Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ernst & Young Manager Training

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend Ernst & Young’s annual new manager training in Orlando Florida. Typically when I hear of such events I can only muster up so much enthusiasm as large events typically fall flat when it comes to quality. I mean when I heard over 1400 people were going to be there, for this three day event, I just had this awful feeling that it was going to be a waste of time and no fun at all. I can honestly say that I was not only pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had but I was amazed at the quality put into the festivities. From the keynote speakers to the evening activities…Everything was top notch all around.

There were several highlights for me personally. First, I was extremely impressed by the firms Global Vice Chair of Strategy, Communications and Regulatory Affairs, Beth Brooke. What a firecracker she was! Her insight and candor had me captivated for her entire speech. She has been recognized by Forbes as one of “The Worlds Top 100 Most Powerful Women” and it was pretty easy to see why. Just to put things into perspective for you…Queen Elizabeth is also on that very same Forbes list…Oh and by the way…Beth is ranked higher.

Secondly, my most favorite presenter of the seminar was that of Curt Coffman. Curt is an expert on Business Strategy and former practice leader of the Gallup Organization. He’s consulted for 22 years to a large number of the Fortune 500 companies and is the author of the best seller “First, Break all the rules: What the worlds greatest manager do differently”. The core of his content revolved around everyone’s inner strengths and how they should be cultivated into order to produce desired results in business. In other words, you should focus and enhance what your good at and only spend a minimal time on your weaknesses. It may sound a bit counterintuitive but there is sound logic in such an argument.

Prior to the event, everyone was sent a book called: “Now, Discovered your strengths” which complimented Curt’s lecture. The book itself was highlighted by an online web survey that everyone was to complete. The output of the survey was a trend analysis of your top five strengths (out of a possible thirty four) based on how you answered the survey. In case you’re wondering…My top 5 strengths are as follows: Restorative, Harmony, Individualization, Input and Arranger. Click here to see my personal report. At first blush I was not impressed with the findings at all. But after reading the book and diving a bit deeper into the actual meaning of each strength; I now find myself agreeing with the assessment after a little personal scrutiny.

The content itself was logical but nothing groundbreaking for me. What really captivated me was the manner in which the content itself was delivered. It was almost poetic. His presentation skills were nearly flawless. I was especially impressed with his timing and dynamic storytelling capabilities. At one point during his presentation, there was a technical malfunction on the stage where the lights and teleprompter (he was referencing it as a guideline) shut down completely. He just calmly walked into the crowd of 1400 people and continued the lecture un-phased. It was brilliant.

Outside of the daily general lectures and classroom workshops, the evenings were chalked full of excitement. The first night was casino night where I received a first class education in how to lose at poker gracefully. The second night was capped off by an evening out at Universal Studios where E&Y rented out half of the theme park just for us. Believe me when I tell you that it was just as impressive as it sounds. World class lecturers, interactive classroom sessions, networking opportunities, food and alcohol all created a very memorable and worthwhile three days for me. Just like I’m sure it did for many others in attendance. My hat goes off to the many organizers who helped make the event possible. Job well done…

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