The Vocation to Train

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Training wasn’t my first choice. I spent much of my youth collecting heroes and role models; Salvador Dalí featured prominently, so I pursued a life in the arts. I loved, and love creating and pursuing art. When it comes to Business Communication Training, I’m a legacy. My parents are excellent trainers. I also belong to a family of great educators and communicators. I mention this, because part of my adolescent rebellion was moving away from this world. Something changed in Mexico.

During my four years at Parsons, I would mostly spend September-May in New York and May-September in Caracas; where ERC, my parents’ company generously supplied me with summer work as a graphic designer for their training material. Early on, I approached my work with the ignorance and arrogance of youth.

The summer after my junior year, my father invited me to join him on a training trip to Guadalajara, Mexico. My job was to film participant videos and to assist him. He was delivering our presentation skills program. It was a two-day course. By the time we took a lunch break on day one, I was shocked. I had witnessed changes that I hadn’t expected to see at the end of the program, a quarter of the way through.

Education equips you with new lenses to observe the world. I remember that after one of my first drawing classes, I was never able to see the horizon the same way again. I always looked for the curving at the edges, observed what was above and below it and connected my fingers in L-shapes to frame what I saw. After Guadalajara, I observed my teachers, looking for their strategies to maintain focus and inspire action. How would they present? What role did anecdotes play? Would they show their own work or other artists’ work? Why? Drawings, quotes and notes on education were filling my sketchbooks.

I have worked full-time in training for 13 years. One of my favorite jobs is developing new colleagues; training trainers. My guiding philosophy is defined by a simple statement: It’s not about me. My success is defined by my participants’ experience and success.

Delivering training is an easy way to pad your ego. Great presentation skills, results and applause can go to your head. But, just like when you’re a presenter, the audience is the star (hat tip to Nancy Duarte) — when you’re a trainer each participant is the star.

Its wonderful when I see the vocation take hold in a new trainer’s eyes. I’m inspired by the skill, confidence, sensitivity and passion that I see in people who are prepared to change lives, through teaching new skills and giving participants new lenses to experience their world.

Alex Charner

Cranford, NJ, United States

As Training and Design Consultant, Alex is responsible for designing and refining programs, as well as, delivering training to professionals and new trainers.

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