Monthly Archives: April 2014

A Day in the Life…of a Facilitator


Every now and then I get asked: What’s it like to do your type of work?

This blog is for the novice facilitator and for those who are curious to take a peek behind the curtain.



Coolness.  This is the best part of the job, so it merits going first.  We get to meet a wide variety of people across several industries, functions, and service lines.  There is mutual learning, and sometimes friendships that last years from just one or two full-day sessions.

Mood.  Some are recalcitrant, because they’re there out of obligation; others are eager to learn.  If the former, an early ground rule to establish is no laptops or cell phones.  Know that you have precious time early on to secure credibility, so work on something immediately applicable or critically relevant for them.

Reasoning.  Some don’t believe in Behavioral Science tools, or are agitated by discussions on ethics.  It’s best to set expectations up front that all exercises are designed to engage creative thinking, which is the first step in innovation / “thinking outside the box.”

Time.  Some get the time/date wrong and either don’t show up or show up an hour early/late.  Send them a calendar invite (Google), if they have one, to place it on their calendar.  I usually bold print and increase the size of the font for just the time and date.

Quarrels.  Spats occur occasionally between colleagues.  This is a great opportunity for on-the-spot coaching.  One time it happened between a married couple…this was my first day on the job, so I stayed out of it.



Working with Pros.  These are the facilitators who know that if YOU look good, they look good, so they are there to support you; not sabotage.  They make sure to prep pre-workshop with you, share the stage, support your comments, and debrief right away.  They engage with you, and don’t “data dump,” or soliloquize, on the participants.

Stage Hogs.  These are the facilitators who like to stand front & center and regale the participants with stories.  They take much more than 50% of the air time, and then end up telling you to hurry your piece.  They crave attention.

Competitors.  These are the facilitators who are trying to beat you at whatever additional skillset you have.  I had one co-facilitator who desperately wanted to be able to assist the participants in one exercise and felt defeated when he couldn’t, yet I could.  His persistent efforts to keep guessing left him looking like a dunce.  Have the conversation with your colleague about this tendency (i.e. to compete) before you engage.

Prima Donnas.  Prima Donnas want you to perform all of the set-up (i.e. manuals, flipcharts, LCD projector, tables/chairs, etc.) while they socialize; then, leave without partnering to wrap-up.  Establish a code of conduct, and be prepared that they may not stick to it.

Errors.  If your co-facilitator makes an error, it is up to you to deftly correct the information (without contradicting your partner), if possible.  Participants frequently forget which facilitator said what, so you will both go down as erroneous if one makes the mistake and the other one of you says nothing.



Billing.  Due to audits, every cost must have a receipt; otherwise, you pay out of your own pocket.  Contractor accountants are dealing with a heap of “paperwork,” so they can be quite finnicky, if you do not get the process right.  Payment can take 4-6 weeks.  

Fees.  Payment is good, and frequency is not guaranteed.  Feast or famine.

Scheduling.  Dates can be on the calendar for months, but then they can fall through at the last minute.  If you had another client vying for that date, it’s too bad for you, unless they cancel within a specified window of full payment (usually 24 hrs – 5 days, depending).

Human Resources (HR).  Sometimes HR wants to sit in during the sessions.  This makes a lot of participants anxious, because employees are fearful that HR will document what they say.  This inhibits the progress of a session, which results in lower evaluations.

Room/Supplies.  We may need to change rooms at the last minute, or during the session, due to doublebooking.  Sometimes the supplies are not set up, working, or available.  Have a Plan B.



Blizzard.  Check forecasts in other states before even driving to the airport.  I had a flight scheduled from LA to NY at 7 a.m. but it was cancelled.  I also got stuck post-program in NYC and had to stay an extra night.  Clients usually compensate you for these missed days.



Carry-On.  If you are travelling for two nights, get a great carry-on bag.  Lost luggage is a nightmare, and it’s happened to me twice (on vacation, though).

Ferry Flights.  I just learned about this one (See blog: What Does Confucius Say?).  Some airlines (i.e. Delta) list non-passengers flights (Who knows why?) on the passenger board, so look at your flight number, or risk missing your plane.

Unscheduled Stops.  I once flew to TX from CA and the headwinds used up so much gas, we had to make an unscheduled stop at a shutdown army base in the middle of nowhere.  We were landed for hours with no food (and I was 4 months pregnant).  Lesson learned: Always travel with snacks.



Wardrobe Malfunction.  My heel snapped in two.  I had a back-up pair in my luggage, fortunately.  Go barefoot, if you have to.

Death.  A colleague of my participants had cancer and passed away at home while we were in session.  We discovered the news in the early afternoon.  We adjourned for a half-hour break, revised our ending module to be centered around “transitions,” and ended the program early.

Lay-Offs.  I once had 5 people (out of 16) laid off minutes before our 2.5-day workshop began.  They walked out of the session to cope.  Take an impromptu break to show the human side of business.

Threat.  We received a bomb threat for the building across the street and had to evacuate.  We continued the session at a local restaurant.

Wrong Sub-Contractor.  Somehow a sub-contractor was misinformed and joined my private session.  She thought she was replaced by the participant and pitched a fit.  Take her outside and agree to compensate her.

Computer.  Have a thumbdrive as a back-up, &/or use DropBox.  If the flight attendant doesn’t spill a drink on your laptop, then maybe it crashes to the ground or inherits a virus.


Have a crazy facilitator story?  Please share.


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of a virtual consultancy of OD experts, CLG.  Visit us at 

©Rossina Gil, 2014




Cultural Appropriation


In a local magazine, aspiring journalist Steve Haruch wrote an article on restaurateur Patrick Burke.  In it, Haruch raised questions about Burke’s “cultural appropriation” by opening a Japanese restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee, given that Burke is not Japanese by ethnicity nor race.

Here are snippets from Burke’s open letter response:

“It’s true that I still have a lot to learn about Japanese cuisine and culture.  Raised in Louisville by parents from Kentucky and Middle Tennessee, I’m perhaps not the most obvious choice to be selling Japanese cuisine.  Believe it or not, in seven years of pursuing my dream of creating the best neighborhood Japanese restaurant, this isn’t the first time my ethnicity has come up.  I am fortunate that my own life experience, and I imagine that of my white colleagues, has not been marred by ugly, prejudicial and racist actions and words from others.  While I find this behavior disgusting, I obviously can’t completely empathize with you, Steve, or anyone else from a minority group who’s experienced prejudice.  But that shouldn’t stop me from working to share a love of Japanese cuisine with others.  Should it?”

“Insisting that someone be of a certain ethnicity to prepare your ‘authentic’ food is, in fact, a prejudiced viewpoint, in my opinion.”

“And as I’ve already mentioned, Steve, it’s true that I still have a lot to learn about Japanese cuisine and culture.  Which is why I’m returning to Japan later this year.”

Mr. Burke, I agree.  True Globalization is when talent has no boundaries.

Roam the planet.


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of a virtual consultancy of OD experts, CLG.  She is the author of The Corporate Looking Glass: Using Culture for Your Competitive Advantage, required reading for the second year at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business & Management course Foundations of Global Competence.  Visit us at

©Rossina Gil, 2014

Resource: The Nashville Scene, April 17-23, 2014, pg. 44

The Executive’s Executive Summary, Part II


Don’t have time to read a blog, and just want the “Cliffs Notes” version?  Or, ready for a refresher?  Here is a synopsis of the second set of 25 blogs (italicized) to date:

  1. Of Mice and Mentors. Mentors coach/guide you; Sponsors influence decision-makers to offer you new projects &/or promote you.
  2. Talent Mapping: The Crux of Corporate America.Talent Mapping is the process of critically examining what talent exists within the organization and how to strategically plan to prepare for growth initiatives.
  3. Hellenistic Philosophy and Leadership. Philosophy is the love of wisdom.  Indeed, to practice effective leadership one requires wisdom.
  4. Renaissance and Organizations. Highly influential leaders engage in critical and independent thinking.
  5. Buddhism and Mindful Leadership. Buddhism is a philosophy (not a religion); Buddha was Indian (not Chinese) and an enlightened human (not a deity, despite all the statues).
  6. 5 Stages towards a Global Mindset. Once we determine in which stage of Intercultural Competence and Mindset we practice our business, we can move forward strategically.
  7. Corporate Primatology. Human behavior is culturally determined without our knowing it.
  8. The 21st Century Leader. Due to the reach and transparency of Social Media, the 21st Century leader’s challenge is to lead with integrity.
  9. Chief Storyteller. Tales are easier to recall and re-tell than data and statistics.
  10. Employee Engagement: Gallup Q12The Gallup Q12 is one way to determine Organizational Health
  11. The Rational Mind & the Emotional Mind. Effective leaders know how to practice Emotional Intelligence, which is a meld of the Rational and the Emotional Mind.
  12. When CEO’s Sabotage the Organization. All breadcrumbs lead back to the CEO.
  13. Indians Working with Americans.  A private cultural dialogue where the manager can provide some mentoring that helps the direct report become aware of the local norms and expectations is useful anywhere.
  14. Employee Resource Groups (not Affinity Groups).  ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) are Business- / Market-facing groups; Affinity Groups (aka Employee Networks) are inward-facing groups, which are more of a safe haven for reinforcing cultural differences, and they often serve as social clubs.
  15. Super Bowl Commercials 2014America’s most watched annual event, the Super Bowl, had three general categories for 2014: Nostalgia, America, and Humor.
  16. America’s Dystopia: Ageism.  Are we now living the real-life version of Logan’s Run?
  17. Top Websites of the World.  The USA currently holds 8 of the Top 10 most popular sites in the world
  18. Portrayal of Women in Advertisements. We need to continue making the case for women’s rights, empowerment and equality.
  19. The Consumer’s Frame of Reference.  Know thy consumer; everybody’s a customer.
  20. Binge Behaviorism.  Binge behavior could be an American developmental pattern that has escalated from the 1940’s to 2014.
  21. Be Bossy, Be Proud.  Where the heck is Mindy now??  While delegation skills may be misconstrued as “bossy” (let them own that problem), banning is bossy; coaching is leadership.
  22. How to Write Your Elevator Pitch.  The heart of your personal brand is your elevator pitch.
  23. What is OD?  Organization Development is a strategic, analytical field, usually filled with practitioners who typically have a systemic (broad picture) view, a collaborative approach, and sense of comfort with dissent. 
  24. Diversity of Thought. The best of corporate Best Practices unequivocally involve Diversity of Thought; whereas, a false consensus will drive a company off the NASDAQ.
  25. What Does Confucius Say?  We are what we repeatedly do.

Thank you for reading.


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of a virtual consultancy of OD experts, CLG.  Visit us at

©Rossina Gil, 2014

What Does Confucius Say?


More than just a fortune cookie diversion, K’ung Fu-tzu (known as Confucius to those first foreigners who wished to give him a more Roman-sounding name) is also referred to as Kong Qui.  He is a revered Chinese philosopher born in 551 B.C.

Confucius’ teachings were in line with the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” This is why Self-Awareness is key to corporate leadership and organizational culture. We often underestimate the power we have to shape our lives, perspective, and the lives of those around us


The Delta Agent*

This is a story of my latest flight on Delta, how I met a stranded Chinese couple, and the ability to make a positive impact within a personal sphere of influence. 

Upon arriving to the Detroit airport en route back to Nashville, I checked the passenger board and saw there were two Delta flights left for the evening bound for Nashville: one scheduled for 9:45 p.m. and the other scheduled for 9:46 p.m.  Since I declined to take the later flight at the kiosk downstairs, I presumed the (one-minute) earlier flight was mine, without checking my actual flight number.  This resulted in me arriving at the wrong gate.  The pilots were there, but there were only two passengers, who then left 10 minutes prior to departure.  I promptly asked the Delta agent why we weren’t boarding.  “This is a ferry flight,” she said.  A fairy flight?  “What’s that?” I asked.  “It’s a non-passenger plane.”

My gate was 52 gates down (i.e. essentially 1 kilometer).  Despite the roller bag and computer bag, I was determined to make it…I’m a runner, and I had just promised my kids I would check in on them as they lay sleeping.  I asked her to please call the other gate to let them know I was on my way. 

I arrived two minutes before the scheduled departure.  The two desk agents closed the door on me.  The pilot looked at me through the cockpit window as I looked at him sitting there ready to go.  I implored the desk agent to be let onto the plane.  The gate agent refused to re-open the door and told me that it was all my fault.  She told me that had I arrived “three minutes early, instead of two minutes,” then they would have let me on the plane.  Agreed, it was my mistake; AND, what role does Delta have in this mix-up?  I asked, “Why would Delta place a NON-passenger flight on a PASSENGER board??” (Not to mention, why was it one minute apart from another Nashville-bound flight, at the near opposite end of the terminal?).  Kim, the gate agent, was initially unsympathetic. 

Due to my demonstration of feeling consumed with the guilt of breaking a promise to my children, the agent eventually demonstrated some sympathy by apologizing, re-booking my flight, and providing me with hotel/breakfast vouchers.  Still, their system did not make sense to me, and I worked to remind myself as I stood there frozen in disbelief that everything happens for a reason.  Suddenly, a non-English speaking couple from Kun Ming, China, showed up at the counter, trying to make their way to Charlotte, NC.  My Delta gate agent told them repeatedly in English that their flight was “tomorrow.”  They didn’t understand her, and she didn’t do anything other than repeat herself.  Then, it hit me.

I could be a change agent and make a difference.  Yes, I could remember how to communicate in Mandarin from my Rosetta Stone lessons from 8 years earlier.  “Fei ji bu-hao” (The plane is not good), I told them.  They responded in shock and understanding.  “Wei” (yes), I said. “Follow me.” I took them to the Need Assistance phone, but ended up having more success calling their friend in Charlotte.  Then, I used Google Translate on my phone to show them that their luggage was already in Charlotte and they would have to spend the night, like me, in Detroit.

Before I left, they wrote me a message, which translates into “Welcome to Kun Ming” with their phone number on it.  They were inviting me to visit them in their home.  They shook my hand heartedly.  “Xie xie” (Thank you)!

And just like that, I changed my little world, and assisted in a small piece of theirs.  The outcome of my situation changed completely because I chose to behave kindly even when I was not in the mood to act kindly.  Everyday practices, like a smile and a simple gesture, can lead us to become more interconnected.

Welcome to America.


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Change Agent, a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of a virtual consultancy of OD experts, CLG.  Please visit 

* Ironically, the word “delta” is Greek for “change.” 

©Rossina Gil, 2014



Proverbs 3:27