Hands-on instruction that bridges the gap between buzz words and real life so that you can get back to improving your communities and changing the world.

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My training philosophy is simple. It starts not with what I can teach you while I'm there, but instead what you want to accomplish once I'm gone.  This desire for action and long-lasting change (and to help you create and sustain it) is the underlying theme of all of my workshops.

Looking for some training idea inspiration?  Let's start with what problem are you trying to solve:


Data 101: What Does It All Mean and Why Does It Matter?

Workshop Description Coming Soon.

Harnessing the Power of Data

Leaders are beginning to grasp the power of data to transform organizational culture, increase operational efficiency, and better serve their customers and communities. But making that happen can be a daunting task, causing many to give up before they've even really started. Whether you're looking to improve or still trying to get started, learn how to build a data-driven organization from the ground up and what steps to take to realize the full potential of your data.

Performance Measures that Count What Counts

Performance measurement is fundamental to improvement, by both aligning an organization around its priorities and providing feedback for moving forward. But in order to be effective, it needs to focus on factors that create value and be embedded into organizational systems and culture.

Once Upon a Pie Chart: Using Data to Tell Your Story

When communicating your agency’s services and needs to others, your message has a bigger impact when it’s backed by data. But telling your story with data requires more than simply adding a few charts and graphs to your reports and presentations. Learn the fundamentals of data visualization and how to communicate effectively with data so that you can use it to create an informative and compelling story to share with staff, elected officials, and the public.


Smart Moves for Success Projects

Park and recreation professionals are often tasked with overseeing special projects. Even when excitement is high, balancing these additional responsibilities with an already full plate is tough. Whether you will be leading a planning processing, new technology initiative, construction project, website redesign, or even a special event, learning some key basic project management skills can have a big impact on your project’s success. Learn how to keep your project and team on track and finish on time and on budget while holding on to your sanity in the process.

Prioritizing Park Improvements

With competing public interests and dwindling funding for grants, prioritizing and gaining support for park development projects is critical. Instead of letting simple facility/equipment life expectancy, emotions, or politics drive which projects move forward, there are systems that can be built to ensure that the park infrastructure most in need of attention actually gets it.

The Art of Gaining Consensus

No matter whether it is a new project, policy, park, or program you’re working on, getting people on board and working together is a key challenge that every professional must overcome in order to get things done. Learn how to proactively weave the fundamental steps for consensus-building into your projects in order to avoid many of these challenges in the first place, as well as how to respond to resistance and conflict when it inevitably happens.

Survey Results that Get Results

Customer feedback is essential in better serving the needs of our communities, but often customer surveys and program evaluations are an afterthought. Learn how to strategically rethink what, when, and how you are asking for customer feedback to produce survey results you can actually use. See examples of underutilized features in most current survey software that can actually be used to make surveying more fun, less repetitive, and even help promote better customer service and marketing efforts.


Catching Trend Waves Without Drowning in Fads

Understanding trends and incorporating them early into your programs and services can provide a huge boost to your participation, revenue, and customer satisfaction. However, the fear of wasting time on what may turn out to be a fad often causes organizations to miss out on the benefits they can provide. Learn more about what makes trends “stick” and current outside influences that are shaping that way that your customers are making decisions about how to spend their time and money.

Innovation In Action

It's easy to talk about the concept of innovation, but much harder to actually achieve. How do you move beyond the aspiration to become more like companies such as Google and Apple while working within the reality of local government?

Topics Covered:
-Creating a Culture of Innovation
-Innovation vs Improvement
-Idea Management Beyond the Suggestion Box
-Designing an Innovative Work Environment
-Better Brainstorming Methods

Parks & Tech

Whether you’re trying to earn more revenue, better understand your community, or tell your story more effectively to the public and elected officials, data has become a valuable resource. Learn how park & recreation agencies are finding ways to harness the data already at your fingertips, as well as new technology that provides access to data you never thought possible. Hear about some of the ups and downs in the process of implementing some of these tools, both from the technical side and the human side.

Customer Experience By Design

Customer service, once the hallmark of great companies, is no longer enough in a world where customized, on-demand products and services are quickly becoming the norm. Successful organizations are working instead to improve the entire experience, starting before customers even walk through the door. Learn what the customer experience entails and what affects it and examples of what you can do to intentionally design great experiences for your customers.


Putting Your Strengths to Work

Often when trying to determine what makes a great leader, we start by creating a long list of qualities we've seen in the people that inspire us. Have you ever noticed that there is not one quality on those lists that every single successful leader possesses? This is because what great leaders have in common has nothing to do with the list of talents they possess, but instead that they are keenly aware of what their individual talents are and make a point to use them every single day. Likewise, if you want to be successful and happy in your career, instead of trying to copy who these leaders are, you should copy what they do.

Topics Covered:
-Understanding the Science Behind Strengths
-Putting Your Individual Strengths to Work
-Using Individual Strengths to Advance Teams
-Supervising with Strengths

The content in this session is applicable for professionals at any stage of their career working in any public or private sector position. This workshop works best as a pre-conference seminar or half/full-day workshop, or a series of several shorter workshops. It requires all participants to complete an electronic StrengthsFinder assessment in advance.

Dealing with the 3D's: The Difficult, Demotivated, and Duds

Leading your staff isn’t always as easy as those Successories posters may have you believe. Learn how to diagnose the cause of an employee’s poor performance before it spreads to the rest of your team.

Topics Covered:
-Components that Make Up Performance
-Diagnosing the Root of a Performance Problem
-Treating Staff as Individuals While Holding Them to the Same Expectations
-Responding to Excuses that Poor Performers Make

Learning Without Lectures

Regardless of the popularity of your programs or the quality of your facilities, your staff will always be your most important resource. Why then when it comes to training our most valuable assets, do we always seem to end up spending the majority of our time using the same worn-out lecture-type settings?

Topics Covered:
-Qualities of an Effective Training
-Keys to Audience Engagement
-Teaching the "Unteachable" Skills
-Hands-On Examples of Training Activities

This session is especially timely when offered in the spring for supervisors of seasonal staff, although it can be geared towards including advice for training and supervising full-time staff as well. By extending this workshop for a longer time or offering it as a two-part series at a conference, it can also include introduction and hands-on practice of new training activities that participants can incorporate into their own training.


What are the workshops like?

No-nonsense practical advice doesn't mean boring. With a background in recreation, I understand the art of learning through play. In presentations given across the country, my workshop attendees have built with LEGOs, conducted science experiments, played customized board games, and other interactive activities to drive home key learning objectives in fun and memorable ways. 

It really sparked something in me...You may have created a data junkie in me as I suddenly came up with multiple ideas and conversations that I feel the need to have with staff about some of their metrics.
— Terry Wolf, Superintendent of Buildings & Grounds at Park Ridge Park District

My workshops are always centered around what you're trying to accomplish - not around what you want to learn, but instead what you want to be able to do after I leave.  The above topics can be covered broadly in as little time as 60-90 minutes for conferences, webinars, and lunch-and-learn settings.  Most are well-suited for half- to 2-day workshops that really let you dive into the details and get your hands dirty, ensuring that you leave with some work already accomplished and the confidence to continue it once the training is over.  


Where will we be next?

Here are some of the public conferences and workshops that we'll be appearing at in the next few months: