out there will know. However, unfortunately they may not help you because they perhaps don’t want to speak in front of the group.
So, if nobody helps you, you can say, “Okay, I don’t know the answer either.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to research it and anybody who wants to know what I find out, please come up at the break or at the end of the session and bring me your email address and I will send you what I discover.”
We’re human. We can’t really be expected to know absolutely everything, and if somebody comes up with something that we don’t know, it’s okay.
You don’t need to feel stupid. You don’t need to feel unnerved about it. You just go, “Okay. Interesting. Great chance for me to learn something. Thank you so much for bringing that up. I’ve never heard that before.”
What’s wrong with that? That’s something that people are very afraid of. “Oh, what if they ask me something I don’t know, and I stand there looking like an idiot?”
You don’t stand there looking like an idiot. You stand there looking like you’re human and it’s okay to be human. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I even sometimes will tell self-deprecating stories to show them that I’m human.
They don’t need to think I’m perfect. I’m not, none of us are.
One of the things I also do when I speak at conferences, (because sometimes I can have two, three hundred people in an auditorium at some of these big conferences). For example, the Pacific Dental Conference that happens here every year in Vancouver is one of the largest conferences in North America.
We have between 12,000 and 15,000 people that come to this conference.
I tell this also when I teach presentation skills.
I say, “Listen, there’s things you have to do. You have to come early because you have to make sure that the technological issues, whatever those may be, are straightened out before your audience comes so that you can just start your Power Point and if you had handouts or whatever, that’s everything set up before your audience comes.”
I always do that.
I always come at least an half an hour ahead.
So, when I’m done, I actually try to situate myself closer to the door so that I can introduce myself to people as they come in and have little conversations with people so that by the time I address the group, it isn’t necessarily a room of strangers.
Not that I’m going to meet everybody, but at least I’ve met a few, and then you can also bring to the conversations into part of what you’re saying.
“Oh, when I was talking to Tom when he came in, he told me that your group does such and such. So, here’s an idea.”
Just different things like that, that again connects you better to the audience and make you not feel like that person up on the stage, but one of them.
I also hate being on the stage. I prefer to be able to be walk around in the audience.
A whole load of people come in and they sit at the back because they think they’ll be far away.
I always come to the back of the room and I tell them, “If you think you’re hiding back here, I walk around when I speak. I have a remote. I can change the slide from back here. Why don’t you move up closer to the front? You’ll be able to hear and see better?”
I don’t like the separation from the audience, also because I like it to be interaction.
I always walk around when they’re doing an exercise in case somebody wants to ask a question they didn’t want to ask in front of the whole group or if they run into a little glitch while they’re working on whatever they’ve been assigned to do.
So, I’m always walking around and talking to people while they’re doing their exercise.
I think you need to connect better with your audience if you’re going to be successful.
You have to be natural.
You have to be authentic.
Don’t try and be someone you’re not.
I tell people, “Just pretend that you’re talking to a group of your friends. How do you behave when talking to your friends?”
It shouldn’t be any different when you’re delivering information to other people.
If you think of it in that way, then you can just be yourself.
If you yourself, and you’re comfortable with yourself, your audience will be comfortable.
If you’re nervous and you’re uptight and you’re not sure what to do, you make your audience very uptight and very uncomfortable and that’s not going to be an easy audience to deal with.
That’s really not what training should be, and it’s really not the way a trainer should be behaving.
You have to be flexible because sometimes you don’t get what you want even when you tell people, “Yeah, I want tables set up” and then you come and it’s theatre style.
Don’t let the audience know that you’re pissed. Just come in, “Okay, well, fine, we’re figure it out. Make them move around anyway.”
It’s just a matter of you understanding that everything isn’t always going to go your way and you need to have back up plans.
It’s just very important to be able to do that because otherwise you’re going to be upset, and your audience is going to know you’re upset and now we’re done. There’s no point in that.
And so, people just have to come with a positive attitude that they’ll figure out.
I once flew up to Colona which is a town in the interior of BC to give a workshop to the Association of Professional Anti Neuros and Geoscientists.
I flew up in the morning. I was giving it after lunch which is the worst time to give it.
I had the first workshop after lunch time – that’s when people fall asleep.
The room they gave me was set up like teaching on a bus. It was a long, narrow room and it was set up theatre style.
I went to see the room and I went “Oh, my God, and this is what I’m going to have after lunch.”
So as soon as I came in, the first thing I did was I put them into groups and we did a definition game and then they could go back to their seats.
Then about 15 minutes later, I made them go back into their groups and do an exercise.
I had then hopping up and sitting down and hopping up and sitting down through the whole session because I knew if they just sat in their seats they’d fall asleep.
So right away you have to do something that’s going to keep them awake and keep them interested because otherwise you’re going to lose your audience and your done. You may as well just go home.
As I said, when I have this definition game – or some of the other games that I play – I always bring prizes.
Adults are no different from kids; they like stuff.
It’s has become my signature thing because some of the companies that I’ve done a lot of work with (a lot of construction clients) and one company that I’ve worked with since 2005 and I do early morning workshops for them, one of the site supervisors came up to one morning when I was setting for a workshop and he says, “Hi Sandy.” And I said, “Hi, Ern, how are you?”
He says “Have you got your bag of candy? Can I have one?”
So, I looked, “Have you been a good boy?” He says “Yeah.”
“Okay, sure. You can have one, but don’t tell anybody else.”
Oh, big kids.
Well, they are.
Adults are really no different than kids. They’re just bigger, so it’s just a matter of understanding that.
I was working at an instructor’s PD day at BCIT which is one of our local universities.
I have a book, Mark. It’s called Five Secrets to Effective Communication, and I call it my expensive business card that I take it with me to everything.
I did three workshops at this PD (personal development) day.
I did one on stress management, one on dealing with millennials in the classroom and one with creating more engaging sessions.
So, the third one, and this guy had been at all of them, and he was sitting right in front of me and I’m starting to pack up. I can see he’s got his eye on my bag of candy.
He says to me, “Can I have one of those Werther’s candies? They’re my favourites.”
So, I looked at him and there was a woman sitting beside him. I asked him the same question. Have you been a good boy this week?”
He said, “Oh yeah.
I said, “Okay. Here, have one.”
He said, “Good. Now I’m going to buy your book.”
So, tell us about your book, Sandy.
Well, my book is very small.
It only has about 132 pages.
It’s a handbook to demystify the complexities of communications or that people can do it better.
Here’s the thing I’ve discovered – everybody thinks they know how to communicate because they’ve been doing it since they were born.
But the truth is most of us aren’t very good at it, so we end up with a lot of conflict, a lot of disappointment, a lot of resentment, a lot of complaining, a lot of confusion – all of which causes stress, which is not good.
The reason for that is because people don’t understand how complex communication is and so they don’t do it very well.
So, I wrote this book in order to help demystify those complexities so that people could communicate better.
I actually do seven or eight different workshops on communication. That’s how complex that topic is.
So, I took five of those topics and made a chapter on each of them in my book.
The first chapter is ‘Active Listening.’
Then I have a chapter called ‘Accountability.’
One called ‘Assertiveness.’
Then I have a chapter on ‘Personality Typing.’
And one on ‘Gender Differences in Communication.’
Each chapter is laced with stories and examples.
At the end of the chapter I give the reader an exercise to try out what they just learnt.
And the last page of the chapter is a bulleted summary of the key aspects of that particular part of communication; a summary to reinforce the key things I want you to take away from that particular aspect of communication.
So that’s how it written.
I had it professionally done.
I hired a Book Project Manager and she designed the book and helped me with the font size and the layout of the pages and got me a really good editor.
I used a Canadian printer; it was professionally done.
I went into a book store, Mark. It’s very funny.
I went into a local book store, a family book store. It’s been around for years.
I asked to speak to the Manager, and I asked her if she’d be interested in selling my book.
So, she looks at me and she goes, “Is it self-published?”
And I said, “Yes, it is.”
And she went, “Oh.”
So, I pulled out my book and I handed it to her, and she said, “Oh, well it doesn’t look self-published.”
I said, “Well, it’s self-published but it was done professionally.”
She said, “Oh, yes, it looks very professional. We’ll sell your book.”
I told her afterwards, “Listen, I’ve seen a lot of self-published books, so I know what your concern is, and a lot of them look like you ran it off on your own computer.
Personally, I actually get very good feedback. I get a lot of repeat business from my clients and I’ve even had some referral business from some of my clients because they’ve been very happy.
I’ll give you one example of something that happened.
I worked with a big storage company that has a rentals division.
The guy who was running the rentals division, I worked with him and I did three half-day workshops for that rentals division.
He left that company and went to another real estate company.
They hired a big training company to come in and do some training for them and I think they spent a lot of money on it.
They were very unhappy, and the reason they were unhappy was because the company just sent George in with their standard consistent workshop on this topic and it didn’t suit their needs.
So, Daniel remembered that I had customized for them, so he called me and he told me.
He said, “We want some more training and we were very unhappy with what happened. Can we work with you?”
And I said, “Sure. You and I know how to do this. We’ll sit down. You tell me what you want.”
So, we talked about it and then he had me talk to three other people in the company to get their input on what they thought was going to be beneficial to their people.
After I had those conversations, I reconvened with him and told him what I had learned and then we selected the elements he wanted for the programme and then I put the programme together.
I also provide my clients with a fully documented syllabus. It’s not my Power Point slides.
It’s every concept fully developed as well as the exercises we’re going to do. Those are always in the hand out, and I send them a PDF.
They can either hard copy it or forward it to their people if they come in with tablets or laptops.
The owner of the company came, and we had about 30 people in their training room, and they all had a wonderful time; it was on time management.
Daniel phoned me afterwards. He said, that was so good. That was exactly what we wanted.”
I said, “Well, that’s the difference between a large training company and somebody like me where I customize to suit your needs. I don’t just take a workshop off the shelf and come in and deliver it because it usually doesn’t resonate.”
He gave me examples of certain things that were going on.
I said, “That’s fine. We’ll actually use that as an exercise,” which is a matter of what do you want?
And so that’s an example of when you do things for people and they’re happy with it because they get what they want, then you have satisfied them, and they’ll generally get a better ROI than somebody who comes in and just does whatever.
I also did a huge training contract for one of the big law firms that’s a national firm.
I came in and did some stuff, but their Head Office in Toronto decided that they wanted to continue with more of this kind of stuff.
They wanted to use a large training company, so they reluctantly brought in this training company and the HR Manager called me in a few weeks after they’d had this training company and said “The people hated this training company. They want you back. Can you do what they did?”
So, they brought me back because everybody hated this training company.
They didn’t relate to them. They didn’t get a sense of what they were really looking for.
They just sent somebody in with a standard workshop and it didn’t suit them.
That’s the difference between me and these large training companies.
I know they have a lot of resources and they have a lot of people and yes, you’ll get something consistent, but I can do something for you that if you want it repeated, we’ll repeat it, but I’m going to produce what you want and I’m going to work with you on it until you’re happy with the content and the different things that we’re going to do with the content.
I believe in research. I created a programme on memory and how to enhance it for a country club.
They wanted the people who worked there to be more sensitive to the needs of their members, and so how could they pay attention to things?
So, I created this workshop, giving them tips on how to remember different kinds of things so they could recall – who liked their coffee this way and so on and so forth.
It doesn’t matter what they were looking for, but it was just tips on how to do it, and now that workshop – or at least the essence of it – I’ve given so many times.
People love that workshop and I have a number of different versions because I’ve done it for meet ups and I’ve done it for Lunch and Learns, but I’ve done it for a lot of different professions.
They just think it’s really a fun workshop and I have some very interesting exercises that I do.
One of them I also do in my customer service workshop. I tell everybody they have to sit back. “I’m going to read you a list of words. I just want you to listen to the words.”
So, when I’m done there’s about 18 words in the list.
I say, “Okay, now I want you to write down as many of the words as you can remember and I’m going to tell you why you remembered the words that you did.”
They look at me and they go “WHAT!”
Then I say, “Okay, how many people got the word ‘dream?’ and people put up their hand.
“Very good. How many people got the word ‘pillow?” Put up their hand.
I say “That’s excellent. That’s an example of primacy and recency.”
We usually remember the first thing we hear and the last thing we hear.
“Okay, how many people got the word ‘night?’ People put up their hand very proudly.
I say, “That’s very good. Night was repeated three times in the list.”
We usually remember things that are repeated.
And then I say, “Okay, how many people got the word ‘artichoke?’ Some people put up their hand.
I say “Oh, that’s very good. Artichoke was smack dab in the middle of that list and it didn’t relate to any of the other words, so it was a surprise. It stood out.”
We remember things that are unusual.
Then I pause, and I look around the room and I say, “Okay, how many people got the word ‘bed?’ Some people proudly put their hand.
And I go “That’s very interesting. Bed wasn’t in the list.”
And that’s an example of false memory, and it’s the reason why eye witnesses are not necessarily that reliable because unless they are interviewed by the Police or themselves, write everything down immediately after the incident, everything they saw or heard, hours, weeks, days, months, years later, they will not remember those details.
However, their mind will fill in those gaps with things in sense that are not necessarily the truth.
So, you have to realise that with our clients and customers as well.
When something happens, unless they were good about writing it down right away, they’ll come to us with something that isn’t going to make a lot of sense to us.
People always say: “The customer is always right,” and I tell people, “The customer isn’t always right. However, you don’t want to embarrass them, so sometimes you just have to find a way to get around it and make them happy even if it’s their screw up.”
It’s just a matter of figuring out – you don’t want them to walk out unhappy because if they do, you’ll not only lose a customer but they’re going to bad mouth you.
And with social media today, you can be in big trouble in a hurry.
Sandy, where can people find out more about you?
They can find me at softskillsforsuccess
That’s my main website, but I also have e-learning courses at Paladin Coaching and then my other blogging site is bizcatalyst360
My mast head there is soft skills matter.
You can see the work that I do and read the blogs that I write and stuff like that.
I’m on LinkedIn, as you know.
I have a Twitter profile.
I have a Facebook profile.
If you just put my name in, it will come up, because it’s part of my handle on both those websites.
And I also have Google Plus because I was told that if you don’t have a Google Plus profile, Google punishes you.
Sandy, thank you so much for coming on today’s programme.
Oh, it’s been fun. I figured it was going to be fun, Mark.
I just had the idea that because you have a similar background in terms of doing the training and stuff, that we were going to be on the same page.