In January 2012, eBoost Consulting added to their growing team of entrepreneurs and bulk-hired for the first time, allowing four Associate Consultants and five interns to join the eBoost family at one time. In preparation for their new teammates, eBoost took the opportunity to expand their already thriving training process and added three crucial development strategies to its repertoire of learning tools.
By mid-February, the new Associates and interns had completed training in Persona Development, Conversion Design, Search Engine Optimization, Pay-Per-Click Advertising, Affiliate Marketing, Social Advertising, Social Media Marketing and Email Marketing. They also solved business problems, worked on case studies from the top management consulting firms in the world and participated in Leadership Labs, a two-week adaptation of an interpersonal communications course taught at Stanford University. In a culminating effort, the new eBoosters tested their cross-functional skills in the Executive Challenge, an all-day role-playing event, where they were face-to-face with the founders, owners and CEOs of some of the hottest startups in San Diego, California.
eBoost Consulting is a leadership development platform that believes each team member should be cross-functional in the digital marketing space by acquiring and mastering as many skills appropriate to the industry as possible. To do this, teammates must be trained and given the resources needed to escalate in this fast-paced digital environment. To succeed in any client engagement, the new hires were taught strategic, tactical and interpersonal skills by Area of Practice Managers, or the "eBoost elders." Here's what the schedule looked like:
After a week's worth of learning, the tables turned and it was time for the newbies to show off their skills! The new eBoosters created a fictional business and completed homework assignments that built upon the strategies and tactics necessary for that business to succeed. At the end of this second week, they gave presentations to their peers and Area of Practice Managers that detailed how their business would succeed using the digital marketing skills they learned in week one.
By now, you must be thinking - "Boy, those new eBoosters must have been busy!" But alas, there is always more to learn. As the third part of eBoost training, weeks three and four consisted of working in teams on practice case studies developed by Bain, McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group, as part of their recruiting and hiring process. While the teams worked under strict time constraints to solve the case study, a seasoned eBooster surveyed how the teams worked together, processed the information and applied the internal frameworks. After a few case studies, the new eBoosters realized it wasn't always about finding the correct answers but rather about coming together, establishing roles, being timely and applying the learned frameworks ... it was about the journey, not the destination.
In only asking the new eBoosters to flex their newly-formed strategic and tactical muscles, eBoost had to be sure no interpersonal skills were atrophying. As Ralph Nichols put it, "The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and to be understood." Enter: Spencer Smith, a Stanford University School of Business graduate and eBoost's Director of Business Development, who has flexed his interpersonal skills in over 27 countries.
Spencer, with the help of eBoost's Chief Marketing Officer, Johnny Chan, developed the first-ever eBoost Leadership Labs to bridge the gap between work skills and interpersonal skills by putting eBoosters in tough situations using role-playing to solve common client engagement problems. Leadership Labs was adapted from a course Spencer took at the renowned Stanford University and was infused with writings by Robert B. Cialdini, Gary A. Williams, Robert B. Miller, John P. Kotter, Larry Porter, Cohen & Bradford and Daniel Goleman.
So, what do we mean by "role-playing?" Aside from the first day of week three, which was spent laughing through improvisational exercises to build teamwork and foster camaraderie, we mean that each new eBooster had only 5-10 minutes to read through a situation, with a note about their specific roles and then had to act out the case alongside other players and silent observers.
The eBoosters explored many different, and at times difficult, situations such as board meetings, negotiations, quarterly reviews and emergency meetings. The purpose of Leadership Labs was to allow eBoosters the opportunity to practice client communication by exposing them to high-pressure situations, many of which seasoned professionals never have to deal with in their entire career. After all, in practice there is preparation and with enough preparation there can be perfection. Leadership Labs culminated in the Executive Challenge, which was an all-day event at eBoost - and the new eBoosters were definitely on their game. For the challenge, Spencer and Johnny invited top executives from the hottest start-ups in San Diego to act as judges. The new eBoosters were now sitting across from and role-playing with some of the most influential businesspeople in the community.
Negotiations were convincing and board meetings were systematic, yet authentic. Although the newest eBoosters called the Executive Challenge "a once in a lifetime experience," this first Leadership Labs course is just the beginning. The next time eBoost opens its doors to new hires, the first-ever class to complete the labs will be responsible for training the next class. After all, students learn best when they're actively involved in the teaching process.
Jennifer Johnstone, Associate Consultant, eBoost Consulting
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