Strong Training & Coaching work with creativity companies to offer training, coaching and facilitation to help employees at every level get strong at work, so they can be strong in life. Their team is composed of former agency vets with decades of leadership experience. They know the precise challenges that agencies face because they’ve experienced them first hand, and they have created professional development programs that address these specific challenges and necessary skills for the advertising industry.
We sat down with the Strong team to learn about the importance of soft skills, failure’s true role on the path to success, and why love deserves a place in the business world.
WPI >> Tell me about yourself and your company. What types of agencies do you work with? What services do you provide?
Strong >> Hello! We’re Strong Training & Coaching. We are a group of ex-agency executives whose mission is to help people get strong at work so they can be strong in life. We do this by delivering training and coaching services to all types of agencies - from boutique studios to large multinationals, from brand to digital to data.
WPI >> What are the biggest challenges you see clients face today?
Strong >> As people and professionals, we’re all acutely aware of the seismic shifts the pandemic has caused and/or catalyzed (supply chain, labor shortages, shift to remote work, etc.) Those in themselves already present sizable challenges to our clients. In our work, we’re seeing more of the second and third order effects of those challenges. For example, the increasing number of managers who may not only be new to the company but are new to the role increases the need to support them early and often (especially in the hybrid context.)
There’s one challenge in particular, however, that has us a bit worried: a decrease in employees’ desire to become a manager, to become a leader or executive. Employees are burned out, overworked and overwhelmed - so “adding” on leadership to their plate isn’t so appealing. If there is no will to lead, it doesn’t matter how we teach the way.
This is a deeply concerning trend for the future of the industry - and that’s why we’re constantly working not just to make sure that we’re providing education, but also inspiration.
WPI >> What excites you about working with agencies for coaching and training?
Strong >> We love working with agencies for the same reasons we loved working at agencies: the people. Collaborative, creative, passionate people working together to make things happen. What’s not to love?
WPI >> What are some of the most popular training modules you offer and why?
Strong >> Our three most requested types of training modules are:
Manager skills: Managers today are often put into the role without having adequate support and training - and this is compounded by the fact that the hybrid environment affords fewer “learn by osmosis” opportunities.
Presentation Skills: Great ideas don’t sell themselves, so being able to present persuasively has always been a crucial skill for agency employees. This has never been more true today, given the unique needs of virtual presentation.
Feedback: Whether it’s the interpersonal kind or the creative work kind - sharing feedback in a helpful and constructive way is something that ranks pretty high on the fear factor for most of us.
WPI >> Have you seen a shift in the types of coaching and training that agencies are requesting over the last few years?
Strong >> Definitely. Given the tremendous amount of change and uncertainty, we’re seeing a big uptick in the demand for skills needed to thrive in the chaos: agility, resilience, mindset, time management, etc. We’ve always been teaching these skills because to us - these are the skills needed not just to succeed at work but also to succeed in life.
The other shift we’ve noticed is the need for more flexible, personalized support. It’s not always possible to bring the “learner to the learning” in today’s environment - so we’ve developed ways to help bring the learning to the learner: on-demand programs, hybrid (on-demand + live coaching), and our Strong Professional Help Desk (on-demand, learning-based coaching.)
WPI >> You offer training in both hard skills (e.g., presentation, pitching and writing skills) and soft skills (e.g., communication, EQ, conflict resolution skills). Do you feel one type of skill is more important for an employee’s long-term job success?
Strong >> Soft skills are more important for an employee’s long-term job success. This is even more true now with the arrival of AI when some of the hard skills will be done for us. Soft skills are really “human-to-human” skills - and no matter how much the agency business continues to transform, the ability to connect, communicate and create with other humans will be essential.
WPI >> Of all the many training sessions you offer, one title really stood – “Failing Brilliantly.” Tell us more about this training and why you believe embracing failure is important for finding success.
Strong >> Just the very word “failure” triggers negative thoughts as most of us have been trained that it’s bad and to be avoided. The real truth is actually the opposite: failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s part of it. This course takes a look at the myths around what failure is/isn’t, helps participants reframe their personal beliefs around failure, and looks at ways to help teams fail brilliantly together.
WPI >> Your coaching and training span all levels and functions–from individual employees to executive leadership, from creative teams to sales departments. Do you find working with any particular group more interesting or fulfilling?
Strong >> We love working with all groups! Our fulfillment comes when we see that we’ve made an impact - shifted a mindset, caused an a-ha, or helped to create a new habit.
WPI >> You can only train and coach a diverse group of agencies with a diverse group of trainers and coaches. Talk to us about your inclusive facilitation and how DEI is integrated into your work.
Strong >> DEI is integrated into our work in many ways. To start, 30% of our facilitators are BIPOC, 83% are women, and 12% identify as LGBTQIA+. Our content is evaluated and optimized by a DEI expert. And, our team is continually trained on inclusive facilitation. For example, we recently held a session on supporting neurodivergent participants. Finally, we have an ongoing BIPOC scholarship program to help close the leadership gap.
WPI >> One of the key values your company lives by is “Lead with Love.” You don’t often hear the word “love” used in the business world. So why do you feel love is so important in business?
Strong >> In the business world, it's easy to get caught up in fear—fear of failure, taking risks, you name it. But fear holds us back; it makes us play small. It makes our ideas small.
On the flip side, love opens up a whole new world of possibilities. It's about genuinely caring for our team, our clients, and our work. We're able to foster stronger relationships, and we're better equipped to navigate challenges with resilience and empathy. When we lead with love, we're not afraid to dream big and take bold steps.
And that's where the magic happens—love is the fuel for creativity, collaboration and innovation. Love is the true growth engine.
This article is an installment in a series where Worldwide Partners speaks with experienced consultants and service providers that are part of our WPI Faculty. Check back for more interviews with our industry’s leading consultants in PR, business development, financial services and more.