Welcome to our Spotlight Series featuring interviews with instructors, trainers and staff members of Dale Carnegie Training of North Dakota.
For the month of August, we interviewed Michelle Wall for a second time, who works as an Area Manager for the franchise.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I had a lot of different ambitions. I grew up on a farm and a ranch, so certainly that was always very near and dear to my heart and still is to this day. Even though I’m not actively in production agriculture, it’s still important to me. I remember wanting to be a radio DJ at one point. I took one of those career assessments in junior high and one of the results was radio DJ and I worked in radio, but I wasn’t on the air very often. I worked in the sales and marketing department and worked on some special events, but I got a real bird’s-eye view of the broadcast industry.
What was your educational and experiential path to becoming a member of the Dale Carnegie team?
I have my Bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University and I’ve got one of those build-your-own educations. I have degrees in Agriculture and Mass Communications with emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing. I really went into it wanting some different pieces to put together and that’s how I built my college experience.
I was very active at NDSU in extracurricular activities, and after that, I worked for the Falkirk Mining Company as their tour guide/engineering assistant for 3 months. I learned to work with engineers, which helps me greatly now, and the tour guide part was fabulous. In college, I interned at NDSU and Minnesota Wheat Growers, which gave me experience in public relations and event coordinating.
After this, I worked at KFYR 550 AM radio and Y93 FM and spent about 7.5 years there and that’s when I first took the Dale Carnegie Course. I was a 2002 graduate, and it was a time when the franchise ownership was changing. When I was going through the course, I thought I would love to facilitate and coach the programs and businesspeople. I have a long history of leadership, presentations and team building growing up in 4H and FFA. It was really a good match, and when I was going through instructor certification, Eide Bailly purchased the franchise and I found my match to run point in Central and Western North Dakota as Area Manager. In December 2003, I came on as a full time employee. My role is not just instructional, there’s also a consultant piece. I’m on the ground working with teams and individuals, understanding their business goals and employee development needs, and matching that with a Dale Carnegie solution, be it public training or a customized, private program that fit their specific needs.
I have a passion for people and seeing people succeed. I get to work with people at the top of their game – the best of the best – we just help them make them better.
What Dale Carnegie principle(s) resonate with you the most? Why?
In my office I have a canvas from Katie Finken, which includes the principle “Throw down a challenge.” She made them for everyone in the office and this is what mine says. I picked that one because my longtime friend and contract trainer, Lance Enget, has always told me it’s the principle I use the most and it’s my favorite.
I think for myself, day to day, “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain” – it’s #1 and there for a reason, and when we utilize it and do it on a consistent basis, it helps us as leaders. It also helps with our self-talk that goes on in our head and outwardly as well. It helps us be more passionate, confident and assertive.
Looking at trends and changes, how do you see training evolving or being impacted?
The trends in the last couple of years have really centered around leadership, succession planning and employee engagement. I don’t see that changing except that innovation is more in the mix now. As those boomers retire, there are organizations that are going to be affected greatly. In Bismarck, one organization has 30% of their workforce retiring. Those are huge chunks, and the better job that we do in building that bench strength, it will impact the success of organizations moving forward.
The main industries in Central and Western North Dakota – agriculture and energy, both have reputations for being innovative, technology-driven types of industries that push the envelope with productivity. Innovation will always be a big part of it. What ways can we be more efficient and effective and still recognize the people piece as an important resource? It’s having that balance. Even with the slowdown with oil and gas, there’s still a war for top talent. They want to hold on to people who are really good and perhaps creating some opportunity to snag some of that top talent with a slowdown in industry.
It’s exciting times for North Dakota right now. There’s really never been a better time to live and work in this state, so we have bright futures ahead.
What’s a big personal or professional dream that you have?
From a Dale Carnegie standpoint, to be a sought after facilitator and executive coach, both on a regional and a national basis.
I think personally, the ability to do that anywhere is very special. A lot of my energy comes from the land and its animals. I was just reminded of this earlier this week. I was on the phone with a colleague from Minneapolis, and she asked how my week was going. I said it was good, I’m going to hop in car and drive 150 miles. Dead silence on the phone – I caught her off guard! For someone like me, that’s just part of what we do and how we do things out here. On that drive, everybody’s making hay right now, so it’s fresh cut and smelled great. Cattle were grazing and combines were harvesting wheat. It was beautiful.
I’d love to have a little acreage outside of town to feed my soul and have a nice balance between my heritage in North Dakota and being able to do what we do. Technology is a game changer and we have top notch technology at Dale Carnegie North Dakota. We can work from anywhere, so no matter where I am, accessibility will always be there.