Along with corporate training comes the idea of development – typically a way to build soft skills and give employees and top talent a strong foundation for continued success in a company, even if it’s not directly related to the skills needed to fulfill their job.
The idea of including personal development options in corporate training is one that’s picking up steam amongst some of the world’s top companies, but smaller organizations may still be asking whether or not it’s worth the investment. Google is almost always at the top of most lists when it comes to being a great overall employer and also for innovation in terms of how employees are treated, trained and developed. Several years ago Google announced the launch of the School of Personal Growth at Google University.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has a robust employee policy that encompasses everything from working “hand-in-hand with society” to focusing on remaining a conscientious employer. KLM says the following: “Sustainable staff deployment is in the common interest of employer and employee.
As well as a full slate of specialized training and courses offered through the KLM Academy, the company also provides an array of external training options, including the ability to learn a new language. The rank-based components of Canon’s training and development program are designed to enhance skills and knowledge and improve the awareness of job responsibilities, while the elective training is designed to support employees’ ability to fulfill their duties. Also under this umbrella are Canon’s self-development training opportunities, designed with the goal of providing employees with skills and knowledge that will serve personal advancement purposes. Canon’s self-development training is delivered primarily through eLearning and the company holds a variety of events to support this learning and development. GM officials said they needed another $30  billion from the government to finish their costly restructuring. In mid-January, GM’s return to health became a big applause line for President Obama in his 2012 State of the Union speech. In 2011, GM sales—led by the Chevrolet Cruze (the kind of high-quality, fuel-efficient compact the company was once clueless about)—rose 13 percent, with 2.5 million cars and trucks finding new owners. Sam Jaffe, an analyst with IDC Energy Insights, applauds the company’s progress as a “more flexible and nimble competitor” under current CEO Dan Akerson, a former board member and Carlyle Group money manager who took over in the summer of 2010. And GM is dependent on sales in China, which could be disrupted by protectionist government policies. Competitors always go after the market leader, but Dunkin’ Donuts took aim because Starbucks was a wounded giant in late 2007. Schultz’s recovery strategy: Develop exciting new products, close underperforming stores (it had many among the 14,000 outlets in the United States) and grow internationally. Starbucks also launched the instant coffee product Via, sharpened its approach to social media, and drew in customers with more focused music offerings such as a love-themed compilation and, in 2009, an exclusive charity CD (featuring U2, Dave Matthews and John Legend) that was free with a $15 purchase at Starbucks’ North American stores. Expansion in Asia was a natural path because it has a middle class four times the size of that of the United States, or 1.4 billion consumers. Schultz tells SUCCESS, “I think one of the most vital things that came out of our transformation was the confidence we gained knowing we could preserve our values despite the internal and external challenges we faced. In 2009, Whole Foods Market suddenly found its famously meteoric growth slowing to a crawl. In late 2008, Whole Foods sold 17 percent of itself to Green Equity Investors to raise $425 million. For many consumers, shopping at “Whole Paycheck”—with displays of perfect-but-pricey organic apples and racks of Fiji Water—became an unaffordable luxury. Many longtime Whole Foods customers swore they’d take their cloth shopping bags elsewhere, and the Whole Foods website was besieged with calls for a boycott. Mackey has been the public face of Whole Foods since its founding, so his acceptance of longtime senior executive Walter Robb as co-CEO in 2010 surprised some observers.
Dating to the 1990s, Whole Foods has had a team of five senior staff that, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has functioned “as a sort of CEO committee, collectively making decisions on strategy, finances and other company matters.” As Mackey put it, “I’ve made a valuable contribution to Whole Foods, but so have thousands of other people. In addition, an image makeover reinvented the store as a place for at least relative bargains. The company also communicated the health value of its natural foods and in 2009 added “healthy eating” as its seventh core value. Whole Foods thrives today, with fourth-quarter 2011 sales of $2.4 billion, up 12 percent from the previous quarter.
In early 2009, The New York Times—approaching deadlines on paying down some of its $1.1 billion debt—borrowed $250 million from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu. The Times and other printed newspapers have long faced declining advertising revenue as readers moved online. The newspaper launched digital subscription fees in early 2011, and by the end of the third quarter the paper had 324,000 paying customers, up from 281,000 at the end of the second quarter. In a sign of returning health, the company repaid Helu’s loan more than three years earlier than expected. Full disclosure: The author is a longtime contributor to The New York Times “Automobiles” section and its “Wheels” blog. The video service Netflix lost 800,000 subscribers after it decided last June to separate its DVD and streaming customers, effectively raising prices 60 percent.
Customers disagreed, and CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells were forced to admit in a letter to investors, “Many of our long-term members felt shocked by the pricing changes, and more of them have expressed that by canceling Netflix than we expected.” Netflix recognized its mistakes and soon abandoned plans for a stand-alone Qwikster DVD service. Netflix admits it is likely to lose money this year but has a strategy for the future by betting on exclusive content. Netflix sees a bright future overseas and has launched streaming services in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean; it’s also attempting an ambitious expansion into England and Ireland.

Netflix hasn’t finished its comeback, but it’s trying mightily to reinvent itself in the rapidly shifting world of home entertainment. Rosanna Pansino’s cooking videos (and now her best-selling cookbook) give a quirky twist to baking. How many companies do you know that have been in business for over 20 years with clients that have been with them since day one? The dynamic personal development seminar company that I recommend, Productive Learning & Leisure, is celebrating 20 years in business this month and I am thrilled to pass on an opportunity to you that they shared with me.
Productive Learning & Leisure helps people live the life they truly want by providing life-altering experiences so that they can uncover the thinking that is holding them back. They have two foundational workshops that are remarkable (both of which I have taken).  Beyond Reasons and The Mind In Business helped me to see the many ways I held myself back and actually got in the own way of my own success both in business and in my personal life. In honor of their 20 year celebration, Productive Learning & Leisure is extending a tremendous opportunity to the people I know, like and trust. You can participate in one of these life-changing workshops and bring someone with you for ONLY $200 total! Again, I personally have found these courses incredibly valuable and have recommended them to many of my own family, friends and colleagues.  I am now giving you that same opportunity. If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered by email or to your feed reader. Karen ClarkWhen she was an active direct sales leader, Karen Clark walked the walk as she sold, booked, and supported a team offline, while expanding her reach and service online.
It’s looked at as the best way to address talent gaps and shortages, while remaining competitive. It’s no surprise Google has also been offering personal development options for quite some time. The School of Personal Growth was billed as an in-house education opportunity for employees featuring four different areas of study including emotional development, holistic health, and “beyond the self,” based on Buddhist principles.
There are also business-related soft skills topics included in the self-development training, as well as training on issues like harassment prevention and compliance.
For example, employees have the option to take part in events like cross cultural exchange seminars as part of the global awareness personal development options offered. Do you see the value of including personal development and growth opportunities within your company’s overall training and development? Here's how GM, Starbucks and Whole Foods have engineered turnarounds-- along with some of the lessons they learned. In winter 2008, then-CEO Rick Wagoner flew to his showdown with the Senate Banking Committee in the company’s $36 million G4 jet. Gasoline was $4 a gallon, and GM’s gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks stayed parked on dealers’ lots.
Not surprisingly, the new Obama administration and its auto czar, Steven Rattner, didn’t think Wagoner and his crew were up to the task. GM made a $1.73 billion profit in the third quarter of 2011, and a likely $8 billion for the year.
New leadership, especially the dynamic Ed Whitacre (who reportedly reconfigured GM’s top management in four hours), freed the talented engineers and designers who had been there all along to create cars and trucks that consumers wanted. Now every executive with an interest in inventory attends monthly meetings with North American President Mark Reuss, and production forecasts are revised based on shifting sales expectations. It’s too early to tell whether the company’s bet on the plug-in hybrid Volt will pay off, but the car symbolizes a completely different GM than the one that came calling via G4 in 2008. Just as Apple lost direction without Steve Jobs at the helm, Starbucks reported dismal results without Howard Schultz. As Harvard Business School marketing professor John Quelch put it: “Starbucks is a mass brand attempting to command a premium price for an experience that is no longer special. Before his chair was warm, Schultz said he was coming back “to share with you my personal commitment to ensuring that every time you visit our stores, you get the distinctive Starbucks Experience.” He admitted many company problems were “self-induced”—not resulting from McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts’ hardball tactics. By the beginning of 2010, Starbucks tripled its quarterly profit to $241 million, beating expectations on the Street. Starbucks acquired, for $30 million in late 2011, the natural juice company Evolution Fresh, announcing its plan to reinvent the $1.6 billion super-premium juice segment.
For Starbucks, the key to our success has always been finding a balance between profitability and social conscience. In the company’s annual report that year, outspoken founder and CEO John Mackey conceded the recession’s toll. There was at least some aspect of reducing Mackey’s role as a lightning rod there, but the decision also grew out of a culture that was and is more groupthink than traditionally hierarchical. Whole Foods promoted sales and money-saving coupons, and called shoppers’ attention to 365 Everyday Value, its store-brand bargain line.
Whole Foods pledged awards to its 60,000 team members for maintaining good health, as measured by blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. Sales topped $10 billion for the year, which also saw a 38 percent rise in the stock price.
The loan carried a 14 percent interest rate, and the paper had already agreed to borrow $225 million against its new, eco-friendly headquarters in New York and put its share of the Boston Red Sox on the block.
The Times operated the most widely read online newsroom in the world, but readers got the content free.

The company focused on its core product, which meant selling, for $143 million, its regional newspapers.
But Netflix also saw its mutually agreeable content deal with Starz fall apart, which is one reason its stock lost 70 percent of its value at the end of last year. DVD and CD formats are probably doomed in favor of streaming and cloud content, but DVD mailing is where Netflix actually has made money. The company will launch three series, including the revival of Arrested Development and an all-new crime comedy set in Norway.
But it has competition, especially from Amazon’s LoveFilm, which has a plethora of content deals as well as DVD and streaming services.
Some of you know that besides helping others build their online presence, I place a very high value on personal presence, family presence, community presence and overall professional presence.
Who do you know that is living the life of their dreams, excited to start each day because of all the possibilities it holds. I have been working with this unique company for several years and have seen incredible results in my life.
I highly recommend both of these experiences.  Take your spouse or a good friend and they will thank you! This opportunity ends August 17th so please contact them as soon as you can to reserve your seats. I can’t tell you too much about them because it will ruin the surprise but I’d LOVE to dish afterwards!! Now working with direct selling companies and their field representatives as a speaker and social media corporate consultant, Karen uses her 17 years' online marketing expertise to teach audiences exactly where, when, and how to establish an ethical and effective online presence with social media, while remaining true to their principles and personal business. Corporate training is no longer seen as a necessary evil new hires must undergo – it’s instead seen as a way for companies to engage employees, develop leaders, and take a top spot within their industry. For employees, sustainable staff development is best achieved via job variation, personal growth and career development. When asked by one senator why GM wasn’t making money, Wagoner couldn’t give a straight answer. The meetings proceed with freewheeling give-and-take not previously encouraged in GM’s buttoned-down culture. Akerson is widely perceived as smoothly continuing Whitacre’s work, but he says the company can’t get complacent.
He complained in a letter to Jim Donald, the CEO he replaced, that the company’s new coffee machines blocked the customers’ views of baristas in action. That put the chain in supermarket competition with players such as Odwalla (Coca-Cola) and Naked Juice (PepsiCo). Whole Foods reported the second quarter was its best in several years, and same-store sales went up.
That’s a good thing for a company that pays 100 percent of members’ health-care costs, which helps keep its workplaces happy and union-free.
To boost profitability, The Times raised prices of the Monday to Saturday printed editions by 50 cents. And Netflix faces increased competition from services as diverse as Time Warner’s HBO Go, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Verizon VZ and Comcast’s XFinity on Demand.
In late January, Netflix reported adding 610,000 subscribers (to 24.4 million) in the fourth quarter of 2011, nearly bringing the company back to where it was before adopting the disastrous pricing plan.
Growing as a whole person is important to me so I wanted to let you know about a company that has had an impact on me. Just a week ago I made a huge shift in my mindset that is already impacting my personal life and business in ways I’d never dreamed. Many of us see that our business could be producing more and are ready to make that happen.
GM also has finally become the international operator it always wanted to be: The company sells more Buicks in China than in the United States.
Dealers now get ironclad 60-day marketing plans that replace last-minute wish lists designed to move certain products. And worse: The stores didn’t smell of coffee because the product was shipped in sealed aluminum bags.
In the second quarter, profits were up more than eightfold, as more people visited Starbucks stores and spent more while there. But our values steadied us when our stock, our reputation and our performance were all at their lowest points. And in 2009, he earned the enmity of many customers by writing an op-ed attack on Obama’s health-care plan in The Wall Street Journal. Revenue increased 47 percent, and if profits fell, it’s because Netflix is spending heavily to expand overseas. In a small group setting explore in depth how your mind operates in your business and walk away with personalized action steps to maximize opportunities.

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