Archive for March, 2012

Meet Your Chapter – Edward (Ed) DeCoursey

March 31, 2012

What organization do you work for? What do they do?

I currently work for Coventry Healthcare in support of their Behavior Health department, MHNet Behavioral Health. Coventry Healthcare is a $14 billion Fortune 500 national managed health care company.  Our MHNet Behavioral Health division improves the well-being of our members through a quality, clinical outcome-oriented model. MHNet provides innovative Behavioral Health and EAP/Work-Life services for health plans, employer groups and public programs.

 What is your role in that organization?

I am a Human Resource Generalist, responsible for soup to nuts human resource process. Recruitment, Employee Relations, HRIS, On-boarding, workforce planning, Training and Development, you name it I do it or I am involved some how.

How did you get to that role? Jobs that led to your current role?

Through hard work, perseverance and dedication to continuous learning. Being a Human Resource professional is actually my second career.  A year after high school, with no way to pay for college, I made the decision to join the United States Air Force.  I spent 12 years in the Air Force as a Security Specialist.  The last year and a half of my service I spent working for my commander performing personnel work. I believe this is where my love for the human resource career field became evident. In 1996 I separated from the Air Force, entered school to complete my Bachelors of Management degree while working in retail management.  With my Bachelors degree completed I quickly realized that being in retail management was not for me.  I decided to continue my education by getting my MBA in Business Administration. In 1998 I entered the world of Human Resources when I was hired by Hewitt Associates (now Aon Hewitt) as a customer service agent, answering questions to employees of Fortune 500 companies regarding the benefits.

Have you had any leadership roles within ASTD

I am currently the Director of On-Boarding for CFCASTD.



Career Building – The Make-up of your Network – Allies and Acquaintances

March 31, 2012

You have two types of people in your network: Allies and acquaintances.

Allies are those that you invite over for brainstorming, help you identify career options and you proactively attempt to work with. You typically have less than ten real allies.

Acquaintances are a weaker relationship. They are the ones you e-mail occasionally, ask lightweight favors of, and have regular conversations with only a few times a year. Most of us can maintain a couple hundred acquaintances.

Do you consult someone regularly for advice? Do you have someone whose judgment you trust? Do you have someone with whom you proactively share opportunities and collaborate? Do you keep your “antennae” attuned for opportunities for the other person? Do you have someone you talk up to other allies?  If this person were to come under fire, you would defend them. These same people would do the same for you. People that meet these criteria are your allies. There is no such thing as a “fair-weather alliance”. If the relationship can’t handle stress, it isn’t an alliance. Typically, if you are in an alliance with someone, you are aware of the bond and can verbalize it.

Look around. The entertainment world offers alliances all over. Here are two perfect examples. I bet you shake your head in agreement when you hear them. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are the first. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are the second. Repeatedly, you see these two teams involved in projects together.


Career Building – Creating Real Relationships

March 27, 2012

We all know the stories of the teenagers that work to get thousands of “friends” on Facebook. Over time, this is achievable, but what have you really gained? A giant network of people that you have no real connection with and they probably don’t even know anything about you as a real person. Even if you did this same thing on LinkedIn, you have not really created a valuable professional network – nobody has any real incentive to help anyone.

What you should be after is a smaller network of real people who have a real connection to you. These are people with whom you have a real incentive to help and they have a real incentive to assist you…as well as the capability to do so.
Does this sound familiar? “I did not even know this position was available. It wasn’t listed. A friend of my buddy at Company X tipped me off to it.” Of course it does. This is how most people find out about job openings. Yes, recruiters are great and have their place. But, there is nothing like a personal connection to open career door for you.

In fact, that is EXACTLY how I achieved my current role. My company laid me off due to a reduction in force. My wife had a connection and they tipped her off to the fact that this company was in need of an Instructional Designer and hiring again. Within a week, I had the position.

Bottom Line: You need to invest in your personal network to grow your career.


Learning Solutions Conference 2012 – Day 1

March 22, 2012

Last year, I went to Learning Solutions with the expectation of learning about mLearning, but instead got a “brain bomb” about social media and storytelling/gamification in eLearning. It was full-on fascination from the first keynote speaker to the last. I expected the same this year. There were a lot of interesting speakers today, but it was not quite the explosion of new and exciting information I received last year. It may be a combination of the track of Expo presentations I took or it may be that I am a little older and wiser this year. Either way, it was beneficial and I think the fruits of the seeds planted thus far will show themselves a few years from now.

I think the key thought from this conference is going to be “the role of the Instructional Designer is starting to shift and our skill sets will need to grow and morph”.


CPLP: The Final Countdown

March 19, 2012

Exam Day approaches. What to do? What to Do?

Now that you’ve studied the ASTD Learning System, you want to know what to do as the Knowledge Exam itself draws near.

You’ll want to think about study aids. Our CFC ASTD Chapter CPLP’s used several different study aids and what worked for some didn’t work for others. We’ll talk about that next, however. This week, we’ll talk about what everyone agreed on.

The CPLP® Practice Exams (pCPLP)  have tremendous value!

The CPLP® Practice Exam (pCPLP) is available on the ASTD website

It is free to take. The pCPLP Exam does two things for you.

First, it tests your knowledge. There are 75 questions drawn the same source as the Knowledge Exam. And you get a comprehensive review of your score. Thus, you find out where you’re solid and where you need some work. This can you target your ‘Cram’ time and focus on the Ares of Expertise where you scored low.  (more…)

Career Building – ABZ Career Planning

March 14, 2012

When planning their career, many people have a Plan A, a Plan B, consider a Plan C, and Potentially a Plan D. ABZ Career planning changes this outlook and promotes trial and error. It also allows you to pursue the upsides of any plan and reduce the risks involved with inevitable change.

There is no end to career planning, no matter what age you are or what stage you are at in your career. You should always be planning and adapting to the new environments.


CPLP: Preparing for the Knowledge Exam. You’ve got questions

March 12, 2012

We’ve got answers.

The first question on everyone’s mind is usually simple,

“Where do I start?”

Let’s start at the very beginning.

It’s a very good place to start.

When you read you begin with A-B-C

When you study for the CPLP Knowledge Exam, you begin with the ASTD Learning System.

While there are some great resources to assist with your study, the 10-volume ASTD Learning System is an absolute must for  Knowledge Exam preparation.

How much time should I expect to spend studying?

Among our CFC ASTD CPLP’s, three months was the most common time frame for studying with the ASTD Learning System.


Career Building – Using Social Media for Networking

March 10, 2012

I have had several people ask me to post this presentation, so they could review it again or see it if they missed it.

So, I decided to “drink my own kool-aid” and post the presentation on SlideShare. This is a web site that allows you to post your PowerPoint presentations and allow the world to view them. I am not going to claim to be an expert on SlideShare – I just created my account tonight, so I could post that presentation.

If you would like to view my presentation, you may click the image or use this link to access it.  

Using Social Media for Networking  

Since you don’t have me as a speaker while you watch it, I thought I would clarify the images on slide 5.


Career Building – Defining Your Competitive Advantage

March 7, 2012

If you intend to survive in the world of Corporate America or as an independent consultant, you need to identify what makes you special. If there are hundreds or thousands of people competing against you for your dream career, you need to know why you are different and be able to express it to anyone that asks. When a company develops a brand, they fill in this blank:

“Our customers buy from us rather than any other company because …”

You may not be a business, but you can be sure you are still selling something. That “something” is the combination of your brains, energy, and skills. If you want to be different from other professionals, you need to complete this sentence for yourself:

“A company hires me over another professional because …”

Are you first? Faster? Cheaper? Are you offering something that is hard to come by, maybe even rare or valuable?
By the way, you don’t need to be better than EVERYONE. You can’t do that. Companies don’t compete that way and neither should you. You are better off competing at the local level. This is not just in the way of location. This includes industry, segment, and skill set. Now, it becomes a competition you can win! Here’s a personal example:

I create eLearning for community banking software. I also work within the Orlando market. If I wanted to market myself locally, I might say “I create the most engaging eLearning courses for banking software, within the Orlando market.” Once I reach that accomplishment, I might expand the statement to be “within the state of Florida.”

You define your competitive advantage by three forces: assets, your aspirations and values, and the current market realities.


CPLP – So you signed up for the CPLP© Knowledge Exam. Now what?

March 5, 2012
Exam Preparations

Why, oh why? (Photo credit: Jixar)

We were told this was going to be hard and not all of us would pass so there was a sense of doom

That’s how one of our CFC ASTD member CPLP’s described their pre-exam anxiety. Is that how you feel? A sense of doom? Disaster? Impending failure? Why, oh why, did I do this?

Calm down. The exam is not as bad as you’ve heard. We talked with several of our chapter members who have taken and passed the knowledge exam and will share their learnings about the experience with you over the next few posts in this topic. There are lots and lots of resources out there to help you prepare, that is not what this series is for. This series is to help you know what to expect leading up to exam day. We’ll share some of the study tactics our Central Florida ASTD Chapter members have used to help prepare and what surprised them on exam day.

If you’ve already signed up for the exam, hopefully this will help relieve your anxiety so you can focus on getting ready. If you haven’t signed up yet, hopefully this will eliminate one of the potential barriers to taking the plunge!