After careers spanning many locations and industries, Dale Carnegie Training of Central Ohio President and CEO Bob Allen has found a calling that allows him to embrace his entrepreneurial side while also helping to make a profound difference in the lives of others.
Q: Can you describe your first introduction to Dale Carnegie’s work?
A: As a Communication major throughout college I had heard a little about Mr. Carnegie’s work – but college programs never really investigated that area of human relations as well as they should have. I had always been an avid reader and I found his book in my dad’s bookcase one day. Once I delved into How to Win Friends and Influence People I was inspired.
Years later, after careers in advertising, broadcasting and construction, I was seeking work that really made a difference in people’s lives. About that time I was invited to a Dale Carnegie open house. I attended, and shortly after my introduction the owner of that group called and asked to meet with me. Three interviews later I became a Dale Carnegie Performance Coach and trainer. That was thirty years ago. Still here! I found a career that allows me to provide programs that change people’s entire lives for the better. I will probably never retire.
Q: When did you take over the Central Ohio franchise?
A: As V.P. of Operations for a very large Dale Carnegie franchise, I had reached the top level of attainment for that particular area. When requesting a new challenge in my career, the franchise owner asked if I wanted to buy a franchise – his – in seven years. I didn’t want to wait that long, but I liked the concept. Ironically, several franchises were available for purchase at the time, and I thought very highly of the community and market opportunities in the Central Ohio area. After finding the funding, a grueling screening process, and a lot of help from mentors and advisors, I purchased the 39 County Central Ohio franchise, first as 20% owner and six years ago as 100% owner.
Q: What were you doing prior to running this business?
A: After a four year stint as a Helicopter Rescue Crewman for the U.S. Coast Guard, and several years of post-graduate college degrees, I owned a weekly newspaper, had a sideline owning an ad agency, did some construction work in my “spare” time and finally went to work for a larger ad agency for several years.
“How can we grow without assuming some risks of change along the way?”
Q: What drove you towards this entrepreneurial lifestyle?
A: At some point in every person’s life, unless one becomes too complacent, we all look at where we are and ask, “where CAN we be?” I love the Dale Carnegie organization and all that it stands for, but had reached the top of the career potential for that particular organization. Having quite a bit of operational experience, I was attracted to the idea of running my own show in my own way. As with all entrepreneurial enterprises, we sometimes had to sacrifice security for freedom. But then, how can we grow without assuming some risks of change along the way?
Q: Why should businesses invest in Dale Carnegie training for their employees?
A: If they want to keep doing what they are currently doing – and want the same results – or less – without growth…they shouldn’t invest in Dale Carnegie Training for their teams. However, if they understand that all companies and organizations are only as good as the skill sets of their people, that success doesn’t come from brick and mortar, but rather from the talent they develop within – then all organizations should invest in their greatest asset – their people. Dale Carnegie Training is time-tested and proven to enhance the growth of individuals in a multitude of ways – ultimately enhancing the growth and success of those whose teams they lead and influence.
Q: To anyone who is considering large-scale organizational training, what would you like to tell them to help convince them to go for it?
A: First and foremost, be a servant to your team. Always go the extra mile even if it means taking a “hit” from time to time to earn their trust and develop strong mutual relationships. Always be there for them without being aggressive. And ALWAYS have a professional, not arrogant, friendly approach. We at Dale Carnegie HAVE the cookie – the larger organizations have to see us model that behavior in a positive way until they understand that our methodology and principles can be part of their culture as well.
“Investing in your personal development is an investment that no one can take away from you and it lasts a lifetime.“
Q: Why should individuals invest in Dale Carnegie training for themselves?
A: Unfortunately, many organizations still don’t get it. They are reluctant for one reason or another to develop their teams. For individuals, the Dale Carnegie programs assist in the development of all aspects of a person’s life – professionally AND personally. Our training helps enhance the lives of individuals, which provides a happier home and relationship experience as well as assisting in the success of their career. Investing in your personal development is an investment that no one can take away from you and it lasts a lifetime.
Q: What makes Dale Carnegie different from other professional development courses?
A: Dale Carnegie Programs do not deal with hypothetical situations or theories from text memorization. Our programs, while reinforced by Mr. Carnegie’s principles and values, are pragmatic, hands-on, dealing with real life situations, and through continuous coaching are applicable to our everyday challenges and specific interactions. We provide tools and techniques that we all may put into practice that very day – and every day of our lives — for immediate results.
Q: Dale Carnegie instructors will often tell others to “make it a great day,” rather than saying the standard “have a good day.” Why is this?
A: At Dale Carnegie we believe in living intentional lives. We have our participants establish a vision for themselves of who they want to strive to become, how they want to be perceived, and what they want to accomplish. Then we have them set specific goals and milestones to assist them in coming as close as they can to attaining that vision of themselves. It is always a work in progress. When we say to someone “have a great day” we are saying that the day controls your outcome. When we say “make it a great day” the onus is on you to make that decision to take control of your day, no matter what challenges you are presented with. By this we are truly living an intentional life.
Q: What is one of the most memorable moments from a course you have taught?
A: There are truly so many it’s hard to choose just one example. In one instance a quite large, physically strong young man was sitting in the front row of a Dale Carnegie Course I was conducting. He was a “hostage” in that he was told that he had to be there and had to adjust an undesirable attitude toward others. As we began a session where every individual had to exhibit greater enthusiasm I saw his fists clench. He was getting very irritated with this exercise, and when it came time for him to share he did the minimal effort. After several tries of me encouraging him to go further he became very red and angry. Still, I didn’t let him off the hook. I thought for sure he was going to slug me, yet I knew he had to break through his inhibitions. I pushed and encouraged, and finally after he realized I was not going to let up, he let it all loose. He hit a breakthrough in his own ability to share of himself and the class applauded him. Personally, I was a tad scared for my own safety and thought perhaps I should have let it ride. However, at the end of the class he stayed over when others had left, and thanked me for making him come out of that protective shell.
Since that event, and well after the class had graduated, we continued to stay in touch via email. Whenever I visited that company he was always the first to greet me at the reception desk and often took me on tours of his department. We were friends. He encouraged many others to attend our programs and he advanced very quickly in his organization. Would I ever put myself on the line like that again? We will have to see what challenges are presented to me, I guess.
“If we want to make friends, let’s put ourselves out to do things for other people – things that require time, energy, unselfishness, and thoughtfulness.” – Dale Carnegie