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20 Years of Wonderfully Hard Work

When we started Priority Learning, we suspected there was more to business than making money. However, in 1995 and 1996, Lorraine and I decided to see if others felt the same way. Anyone who has ever run a business realizes the value of making money, and most people who have had great success will tell you that making money is only the by-product of having great people doing great work for a great reason. After spending much of our lives working in the "for profit" business world, we realized that discussing change with business people and changing business practices was going to be a hard journey. Many business people would perhaps discount our work as "touchy/feely" or "optional/luxury" for their business plan.

To ensure our offerings met market needs, we started with public workshops for people from a variety of companies. It was a great way to get to know people in the business community and for them to get to know us. The result? More and more businesses began to think of us as learning partners. We embraced the role.

Our public program offerings were expanded to include skills such as Coaching, Conflict Management, Negotiations and Change. The business began to grow. Students would join us for a two-day experience and, as a result of their excellent experience, would request a special session at their location. All public program attendees were offered personal coaching to help them could integrate the skills acquired in the workshops into their jobs. Personal coaching was a big hit and we were known as, not only good trainers, but also good coaches. Client companies soon requested that we facilitate and train additional new processes that would be valuable to their organizations. It was great fun and, with each relationship we built, we found we were learning as much from our clients as they were learning from us.

We had a breakthrough of sorts in the late 1990s when a client asked us to help them grow their organization from a "Cultural" level. This "Cultural" angle encompassed tangible and intangible business assets, including people and better processes, which resulted in better products. The Cultural Process we created was so pivotal to the client's transformation that they became a great example of and advocate for the cultural change product. People were listening. As you might imagine they also became a great advocate for Priority Learning. A journey began that included new clients seeking our help to transform their cultural and all the related activities such as people development, process improvements, stronger service, sales delivery, and the growth of leaders throughout their organizations.

Ironically, businesses began seeking us out for what we had originally tried to avoid - making more money. Joel Stevens (the former President and CEO at Kennebunk Savings Bank) once told me that, "After 40 years in banking, I finally found a way to have it all. A bank that makes money and where people love to work."

In many ways, I think we all knew we could have it all. We were the lucky ones to work with gifted leaders like Joel Stevens, who had the vision and perseverance to make it happen. Along the way we also learned from Joel that leadership was and is always the key to success. Finding, building, and keeping the best leaders always builds the finest teams, and the finest teams always win the battle for customer loyalty, pride, and professionalism.

Ever since that first cultural experience, we have tried to build the kind of company that people can rely on for solutions to difficult problems. We have just recently settled in our new, larger location at 707 Sable Oaks Drive in South Portland, Maine. We continue to build our public workshops and today conduct eight very different workshop series (each seven to eight days across a five or six month period) geared toward business and leadership. There are workshops that focus on budding or aspiring leaders and for people in the workplace who want to make a difference. Our cultural business has grown despite recessions and turns in the market, and our personal coaching work is more important today than ever before. We are also planning for the future, developing more on-line diagnostic services, writing lots of articles, and offering pod casts.

The wonderful thing about working at Priority Learning is that, even in these trying economic times, the future looks brighter than ever. More and more businesses are tuning into the importance of workforce engagement. They are actively creating cultures with more fun, meaning, profitability, and a better value to the customers/clients.

Ralph Twombly (Founder)

Priority Learning CARE initiative
CARE Initiative

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