Christy Rogers on Saying “Yes” to Growth Opportunities
CEO & Founder
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Founder | Lead Instructor
Christy Rogers, founder and lead instructor at Training Umbrella, shares how taking advantage of new experiences can result in new connections, learning opportunities and professional growth.
“Everybody's busy, but just be willing to say ‘yes,’ and if you do get the opportunity to go somewhere, bring someone with you.”
Alana Muller: Welcome to Enterprise.ing, a podcast from Enterprise Bank & Trust that's empowering business leaders one conversation at a time. We'll hear from different business leaders about how they've found success in cultivating their professional networks and keeping them healthy and strong. I'm your host, Alana Muller, an entrepreneurial executive leader whose primary focus is to connect, inspire and empower community. We at Enterprise Bank & Trust thank you for tuning in to another episode.
Hello, listeners. Welcome back to Enterprise.ing podcast. I'm so excited to introduce you today to my friend, Christy Rogers. Christy is the founder and lead instructor at Training Umbrella, which specializes in teaching Microsoft and Google applications along with providing computer lab and event space rentals. She's been involved in the planning and training of multiple software migrations in the Kansas City area and across the United States. Christy is a Google certified individual and Microsoft Certified Trainer. She believes that knowing the technology is not the same as knowing how to teach it. Please join me in welcoming Christy Rogers. Christy, hello. Welcome.
Christy Rogers: Hi. Thank you for having me.
Alana Muller: Well, I'm so glad to have you on the program. I want you to start by telling our listeners about Training Umbrella and your motivation for starting the company.
Christy Rogers: Absolutely. Some people are surprised to find that I'm actually a teacher by trade. My background was not in IT, it was actually in the classroom. I started out with a degree from Kansas State University and then I went on to teach at Lawrence High School for a couple years so that was kind of fun, but really my goal was to always be in and surrounded by education. I just loved to learn. Then I ended up getting a minor in business applications which has served me well. When I started Training Umbrella, I wanted to offer quality in person training, which is kind of funny now since we're now on Zoom and doing all these things but that's really how it started.
Alana Muller: Not quite what you originally envisioned, is it?
Christy Rogers: No, but it's definitely grown from there. But it really was just a love for education and a love for just the computer applications and they went really well together.
Alana Muller: I mean, isn't that cool that you were able to kind of marry those two things that you liked so well? And kind of speaking of this... People call it the new normal or the hybrid world we're living in. I know that at your facility you've made accommodations so that it really can be hybrid learning. Tell us a little bit more about that.
Christy Rogers: Absolutely. I would say like many business owners, we were thrown into that bucket of uncertainty in that year of 2020, that spring time. We knew that we had already had our foot in the door with some virtual training but not quite like what we do now. We spent... When I say we, my husband, Jason and I, are business partners, and we spent a lot of time and money and effort figuring out, "Okay. Which camera works best with 20 people in the room and they can still walk around and be on camera? Oh, and then by the way we have five people in Portland, 10 people in St. Louis but they're all in the same room." That took some time but I feel like we're pretty good at it now, so it was just trial and error.
Alana Muller: Yeah. Well, I mean, gosh, I think it's so necessary now to actually understand how that all works so I admire you for doing it. One of the main drivers behind Enterprise.ing podcast is to really learn about how people interact with others, how do you build relationships. You are, I know, an expert at this so I want you to share with us how do you actively manage your network?
Christy Rogers: Well, it's changed over the time. I would say if I was thinking back to when I started the company and it was me, myself and a couple clients, I felt that I really only had two jobs. It was either teaching or shaking hands and if it wasn't one of those two things then it wasn't on my list. It wasn't always easy, but I feel like you really have to focus, especially when you're building and you're building and you're building. Then I would say fast forward, I have really found a couple of good organizations, or I should say associations, that fit me and that fit our company well, and I just don't attend. I volunteer, I've sat on the board so I've kind of immersed myself into these organizations. One is called ATD, which I think you might be familiar with, the Association for Talent Development, and they've got a Kansas City chapter. Then recently I joined NAWBO Kansas City, which is also a big organization for National Association of Women Business Owners. We are 100% women owned and so I feel that that's important for me to be... Surround myself with the same type of people, give back also. I'm always still learning. Again, it's really changed over the time of how I spend my time in network but I would say I've always been intentional about it.
Alana Muller: Yeah. I love that. I like how you were talking about that just you see yourself as a learner, you want to be around others who are learners. For me, you know that I've had the privilege of leading several trainings in your offices over at Training Umbrella. Talk a little bit about your observations about the type of people who come to Training Umbrella. They're learners, too. Again, from kind of a network building perspective, what makes them unique? What do you see about people who come to learn?
Christy Rogers: Well, they always want more. There's something there that they're trying to better themselves, just for pure nature of themselves, they want a promotion within... There's always something there. It could be a company offering or they know, "Hey, I've got to get X, Y and Z skills before I could even qualify for that position for..." A lot of times, I think it's people who are wanting more. We service a lot of different kinds of people, someone who might be in the staffing agency, healthcare, banking. It's just such a variety, which is really fun for me because it's just never boring. It's always somebody different. But I would say that, Alana, that it's just... People who walk into our room, they're usually ready. They're ready to absorb and they want something else, something more.
Alana Muller: Well, I mean, we know adult learners are unique because you're right, they want more. They are there to learn. I know that when I do my trainings, I try to think about the type of adult learner I have there. I know that some of them are going to be focused on sort of their listening skills, others it'll be much more tactile, others it'll be visual. It seems that you've been able to provide your clientele with all three. Especially, again, back to that whole hybrid nature, I think that you have to sort of understand what the customer wants and connect with them in that way.
Christy Rogers: Absolutely. You nailed it, that very last thing you said about what your customer wants, because I think that's what brought us through the pandemic, is reaching out to our current clients and saying, "All right. What do you guys need now? You don't need the training or you don't need the training room." We just had some great clients that said, "Well, we are trying to do X. We haven't done that before but would you be willing to help us?" I'm like, "Sure, we haven't done that either but let's see if we can figure it out."
Alana Muller: Yeah. I like that, "We'll dive in together [inaudible 00:08:02] until we get it right." That's so great. Talk a little bit about how you make your networking connections mutually beneficial. How do you give back? How do you show that mutual appreciation?
Christy Rogers: Sure. I would bet that you would imagine since we've got training rooms, physical rooms as well, we do and can and are excited to help some associations that might have a lower budget. They could be nonprofit, we've also helped up some brand new entrepreneurs, which is also near and dear to my heart, and they don't always want something for free which is kind of interesting, is they want to pay for it but they're like, "Hey, can you help me here or how did you do this, or..." It's nice to be able to offer our space but also just a nice conversation of, "How did you do that?" I feel in that sense, giving back... That's a no-brainer. We should be doing that because we have that ability.
I would say more on purpose would be when you meet that particular client. For example, I'm going to namedrop, you might be familiar with Umzuzu. They are a of phenomenal group of team, employees, owners that are really kind of in the cloud space. They can offer out Google seats, if you will, or Microsoft seats. They're just an amazing company. We use them personally, I'll throw that out there, but they have also approached us at times to say, "Hey, we're going to be training X individuals. Can you help us with that?" "Absolutely." We've built that partnership where, "Yes, thank you, we'll help you." But, man, I send as many people as I can to them because I trust them, they know what they're doing, they're so smart and here I am. Whoever listens to this podcast, I hope you look them up.
Alana Muller: Yeah. Well, I mean, certainly that's mutual appreciation. I also like kind of the... Oh, I guess I would call it a bidirectional consultative approach to a partnership where you are learning from one another's expertise, as you described, referring one another out and, as you know, there is no better marketing tool than referrals from people that you trust. I just think that's fabulous. That makes a ton of sense. What advice would you share with someone who wants to grow or cultivate their own network?
Christy Rogers: Yeah, I could think of a couple things. Again, I'm thinking back to that time where it was either teaching or shaking hands, is be willing to say yes. I know we're all busy. I get it. I worked full-time, kids... I mean, there's always something. Everybody's busy, but just be thinking about being willing to say yes and if you do get the opportunity to go somewhere, bring someone with you. I feel that's always helped me a lot, is I will either bring someone I wish I knew more, I'll go pick them up, or someone that I feel like, "I think they could really benefit from this." That's kind of the give back attitude, but those are really the two things, is just being willing to say yes, get out, bring someone. It's much more fun that way.
Alana Muller: Oh, yeah. I mean, I think I like that buddy system when it comes to events. You don't have to stay together the whole time, in fact I hope that you don't. I hope you go and divide and conquer and then come back together and then go divide and conquer again, but, I mean, I really like that. It's such a... I think it makes everybody a little more comfortable when they go to networking events and, you're right, it is certainly a way to encourage people to get out there and to support them in their efforts to network. That's a great idea. Great idea. Well, so speaking of that, talk about at least one interaction that you've had with a person that resulted in a breakthrough for you either personally or professionally.
Christy Rogers: Gosh, that's pretty funny. The one that comes to mind actually makes me laugh at myself a little bit. I'm going to open up here, but this is probably about 10 years ago. I can remember the day because it was such an amazing outcome, but it was one of those days where you want to work from home, you're not quite ready yet for the day, you're kind of hiding behind your computer, you're just kind of having a lower energy day, let's just put it that way. But I was networking on LinkedIn, I was searching for some companies that I thought might benefit from our training services, and you know when you click on someone on LinkedIn, they can see that you've clicked on their profile?
Alana Muller: Oh, yeah.
Christy Rogers: Right?
Alana Muller: I'm liking where this is going. Go on.
Christy Rogers: Okay. I clicked on this gals profile, her name was Sue and she's a training coordinator for one of the larger engineering companies in the Kansas City area. For me, minus 10 years ago... I mean, this was kind of a out of my comfort zone type thing, but what was interesting is then I saw that she looked at my profile and she said, "Hey, let's connect." I was just having the time of my life. I said, "Okay, here's my chance." So I messaged her and said, "Thank you so much for connecting. I would love to drop by my business card." That was kind of my thing at the time, was like, "Hey, if I can just swing by, drop my business card." She goes, "Sure, I'm free today."
Alana Muller: Oh.
Christy Rogers: I'm like, "Oh, you mean right now? But I'm not ready." Part of me... It was the immaturity of me of saying, "Oh my gosh, today?" But you know what? I hopped up, got my stuff on, got in the car and, of course, I was "in the area". I drove by and she was so wonderful. She sat with me for about 15 minutes in the lobby. She just was so kind and introduced herself. I never won her business but we are friends to this day and she's the one who introduced me to ATD. She was the one who said-
Alana Muller: Oh, wow.
Christy Rogers: Yeah. She was like, "Hey, you need to go check this organization out." And so I did. I could talk for hours about ATD, but she was the light that said, "Hey, go check them out." Again, never knew that would happen, I wasn't feeling it that day but just that on purpose chance meeting really made a difference.
Alana Muller: Oh, that's such a great story. I appreciate that you said you haven't won her business, and I would say yet. You haven't won her business yet, and yet you are friends, she's been a difference maker. Her suggestion led you to something that has been meaningful in your life, I suspect not just for business reasons but for personal growth and advancement and probably a lot of community and social interactions that you might not otherwise have had the opportunity to have, so what a great story.
Christy Rogers: Mm-hmm. For sure. We've swapped stories about, like you said, personal stuff now and trainer stories and it's just one of those amazing relationships now.
Alana Muller: Very cool. I love that story. I know at one point you and I were both active in the same organized networking cohort and that we met on a monthly basis. I imagine, though, that like me some of your networking is part of a formal group like that networking cohort or ATD and NAWBO that you're involved with now and that other interactions, though, are more organic in nature, one-on-one. How have you... I guess what I would say is in what context has each approach proven beneficial for you and to your contacts?
Christy Rogers: Gosh. Yeah. There is that idea of, "I'm going out and I'm networking and I'm meeting new people." Then there's the part of, "I ran into this lady in the hallway and we just started talking and she needs Excel training." I'm just making that up, but it definitely can go each way. But I do believe there's something about... You can get the unintentional networking but you have to be a little deliberate about it for it to be unintentional. I don't know if I'm making sense on there, but of course I've... Like I said, you've mentioned you've got... I'm going to my meetings, I've got all these things scheduled, but I also feel that having a plan for me is really the way to go, or hope is not a business plan for me, right?
Alana Muller: Correct.
Christy Rogers: It's like, I have it but...
Alana Muller: When you talk about sort of being intentional, maybe it is just sort being open to the possibility of connecting with somebody so just open-mindedness. Maybe that's what is intentional about it, even... And despite it being organic, maybe it may not be planned or orchestrated in some way but you're open to it, you're listening for it, you're looking for it.
Christy Rogers: Right. I don't know if that falls into the area of small talk where some people say, "Oh, I hate small talk, or..." But it is, it's one of those things where you can strike up a conversation with someone unintentionally and then it just leads to something that you never knew it could.
Alana Muller: Yeah, it blossoms. I mean, I would say small talk is not much fun, but if you ask questions and you actually want to know the answer and you're actually listening to the answer and then you can contribute something back, that's more of a conversation than small talk. I think that's great. I think that makes a lot of sense. If you could meet with anybody, one person, for a cup of coffee or whatever you like, who would it be and why? Living, not living, fictional, nonfictional? Who would it be?
Christy Rogers: Really kind of put me on the spot here. I'll go with kind of what popped in my head, and it's someone that probably nobody knows. Her name is Esther Lacey. She was my grandmother and she... I know this is not business-wise, but she lived in such a life to where she was such a strong female figure, and I don't think she knew it until time went on. Again, that's another whole podcast, but she just... I really admire how she had some difficulties and her husband was off in World War II, that kind of timing, and came back, got married, raised a family and she had her own business at home. She was a seamstress, so she was herself an entrepreneur. But yeah, I would say I'd love to sit back down with her now that I'm older and talk with her.
Alana Muller: So you knew you? You did know her?
Christy Rogers: Oh yes. I knew her very well, but she's been gone for a while and I think a lot has changed so I'd love to pick her brain some more.
Alana Muller: Yeah. Be fun to get her insights and-
Christy Rogers: Oh, definitely.
Alana Muller: ... what made her an entrepreneur, right?
Christy Rogers: Right, right.
Alana Muller: I mean, especially in that time for a woman. I think it's courageous and innovative. I think that's very cool. What a great answer. All right, one more fun question. What's currently on your nightstand?
Christy Rogers: Well, I just finished a book called The Flight Girls. It's about... Speaking of World War II, it's about female pilots during World War II but it is historical fiction. That's what I like. That's what I thrive on. I love historical fiction to where I'm getting a history lesson but then they wrap up all the gooey stuff with it.
Alana Muller: Yeah. I love that genre, too. That's great.
Christy Rogers: Yeah. Then I'm in the middle... I've kind of just started one called A Column of Fire it's by Ken Follett. He was one who was on Oprah Book Club like 30 years ago and he talked about Pillars of the Earth. I think that's where he got started.
Alana Muller: Yeah, Pillars of the Earth.
Christy Rogers: That's right.
Alana Muller: A must read.
Christy Rogers: Yeah. So he's the guy, and he's just... Again, he does a ton of historical fiction and makes it so interesting.
Alana Muller: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I loved Pillars of the Earth. It's funny, our family traveled to Spain last year and we visited La Sagrada Familia, the cathedral that's in Barcelona that has been under construction for over a hundred years.
Christy Rogers: [inaudible 00:20:02].
Alana Muller: It's very Ken Follett of it.
Christy Rogers: Very cool, very cool.
Alana Muller: Right, right, right. Well, Christy, it's been so much fun to visit with you and to reconnect. Tell our listeners where they can go to learn more about you and about Training Umbrella.
Christy Rogers: Yes. I would say our website is probably the best. You can learn about us as who works there and we've got a great crew. You can learn more about our services and how we can reach out, but just trainingumbrella.com.
Alana Muller: Terrific. Christy Rogers, thanks so much for being on Enterprise.ing podcast.
Christy Rogers: Yeah. Thank you.
Alana Muller: Thanks for joining us this week on Enterprise.ing. Be sure to visit our website, enterprisebank.com/podcast to subscribe so you'll never miss an episode. If you found value in today's program, please consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or telling a friend about us. Enterprise.ing, powering business leaders one conversation at a time.
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