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Even Trainers Need Training

by Kim Ades November 25, 2013

I booked the day off to go to the CSTD trade show. CSTD – the Canadian Society for Training and Development. I figured that it was a great opportunity to walk the floor, learn what was new and hot in the training industry, and make some valuable connections. I was hoping that I would learn some best practices in the execution of trade show marketing in a field that is very closely tied to coaching. I thought that I might be able to explore the idea of partnering with a training company so that Frame of Mind Coaching could provide the back-end coaching as an added value service to their training packages. The conference was held in Toronto – no flights, no hotel rooms, and no days away from my family. Perfect. I decided to take Davida, our Director of Communications, with me so that we could explore the booths together and spend some time talking about what we learned and sharing any new ideas that surfaced.

Here’s what we learned…


Here are some of the things we saw and experienced:

  • A good percentage of booth personnel were behind their counters, sitting behind their booth displays, completely inaccessible and invisible from the public. It looked as though they were literally hiding, hoping that no one would talk to them, waiting for the minutes to pass.
  • Many of the people at their booths were on their computers or on their phones and did not even lift their heads when we walked by.
  • The very few people who were standing at attention by their booths made virtually no effort to talk to us or woo us over when we walked by.
  • Those that we approached spent the entire time telling us about what THEY do and showed absolutely no interest in us. Their ability to think beyond their ‘box’ was non-existent. They did not know how to ask questions and made no effort to understand why we were there, what we were interested in, or find out if there was an opportunity that we may have presented for them.
  • The friendliest person in the room was the guy from France who was at the back of the room serving food at the Sushi Bar counter. His name was Sebastian and he came to Canada to learn how to speak English better and had not yet made a trip to Montreal. I told him where I was from, where I grew up, and how many kids I had. He learned more about me in 3 minutes than any other person in the room.

It’s not that I was shocked by all of this because I have seen this at trade shows over and over – but here is what troubles me: Why do leaders spend a ton of money and effort to send their teams to trade shows and leave them completely ill-equipped to be there? Why do companies make substantial capital investments in their strategies without setting up their people for success? They invest in the tangibles – the booth, the fliers, the displays, and the technology – and leave the intangibles behind without really understanding that their competitive advantage comes 100% from the intangibles. I bet you that if the leaders of those trade show teams spent only a small portion of their budget on coaching, their entire team would show up differently and perform like stars. Coaching – not training. Why? Because it’s not only about the skills they bring to the table, it’s about how they show up and who they get to be when the light shines on them.

Here are some things to consider when selecting the right coaching program for your team:

1) Does the coaching program focus on the unique mindset, experience, and personal goals of each participant or is it a generic program that provides a one-size-fits-all approach? Coaching is particularly effective when the individual needs of each participant can be captured and addressed meticulously.

2) Given the premise that a person’s thinking has a direct impact on their results, does the coaching focus on the inner thinking, beliefs, and behaviors of the individual or does the coaching focus only on behaviors? It is important to understand the thinking and beliefs that fuel behavior instead of focusing on shifting behavior alone. Behavior that shifts without a preliminary mindset shift is often not sustainable and usually comes at a cost.

3) What process does the coach use to collect data, build a relationship, and help the individual to really become aware of their inner thoughts? Does the coaching program you choose have a mechanism for the coach to be in frequent contact with the individual and collect relevant day-to-day data? This is crucial for quick and effective progress.

I would love to share how Frame of Mind Coaching works – and show you how a coaching program could potentially revolutionize your results.

BTW – I used to be known as the Trade Show Queen – pounding the pavement from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., coming home with a fist-full of contracts that were sold right on the trade show floor. I would love to share my strategy with you!


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