My name: Christopher Goodsell
My company: ILX. Interactive Learning Experience
My title: CEO
My location: Roswell, Georgia
Best business advice I ever received: I have two! The first is general life advice that I apply to business every day. It is: “Help people get what or where they want, and they’ll help you get what and where you want.”
The second is: “You know nothing, and you're full of it.” I can explain this in more detail. We’re always listening for desired outcomes. In life people say things like, “I want more money,” but that’s not actually their desired outcome. What they really want is what they perceive more money will get them, such as freedom or security.
In business we are always searching for the exact outcome we are looking to produce. If we’re teaching soft skills like customer service, for example, what’s the real result that we are looking for? Happy customers? Sure, but that’s not really it. What do happy customers do? They provide repeat business, referrals, and word of mouth. We are actually training customer service reps to create advocates that will actively share their great experiences. That’s a small but significant difference.
The “we know nothing” part applies to everything we do. It’s so easy to fall back on what we have done in the past. Past experiences and projects are great, but they also dramatically limit what is possible. The question we ask ourselves all the time is: “If we were to start this today knowing nothing, then what would be the best possible way to create the desired outcome?”
Here is an example: A rental company recently had issues with large screen TVs getting damaged during delivery. They were about to train their delivery people on how to deliver the TVs without damaging them. Instead, one of the drivers suggested that they simply offer a bonus for TVs that were delivered undamaged. The problem was resolved immediately, without any need for training. It was an elegant and innovative solution.
Most daring personal career move: Starting my own company at 21 years of age. I got a job as a junior graphic designer straight out of school. I worked at the company for six months and then left with two of the directors to start our own design agency, with me as the head of design. It was a very scary and gutsy move. I was perhaps too young and naive to realize at the time just how big a move it was. Anyway, it worked out. Four years later, I actually returned to the other company to run it!
What I’m most proud of: Something of great importance to me is that I personally, and we as a company, regularly give back. With that in mind, we started the Starfish Fund. There’s a story about a guy throwing stranded starfish back into the ocean, one by one. There are hundreds of them and he cannot possibly help them all, but he can help one at a time.
So every month at ILX we take a percentage of the profit and contribute it to a local cause. We have paid medical bills, bought supplies for elderly people, and sponsored homeless people and families. The cause is always something very apparent and close to home. Like the starfish, we cannot help everyone but we can make a difference for some. We LOVE doing that.
Current workplace challenge: Finding “ligers.” A liger is the perfect blend of a lion and a tiger, but bigger and better than either of them individually. We are always looking for great ligers to join our team, but we’re uniquely creative and very hands-on. We tend to hire people who have a broad range of experience and ability, and who excel at all of it. They can be difficult to find.
In the past we have used instructional designers, graphic designers, and developers to produce eLearning. We don’t do that anymore. Now all of our instructional designers are highly technical; they can all develop in Storyline, Lectora, or Camtasia, and they are all brilliant graphically. We pride ourselves on integrating visual communication and strong graphic design principles in everything we do to engage learners on all levels. Our clients report an average of 40 percent increase in course participation and engagement, as well as a sharp uptick in successful completion and retention over time. We don’t compromise, and we focus on excellence at every stage. It can be difficult to find people who can truly play at this level.
Something people don’t know about me: I love to sing, and I’m about to turn 50. One of my bucket list items is to sing with a jazz band on my 50th birthday. Good or bad, I am trying to make that happen.