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Leadership Camps for Teens and Youngsters- Lonvala - Dec 2009

The Forum of Free Enterprise is holding 2 residential camps at Lonavala; for youngsters between 20 to 24 years on 'Personal Leadership' and for teens between 14 to 18 years on 'Reaching the Zenith'. This would be in December - 21st to 28th and 28th to 31st respectively. Details of the camp are at the end of the email.

Both these camps are fully supported by the Dorabji Tata Trust. Details are below the script of this email.

I am the Camp Director for the 'Reaching the Zenith' Camp. If you know of youngster or teenager who would want to participate, please write to me on ajitkamath@wiztalks.com and I shall send the softcopy of the forms to you. The forms have to be sent to Forum of Free Enterprise and they would select the participants (applying doesn't guarantee you admission)

Note: The last date has been extended. We are still open to a few more applications.

Most trainers are merely PPT readers

Most trainers are merely PPT readers - a comment I read on linkedin to which I have put forth my observations below:
I have an objection to the loose use of "most" by the originator of the comment here. It assumes that the person has observed all of us Trainers and then made a comment w.r.t. "most".

If you had said "Most presenters are PPT readers" I would have agreed.

I have had the privilege of conducting TTT's, observing many Trainers / Presenters / Speakers in Mumbai and have a fairly decent network of training friends from whom I have realised that the following:

1. Freelancers and people who get training assignments from Companies generally tend to use PPT more as an Aid and a Cue Card for remembering the flow. They don't end up being PPT readers.

2. There are many Trainers who absolutely don't use PPT at all / or to the basic minimum. They use powerful methodologies like Story Telling, Role Plays, Acitivites, Games, Role Modeling, Group Ex…

Question: Factors to be kept in mind while designing a training program and what are the different delivery styles one can adopt while training?

Question by Nisha Dhanuka
on http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&gid=48422&discussionID=7595367&sik=&trk=mywl_artile&goback=.mwg_48422_1
My Answer:Whilst designing the training program, I would find out the following:
- Why is this training required (Needs)
- What is expected to change after this training
- Participant profile - Age, Experience, Level, Qualifications, Culture etc. (this would make me decide how the training moves; an e.g. a program for a logical oriented audience would be different from a creative audience
- How many days do we have for this intervention.

Delivery Styles would be individual but I believe can be trained and enhanced. If the above has been mapped, a passionate Trainer can easily adapt to their audience.

4 Basic Styles are:
Lecturer
Speaker / Presenter
Trainer
Facilitator

A Trainer has to know how to Train & Facilitate, both. Methodologies and techniques need to be used for being effective in transfer of learnings

An Interesting Answer to my Question: Why can't CEO's be involved in Training???

Anne Thornley-Brown, President, Executive Oasis International answered my Question in Linkedin (here details are at the end of this post)

Training and team building that isn't closely linked to the strategic direction of your organization and the real world issues and challenges of your business is a waste of time. It is really important for CEOs and other executives to be involved in training and team building to maintain this focus. Why?

It is really important for CEOs and other executives to support team building and training to ensure that:

- The company vision gets communicated clearly
- You leverage each and every opportunity to reinforce the corporate culture you are trying to shape
- Team building and training exercies get infused with real world issues, not theoretical cases
- You have a feedback mechanism to help you keep your finger on the pulse so that you get unfiltered access to what is going on in your management team and on the frontline with clients

Another important rea…

How much of ‘entertaining‘ is advisable in Training?

How much of ‘entertaining’ is advisable in Training? What is the role of humor and fun in a learning environment? The question also how and how much?
(The above were questions asked in linkedin)My thoughts:
Games, Activities, Humor etc. surely make learning "Fun". I'm unsure whether we can call this 'entertainment' because this can take the Trainer away from the objectives of the learning session.

I use instant humour more in the post-lunch space or if I feel that the energy levels of the participants has dipped.

I would also decide the "how much" part of it, by mapping my audience well. For e.g. if it's a young crowd (college-going) then the session would be laced with humour and fun, but if it's a senior profile that I am handling, then I would 'tone-down' the humour and fun bit.

In certain training programs such as Communication Skills, Presentation Skills, Negotiation Skills etc. the 'fun' element can be integrated as part of the…

Why can't CEO's be involved in Training???

Last week I was in a meeting.

The HR Manager announced that we would be meeting the CEO of this company for a discussion on the training intervention.

I was surprised because normally this doesn't happen in the first meeting itself.

The CEO was young and dynamic. He was briefed about me well by the HR Manager and we immediately got into the training objectives, the program and the effectiveness (In most cases, whenever I meet senior Management, I have to first give an introduction of myself (either the HR hasn't briefed them about me or the senior hasn't read the brief that was sent).

The meeting was focused and ended well. The CEO also gave me required inputs about the targeted group too. I was highly impressed!

Meeting over, I had a thought:

Why can't more CEO's get involved in the training of the organisation?
Why is it difficult to have their perspective of the Training need?

Does it mean, I don't trust HR? Absolutely not!!!
But my experience is that many HR profess…

Rain rain come again

Today was a wet rainy day. It had rained all night.

Morning came, and wow!!! I was in Vienna. There is water all around our building.

I stay on the ground floor but our architect /builder (more than 70 years ago) had foreseen water logging on our road. The ground floor is at a height of about 6 feet from the road level. Think of planning and proactivity.

It was wonderful!!! The road was less noisy with only a few BEST buses passing by (all other traffic having stopped). When the bus came the waves also come in. The pleasant breeze was enjoyable too.

Suddenly I remembered that I had a training program to go for. Now I wanted the water to go away. Unfortunately it didn't.

I called up the client and spoke to them. They were accomodating. Raghunath (HR) told me it was fine and to take a call. At about 10 am, water disappeared, called up the client and they said we could still start the session at about 11.30 a.m. So off I was.

Again at about 4 p.m. there was a scare and we had to close th…

It's really really funny.

It's really really funny.

I know of Training Companies whose Trainers are made to claim (who dares ask for proof from the Trainers?) on the floor that their training interventions reduced attrition in client companies, but when it comes to their own Trainers they haven't been able to reduce attrition at all. Many Trainers are leaving sooo soon and that too "hurt" .

One of the reason is that most Training Companies (my previous experience and of my network of trainers experiences tell me) don't have any HR processes at all. The Owners / Franchisees run Training Companies like "lalas" with autocratic form of leadership. They don't even let their teams know how much business they do. These are the same guys who 'teach' client participants that other styles of leadership should be used.

Another reason is payments of dues...
I remember a hilarious incident.... I and the Training Co's BD Manager, were observers to a training program being delivere…

Coaching in Presentation Skills / Public Speaking

In L&T, for a particular division in Mumbai, I coach small teams in delivering an effective presentation internally to their organisation's seniors. At times the coaching is to Supervisors who have to deliver a session to their newly promoted Supervisors. Recently it was for a competition. The fun of coaching such teams is that I'm working with practical application of the learning.

In training workshops, the skills are surely enhanced but chances are many of these participants may not get an opportunity to present for the next many months.

Presentation Skills / Public Speaking isn't like cycling or swimming.... once learnt, learnt for life. With these skills if you loose out on applying it regularly (at least once a week) the 'enhancement' starts coming back to the original position.

If organisations, do not provide opportunities to practice the skill on a regular basis, then the training effectivness (and thus the ROI) may suffer. Can the trainer really be bl…

"Silence" - a fear

I was in Chail, Himachal Pradesh, near Shimla for a NGO Training workshop.

This is a hill station in HP but probably not as crowded as Shimla. Nice quiet place. Temperature about 23 deg. For 3 days that I was there, I went for an early morning walk on 2 of those days.

The 2nd day, I started walking uphill, past a gurudwara and further on. This was about 6.30 am. There were houses on the way but "sleepy". I went further on.

After about 30 minutes, I paused as I was panting. Suddenly it struck me that it was eerily quiet... few birds, funny croaking by hill crows.... and nothing else. The breeze was playing truant with the cedar trees... and no human sound at all.

I was frightened., frightened of the silence and that I was alone. I didn't have the guts to go further on. I started back.... to the noises.

I wonder why? Is it that for a hard-core Mumbaite like me, who is so used to sounds (high decibles), so used to voices and noise... this "silence" was terrifying.

Is classroom training still relevant?

In India (no research to support my comment... just my observation),

IT guys seem to enjoy and sink in on-line learning more that other functions

Others seem to like Classroom Training and find if more effective.

Everyone doesn't have a internet connection at home, so the question is where would the log from.... naturally from the office... that means as it is they are hard pressed for time and now online learning mode becomes an additional time pressure. And more time to be spent on the machine now.... it's taking its toll.

Classroom training would be away from the screen, away from the seat and the associated organizational interferences (few consider such training as "picnics" if scheduled residential and in a resort). Interaction between participants happen and often encouraged by the Facilitator... it also makes people know each other better.

I for one, surely feel Classroom Training is relevant.

(P.S. We Indian's still psychologically follow the 'Gurukul trad…

Do you think that companies will invest in their people development training in 2009?

Yes, surely but depends on levels.

Senior level training budgets are reduced but not training per se i.e. the venue and facilities aren't 5-star hotels anymore (nor residential resorts) but in the office conference room itself (has it's disadvantages but ;-) trainings are happening and no cuts).

Similar is the situation for the mid-levels... the only hit is that people have been removed and therefore the no. of days engagement has been drastically reduced.

The entry-levels and the junior level freelance trainers have been hit the most. No more bulk trainings... in many companies either being done by internal trainers or by functional heads.... outsourced trainers have been hit.

Some companies have smartly started hiring full-time trainers so that a fixed salary could be paid and not per-day rates.

This is the India perspective.

Down & Out

Last week was quite frightful. Monday onwards, I caught a viral and by God!!!, it just put me down.

Fever on & off (as if someone was operating the switch here) and absolute tiredness. Just didn't want to wake up.... thankfully, not for ever!

I was to travel out of country but had to postpone the trip. Client partners were wonderful in support (thankfully, didn't have many assignments going on).

The good side...
My voice has become husky
I can sleep now at any time of the day without disturbance
I connected to the net minimum (wow!!!)
I woke up feeling "having slept".

Few more Queries in Training

Q- I want experiences of trainers speakers on how they entered the training speaking industry. Is it better to work with a training company for a year to understand the industry better or is it better to launch yourself directly as a freelancer. My personal outlook (the Questioners') is that most successful trainers speakers today launched themselves directly into the industry.

First there is a difference between Trainers and Speakers. Few of our colleagues do both, but I don't think the "Trainer Speaker" terminology isn't appropriate.

Speakers who have directly launched themselves into this industry (I'm not sure whether they considered it an industry!) were experts in their field, either as Professionals OR have written books which have been successful. They were invited to speak at various Forums and they did an excellent job of the same. The audience loved them, learnt from them and understood their books better. More books got sold. Meeting organisers want…

Queries in Training

I was asked a few questions on Training. I replied to them and thought would be interesting for my blog readers too. (This is from an India perspective)

1. what should one do to get into training sector?
Depends on why you want to be in this field and what's your personal vision.

Various ways you can get into this field: a. You could start by conducting sessions in schools and colleges. And then move on to training the entry level staff of companies.
b. Join a Company in the Learning & Development Department (part of HR). You may have to initially get into coordination of Training and may be more of an observer. This would strengthen your content knowledge. Once you are comfortable in the modules, then you could start by handling small modules along with a co-trainer.c. Join a Training Company. Again initially they may put you in co-ordination. They may also ask you to first start marketing (i.e. developing business). Then again you may get chances to co-facilitate and thus become…

Story Telling is a powerful training tool

Yes, undoubtedly Story Telling is a powerful training tool. Not only in training but stories can be used powerfully in presentations, group motivation and discussions. My personal belief is that bulleted conversations has it's strengths but if one can use a appropriate story, the understanding is far better and deeper.

I believe, "Leaders who use stories with their teams communicate much powerfully".

As a Trainer, when using stories, I find the participant reflection richer and the retention longer ... and not necessarily only factual stories. Even fables, stories from the panchatantra etc. have the desired effect.

But how many Trainer's use Stories?

At times we get so involved with concepts and processes that the motivational aspect of why should one learn the skill or the behaviour is not at all tackled

An additional thought:

In India, (where I majorly deliver my training interventions), our culture supports Stories.

Most of us live in a joint family system (nowadays chan…

At Pench Wildlife Santuary

Last week, I was at Pench as part of a Clients off-site. Pench is in the border of MP & Maharashtra (near Nagpur), a Wildlife Sanctuary spans about 7oo odd sq. kms. Saw lots of spotted dears, sambars and various other wildlife during our Safari. Birds were in plenty but the forest wasn't as green as I would have liked it to be (it was hot... about 40 degrees C).

We ran here and there (in our jeeps!) for the sighting of the elusive Tiger, few of us managed to see a grown-male cub's bum.

The sessions went off fine too but as the property (where we were staying) didn't have AC Conference Room, the participants were pretty hot & fried.

Regards
Ajit

The heat of March

March....

Possibly a month, where companies are concentrating on increasing their figures before the close of the financial year (in India).

Planned Training would be at the minimum in March. Therefore in March, personally, I have a lot of time to reflect, meet clients, develop new business etc.

Till last year, March was the time the smaller companies / unplanned HR / NGO's would rush to complete their (budgeted for) training. At times it was merely to complete an ISO requirement. But this year, due to market conditions these companies have no interest nor inclination.

The heat of March!!!!

Why am I a Trainer?

Sometimes I wonder,

Why am I a Trainer?
... preparation for each and every program,
... meeting clients, understanding needs, designing a curriculum,
... negotiating with clients on rates,
... participant workbooks,
... delivering effectively,
... analysing feedback,
... meeting clients again,
... and much more.

Won't it be better to take up a job? or do something else...

Then I realise,
I always wanted to be here,
... to make a difference in self through others

Regards
Ajit

Appreciation as a Soft Skill

Genuine appreciation is what one looks out for and one starts valuing the appreciation and the appreciator.

Let's explore our Indian culture....

The Appreciator (the one giving the appreciation)
How many of us genuinely know how to appreciate? The appreciator is clumsy giving it and if the receiver is of the opposite gender, the appreciator is worried about what the receiver would think! Nowadays appreciating someone from the same gender isn't easy too. Even a Leader doesn't know how to give it. When appreciation is given in a 'open' environment, onlookers make faces that range from "Why" to "Flirt!!!". Sometimes even the receiver tries to find out the 'underlying intention' behind the appreciation.

The Receiver (the one being appreciated)
Secondly how many of us know how to "accept" appreciation? When appreciated, we are 'embarrassed' , we don't know how to react or respond, so we start a 'defensive' process. I …

Attended a Wine Appreciation workshop REVIEW

My 'high's' at the Wine Appreciation Workshop: 7th Feb, 2009
organised by Trainers Forum at Mumbai

Being a teetotaler (Goa port wine being an exception), I had a reason to participate in the Wine Drinking (oops!) Appreciation workshop.

Ages back, whilst working at British Council, I was hosting a "reception" (gathering) wherein Press, Key Invitees (CEO's / MD's of Companies) and Consul Officers were invited to meet the touring group (performers, artistes, music groups).

My Senior was on leave so my Director and myself were the host. After the formal introductions, we had a formal get-together where 'pure' (imported under Diplomatic baggage) wines and liquor flowed.

As a host, I had a glass of white wine and a toast was raised by my Director. One sip of White Wine and it was awful! I quickly went to the bartender and asked for white rum with lemonade (so that I could kill the taste of white wine). One sip and I was on Cloud 9 (the combo seem…