IAM872- CEO Offers Training Course Materials

Podcast Interview with Dr Valeria Lo Iacono (Symonds)

Valeria is the CEO of Symonds Training, a company that offers training course materials to trainers and HR departments worldwide. Started 2 years ago, Valeria's company now sells her products worldwide. Valeris started this business whilst finishing her Ph.D. in the UK and after a stint teaching at the University of Bath, England.

  • CEO Hack: (1) Never giving up (2) Being focused (3) Mindfulness
  • CEO Nugget: Believe in yourself and ignore distractions
  • CEO Defined: Independence and freedom to do things I'm passionate about

Website: https://symondsresearch.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/symonds-research/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/corporatetraininguk/

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00:02 – Intro

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

00:29 – Gresham Harkless

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I Have Dr. Valeria LaIocono-Symonds of Symonds Training. Dr. Valeria, it's great to have you on the show.

00:44 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

Hello, It's great to be here, Thank you.

00:47 – Gresham Harkless:

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. And before we jump in, I want to read a little bit more about Dr. Valeria so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. Dr. Valeria is the CEO of Symonds Training, a company that offers training course materials to trainers and HR departments worldwide. Started 2 years ago, Dr. Valeria's company now sells her products worldwide. Dr. Valeria started this business while she finished her PhD in the UK and after a stint of teaching at the University of Bath in England. Dr. Valeria, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

[restrict paid=”true”]

01:19 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

Yes, ready to start.

01:22 – Gresham Harkless

Let's do it then. So to kind of kick everything off, I wanted to hear a little bit more about how you got started. Could you take us through what I call your CEO story and we'll let you get started with your business?

01:30 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

Yes. Okay, it's a long story. I started before doing a PhD, I was working in admin at university, and I thought that I wasn't feeling challenged enough, I needed to do something more with my life. So I decided to start a PhD and then a PhD in dance as a form of cultural heritage and sociology and then after the PhD, I started working as an academic teacher at the University of Bath, I was teaching sociology and as a researcher at University of Exeter But I thought that I wanted to be more independent and do my own thing and be in charge of my own destiny.

So I thought, how can fields that have accumulated throughout my life and put them to use for my own business? So I wanted to be independent. And I mean, took courage because when you always work for somebody else and then you start being your own boss, it may be scary, but at the same time, I took the plunge and now I'm happy to be doing what I'm doing.

02:43 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, sometimes you have to kind of take that plunge and it kind of gives you that opportunity to really, you know, provide value sometimes play and work in our zones of genius so it's great to hear obviously that you have a tremendous amount of knowledge and information but then you're able to do that to help, you know, work and of the clients you're working with?

03:03 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

Yes. So because education became my passion, was my passion I taught in Korea and then at a university in England. And I also particularly like the idea of researching stuff and creating and teaching. So that's why I came up with the idea of Symonds research and training, whereby I research topics that can be taught to corporate people by corporate trainers. So I do all the research and then I design the lesson with the lesson plan and all the teaching materials. And this is something I really enjoy, it takes time. But I think that this is one of my strengths: patience and attention to detail and also at the same time wanting to be creative with my skills.

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04:02 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely. And I feel like you get that opportunity to make an impact. Because once the course is created, it really has that opportunity to kind of live and breathe on its own, so to speak. And you get to kind of imagine, you know, improve it. But at the same time, people get to take the course at their own speed and time.

04:18 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

And they can edit it because the courses are for trainers to buy the package and then they train their own participants. So they can, they will edit it to suit their own needs. But at least they give them a lot of material to use to make their life easier.

04:38 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely. You get that kind of easy button, especially with all the experience expertise, and education that you have. And I know you touched a little bit upon what we can find, you know when we go to CIMAN training, could you take a little bit more time and drill down and let us know like some of the training materials and course materials you have there?

04:58 -Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

I've got some training materials on leadership, some on equality and diversity, and some on soft skills in general, a few materials on online marketing as well, but the core business is about, you know, soft skills And for example, I've got courses about how to start your own business, time management, psychological safety, that's for managers who want to make sure that their team feel, they feel comfortable to speak up and express their own ideas. And then other trainings such as mental health awareness, which is to raise awareness of mental issues in the workplace. So mainly the materials are aimed at corporate settings, but they can be also adapted for any person that the trainer wants to teach.

To teach. So other training courses, because we've done a lot of conflict management, dealing with difficult people. So it's basically all these soft skills that may seem generic, but they're not, they're very important in the workplace to make sure that people get along and they can work together as best as they can. So at the moment, I have created quite a few products but I keep creating new products all the time. Then I keep an eye on what the trends are, and what people are most interested in. And also I'm happy to get feedback from my clients to see what kind of training course materials they would like. And then if it's something that I think it's good, then I will develop it.

07:03 – Gresham Harkless

Nice. I absolutely love that. And I love, as you mentioned, obviously it's very useful, obviously in that corporate environment, but I think that we forget like kind of the human interaction in any aspect in your life. You have to sometimes deal with conflict resolution, whether you're in the workplace or you're not. And I often feel like when, you know, people try to learn about, you know, some of these aspects, I almost feel like we're never really taught it. You just kind of learn it by osmosis, it feels like. So I love that you created that material because I think it helps the structure, you know, a lot of those things that are essential, those soft skills to being able to be successful and to really, you know, prosper and grow in that workplace and be successful.

07:47 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

Yes. Yeah, so I've always been passionate even before I even thought about teaching and developing training myself, when I used to work in admin for universities, always wanted to do training, and I signed up for any training that my company, the university offered all the time because I really enjoyed taking part to the training as a participant. Not only because I've always loved to learn as much as possible, but I also was fascinated by the trainers and how they taught back then I didn't even think that I would be involved in this field but I was always fascinated by being a trainer and what it involves. So now I'm actually designing materials for trainers. But so I've been able to see the reality of training from both sides as a participant and now as a training professional.

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But I think, yeah, it's one of those things that you have a passion for your life. And then it comes a moment in life when you think, oh, how can I use my passions for, a job to become my job rather than doing something that I'm not really passionate about? So that every morning now I'm happy to start working, as opposed to thinking, oh no, I have to go to work, go to the office, I wish I could be doing something else. So I think, yes, training and development and learning has always been a passion of any life.

09:32 – Gresham Harkless


09:34 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

Yeah, And the soft skills, as I said, yes, there are things that you pick up throughout life that as you grow and as you grow older, you learn more and more, but it's good if somebody can actually also help you along the way. And that's where the trainers come in. So I think, yeah, that work as a trainer is very good. And also helping the trainers is something I really enjoy.

10:05 – Gresham Harkless:

Yeah, I absolutely love that. You're teaching the people that are training and helping the people and it's so interesting and funny. I think sometimes we go through life, as you said, and sometimes we have an idea of what our zone of genius is, what our gifts are, and what we're passionate about. And sometimes it doesn't always become clear until you know sometimes we start a business or we start an organization and it really starts to take hold. So I love that you've been able to kind of do that.

And so Would you consider that to be your secret sauce or the thing you feel kind of sets you or your organization apart? Is it that ability to be able to see from different vantage points, whether it be somebody who's being trained or the trainer or somebody who's helping the trainers to be able to kind of understand so that they get the best possible course that's available to them?

10:50 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

Yes, I think so. Because yes, I've been in the position of the person was trainer, I taught and also the experience teaching in university. So I trained myself as a lecturer, but basically, the principles of teaching adults are the same, whether you're teaching university students or corporate people. So the way you have to engage them and the way you have to structure the lesson. So that's all this knowledge, you know, that I've been to my life. So I think one other thing that makes us unique is passion. Another thing that I learned in life is, especially that something that a PhD was very useful, doing a PhD was very useful for this is to be very resilient, very never give up.

When you think that something's not going the way you wanted, you become adaptable and you don't give up, you may change the course, your course of action, but you never give up because a solution will always be found if you're willing to be persistent, but also flexible. And I think that's one of the things that definitely doing a PhD helped me in this, at least to develop this part of me. And now I'm using it for my own business. So I never give up. So even when I think, oh, this is not going so well. So how can I adjust? What else can I do to make things improve? If it doesn't work on the first attempt, it will work on the second or the third, but eventually, it will work.

12:42 – Gresham Harkless

Yeah, absolutely. The whole idea is not to give up. And I think that's relevant, obviously, in times like this, but also in every time really to be able to have that desire to kind of see that goal come to fruition and may not go or happen this way or the way, which might be A, but if you try B or C or D, you continue to kind of try things so you get there is so huge and so necessary. So I definitely appreciate that. And I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

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13:20 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

Yeah, One thing is actually never give up. That became a habit of mine if you can call it. But also almost like when I start working and being focused and being in the zone, because before I was easily distracted when I was trying to focus or concentrate on something. And now I'm not saying that it doesn't happen. Sometimes it does, but I'm much better able to concentrate and remove or ignore distractions.

13:57 – Gresham Harkless

Nice. Well, that's a perfect segue because I was going to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget, which can be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice, or it might be something you have to do a time machine, you might tell your younger business self, is it that you would have kind of adopted or maybe even sharpen the sauce, so to speak, a little bit more and learned and trained and just learned even more about, you know, different aspects of business and entrepreneurship, including mindfulness.

14:23 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

Yeah. Because what I liked when I was younger, I liked focus and I liked belief in myself. And it's something that partially, yes, you do develop with age, but also if there's somebody who can actually teach these things to you or give you advice, that's very helpful. So maybe I would have sought this advice much earlier, but then how can you know? But now I'm happy that at least I'm doing it now.

14:52 – Gresham Harkless

I wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping that different quote-unquote CEOs on this show. So Dr. Val, Valeria, what does being a CEO mean to you?

15:06 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

To me, it means well, independence. Yes. And freedom to do the things that I believe in, the things that I'm passionate about.

15:18 – Gresham Harkless

And for people who might want to get a hold of you, what's the best way for them to find out about all the awesome things you're doing? And if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and listeners know?

15:29 – Dr Valeria Lo Iacono

There's my website, simonsresearch.com. We also have a LinkedIn profile that they can contact me on and there is a contact page on the website and we've got a Facebook page as well. So there are different ways that people can reach me on or through my, or via email. And my email address is on the website, valeria.simonsresearch.com.

16:01 – Gresham Harkless

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Dr. Valeria. I truly appreciate that. We will have the links and information and the show notes as well too, so that everybody can follow up with you and connect with you. But I appreciate you for all the work you're doing. I appreciate you for the time and the reminders that you gave to us today and the words of wisdom. And I hope you have a phenomenal day.

16:19 – Outro

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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