Careers: Interviews
Internationally-Renowned Speaker, Corporate/Executive Coach, Best-selling Author: Cathy Shaughnessy, Partner ShaughnessyHowell Inc.

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., DF/NPA, MVP, CNP has an exclusive interview with Cathy Shaughnessy.

Cathy ShaughnessyCathy Shaughnessy has been inspiring people to be the best that they can be at work for over two decades. With irrepressible wit and hard earned know-how Cathy encourages her audiences to stretch their thinking, challenge their assumptions and perform better on the job.

  • Unprecedented Winner of Three Canadian Society for Training and Development Awards
  • Author of Cultivating Initiative in Your Staff
  • Partner in ShaughnessyHowell Inc. an award winning learning organization
  • Member of Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, International Coach Federation, National Speakers Association

"Our people just love attending workshops delivered by Cathy Shaughnessy. Her quick wit, fast pace and natural ability to provide tools that work in the real world are a huge drawing card for Microsoft audiences."
Paul Butler, Human Resources Manager, Microsoft Canada

"When I saw Cathy deliver a presentation at one of our corporate events, I knew she was exactly the right fit for our upcoming conference in Las Vegas. She was energetic, articulate, funny and had a fabulous message. It was just what our group needed. She delivered at our conference and I was right, she was great!"
Gary P. Lesyk CLU, Vice President National Distribution, Manulife Financial

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:59: Cathy, we can learn from your long history of successes. Can you profile how you got to your present position and what your current role entails?
"....Looking back on the 25 years I've been in the training and development industry and the 19 years we've been operating Shaughnessy-Howell Inc. (business partner Marion Thompson Howell) of the responses is that I got here 'accidentally on purpose'. We have had a great opportunity to grow with the training and development industry...."

:03:08: You are a winner of three Awards. Please share this experience with our audience.
"....The projects which I've been leading I have won three awards, but Shaughnessy Howell has won six awards from the Canadian Society for Training and Development....One of things that has helped us to do (and working with CSTD has helped us to do) is to continuously ask the question 'are we coming forward with excellence with our learning?'....You can't stay still where learning is concerned...."

:05:02: What important career insights and lessons can you share from your considerable experiences as an internationally-renowned speaker and award-winning corporate/career coach?
"....Learn yourself and if you are somewhere within an organization where you have leadership potential or capacity or you are responsible for an environment where you provide for people, make sure you are providing a learning environment...."

:06:51: I caught your workshop on the insights gained about people based upon the shape(s) they choose. Can you elaborate on this and provide some guidance on how best to maximize interaction and communication with others?
"....It is based on some work that is done by Dr. Susan Dellinger. Dr. Dellinger coined the phrase Psycho Geometric. Probably two decades ago she began to do work in the area of communication styles and what gets organizations, teams, and individuals stuck in their interpersonal relationships....Susan does talk about the whole idea of flexing and it is really based on a realization that across all cultures, there really are basic styles and that in any group people will fall into buckets and it is not intended to pigeonhole people, but rather to give you more insights into how to work with them effectively...."

:11:39: You are a recognized authority on conducting effective presentations. Please provide your top tips for presentations.
"....There are really two things I would focus on....The first thing is to recognize that it's not about perfection....What people are looking for in presentations is 'are you authentic?'... do you bring to the table a skill set in a way that is interesting to listen to, that is engaging and that really makes people want to sit up and pay attention to what you are saying. Authenticity is important......The second thing....are the 3 letters: U B U....That means that every time you make a presentation, you should be you....Figure out what you do best and then polish it up....and you will have a lot of people sitting up and taking notice of your presentations...."

:14:26: How do you go about cultivating initiative in staff?
"....There are essentially three reasons why people don't see what needs to be done and do without being asked (which is really 'initiative' in a nutshell). The first reason is they don't know how....The second is they really don't want to....The third is that they don't think it's important....If you look at those three reasons, you would recognize that there are some key strategies that an organization or even an individual manager could take if they want to cultivate initiative in their staff...."

:17:29: Can you share effective tips from your keynotes: Keeping Your Head Without Losing Your Mind, and Think Fast and Say it Right?
"....'Keeping Your Head Without Losing your Mind' - the basis of this is that all of us are operating in a crazy wacky world of work that is moving so quickly today. We are all doing what we need to do in the workplace but we're losing our minds in the balance....We talk about 3 specific strategies in that program that sound very simple on the surface....
'Think Fast and Say it Right' is really based on the concept that (tied to presentation skills) when people ask us questions we've got about 30 seconds to make sense or look like we have no idea what we are talking about.....That program teaches us how to grab hold of that 30 seconds, by the use of several models...."

:20:50: What are your lessons for managing change within an organization?
"....'Change simply is'....What I mean by that is, change is part of our day-to-day, and we're not going back to the time in most people's organizations, when organizations stayed the same for decades...Our task is not to figure out how to deal with this period of change but how to operate and stay focused in a time of permanent whitewater...."

:22:54: How does one become the manager everyone wants to work for?
"....Pay attention to your own development. It is so important as a manager to recognize that becoming a manager is not a fixed place. It is an opportunity to develop your skills, and your skills need to be focused on how best to develop the skills in others...."

:24:38: Cathy comments on experiences over her of rich and varied career.
"....Every organization presents a different set of individuals and a different set of challenges. One of the things I've noticed is that the addresses and people might be different but the challenges are all fairly similar from year to year...."

:26:44: One of the questions I've been asking lately. I see news items such as: aligning IT with business needs, driving business agility, managing risk through improved governance, closing the skills gap and meeting future skill shortages, addressing the productivity gap, improving ICT adoption rates, integrating Gen-Y and more. Can you share your views on the top challenges facing business, industry, government, and education in 2008 and beyond?
"....I think anyone's view is dependent on their perspective and because so much of the work that I do is focused on the learning field and connecting people skills to organizational strategy, the challenges that I see organizations facing are really around knowledge and in particular around knowledge drain.....What we are beginning to find is that great people working with some organizations are taking their knowledge with them when they go. This presents a huge challenge for a company because it is hard to build capacity and it is very difficult to build continuity within their team and within their workplaces and division because the great knowledge is walking out the door...."

:29:13: Do you have added items to add - looking into the future?
"....I think the burning question out there today is 'How can great people keep on learning?' ....If I jump that over to 'How do great people keep learning in the workplace?'....The question is 'What are the challenges that we're facing in the workplace today?' The concept of whitewater change and rather than resisting it, ask 'How can we learn to operate more effectively within it?' and 'How can we take the opportunities and lessons learned and learn from it?'....And that goes to corporate responsibility and where we are as organizations relative to what's happening in our global community. 'What's happening?' and rather then pushing to stop it, ask how can we learn from it and how can we keep moving and take our learning to the next level. That's the bigger question...."


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