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A Trainer from the Boulevard des Capuchines

(similar to the famous Soviet "Western" movie – "A Man from the Boulevard des Capuchines")

            In the previous magazine issue (? 6), we published an article about the famous American psychologist and trainer Frank Pucelik. Then we could not even suggest that in few days he will arrive to Moscow and agree to an exclusive interview for «TvB».
            This man experienced a lot. He passed through the mill. He was in the war-field, worked as lumberman, created a new trend in psychology, beheld the depth of business and helped create several trade empires. In manners and habits he is much alike a Russian bear, though being an American by birth. His life flows between three cities (Kiev, Odessa, Moscow) and two countries (Russia and Ukraine). He has been living in the former Soviet Union for more than a decade now, because he believes these countries have a great future. This man is Frank Pucelik

             - Frank, should the trainer, who conducts business-trainings, be a businessman himself? Or can he teach people basing on «pure theory»? 
             - I do not think it is necessary to be a businessman in the present, but he should have business experience in the past. In my opinion, it is very important.
             - What business experience do you personally have? When you talk about different business models, people really trust you. It’s like being present at a seminar of business tycoon...
             - I have a wide experience. I was a consultant at various companies and I had my own business. I have never created huge corporations; the maximum number of employees in my company was up to 25 people. Several times I was engaged in management development in organizations where there were 100, maybe 120 employees. As consultant I have worked with companies of different sizes. This is a wonderful and diverse experience. 
            - What companies were these? What was their niche?
            - I helped other companies find business partners. Managed investments in Russia, Ukraine, Mexico, Lithuania and Kazakhstan. Prepared the program of work with youth with alcohol and drug addiction. Found money, finance, personnel for these programs... 
             I was the head of the Department of «Metroproduct» for a little bit more than a year. Furniture, food, clothing for children... Worked for Crimea companies for three years - supermarkets and hypermarkets network, which operates in this country.
              Before that, I have been working in various positions for U.S. companies for 25 years. I had a small business with one employee, my son, for a long time. He is a professional racer, and I was traveling with him throughout the country for five years as his producer. 
             It happens that from time to time I like to forget about intellectual work and become a real part of a real company. For example, I have worked in the logging company in America for two years. 
             - As a lumberman?
            - Yes. A real lumberman. I was driving tractors and wheel trucks, was cutting trees, doing repairers. I wanted to explore this business from the very beginning, from the foundation. And during several years, I have persistently been going up the hierarchical ladder.
               Once I went on a year and a half vacation and worked in flooring production. Tiles, granite, marble... I had been making floors like this (Pucelik shows the floor in the lobby of hotel «Sovetskaya» we are at - author). But I did it much better... 
               When I became a business -consultant, I realized that it is necessary to thoroughly know the real profession, to do real things, to be able to manage people in the real business of real companies. It is always interesting to know how it looks from the inside. 
                I always start with zero position and work until I can do my job as well as those for whom it is the main profession. I can easily crawl pouring cement floors. It is not shameful for me, I have already done that. I did that without favors, without privileges. When I work with other people, they do not know who I am. They do not know that I am a famous business consultant with a world reputation. For them I am just another guy willing to find work. And it is really so, because this is the only way I can figure out what real work is. And I think this is the support, which helps me to be a good consultant.
             And when some simple worker “growls” at me: «Well, you do not know how it really is!» - it does not work. I know. I did this job, I know what it is.

             - Frank, is business in Russia fundamentally different from American business?
             - Yes and no. Bad companies are the same everywhere. In America, there are enough bad companies, trust me. But the overall percentage of the efficiency there is much higher. Competition there is more intense. You just have to be the first there in order to survive. 
             The Russian market is still developing, even though very quickly. And the percentage of good companies is growing. It happens faster in densely populated territories like St. Petersburg, Moscow, Nizhniy Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk, Chita.
             - Have you been to all those cities?
             - Yes. I used to traveled a lot around the country. All these cities are rising up at the speed of rockets! It is just incredible! So far, less competitive companies in Russia survive, but these niches are already closing. And it is good. For today Russia and America are two different worlds. But these worlds are rapidly converging. These two countries have a lot in common. For me it's surprising, but yet it is true. They are incredibly similar: culture, architecture, people... America and Russia are like two sisters.
               We are very similar and very different from the rest of the world. In a few years, you will go out to the street, and it would be difficult to realize whether you are in San Francisco or in Nizhniy Novgorod, in Illinois or in Saratov... The same advertisements, the same cars, the same people. We become each other. This is unbelievable. 
              - Can good business education, for example, your trainings, make a good businessman of any person who wants to learn or not?
             - Not absolutely anybody, but the vast majority. If a person is willing to learn, the chance for success is 99%. Business is a skill. People learn skills if they have the desire and opportunity. It is the same in sports and arts. Work with those who can learn, and in 10 years you will become a leader. Desire, discipline and a good coach - these are the basic components. I love tennis. Look at Marat Safin, Evgeniy Kafelnikov. These people are not the most physically gifted people in the world. Normal guys, but incredibly devoted. Not the most gifted achieve success, but the most persistent. You just have to find a master who will teach you at the highest level, and be committed to learning.
             - Can good business training replace standard education? 
             - Yes, absolutely. But under certain reservation. The better your education is, the more experience you have, the more chances you get. You will be able to do business. You will be able to become the best. You will become more successful only if you have good background. 
             However, there is large number of businesspeople, who do not know the theory. For example, in «Microsoft». What is the strategy of appropriation of the company? How to operate in the market of subcontractors? What market is best for investing? They know nothing about it at the level of theory, only practice. And they are efficient.

             - Frank, for how long have you already been conducting trainings? 
             - Business trainings - since 1973. Common trainings - since 1967.
             - How many people have passed through your training programs? 
             - Thousands. Many thousands. Probably about 50 thousand. 
             - Frank Pucelik himself is already a real University... 
              - Yes, you can say so. I carefully selected the information I teach. I threw away those things that I did not like long ago. Plus, teaching is fun. I like it when people are excited with learning. I experience delight and enthusiasm with them.
              Now I no longer need to think about the material. I know it by heart. I just join the group and lead it where it needs to go... Each training I do, is different from others. The material is the same, but...different speech, different sequence, different examples... Because people are different. The audience tells me what the training will be like. My goal is to do what people want. They are conductors, I am the performer.
              - What you are your major themes and programs today?
             - Leadership. Management. Meetings. Planning. Motivation. Professional communication. Teambuilding. Ropes course.
              This is what I do for business. And there are seminars curing souls. Programs for youth aimed at getting rid of drug addiction. I enjoy the fact that after the program former drug addicts are willing to live a full life, are ready to create families and work... 
              Now I work with four rehabilitation centers, one in Podolsk, one near Tula and two in the Ukraine. I love helping young guys who happened to get on the drug «hook». This is in my competence, I can cope with that. I love to break their old limited model of the world and help them become people who are valuable for themselves and for others. This is my passion.
             - Frank, are you a happy person?
            - In general I am. I am pleased with myself. I am pleased with my attitude to life. There are goals I have not yet accomplished, but I really want to achieve them. And it inspires me: I am happy, I am successful, I live in a wonderful place. I do things I like. I want to open 50 rehabilitation centers for drug addicts in Ukraine and 50 in Russia. Now a great number of young people need help. But we do not help them, we let them die. It is awful to see how young people die. They deserve more. This is what I am unhappy about. But...I shall do it. We shall do it. Soon I will have 20 people working for me, and they will create miracles. Modern psychology allows it. 


Magazine «Trainings in Business» ? 7, May 2006

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