Tag Archives: coaching

We’re So Much More Than Books – Let Us Help You!

Because of the 20-year success of the First Friday Book Synopsis, I believe that many people think that is all we do.  We do much more than just synopses of books.  Here are many options that we have available to serve your company or association.  Please contact us at info@creativecommnet.com, for more information.


Ensure your audience leaves buzzing, “what a speech that was!”  We provide energetic, dynamic and focused presentations that are customized to send the appropriate message to your audience.  These keynote addresses are the perfect way to begin or end your conference or meeting, or for a general session for all participants along the way.


Are you looking for someone to give a speech of tribute for one of your honored employees?  What about the perfect address to mark a significant milestone for your organization?  We can research and deliver a presentation that will meet your needs and provide you and your audience with a memorable experience.


Our presentations provide just the right amount of humor to complement our message and provide the correct atmosphere for your organization’s meal event.  We have a wide variety of topics to customize according to your time and situation events.


Take your employees to C.A.M.P. with our exclusive system designed to identify specific competencies and opportunities for each position and role in your organization.  The resulting job profiles will assist your organization in establishing quality processes for selection, appraising and training your employees, as well as to implement a proper succession planning program.


We provide training in basic and advanced skills designed to develop strong management and leadership for members of your organization.  Whether you are looking for line managers to learn and practice the fundamentals of supervisory skills or principles, or for senior executives to enhance their ability to construct and execute a mission and vision for your organization, our customized approach will provide you the results you desire.


In this program, we work with managers who are not professional trainers to assist them in developing their direct reports.  Our focus is on equipping these managers with the skills, techniques and tools that allow them to train their employees on-the-job without relying upon internal or external trainers, consultants or costly conferences or workshops.  Each participant leaves the program with an executable training contact, custom designed for one of his or her own direct reports.


Do your salespeople sell or just take orders?  Your organization will experience gains in volume, profits, market share and efficiency after your salespeople implement these effective sales techniques.  In this workshop, your salespeople learn and practice five steps that are essential for effective selling and four steps to turn objections from reasons not to buy into reasons to buy.  Participants practice skill-based activities throughout the program, using materials that we customize based upon your organization and industry.


The units of your organization can function as a team after your participants learn and practice the behaviors associated with effective teamwork.  Our exclusive intervention techniques begin with an assessment of team readiness.  Based upon these results, we then place proper emphasis upon four dimensions of teamwork:  goals, roles, processes and procedures, and relationships.  Our sessions are energizing and highly interactive and are based upon research principles that many organizations have successfully modeled.


Let us help you prepare and fine-tune that important presentation by coaching you in the skills that transform a good presentation into a “great” one.  Whether your concern is in the content of your speech, in your delivery or your non-verbal techniques, we can move your presentation to the next level of confidence and audience acceptance.  Through our analysis of your presentation on video tape, we can pinpoint areas for improvement and development with great precision.  We can also attend your presentation and provide you with continued coaching and development in a follow-up.


Our customized training provides you with the listening and questioning skills necessary to obtain the information that you need in an efficient and effective manner.  We know that on many occasions, proper fact-finding questions can provide you with a proper diagnosis of a situation prior to suggesting any prescriptive action.  You can improve your ability to ask and use probing questions in a variety of contexts, including sales, legal, medical, technical, mechanical, and survey research.


It’s not the appraisal form that makes the difference – it’s the way that a manager communicates the content of the appraisal form in the annual meeting with his or her employees.  In this workshop, participants learn a variety of techniques and tools to establish a proper atmosphere, direct meetings, discuss ratings, introduce delicate problem areas, involve employees in a discussion, and link the content into a context for training and development.  We use the form approved by your organization as the context to discuss and practice these techniques.


Learn and practice techniques used by professional speakers that will take your presentation to the next level.  Whether you speak to audiences of 5 or 5000, we can help you polish the intricate facets of your presentation that will make you “top of the list” for repeat engagements.  We specialize in how to incorporate audio-visual accompaniments into your presentation smoothly and effortlessly.  We begin by watching you speak in person or on video tape and then meet with you to tailor a program to meet your needs.  Our public seminar, “Speak Up, Speak Out, Say It Well!” covers these principles on a general basis.


Our training focuses on constructing, delivering and answering questions from a behavioral interviewing perspective.  Behavioral interviewing techniques rely on past performance and events as the best predictors for future behavior.  Using your own resume, job description or other materials, we review your practice interview on video-tape to fine-tune your skills.  We pay special attention to the art of .asking and answering probing questions, which can make or break a successful interview.


This customized training program heightens your skill and confidence in using audio-visual accompaniments such as slides, overheads, flip charts, video tapes and brochures during your presentation.  We specialize in PowerPoint and Prezi presentations delivered from projection devices.  Our goal is to maintain a focus on you as the speaker, rather than on the presentation aids, in an effort to build a strong and credible presence with the audience.


Save yourself and others internal and external to your organization time and money by writing your materials once and where others read them only once.  Improve clarity, efficiency and effectiveness and get the results that you want from your writing.  Our individualized coaching program begins with our analysis of three brief and one extended writing samples that we assess against our exclusive writing principles.  We then meet with you to discuss our recommendations and follow-up, as necessary.  We also teach a classroom-style workshop, “Write Your Way to Success,” which emphasizes the P.A.C.E. structural format along with other principles, which lead to effective writing.

Anderson Misses the Boat Today on TED Talks

I wish I were as optimistic as Chris Anderson, who wrote today, “Anyone Can Give a Memorable TED Talk,” in the Wall Street Journal (April 30-May 1, C3).

Chris Anderson TED Talk Picture

You can read the entire article by clicking HERE.

Anderson, who is the President of TED, has a new book that hits the market next week Chris Anderson TED Book Coverentitled TED Talks:  The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016).

He gives these tips:

  1.  ask yourself if you have something worth saying
  2. slash the scope of your talk so that you unpack the idea properly
  3. give people a reason to care
  4. build your case piece by piece, using familiar words and concepts
  5. tell stories
  6. practice

His premise is that anyone, with the right approach, and enough practice, can be a greater presenter.  In the article, he tells the improbable story of Richard Turere, a 12-year old Maasai boy, who gave a talk at a TED conference, in front of an audience of 1,400 seasoned professionals.

I don’t think so.  I have provided instruction and critiqued thousands of speakers in Business Communication courses over the past 39 years, and have coached individuals one-on-one countless times.  In fact, even today, I am meeting a speaker for individual coaching who gives a talk next week.  I can start naming people right now who you would never see on the TED Talks site, no matter how much time I would spend coaching them, and I would still be listing names hours from now.  And, I don’t think it’s because I’m a lousy coach.  Sorry – everyone can’t do it.

His assumption is that there is something within an individual, that if unlocked properly, will propel a person to greatness.  He would say that if you stay with it long enough, and apply the correct instruction and techniques, success is simply a matter of time.

I will admit that for many people, presenting is more a matter of “will” than “skill.”  There are people who simply don’t want to get any better, and therefore, even intense training and coaching will not get them there.  They could be great, but they don’t want to be.  Fortunately, there are enough people who do respond to training and coaching, and who do become great speakers, that keeps me going as a professional resource.

But, what about people who can’t?  What if fantastic presenting is not a will or skill issue?  There are plenty of people who fall short of any or all of the six behaviors listed as tips above.  They just can’t do it.  It’s not their strength.  It never will be.  Do we beat them up and put them through the misery of intense scrutiny toward an end that will never happen?  I would far rather build on something else that they are good at – one of their strengths – to work around their presentation weakness, than to consistently badger them to speak well.

I also think that the title of Anderson’s article today insults the great TED speakers.  I am well aware that writers rarely get to construct titles to their articles.  They usually see the title the same time all the readers do, so I am not bashing Anderson.  But the title is there for all to see.  TED Talks are premium presentations.  Great content with great delivery.  And, it is a very competitive product.  These are not like “uploads to YouTube” from your web cam.  Even many really great speakers are not to the level of TED presenters that you watch on that site.

To suggest that everyone can be like TED, is about the same as saying everyone can be like Mike.  No way.



Managers & Supervisors; Teachers, Coaches, & Mentors – thoughts on Developing Employees

What am I?  Just a teacher – a member of one of the great professions in the world.  
John Wooden, Wooden on Leadership

“For a lot of employees, Starbucks is their first professional experience… So we try to figure out how to give our employees the self-discipline they didn’t learn in high school.”
Quoted in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg


So, let’s state the problem simply.  Many employees are not equipped to do the actual jobs that they are hired to do.  Even if an employee has the “skills,” or at least the “knowledge” to do some jobs, they have to grow into these jobs in a lot of ways.  (Learning to make the right mixture and temperature of the coffee drink is a different skill than knowing how to successfully interact with a customer the “Starbucks way”).

In other words, developing employees is one of the critical needs of the era.

So, what do we do about it?

My colleague Karl Krayer, in his Team-Building workshops, talks about the two kinds of roles every team member fills.  The first kind is the “official/formal” role.  Captain; secretary; leader; foreman; “member” (every team member is always, officially a “member”).  But there are other roles, the “unofficial/informal” roles that are never officially assigned.  These are roles that people just seem to step into based partly on the power of their personality.  These are roles such as the team “cheerleader;” the team “mother;” the team “counselor.”  People have natural gifts, and tendencies , and they fill these roles just because that is who they are.  These roles are “good,” and helpful to every group.  Encourage folks to fill these roles.  (There are also some “bad” unofficial roles, such as “slacker;” “pain-in-the-rear.”  These are not good roles, and must be guarded against constantly).

Well, in the realm of employee development, I think there is this same official-unofficial (formal-informal) reality at work.  Some people have a job title that represents some form of “leadership.”  Here’s a representative list:

Team Leader
Shift Foreman
Exeucutive Team

But for an employee who needs to be developed (and, don’t we all?!), there is also a great need for someone(s) to fill another set of roles; “unofficial” roles, but roles that are critical.  Here’s one list of such roles:

Vice Principal (a disciplinarian role).

I think that in this under-managed, under-led era, there is also an under-coached, under-taught, under-mentored problem that must be addressed if we want to develop our employees.

Some of these roles can be filled (should be filled) by the people with the official titles.  But there is also a need for “everyone” to start letting their natural gifts help build others.

Stephen Bishop (playing David Justice), Moneyball

Consider:  in the movie Moneyball, there is a terrific scene when Billy Bean asks David Justice, now in the last days of his playing career, to step up and help the younger players know how to play this game.  He had no title for this role.  But Justice “got it,” and agreed to step up for this challenge.  “Coach; mentor; teacher.”  There is an element to each of these in the challenge that David Justice accepted.

So, here is what a good manager/supervisor needs to spend some time on.  Look carefully at each employee.  Does this particular employee need some teaching, or coaching, or some discipline, or some soft-skills development?  Once the need is clearly identified, then the pairing begins to put the right coach or mentor or teacher with the employee.

Because, when the hiring is done, the employee does not usually arrive fully developed.  With the right management, and the right teaching/coaching/mentoring, that employee just might rise to meet and exceed all of your high expectations.

Without such attention and help, we should not be surprised when employees cease to develop.

Two Ways We Fail to Build Effective Employees

“Forgive us our sins of omission and our sins of commission.”
…sins of commission:  the things we did and shouldn’t have.
…sins of omission:  the sins of not doing what we should have.


So, I was sitting in church on Sunday, and my mind kept making connections from my thoughts in church to my work in the business arena.  (Once you start blogging, it seems like you are always thinking about your next new blog post).

So, here is one of my mind connections.

Good employees seldom arrive at a job fully developed.  Good employees need to be grown; to be built.

It seems to me that there are two ways to fail to “build” an employee.  One way is the path of the sins of commission.  To overtly mistreat an employee.  To take advantage, to abuse, to discriminate, to belittle.  I still like Tom Peters’ tweet about a consultant’s counsel to a leadership team:

Consultant called in for exec retreat. Enters, goes to white board, writes “DON’T BELITTLE;” turns and walks out. (YES!!!)

There are things that a leader, and/or a company does to an employee that are harmful – harmful to that employee, and ultimately harmful to the leader and to the company.  These fall under those “bad boss, “the no asshole rule” practices.  (The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Robert Sutton).

But there is another kind of failure. This is the path of the sins of omission.   It happens when a company hires an employee, and fails to give that employee the training, the resources, the encouragement, the mentoring and coaching needed to do the job effectively.  And it is this “sin” that might be the one that slips by so easily.  Generally, a boss/manager knows when he or she is mistreating an employee.  (Not always – but generally).  But the lack of encouragement, the lack of training, the lack of coaching…  This is one of those “I should have, but I was too busy to think about it” failures.

You know the solution to such sins, don’t you?  In church terms, it requires some old fashioned repentance.  In other words, you change your behavior.

So, are you mistreating your employees?  Then it’s time to stop.

So, are you failing to give your employees the encouragement, the training, the coaching, the resources they need to do their best work?  It’s time to start.

After all, what’s the use of hiring employees and then setting them up to fail?  That’s just bad business.


Also, check out Bob Morris’ blog post The Set-Up-To-Fail Syndrome: A book review by Bob Morris.  Her’s a key excerpt:

…supervisors are often unaware of the fact that they are “complicit in an employee’s lack of success. How? By creating and reinforcing a dynamic that essentially sets up perceived weaker performers to fail.” Hence the title of the book. 

Manzoni and Barsoux assert that the set-up-to-fail syndrome is “both self-fulfilling and self-reinforcing, which obscures the boss’s responsibility in the process as well as some of the key psychological and social mechanisms involved.” My own experience suggests an often great discrepancy exists between modes of behavior determined by conscious and unconscious mindsets. That is to say, many supervisors would vehemently deny that they are “complicit in an employee’s lack of success….[by] creating and reinforcing a dynamic that essentially sets up perceived weaker performers to fail.” Nonetheless they are. Were they to read this book, they would probably agree that there is such a syndrome and then lament how unfair it is to subordinates who are victimized by it.    

How Not to Win the 2012 Super Bowl

On February 5, 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, a Super Bowl Champion will be crowned.  I do not know which team will win, although, though I am a Cowboys fan, you almost have to root for Manning and the Colts at their home field.

But I know that every team in the league will follow pretty much the same disciplines to try to win the prize.

Here’s what no team will do:  the supervisors of each department (the coaches over each area) will not gather their players together and say, “ok guys – our goal is to win the Super Bowl.  Here’s your assignments – We’ll check back with you in December to see how you are doing.”

You get it, don’t you?!  Such an approach would be ridiculous.

They meet, and meet, time and time again

Each team will have countless meetings.  The entire team will meet, and then, each player meets with the other players and the coach over his area, over and over and over again, throughout the season.  They have mid-course corrections every week, every day, every game.  If the defensive coach sees a problem, he will call an “emergency” meeting in the middle of the game, on the sidelines, and give corrective instructions.  And player after player receives one-on-one coaching constantly, throughout each game

These guys take it seriously.

And yet, as seriously as every team, every player, every coach takes it, only one team can come out on top.  It really is a competitive world out there.

So – what’s the point of this short blog post?  It is this.  The ridiculous scenario, the “here’s your assignment, I’ll check back in five months” approach, is exactly how too many people try to succeed” in their business.  People are given assignments, and then left on their own.  No meetings, no mid-course-correctives – just  “Here’s your assignment – I’ll check back in five months.”  So many leave it all to an “annual performance review” to “check in, and offer needed coaching and correctives.”  This is a guaranteed scenario for failure.

You may not win the Super Bowl, but without regular meetings, constant coaching, mid-course correctives, constant attention, and constant encouragement when the job is well done, you won’t even be able to play on the same field as the big boys.

As I have said and written often, “you accomplish what you meet about!”

Coach Ron Washington-Bringing Out The Best, But Never Pretentious (Insight From Michael Lewis, Moneyball)

“That's the way baseball go." Ron Washington

Quoted without comment, about Ron Washington, while he was the infield coach of the Oakland A’s:

Ron Washington was the infield coach because he had a gift for making players want to be better than they were — though he would never allow himself such a pretentious thought.
Michael Lewis, Moneyball, (p. 165).

Go Rangers!