Interview Questions & Answers 

Rick has been interviewed on radio, TV and press. The following is a small selection of questions he has been asked in a variety of countries. If you have any questions, please send them in on email or comments section. More will be added as appropriate, topical and relevant to the times.

Give us an introduction about yourself: what do you actually do; what type of work do you do and what type of training do you provide? Please do explain in detail.

I am a training and development consultant and specialize in management training.  I also write, facilitate and present. However, I can adapt to any group and situation because I had to in the past. To answer your question in a more descriptive way, I am a provider of training solutions or training interventions to bridge the performance gap and improve some aspect of performance or skill.  This is to enable an employee to add more value to their position and therefore to an organization.

Usually training and development follows the consultation.  My work as a consultant can be as an adviser and sounding board if you like. I relate well to managers today and their trials and tribulations.  I had them myself.  Further, to keep myself relevant I visit overseas 4-5 global and high quality companies every year to meet and talk with their senior managers in those companies.  I want to know what is happening globally so that I can use it here effectively locally.  My training is in all main areas of a company as I have practical experience in most of them which gives credibility to my training and development in that area of an organization.  I began work at a very young age and my 35 years quality corporate experiences are in my training and I keep it relevant to the group and company.

My type of work or training is done with certain underlying principles in mind.  The eastern proverb says it: “I hear and forget, I see and remember, but I see and do and understand” It is what I believe training needs to be.  Next, I believe in bringing practical examples of stories to my workshops that people can relate to and perhaps adapt themselves. 

I benchmark my training and development in order to continually improve.  My own personal training must be ongoing and I just got a diploma from the University of Queensland for marketing, and am now working on a Masters in Business at the Curtin Graduate School of Business. So you see I’m very busy both in and out of the classroom. My training benefits from the ongoing study. It ensures it is current and relevant.

I believe in variety and delivering a training event that informs, enthuses, engages, and entertains. I use multimedia and other techniques to interest and connect with my audience – but I don’t tell too much about that now!  

Comprehension and Application that leads to Results Excellence – CARE™ are words that come to mind when I design a course with my audience or participants in mind.  They must be able to apply the lessons to the workplace and add value to the company’s after the course.

I live in Muscat at moment, so pre and post course visits are possible for my clients, followed by a full report back to the company on the course I ran.  At times I visit the company again two to three months after the courses finished in order to assess the success or value of the course to the company.  It is obviously important to me that the company regards the course as a success and they have closed the performance gap or the employee’s have new skills or improved old ones.

When did you begin coaching people to excel at what they do? How and why did you take this up?

We’ll I am from a commercial background and was always happy selling and marketing and actually made about 10,000 sales calls!  The training part of my career began in 1989 when KLM head office invited me to leave my Australian post and take on the assignment of the lead marketing and sales trainer based in Amsterdam.

In 1988, I said no to this opportunity but when asked the second time I couldn’t resist.  I just got married and we loved Brisbane but opportunities need to be embraced and with a sense of adventure headed for Amsterdam and the European life.  They asked me because they wanted an internationalist with a broad perspective and as you can see from my biography I am that! 

I remember my first course at a hotel next to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam for Airport check-in staff.  It was January 08, 1990 and I was predictably nervous. I’m not sure if I was shaking from the winter cold or from nervousness as I left the car park to enter the hotel for the course!  I got through it and from that point never looked back. It was a wonderful experience traveling for KLM to places like New York, Curacao, Bangkok, Caracas, Middle East, Canada, and all over the world, and havebeen able to further that experience in my twelve years in the Gulf.

Coaching people to excel is a rewarding experience with all age groups. The younger manager because they have so much to offer all in front of them. The older manager because they have the work background but it is still not too late to remedy any performance deficiencies. I relish the chance to help all exceed their previously self imposed limitations. Coaching has a real benefit if done well.

 Are people really able to excel at what they do, or is this relegated to some privileged group of people? Your comments and also please cite your experience in changing lives, building careers and making people successful at whatever task they have embarked on and how your courses have provided that quintessential push for them to excel?

Here is one simple truth – one of the greatest risks in life is the risk of thinking too small. Everyone can excel at what they do and privilege may only give a few the extra opportunities. There are some great stories of the struggle and determination to succeed against all odds. I use some of them in my training. People have to be in a motivational situation where they exceed self imposed limitations. They need to do it on a regular basis and it becomes a habit!  It is what training is about and the enjoyment of it. Somebody contacting me after the course and saying that a certain aspect of the course interested them and helped change their performance or life even is very satisfying.  The push to excel comes from within yourself but the conditions can be created to promote that positive climate in which people exceed or succeed. Great sports teams with top organizations behind them are good examples. Fortune magazine in January listed the reasons that great companies attract and retain people. That seems to happen with the same company’s year after year. My training and development should only be supplemental to what is going on in some companies in the area of building careers and making people successful.  However, I discover sometimes that what I’m doing is the only thing that is changing work lives and pushing the people to new levels or benchmarks. I’m able in my courses to relate to special experiences or situations where I’ve played a part in this. In one job I helped build bridges between sections of an organization, thereby helping open their lines of communication and improve overall performance.  I was coached and you never forget that. So, I tend to do the same. I enjoy helping people to exceed and really go for it. 

What is the type of training that you have embarked on? From your viewpoint, how successful were they; what was the market response? How many people would have benefit?

I am a consultant leading to training and development interventions or training courses / workshop. I also facilitate workshops with much interactive work via case studies, role plays, and simulations. From my viewpoint and their evaluations and the HR contacts, my courses were successful. I like a more advanced feedback and visit the company four to six weeks later to see the people and to see how the performances change.

I like to take care with my work and therefore the validity of it, so, I CARE.  That stands for Comprehension and Application overtime which leads to Results Excellence. I take care with my work and my client’s money so my training is results oriented for the organization I work for.  I’ve trained in 50 countries and been in contact with over 250,000 people. So, hopefully many of those benefited.

You have your own secret of success (as far as organising such training courses are concerned)…Please give us some hints!

I will share a few. My work is truly different because I work hard at it. I try to be creative and look at things from different perspectives and angles. You never know where your next idea is coming from. I was in a cafe the other day, and after three cups of coffee I had written down on ten pieces of paper new ideas, course outlines, objectives and content. So like I said you never know when an idea comes to you. I have two of three new training ideas right now that I know are very different. Why all these ideas come now in my career, I don’t know. But, I’m not knocking it and just going with a flow. Someone once said to look at life as an ‘energy economy game’. Each day, ask yourself, “are my energy expenditures productive or nonproductive”. During the course of your day ask have I accumulated more stress or more peace?

What are the essential points that a trainer must consider in order to be a successful one?

Know your audience, their expectations, and level of understanding, what they need to know and objectives for them by the end of the course. Normally the organization would tell me their corporate objectives strategy, but the participants need to know them as well.

In my research it is important to remember it is not “the answer that enlightens, but the question.” I learnt that at university when they made us dig deep for our answers and do much research. It has held me in good stead today.

Keep the course interactiveand alive.  Too many don’t normally sit for long in their jobs and you are asking them to sit for longer than usual.  So get them involved with group work of many types. Next, do your homework!  Don’t deliver from a book.  I only deliver courses and subjects I have experienced and apply it in my work and career. Further, over half is from my own experiences and some from research, benchmarking conversations with people, sites readings and internet research.

Training is a bit like a musical – if you can come out of the musical remembering three tunes it’s been a success.  In a training course if you leave the training course with 3 to 4 core ideas or applications which you can use in your work for years to come, the training has been successful.  

 Do you do follow up courses; or do you follow up on your clients after you have finished a course?

Absolutely, it is part of my added value I give to my clients.  Usually in my courses are pre and post course visitations to the company.  I am also open and available to the participants for questions and coaching up to two weeks after my courses either by e-mail or phone. And, may also send an additional handout or articles out to them. Naturally I have the email updates to my clients to inform of any new developments, courses I can offer, etc.  I’m always looking for new ideas and developing them for my business and for my customers.

What are the challenges that you have faced since you have begun training? Any major stumbling blocks?

Like any new business there are ups and downs, busy periods and quiet periods, the trick is not to be discouraged or give up because something is always around the corner. I find opportunities coming to me in batches and you are hectic sorting through the opportunities and try and get them to conclusion. One challenge is convincing companies to make the commitment to training and release the budget! We know it is needed, we agree on objectives and content, and we agree that we must do it, but then there are waits. Another could be lateness and mobiles and getting full commitment is another. It’s obvious you get out of training what you are willing to put in.

What are the courses that you plan to embark on in the near future? And also future projects?

Well, as I said, until completion, endorsement and ready to publicize, I keep to myself for now. However, more of the same really. Some projects are in Dubai and will have to go there to pursue. I have a couple of events planned for 2010 including my “Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer”. A wonderful leadership story. Also the PPO seminar or Peak Performing Teams. “Moments of Truth” Customer Service is always happening. More details are in my site.

Can you give us some thoughts on some of the countries in which you trained?

I probably trained in 50 countries and liked something about each. My favorites are many and each for different reasons. Of course Oman is a great favorite! I have found India very friendly and accommodating. Australia and New Zealand are actually my home territory so I am very comfortable there. I enjoy Amman, Cairo, Damascus, and the Gulf Countries. Long trips can be tiring but always enjoy getting acquainted with the country and environment.

Rome and Milan were great for the food and hospitality. Although, my training there included so much food and long lunch they took me to that we struggled to have work done! Istanbul was a nice experience and very different for me. Singapore is one of my favorites and everything works there. A good place for business and relaxing after.

Northern Scandinavian Countries are beautiful in early winter. The sauna experience in Finland is unique, as was the far Northern European environment. Stockholm old town is very nice and I enjoyed the restaurants and cozy atmosphere. Of course I trained in Amsterdam a lot as we lived there. I think as a city it has it all really. We enjoyed 4 wonderful years in this country. We lived about 8km from Amsterdam Centrumand could even drivethere in about 15minutes for coffee. Culture is great there with the art, music and museums. Great place to learn and enjoy.  There are so many wonderful traditions there and we entered into them. It was from Amsterdam that I first saw Muscat when I was sent there for a training assignment. Very nice experience and one that actually put into my mind that we will live there one day.

Did you have any experiences as a youth that has helped you today?

Importance of working hard but learning from it. Well, as a kid in North America it is quite normal to have school jobs to earn a little extra pocket money. Anything in addition to my weekly allowance from my parents has to be earned.

I began my young “working life “as a weekend newspaper delivery boy in Chicago at 12 years old. The Chicago Tribune was a heavy newspaper then and is today!!!  I had an old bike and had to cycle to pick up my paper round, and put on my back and cycle up again to deliver these papers to big homes in the area. It was ok in summer but very hard in winter. I think my Dad went out with me at times to make sure I was ok. I had a number of jobs as a kid and none of them hurt me and all of them were useful time growing up and learning about business. Incidentally I was also a grocery packer, mail sorter, worked in hospital, did gardening at the college, a camp councillor and washed dishes at a hotel. All during the school weekend and during summer holidays. All taught me something.