The Management Journey: The Exec Ed Contract

Gregg Patterson
Guest Writer Gregg Patterson

We’re pleased to welcome you to the first blog contribution of our guest writer, Gregg Patterson.  Entitled The Management Journey this series of articles will share his ideas, experiences and insights based on the learnings of a long and successful career.

Based in California, Gregg spent 33 years heading up The Beach Club in L.A as their General Manager. Prior to The Beach Club, Gregg cut his teeth as the Assistant Manager of the Bel-Air Country Club and as a Systems Analyst for the U.S. Army Club System. Gregg has been a featured presenter at various club management seminars, assistant manager conferences and hospitality forums around the world.

He’s conducted management development programs on a variety of topics for many organisations including the Army Club System, Para Los Nis, the Junior League of Los Angeles, the P.G.A, The European Golf Course Owners Association, the National Golf Course Owners Association, the Professional Club Marketing Association, the Scottish Golf Union and the International Association of Hospitality Accountants.

Gregg is the author of Reflections on the Club Experience, an anthology of essays on club cultures and operations.

First and foremost, Gregg is a thinker, a contemplator of ideas and a hunter of best practise which is why we are delighted to welcome him as a guest writer.

The “Exec Ed” Contract

By Gregg Patterson

Why Spend the Time and Invest the Money???

Continuing education is a must-do for management professionals in this ever more competitive, dog-eat-dog world of business. Here in the States big bucks have, for years, been committed to executive education to keep business leaders sharp, honed, creative and primed to spank the competition. On this side of The Pond, ongoing executive education has been an a priori must do for a very, very long time.


Executive Education—that is, education delivered to working professionals— is expensive stuff since time is money and money is money. Times are hard, money is tight and those who are paying are looking more closely at the product delivered and the benefits received during the Exec Ed journey.  The costs are known—time and money.  But the goods received and the expectations of the attendee are often fuzzy, poorly defined, with a low stick factor, open to comment and criticism.

Companies who’ve routinely funded executive education in the past are starting to ask “what’s in it for US, the company that’s paying The Big Bucks for YOUR executive education?”  Budgets are tight, owners want answers and simply saying it’s a Must-Do isn’t enough any more.  Justification is needed.

Those who’ve attended conferences, seminars and workshops explain that these events are the drug of choice for Managers and Wanna-Be-Managers needing a Professional Management Fix.  They tell The Payers that these half day, full day and multi-day events are a gathering of the tribe, an energy boost, an enlightener and an enlivener, an all-consuming experience that needs no explanation or justification.  For those who’ve experienced executive education and have drunk the EXEC ED Cool-aide, attending is that special.

But, for owners and share-holders who are funding the journey, who hear about touchy-feely break-out sessions, post seminar cocktail parties and exotic workshop locations, all this conferencing stuff sounds like a boondoggle, an all-expenses paid vacation to interesting places where good times trump class time every time.

Managers who attend, or want to attend, seminars, workshops, and conferences need to answer questions raised by the skeptical, the unenlightened, and the down-right hostile.  Attendees need weapons to defend their going and their spending.  They need a document that explains The Why and The What, something they can wave in the faces of the sneering and the cynical and proudly declare that conference is a Must-Do for serious professionals.

Managers need a document that’s legally binding between The Consumers of Executive Education and The Givers of Executive Education, a written something that clearly states, in black and white, what a conference, a seminar or a workshop will deliver and what attendees must do to consume, digest and disgorge the insights being delivered.


They need—The EXEC ED Contract.


The EXEC ED Contract—Section I–Conference Will Deliver

Managers need to identify what conference will deliver.  They need to show the Whining and The Judgemental the Guaranteed Deliverables from the conference / seminar / workshop experience. Managers who want to attend and those who did attend need to beat their chests and tell The World that EXEC ED delivers The Goods for the dollars paid and the time invested.  Here’s the Giver’s side of the EXEC ED Contract.


Section I—Article 1—We Will Re-Affirm Your Why and The Why of Your Business: This conference / seminar / workshop will identify and affirm The Why of your business; will confirm, restore and amplify your reasons for being In the Biz; and will fortify and inspire you as a business professional to go forth and do good in their pursuit of The Why.


Section I—Article 2—We Will Stimulate Your Curiosity:  This Conference will make you curious about new stuff, old stuff and other stuff in the world of your business. We will provide interesting workshops, social experiences and classroom opportunities that will stimulate your curiosity about stuff you never thought you’d be interested in and will accelerate your curiosity about stuff you already find interesting. We will make you curious about hardware and software, about The Poetry and The Machinery, about The Philosophical Why and The Practical How of your business.


Section I—Article 3—We Will Create Networking Opportunities:  This conference / seminar / workshop will provide opportunities for connecting and reflecting with other industry professionals.  We will provide meet and greet and bump into others opportunities, interactive round tabling experiences and facilitated discussions of interesting topics.


Section I—Article 4—We Will Provide Education:  This conference / seminar / workshop will deliver education by providing insights into The Why (The Principles) and The How (The Practices) of Your Business and will do so formally in the classroom, semi-formally during the trade show and informally during hallway debriefs.


Section I—Article 5—We Will Provoke Personal and Professional Reflection:  This conference / seminar / workshop will provide managers with the opportunity to go deep into their own personal and professional questions.  We will encourage those questions and provide opportunities—both formal and informal—for managers to ask their peers and industry experts about The Big Issues that they’re confronting at the club and in the home.


Section I—Article 6—We Will Deliver the Buzz for The Business:  This Conference will energise, stimulate and invigorate attendees.  We will provide speakers and role models and inspirational videos that’ll recharge their batteries, buck up their spirits and give managers the lift they’ll need to attack the issues, both petty and profound, that threaten to beat ’em up and beat ’em down in the coming twelve months.


The EXEC ED Contract—Section II—Attendee Must Dos

Managers need to explain that they ain’t passive when Doing Conference.  They’ve signed the contract and they’ve got responsibilities.  They accept that they have to do the reach, grab the food and consume the meal that’s there to be eaten.  Here’s the Attendee’s side of the EXEC ED Contract.


Section II—Article 1—I Will Be Curious:  I will be curious about everything I see, hear and experience at this conference / seminar / workshop and will actively seek exposure to people, places, things and ideas within and outside of my comfort zone.  I will express my curiosity by asking questions about The What, The Why, The How and The When of the people, places, things and ideas I’m exposed to.


Section II—Article 2—I Will Attend Workshops, Seminars and Lecture Sessions:  I will have a listing of all workshops, seminars and lectures available each day and will fill my day completely with these educational and informational offerings.


Section II—Article 3—I Will Take Notes:  Knowing that I can’t recall most of what I see and hear, I will take notes during every meeting I have with other professionals, during every encounter I have with places and things and during every workshop, seminar and lecture I attend.


Section II—Article 4—I Will Identify Interesting People: I will consciously and actively search for interesting people: attendees, speakers, administrators, exhibitors and random personalities, who I believe will enlarge my personal and professional life through great conversation about important issues, ideas or things.


Section II—Article 6—I Will Reach Out to and Engage Interesting People in Substantive Conversation:  I will approach and initiate conversations with the interesting people I’ve identified. I will facilitate these conversations with questions, artful listening, personal comments and follow up questions that probe deeper into the substantive issues raised during the discussion.


Section II—Article 7—I Will Debrief Educational Insights, Personal Encounters and Experiences and will Record those Insights and Ideas: I will review the notes I’ve taken on people, places and ideas encountered, will digest those summarising ideas and will record the distillate in my Idea Bank for future reference, review and use.


Section II—Article 8—I Will Act Once I’m Back: I will identify and prioritise those ideas with utility identified during the conference, will establish tactics needed to implement those ideas, will establish a schedule for making those ideas happen and will act to translate those ideas into action.


Gotta Do EXEC ED

Executive education enlarges the journey.  It stimulates the curiosity to seek, opens the eyes to see, provides the tools to do and delivers The Buzz to make stuff happen.

Serious professionals do EXEC ED.

Serious professionals push EXEC ED givers to deliver The Goods.

Serious professionals accept their responsibilities as Attendees.

Serious professionals extol The Virtues of EXEC ED to the cynical, the sceptical and the dismissive.


Do Executive Education.  Know why.  Tell the world.

And enjoy the journey!