WASHINGTON—Armed with newly acquired strategies on team leadership, effective communication, and workplace sensitivity, President Barack Obama returned to the Oval Office this morning after spending the past three days at a management seminar, White House sources confirmed.
The professional-development conference reportedly took place at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Washington, where the president joined dozens of business managers from across the mid-Atlantic region for a series of presentations, workshops, and team-building activities aimed at enhancing supervisory skills and fostering confident decision-making.
“This wasn’t exactly something I wanted to do, but I figured if I was going to be there for three days I might as well make the most of it,” said Obama, noting that the seminar kicked off in the hotel’s Ballroom 2A, where he registered at the check-in table, wrote “Barack” on his name tag, and then began the first day’s session by playing the ice-breaking game Two Truths And A Lie with other attendees. “As it turns out, I got to talking to some of the other attendees, and we found out we’re faced with a lot of the same kinds of challenges, like organization and budgeting. So we bonded a little bit over that.”
“I hit it off right away with this guy Tom [Hanley, co-owner of Hanley Comprehensive Payroll Services] from Reston,” the president continued. “He runs the third-largest payroll processor in the region. We ended up sitting next to each other for most of the presentations and even grabbing a beer Tuesday in the hotel bar. Great guy.”
Obama said the seminar, called “Essentials of Effective Management: Engagement, Performance, and Execution,” used hands-on workshops to develop the creative and analytical skills of the program’s 80 attendees who represented companies from six local states and the District of Columbia, ranging from Johnson Bros. Vending to PrimeMark Commercial Real Estate. The course also reportedly focused on the four C’s of management—communicate, collaborate, coordinate, and create—a framework the president described as “an easy way to remember some pretty important stuff.”
The commander-in-chief stated that, to his surprise, he even found himself enjoying some of the seminar’s activities. In particular, Obama cited an afternoon “brain-building” exercise on day two, during which he and his teammates Don Worley and Jim Meredith, both from Baxter Tour & Travel Motorcoach Lines, were handed three seemingly random objects—a roll of tape, a tube of toothpaste, and an egg carton—and then given 30 minutes to come up with a new product and create a business model for marketing it to consumers.
In the role-playing session “Tough Scenarios,” sources said Obama was paired up with Wilmington-based PR director Mary Westgerdes and presented with a series of management predicaments to act out in front of the group, such as how to confront an employee about dressing professionally and what not to say when addressing a subordinate of the opposite gender.
OnPoint Marketing Solutions, LLC founder Ron Davies, who taught the 44th president in the workshops “Critical Thinking, Analytical Thinking” and “Managing at the Speed of Trust,” said he enjoyed watching Obama’s progress over the course of three days.
“Barack did quite well for a first-time participant,” said Davies, recalling the president’s performance during Deduction, a game in which conference-goers had to guess one another’s favorite month, animal, food, TV show, and color. “He was really earnest about his ideas, but he wasn’t afraid to use humor, either. When we asked attendees to name their biggest weakness, he said, ‘Cooking for my wife,’ which got a pretty big laugh.”
“He worked very well under Dale [Garver], his team leader,” Davies continued. “Dale’s team really stood out during our time management challenges.”
The president remarked that he particularly enjoyed the seminar’s keynote address from Pitney Bowes regional vice president Beth Meeks, saying that she “made some good points” and “seemed to reach a lot of people” with her speech, titled “Don’t Tell Your Brand’s Story: Sell Your Brand’s Story.”
But Obama stressed that some of the best moments of the conference came when he got the opportunity to network and trade business cards with fellow attendees when he bumped into them in the Marriott hallway or during their scheduled hour-long break between morning and afternoon sessions when he and a few fellow attendees would head out to lunch at a nearby Panera Bread.
“I’d say that the seminar was a good experience overall,” said the president of the United States, who received a certificate of administrative excellence for completing the three-day, $1,900 seminar. “I definitely picked up a few strategies that might help me out in cabinet meetings. Even if I don’t end up using that stuff every day, it’s not a big deal, because the whole thing was paid for by work.”
“And at least I got three days away from the office, which was nice,” he added. “Hopefully I don’t have too much piled up on my desk when I get back.”