Pittsburgh leadership consultant grooming new leaders

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Sam Deep has trained hundreds of executives on how to motivate people, manage workplace conflict and become better leaders.

He's encapsulated that knowledge in more than a dozen books he's written or co-authored -- short, fast-paced guides peppered with pithy quotes from everyone from Plato to former New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel. His admirers include everyone from local CEOs Albert Neupaver of Wabtec and Walter Turner of Koppers to management guru Tom Peters.

The centerpiece of his offerings is the Sam Deep Leadership Academy, a 13-month training program that targets emerging leaders at PNC Bank, Alcoa, Koppers, Ansys, Wabtec and other companies who are being groomed for top management positions.

Now Mr. Deep, the 71-year-old son of a steelworker, has found a way to keep that program going while allowing him to transition to retirement. He's teamed up with Paul Brierly, owner of JP Enterprises, to certify instructors to conduct the leadership training.

His target markets are corporate consultants who want to add leadership training to their list of services and corporate trainers hoping to groom the next generation of leaders in house.

"My dream was to keep this going," said Mr. Deep, who splits his time between homes in Mars and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

He will provide the content while Mr. Brierly's Washington County marketing firm will produce about 50 hours of videos and related website materials that are the backbone of the online conference-based seminar. Mr. Deep has been taping the videos at a studio in Pittsburgh's Allentown section since May, a task he hopes to complete by Christmas.

"Our goal is to be operating by the first of the year," said Mr. Deep, who taught at the University of Pittsburgh before starting his consulting business in 1986.

The seminar's units are introduced with quotes intended to get participants thinking about the qualities of a good leader. One of his favorites is a Chinese proverb: "Dig the well before you are thirsty." He said the proverb highlights the importance of strategic thinking.

The program also leans heavily on in-class exercises and lists, such as one identifying the 24 major mistakes leaders make. Those include succumbing to fear, not holding people accountable, and believing the leader has all the answers. Mr. Deep says the process, along with personal coaching throughout the 13-month program, helps managers incorporate principles they already know into the workplace.

"It grows emerging leaders. It changes the culture," he said.

Mr. Deep estimates there are about 10,000 consultants who could be interested in teaching his leadership seminar. After paying a $1,750 fee, consultants will attend a two-day conference and participate in 10 90-minute WebEx conferences. Once they complete the training and are certified, they can offer the 13-month program to clients.

The charge is $7,500 a month for the standard seminar with 12 participants, or $97,500 for the 13-month program.

The price will stay basically the same once certified instructors start offering the course, although the cost may vary depending on a client's needs or market conditions. Certified instructors will keep a little more than 90 percent of the revenue they generate and pass on a little less than 10 percent to Mr. Deep and Mr. Brierly.

Mr. Deep said he already has signed an agreement for Sandler Training to provide his leadership program. Sandler, based in Owings Mills, Md., offers sales and management training through about 240 franchisees in 27 countries.

Having developed the 13-month program over his 27-year career, Mr. Deep is as proud of his creation as a grandmother who developed the recipe for a favorite family meal. For him, the challenge will be to train instructors who can teach the seminar just as well as he does, like the grandmother wants to train a family member to use her recipe to create a meal that tastes just as good as one that she cooked.

"That is hard for Grandma, and it's going to be hard for me," he said. "We obviously do want to protect the brand."

Len Boselovic: lboselovic@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1941.

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