Simon Say'z - Goals are Important

Simon here.

I've been reflecting on the importance of goals and have come to a decision...if I can make a goal to climb stairs and then achieve that goal in only 1 day, this goal setting thing may just be worthwhile. You have to understand that I am now 15 weeks old, weigh approximately 20 pounds and I am not known to have great coordination; in other words, I am clumsy.

So, let's talk about goal setting. Does it really work? Pat seems to think so. In the past 15 years she has been consistently setting goals and achieving them. Once in a while she alters them if the end result is no longer what she is looking for. She tells everyone around her that goal setting will help them get to where they want to go. Having a clear direction, action steps, and realistic timelines will guarantee that you will focus on what is important to you.

Goal setting doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, if you keep it simple you are more likely to continue to set goals. A piece of paper with a goal statement (your end result), a list of things to do to get there, and some timelines around these actions are all you need get going in the right direction. Now, understand that I am a puppy so writing things down is impossible for me. The good news is that apparently even goals you only think about can happen; I proved that with my stair climbing goal.

I am wise enough to know that your goals will be much loftier than mine. Mine are simple: eat healthy food, drink water, go on a few walks a day, and make time to play in the backyard. Yours may involve finances, career, family, health, etc. You may even need to set multiple goals in a variety of areas in your life.

Pat says that stretch goals are also crucial if you are looking to grow. That is interesting as I appear to grow everyday - I guess all of my goals are stretch goals! There is also something about them being SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

It appears that if you set goals, keep them SMART, and make them stretch, you too can learn to climb stairs in a day.

Signing off - Simon

My Thoughts on a Personal Value Proposition

I am currently taking a Masters Program at Schulich and I have already experienced my first "aha" moment after the first two days. I learned that an organization has to have a value proposition, written from the customer's point of view that answers the question - why should I buy from you? I inherently knew this but I definitely have a clearer picture as to what a value statement should contain and how it should be written and/or spoken.

Many of you may already know this but do you have a personal one? After spending a day discussing value propositions I believe that it should go way beyond the organization; I think each of us should have a personal value proposition and ideally it should support the organizational value proposition. The question then becomes - where do I start when I want to create a personal value proposition?

An organizational value proposition needs to be a crisp, compelling answer to the question "why should I buy from you?" In an individual's case the question may become multiple questions such as: Why should I hire you? Why should I retain you? Why should I have you as a friend? etc.

If an Organization gets their value proposition right, then the results domino.
  • Differentiation from the competition
  • Enhanced customer loyalty
  • Repeat business
  • Positive referrals from customers
  • Lower marketing costs
  • Opportunity for price increases, without a market share decrease

What happens if an individual gets their value proposition right? I am surmising that an employee will see opportunities for growth and promotions, wage increases, awards, and more.

The creation of a personal value proposition will most likely start with some reflection on personal strengths, personality traits, personal and work experience, speciality skills and history. If it needs to be written or said from the other person's perspective it might start with the word "you." I see a personal value proposition as part of my life purpose. What do I offer that others don't? What is special about me that will benefit you?

I would suggest that you take a few minutes and create the start of a personal value proposition. I may seem like a lot of work but I have a feeling that if we were clear on our value propositions we would be better at many things we do.

Pat DeMers

Simon Say'z - Stay Awake and Stay Engaged

So it’s interesting what I’ve learned this week. Apparently sleeping on the job is not a good thing to do. I tried it a few times and here is what I have discovered.

The first thing I noticed is that if you fall asleep you are ignored and more importantly you could miss something really good. In my case that might be my favourite treat, a belly rub or a brisk walk. Although you may not fall asleep on the job I have noticed that people seem to get easily distracted or become unfocused which is just like falling asleep without closing your eyes. So, in your case, what you miss might be an opportunity, a promotion or cross training, a pay increase or an award.

The second problem is around safety. I have noticed that when I sleep in the hall people tend to step on, or trip over me. I’m thinking this might not be a good thing for either of us. And when I get really immersed in play outside of my safe area, I sometimes forget where I am and have been seen to do summersaults, belly rolls and slides that don’t end until I hit something hard. I see this as true for people as well. In order to be safe you need to be where you are scheduled to be, when the time is right and focused on what you are doing, not on other things.

My third and final thought on people who are not engaged (or awake) while at work would be around job satisfaction. I can’t imagine not enjoying my day (of course I’m only 12 weeks old). I have heard the saying “life is short” and if that’s truly the case, you might just as well make the best use of the time you have. I enjoy every day. I get to eat, sleep, play and I have the best washroom facilities in the whole world – especially with all of the fall colours I enjoy while I am searching for just the right spot. So, don’t go through life sleeping; instead be alert, safe and engaged.

Signing Off - Simon

The Art of Blogging

Back in June we were truly excited to begin our blog. And, what sometimes happens when you are so excited and you just can’t wait to start a new project? Well, we charged full steam ahead before realizing that not everyone on our team was educated on the purpose of, reason for, or how to use a business blog. I took it upon myself to find a solution, scouring the internet for resources and an answer to the most vital of blogging questions:

What is a blog?

I did find some fabulous answers to our question. These answers led to more questions, as is normally the case.

  • WHY did we want to blog?
  • WHAT did we want to blog?
  • WHO did we want to blog for?
  • HOW do we write compelling posts?

Being an organization in the training and development field, I took the initiative to create a lunch and learn program for ETL. All content for this informal, internal Lunch and Learn was pulled, often verbatim, from other blogs and was never meant to be an official ETL program. However, we found this guide so helpful we wanted to make it available to you. This is what it looked like:

How Good is 99.9%
What is a Blog?
Program Objectives

Blog Structure
Blogging at Your Organization
Planning Your Blog

Blog Content

To Blog, or Not to Blog?
17 Types of Blog Posts

Using a Blog

Reference Material
Recommended Blog Reading
Top 5 Corporate Blogs to Visit for Inspiration


I heartily suggest referring to the Reference Material to find the original sources for the statistics and information.

Blogging is an Art, like many other methods of communication. It needs to be informative, engaging and interesting. Above all, it needs to something that you find of value, a reliable source of information and opinions that will keep you coming back again and again.

Please click here, The Art of Blogging, to download the Lunch and Learn program. Leave a comment and let us know what you think of this resource.

ETL Becomes Learners for a Day

The ETL office is a quiet day today as many of our team members head out to different conferences, becoming learners and networking with others who have similar interests. Where can you find us?

Shelley Kralik-Vella and Evan Badura are currently at the 2009 Canadian Business Leadership Forum. This 1 day conference is held at the Carlu Conference Centre, downtown Toronto. While they will be sitting in on all presentations, find them at lunch (12:00pm) or during the afternoon coffee break (1:50 pm)! We are always interested in meeting new people and learning what inspires them to continue learning and how they help lead their organization in the competitive environment of 2009/2010.

Jim West, the newest member of the ETL Team, is visiting the CSTD and IFTDO Conference, being held this year at the Sheridan Centre in Toronto. Typically we have a booth in this conference, but this year we have chosen to make ourselves more accessible. With a stroke of out-of-the-box thinking, we have literally taken ourselves out of the box and are wandering the floor to meet other interested learners and see what the T&D field will be like for 2010. Don't hesitate to go up and talk to Jim, that is what we are there for!

I do hope we see you there!

Simon Say'z - Feedback for Results

Simon here –

Okay so I’m young and inexperienced and totally rely on my caretaker for the necessities of life. Being young and, of course teething, I have been known to bite things I shouldn’t - things like the couch, Pat’s favourite silk pillow, the fringe on a lovely stool that was a gift from the ETL team, and a few other things (okay, so maybe more than a few).

As a young pup, I am seeing that when I bite things that I shouldn’t, the typical response of my owner is one of frustration and frequently the word “no”, and there are never any treats involved. And yet, I still keep doing the same things and expecting a smile, perhaps a hug and a treat would be really great; after all, a treat is always welcome. Apparently as I mature I am told I will catch on to the fact that when I do what I should, I will be rewarded; I’m just way to young for that yet!

But I am wondering, why would adults keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results? I am pretty sure that even you don’t get rewards when you keep making mistakes, and you are supposed to know this at your age. I recently saw an adult yell at another adult and it seemed to me that neither one listened to the other. There were all kinds of hand gestures, some I have been told are rude and in the end both parted ways upset with each other. I actually thought someone might tell them “no” or “stop” but that didn’t happen.

I am thinking that a little feedback for these two adults might have been a good idea. If you have the role of leader or manager or, in my world, owner, I can say that telling someone when they are doing something that may hurt them or someone else is probably a good idea. I don’t always appreciate the constructive feedback, especially when I’m in the middle of a good biting tangent, but I do understand why I can’t do some of the things I do, even when I really want to.

Now, I am told that giving great constructive feedback is apparently a learned skill. And, I do know that it needs to be specific, immediate when possible and it should be done in an appropriate tone. So in my world that means a “no” or “off” said firmly right when I’m doing what I am not supposed to be doing. In the adult world, I am told the tone should still be firm, the feedback as immediate as possible, and the adult needs to clearly understand what they were doing wrong and have a discussion with their leader on how to change their behaviour to a better behaviour. There’s a saying I have heard Pat use – “What gets reinforced gets repeated”. I guess that’s why I hear “no” and “off” often. But, I am learning and once in a while when I am very well behaved I get a treat; I wonder...does this work for adults too?

Are you, as their leader, giving your team members a treat (or in your world, positive feedback) when they do something right? If not, you may want to start. If you are, you may want to do it more often. We all like to hear positive words such as great job, good work, thank you, etc. I find these words very comforting and I guess in a doggie way they make me smile.

So, to make a long story short, give constructive feedback when someone does something wrong and positive feedback when they do something right. Do so immediately when possible and clearly. Use the appropriate tone and body language and plan to follow up to reinforce good behaviours. Pat has kindly offered to share her feedback model with you if you send an email to and put “feedback model” in the subject line.

I am off to nap now so I can get rejuvenated to write my next article.

Signing off - Simon

7 Paradoxical Sales Principles

Found these handy sales principles from Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies.

1. To win more sales, stop selling.When people feel like they're being sold, they react negatively and put up barriers. Focus on helping your prospects achieve their business, professional and personal objectives - not making a sale.

2. To speed up your sales cycle, slow down. The more quickly you push to a close, the higher resistance you encounter. Go one step at a time. When your prospects know you want to help them make the right decision, not a rash one, the process moves faster.

3. To make decisions easier, offer fewer options. When you increase the complexity of the decision, you decrease the likelihood of winning the sale. To help your prospects move forward, give them less to choose from. Keep it simple - always.

4. To be more natural, prepare like crazy. Today's customers suffer no fools. f you're not ready with the right message, questions or presentation, you'll stumble or be stilted in your meeting. When you do prepare, you can be at your best self.

5. To get bigger contracts, start smaller. When you pursue the "whole shebang", decisions are more complex and costly, making it much tougher to get approval. Reduce the risk by starting small and proving your capabilities. Then, it's easy to grow.

6. To speed up your learning curve, fail fast. It's inevitable that you'll make mistakes. So don't wait until you've figured out the "perfect pitch" before moving forward. In sales, there is no failure - just lots of opportunities for experimentation, learning and growth.

7. To differentiate your offering, become the differentiator. That's the biggest reality in today's market. Your products, services or solutions are secondary to your knowledge, expertise and the difference you make for your customers. Invest time in yourself.

Simon Say'z - Keep Life Simple

You guessed it, I don’t speak or write the English language; I actually speak dog and have huge paws versus fingers so I can’t write at all. It’s a good thing my owner has offered to translate dog to English and write my thoughts for me. To clarify, I am an eight week old Labradoodle, part Lab and part Poodle.

You would be surprised what I’ve learned in my short life. And, what’s amazing is that I’ve been asked to share my wealth of knowledge; how lucky is that?

I thought I would share my expertise on how to keep life simple in a very complex world. You know it’s really all about the company you keep, the exercise you do, the food you eat and the roof over your head.

Let’s start with the company you keep. Well you already know that I am not very old so I have limited access to the wrong company. My friends and colleagues at this point are chosen for me. This is probably a good thing since on my own I am not very selective about whom I socialize with; really anyone with any number of legs will work for me. I have, however, learned to approach slowly and not trust immediately. It’s important to build a relationship prior to becoming too close. I have especially found this to be true with animals that are more aggressive than I am and people that are afraid or allergic to dogs. It’s always best to learn a little about the people/species you are befriending prior to sharing too much information, your toys, and/or your treats.

As for exercise, my owners seem to think that I should not spend the day on their couch napping so they insist we take several walks each day. I do think they forget that my legs are still much shorter than theirs and, although I look energetic, I still require 14-18 hours of sleep each day. It’s about balance. Nap a little, walk a little, eat a little and whatever else you do, do it based on your abilities, stature and age.

As for the food thing, I like three meals a day and some snacks in between. Apparently if you eat small meals every 2-3 hours you won’t become obese and you won’t suffer from hunger pains. Everyone knows that a hungry dog is not a happy dog and I’m pretty sure that theory applies to humans too.

Now, about that roof over your head; yes it’s important. And as a human I know you have to work to earn a living to pay the bills, but really do you have to work 14 hours per day? Pets get lonely, and so do the kids; and let me tell you when the kids get lonely and there is a pet around, guess what they do? Yes, they tease us and when that gets tiring they ignore us. This is not fun for anyone. As a pet I would like to speak up against long, lonely hours in the house by myself. I couldn’t bear it, so thank goodness my owner brings me to work with her.

So, my final thought for today is live life in balance. Play, work, eat, sleep, and enjoy it as none of us will live forever.

Signing off - Simon

The Gifted Boss - A Great Read

A client recommended this as an excellent leadership book and I agree - What a great read! The book is called "The Gifted Boss" and the Author is Dale Dauten. One of my favourite bits is on page 17 where the author states that gifted bosses and great employees want the same things from their workplaces - freedom from management, mediocrity and morons; a change; a chance. In many ways this expresses the right message for today's workplace. Employees need empowerment, opportunities and variety. They need a manager that doesn't micro-manage but instead delegates, coaches and clearly expresses employee expectations. They want a manager that trusts them. If you would like to purchase this book it is available at Chapters Online.

Blog Launch

Excel Thru Learning, a Toronto-based training and development team, is proud to introduce our new blog. Follow us online for up-to-date training tidbits and learning resources.

We have been able to develop and prosper because of individuals like you - those dedicated to a culture of continuous learning! We look forward to your participation and anticipate a successful relationship as we carry this new blog forward.

-The ETL Team