Insights from ASTD: Making It Personal

Ray DiCenzo

While attending the annual ASTD conference this week with more than 9,000 other learning professionals, I was reminded of an important lesson I’ve learned over the past few decades—and one that is particularly relevant to those of us who consider themselves “lifelong learners,” especially in sales performance education.

First, I’d like to share some observations…As I stood in one of the largest conference halls in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, I watched more than 750 people flock to see Sean Covey present on the 7 Habits, which draws upon the timeless principles practices in the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Sean’s father, Dr. Stephen R. Covey. It was remarkable and heartwarming to see that even after 25 years, there are so many people who are still moved by the wisdom contained in that masterpiece.

Another experience that is still fresh in my mind was when a group of us from FranklinCovey sang happy birthday to world-renowned author and management thought leader Ken Blanchard as he celebrated his 75th birthday. Ken has made a number of significant contributions over the years—just one of which is the classic parable One-Minute Manager—and is respected by many around the world for his work in the areas of leadership and management.

As I reflected on those experiences it became very clear that regardless of the era we live in, people will naturally and enthusiastically gravitate toward timeless principles that will have a direct impact on their personal lives, as well as their professional success. It should have been no surprise that Sean and Ken drew such attention and enthusiasm during the conference, as their work has focused on enhancing the personal lives of the millions of people their principles have touched—as well as helping them succeed on a professional level.

Over the past 28 years, I have been exposed to almost every type of sales training content that has ever been developed. Without exception, the content that sales professionals most naturally gravitate toward, and continue to put into practice years after their first exposure, are those that embody the principles that allow them to both remain authentic to their personal values, while at the same time transform their sales success to another level of performance.

So as we serve the professionals in our sales organizations, and strive to provide content and training approaches that will “stick,” it might be a good idea to observe what they are naturally drawn towards, as I had the good fortune to witness at ASTD this week.

Were you at ASTD? What did you think? I invite your comments and observations.

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