Hard skills are important for whatever job you’re after or that you currently hold, whether it’s mastering spreadsheets on Excel, preparing complex formulas for new drugs in the lab, or knowing your way around the kitchen at one of the busiest restaurants in the city. However, without soft skills — public speaking, self-confidence, assertiveness, et al — all of the hard skills in the world won’t lead to the professional success you seek.
Enter Sullivan University’s Professional Development Center. The center has several programs available to build on the soft skills needed to truly succeed in any career, including a number of Dale Carnegie courses designed to establish a foundation of leadership skills suitable for any path chosen in the professional world. The courses have helped some of the biggest names in the business world, including none other than business magnate, investor, and philanthropist Warren Buffett, as well as the hundreds of students who have taken the courses at Sullivan.
“We have several courses that we offer through our Dale Carnegie franchise,” said the center’s executive director Mack Shwab. “Our first course is our Skills For Success program, where we focus on communications. It’s been really, really successful because of millennials. We’re helping millennials, through cross-general communication skills, communicate with Generation X and traditionals.”
Shwab says millennials are tech-savvy, especially when it comes to electronic communication and social media, but there’s sometimes “a skills gap” regarding face-to-face communication. The program helps millennials listen more effectively, reduce stress, build on their critical thinking skills, work better in a group dynamic, and become thought leaders overall.
“Another program of ours is HIP (High-Impact Presentation),” said Shwab. “It’s a program where we really teach people how to present their ideas, how to effectively do a PowerPoint presentation, how to effectively engage an audience and keep them engaged in the speaker’s messaging, how to answer questions, how to use a monitor, how to respond when a camera’s on you. We look at every dynamic of how people present.”
The third program offered by Sullivan’s Professional Development Center is its sales course, Winning With Relationships. Shwab says the art of selling is different today than in years past, mainly due to the internet giving someone enough information to determine whether or not they want to do business or otherwise build a relationship with a given business or individual:
“Salespeople today, the guys and gals who had kind of cheesy sales tactics, that stuff’s all gone because the consumer’s so smart. What we work on is how to build relationships with people so you have commitments and customers who stay around for years and years and years, what that selling process is, helping the seller see things from the customer’s point of view, and helping individuals in the sales program really hone their skills so they can better affect and better help their customer be successful.”
Of the programs available, the Skills For Success program has lived up to its name so much that it is now in the university’s overall curriculum. Shwab says today’s college students have so much on their plate that without the proper coping skills needed to handle it all, the plate breaks. With the Dale Carnegie program in play throughout Sullivan, though, dropout rates have dropped significantly; the program is taught five times per quarter, according to Shwab.
Among the success stories to come out of the Professional Development Center, Shwab says one of the biggest involved Tom Drexler of Tom Drexler Plumbing:
“Tom Drexler started a plumbing company with four or five of his friends about 20 years ago. Tom was shy but smart. We recently completed an in-house Carnegie course, where he told us that one of the reasons he’s been so successful… is because of the things he learned at Dale Carnegie. After attending that Dale Carnegie course and coming out of his comfort zone, he was able to build Tom Drexler Plumbing from four or five people to 127 employees and become one of the largest plumbing companies in the state of Kentucky.”
For more information, visit https://sullivan.edu/.