Education and Business – lifelong learners & how to inspire them

Inspired by a piece of artwork

We were fortunate in 2014 to visit Atlanta for a family wedding.  Spending some time in the city, we happened upon the sculpture below – a 23ft bronze archway called Climb with Care and Confidence.


The  sculpture was inspired by the work of S Truett Cathy, the founder of the Chick-fil-A food franchise (thoroughly recommend if you ever get the chance to sample one!).

Building your business and inspiring others

He started his first diner in 1946 in Atlanta and after becoming a popular spot for factory and airport workers, opened his first Chick-fil-A in 1967.  Today, there are franchises open all over the USA and staff never work Sundays to allow them time for family and church.

In 1973 he started the Team Member Scholarship programme to enable his employees in the diners to further their education.  This was a first for any fast food enterprise and in 1994 they achieved a $10 million scholarship milestone.  To recognise this, the Climb with Care and Confidence statue was designed by Georgia State University students depicting people, lending hands, to help others climb over an archway constructed of books.

The inscription reads: ” A person succeeds or fails according to the multitude of decisions that are made day after day.   The right decisions lead to rewards: incorrect decisions lead to disappointment and delay”
S.Truett Cathy, Founder of Chick-fil-A Inc.

The archway was dedicated just prior to the 1996 Olympic Games which is often remembered for the bomb that exploded, leaving two dead and many injured on 27th July 1996.

Investing in your employees for their future potential

Whilst the sculpture itself is a moving indictment of what people can achieve through education and opportunity, it is a monument to how to give back to your community –  a business that started small, grew and flourished to be worth in excess of $2 billion dollars a year is altruistic in its outlook, that the employees who work there can achieve so much with support.  Valuing your staff to enable them to develop, grow and accomplish more than they thought possible is something we can all learn from.  We may not have the resources to provide scholarships, but every business should encourage its employees to be lifelong learners to enable them to reach their potential.



Feedback on Customer Service Excellence

Mandy spent the day last week in Canterbury with a long standing client who had  asked for a customer service excellence event tailored to their very specific requirements for their team.

Glad it hit the mark and they are already using the tools and techniques to provide Excellence in their service!

Customer Service Excellence

The value of interns

Delighted to receive this today from an HR intern with one of our regular clients.  She’s worked with us over the last year on a variety of training and development courses, in some cases working closely with the trainers in a supportive capacity:-


Firstly, thank you so much for my lovely card I received yesterday and your kind words. Can’t believe there’s only 3 and a half days left! It’s gone so incredibly fast but have to say I’ve been incredibly lucky to have an amazing year!


It’s been a pleasure working with yourself, Keith and all the trainers across Athelbrae across the course of the year and thank you for all your help and support and insight on the various training programmes I have been able to attend and facilitate/support.


The value of engaging your interns so that they receive real hands on experience is not only beneficial to them and their development, but can be a huge asset and valuable contribution to the business too.


Exciting news re new Associate, Denise

Delighted that we’re able to start working with Marketer Denise Wilton on our new course about Marketing your Business for Free.

More details to follow, but with her extensive experience and knowledge of the industry and how to make the most of getting your business “out there”, we know this is going to be a big hit with SMEs.

We’ll keep you posted on the details, but really looking forward to cementing our “friendship” into a professional forum too!Denise

Gardening and Training – synergy in nature and nurture


Now the summer seems well and truly underway, we’ve all no doubt had some time outside tending to our gardens, allotments or window boxes.  The proliferation of shrubs, vegetables and the perennial weeds, with the warmth of the sun and the occasional downpours got us thinking about the synergy of the jobs in the garden and the similarities with training…stay with us, it will make sense!

During the winter months, there are lots of preparations, sowing seedlings, preparing the ground, digging in the fertiliser all ready for the following summer displays.  Now some of us are impatient, and want to see immediate results, but the true gardener knows that in order for those spectacular arrays of colour and vibrant smells, we need patience and excellent grounding. Synergy 1: The same is true when you send staff on training.  You need to prepare them for their workshop or training programme.  Throwing seeds onto unprepared ground elicits little in the way of solid, sturdy specimens.  Throwing your staff onto training programmes with no preparation in the hope that they will flourish is equally doomed to failure.  So a bit of nurture, conversations around why they are attending the training (whether for improvement, development, or future progression), if they know and understand the reasons for their attendance, they’ll be prepared to soak up the knowledge and blossom.

Sometimes during the harshest of winters there is deterioration.  Late frosts can scupper the best prepared plants; pesky slugs and snails invade the hard won ground and you can look at your specimens and see nothing but wilting leaves and buds.  BUT with careful tending, taking some extra time to care for the roots and not just digging them up and chucking on the compost, you start to see the spring shoots gradually break through. Synergy 2: It is also true that staff can appear to be withering despite your best efforts with their development.  Metaphorically chucking them on the development compost is a waste of their talents and the time and effort you’ve already invested.  You occasionally need to spend time and effort nurturing that learning so that those training shoots can fight their way to the surface and start to really sprout foliage and strength.

Summer arrives and everything is in full bloom – you can sit back on your garden swing or on your balcony and reap the pleasurable rewards of your hard work. HOWEVER, is that some bindweed lurking in the undergrowth – strangling the plants’ development and suffocating the continuous growth?  You need to nip this in the bud otherwise it will become stronger than the plant it is wrapped around.  Synergy 3: On occasion your staff too can become inured in the day to day pressures of their job….the learning goes out of the window and they revert to what they are comfortable doing.  The struggle to put the learning into practice is just too much and the bindweed of business strangles their productivity and potential.  Regular reviews and face to face chats with each individual means that you keep on top of the business bindweed.  By tackling these shoots of doubt as they form, you keep your team on a development pathway that is well paved and not cracked or uneven, with the potential to trip them up on their journey.

And finally to autumn, you now have the opportunity to discover whether that beautiful buddleia needs moving to a new position in the organisation that is your garden, before the winter sets in.  You want it to establish itself before the cold takes hold and in order to give it the best chance to survive, you again need to prepare the ground, use some food to encourage growth and support it with canes or trellis.  Synergy 4: Similarly members of your team sometimes need moving.  They are stagnating in their current position and in order for them to continue to blossom and perform outstandingly for the business, they need to find a new site.  This might be a different role in your team, a different position in your company, or even, sometimes, taking a new position elsewhere.  Support them, through their 1:1s, performance management, further training, establishing them within the team under a new guise or if necessary by letting their roots spread to another garden.

The only way we can see that this analogy doesn’t work is you can’t take a cutting – well, we wouldn’t advise chopping off a healthy limb and re-planting….and remember in recruitment you don’t always want to a clone of what you had – sometimes a new variety and something completely different brings a different, and healthy change of perspective to your garden and your team!

Encourage the individual “plants” within your team to all flourish and build their strength on the back of their learning, and they will share their knowledge with others, so when their time comes to move to pastures new, they’ll leaving behind healthy shoots in the younger members of the team for you to nurture again.

Taking control of the narrative – the importance of getting your message told & sold


Anyone who saw the Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recent series on Fat Britain dealing with the obesity crisis in the UK, will have seen in the final episode the lengths to which both Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and his Department went to in order to avoid having an interview on camera.  To be fair to Hugh and the producers, they weren’t trying to “catch them out” and had asked for a date and time for a short interview on camera.  Despite initially agreeing to this, the eventual outcome (after several months) was that no one was prepared to take part despite their press release that their results on tackling the obesity crisis were the “best in Europe”. 

Interestingly, earlier in the series Nestle had responded to Hugh’s arrival on their premises and sent a member of the PR team to talk about why they weren’t using the traffic light system of warnings on their cereals.  A discussion ensured both parties put their points across and they certainly came out better than their counterparts Kellogg’s who, like the Dept of Health, refused to engage in the conversation.

Allowing others to dominate your narrative, means that you’re on the back foot and lose control of the story. 

Hugh may well have vocally challenged the “best in Europe” claim, but if you are prepared to make sweeping statements, you should be able to back them up with factual evidence. 

Telling your story and taking control of the narrative can have a tremendous impact on getting your message across. 

Journalists and indeed campaigners like Hugh may have challenging questions to ask, but fundamentally they want to hear what you have to say and by having that conversation with them, you can put across your points allowing your audience to understand more about your organisation and the decisions you make. 

Whether you are making a presentation about your firm or a specific product to a large group of investors and shareholders, or would like to get your story into the local press, TV, and other media, our Associate, Steve can help.  A working journalist he knows exactly what you need to do to get noticed, and to handle those challenging questions with confidence and enthusiasm.  Email for more details.