Reston Chamber Spotlight: Percepi Leadership Training


Chamber Spotlight is a bi-weekly feature sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. This week’s spotlight is on Percepi, a consulting and leadership training firm. Speaking is Lead Facilitator Jared Detter.

Reston Now: Why did you decide to start your business in Reston?

Percepi: We’ve been providing consulting services to large international businesses very successfully from our base in Reston since 2001. Our focus has been national and international in scope, not regional. Over time, we’ve repeatedly heard from local, small to medium sized businesses that have been interested in accessing our services.

Small- and medium-sized business are not immune from the leadership challenges that face larger organizations, yet they are often more resource constrained and do not have anyone in-house to focus on leadership development.

We started Percepi specifically to address this need. Reston is the perfect location for supporting these types of organizations as they look to achieve their goals, and helps us contribute to growing the economy in the greater Washington, D.C. region.

Reston has been a great location for us as a business and we want to be good for Reston and support its place as a prime destination in the metropolitan community.

PercepiReston Now: What are the challenges and rewards of being a business owner?

Percepi: The benefits of owning a business are that there is the potential to make a difference in people’s lives on your own terms. You cast the vision and develop the business around your strengths and goals and have the opportunity to see your investment of blood, sweat, tears, and investment flourish. The biggest challenge of owning your own business is that there is no downtime — you have to be connected all the time. Effectively managing time and stress is key to success — you have to have lots of positive energy.

Emotional intelligence is a core skill. A major challenge of being a business owner is that the technical skill that allowed you to open up your own business doesn’t necessarily translate into the leadership skills that are necessary to help your business flourish. Percepi exists to address these challenges — not only have we developed proven approaches that help business leaders, we’ve experienced running a business first hand.

Reston Now: Name something about your business that most people don’t know?

Percepi: The workshops we conduct are based on models and exercises that we’ve successfully used for decades, helping leaders and teams in organizations become more successful all over the world. Being psychologists, we bring a unique perspective to business — one that is designed to drive results into the organization through more effective leadership. The workshops are immersive and most people are surprised at how deeply the learning affects them — it’s not uncommon for people to tell us that their experience changed their life.

Reston Now: What is the unique value your clients get from your services?

Percepi: Our value proposition is that our approach to developing leaders has a proven track record of resulting in business success — increased sales, growth, more motivated employees, and more innovative ideas are some examples. Our success lies in the unique way in which we conduct our workshops. We call them this for a reason; this is not ‘training’, this is real work focusing on the participants’ business challenges. All of our facilitators are psychologists with valuable experience leveraging their expertise in human behavior to help organizations become most successful.

Another difference is that our workshops are not facilitator-focused workshops. We don’t lecture to large classes of students, we aim to support participants discovering a different way of seeing their approach to leading others, helping them be more successful.

Unlike many other companies that conduct leadership training, our workshops are small and participant-focused. Our workshops stay focused on the leadership challenges that the participants are facing. The models and exercises we use in the workshops are designed to help participants experience the behavior in the workshop so that can carry them forward into the workplace.

We consistently hear from participants that our workshops are unlike any that they’ve ever attended. They expected something canned and rote but were very pleased at the depth of insight and application they gained from the workshop.

Reston Now: Describe a typical day.

Percepi: I would say that there is no ‘typical’ day. However, there are things that occur regularly over the course of doing business. These things include, delivering to customers, business development, managing personnel issues, strategy, interacting with vendors, compliance, paperwork, and a constant focus on cash, income and paying the bills.

This list is not exhaustive, but it shows that any combination of these ingredients can occur on any given day, which definitely means that no two days are the same. A really enjoyable day is magic happens and these all come together just as you would want!

Reston Now: How has the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce helped your business?

Percepi: One of the most valuable aspects of being involved in the Reston Chamber is being immediately connected to a group of individuals who genuinely care about the success of your business. Some people approach the Chamber with a mindset that looks to see how much they can get out of the Chamber. I’ve found that a much more successful approach is to look to see what you can give back to the Chamber.

Invest in the people and organizations in the Chamber, and you’ll build relationships and get leads that are much stronger than merely passing out business cards and hoping people come your way. Not only have we gotten solid leads from the relationships we have created, but we’ve also found some great people to whom we have provided services.

Reston Now: What is the quote that best describes your business?

Percepi: “Seeing Leadership Differently.” This is what Percepi is all about. We’ve found that ‘teaching leadership’ and expecting people to change once they’re back at work is unrealistic. We’ve found that educating people on principles of management doesn’t help them solve the personnel problems that can be so costly to businesses.

We’ve found that conducting leadership training online or via DVD may be a cost- effective way to check a box, but it won’t help your people become better leaders. We see leadership as a proactive practice that involves taking ownership of organizational issues, while empowering peers and subordinates to work collaboratively and openly. Our workshops are designed to allow the participants to hone these skills and create a concrete action plan to carry their learning forward.

Reston Now: What is your advice to someone who is thinking about owning a business?

Percepi: My advice would be threefold:

1. Invest to ensure that you have a quality product or service. It’s worth the time and resources to make sure you stand out from your competition —  and that you understand and can articulate your value proposition. Though be sure to balance investment with income and not run out of cash before you can start to make profit.

2. Invest in understanding people. What do customers need and how can I be responsive, matching my products to these needs? What kind of team do you need? Who is the competition and how do they approach the market?

3. Invest in yourself. Develop your learning, your leadership and an open, creative mind.

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