Many of our readers will be familiar with my dog Jack, as I’ve talked about him in many posts previously. Jack has also co-presented with me at both the Noreasters annual Symposium and at the annual APMP International Bid & Proposal Con.*
As those of you who have read about or met Jack will know, he is very well behaved and responds to a great many commands. This is due to the training he and I have done together as well as our attending many training classes (Jack has passed the American Kennel Club “Canine Good Citizen” test, a standardized test of temperament, behavior and socialization).
Oliver is learning very quickly. Carol and I also work with Oliver on a daily basis but the majority of what Oliver has picked up has come from his being around Jack and emulating Jack’s behaviors. Oliver has just completed, successfully, his first basic obedience class.
While attending the class, other participants would ask me why I had Oliver in the class, given that I was an experienced dog trainer and that Carol and I worked with him and he already knew the basic commands. I responded that in order for Oliver to be truly socialized and well trained, he need to be with dogs other than Jack and to work in an environment where there were additional distractions with which he would need to cope. I also needed Oliver to spend time with another trainer who could provide an objective view to the work Carol and I were doing with Oliver.
As is always the case for me, being a “proposal guy”, it crossed my mind that there was a parallel with Oliver’s training and proposal training. Quite often, a proposal person’s training is limited to learning on the job from the other people in the group. And the training those people have received, if any, may also have been limited to what they picked up along the way. These individuals might have developed some basic skills and be capable proposal support people. However, they also need the exposure to best practices and to other proposal professionals that can only come from attending formal proposal training.
Formal proposal training provides the opportunity to learn from an experienced proposal professional, ideally one who is accredited by APMP at the Professional level (as Jon and I, as well as all of the Directors at Strategic Proposal are). Formal proposal training also allows participants to review, refine and add to one’s skills and knowledge, as well as to interact with fellow proposal people. IT is just not possible to get such experience on the job.
A side note, people often comment on how well behaved Jack is and ask how they can get their dogs to behave as well. My standard answer is, “It’s easy. All you have to do is train every day, seven days a week for the life of your dog.” While I say this somewhat jokingly, it is a true statement. We work with Jack constantly and at every opportunity. When I put Jack through his paces to show someone how well he responds, my real intent is to provide training and to keep him sharp. Also, when Jack and Oliver were recently both in a doggie 5-Star kennel while Carol and I were on vacation they both received training on a daily basis, again to keep them sharp and well behaved. (If you’ve ever had your dog in a kennel for a weekly you’ll know they can come out with some back habits.). I offer this to point out that it is the same with proposal training. You don’t just attend a class and then you’re trained. The true proposal professional attends training on a regular basis. Our most enlightened clients provide a full curriculum for their staff, as well as supporting their attending APMP events.
*I should have known I’d be upstaged by Jack. After all, who can compete with a cute, fun loving pooch, right? After I had presented at each of the conferences, the greetings I received from attendees were no longer, “Hi BJ. I enjoyed your presentation” or something to that affect. Instead, if Jack was with me, I’d be ignored and the person or persons would exclaim, “Hi Jack” and give him all sorts of attention. If Jack wasn’t with me I’d be asked, “Where’s Jack?” It was quite obvious who they really came to see.