4 personal memories of Bob De Groof

Tomorrow the Belgian media and learning world will say goodbye to Bob De Groof, deceased earlier this week. Much has been shared and said about Bob this week via Twitter and at the end of this post, I will direct you to those “in memoriams”. If you knew Bob, I invite you to think of him tomorrow morning and if you want to know how I knew him, read on…


Read the 2005 article “Wie is Bob De Groof?” from De Standaard  and you will see that by the time I was watching Star Wars for the first time, Bob had already done so much as a media-man in Belgium. I can’t add anything to his career notes, as I simply don’t know enough. I just wanted to share 4 of my own Bob stories, to share what Bob means to me. These stories remind me of an inspiration, an industry standard and one of the world’s last true gentlemen.


Bob is an early morning chat about what’s important in life, about following your dreams.

I first met Bob in 2006 at Logica, when I hired his “Presentation Skills” training services with Kluwer. As “Training and Development Manager” of that company, I was looking for the highest standard of trainer to help the top managers in the company to improve their ability to pitch, tell a story and sell a solution. Enter Bob. At 7.30am.

Aside from me and Bob, no-one was generally around at that time in the office, so we got to chatting. (Don’t tell my ex-boss!). In fact, every time Bob would come to Logica, we would spend about an hour before the working day waxing lyrical about everything from the day’s news to my kids or his, travel or everyday stuff. One day, I told him I wanted to be a “Presentation Skills” trainer myself and he encouraged me to follow my professional dreams. If I wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing, I should change it. Simple as that. Extremely polite and “correct” in his speech, I found in Bob a certain “direct authority” combined with the kind of objective but caring friendliness you might expect from a favourite uncle.

Bob is one of 3 or 4 people that really inspired me to make the decision to go it alone and do my thing. I’m very grateful.


Bob will always be THE standard. The point of reference for excellence in his domain.

At the end of the very first training Bob delivered at Logica, 2 of the manager/participants came to see me. I was worried. Had I made a mistake? Did Barbara Verscheuren sell me a dud? Far from it! They came to tell me that it was amazing to have such a trainer. “How could one man have SO MUCH experience to share?” Despite their years of pitching business, Bob was able to bring real value and improve their presentations. He was a master in “Presentation Skills”.

Jump forward to 2010: Kluwer asked me to pick up some of Bob’s training. What a compliment! I remember telling my wife that I (yes, little me!) had been asked to take over for Bob. (Yes, for Bob!!). I never pretended to be able to fill his shoes, but I was damn-well going to do my best to fly his flag high! I still am.


Bob makes you feel good about being whatever you are.

That’s a rare talent, I think. I do know one other person who comes close, but its still rare. When I was with Bob, I felt like I was the most important person in the world. Not because I was, but because he made me feel like I was. I don’t know if he consciously made an effort to find and tap-into the things that made people tick, if he knew he did it and did it on purpose, or if that’s just Bob. But it was the same everytime.

In particular, I remember one evening where all the Kluwer trainers got together on a barge in Leuven for a cooking party. As I left the boat, I bumped into Bob and Helena Van Caekenberge from Kluwer. Seeing me, Bob announced: “Ah, the rising star of Kluwer”. Again, I went home and told my wife. What a compliment!


Bob makes you raise your own standards. Or wear different shoes 🙂

As I already said, Bob De Groof was an excellent trainer. You follow his course, you improve. Simple. But it doesn’t stop there..

Last year, I was invited by Kluwer to speak at their evening Trainer’s Lounge on the usage of “Social Media for Training”. I saw Bob just before, dressed (as ever) in his suit and tie. Having myself had the day off, I was dressed in what I call my “Zuckerberg plus-1” conference look of jeans, trainers and a shirt (the shirt being the “plus-1”). Having always been troubled by how one should dress for a presentation, I shared my thoughts on the topic and asked Bob what he thought. His reply was simple: “Always dress a little bit better than the audience. And at least wear a nice pair of shoes.”

I can’t say do the first part, but I definitively swapped the trainers for a good pair of shoes the very next day.


So that’s “my” Bob: An inspiration, THE standard, a motivator and all round smart gentleman.

If you want to share your own ideas, please comment below.

Thanks for reading.


If you want to read more, here’s a selection of this week’s “in memoriams’:



Leadership competences (as noted by recent trainees)

Here is the post-it note list my recent trainees made about leadership competences over my 4 day course with Kluwer. Split into knowledge, skills and attitude…


Knowledge – a good leader should know..

  • His own style of communication
  • ..and those of the team
  • How people on the team feel
  • The team’s strengths and weaknesses
  • What gets her own people in FLOW
  • What is reasonable and what is not
  • The mission
  • About different personalities (eg: red monkey lovers)
  • Boundaries
  • Which tools and resources are available, where and how to get them
  • Different working methods
  • The working environment, business, key players etc..
  • Where we are in relationship to the mission
  • The big picture


Skills – a good leader should be able to..

  • Be clear in communications
  • Communicate assertively
  • Give regular constructive feedback, including good examples
  • Adapt feedback frequency to the needs of the people (like with situational leadership)
  • Make good decisions
  • Moderate conflict
  • Create strategic action
  • Set expectations well
  • Influence and convince people
  • Build trust
  • Use active empathy
  • Avoid (or at least be aware of)  assumptions
  • Be objective
  • Adapt leadership style to the needs of the people
  • Evaluate performance with a blend of objectivity and subjectivity
  • Build a good network
  • Set priorities
  • Create a good environment in which he can gather input from the team
  • Stimulate problem solving
  • Coach people (when it is right to)
  • Mentor people (when it is right to)
  • Delegate
  • Direct people and hold hands when neceesary
  • Deal with own stress and the stress of others
  • Inspire the team
  • Solve problems
  • Adapt to different situations
  • State objectives in a clear and motivating way
  • Keep distance when required
  • Think outside of the box
  • Negotiate
  • Play purple (see Gavin Kennedy’s book on “Negotiation”)
  • Admit when things go wrong
  • Proactive
  • Create effective teamwork
  • Assign the right people to the right tasks
  • Empower people
  • Deal with change
  • Use google 🙂


Attitude – a good leader should be ..

  • Open-minded
  • Adult-minded (ego state)
  • Good-tempered
  • Trust-worthy
  • Trusting
  • Think win:win
  • Positive
  • Consistent
  • Structured
  • ..but flexible
  • Confident
  • Inspired
  • Focusses on results
  • …but not forget people, emotions and feelings
  • Calm under pressure
  • Analytic
  • “Can-do” minded



What my network expects from ASTD2012 ICE

ASTD ICE 2012 promises to be THE event for the learning community. Over 4 days, with hundreds of educational sessions, the International Conference and Exhibition is a fine opportunity to get up-to-speed on the learning world.

Having seen the agenda, I know what’s on offer.But what do people want? What is MY network looking for? What are the hot topics?

Over the past few weeks, I asked that question within my network and got replies from 45 professionals from the L+D world, ranging from Learning Managers in international corporations to freelance one-man-consultants like myself. Answers came in via Twitter, LinkedIn (including ASTDs virtual global village), email and face-to-face.

With a little help from my world-cloud generator, I was able to identify the most common answers, which I have summarised in this stand-alone sentence:


Let’s break it down….

Global and mobile learning
We live in a global marketplace. Even if we don’t do business globally, we can pull in learning from anywhere and push it out just as easily. The ability to do this “at the speed of business” (@charlesjennings) and on-the-move increases performance and efficiency. From a wandering salesman to a home-working consultant, the need to get learning on-the-go is becoming more and more important.

Performance solutions
As said enough already, learning does not equal training and training does not equal learning. Learning professionals must create performance enhancement solutions. Learning happens in rooms, on the web, in and out of the work flow and we need to be the “guide-on-the-side” (@C4LPT) that recognises, facilitates and supports the real-time need for enhanced performance results. More than ever, learning must be practically geared towards business results and actually get things done.

Social workplace
There is a lot of buzz in the learning world about the “New World of Work” in which we live. In part, this is the fruit of the global and mobile world I already mentioned. And it implies a cultural shift that is affecting learning. Traditional top-down learning solutions are still good in many moments, but other learning approaches may be more in tune with our working preferences. In the Kluwer Indicator 2011, we saw that employees learn most from their colleagues. The social workplace learns quicker than its non-social predecessor. It learns together. Examples like BT’s Dare-to-Share program that incorporate social media platforms to make peer-learning and quick and easy solution are becoming day-to-day.

2.0 signifies the process of “upgrade”. Regardless of what level the people in my network at currently operating at, everyone is conscious of the need to upgrade their working methods and approaches to learning. Continually. 2.0 is not seen as simply “the next version” but as the “upgrade mentality”. Learning professionals do want to know what the new hot topics are and what is trendy, but they also want to know how to always stay on top of their game, creating flexible changeable learning solutions that can deal with every tomorrow.

The community mentality is again linked to the social workplace and it’s mentality. It’s also linked to functions, needs, platforms. A community can be defined as a wide group of people with similar needs, functions and missions. They may or may not be working in the same company, but they share a common motivation. They may work in proximity. They might just get together from time-to-time like the HRMeetUp guys to create personal learning networks, share best practices and ask questions to other community members. Learning professionals can help to build the community spirit, bring people together, provide community tools and learning opportunities.

At the ASTD 2012 ICE, I will be checking out the following sessions amongst others to look for real stories, examples and approaches to global and mobile learning performance solutions for social workplace 2.0 communities:

  • ROE: The Ultimate Demonstration of Training Value, with James Kirkpatrick
  • …and the US Federal Government Best Practices Session on ROE
  • The Evolution of the Learning Model at BVBA, with CLO Ignacio de la Vega
  • Transformative HR: Creating Evidence-Based Change, with University SoCal Professor John Boudreau
  • Great Leaders GROW, with Ken Blanchard
  • Global HRD Trends, with the VOV and NVO2
  • Effectively Onboarding GenY professionals, with Alexia Vernon
  • Planning, Implementing and Measuring Social Learning, with the people from McDonalds
  • Developing Talent Outside the Classroom, with TalentGrow President Halelly Azulay
  • Follow me and my sponsor Kluwer for an update and I’ll see you there!

    Using video to invite people to training

    At a recent Kluwer Trainer’s Evening, we discussed lots of things that could be done using #SoMe before, during and after training to improve its effectiveness.

    I decided I would try using video to invite people to training, giving a little information about myself and the content prior to arrival. I thought this might simply help to create some rapport prior to an event and maybe align expectations. I also think the medium is nicer than a simple email.


    In preparation for a conference at the Federal Government last week on the New World of Work and how we need a New Way of Learning, I published this film…




    • This film was made in my office at home using a flip-cam. I decided to pay real preparation attention to the content of what I wanted to share, but the film itself was done in 1 take –> I don’t think people expect you to be a perfect presenter on such a film.
    • I uploaded it to my own YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/dansteerchannel)
    • The film was referenced in an email to all participants – 70 people in total.


    It was watched by 60 people so far.


    If you, as a traine, have questions about such simple add-ons to yor approach, mail me!


    Thanks for reading,




    Leadership resources from a recent Kluwer training

    Having just completed delivery of a 4-day Leadership Training with @KluwerOpleiding (thanks @MiekWouters for the chance to have a small group :-)) I thought I’d share the email stream that built up from me to participants over the 4-days. Loads of references here…


    References DAY 1


    Homework / Preparation DAY 2


    References from DAY 2


    Homework in preparation for DAY 3

    • Think of a problem you have (professional or personal). This will be used in day 3. You will be asked to state your problem and ask for help…
    • Think of a difficult communication situation or difficult person you have had to deal with (personal or professional)


    Here are the references from training DAY 3


    Homework in preparation for DAY 4

    • Prepare a 1 minute presentation of yourself – anything is fine, we just need some data to use for a feedback exercise, so no stress!
    • Please think about additional topics to cover in group coaching session in the afternoon of Day 4


    References DAY 4


    Hope this was interesting

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