Monthly Archives: April 2012

“Light bulb moments” – The joy of giving

Back in December, in the heart of the festive season I was pondering the thought and purpose of it all.  The festive season, the season for giving as well as receiving; like me the joy for many, is in the former.  That is why when my family encouraged me to sell unwanted household items on ebay I wasn’t too sure about the whole process.

Was this desire to make money out of what I considered useless junk really greed in another disguise. The bidding and selling process had an air of gambling about, and I could quickly see how people could become addicted to the thrilled as bids would raised during the last dying seconds of the auction time on items placed for sale.

Having succumbed to the pressure of registering an ebay account I was constantly being asked to auction items that my husband no longer wanted in order that he could clear the garage. What I actually discovered was that as a seller you had to be creative, articulate and ruthlessly organised! All attributes that appealed to me as a trainer.

So when we had a new fireplace fitted it was an unspoken decision to auction the old Adams Fireplace surround on ebay; not really believing that anybody would want somebody else’s old mantelpiece, albeit that it was in an immaculate condition. But sure enough the bids came in.

It should be mentioned that I had set a really low ‘buy now’ price, despite being told that the old mantelpiece, even as a secondhand item, was worth a great deal more. I believed that it would encourage a quick sale and also I was still struggling with the greed verses practically issue.

The auction closed and the buyer, a young family man and his wife, duly arrived to collect the item.  I watched from my bedroom window as the buyer my husband gently position the mantelpiece into the back of the buyers car, and it was at this point that I had what we call in training circles a ‘light bulb moment’. …..I felt good about this sale.  Just as I had felt good when I gave a pine table and chairs to the Debra Charity Shop a few weeks earlier and they written to me afterwards to say that it had raised £80 for their charity. Fantastic!

The mantelpiece buyer and his wife were thrilled with the purchase and they shared with us that they could not afford to buy a new one. Yes the buyer, by his own admission had genuinely picked up a bargain, but I didn’t mind this at all. It was the fact that I felt socially good about the sale.  My old mantelpiece which I no longer liked was bringing joy to somebody else. The joy for me was truly in the giving. Just as I give of my knowledge, experiences and real life business stories whenever I am training.  Over coffee later that day I was talking with my husband comparing the feeling I had about our ebay sale with the same feeling that I get when I deliver training.

Whenever I deliver training I will of course start off in the customary way, such as clearly defining the course outcomes and noting down the delegates’ objectives etc; but I also state that we may during the course of the programme refresh previously learnt techniques that may have been laid dormant, in addition obviously to learning new tips and skills.

As a trainer you always know when delegates are hearing said new skills and techniques for the first time; these are trainers ‘light bulb moments’ as when delegates pick up new hints and tips their faces physically change, they become more relaxed and engaged in the session.  It is truly a joy to observe and be part of.  To be able to pass on your knowledge, experiences and real life business stories is indeed an honor, and one that I never take for granted and certainly one that never fails to thrill me.

The lesson in this comparison is that we all often dispose of, or disregard what we no longer think we need or have a place for in that particular moment in time. We sell items on ebay or we believe that we must discover the latest management techniques because tried and test methodologies surely cannot work, when, more often than not, they do!

My job as a trainer is to ensure that I get as many ‘light bulb moments’ as I possibly can in any one training session. As a minimum for me it has to be at least one per delegate. I personally always ask delegates at the end of each training programme to share with me what they have personally taken away for their session. This in turn helps me to measure the success of the training and ensures that the materials and content is kept up-to-date, as well as being relevant and fresh.

As I have said, as a trainer to be given the forum to be able to pass on your knowledge, experiences and real life business stories extremely gratifying and a great way of giving something back to society as well as the next generation of business managers.

Whilst the joy of giving away ones unwanted processions via ebay for little financial gain is socially rewarding, nothing compares to the thrill and satisfaction one gets from delivering an insightful training session full of ‘light bulb moments’. This I concluded you cannot buy on ebay!

Trisha Proud – Partners in Solutions Ltd


Are we dumbing down?

Don’t ‘dumb down’ during recession!

Don’t Dumb-Down  – “dumbing down” is not an inevitable consequence of recession.

As yet another year fades into the distance and the Olympics looming heavily on the horizon the ever cautious economists are telling us that we are heading into ‘a double dip recession’; bringing with it a sense of doom. With this in mind I started to observe businesses more closely. I can still recall the words of my University lecturer who proclaimed that one should “never, ever, ever dumb down in a recession”.

As a trainer who knows only too well that whenever budgets are tight, or a recession hits training can sometimes be the first thing to be axed. I wanted to challenge this out dated business practice, as I believe that reducing people and business development activities is actually false economy. I tested my theory as 2011 drew to a close by visiting five different garden centers and found that they all had “dumbed down” their Christmas sections, which were cold empty places lacking seasonal atmosphere. What wasted business opportunities these were. Due to their obvious decision to “dumb down”, instead of their tills jingling these customers, like me, went elsewhere.

I told myself we would make up the loss to the economy as the great British sun seeking public got into their stride as 2012 arrived. Or would we?  Would the airlines allow us to? It is not just the budget airlines affecting the economy; it is virtually ever airline, which appears to be falling into the same business inefficiency trap. More and more travellers are opting to take on board ‘hand luggage’ in order to avoid increasing charges for luggage check-in. The era of the airline wheelie trolley has arrived! Many airlines when confronted with 90%+ of their passengers at the boarding gate clinging desperately to their beloved wheelie bags have now realized that the capacity of today’s cabin stowage cannot cope.

When this happens, airlines have taken to offering free luggage check-in at the gate. Such precious revenue is surely too good to be given away. The real message here is that these airlines have forgotten of the old adage of 10% of something is better than 10% of nothing. In other words if airlines had not decided to “dumb down” their luggage check-in service and instead set their luggage check-in fees at a reasonable level then they would actually make more money!

My lecturer was right that one should “never, ever, ever dumb down in a recession”. Whatever your belief there can be no doubt that some businesses are starting to “dumb-down”, which should not be a natural consequence of recession. Let us learn the lessons in that:

  • Cutting services or quality of products in a service industry is suicidal; customers will go elsewhere for good service and quality products.
  • There can be no doubt that ‘recruiting’ on the cheap is false economy.
  • Making do with existing teams that have not received any training or talent development support will dumb down businesses automatically, and equally as bad the competition are more likely to steal your ground and market share.

In summary the sooner businesses that adopt this thinking recognise that “dumbing down” is not an inevitable consequence of recession and reverse the process, the more likely they are to survive this recession and the years ahead.

Trisha Proud – Partners in Solutions Ltd

Trisha Proud

Trisha Proud

Trisha Proud – Managing Partner of Partners in Solutions Ltd
“Independant Business Support” …..delivering the very best training and consultancy