Who Are “We,” Really? Specialist, Generalist, or Both?

In July 2015, Life Strategies was again named as one of Business in Vancouver’s Top Sales and Management Training Firms in BC. We are often on this list and it is always a privilege to receive this recognition. However, it also causes us to pause to consider our corporate identity. Many on our team would not think of Life Strategies as a sales and management training firm and some even thought the message was spam!

The challenge seems to be that we specialize in, and are known for, so many different things. Our clients know us for whatever service we have most recently provided to them and don’t think of how we may be able to support other initiatives. Our students know us as educators, not realizing that we consult to organizations, and support individuals, on almost every topic we teach. Our role as educators is strengthened by the practice experience and examples we bring to the classroom. Our curriculum is richer due to these same practical experiences but also through our investment in research and writing projects.

Some colleagues have suggested that we need to consolidate, scaling back the breadth of work we do to help offer clarity when trying to market or communicate our services and to make our website less daunting. Others have suggested that we carve off components of Life Strategies . . . the LearnOnline suite of programs and services, for example, becoming a separately branded entity from our career and workforce development consulting work which would also be separate from our research and writing projects.

If it isn’t the specific type of work that is causing confusion, it is the sectors in which we work. Life Strategies has been blessed with the opportunity to work in nuclear power, telecommunications, trades, finance, post-secondary education, and throughout the broad social services sector. We’ve worked with micro-enterprises; small, medium, and large corporations; non-profit agencies; provincial and federal governments; public and private educational institutions; and professional associations. Our broad focus on supporting individuals and organizations “to be the best they can be” knows no boundaries.

This same struggle with corporate identity applies to our career identities. Am I a consultant, an educator, a researcher, an instructional designer, a psychometrician, or an academic? I always laugh when someone says to me, “when talking about what you do” or “I was telling ‘so and so’ what you do” as it seems to me that what I do isn’t easily described.

As careers evolve many individuals will have opportunities to take on new projects, try out new skills, and invest in additional education. At times they will have a keen focus in a specific area, in essence becoming a specialist. As focus shifts, however, they may do more general work or even focus in a different, perhaps related, area. This career meandering is likely more the norm than the exception so if describing what those people do, or what Life Strategies does, gets complicated should we be worried?

Perhaps it doesn’t matter that, for some, Life Strategies is listed by Business in Vancouver as a sales and management training firm. The “training” part of the description is completely accurate . . . the management piece is limited to specific topics, related to people development and transition support. Our “sales” training has been limited to teambuilding and leadership development of groups of individuals who sell.

For now, we will bask in the recognition and continue to strive to communicate clearly the depth and breadth of our experience. Life Strategies boasts an award-winning team of human resources and career development experts. Our work is global – our President is currently in Asia, conducting training on career counselling. We are educators and writers and strongly believe in giving back to our communities, locally and internationally. We know who we are, and love everything we do. . . perhaps that’s all that really matters.

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