James Gutierrez joined the Abilitie Faculty Network in January 2022 and has since led over two dozen programs across Business Challenge and Enterprise Challenge. James also delivers our bespoke curriculum for McKinsey Business Essentials. He is the Founding Partner of Slate Inc., a people development and executive consulting firm that locally contextualizes world-class tools to drive measurable results for growth-oriented professionals and organizations. He previously was the Managing Director for Fullbridge, a global education company, launching and leading the entity’s Africa operations.
Q: What are pro tips on preparing for onsite deliveries (which are likely different from preparing for virtual deliveries):
A: Every facilitator has his or her well-honed tips and tricks, and I love learning from the other great facilitators we have! As for me, I like to think of deliveries not just as products or services, rather as “experiences”. Thus, I think about how all the senses are or will be engaged for each participant each session, especially in-person, and try to get all the little details perfected well beforehand so that I can be fully present when the action starts (can you tell I am a first-born, Virgo, Type A personality?).
As for the start of any training, I almost always ask participants to introduce themselves with a simple 10-15 second answer to the prompt, “Please share your name, where you are from, geographically & within the business, and one fun fact”. This simple first activity does a lot for me, and I believe them; most importantly it allows their presence, individually and collectively, to lead the way. It also sets the foundation for so many other jumping off points of engagement, personally and professionally, for the rest of the day. It helps me to feel like an assured conductor knowing where his proverbial flutes, trombones, and violins are, as needed to emphasize throughout the “experience”.
Q: Have you had any A-ha moments or other notable interactions on a recent Abilitie delivery?:
A: I literally have ‘a-ha’ moments and important reminders during every training. Some recent ones in no particular order:
- Before starting, obtain and save the name and phone number of the onsite A/V specialist; he or she is a new best friend who can make or break a delivery
- When some things don’t go as well as hoped, which is inevitable, be the proverbial duck, smooth on top of the water where everyone can see and calmly follow you, while kicking below the water as fast as possible to wherever is needed.
- Make a point to check-in with each individual, even in a small way, throughout the day – it gives a great temperature check of the experience, and many of the insights garnered are invaluable.
- Finally, play as a participant within the SIMs as much as possible – it makes a huge difference. If anyone is up for joining some ‘game nights’ on Zoom, let me know.
Q: What is your favorite destination?:
A: At my core I am a curious explorer and currently prefer new destinations. However, I lived in Uganda for quite some time and miss it dearly. It’s ‘gifted by nature’ having the source of the Nile River on Lake Victoria, the largest rainforest in East Africa, over 50% of the world’s mountain gorillas, etc. Still, the best attribute about Uganda is its people; they are the most genuinely happy, humble, and hospitable people on the planet. Shall we organize a trip?