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LAS VEGAS — For Connie Podesta, professional keynoter and expert in the psychology of human behavior/relations, corporate events are all about getting people to think hard about sales and leadership — sans the usual parts about merchandise and contracts.
Podesta teaches audiences how to look at these topics from a human relations standpoint while paying close attention to their own behaviors, mindsets and attitudes about success. She does this while injecting humor into her speeches and respecting the unique qualities of each audience.
“For 30 years, my life has been spent helping audiences understand why people do what they do and say what they say,” said Podesta, president and founder of Connie Podesta Presents LLC. “I teach them to act, rather than react, when life doesn’t go as planned. Often, they are looking for outside reasons for not achieving the success they want. But generally, the answer lies right within them.”
At the 2015 NACS Show, Podesta will apply her know-how to help convenience store leaders understand how certain attitudes and behaviors may be “getting in the way” of them being more successful, profitable and competitive. While crucial to any industry’s success, these interpersonal skills are rarely taught in the business world. But these concepts are universal, regardless of company type.
On the sales end, every industry wants to retain existing customers while attracting new ones. On the leadership side, managers and employees must develop mutual trust. By creating a healthy work environment, employees feel respected and profits, sales and productivity rises. The result is a win-win for all.
“Sales and leadership cross all the boundaries,” said Podesta. “Whether you’re a big chain or a mom-and-pop, you still must lead by example, create a healthy, fair environment and develop a team that is trustworthy, cooperative and productive. Every convenience store employee, at every level, is in sales. But few have been trained how to sell.
“The owners are in leadership, yet few have had the opportunity to really learn the ins and outs of motivating, coaching and training a diverse workforce,” she added. “They understand the workings of the store, but that doesn’t always mean they have the skills or knowledge to deal with difficult employees or customers.”
MELDING PSYCHOLOGY & COMEDY
Podesta has a bachelor’s degree in Speech, Communications and Business, a master’s degree in Human Relations and Counseling, and was a board-certified Licensed Professional Counselor for more than 25 years. Her experiences include working as a director of human relations and staff development, where she was responsible for training and teaching employees, managers and senior leadership the human relations skills they needed.
Her psychological strategy involves making the individual aware of the power they have within to make a serious difference in their organization.
“I help people look at what they can change, rather than trying to change other people. Too much energy is wasted on discussing things we can’t control. Let’s talk about now. This is what you have to work with and this is what you can do differently. What mindsets and attitudes do you have control over that will make a difference in your company’s future?” she explained.
A natural comedian since childhood, Podesta has performed on TV and other mediums. She incorporates her comedy into each presentation. “I love using my humor as a vehicle for tackling the tougher issues leaders face every day,” she said.
Podesta believes she was born funny. “You can learn to speak better and be more humorous. But for most people who do this, nobody had to teach us.” And while Podesta has benefitted from a formal education, she has an intuitive sense about “what makes people tick.”