Sometimes it's hard to believe, but I've been speaking to groups for over 25 years. My first efforts in the 1970s were in the career development arena.
As I began to write books and expand my interests, I gravitated toward other subjects. I recently looked over the titles of the seminars I've done over the
years and the topics have been wide-ranging:
- Doing What You Love (And Loving What You Do)
- Taking Charge of Your Time & Your Life
- How to Deal With Put-Downs & Insults
- Fighting Fairly: A Seminar for Couples
- Dealing With Problem Employees
- How to Improve Employee Performance
- Dealing With Problem Bosses
- Facing the Challenge of Change
- Effective Communication in the Family Business
As I reflect back, my early seminars were okay, but certainly not spectacular. Even though I was an extrovert, and reasonably comfortable in front of a crowd,
I was not a professional speaker. And, like all neophytes, I made the mistake of thinking more about me and what I was going to say than thinking about what the
audience needed to hear and how to make it an enjoyable and informative experience.
As the years went by, I became more comfortable speaking in front of people and my presentation skills began to improve. By the mid-1980s, more and more people
began coming up after a session to compliment my skills as a speaker. Then, in the summer of 1987 I was invited to speak at the annual convention of the American
Library Association. I was nervous when I learned that 500 librarians would be in the audience, but I ended up really enjoying the session. What I didn't expect was
the review of my efforts a month later in the August 1987 Library Journal:
"A strong contender for the title of 'best performance' at ALA was psychologist Mardy Grothe. For something like 90 minutes, without benefit of notes or
idiot board, Grothe pranced around the platform in a performance that inevitably reminded one of such masters as Robin Williams."
It was a watershed experience for me. Around that time, I began to realize that I not only had some important things to say to people, but I was able to do it with
passion and enthusiasm—and even some flair. Now, more than fifteen years later, I love speaking so much that it's become an integral part of the way I make a living.
These days, though, my seminars are mainly on the topic of "Effective Leadership." Over the past decade, I've become a serious student of leadership and have delved
deeply into the leadership literature. While modern writers have written many important things on the subject, I've learned that the greatest and most powerful insights
about leadership were written centuries, even millennia, ago. The titles of my leadership seminars vary a bit, depending on the client and the venue, but the most popular
title is "Forging the Leader-Follower Connection." A description of this seminar is included below.
FORGING THE LEADER-FOLLOWER CONNECTION
A Seminar by Dr. Mardy Grothe
Too many leadership seminars confuse being in a leadership position with actually being a leader—and when they do talk about leadership, they often emphasize things
like charisma or presentation skills, the most superficial aspects of leadership.
This seminar will answer the question, "What is the connection between leaders and followers? And what are good and great leaders doing that poor leaders are not?" It will
challenge participants to think about how effectively they are currently performing as leaders and help them initiate a meaningful discovery process to answer that question.
It will also provide participants with conceptual tools and feedback devices they can use with peers, key employees, and family members as they answer the question, "What do
I need to do to become an extraordinary leader?"
The seminar will bring the insights of psychology as well as the wisdom of the world's greatest thinkers to the topic of leading and managing people. Members will learn that
the essence of leadership has to do with meeting deep human needs on the part of followers. When these needs are met, the leader-follower connection is made and followers will
walk the ninth mile for their leaders. When these needs are ignored or are squashed by "little murders" or other ineffective behaviors, followers will do the minimum that is
required or actually work to sabotage the goals of the leader. A number of key human needs—and how to meet them—will be surveyed. Participants will also be exposed to the
concepts of "Relationship Management" and "The Vital Signs of Leadership." As they engage in a self-assessment process, members will be given tips on how to overcome self-deception
and insulation from feedback, two of the biggest problems of leaders throughout history. Participants will also gauge how well they're doing on some critical leadership dimensions,
such as avoiding, complaining about, or overreacting to problems instead of confronting them effectively.
The length of my seminars & talks also vary quite a bit. When I speak at the annual conventions of trade and professional associations, I pack a lot of material into an
hour or an hour and a half. And when I do an "in-house" seminar for the executives and managers of an individual company, they often last for three or four hours. A sampling
of some comments that former clients have made about my seminars are included below.
It was wonderful having you come and speak for my group of repair shop owners. Your presentation was educational, entertaining, and euphonious. It was amazing how appropriate and insightful
your comments were. I was afraid that your presentation might be a little "heady" for this more "concrete" group. Boy, was I wrong! Your enthusiasm and genuine interest in the subject matter easily
bridged the gap and you successfully delivered very complicated material to the group. They loved it! Even though it has been months since your presentation, it still is referred to regularly in
conversation among the owners. I am sure we will be inviting you back in the future.
— Dave Dickson, President,
Ice Cold Air, Inc., Tampa, Florida
Thanks so much for spending the day at our Fall Conference with the senior-level sales and marketing executives who make up the HMMC. We have built a tradition of excellence at our Conferences,
and your presentation certainly upheld that tradition. Your topic — leadership — was perfect for this group. But more important, you infused your presentation with enthusiasm and, as one member
pointed out to me, with genuine concern for our members. You connected with each of the people in that room, and consequently, they took home more knowledge and ideas than they otherwise would have.
I'm very grateful for that. I'm sure our members are too. I look forward to keeping in touch, and in keeping your message in front of the members of HMMC.
— Mark Thill, Executive Director,
Healthcare Manufacturers Marketing Council,
Arlington Heights, Illinois
Thank you for an informative, engaging, and enjoyable presentation. Your speaking style makes everyone feel a part of your subject. After hearing you at my TEC meeting I was pretty sure you would fit
with our mixed gender group. You certainly didn't disappoint anyone! Everyone is asking when we are having you back. Thanks for being you and making our day one to remember. You are now in our "Speaker Hall of Fame."
— Roger M. Moery, President,
Vogel Popcorn (a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods),
Just a brief note of thanks for your valuable contributions at our management retreat in Rocky Gap last week. Your casual interactions and observations thru our opening "happy hour" quickly created
a very comfortable rapport with nearly all of our forty or so participants, and the related reflections in your presentation the next morning were astonishing. As you know, we operate in an engineering
and manufacturing environment in locations on three different continents. We found your presentation to include concepts and ideas that have applications across the globe. In addition, even the hardest
of our "hard liners" acknowledged that this session opened up some valuable new thinking around people issues and the business value of occasionally spending focused, quality time on soft stuff …
some tough nuts to crack, I assure you !!! Thanks again for your contributions to our mission. I look forward to other opportunities working with you.
— Bob Kight, VP Human Resources,
PerkinElmer Fluid Sciences, Beltsville, Maryland
I really want to thank you for the recent talk you gave my management team. It was the right thing at the right time. Your style was very engaging and entertaining. The content was perfect for my team
at this time—a great blend of useful and practical suggestions and observations. Your talk was an important piece of training which is sorely lacking for many supervisors and managers who have come up
through the ranks. Your fee was money well spent.
— David Greer, CEO,
Wire Belt Company, Londonderry, NH
In addition to my corporate and trade association seminars, I also do about fifty seminars each year for an international association of more than 8,000 CEOs called Vistage (formerly known as TEC, for "The Executive Committee").
I've been doing this since 1993 and have now logged well over 500 presentations throughout the United States and Canada. The folks at Vistage do a thorough job of rating speakers and only the most
highly-rated continue to get invited to speak to newly-formed groups. The best Vistage speakers are a pretty impressive collection of individuals and I'm proud to say that I have earned the distinction of joining
that select group. Out of several thousand speakers, only a few dozen have been named to their exclusive "200 Club," an honor reserved for speakers who have done more than 200 presentations and who have been
consistently rated as excellent by Vistage members. For more information about my ratings (and a sampling of the comments Vistage members have made about my seminars), read on below.
Each month, hundreds of Vistage groups (each one comprised of 10-15 members) meet in the morning to hear speakers on a wide variety of topics and in the afternoon to discuss business and personal issues. To ensure that
members are getting the very best speakers, Vistage has implemented a rigorous speaker rating procedure, in which speakers are rated from "one" to "five" on both content and delivery. What follows is a summary of my ratings (as of a few years ago):
174 CEO Programs
50 Spousal Programs
31 Key Executive Programs
Quality of Content: 4.74
Quality of Delivery: 4.85
Recommended by Members: 99.8% Yes
Vistage rating forms also provide an opportunity for members to write comments about speakers. Below you will find a sampling of comments that have been written on my rating forms:
"Mardy is more than a speaker; he is a performer. It is hard for me to sit and listen to anyone for 30 minutes, no less 2.5 hours. His presentation is engaging."
"Mardy is a great speaker and communicator. He's motivating, inspiring, and interesting. His information on how to build the leader/follower connection was very helpful."
"One of the best speakers I've heard! Good material, VERY well presented. Amazing energy, wisdom, and knowledge. Come back soon!"
"All I can say is he was GREAT! I truly believe that I can use NOW almost everything I learned today and I am anxious to do so. If future meetings are like this, then this
will have been the best investment of my life!!"
"Tremendous! Great take-home value without having formal presentation materials. Excellent! A solid A+!!"
"Fabulous presentation; great information and wonderfully useful. One of the best presentations I've ever seen."
"Mardy's presentation had high energy/impact/organization and the material had clear, take-home value. Entertaining, but more importantly, very effective.
Full of food-for-thought and action equally applicable to work and home."
"Mardy is one of the best speakers I've seen, if not the best."
"Mardy's strengths are his immense knowledge, great supportive quotes, and he 'practices what he teaches.'"
"Mardy's strengths are his communication, humor, charisma, and insights into relationships. He also held his audience in rapt absorption. He had great style in terms of
presenting tough topics, especially to successful people."
"Mardy is personable, professional, knowledgeable, a great extemporaneous speaker, warm, and presents excellent material that's immediately useful."
"Very engaging! Good personal take-home. A speaker who can get laughter and an intense 'aha,' is a real pro. Ranks among, if not the best."
For fees and availability, please contact Dr. Mardy.