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Aaron’s Transformative Learning Experiences

Conference Speaker

This week I had the opportunity to speak at the International Transformative Learning Conference at Columbia University in New York City. The event prompted me to think about transformative learning experiences that have occurred at various stages of my life.

Caregiving for my mother-in-law at a relatively young age presented a disorienting dilemma to our family that was totally unanticipated. Nobody imagines getting a brain tumor, so when one appears, it’s an existential shock to you and those who love you. Our family rallied around Mom, giving her as much support as possible as she invited a surgeon, skilled as he may be, to cut open her skull, remove the unwelcome mass, and staple her cranium back together. We did not know if she would survive the surgery, or if she survived, how long she would live afterwards. We didn’t know how our lives would be affected in the future. All we knew is that Mom needed help; she needed it now; and we had to be there for her. So she moved into our home.

As I reflect upon the ensuing five years of care that our family provided to my mother-in-law, I see this as the transformational pivot of my professional life. My career is punctuated by a defining transition of work “before” and “after” caregiving, even though the care for Mom was a personal family matter. Before Mom got sick, I had been working as a human resources professional and a healthcare policy wonk. After taking care of Mom, I became the owner of a home care company and a caregiving scholar.

When we were enveloped in the day-to-day care of Mom, we had no sense of perspective on what was happening to our family. We faced one day at a time. Only through subsequent experiences working with families in similar caregiving situations, employing professional caregivers who know how to transition through end-of-life stages, and exposing myself to rich insights born from research have I come to truly understand the quiet strain and heroic service that caregiving exacts from individuals, families, and society.

Now through Caregiving Kinetics, I have the privilege of helping organizations to raise awareness of the caregiving process and develop ways to effectively support those who care. When I was younger, I never envisioned myself involved in such work, but today I cannot see myself doing anything else.

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The Benefits of Business Coaching

caregiving business advisement


Generally speaking, confidence is a good thing in business. You need to be confident in your ideas, and you need to believe in your abilities. However, as is the case with most things, too much confidence can be a problem. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is ask for help, or at least invite in another opinion to point you in the right direction. For many business professionals, especially in the caregiving and healthcare industries, that means turning to business coaching. Some professionals turn away from business coaching because they think they already know the answers, they are afraid to hear the truth, or they simply don’t want to spend the money. Unfortunately, that means they miss out on the many benefits that are associated with quality business coaching, such as those listed below.


Hear the Honest Truth

It’s hard to get honest opinions in the business world, when only talking to those who work for or with you. That’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth. In the workplace, many people are hesitant to say what they really think, as that means going out on a limb with their ideas and perspective. More frequently, employees will just toe the line, agreeing with what those above them have said. When you decide to bring in some business coaching, you can put these worries to the side. A business coach is paid specifically to provide honest feedback and perspective, so that is exactly what he or she will do. Without having to think about long-term career implications like someone who works within the organization, a business coach is free from limitations and will be able to give it to you straight.


Open Up a New Perspective

It can be hard to see your business in new and creative ways when you work inside it day after day. The rhythm that comes along with a business is self-sustaining in many ways, and it’s easy to just ‘go with the flow’ and keep things as they are. But what if sticking with the status quo means missing out on big opportunities? That would be a shame. A business coach can open your mind to new perspectives and perhaps spot opportunities that you and your team have overlooked to this point.


Open Up to Risk

This point goes along with the previous one, but it takes it a step further. Once you see things from a new perspective, you may be encouraged by your business coach to take a risk that you would have otherwise shied away from pursuing. Again, this comes back to the idea of sticking with the status quo. If business is going okay, you might feel like playing it safe and avoiding the risks that need to be taken in order to reach a new level. Unfortunately, most businesses are not able to succeed without taking on some degree of risk. If a business coach can help you to accept and manage the risks that come along with a big opportunity, it’s possible that major growth will lie ahead.
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Great Reasons to Hire a Keynote Speaker

caregiving conference


As you are planning an event, it would be relatively easy to make the decision to skip bringing in a keynote speaker. After all, there is no doubt that this can be a costly inclusion in your event, especially if the person is notable in your industry, such as a healthcare speaker. However, despite the cost, there are plenty of compelling reasons to include a quality, motivational keynote speaker as part of your event.


Deliver Big Value

More than anything else, the best reason to hire a keynote speaker is simply to deliver value to your audience. You want the attendees to leave the event thinking that their time and money were both well spent. A powerful keynote speaker can close the event with a bang and leave everyone feeling fulfilled. The last thing you want out of your event is for your attendees to feel like they have been sold something that didn’t live up to the billing. Not only is that a disappointing feeling for you as an organizer, it will also put the future of the event in jeopardy. Many attendees will not want to return if they weren’t happy with their experience, and those who were considering coming next year will be turned off by the bad reviews. Simply put, it is better to over-deliver when putting on an event, so you can thrill your audience and leave them excited to return.


Grow the Event

No matter what kind of event you are putting on, there are sure to be people who are on the fence with regard to whether or not they should attend. Some of your target market will sign up immediately, knowing that the event is important for their career or business – regardless of the presence of a keynote speaker. But what about the rest? If you want to put on a hugely successful event, you’ll need something to take those people from ‘maybes’ into attendees. The great thing about using this strategy is you can also please the people who were going to attend the event anyway. In other words, you’ll grow your numbers thanks to the speaker you bring in, and you’ll also provide a better experience for those who were already planning to attend. It’s a win-win and a big boost for the future of your event.


The Power of a Name

This last point is particularly important for events which are relatively new and still trying to carve out a place in the market. Bringing in a notable keynote speaker is a great way to confer credibility on the event as a whole. When those in an industry, such as healthcare, find out that a particular motivational speaker is going to be at the event, everything about the event is raised to a higher level. Of course, it should go without saying that perhaps the most important part of picking a speaker is finding someone who is relevant in your industry and has something to add to the event as a whole. Bringing in a big name is not good enough if that person is present only for name recognition – they need to have a message which is on topic, valuable, and interesting to everyone in your audience. Once you find the right speaker, making the decision to hire that individual will be a no-brainer.