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  • July 03, 2018 12:46 PM | Olga Polyakova (Administrator)
    By Eileen Terrell, VP, Communications and 2018 ATDChi President Elect
    with Susan Camberis, Editor, Training Today

    The Center to Advance Education for Adults (CAEA) at DePaul University hosted the School for New Learning (SNL) Graduates’ Showcase on June 21. 

    This annual event features graduate students’ final projects in the Master of Arts in Educating Adults and the Master of Arts in Applied Professional Studies programs.

    SNL students combine the practical and imaginative to satisfy their goals and dreams in an education that is self-directed. During the showcase, students share presentations/posters representing the outcomes of their final projects.  They also explain how their class work helped them to select and complete their final projects.  

    This year’s presenters and final projects included:

    • Eddie Jackson:  Improving Travel Professionals Working with Multi-Generations
    • Vincent Stokes:  Self-efficacy and the Future Selves Construct Strategies in Support of Adult Learners Academic Performance at DePaul University’s School for New Learning
    • Carolyn Webster:  Conscientizacao! Narrative Reflection on Becoming an Adult Educator with Focus on Popular Education and the Teachings of Paulo Freire
    • Abigail Baker – Escape to Clown Town- Fantasy Fiction Book
    • Theodore Foggy – A Sustainable Development Plan for Bronzeville Terrace
    • Jeanne Towns – The Breast Chronicles – Women’s Relationships with Their Bodies

    ATDChi leaders Eileen Terrell and Tamara Lewis, ATDChi Director of Alliance Relationships, met briefly with each student to discuss and share reflections on their final projects.  One common theme was the self-discovery process that each student went through while completing his/her project.

    Following the student presentations, Morris Fiddler, Professor Emeritus for DePaul’s SNL, led a panel discussion with program alums Cortney Sigilai, Sultana Perez, and Paddy Homan.  Alums are using their degrees in their professional lives to create their own businesses, to advance social causes, and to help with community initiatives.  They are leveraging what they have learned about educating adults and applying it to business ventures, community projects, and business challenges.


    To learn more about the SNL graduate program, visit:

  • July 03, 2018 12:43 PM | Olga Polyakova (Administrator)
    By Thomas H. West, CPLP
    2017 ATDChi President & former Co-Director, WLPI

    My initiation in the full science and art of good training came as a result of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant accident of 1979. I began working as a trainer with Westinghouse Nuclear Services when the “learnings” from that accident were being implemented throughout the industry, including change to the training of power plant operators.

    The operators on duty at Three Mile Island when the accident happened understood the operation of the nuclear reactor, but they did not understand basic thermodynamics and fluid flow. It was their misinterpretation of these the lead them to take actions leading to the accident. The training department  had not included these topics in the training program, and government regulators had not included these topics in licensing tests.

    The nuclear industry recognized that to have effective training, it was necessary to look more analytically at the job of reactor operator, to create clear linkages from the tasks a reactor operator does, to the knowledge and skill taught in the classroom and on the job, and finally to evaluations conducted during and after training. The methods selected to do this were found in Instructional System Design (ISD), the forerunner of the ADDIE model, and it was from this that I learned the full scope of what it means to be a training professional.

    Luckily, it is no longer necessary to have a nuclear accident to learn the importance of a systematic approach to training. WLPI was created by “old hands” in the industry to show new and experienced trainers alike the full scope of the employee training process and how to ensure that each individual training event is connected to actual job needs and supports documentable performance improvement—for the business, as well as for the employee. 

    The Fall 2018 WLPI begins on Oct 13, 2018 and consists of seven sessions.  Learn more here:

  • July 03, 2018 12:36 PM | Olga Polyakova (Administrator)
    By Susan Camberis
    Editor, Training Today

    ATDChi’s June Networking Dinner and Clinic featured a panel discussion of local TD professionals sharing their certification experiences. 

    The Association for Talent Development’s Certification Institute (ATD CI) offers two certifications based on the ATD competency model:

    • The Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) is broad-based, covering 10 areas of expertise (or AOEs).  It consists of a three-hour knowledge exam and a three-hour skills application exam.

    • The Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD) covers three primary AOEs as defined by the ATD competency model:  instructional design, training delivery, and learning technologies.  It consists of one two-hour exam. 

    Bill Cupuro, CPLP, and ATDChi’s Director of CPLP, moderated a discussion entitled “Exploring the CPLP and APTD:  Should It Be in Your Career Plan?”  Panelists included:  Anthony Dudek, CPLP, 2018 ATDChi President; Dave Lee, CPLP, Learning Strategist; Eileen Terrell, CPLP, ATDChi Vice President of Communications and 2018 President-Elect; Kirsten Walker, APTD, ATDChi Director of Event Management; and Tom West, CPLP, 2017 ATDChi President. 


    If you are thinking about certification, here are 5 expert tips to consider: 


    1. Know your “why”.  Motivation matters – especially when considering certification.  For Anthony Dudek, certification was about the joy of learning and expanding his professional knowledge base.  Eileen Terrell saw the CPLP as a natural progression.  After completing ATDChi’s WLPI program (, Terrell viewed the CPLP as an opportunity to “go wider” – broadening her TD thinking in a more integrated way.  Kirsten Walker chose to purse the APTD during its 2017 pilot period.  As a self-described “accidental trainer”, Walker wanted a way to learn and share knowledge with her company.

    2. Decide which certification is right for you.  The CPLP is designed for professionals with five or more years of experience, or four years experience with one year of schooling.  The APTD is designed for professionals with at least three years of experience in talent development or a related field, or at least two years experience plus one year of schooling.

    3. Make time to study.  Both exams require time to prepare, so making sure you have the bandwidth is critical. Terrell studied for approximately five months for the CPLP knowledge exam.  Once she passed it, she then studied for approximately three more months before taking the skills application exam.

    4. Have a study plan.  While panelists’ test preparation methods varied, everyone agreed that having a study plan is a “must.” Dave Lee found the Rocky Mountain online study group ( helpful with “pacing” the content.  Sessions are facilitated by participants and cover one AOE each week for 12 weeks.  All panelists used study materials available through ATD CI and some use accountability partners or “study buddies”.

    5. Once you’ve earned it, keep your certification up-to-date.  To keep CPLP and APTD credentials “current,” professionals must re-certify every three years.   Both re-certification processes are points-based.  CPLPs need at least 60 points during each three-year cycle, and APTDs need at least 40 points.  Tom West explained that points can be earned through continuing education, speaking and instructing, ATDChi board membership, ATD membership, research and publishing, and on-the job experience. 


    With the assistance of ATDChi’s Gold Sponsor, CARA Group, ATDChi has established a CPLP and APTD scholarship program to assist deserving individuals with the costs of achieving certification.  To qualify, you must be a full-time resident of the geographic region served by the ATD, Chicagoland Chapter and meet the criteria to apply for the CPLP or APTD credentials.  The deadline to submit an application for the 2018 scholarships is Friday, July 7, 2018.  To learn more and to submit an application, visit:


    For questions or to learn more certification, contact ATDChi's Director of CPLP, Bill Cupuro, CPLP

  • June 04, 2018 9:52 AM | Olga Polyakova (Administrator)

    By Susan Camberis
    Editor, Training Today


    ATDChi’s May event was the Chicagoland Talent Development Leadership Forum. 

    Featuring some of our region’s top learning leaders, the event centered around a panel discussion entitled, Learning and Development Today:  How are Learning Leaders Preparing for the Future of Learning?  The event was co-sponsored by ATDChi, The CARA Group, and Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, and was held at LFGSM’s Schaumburg campus. 

    Michelle Reid-Powell, VP of Talent Management and OE with The Cara Group, shared opening remarks and moderated the panel discussion.  Panelists included:  Jenny Massoni, Director, Global Lead for Learning and Change Enablement with Astellas; Teri Hart, Sr. Director of Learning Strategy with Discover Financial Services; Don Stanley, Director of Leadership Development with W.W. Grainger; Peggy Degnan, Director of Leadership Development with AJ Gallagher; and Mary Clare Healy, Global Director of Learning and Development with Informa. 

    Before the panelists shared their perspectives, Reid-Powell highlighted key trends and CARA’s own market research on Learning and Development (L&D).    

    The evolution of L&D has happened blindingly fast – moving quickly from Talent Management to Digital Learning and heading for Intelligent Learning (i.e. intelligent, personalized, machine-driven), according to Bersin by Deloitte.

    CARA’s client research has found that companies are innovating their approaches from event-based design to learner-centric design and are utilizing different ways to access content (e.g. interactive PDFs, YouTube channels).  Many are considering learners as “consumers”, adapting “customer experience” and “design thinking” approaches to learning (e.g. mapping the learning journey, focusing on moments of truth, using net promoter scores to rate learning departments).  Micro learning remains in high demand and is usually part of a blended learning approach. 

    Here are 6 smart insights from the evening’s discussion:

    1. It’s not “Field of Dreams.”  When discussing learning challenges, Don Stanley shared that business transformation can put added stress on organizations.  His team’s approach at W.W. Grainger has been to look for ways to encourage front-line leaders and team members to “pull” on development – to utilize the resources available.  According to Stanley, “It’s not field of dreams.”  The organization has to perceive a business need before it will build a new solution.
    2. Less is more.  “Helping different teams and vendors to curate is key when it comes to content,” according to Mary Clare Healy.  At Informa, Mary’s team seeks to offer content that can be consumed in 5 minutes or less.  According to Healy, “People won’t click onto to search.”  In line with this reflection, Reid-Powell shared a 2016 Microsoft study that found the human attention span is now less than 8 seconds (= less than that of a goldfish). 
    3. Micro learning is not always the right solution.  Despite the trends regarding attention span, “deep” learning is still important when it comes to developing capabilities, according to Teri Hart.  At Discover, Hart and her team are discussing the trends in micro learning and developing learning strategies that balance the need to be efficient with the need to ensure Discover is developing the capabilities required to drive the business. 
    4. Ask the right questions.  Reflecting on the critical skills that L&D team members need now and will need in the future, Jenny Massoni shared that she is trying to cultivate a “performance consultant” mindset with her team.  “You have to have effective questioning skills,” said Massoni. 
    5. Flexibility is key.  Discussing the impact of learning trends on teams and approach, Peggy Degnan shared that AJ Gallagher is moving towards a shared service model.  The organization’s desire is to have team members (e.g. designers and facilitators) that can be leveraged across the organization – as a way to maximize flexibility.  This includes having a pool of resources to support leadership development.
    6. Packaging matters.  According to Reid-Powell, “look and feel” is becoming as important as content itself.  For this reason, many L&D departments are shifting towards a marketing communications approach vs. a pure instructional design approach. 

    With investment and C-level support for learning on the rise, it remains a great time to be in learning and development. 

    And, while the landscape will continue to evolve and present new challenges, today’s learning leaders are up to the challenge. 


    How are you preparing for the future of learning? 


  • April 28, 2018 6:11 PM | Olga Polyakova (Administrator)

    By Susan Camberis
    Editor, Training Today

    ATDChi’s April all-day workshop featured Diane Elkins, author of E‑Learning Uncovered and co-owner of Artisan E-Learning ( Diane has built a reputation as a national e‑learning expert by being a frequent speaker at major industry events such as ATD ICE, ATD TechKnowledge, DevLearn, and Learning Solutions.  She shared her expertise at this sold-out event, helping participants compare Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate.

    The workshop was truly a “test drive” – providing attendees with a valuable first-hand perspective of what it’s really like to work in the two tools.  One of the goals of the workshop was to enable participants to make better decisions about tool choice in the future, rather than having to rely on marketing data or articles.  

    “Which tool is best?” Diane asked of workshop participants.  The answer is “Yes!”  

    Both tools have great features and raving fans…and, both tools also have “quirks” and critics.  According to Diane, Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate are about 85% the same, but sometimes the 15% is really important. 

    • 1. Business model.  Price points and how the two companies handle upgrades vary.  A perpetual (i.e. “own it forever”) license for Storyline3 runs $1,398 and you’ll pay 50% of this price to upgrade. Storyline can also be purchased through Articulate360, a suite of products available for a subscription price of $995/year.  With Articulate360 “bells and whistles” are coming all the time, as on-going improvements are made.  A team subscription is available, but licenses become more expense.  If you create a file in Storyline3, it cannot be opened in Storyline2.
    • 2. Ease of use (i.e. Learning Curve).  If you’re familiar with PowerPoint, you will immediately notice a familiar look and feel when using Storyline.  Because of this, according to Diane, “You can figure out 40% pretty easily.”  If you’re more accustomed to working in Windows, you can expect to have a steeper learning curve upfront with Captivate.
    • 3. Time Savers.  Articulate360 includes an extensive content library, making it easy to find images and videos, including interactions.  Character options are more limited (~30).  Articulate Storyline also has a very active user community (625K users) called E-Learning Heroes(, which can help you expand your knowledge, connect with other users, and download templates.  This can be a helpful resource to check out, whether or not you choose to purchase from Articulate.    
    • 4. Interactions.  Both systems use “variables” to create content.  Storyline is a generally a better choice for training with fewer variables.  “And/or” logic is easier to set up in Captivate – for example if you need supervisors and front-line employees to see different training content, and different content depending on location, etc.  “Click to reveal” content is generally more challenging to set up in Captivate, as is having buttons that have more than one function.
    • 5. Mobile design. Elkins also discussed the difference between “mobile first” and “mobile responsive” design.  “Mobile first” is when you design first for mobile devices (i.e. phones, tablets) versus desktops.  “Mobile responsive” is when a website automatically adjusts to any device.  If you need training to be truly mobile responsive, Captivate is a generally better choice.   NOTE: Articulate360 includes access to RISE – an easy-to-use, rapid design eLearning tool that is great for smartphones.   

    Neither tool is particularly good at producing certificates, so certificates may be better handled through an LMS.  

    If you would like to “test drive” either tool for yourself, visitwww.articulate.comto sign-up for a free 60-day trial of Articulate360.  If you have a Mac, sign up for a free 14-day trail for Parallels Desktop 13 (a Windows emulator) at  Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Captivate at

    To stay up to date on the latest with Diane and Artisan E-Learning, follow @dpelkins and @ArtisanElrng.

  • March 22, 2018 8:54 PM | Olga Polyakova (Administrator)

    By Susan Camberis
    Editor, Training Today

    ATDChi’s March members-only skill building clinic and networking event featured Talent Development (TD) expert Megan Torrance. Megan is the CEO and Founder of TorranceLearning, an award winning consulting firm in Eastern Michigan.

    Sponsored by Benedictine University in Lisle, the event was held in Benedictine’s new Sorensen Hall of Leaders, named for long-time faculty member and TD/OD leader Dr. Peter Sorensen. Before Torrance took the stage, Dr. Sorensen and fellow professor Dr. Therese Yaeger, both long-time friends of ATDChi, welcomed participants and discussed the important connections between TD and Organization Development.

    The clinic highlighted several instructional design tools that Torrance and her team have successfully used with client companies across industries. Megan highlighted the idea that you won’t necessarily use all of the tools in a tool kit for each project, but that it is important to have the right tool when the need arises.

    Here are three actionable learnings from the event:

    1. Align learning objectives to business results. Torrance highlighted Brinkerhoff & Apking's high impact learning map (2001) as one useful way to drive alignment. Brinkerhoff and Apking suggest aligning learning objectives first to critical job tasks, then to key results, then business unit results, and finally to organization goals. This alignment drives the “why”. The “how” comes in the form of helping learners understand how individual learning objectives align to organizational goals and objectives.

    2. Design for “moments of learning need.” Torrance has expanded upon Gottfredson & Mosher’s 5 Moments of Learning Need (New, More, Apply, Problem Solving, and Change), adding four of her own (Before, Prepare, Remember, and Teach). Considering each moment and how training will (or will not) help to address the need can be a valuable exercise when designing learning experiences.

    3. Make MVP your BFF. Given the rapid pace of business today, Torrance is a proponent of the Minimum Viable Product (or MVP). This means cycling more rapidly through the traditional ADDIE model (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate), so that evaluation takes place earlier and more frequently. Megan’s rules for iterations are: it does real work; someone else has to use it; you gather data, and data informs the work in the next iteration.

    For more information about the tools shared in the session, visit:

    To stay up to date on the latest with Megan and TorranceLearning, follow @MMTorrance, @xAPIGnome, and @Tlearning

  • February 28, 2018 11:05 AM | Olga Polyakova (Administrator)

    ATDCHi's 2017 CPLP Scholarship Winners Dave Lee and Eileen Terrell share their experience of becoming CPLPs.

    What was your motivation to pursue CPLP?

    Dave: Honestly, I decided I wanted certification to demonstrate the knowledge and skills I have gained over my career. I chose the CPLP because it seems to have the most visibility among the various certifications. I chose the Managing Learning Programs SAE because my experience has been in managerial positions.

    Eileen: I decided to pursue the CPLP after speaking with a couple of people that I met in the Fall 2016 Workplace Learning and Performance Institute (WLPI) session. I wasn’t sure how the CPLP would complement my existing education and experience. I have two Master’s Degrees and over 25 years as a Learning Professional. I spoke with several people that had received their CPLP credential and everyone had similar responses. It really enhanced their ability to broaden their conversations with their clientsn. So, I decided to pursue the CPLP to in order to expand my body of knowledge in others areas of Talent Development.

    How did you study for the Knowledge Exam?

    Dave: For me, studying for the KE was a challenge of time management and gauging what I knew and what I needed to learn.  The ATD practice test was vital in setting a baseline, checking me at midway, and final check two weeks before the test.  I also did the virtual study group by ATD Rocky Mountain.

    Eileen: I partnered with one other person and we scheduled ongoing study sessions meeting face-to-face and virtually. We leveraged the ATD Learning System as our primary resource. We completed the quizzes and the practice exams. We also leveraged tips and suggestions mentioned in the book “Mastering the CPLP” by Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP.

    How was your experience taking the Knowledge Exam?

    Eileen: This was straightforward. I made sure that I read each question slowly to understand what was being asked. Most of the questions were definitely written to assess comprehension versus just recall . Different terms were used than what was in The ATD Learning System, so you really needed to know the concept. Waiting for the results was the longest two minutes.

    Dave: The KE was straight forward. Even with reviewing around 30 questions, I finished in 2 hours. My main tactic was to track questions that I “knew” I had correct.  As I worked through the test I could check to see how I was doing toward the 70+/-% passing score.  You can see more detail about my KE experience in One Down, One to Go.

    And what about preparation for the Skills Application Exam?

    Dave: This was far harder than studying for the Knowledge Exam. It took me several frustrating months to come to a process I felt comfortable with. See Keep Calm. Don’t Panic! for details. The key to my success was applying the Key Actions to my experience or creating scenarios where I hadn’t experienced the specific situations.

    Eileen: This was very challenging as the case studies within the ATD Learning system contained the answers, so the value was really in the practice exams. I re-read my selected AOE a few times and reviewed the key actions. I also leveraged materials provided by Tish Uhl. The biggest takeaway is that although you select one AOE to focus on, your approach should be an integrated one. You can’t execute “one” AOE without considering others.

    Tell us about taking the SAE

    Eileen: This was super hard because of the integration of many AOEs at one time. My selected AOE, Instructional Design, still had me thinking about Training delivery, Learning Technologies, Global Mindset, and Evaluations. I really had to divide the time equally between all of the case studies and I used the entire three hours. You can’t focus on one AOE, it is important to consider all of the competencies.

    Dave: Holy moly! This was the hardest test I’ve ever taken. I used all 3 hours. This test is about knowing how we work. It is about experience in the practice of managing learning programs. Best tactic, suggested by a colleague, was writing down target times for each case and each set of questions. Without this, I would likely have not completed the test.

    And finally, how was waiting for and finding out the results?

    Eileen: I tried to not to think about the results waiting for the 10 weeks to fly by. I focused on the experience and glad that I had gone through the process. Whether I had passed the SAE or not, I felt that I could have even better conversations with my clients. I felt 50/50 about passing. I told myself that if I didn’t pass, I would retake it as soon as administratively possible. Then the email came and I looked at it for a few hours because the subject line tells you nothing. I finally got the nerve up to open it, I passed. I now have the CPLP credential and I added those letters to my name with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

    Dave: 10 weeks of wondering if I was done or if I would need to go back to studying. My tactic of tracking questions I had right for the SAE had me expecting I would be right on the pass/fail line. The email that came didn’t give specifics on score. I don’t know how close it was. But I passed. I’m a CPLP.

    Congratulations, Dave and Eileen!

    Consider becoming a CPLP in 2018? Reach out to Bill Cupuro to learn more about the certification, its benefits, and resources available for ATDChi members.

  • February 28, 2018 10:10 AM | Olga Polyakova (Administrator)
    By Susan Camberis
    Editor, Training Today

    ATDChi’s February Networking Clinic featured an orderly conversation with ATDChi Past President, Greg Owen-Boger and long-time ATDChi friend, Dale Ludwig about their latest book Effective SMEs: How to Help Subject Matter Experts Facilitate Learning (ATD, 2017). Pro tip: use ATDChi code CH5009 when purchasing the book.

    Effective SMEs features real-life examples and tips based on Greg and Dale’s experiences at Turpin Communication and builds upon the key concepts described in their earlier book, The Orderly Conversation (Granville Circle Press, 2014)

    My key take-away was a better understanding of the “orderly conversation” – both how it applies to training design and delivery, and how the framework can be used to work more effectively with SMEs.  

    The authors believe that training should feel like an “orderly conversation” where: 

    • “Orderly” refers to preparation, accuracy, and structure = instructional design (planning); and
    • “Conversation” refers to engagement, spontaneity, and interactivity = instructor-led training (presenting).

    According to Dale and Greg, “People tend to gravitate in one direction or the other.”  They asked participants:  Who are you more like?

    • “Writers” tend to prefer the “orderly” side of the framework.  They thrive on organization and preparation; they can sometimes seem inflexible and strict during training delivery.  When designing for writers, be sure to include lots of prompts on your slides. 
    • “Improvisers” are individuals who tend to prefer the “conversation” itself.  They thrive on forming connections and can sometimes lose focus during delivery.  When designing for improvisers, provide cues to help them manage their time. 

    The model is easily applied to TD professionals and to the SMEs we work with.  And, when we better understand our SMEs, we design more effective training. 

    Building on this idea, Greg and Dale shared a few additional practical tips for working with SMEs:

    • “Slides are really about giving the SMEs visual cues,” the shared.  For this reason, make sure slides include specific titles and include key points.   
    • Facilitator guides should be built with this same idea in mind – with a visual on one side of the page, and the “intent” of the slide (not a script) on the other.  You need some structure for your “writers”, but if you are overly prescriptive, you’ll lose your “improvisers.”
    • Learning objectives are great for instructional designers, but not always as helpful for SMEs and learners. 
    • Activities should be optional – provide a few alternatives for SMEs to determine what leaners need…or offer two options.  Don’t assume that including icebreakers, games, or humor will be welcomed by SMEs.
    • Help SMEs debrief.  If you’re going to do an activity, it is crucial to spend the time to debrief.  Listen for nuance, dig deeper, it’s not always about the right answer.   

    Greg and Dale concluded their orderly conversation with ATDChi by sharing the following:  “Perfection in a conversation is never going to happen.  It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be a conversation.” 


    To learn more about Turpin Communication and The Orderly Conversation, visit:

  • February 27, 2018 4:33 PM | Olga Polyakova (Administrator)

    By Susan Camberis
    Editor, Training Today

    Do you enjoy writing and blogging?

    Are you interested in volunteering with ATDChi this year?

    In support of ATDChi’s strategic initiative to serve regional, national and global communities by being a leading catalyst for creating and sharing workplace learning and performance knowledge and practices, ATDChi is starting up a Contributors-at-Large program.

    Contributors-at-Large will write unique, value-added content for ATDChi’s online publication – Training Today.

    Contributors-at-Large will be asked to volunteer in the following ways:

    • Write at least one special feature for Training Today per program year
    • Write at least one ATDChi event summary for Chatter Blog
    • Participate in quarterly conference calls with Training Today’s Editor and other Contributors-at- Large
    • Help source content aligned with ATD’s competency model

    Contributors-at-Large should be current ATDChi members who enjoy writing, editing, collaborating, and keeping their industry knowledge current.

    To learn more or to indicate your interest, please email Susan Camberis at

    To review recent articles and sign up to follow Training Today, click here

  • February 22, 2018 11:51 PM | Olga Polyakova (Administrator)

    By Susan Camberis
    Editor, Training Today

    ATDChi’s January kick-off event on January 18, 2018 featured a compelling discussion about global communication with ATDChi Presidential Advisor and long-time Board Member, Stephanie (Leese) Emrich. 

    Stephanie’s organization, Service Speaks Solutions, infuses the sought-after language of hospitality to non-hotel organizations.  During her talk with ATDChi, Stephanie shared stories from a lifetime spent in the service industry.  The main question she posed for attendees was:  How do we connect with each other universally?

    • 1.     Know your audience.  Stephanie has worked extensively with teams in Saudi Arabia, developing 180 hours of content for a project she was leading.  She shared the importance of understanding how to present content that will resonate with your particular global audience.  Through her project, Stephanie learned that listening was more valued than reading, reading was more highly valued than writing, and that her audience was highly visual and very hands on.  This information allowed Stephanie to tailor her content in a way that would be most impactful. 

    • 2.     Know the culture.  In her extensive work with the University of the Bahamas, Stephanie learned about the strong influence of tradition on the Bahamian people.  Almost 8 in 10 jobs in the Caribbean are related to tourism, and employees are eager to learn, according to Leese.  Stephanie shared how she found empathy and being genuine as two qualities that come very naturally to employees there.

    • 3.     Understand where you’re coming from.  Stephanie’s global experiences have given her a unique “outside in” perspective on the U.S.  She described that our focus on demographics and the pressure from numerous angels to succeed, don’t seem to exist in the same way in other places.  Those from the U.S. tend to be more perfectionistic and frequently demonstrate “unrelenting enthusiasm” when a particular topic strikes a chord. 

    • 4.     Know when accreditations matter.  Stephanie is the only service professional in our area who is “China Ready & Accredited”, a special designation given to select product and service providers that Chinese consumers can trust.  She shared that Chinese customers tend to value quality and unique experiences over quantity.  It is one of the reasons that China Disney has a more significant focus on interactive character experiences than Disney’s other parks.  Chinese customers want to “take the selfie,” according to Leese. 

    • 5.     Speak clearly…and use less industry-specific jargon and colloquialisms.  Americans tend to speak very fast and use a lot of jargon, which often makes for more challenging communication when working globally.  Be aware and use less when you can.

    Ultimately, according to Leese, “We are people wherever we are.”  An important question to always ask is:  How are you connecting in a deeper way to everyone you are serving? 

    When you stay present and focus on moments that matter to customers, you will be a more effective global communicator. 

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