Have you ever thought that you were doing a great job and then found some small way to make a big difference to what you do? Here is a story, just like this, of Jennifer Holloway of Spark, a personal branding expert who regularly runs workshops for her clients. This story tells of what happened when she met up and worked with Krystyna Gadd, founder of How To Accelerate Learning.
It’s good…but could it be better? ……… Jennifer’s story
Many moons ago, when I first set up my business and became my own boss, someone described me as a trainer. I instantly set about putting them straight. Having spent the last 15 years in PR, running press offices, doing media interviews and getting stories on the front page, I wasn’t a trainer. Instead, I saw myself as someone who had learnt a lot of useful stuff in their career and was simply passing this on to others, albeit in the form of workshops and seminars. (Funnily enough, just like trainers do.)
But six years have passed and the amount of time I spend standing up in front of a room of people, sharing my personal brand expertise, has grown enormously. In fact, about 70% of my income is now via workshops, so denying I’m a trainer doesn’t cut the mustard.
With this realisation in mind, I decided to take a long, hard look at what I was delivering. After all, I’d never been formally trained to impart information and although I was getting great feedback for my sessions, I wondered if I was missing a trick. Was there a way to take what I had and make it even better?
A chance encounter with Krystyna Gadd answered my question. As she spoke about accelerated learning and its ability to really embed what you teach into people’s minds so it adds value long after you’d imparted it, I knew I needed help. So I hired her to give me an honest critique of my personal brand workshop, breaking it down into what worked, what could work better with a bit of tweaking, and what wasn’t adding anything to the mix.
Let me tell you…it was some of the best money I ever spent.
As a result of Krystyna’s overarching ideas and practical suggestions, I now engage with my attendees before they’ve even entered the room. I welcome them with posters that fire their brains and set the order of the day. I check where their minds are at before we start so I can set to rest any anxieties. I have a session plan setting out each step of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. I hand them a workbook designed to be useful not just in the workshop but after it too. I get them up and out of their seats, working in pairs and groups, to generate a buzz in the room. I spend more time checking where their minds are at. I get feedback in a way that specifically relates to their personal objectives. And I carry on engaging with my attendees for three or four weeks after they’ve left the room.
It’s all obvious stuff to someone who’s a trained trainer. But to the many consultants out there who, like me, came to training via a specific business route, it’s easily overlooked.
So what’s the result of all this frenetic activity? Let’s just say that if someone were to describe me as a trainer today, I’d feel entirely entitled to agree.
When I had coffee with Jennifer ….. Krys’s story
I sometimes get invited to coffee and having grown a little cynical (just a tad) I sometimes accept and other times might not. Jennifer Holloway sparked off my curiosity. What does a personal branding expert want from me? Will she be looking me up and down? Absolutely! Does she want to sell me something? Not sure….
When we met, the first thing I noticed about Jennifer was how easy she was to talk to and how passionate she is about personal branding. By the end of our conversation she was keen for us to work together and for me to look at her workshops and take them from “good to great”.
As with any client, I am always keen to find out what they want to get out of a session, what difference it will make and to get to know what makes them tick. Browsing on Amazon, I was taking a look at her book “Personal Branding which I “accidentally” bought (the “one click buy” button is very close to the others on an iPad!). This happy accident has been a very useful addition to my book collection. I like its simplicity and also how it is an easy read (for a non-reader like me!).
The framework that Jennifer uses for personal branding, her “Pyramid” is an easy concept to grasp and the many real life examples that Jennifer uses, help to bring it all to life. In looking at her workshop, Jennifer’s passion for her subject came over very strongly as did the depth of her knowledge. My role was not to teach her how to “suck eggs”, but to show her how a few tweaks and tips would lead her workshop participants inexorably towards the objectives in a very deliberate way. My role was also to help her gain more buy-in and engagement during the workshop, at those times when people may start to flag.
Hearing about what Jennifer has put into practice, makes me feel very proud to have worked with her and encouraged that she has taken so much on board. Hearing what her most recent participants from her newly re-vamped workshop have said should make Jennifer even prouder. If anyone is ever looking for a great experience in learning about personal branding. My recommendation will be Jennifer, any time!