Blog Post

Beyond Oprah’s ATD talk were meaningful lessons for today’s workforce trainers and leaders

Published: Thursday, October 17, 2019
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2019

Written in June 2019

It was Monday, May the 20th at 5:00 A.M., and the largest international gathering of talent development professionals had already gathered a seemingly excited crowd. The earliest of the early birds—attendees of this year’s Association for Talent Development (ATD) International Conference and Expo 2019—flocked the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the hopes of getting good seats for Oprah Winfrey’s keynote speech that morning. Mind you, her talk was set for 8:30 a.m. but more than half of the 10,000+ attendees had already stood by the long lines before sunrise.

Seeing Oprah in person and listening to her speech made my first ATD experience in the U.S. capital more than just meaningful. Her words were inspiring and motivating, as I anticipated them to be. According to her, what makes us best at our job is what makes us whole. “Strive toward wholeness. As a leader, your actions should be bigger than you. It’s not about you; it’s about how you make an impact,” she encouraged. This made me ponder on how I can use my strengths in service that’s greater than myself or that is bigger than my ego. Have you asked yourself this question: “How can I be useful to others and the organization I work for?” This was the whole premise of her talk.

After the four-day ATD conference, though, I came back to the bayou country equipped with Oprah’s powerful lessons as well as major conference takeaways that we, as workforce development and training professionals, can learn from. For all we know, we might already be doing some of these. Let’s keep an open mind.

 The Power of Storytelling in Training

As a former public speaking coach and professional emcee for 8 years, I myself believe how important telling stories as a strategy of engaging your audience is. I couldn’t agree more to what The Walking Dead Novel author Jay Bonansinga and Pinnacle Performance Company co-founder G. Riley Mills shared during “Captivate, Engage, and Influence: Storytelling Lessons from The Walking Dead” session. Accordingly, communicating with purpose and clarity is the key to personal and professional success. When telling stories, keep in mind these elements:

  • Establish background information (exposition)
  • Identify the problem (inciting incident)
  • Conflict is activated. Plot builds (rising action)
  • Turning point/highest point of tension (climax)
  • Conflict resolution / take away revealed (falling action and resolution)

 Use storytelling as a way to get your audience hooked from the get-go. Great leaders understand the power of narrative, and great leaders, no matter their role or industry, must be effective storytellers. Read more here: 

Can-Do Leadership: The Critical Missing Piece of Leadership Development


When Frank Satterthwaite, Professor of Organizational Leadership from Johnson & Wales University, presented on “Hands-on Management: The Critical Missing Piece of Today’s Leadership Development” alongside Jamie Millard, Executive Partner of Lexington Leadership, I reckoned that it was going to be a session building up on the assumptions that there’s more to leadership than just delegation.

There’s a critical missing piece in so many leadership development programs out there, and according to Satterthwaite and Millard, it’s this so called “can-do leadership mindset” where you engage managers to be the drivers of workforce development. It’s about leading while managing and while doing. Leading and doing are mutually reinforcing.

Getting managers to be hands-on in developing talent is vital because they are well-positioned to encourage employee learning. As prime movers in your organization, provide opportunities to help your managers to:

Think TPL (task, people, learning)

  • Check Employee’s VITALS (values, interests, talents, ambitions, longings and style)
  • Create a can-do learning to build transparency and trust. How? By requesting feedback, giving feedback and collecting team feedback.
  • Consider “Blue Angel” team feedback debriefing – check rank at the door, create a safe space, show humility and celebrate victories

Read more:

Tricks to Get Learners Excited Before a Workshop

It’s a challenging ordeal for trainers to get learners excited before a class or two. Tania Tytherleigh, Chief Learning Officers from Master Trainers Institute in Australia, shared her tricks during the “Secret Trainer's Business: How to Excite Learners Before a Workshop” session. According to her, connecting with your audience before you see them would be the key. Using simple techniques such as a welcome email, welcome video and a “lumpy mail’ would do the trick.

As for the welcome video, this isn’t about putting the best one. Learners “love” a welcome video.  Anyone can do the video. You don’t have to be a professional videographer. Don’t get hang up on how professional it looks. They’re going to not pick on sound and lighting. Just imagine you are talking to the room. Here’s what you need to say on the video:

  • Introduce you.
  • State the name of the workshop and details
  • State the purpose of the video and brief outline of the program
  • Tell them why the topic and content is really important for them to learn (what’s in it for them)
  • Set them a task to do related to them or the content

 I thought the “Lumpy mail” was an interesting one. This is a handy mailing, which I find to be very applicable to our LTAP programs since most local public agencies are still embracive of traditional mailing as a form of communication. A lumpy mail is a personal handwritten note with a card or balloon or a puzzle piece. This can be used as a reminder strategy, a way of engagement, or as something to spark a challenge (competition). It’s anything you might see in your mailbox that’s bulky. You’ll find these items in a normal envelope, a glamour envelope, bubble envelope, or even in a small cardboard box. Read more:

There’s a lot more I could share in this article, but due to space constraint, I’d like to end this piece with a recommendation that ATD might be a good addition to your professional development and job performance improvement opportunities. Engaging with ATD Baton Rouge chapter is a good start. Visit for more information, or email me at [email protected]

About the Author

Rudynah “Dynah” Capone has 18 years of combined experience in public sector leadership, tri-media and public relations, marketing, communications, and transportation safety planning. She now works as the Program Manager Louisiana Transportation Research Center (LTRC) at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her role is responsible for delivering local public agency outreach and communications, innovations, leadership, and workforce development for the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and its various audiences in Louisiana.

Prior to migrating to the US, Dynah previously worked as a print journalist for 5 years, public speaking coach and entrepreneur for 3 years, and event producer & emcee for 8 years. She also served as a Project Coordinator of Cebu Visitors and Convention Bureau for a year where she was privileged to be the Media Bureau Chief for the 3rd Global Filipino Networking Convention in 2005 that was put together by National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA).


In early 2009, she left Cebu City to start a new life in Louisiana, USA. It took her six months before she landed on a part-time job as program assistant for Wildlife and Fisheries Reimbursement Programs at the South Central Planning and Development Commission (SCPDC) in September 2009. There, she helped process paperwork and surveys for fisherman who lost their business in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Rita and Gustav. In between those lull months of not having a job from May to October 2010 (prior to finding a real-world full-time position), she even took the initiative to grab some opportunities to work as a “background actress” in some of the Hollywood films (Battleship, Green Lantern and Revenge of the Bridesmaids, Assassination Games and The Power of Few). After 3 years of living in Napoleonville, LA, she earned her US citizenship in October 2012.

It was at SCPDC where she later earned a full-time job as a Transportation Planner. From November 2010 to May 2014, she served as the Regional Safety Coordinator for the South Central Regional Transportation Safety Coalition. She successful engaged in stakeholder collaboration and implementation of the Louisiana’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) and mission of Destination Zero Deaths at the local level. Her tenure as the Safety Coordinator earned the region's safety coalition an Excellence Award in Regional Planning from the National Association of Developmental Organizations (NADO) as well as the National Roadway Safety Award from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) wherein she had the privilege to attend the Awards Ceremony in Washington D.C. along with the coalition chairman and SCPDC’s chief executive officer. The said award was for the first regional coalition to have adopted and implemented a regional safety plan based off of the statewide SHSP, which then was featured on the Noteworthy Practices Guide 2013.


Dynah’s work ethic has resulted in many milestones for the South Central region. She was instrumental in framing a model example of what a successful regional safety coordinator is especially in a male-dominated transportation world. Her unparalleled trait of taking initiative coupled with excellent skills in public relations and tri-media allowed her to sustain various efforts aimed at helping Louisiana reach Destination Zero Deaths. She shared her experiences in various conferences and summits, including the Utah-Nevada-Louisiana Safety Peer Exchange held in May 2013. Her reputation of proven coalition success was taken as a best practice, thereby inspiring regional and local teams to form the same coalition approach. Her success at the regional level was noticed in that she was offered a job at the state level through the Louisiana State University. Now working as Program Manager at the Louisiana Transportation Research Center (LTRC), she continues to make a difference in the field of transportation safety planning, program coordination, communications and outreach, and innovations.


Within the Filipino-American community, Dynah shares her time of participating in major Fil-am occasions. In June 2015, she was the official emcee during the opening ceremony for Philippine Consulate General- New Orleans office. Also, she hosted the first Filipino-American History Month Gala Night held in New Orleans last October of 2016.


Dynah graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications at the University of San Jose Recoletos in her hometown, Cebu City, Philippines. She is happily married to Assumption High School World History teacher and football coach Drew Capone, and both enjoy parenting their First Grader son, Enzo.

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