Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dante's il Accademia Recently Discovered Part the First

The recent discovery of the unknown fourth or perhaps what was to be the first volume of Dante’s La Divina Comedia shows how little has actually changed in academia since the founding of The University of Bologna in the eleventh century to today. The slim volume Dante left behind also brings to light some fascinating parallels between academia and attitudes toward students in his time and ours. The document, L’accademia , found in a box of medieval documents and relics in a seminary just outside of Florence, Italy is the shortest of the four volumes of the Comedia. In fact, there are some scholars who believe that L’accademia was not meant to be a separate book but a transitional piece between l ’Inferno and il Purgatorio.

There is some relevance to this position since it has been postulated that the four volumes together actually form a trilogy following the life of a scholar from the hell of teaching into purgatory, the tenure process, and finally through to paradise which is tenure.  In fact, Prof. S.O. Fortunato of the University of Mammon made this point quite vigorously at the recent colloquium held on the new found work hosted by Schtup University. The Prof pointed to the direct similarity between the opening line is the cantos in the prologue of L’Accademia and the lines of Canto III in the Inferno. Here are the lines from L’Accademia that seem eerily close to the well-known opening lines of the Inferno.

Enter a field once of unselfish tranquility,
Enter fields green of thought wanting little else
Enter Palazzos of Intellect, hope for a world Divine
Where professed lovers of learning, lovers of thought,
Lovers of knowledge imparted joyously toil
Seeking to best make men for a world divine
Enter the Academy, a place once of brilliant minds
Supping on knowledge, lusting for good, not goods.
Enter the Academy now, a horde of men self-focused
Of oft tortured ethics, lusting for research glory, a load reduced.

Approach ye the gates of the Academy to enter
To pass through to the Academy courtyard campus sanctum despiritus
A center from which all the Academy evolves
Approach ye the seven circles through these Academy gates.
Seven central rings the Academy enclosed
Approach ye the world of learning not of our world at all
The realm known by few and yet open to many who could pass
Approach ye the gates through which the pedants pose
Questions to solve with other’s ducats need they solution or no.
Approach and consider before ye enter the world academic.

Through me the way is to the college of the self-indulgent;
Through me the way is to potential eternal employ;
Through me the way to most students lost.
Research incited the Creator if there be one;
Generated to me divine tenure,
Claiming highest Wisdom and Time Released.
Before me be there no pedagogical things,
Only grants, and I to gain reputation most important.                                                                     
To students say we, mumble we clearly,
Much hope abandon, ye students who enter the Academy within
Look ye to the left; look you to the right
Few of you shall find success and delight.
    (Trans. Bella Mintza)

Prof. Fortunato sees the flow for the four volumes as follows. First one joins l’ accademia. That is followed by purgatorio (the tenure process). This is followed by moving into avere un impiego a tempo indetreminanto  (tenure) and then into paradise (senior professorship and release time so one does not have to teach but one or two classes). He also sees a similar pattern for students who first enter, then toil and either drop out or get asked to leave. This last action being a slightly more than a 50-50 proposition. Prof. LaPetomaine agreed but stated that that the volume may be a work meant to tie all the books together sort of as a shell for all the ideas since the heat of work for tenure may cool down significantly once tenure is achieved. He did make clear that he was not at all equating tenure to becoming frozen. Not at all. He sees it becoming more fixed, sort of at rest to contemplate somewhat like the philosopher Jeremy Bentham residing at the University of the City of London defines it in his most current work Stuffed with Life

Prof. S. Tiffany Swartzenberger, who holds the Chamber of Commercialism Chair at Schtup University is a well-respected feminist, new criticism, structural formalism scholar with trans-gender, post-colonialism considerations of pre-Marxist, post-structuralist, new historicism, street cred poetry.  Prof.  Swatrzenberger finds the poetry of the volume “quite Dantesque with overtones of the tropes of oral writing so common to the Bologna poets whose prose poetry conceits and rhymelessness  are still strong today. I for one am willing to agree that this is Dante at his most Dante prior to the Dante we know from his Dante-esque major works.”  

But our focus in this study is not literary as much as how the work speaks to our understanding of the university of today. And the volume speaks abundantly. 

For more of Dante and especially for help with collegiate customer service and retention contact 413.219.6939 or info@GreatServiceMatters.com.

If this article makes sense to you
you will want to get my new book
The Power of Retention
: More Customer Service for Higher Education
by clicking here

N.Raisman & Associates is the leader in increasing student retention, enrollment and revenue through workshops,research training and customer service solutions such as campus service audits to colleges, universities and career colleges in the US, Canada, and Europe as well as to businesses that seek to work with them
We increase your success


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Contract with the School

Call them students or whatever euphemism one wants, the fact is that students are consumers of what the college or university has sold to them and provides. Students and their families have been sold on a set of promises ranging from a vague mission to better their lives and the world to the usual marketing of “personal attention from a caring faculty and staff with small classes and all the services needed for you to be successful in your studies and future career...”  As a result, students and families pay out thousands, tens of thousands, a hundred thousand dollars to attend the school to receive what they were sold. This offer of services, acceptance of the offer and exchange of money for the services proffered is the very essence of a contract between two parties. The contract creates a set of obligations upon the service provider (hereinto called the college) to furnish the customer (hereinto called the student) said promised services (attention, small classes, personal attention, caring, problem resolution, instruction, training, tutoring, access to faculty/administrators, assistance, support…). The customer is obligated to fulfill the obligations of payment and follow college policies as might be in a student handbook or course syllabi which are addenda to the contract and create sub-contracts in themselves. And the college is obligated to provide what it promised and sold the student.

If the college does not provide the student all that was promised/sold by the marketing and admissions process to entice the student to attend and pay, the contract as well as the student’s expectations. To date, the result is that the customer becomes angered that the contract has been broken and will normally try to get the services promised or just decide it isn’t worth it and leave.

Dropping out is the traditional response. Though in our increasingly heated and litigious society, this will likely change.  There will be a student who has paid tens of thousands of dollars to purchase a set of promised and contracted for services but has not received them. He or she will bring a suit against the school to recover costs, time spent as well as future earnings lost. All the student will have to do for example is show the marketing that promised small classes and then the section of X he had to attend in a lecture hall with 250 others. Or promised tutoring by professionals but was unable to get the tutoring or was given a non-professional peer tutor; or went to the faculty member’s office hours and the professor was not there on a number of occasions or simply said he or she did not have time to help and the student subsequently failed the required class.  Considering the increasingly skeptical and even negative attitude of the public toward higher education as discussed in Squeeze Play 2010, a jury of college student parents would likely find the student’s case that an expansive contract was breached to be compelling.
Moreover, what colleges need to understand is that when the contract is extended through an offer of admissions and the student accepts and pays for that proffer, the question of whether or not the student should be in the college, or is capable of doing well ends. The proffered acceptance is a statement that we have determined that you are capable of doing the work to succeed or we would not have made the offer. To accept a student a school or members of the school’s community believes is not capable of doing the work, “not college material”, not up to our standards” is to make a false offer and is inherently unethical as well as grossly horrible customer service. That would be as unethical as selling me, an older, 5’6”, 172 pound, out of shape, academic-type a course that would make me a center for an NBA team. If a college or university accepts a student the contract says the school has certified through its admissions process that this is a student who should be capable of graduating from the school. And we will provide all the services we promised to make that happen. Or as Academic Customer Service Principle 7 says “The goal is not necessarily to recruit the very best students but to make the students you recruit the very best they can be.”

The contract also sets up asset of human expectations including the sense of trust. Entering into a contract requires the customer to extend trust to the service provider thus setting up a sense of an engagement between the college and the student. This extends the sense of trust just as an engagement to be wed sets up a strong need for trust in one another. If an event occurs to break or disrupt the faith, a very negative emotional response is the likely result. The engagement is off as in “I quit. I am dropping out of this place.” If there is not a full break, just a major frustration as caused quite often by the campus shuffle, the relationship becomes quite tentative requiring an infusion of good will and attention from the one who broke the engagement. This normally does not occur so the event just sets the process in place that will lead to the engagement being broken for good as a result of other problems that tell the student he or she is not important or the experience is not worth the further investment of time, money and trust in the school’s word.

But again, the decision to leave the college, university, community or career college is not a cool, rational one. It is as emotional as one party to an engagement catching the other lying to him or here, or worse faking interest. So the retention programs that do work are ones that focus on the emotional engagement process that tie the student into the school better. These are ones that generate attachment and a sense that we care to increase the students’ trust that the engagement will last and the contract met.

What students want is proof that their buying into the school and its promise of engagement are real. They want the school to fulfill its promises and especially the one that it will focus on their needs and success and in so doing show real care about them. They want evidence that the school is reaching out to them and not just making them do all the reaching. They want to feel important, cared for and valued. These are all issues that pertain to the human, the emotional dimensions and not to intellectual ones. These are all issues that fall into the realm of academic customer service.

If this article makes sense to you
you will want to get my new book
The Power of Retention
: More Customer Service for Higher Education
by clicking here

N.Raisman & Associates is the leader in increasing student retention, enrollment and revenue through workshops,research training and customer service solutions such as campus service audits to colleges, universities and career colleges in the US, Canada, and Europe as well as to businesses that seek to work with them
We increase your success


Monday, March 14, 2011

Grading Schools on Graduation and Millions Lost

National Report Card on Colleges and Their Graduation Rates and Revenue Losses from Attrition

Prepared by
N.Raisman & Associates

 Grading schools on graduation

If the 1700 four-year colleges and universities in this study were graded on their graduation rates for students who finally graduated a four year college for six years as professors grade students on an A through F scale with an A equal to a graduation rate of 90% or more; B 80-90%; C 70-80%;D60-70% and any graduation rate under 50% equal to an F the breakdown would be

  43 A’s
101 B’s
165 C’s
259 D’s and
1132 F’s.

Sixty-seven percent of four-year colleges and universities studied in the US would receive a failing grade on retention and graduation. Fifteen percent would just be scratching by with a grade of D. No wonder we are starting to fall behind other countries in the number of college graduates.  Only 309 colleges and universities receive a passing grade of C and above. Eighty-two percent of our four-year colleges and universities are failing in their job to graduate students. Even in six years. The same eighty-four percent are still getting government aid to such as Pell Grants to stay open and fail. These schools are wasting the dreams and resources of the students they attract as well as the money from the federal government.

As significant as the failure to graduate students is it is equally significant to note that that these colleges and universities lost over $6 billion in revenue from attrition. What is even more upsetting is the financial and emotional losses of students and their families from these failing schools. Keep in mind that the billions of dollars the colleges and universities lost from attrition came from students, their families and the federal government. It is the money invested in them from others that the colleges and universities are wasting. The billions that the families, students and the federal government invest in higher education is squandered when students fail to graduate.

In fact, colleges and universities graduating less than 20% of their classes in six-years cost the federal government $803,368,154 for the students who dropped out in 2009-10.They cost their students and families much more financially as well as in their dreams and goals in life.

It seems amazing that schools that graduate an average of less than 40% of entering students can attract new enrollment at all. Moreover, it is hard to understand that four-year colleges and universities that graduate less than 20% of an entering class even over a span of six years can remain at all attractive to potential students and remain in business. But they seem to attract new students and can stay in business largely because, federal and for state assisted schools other public funds continue to support schools that cannot retain and graduate more than 20% of their students.

The public policy question raised then is should colleges that cannot retain and graduate less than 20% of their students receive public support at all? Should ones that cannot retain and graduate 30%, receive support? Forty percent?

It may be argued that the students not the schools receive support in the form of Pell Grants for example but if it were not for the certification of these schools to receive federal funds students could not receive the Grants at failing schools. If failing schools were denied public support, students would have to take their money elsewhere – to a college or university that has higher six-year graduation rate. Without federal funds, colleges with failing graduation rates would likely close or have to find ways to fund themselves. These would be private, public and for-profit schools. It is likely that we would all be better off if they did. Millions if not billions of dollars would be saved by the federal government that supported all the schools in the study. Public schools that could not survive could save states much needed money. And for-profits that closed would just penalize stock holders or owners who likely deserve to be penalized for supporting failing schools to make a profit off the system.

Some Immediate Observations
It is interesting to note that of the 43 schools that graduate 90% and more of an entering class, only three are public institutions:

University of Virginia
University of California – Los Angeles and
The College of William and Mary.

The other 40 are all private schools.

Of the top 43 institutions with an average 6-year graduation rate higher than 90%, most are “name brand schools” except for two small unbranded private colleges: Apex School of Theology (NC)  and Sinte Gleska University (SD).

Of the 43 lowest graduation schools, all with a graduation rate less than11%, 20 are private schools, 16 for-profit and 7 public institutions. One is a theologically-oriented school and one a tribal college.

No apparent patterns come out of the study related to explaining attrition such as size of school; public, private or for profit; costs; Carnegie level. What is apparent however is that every school in the study lost significant sums of money from attrition.  This is revenue that could have been captured in part to help during a time of fiscal uncertainty and contraction but was not.

Additional Consideration

An initial consideration of schools should be whether or not the students that they admit might actually realistically be successful in the institution. It needs to be assumed that schools accept only those students they believe have a strong likelihood of succeeding in their studies and the culture of the institution. To do otherwise would have to advance a cynical supposition that schools accept and enroll students they know may not succeed just for their tuition, fees and collateral revenue. If this were so, they are doing a poor job of it since so many students leave the schools.

Finally, the study raises concerns about the future financial well-being of those schools scoring a grade of D and certainly those scoring a grade of F. How they can maintain a budget that can produce academic viability and quality needs to be looked at.  When a college or university is losing 60 to 90% of its potential graduated and thus revenue, it needs to be a concern.

When schools are losing 80-90% of their student body every year, it should be questioned not just what they are doing wrong but if any students should ever enroll there? Considering that the odds of graduating at the average school is less than an even bet at 1401 of the four-year colleges and universities. Students and families are “flipping a coin” for the odds of getting to the diploma and the future the college has marketed.

It may be argued by some that even exposure to college education is a plus and thus students who do not graduate have bettered themselves through their attendance. This is a self-serving and fallacious argument. Students enroll and attend college in search of the degree that will open the doors to a job and better life. Leaving college without a degree is in most every case not a gain but a failure of the school and student. The student has lost an opportunity and the money paid to attend college while the school loses future revenue and the opportunity to complete its mission for that student.

And as this study shows, the loss of revenue from attrition for schools is significant and hurtful to the financial well-being of colleges and universities. The financial and personal losses to the students are equally significant.


The formula used for calculating projected attrition loss was taken from Customer Service Factors and the Cost of Attrition: Revised and Expanded.4  92010) The formula is expressed as [(P x A ® SL) x T)]/2 with P representing a school’s Fall FTE population; A is the six-year annual attrition rate. So P x A yields SL, students lost then multiplied by T tuition. This is divided by 2 to account for the justifiable assumption that students drop after the first day and tuition is collected for the first semester from them but not the next. The formula does not account for uncollected tuition which will vary from school to school and add to the total loss.

Population in each school was reduced by 7% prior to the calculation for total revenue lost to take into account the findings of the IES report Persistence and Attainment of 2003-04 Beginning Postsecondary Students After 6 Years (2010)5

The attrition rate is a calculated annual average for the years 2003-4 through 2008-9. Using a 150% time to graduation rate provides the most accurate way of projecting each school’s losses from attrition for two reasons. First, it allows for a lenient calculation of graduation rates by not holding four-year colleges to a four year standard. This is in keeping with the accepted recognition that the average time to graduation is 6-plus years nationally. Second, the average provides for a more consistent attrition rate since the variation in rates from year to year for most all schools exists in a very small range of variance (+/- 2.36%). Thus what was the attrition rate from one year will be very close to the next and the use of a six year average mitigates variations.

It may be that in some schools the average graduation time is actually more than six years such as might be argued by some of the on-line schools such as the University of Phoenix On-Line but that information is internal and not reflected in the public numbers. Further, the calculations already incorporate a seven percent persistence rate as discussed earlier in the report.

Transfers Out
The issue of the number of students that transfer out of a particular school is not significant to this study since the objective is to look at the total number of students lost. If they are lost through transferring to another school, dropping out or even “stepping out with intentions to return at some date, they are still losses which in turn yield revenue losses to the university or college. 

Summary Conclusion and Offer
This is the introduction to a report on the graduation rates and how much the individual schools lose in attrition dollars as well. The amount of money lost to attrition is astounding and makes one wonder how any of the schools can ignore improving retention.  The total loss is over $16 BILLION in 2010 with average school losing $19.7 million.

If you want a complete copy of the study and report just ask for it at NealR@GreatServiceMatters.com. It is still in final draft form so any and all comments are welcome.

1.       Average Federal Pell Grant $3,646 times the number of students who dropped out in 2009-10.

2.       Jean Johnson and Jon Rochkind with Amber N. Ott and Samantha Dupont “With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them, 2008, Public Agenda; Frederick M. Hess, Mark Scheider, Kevin Carey and Andrew P. Kelly “Diplomas and Dropouts: Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don’t) 2009, American Enterprise Institute; William G. Bowen, Matthew M. Chingos and Michael S. McPherson Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities 2009, Princeton University Press; Alexandria Walton Radford, Lutz Berkner, Sara C. Wheeless and Bryan Shepherd, “Persistence and Attainment of 2003-04 beginning Postsecondary Students: After 6 Years”. 2010; IES/NCES.

3.       Neal Raisman, Customer Service Factors and the Power of Attrition: Revised and Updated, 2010; The Administrators Bookshelf.

4.       N. Raisman in The Business of Higher Education Volme 3: Markeitng and Consumer Issues by John C. Knapp and David J. Siegel, 2009;Praeger.

5.       Neal Raisman, Customer Service Factors and the Power of Attrition: Revised and Updated, 2010; The Administrators Bookshelf.

6.       Alexandria Walton Radford, Lutz Berkner, Sara C. Wheeless and Bryan Shepherd, “Persistence and Attainment of 2003-04 beginning Postsecondary Students: After 6 Years”. 2010; IES/NCES.

            Tables Available

1.     Colleges and Universities Alphabetically
2.     Colleges and Universities by Graduation Rates
3.     Colleges and Universities by Attrition Rates
4.     Colleges and Universities by Revenue Lost (most to least)
5.     Private Colleges by Revenue Lost (most to least)
6.     Public Colleges by Revenue lost (most to least)
7.     For-Profit Colleges and Universities (most to least)
8.     Colleges and Universities Graded

Get a DVD copy of a recent 90 minute  webinar Dr. Raisman did for the State of Arkansas Department of Higher Education on Academic Customer Service and How to Improve Retention Starting Tomorrow for only $250 at info@GreatServiceMattersMatters.com

Monday, March 07, 2011

An UPside Down Business Model Costs Studnets and Families

Though I may not win friends I hope to influence people with the following notions. First, Colleges are horribly run businesses that do their customers harm quite often. They are upside-down businesses models. Second, many of them should not even be allowed to stay in business and would not without taxpayer support.

First, colleges are businesses. There is no way around that fact. Unique businesses yes. Service and development businesses yes. They have all the aspects of any for-profit business except for a cash accrual accounting system or a real concern for their proclaimed customers.  Of course there are even some that do have cash accrual. These are the for-profit schools which realize they are businesses even some to the point that they may have forgotten they are colleges.

Colleges and universities have operational budgets that depend on selling the school (recruitment) to its customers (students and parents) by sales (admissions) and collecting revenue (tuition) by billing (bursar) based on the college's brand (reputation), products (courses, programs, degrees), services (advising, FA.) and creating a connection with the customer (client services) by employees (faculty, staff, administrators) (some in unions) who receive salaries and benefits, delivering product and services (learning opportunity) fulfilling customer need (degree and career/Grad school).

They are businesses.  This is obvious in the case of for-profit-schools but is also true of what we call not-for-profit colleges and universities.

When I was a president of a not-for-profit publically-assisted college I was even required to make a 3% surplus (profit) by the end of the year to meet the guidelines set for us by the public Board of Trustees. How is that different than a corporation that needs to make a 3% margin set by its corporate board? One might think that a difference is that the corporate board benefits from a profit in personal returns but don’t kid yourself too much. The college board may not have gotten money directly from the 3% surplus/profit but they had personal gains they took from the college and its success.

And when I call them businesses I am not necessarily supporting those who believe academia has become that way through the pressures of admitted corporate America and its money influencing research and schools through donations. America’s colleges have only been able to work so well with corporate America because they are part of it themselves and a major sector of the economy at 6% national GDP. We have presidents making salaries that are equal to and exceed that of business and corporate CEOs. We have professors who make more than many corporate managers and have as many if not more perks like not having to work all that much what with research, release time, semester breaks and summers off.

In fact when one thinks about it at all, it is realized that academia’s business model is all wrong.

We require the least from the most highly paid such as senior professors and many administrators and the most from those paid subsistence wages such as adjunct faculty. Senior professors in all but community colleges teach an average of six contact hours a year! A few maybe three courses a year. A few might be stuck with four if they are not doing research or haven’t figured out the release time system.

Two classes a year! Not bad but highly unproductive. These are the ones who are paid the most in the faculty ranks from an average annual salary low of $74,267 for a theology professor to a high of $134,162 for a professor teaching and areas of law.  So if we just do a little math, a law professor with even four classes a year is being paid $33,541which and a theology professor teaching the same load is being paid $18,567 a class; not a year – a class if they teach as many as four a year which is highly unlikely at a four year university. What the full professor of law earns per class I still more than an adjunct earning $3,200 (that’s on the high side) a class and teaching eight of them a year or $27,200 a year with no benefits.

And the full professor is teaching seminars and upper-level classes while the adjuncts are teaching the lower-level required and scut courses the professors refuse to teach because they take too much time and effort. (Granted this does not apply to every full professor. There are some who do teach the introductory classes but there are not many of these good souls.)

The lowest paid teach the most important classes. Adjuncts and instructors/associate professors are the ones who get the courses no one else wants to teach to the masses. You know, undergraduate students taking required and building block courses for the majors.  This is so the most highly paid professors cannot be encumbered with all the work required to teach these required courses.

How do I know they are the most important courses? Well, if they weren’t they wouldn’t be required of all students. Would they?

This is an upside down business and productivity model. Those who are the most able and best paid should be doing the most work to assure the mission of the business is met and the financial resources are put to their best use meeting the needs of the customers so the enterprise can succeed.

Sure there are some professors freed from teaching because they get grants which bring money into the institution; money which is desperately needed so the system can keep going. The system has the most highly paid be the least productive when it comes to the core mission of the university or college which is to teach students and primarily undergraduate students.  Moreover with the reductions in hiring of new full-time faculty, the group of full time professors doing the least teaching has become a larger and larger percentage of the full-time faculty core.

And who loses in this system besides the system itself since it wastes so much money under this scheme? Students Not necessarily because they are being taught by adjuncts and instructors. They can be as good if not better teachers than a full professor; especially one that sees teaching as a burden. No the students lose because this is a very expensive system to maintain. Paying highly paid people not to work is expensive and so tuition goes up and up and fees go up and up.

Yes I do realize that research is part of the academic world and life but I hate that it has replaced teaching and learning as the primary focus of the university. The university has more and more become run for the members of the “academic”  community than the students that community is supposed to educate. And let’s be honest here. Much of the so-called research is pointless, useless and deserving of the old Golden Fleece Award that Senator William Proxmire used to give out when he was in the Senate.

Students and their families are paying for a system that is killing their financial ability to afford college while rewarding the least instructionally productive. A quote from an excellent novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry helps make the point about useless research quite eloquently

…the fact that the middle classes are working themselves to the bone, using their sweat and taxes to finance such pointless and pretentious research leaves me speechless. Every gray morning, day after gloomy day, secretaries, craftsmen, employees, petty civil servants, taxi drivers and concierges shoulder their burden so that the flower of French youth, duly housed and subsidized, can squander the fruit of all that dreariness upon the alter of ridiculous endeavors.

And this is just about teaching faculty so far. I have not even gotten to the empires of administrators who suck up huge amounts of money and produce very little. At most schools the administrations growth has outstripped all other areas and as a past administrator I know that most of the time what we did was produce meetings; most of which were just a total waste of time and did not help the mission or the students.

The business model of higher education is just not working and students are being forced to pay more and more for less and less. That is just wrong.

Next, why some colleges should not be in business.

If this article makes sense to you
you will want to get my new book
The Power of Retention
: More Customer Service for Higher Education
by clicking here

N.Raisman & Associates is the leader in increasing student retention, enrollment and revenue through research training and customer service solutions to colleges, universities and career colleges in the US, Canada, and Europe as well as to businesses that seek to work with them
We increase your success


413.219.6939 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              413.219.6939      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Neal is a pleasure to work with – his depth of knowledge and engaging, approachable style creates a strong connection with attendees. He goes beyond the typical, “show up, talk, and leave” experience that some professional speakers use. He “walks the talk” with his passion for customer service. We exchanged multiple emails prior to the event, with his focus being on meeting our needs, understanding our organization and creating a customized presentation. Neal also attended and actively participated in our evening-before team-building event, forging positive relationships with attendees – truly getting to know them. Personable, knowledgeable, down-to-earth and inspiring…. " Jean Wolfe, Training Manager, Davenport University

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