Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

Q&A with San Francisco Dale Carnegie Training Owner Karen King

For more than 100 years, Dale Carnegie Training has helped to develop some of the world’s most powerful business leaders. When Dale Carnegie founded the program in 1912, he believed that the power of personal development could reshape the global workplace, and he was right. A century later, Dale Carnegie Training still operates with that sense of purpose, and no one believes in it more than our franchisees.

These men and women have helped shape the future for Dale Carnegie Training. In the next year we will say goodbye to several of these hardworking individuals. Though many are moving on to the next chapter of their lives, they will never lose the spirit of Dale Carnegie, and we will never lose our appreciation for their continued dedication to the Dale Carnegie mission.

So, without further ado, please meet our Bay Area Dale Carnegie franchisee, Karen King.


When did you join Dale Carnegie Training?

San Francisco used to be a corporate owned location, but I took over as owner in 2009. My career with Dale Carnegie Training started with me as a part-time trainer and evolved from there. I enjoyed so much what I was doing, and I got so much gratification from helping people accomplish their personal growth goals, that I just kept working my way up until eventually I was running the office.


What kind of training do you offer?

Dale Carnegie Training is all about professional and personal development. Individuals and companies come to us looking to improve performance, public speaking, teamwork, communication and a number of other skills for themselves and their employees. Participants in the Dale Carnegie Training program are really just looking to become better leaders and are trying to push themselves to new heights. 


Who is your typical customer?

The different franchises vary a bit in different locations, but I think to some extent the Dale Carnegie student is similar all across the board. They are all ages and come from all walks of life, but they all have one thing in common — they’re all looking for personal and professional growth.

Typically we work with a lot of individuals as well as lot of big corporations, so it really is across the board. My franchise is one of the largest Dale Carnegie offices in North America, geographically. I represent 12 Bay Area counties in California, so it’s a very diverse market, but right in the heart of Silicon Valley.


What kind of problems do you encounter with them?

Our courses are ideal for people who are looking for self-improvement, but there certainly are cases in which companies have a certain need or pain point that they need guidance on. More often than not, they tend to fit into buckets of employees who are wonderful but have some small problems, and need assistance in developing their presentations skills, public speaking and human relations skills. Things like that.


How do you help them solve those problems?

Dale Carnegie Training started with four core products — we now have over 350 modules that we can configure for custom training programs. We can do one or the other, combine and blend, it really depends on the students in the course. But, honestly, often times we stick with the original, four-core program because it still works today. Dale Carnegie Training may have started more than 100 years ago, but ongoing curriculum updates and development makes Dale Carnegie Training as relevant today as ever.

Plus, our involvement with our customer base and by utilizing the latest technology provided by our corporate offices also enables us to understand what our participants hope to achieve from a Dale Carnegie Training class. In fact, internal surveys show that Dale Carnegie has an overwhelming 95% success rating, which is so important to all of us. It’s important that when our participants return back to their job, they feel improved. If we can’t accomplish the business result of the person that’s paying for the training, then we haven’t done our job.


On average, how many clients do you work with?

We have 8-week classes, and we can have anywhere from 25 to 35 people in each. At the same time we’re doing those public class, we’re also working with individuals and organization giving 3-day training programs, sort of like a Dale Carnegie Training crash course.

Our courses do vary in size sometimes based on which trainer is leading it, but the classes all do fit into a general mold. Currently, we have a core group of about 10 trainers who work part-time. Part of the reason that we encourage part-time trainers, is because we want people that are connected to the real business world and not professors that their whole life is academia. We really want business professionals who want to share their knowledge and experiences with others.


What is the competition like in your area?

I think on a national level we see a lot of the same names come up in regard to our competition (Sandler, AMA), but there are definitely pockets here and there where those companies are stronger than others. We’ve also seen a surge of internal training programs start to pop up. Those can work sometimes, but psychologically I think people feel uncomfortable and a little less likely to speak to someone within their own company about professional development. Outside consultants are always more revered than internal training programs.

Plus, Dale Carnegie has been around for more than 100 years; I don’t know that there are any other companies in this sector that has that kind of history. And we’ve always had an excellent reputation.


Why have you decided to step back as a Dale Carnegie franchisee?

My goal is not to be out of the business completely. I would hope to structure this that I would sell the business but they would continue to hire me as a trainer, sales related, could be administrative. I think I bring value to a future owner. I know where all the bodies are buried, so to speak — I know the history of clients, I think that has value, and new owners who have not been in Dale Carnegie previously would hopefully value that I’d be willing to do that.


What have you learned as a Dale Carnegie franchisee?

Dale Carnegie changed my life, plain and simple. It’s been the one constant in my life. It’s not always easy to do the right thing. I always think we’re always learning as we age, but these principles are timeless.

When Dale Carnegie wrote how to make friends, in 1936, it was ahead of it’s time. But, the reason it’s still relevant today and continues to be one of the best selling, non-fiction books of all time is because human nature doesn’t change. These principles are all common sense, but they’re not common practice so what Dale Carnegie Training does is put them back to the forefront for people to use everyday no matter how old or young.


What advice would you give to someone new to the franchise?

A lot of people in this company, franchise owners at the top of the list, could have picked careers that are much more lucrative than Dale Carnegie, but it gets in your blood. There’s nothing that feels better than helping the people and companies that you’re working with. When you are able to make a connection with these professionals, the emotional benefits of this business are very rewarding.


One of the best things I’ve experienced is watching someone go through the program, to then get a call 10 years later from that same person who is now the CEO of the company and is sending his/her employees to a Dale Carnegie Training course. We get calls like that all the time.


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