Training and Development

Last year I researched variables that generate success for small businesses in an ever-changing economy. Primarily, I wanted to prove that well-structured training programs are the core on which all other factors stand to warrant a company’s merit. Professional Resources stock image

I referenced my learning experiences from relative academic courses and my personal work experience at small companies. Additionally, I gathered data using Google Scholar and OhioLinks as research tools for academic articles that supported my hypothesis. Business success, business development, training programs, and Fortune 500 were just a few of the key phrases I used.

With additional supporting evidence from scholarly articles, I proposed training programs were the common denominator among the most successful companies at the time. Furthermore, my research unveiled the basic fundamentals for training that can be incorporated in almost any industry.

The article I found most useful came from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). I highly recommend referring to this organization for the latest trends in training and development.

“Why would I work for free?”

By Sherry Wong

As an ABC (American-Born Chinese), my parents hardly talked about community service  or its personal value. Growing up poor, my parents were more concerned about putting food on the table and making rent than helping others. The times that I did hear about community service, I got the impression it was for punishing celebrities – e.g. Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Naomi Campbell and Snoop Dogg. “I don’t want to do community service. Can’t I just donate money?” That is what I used to say until my Service Learning course – MGT 524 – enlightened me.

I currently tutor a young lady from Thailand through LAPL’s Adult Literacy Program. Since English is her second language and she wants to attend an American university, she is required to take the TOEFL iBT test – it measures a person’s ability to use and understand English at the university level and it evaluates how well you combine your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks. I have been working with my Thai student for about seven weeks now and her English-speaking progress is evident.

I learned that community service is not just court-mandated for naughty celebrities. I
learned community service is not simply about donating money. I learned through my
Service Learning experience that community service is about giving back (time) and
paying it forward. I attended Los Angeles public schools and I remember every teacher
who helped me succeed along the way. Their kindness compelled me to give that same
time and focus back to my Thai student. When my Thai student and I started working
together seven weeks ago, she was very quiet and timid. Now she is incredibly talkative
and humorous while doing it all in English. I know I am making a difference and there is
no better feeling.

Why Johnny Runs Screaming From His Reading Assignment

by Freddy J. Nager

When Johnny first began trying to decipher this textbook, he was 16 years old.

Forget the question of why Johnny can’t read. For today’s students, ask “Why does Johnny dream of dropping out before he gets his master’s degree? Why does Johnny’s professor feel like running, too?”

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the average business textbook.

Most business textbooks read like an IRS instruction manual first translated from English into Urdu then back into English by an iPhone app developed in an Uzbekistani sweatshop under the direction of a bad Shakespearean actor with a migraine.

And that’s when they’re interesting.

When they’re boring, they sound something like this excerpt from Advertising Media Planning (Seventh Edition):

“The marketing goals that the company and the agency agree upon should, if achieved, result in the solution of the marketing problem.”

It’s hardly the worst sentence I’ve ever read in a textbook, but let’s clean that up anyway, shall we?

“The marketing goals shared by the company and the agency should solve the marketing problem.”

Notice the issue here: after we eliminate the junk words and clauses, we find a sentence that’s so dull and obvious, even a caveman would say “duh.” “Marketing goals should solve marketing problems.” Yeah, that insight is worth the price of a textbook. No wonder the authors fussed that sentence up.

Here’s the next sentence:

“Marketing goals are measurable in most cases and provide a means of determining whether the strategy employed has been effective.”

After a slim-fast diet:

“Usually measurable, marketing goals can tell us whether the strategy works.”

When stripped of its accessories, the statement doesn’t sound very enlightening, does it? And if anything, a textbook must sound enlightening even if it doesn’t have anything to say.

So we put all the junk words back in, along with an army of subordinate clauses, fill 428 pages with similar prose from Dante’s Terms & Conditions, and (ta-daa!) we’ve got a textbook — a textbook that students won’t read, and that instructors like me have to translate before a live audience.

A textbook’s top priority should be education. (Insert caveman “duh” here.) For a major publishing house in a country filled with millions of professional writers desperately seeking work, there’s no excuse for sloppy prose — particularly in an advertising textbook developed by advertising experts.

What? A book that's informative AND readable? We can't take that seriously now, can we?

At the same time, I’ve been rereading Ogilvy on Advertising— not a textbook, but a professional’s ruminations on his craft. As could be expected from a legendary ad copywriter, the prose is concise and lucid and even passionate. Succinct sentences like “You can’t bore people into buying your product” slide right off the page into the brain for future reference.

So Johnny, don’t run yet. I’m trying to replace the overpriced 428-page tomes with slimmer volumes from professionals who not only do the work, but know how to explain it. I’ll just have to translate everything else for you. Hopefully, someone will soon invent an app for that.

Guest Blogger Freddy J. Nager teaches courses in social media, entrepreneurship and marketing at AULA. The founder of agency Atomic Tango LLC, Freddy has over two decades of professional experience in marketing and media, including 17 online. He previously worked for music label MCA Records and major ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and served such clients as Nissan & Infiniti, the NFL on Fox, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, National Lampoon and numerous startups. He holds a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Southern California

Moral Impulse: Rebel with a Cause

by Kimberly Hollingsworth, AULA BA Student & Founder of Humanity Is Us

When will genocide matter? Does it have to be at our front door or happen to our families before we care enough to do something? That’s my tough question. I used to believe that if the Holocaust happened today, there would have been such a tumultuous uproar that we would have stopped it before six million people were collected and murdered within a span of six years. Today, I’m not so sure.

The genocide in Rwanda never should have happened in 1994. While the international community closed their eyes, 800,000 Tutsis were slaughtered in 100 days. A member of the nonpermanent United Nations Security Counsel, the Czech representative, declared at one point, “Rwanda is not a priority for the Czech government, but as a human being I cannot sit here and do nothing.”

I launched my anti-genocide organization Humanity Is Us on November 29, 2010. (See my previous article, “Conflict of Ethics: What Does Genocide Have to Do with Business?”) While drowning in website designs, templates, hosting, domains, hyperlinks and other web hosting lingo, I also struggled with state and federal requirements for the protection of my embryonic entity. A simple idea was turning into a complicated responsibility. An AULA faculty member introduced me to a social entrepreneur who emotes action and possesses the same fire in the belly against genocide and rape camps that I do.

Andrew McGregor and the Tiziano Project

In May 2007, while a student in the master’s program for journalism at the University of Southern California, Andrew McGregor found himself frustrated with the co-existence of global video-sharing and genocide: “How can there be a world with YouTube and undocumented atrocities at the same time?”

If the mainstream news had kept the acts of genocide on the nightly news, instead of allowing public interest or lack of comfort guide the headlines, the international public community of responsible citizens might have demanded immediate actions from their governments. Today, journalists have to worry about corporate responsibilities, self-preservation, media trends, competition, and universal bureaucracy. Accountability for the success of the business enterprise has created detachment from the original purpose of journalism. With a rush for headlines that grab viewers, journalists rush to report headlines without checking sources. As Andrew puts it, today’s news has become a “propaganda whore.” Sensationalism has replaced news that can make a difference in saving people’s lives.

With moral impulse, he took leave from USC, hired a lawyer, and organized a nonprofit public-benefit corporation, the Tiziano Project. The mission: “The Tiziano Project provides community members in conflict, post-conflict, and underreported regions with the equipment, training, and affiliations necessary to report their stories and improve their lives.” With limited funds, a few contacts, cameras, camcorders and a new idea for exposing crimes against humanity, Andrew left for Rwanda and commenced his quest to spread journalism.

Teaching Journalism to Change the World

photo by Andrew McGregor

Andrew joined forces with a friend, Thomas Rippe, to teach journalistic techniques at a local orphanage. An issue came up: since the Canadian government had already made arrangements to provide for these orphans for life, the orphans, ranging in age from twelve to thirty, lacked motivation to learn journalism.

Undaunted, the Tiziano Project then formed a collaboration with The German Development Company (DED), teaching radio techniques at a local youth house. It did not take long before the weekly radio program about genocide reconciliation aired on Voice of America, providing a trusted resource for updates and local information.

Andrew and Tom continued their traveling school of journalism between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At refugee camps they shared writing, photo and video techniques, which empowered the locals and enabled collaborative efforts with the international community of professional journalists. Until that time, stifled voices were forced to wait for an outsider to speak on their behalf.

A week after Andrew left the DRC in 1998, violence broke out again. Within an hour, the refugees trained by Andrew and Tom were able to communicate with journalists, and CNN broke the story. “It was a turning point for us. When the story broke, it proved that the concept worked – it all worked. We had proof of the potential of the Tiziano Project.”

Today, the Tiziano Project is supported by a community of journalists, and the Tiziano Project team itself consists of journalists who have other jobs. It’s the calling, the purpose that keeps this team together. Eventually, the business plan requires funds for salaries so all participants can focus on their goal of keeping stories of atrocities in the mainstream news. I asked Andrew, “Why do you believe the Tiziano Project can help end genocide?” He explained, “It has to do with economics. Journalism can be helpful in creating jobs. Look at the child soldiers. The choices are limited: either you’re a slave or a soldier.”

Chessboxing and Advice for Students

Andrew "The Fightin' Philanthropist" McGregor (media credit: Jesse Reid)

Andrew, who stands six feet and almost ten inches tall and weighs 280 pounds, founded the L.A. Chessboxing club. The idea came from a poster he saw in Europe. Basically, chessboxing consists of eleven rounds (four minutes of chess, followed by three minutes of boxing), and starts and ends at the chessboard. First one to win by checkmate or a knockout is the winner. On February 27, 2010, Andrew claimed the title of U.S. Heavyweight Chessboxing Champion by checkmate in the fifth round.

Ironically, chessboxing helped Andrew build up his strength and his resolve to continue with his vocation. He also learned a valuable lesson about being there for others. It’s important to maintain a balance between personal life and causes, “Without investing in yourself first, you have nothing to give — to anyone.”

I asked Andrew for words of wisdom for the novice social entrepreneur. “Start as a student. Everyone helps students. They help because they know where you’re coming from and that you’re learning. If you’re Joe from a business/organization that no one knows, they don’t have a reference point.” Andrew also suggested having a long-term corporate strategy, “Start focused and with obtainable goals.” The last thing that he suggested, “Visually explain what you’re doing and make a chronological record of it. We were so focused on the work and mission that initially, we missed the opportunity for the potential business development.” It has been remedied.

Recently, the Tiziano Project won a $25,000 grant from a competition on Facebook and utilized it to showcase its product. It’s easier to gain funding when funders can see what their money is buying. After all, today everything is related to business.

Guest Blogger Kimberly Hollingsworth is in the BA Business & Social Entrepreneurship program and Creative Writing program at AULA. She holds an associate’s degree from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and an ABA-approved certificate from UCLA Extension as a legal assistant in litigation. She is currently a senior legal assistant at an international law firm, a member of SAG, and a voting member of LAPA.