Diana Howles - Howles Associates CEO talks ResilienceJun 29, 2022
Hi, I'm Diana Howles, CEO of Howles Associates and an award-winning speaker, author, and international virtual trainer. I've been in the learning industry for 25 years, and have had the opportunity to train and facilitate programs for Fortune 100 and 500 companies all over the world.
I'm passionate about resilience – it's something we all need in today's fast-paced, constantly changing world. resilient people are able to adapt to change and setbacks, and bounce back quickly from difficult situations.
Resilience is a skill that we can all learn, and it's something that will benefit us throughout our lives. By developing a positive outlook, being proactive, and building a strong support system, we can become more resilient.
(The following text has been transcribed)
Hello and welcome back to KimTalks. I'm Kim Hayden, your host. And this is where we share stories that inspire and insight by, you know, women and business women that are life, love business from around the world. But you know what? They all have a superpower and that is resilience. Now, today's episode is brought to us by QueenofResilience.Shop . It is a shop online for, you know, it kind of sass and any kind of fun. So drop in there, straighten your crown, shop around and grab something at the Queen of Resilience shop. So today's guest is Diana Howles. And we actually had a really kind of cool meeting and I'll get into that in a bit. How we met we actually have met before this, which is kind of nice, too. She's an award winning speaker, author and international virtual trainer who brings 25 years of experience in the learning industry. As a world class facilitator, she has trained Fortune 105 hundred companies and facilitated virtual programs in more than a dozen countries. Diana is currently the CEO of Howles Associates and said that right. She earned her master's degree from Colorado State University and is a frequent presenter at the international, in-person and virtual conferences. Oh, and by the way, she is the author of the newly released Next Level Virtual Training Advance Your Facilitation, which we're going to get into. Welcome to the show, Diana.
Great to be here.
So we met so everybody knows that there I was asked and I had to tell you the prelude to this. So in P.S., if you're an author, NPS is the National Publicity Summit. And I was asked to be honest, I had no clue what it was. So I showed up. I showed up thinking first of all, it's Eastern Time and I'm showing up on Mountain Standard Time. Right. These people phoned me and I'm sure the first two rooms, the facilitators in the first three rooms were like, somebody get this woman out of here. By the time I get the third room, I totally get it. But I had the honor of meeting incredible women who are basically putting in where their money is, where their mouth is right there. They're putting that time in, and they're making these are tangible legacy pieces to help train and help others, you know, live the best life possible. So, Diana, tell me where I want a little bit of background here. Who are you? First of all, we already talked about how you're sweltering. So where are you at currently?
I'm in the U.S. and I'm in the upper Midwest. And so, yes, we have sort of a heat wave today. But I've lived around the U.S. I've lived in Colorado as well, in Minnesota and Illinois. Great to be here today, Kim.
Awesome. So share with us a little bit about how we always like to figure out the kind of the origin story, like because I do think that has a lot to the story and journey that we end up moving forward with. Right. So give me a little bit of background who you know, kids, eldest daughter. Like, where are you at? What do you come to, why are you a leader and share that origin story?
Yeah, well, you know, I think everything that happens in our life happens for a reason. And there certainly are hardships and obstacles. You know, we're talking about real resilience today. And certainly all of us face those challenges. And certainly they have shaped me as well. So I started out just really because I love learning. I loved working in business. I loved being able to help people as a teacher And so I just got into the training profession as a professional corporate trainer and did that for a long time. Also was a virtual facilitator where we are teaching business employees and helping them professionally develop online. And then when the pandemic hit, I realized this was an opportunity to help everybody who now were suddenly thrust into this virtual world, which for some of us, we've been teaching online for decades. So to be able to help people along. Right. And so some of what I talk about in the book talks about how to be on camera and really just I just enjoy helping others professionally.
Develop the online world. So technology tends to not be as strong with women as we see with men. It's like this language And yet this is a space that you've worked in, in the virtual space for a very long time. When you first entered that field, what did the landscape look like?
Oh, it's very different. I mean, there are similar things to what we see today. We did have video capabilities. I'm talking about 2000’s, you know, two decades ago, but nobody really used it very much because it was just one little thumbprint picture in the upper left hand corner. And the bandwidth was low and the quality wasn't very good. And if we showed ourselves on camera, it was maybe for like 10 seconds. So we had a lot of still pictures we could do breakouts back then. For those of you who have tried breakouts in different platforms, whether that be Adobe Connect, WebEx, Zoom, but it was through the audio. We had the phone line for the audio, the Internet for the visual, and we could put people in audio phone line breakouts, So it was very, very different. We had a chat, but it wasn't as effortless as it is now. So it's been really fun to see the improvements. And I do remember back in 2000 when people would put you on hold because we were using the phone lines for audio. So that music, that old music would play and everybody would hear it. We don't have that problem anymore because we use computer audio. But yeah, so it's interesting, every, every decade I suppose, has its challenges. But what has not changed is people being on mute. That popular phrase, you're on mute. We did that back then. We still do it today.
Oh, too far and too fun. Yeah, I remember being put on hold a few times and the elevator music comes on. It's like. Right. So being female in this, do you find that that's been an advantage as if you've moved forward. Was it an advantage or disadvantage when you first came into the field?
You know, I think at the time there probably were more of us who were women in the training field. We certainly had males and men as well. But I think women were in the majority. I did not see it as a disadvantage or an advantage, you know, because we were professionally helping everybody who ever needed to grow in terms of staff or professional employees. So but I do think that there are certain things that certainly we as women can pay attention to and help bring to the forefront right. When we're working with others in the business world.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think they're talking about the great resignation right now, seeing this huge, huge amount like they're estimated upwards of 30%.
Over 40 will not go back to corporate America. Yeah. So these women will be setting up their own playbooks Right. We've always it's one thing to work within a structured playbook of an organization is a whole nother thing to build your out. So what are some things in your facilitating in how you have, you know, decades of experience in this. What are the top three things that you think women who are leaving corporate America are designing their own programs to teach their own programs as they start building out and they start becoming the facilitator themselves? They should remember. What's a few things in there that you see could be pitfalls or could be blessings for them?
Sure. It's a great question. And, you know, I think it's worth noting that the pandemic gave us this opportunity to step back from sort of the rat race and reflect. Right. And all of a sudden we see it has changed us in so many ways. You know, obviously, tragically, we've lost so many millions of people across the world. We've also seen inwardly how we have persevered right through hardship. And maybe we are, you know, in different ways. We certainly are coming out in a different way. But, yes, I would say, to answer your question about what professionals can keep in mind is when we are using the virtual technology because it is here to stay and not going away, we see it only growing right for how we can connect the world as a global village now so we can invite and include so many of us in the world in these online connections But being on camera, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. So number one, you want to frame yourself well in the camera frame, use the real estate well, so you don't want to truncate yourself at an odd angle. Like just have your face down here at the bottom. And you also want to light yourself well, so many people make the mistake of having a window behind them, and when they're backlit, they really cast themselves in shadow. We want to see when you're working online, leading a meeting, working with customers, presenting virtually a virtual presentation. We want to see your face. We want to see your eyes. Want to see your mouth. So if you light yourself well from the front, that's another one. And I think the third one, I would say is, be careful of the angle of your device if you're on a laptop or if you're on a tablet and you are looking down at the device, it creates this sort of looming character use. It's very intimidating for the recipient who's watching you. So as you build your business, women entrepreneurs, women, solopreneurs, we know it's important to establish rapport, credibility, and so really elevating in that device or that laptop to be about eye level works well for it, for creating and establishing relationships.
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And that looming thing is very real. It is very real. And you know what? It's not even just looming. It's like you know, you get to see everything.
Yeah, that, too.
We don't need that. That's not a good look. That's not a good look. So right about this time, I would like to encourage everybody, if you're like in the conversation as we're moving forward, please remember to, like, share, comment and subscribe because your support is so very important. And now we start getting into kind of the meat of it. Why do you do this dynamic? Because everybody has a way And so if we go back 20 years ago, right? Why? Why did you decide to go this route?
Yeah, I just really feel like people on this earth sort of in this universe, you're put here with a purpose. And for me, that purpose is to help others So I just find it so rewarding helping others discover the AHA, which happens through virtual facilitation, virtual training, virtual learning. But it's just so rewarding right? I've had so many people help me in my journey in my career, and so it's great to pay it forward. So that is really the nugget of why I do what I do. It's really helping others get to where they need to be through different venues, whether that be the online virtual presentations, virtual facilitation, virtual training, or leading others when you're working online with virtual meetings.
So, okay, so virtual is still fairly new. It's only 20 years old. So with that, knowing that you would have been on the developing edge of this industry, what was it about the industry that intrigued you? Did you come from a teaching background? Was this, you know, you know, 18 year old Dianna you're taking a look at all the options out there. What was it about this? You know, because I could see somebody who is 24. You know, looking at this because we've had 20 years in this space. Yes. I'd love to go because you really are kind of like that forefront here that that pilgrimage, you know pioneers. Right. You're the pioneer.
Key word right? It's so well, you see the Gen Z folks and the millennials, and they grew up on social media, right. They have their phones with them all the time. It's an attachment. It's an extension of themselves. And so back then, you know, we didn't have any of that, really. And I think WebEx perhaps was one of the first web conferencing platforms, video conferencing platforms in 1995, 1996, something like that. But I was intrigued by the technology and have always been fascinated by media and multimedia. So that technology was appealing to me and I like challenges. So this idea of something new and novel with technology, like I wanted to get in there and figure it out and figure out how to do it well. So now flash forward to today when hybrid training and hybrid meetings in the hybrid workplace has it feels kind of the same to me. It's sort of not new necessarily for higher education. They've been doing that for a while. But in businesses this is new. So learning how to do that well again and experimenting. Trial and error observation and really figuring it out to me, that's that's that's exciting. And it's kind of pioneering again, to use your word there.
Kim Absolutely. Absolutely. And there's so much coming, right? VR, let's talk VR, how it's I I've seen VR that they're utilizing VR for virtual training for major truck drivers. Yeah. We're here in Canada. You actually learn because when they go up north it's literally you can die on the job if you don't know how to shut it down and set it up right now. So they actually now train these through virtual training with VR goggles and they've got all the knobs and labors. Where do you see VR coming into virtual training?
I definitely think that it will eventually. I mean, it sort of is there already, but it will be more mainstream later, right? It has to become easier to use, more affordable, but definitely come. So augmented reality VR, the metaverse, kind of the second life of Second Life, if you will. We do see that sort of sort of happening. I'm sure that will be kind of our future you know, maybe where you choose avatars in that kind of thing. But I think what's really important, though, you know, we talk about resilience on your show is to be grounded, in the real world. Right. Because when we get sort of lost there, we sort of lose our balance. So keeping that equilibrium, grounding ourselves in nature, all of that is going to be super important, even though it's very exciting, you know, the way technology is the way technology is headed. Yeah.
Absolutely. Well, I've seen almost the perfect amalgamation between nature and virtual training. I've seen people out doing yoga teachings and walking through woods and stuff like that. And they actually do the virtual training of, you know, mind, body, spirit, learning to breathe, you know, and how to recenter and such. So yet another aspect, what's one thing? So I know there's and there's one aspect of LinkedIn, right? I really miss that they actually pulled early COVID. It was the program where you could walk into a room and if everybody opened up their LinkedIn, you could hit it and it pinged everybody. So it was great for conferences and stuff. Oh, wow. Yeah, it was a secret weapon. So LinkedIn has then taken this way, which was sad. And I understand why they took it away to Rico because I didn't want to encourage people to go into large groups and ping each other. Yeah. You know, I could totally have said, What's the one thing that you think that maybe we overdeveloped or we engineered over the Internet our way out of something, something that worked really well that no longer is available?
Hmm. Well, you know, we do have this natural evolution of certain technologies, but something that we over engineered. I'm not sure I can think of anything specifically, but I feel like everything, you know, is sort of trial and error observation, see what the customers think, bring in the, the learners or the customers to get their feedback on the front end, tweak, redefine, put it out there again. You know, I think it's the sort of this constant learning journey that we're all on, you know, as we try to make things more affordable and easy to use and help improve ideally. Right. Our lives in our life situations.
Absolutely. When we talk about resiliency, every person that is in business who creates their own path does hit bumps in the road.
Can you. Are you open to sharing with us the time that without having that resiliency, that you may not be sitting here with a book on the desk and and, you know, on the podcast that a time where you were really, really stretched?
Yeah. Well, I can think of an in-person training situation where I flew to another location in the country that I reside in. And so I made a commitment, right? I was leaving my family. I was going to spend a couple days there. What happened was this particular client, we normally would touch base two weeks ahead of time to learn more about their situation and customize the delivery of this particular training solution. But we weren't able to connect somehow. We weren't able to connect until that morning, actually. So I arrived at the location and I watched the introduction where somebody else was speaking. And then there were the learners in the group. They were completely disengaged. Kim. They were at the back of the room, really far away from the speaker. They looked bored to death. And I noticed that the projector for the slides wasn't working. And then when it was my turn to come up, they said, Oh, by the way, the workbooks were delivered, but because this isn't actually our company, it was a rented space. They were accidentally sent away. So there were no workbooks. The projector wasn't working, the audience was disengaged and I didn't get the customization call. And I thought to myself, just inwardly like, this is kind of a disaster. And I realized, yeah, but you know what? I'm not going to let it be. I flew here, I'm going 110% to these people. And the training topic that day was public speaking, and I made the commitment that morning that by the end of this day, it's like a full day of training. All of these people are going to be better speakers. Like I give 110%. So I didn't have a workbook, my slides weren't working, but we drilled, we practiced, we had fun. I asked them to move forward, like, you know, can you come forward to the tables in front and they said, No, we don't want to. I said, We'll push the tables forward then, like I needed them to be closer to me so we could connect. So they're like, Okay. So they move the tables forward. But anyway, we had a great day. The workbooks eventually showed up, I think, in the afternoon. But guess what, Kim? At the end of that day, that was the only time I've ever received a standing ovation from an in-person training class, and that day could have been a failure, but instead they gave a standing ovation so it's a story of how you really turned out absolutely.
And I think that's a I think there's a difference between those who do do you we you just walk in and it's like assess the situation and make it happen. It's not this is exactly it's not an option to quit. Maybe it is for some people. I don't know. But I don't quit. Right. You know, there's days when you're building your company and I'm sure every farm founder out there, every female entrepreneur out there, I mean, we're still dealing with less than 3% of traditional bank loans going to women to help them get started. So the start is hard for this locomotive. Go in. And ladies, I know it's hard.
I have days where I just need to stop and I need to.
Just take a break set and.
And I just need to figure it out. And, you know, you're not alone in this and one of the things I love about the book that you've written, it's 400 pages long, so that's a really big one. But I love the fact that you're, you're breaking down a lot of things because a lot of female business developers haven't had to develop their own protocols, their own training, all these types of things. And where do you even start with that? Sometimes even just not even knowing the language and how you pre frame things. Right.
And you mentioned frame, you know, even having a framework sometimes having some kind of structure to guide you, you know, it is so helpful to.
Absolutely. And, you know, I myself am sales and entertainment. That's always been my background. So for me to step into starting a business from ground up, that is a challenge and I'd hats off to every woman out there who's done this for you know and is doing this. Share with us a little bit more on your journey of writing a book because less than 3% of North Americans will publish a book 3%. And yet when they pull 85% of people that are polled say they want to write a book or they're going to write a book or they have a book in process now you've actually done it. So share with us a little bit about that journey and why this topic matters. Why do you feel that it's the right time for this book?
Yeah. Oh, that's a wonderful question, Kim. I would, to be really honest, it was the hardest thing I've ever done, right? You have so many challenges, so many obstacles. And you know, when you need to be writing because of the discipline it requires so much discipline and there's so many deadlines, too. You know, there are things that you miss, there are sacrifices that you miss, trips that you don't get to go to birthday parties you don't get to go. You know, you're just committed to it. But it's so rewarding to have gone through, you know, the journey, of course. And I just knew the timing of really the work and making this transition to being very virtual, that it was a really good time, right. To just put principles out there. There's 101 tips in the book as well. And having these actionable principles to help people learn how to do it in the structure that we talked about. But, you know, I always think about how we had lots of trees in a different property that we used to live on. And I would watch those rainstorms and really thunderstorms come and the winds would blow. And those little trees, we had aspens and ash trees. They would really be whipped around by the wind. And you feel like, you know, the storms of life come and it feels like you really weathers you down. You mentioned to Kim, sometimes you just need a break. You need to just stop, right. And reset yourself. But when you think about it, those trees that threw that wind, they are angry in their roots. Even more right there, more grounded so that when those hardships come, they can help us dig down deep and be more grounded right in our root structure.
Absolutely. You know, everything is set to us for a reason that you got to get through what we would deem as a failure or a shortcoming to get to the reward. You don't get rewarded right off the bat. I mean, Edison, you know, 99 failed. Yeah. Due to the light right. You know, you take a look at, you know, Disney, Walt Disney, the happiest place on earth. But, you know, when he was in Kansas City, he lost his first first animations. He lost his first characters because he filed bankruptcy. And, you know, with more of us going out on our own and exploring these opportunities, these challenges are going to be more prevalent. And I just want everybody to know that you're not alone. You're not alone. You're not.
Alone. It's hard.
Absolutely. What is the quote that, you know, you kind of gravitate towards Diana? What's something that makes you know, it's like when you say anchored the roots deep within the days hard or when you need something that that mantra to charge into battle, what's your quote and why?
Well, you know, I, I used to take screen acting classes in Chicago, and I had an instructor and she sort of taught us, taught me, taught all of us, never played the victim. And what she meant by that in the context of screen acting is you never go to an audition and you say, well, they gave me the script right before, so I did a bad job, or I didn't get the gig because they called me before I was ready. I was supposed to go a half hour before or I got into the room and it was too small. We didn't have any windows. I need, you know, whatever it is. All of those are just excuses, right, for not showing up and giving your best. So it always stuck with me, and I see its application in all sorts of contexts. You know, we talk about that, that situation where I flew to that other state and did that class where everything seemed to be going wrong and really trying to turn that around, that that mantra, I've never played the victim. So it puts you in a position of excuses, excuses, excuses. And instead you look at what can I do, you know, what's the situation, accept it, and then what can I do? So then action can be taken.
Absolutely. I 100% agree with you, you know, it's always to put it in the context of an opportunity, everything's an opportunity and it's how you choose to look at it.
Yeah. Right. And I think another thing that's important too though, when we talk about resilience, right? Resiliency right, is that when we have these hardships, loss, injury, limitation, setback that comes, I think what's really important is being able to grieve right because if we don't, we carry it. So I think that's super important to just allow yourself to grieve about that injury, about that loss. So we don't carry it. And that makes us more ready to then be able to bounce back. You know, sometimes we still carry the residual of that pain with us, but we don't allow it to take over. And we don't keep telling that story. So it relieves and relives and relives, and that helps us move forward in a positive way. And that's to me what resiliency is.
Oh, absolutely. It's ensuring that we are looking at things that I do like. The fact that you're saying does take time to grieve. Yeah, because I know that we have this whole kind of shtick out there right now. You know, everything's positive, everything's positive. And but the reality is there is that there is reality. There is a foundation here. There is a baseline here. Yeah. I remember having a conversation with somebody a few years back. Calgary has been in a recession since 2015. Oh, my goodness. And so because of the oil and gas industry. So it really hit Calgary hard and we didn't have another industry to kind of pivot into quickly. We are starting to come out of it. But for five years it was pretty rough. And I remember speaking to somebody and we're sitting at this breakfast and I said, you know, I and I approached it this way and I said, I know this next year is going to be hard, you know, for allowing me to finish my statement. They said jump and they go. Well, it is what it is. And you make it and you choose it. And it's like.
No, not we're not ready to go there yet.
There are economic truths out there, and everybody has an economic truth. However, had she let me finish the statement, I know this next year is going to be hard, but I believe that there's going to be an opportunity for lots of people. And I'm looking for different ways of being of service. Yeah. So it's really an acknowledgment of what is reality because that's reality. And then there is how you choose to paint it. How do you bring it forward? And that's exactly your example of when you walked in. The reality is the bucks were not there. You can get reality if it does not work but you have two choices. You can either stay in the negative or move forward in the positive and make it your own. Oh yeah. Make it so it was all you just make it better yeah.
And I think part of it too is also just for even our listeners to think about today in our viewers to think about today, this idea of not adopting this mindset of permanence right. Because everything in this world comes and goes, comes and goes. We're passers by, we pass it, we pass by. But this idea, not adopting this mindset of permanence, but of resilience, right? Being able to grieve, of course, when it's hard, but then to look, as you say, for opportunity and bounce back knowing that we'll have other chances and we start anew the next day.
Absolutely. Where can we get your book Diana?
So it is available on Amazon. It just came out a week ago, so it's available on Amazon. And then folks could also check out our website, which is Howles Associates dot com that's h o w l e s associates dot com. And you can also find links to get you to Amazon from our website as well.
And is there another book in the future or are you going to take a break right now? Because that's a pretty big book.
I've taken a break, like you said.
Get up and smell it.
Roses. A lot of nature walks are coming up here in the next several months. So, yeah, definitely a chance to pause, reflect and kind of rejuvenate. Yeah.
Awesome. Awesome. Well, I really appreciate your time and your insight because this is something I'm hearing people are struggling with and moving forward in and launching things themselves. And I think there's going to be a lot of great answers. Insight in your book for them so I appreciate that. You know, and everybody out there, I appreciate you taking time listening to either. Joining us on the livestream, listening to this is the podcast as you know, joining us through the blog at Resilient New Media dot com. But just the fact that you took time and shared your time with us because I know that's the most valuable nonrenewable resource we have out there and it's your time and I thank you for that. So but the next time you're feeling your resiliency is lagging a bit, you know, just pop on over, listen, lean into the resilient community, get your free membership, that resilient gift dot com or hey, maybe you have a story of resiliency that you'd like to share. If you could just DM me over there on Instagram at Resilience Series until next time I'm committed and I am truly honored to share this time with you.
Diana L. Howles is an award-winning speaker, author, and international virtual trainer who brings 25 years of experience in the learning industry. As a world-class facilitator, she has trained Fortune 100 and 500 companies, and facilitated virtual programs in more than a dozen countries. Diana is currently CEO of Howles Associates. She earned her master's degree from Colorado State University, and is a frequent presenter at international in-person and virtual conferences.
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