Tag Archives: continuing education

Spotlight: Margaret O’Connell Library (Part 2)

Last week we discussed how continuing education is a very important aspect of being an employee at Vanguard Direct. We have stated before that our continuing education system is designed to encourage our employees to constantly improve their knowledge and skills––the basis of our leadership position in the industry.

The Margaret O’Connell library was created in 2006 as a way for the company to invest in its staff. The marketing and communications industry is forever changing, and our team always stays ahead of the curve.

Many of the books in our library deal with ways to change behavior. These include attitude, peer relationships, motivation, and surviving in a cubicle environment. As we see it, reading a book that improves your technical skills is beneficial to both the employee and the company. Reading a book that involves behavior modification to improve your outlook and relationships at work and in your personal life makes for a happier, healthier employee in all aspects.

Around 95% of Vanguard Direct’s employees participate in the continuing education system. This includes employees in our outer offices and warehouse––we even have books available in Spanish. Of the 95% of employees who participate, 90% achieve an A rating on their annual performance appraisal, which includes a continuing education factor. Each year, many employees far exceed the requirement for an A rating!

Employees are allowed up to three hours a month on company time to spend in the library or working on their continuing education. We have a plethora of options for gaining continuing education credit: books, plant tours, webinars, videos, attending and giving presentations, conferences, etc. This formal training program is evaluated twice a year as part of employee performance reviews in July and December.

Let us know if you have any book/webinar/conference suggestions for our employees’ continuing education program. We are always looking to expand and improve.

Authors: Stephanie Huston & Dustin Hill

Spotlight: Margaret O’Connell Library (Part 1)

At Vanguard Direct, 99% right is 100% wrong. This is why continuing education is a very important aspect of being an employee at Vanguard Direct. We have stated before that our continuing education system was designed to encourage our employees to constantly improve their knowledge and skills––the basis of our leadership position in the industry. The Margaret O’Connell Library was created in 2006 as a way for the company to invest in its staff. The marketing and communications industry is forever changing, and our team always stays ahead of the curve.

We spoke with Chief Operating Officer Ralph Fucci, who has been developing this training program since 2001 using Total Quality Management goals to improve customer service through continuous training. Ralph explained to us that “the goal of continuing education and the library is to enhance technical and communication skill sets to provide exceptional customer service.” The program helps employees to improve their written and verbal skills as well. Ralph Fucci and our senior management team are always trying to refresh the program, so it continues to improve and evolve.

The library is dedicated to the mother of the company’s owners, Bob and Don O’Connell. The Margaret O’Connell Library was launched in March 2006 in her memory, as she always pushed her sons to do well in school and to continue learning. She stressed how important education was, and Bob and Don hope to pass that on to the Vanguard Direct staff.

Now our NYC team has a collection of more than 150 books and videos to use as resources. Each of our outer offices also has a dedicated library. New items are added when suggested by staff or management. Many of the books are not necessarily work-related but deal with self-improvement ideas that can be applied to personal lives as well as the work environment. Continually improving employee education and knowledge gives us the tools to make projects 100% right. That’s a philosophy we can proudly stand behind.

Authors: Stephanie Huston & Dustin Hill

Vanguard Direct’s Connecticut Office Attends Connecticut Business Expo

Several members of our Connecticut office attended the Connecticut Business Expo held this past Thursday, June 9. The annual expo is the largest and most productive business expo in the state and was held at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Just steps from downtown Hartford, the Connecticut Convention Center is the Northeast’s newest, most ideal location for trade shows, conventions, and business meetings and provides a beautiful and dramatic view of the Connecticut River.

While there, we walked the exhibit hall, where we met industry leaders from over 100 companies and spoke with many of the 5,000+ attendees. We also attended educational seminars that were hosted by industry-elite speakers and trainers in the fields of sales, marketing, and technology. A lot of the buzz centered on social media and how best to incorporate it into a company’s marketing mix.

One new addition to the expo this year was the presence of QR codes at every exhibit, allowing attendees to quickly learn more about the exhibitor and share contact information with the touch of a button (the snapshot button on their smart phones!). We have a white paper available that can tell you more about QR codes and how they can help support your marketing goals––comment below, and we will email you a copy.

Author: Melanie Meile

Senior Designer Gia Lam’s “Mad Men”-Inspired Pitching Techniques

Our senior designer Gia Lam presented “‘Mad Men’-Inspired Pitching Techniques” this past week at Vanguard Direct NYC. Gia knocked all of her presentations out of the park! At Vanguard Direct, employee continuing education is an essential part of our growth, and Gia Lam is a perfect example of an employee stepping up to further educate both herself and her fellow employees. Gia presented three times on this topic over the course of two days, and it was a great learning experience for all. Below, Gia explains why she chose to do this presentation and shares her top tips on presenting.

Gia Lam’s “Mad Men”-Inspired Pitching Techniques

Let me start off with a confession. I always thought my pitching style was good enough. I presented creative concepts just how I used to in design school: show your designs and talk about the process behind it. Then this TV show called “Mad Men” came around, and I realized, boy, was I doing it all wrong!

On the show, no matter how much chaos there was, when it was time to pitch, the whole office teamed up to hit a grand slam. The pitch was sacred, more a “production” then a presentation. Almost like a ritual.

I learned that pitching is an art! From then on, I planned, crafted, rehearsed, and performed my “productions.” I had to be a teacher, lawyer, and––most of all––a salesperson. Because the goal of a pitch is not only to sell the concepts, but also to sell your company––after all, a good idea is only great when it is paid for!

Gia Lam’s Top 11 “Mad Men”-Inspired Pitching Techniques

  1. Use visuals
  2. Talk common language
  3. Add interactivity
  4. Practice, practice, practice
  5. Dress to impress
  6. Create drama
  7. Define the problem
  8. Ta-da! moment
  9. It’s all about teamwork
  10. Show your homework
  11. Perfect your closing statement (close like a lawyer)

Bonus Tip:
12. Rehearse in front of a mirror, with a smile 🙂

Author: Stephanie Huston

Continuing Education: Vital of Vanguard Direct

Vanguard Direct has implemented a continuing education system designed to encourage its employees to constantly improve their knowledge and skills – since these are the cornerstones of helping us be the leader in the industry.

Since our company prides itself on the quality of our services and on our customers’ satisfaction, we decided to base our continuing education system on the concept of Total Quality Management. This concept emphasizes the need for continuing education for all employees in order to increase the quality of our services and our customers’ satisfaction. Since our company prides itself on the quality of our services and on customer satisfaction, continuing education is important to all Vanguard Direct employees.

For each seminar, webinar, class, or presentation attended, or book read, an employee can submit a summary of what he or she gained from participating. These reviews earn employees a certain number of credits. Part of the employee review process is based on these credits.

Here at Vanguard Direct, we understand that some of the greatest things we possess are the skills and knowledge of our people. What is your organization doing to continually educate your employees?

Authors: Stephanie Huston & Dustin Hill