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Understanding Russian Soul

Few top American business consultants take a risk to work in former Soviet Union. Frank Pucelik is one of them being one of the leading experts in business trainings, PR and advertising in the world. It’s been already 20 years since he started conducting trainings and seminars in Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Kazakhstan.

The phrase addressed to a little inadequate “nouveau riche” by Marvin Brown, the famous founder of “McKinsey”: “The main obstacle for your business is you” has left its mark in the history of business in the world.
Frank Pucelik, whose achievements in business consulting are barely fewer than those of Brown, is also quite eloquent. He himself admits semi-jokingly: “Sometimes you don’t even need the trainings, all you need is to tell the leader or the owner the bitter truth”. Once he was asked to carry out the training program on motivation for loaders. The owner of the trade company was complaining that his employees were too rude with the clients. Having seen the warehouse and talked to the employees, Mr. Pucelik decided to turn down the request. He explained his decision to the owner of the company saying: “In your case there is absolutely no program on motivation that could work. The fact is that working conditions the loaders are working in are dangerous for health. They aren’t wearing special uniform, in winter one of them got his fingers frozen because he had to work without gloves on. The room which was supposed to serve for rest or smoking breaks, was once turned into a warehouse, and had been a warehouse ever since. What would these people think when they find out why I’m here? They’ll say: All right, the company seems to have money to hire American trainer but doesn’t have any money to create normal working conditions? Any program aimed at personnel begins from securing safe and comfortable working conditions”. Another time when Mr. Pucelik was asked to figure out why the company which had really took off initially, at certain point stopped developing, gave a rough verdict: disorganized owner, who affected work. What’s interesting, he was right. Once there was almost ridiculous case: company started improving once the floors got washed better following Mr. Pucelik’s advice.
FIRST BASE – “EXCELLENT STUDY”. Frank Pucelik’s success is based on two things. The first, simple and solid is education. He himself has never hidden the fact that he’s a keen learner. In 1969 he finished Southwestern college in California where he was named the best student on numerous occasions. In 1971–1975 he studied psychology and political sciences in Santa-Cruz University (California). There in 1977 he finished post-graduate studies in “psychology and education” with a bachelor degree in humanitarian sciences. Then he devoted 3 years – from 1979 to 1982 – to studying psychology and organizational behavior in the International College in LA. In 1980–1982 he carried out professional research in the field of clinic psychology and epistemology at the Institute of transacted analysis in San Diego.
“I’ve been a professional trainer and consultant for over 30 years. About a half of my experience lies in the field of psycho technologies, the other half in developing and applying training programs on organizational behavior, I’m also a corporate consultant, mostly in leadership development and solving conflicts”, – writes Mr. Pucelik about himself. He admits that he had chosen psychology as his profession because he himself had grown up in a family atmosphere far from being comfortable: “As a kid I realized that good families are too few compared to the bad ones. Later I understood that people who’ve achieved success have a happy background and come out of complete families”. Basically American families that had spoilt kids used to go to psycho therapist. As a rule these kids ran away from home, had criminal record, used alcohol and drugs, demonstrated aggressive behavior, attacking even their parents and relatives and finally got out of control completely. Such a path had a threat of ending up in crime for sure. “As a rule, – admits Mr. Pucelik – I had to deal with the most difficult cases when other professionals gave up unable to provide qualified help.
SECOND BASE – NLP Already then, claims Mr. Pucelik, he was successfully using a set of therapeutic skills and styles which became the basis of the NLP methodology. It’s the second base that builds success for our character.
Frank Pucelik: “Method which I used in NLP is called “pacing”. It means that with each member of the family I tried to speak their own language”.
In practice Mr. Pucelik formed one of the main principles of his work: “Most psychologists choose certain school of psychotherapy and prefer to work in that style only. But every family and each patient has its own style, its own unique bunch of problems. If I am really a good psychotherapist, I would be “adjusting” my style of work to the family or particular individual, I just create my own brand new style that ideally fits this situation. Many psychologists on the contrary “adjust” the family to their therapy and often fail because of that”.
It must be said that Mr. Pucelik was lucky to certain extent. He was working and studying in Santa-Cruz University in California exactly at the time when a group of scientists led by John Grinder and Richard Bandler started studying and developing the field of practical psychology, which was later called NLP.
Our character took an active part in the seminars and experiments of those talented scientists. However scientific theory is one thing and practical reality is totally different. The language of NLP was miles away from being transferred in more specific spheres which is business training, for example. Mr. Pucelik took care of it and did it on his own. His experience of a family therapist came to the fore here as well university experience. Such disciplines as political science, socionics, econometrics, solving conflicts and other subjects proved useful s well. He started conducting business seminars first in the USA, then worldwide. Now he’s one of the most highly-paid and wanted consultants. He himself told us that long before becoming a professor he used to panic whenever he had to speak publicly. His friends and colleagues John Grinder and Richard Bandler gave him quite an eccentric advice: “during a year from now you have to look like a complete idiot 5 minutes of every lecture”. And every time it had to be done differently. Perhaps they were kidding but Mr. Pucelik followed their recommendation. And during a year every time he was in front of an audience he stumbled, fell down, dropped microphone, chewed on words, spilt coffee etc. A year later his fears disappeared because he’d already demonstrated the worst things imaginable.
Now Frank Pucelik is cooperating with Russian businesses. Each training program gathers target audience and is meticulously planned, whether it’s a 2-month course or a short week-end” seminar. Mr. Pucelik claims that everyone has to take into account opinions of others thousand times – opinions of employer, wife, husband, mother-in-law and children - and commit 999 mistakes. Someone applies for a job driven by his own motivation. However, he should know something about the motivation of his future boss, his secretary and other employees, everyone he’ll be cooperating with. Thus, certain behavior should be chosen that would be acceptable for everybody. And you won’t get by without qualified assistance. Without knowledge of an “art of management struggle” business and leadership skills won’t be complete. Staff audit helps to estimate current state and potential of the company, come up with specific recommendations on staff management for each level. Most often top managers will offer to fill in the application form -test – with the basic evaluation of the needs of the company. Before starting the trainings, Mr. Pucelik thoroughly studies activities and image of the company that he’s considering to start cooperating with. Normally professional evaluation of business takes 2 to 4 days and includes interviewing about 20 employees working on different levels of the hierarchy and in different departments of the company. Mr. Pucelik chooses candidates himself and schedules the meetings with them. That’s followed by profound discussions with top managers.
Finishing all the interviews and discussions, he conducts a summarizing seminar discussing preliminary conclusions that auditors of the consulting companies had made. As a result consultants provide detailed written report on the condition of the company describing all the problem areas and the influence they have on the productivity of business. That includes the list of recommendations on solving existing problems.
The goal of such business training is to teach how to understand and use negative and positive power, “growth ladder”, how to translate information from one motive language into the other maximize productivity. To be able to achieve positive results yourself, you need to pay attention to the experience of others. A good example to follow is the success that the big business stars have. And it isn’t just a theory, rather a mono performance.
Mr. Pucelik is actively using tests, games and puzzles. He communicates with the audience directly and always tries to establish “feedback”. Those who have attended Mr. Pucelik’s business trainings think that Hollywood is missing another great actor and that his artistic group exercises aren’t just business seminars, they are celebrations, celebrations with “long-term consequences”. Something that you still have long after the training program is over?

/magazine “Trainings in business” / #6 / April 2006

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