Personal Excellence

Whether offering workshops, keynotes, coaching or training programs, I create a learning community that offers safety, listening, and inspiration in order to allow personal change to emerge. My mission is to empower participants to discover and build on their strengths, learn and practice skills, set realistic goals, and take appropriate risks in a supportive and enjoyable learning environment. Workshop members provide each other with encouragement and input for brainstorming on real world challenges plus modeling of changes and integration of new behaviors. My mission is achieved, as clients become their own coach, able to extend this learning journey independently in their reach for excellence.

“Susan was able to show applicability of theory to the real world. She allows course participants to apply newly learned skills… with opportunity to practice, play different roles, and have hands on experience…. I’ll be able to utilize so much of what I learned. ”
— Tom Patterson, Fisheries & Wildlife (attended Conflict Resolution training)

My Approach to Enhancing Personal Excellence

We begin the process with needs assessments which I use to mold and adapt each program to the particular group, creating a supportive and positive atmosphere. I provide enjoyable, lively and highly experiential activities tailored to the participants and linked to strategies for transfer of learning to the workplace. Sessions are grounded in adult learning theory, providing experiential approaches, designed around clear goals and objectives, and utilizing a variety of techniques and media which enable participants to make lasting changes in attitudes and behavior. For example, many workshops use videotape, simulations, teamwork and role-playing to promote learning, feedback and coaching.

Sessions range from one hour brown bags to five-day intensives to extensive initiatives that may carry over an extended period. The settings can be widely varied, such as retreats, off-site training, staff meetings, for-credit courses or conferences.

Evaluations are consistently high, with participants remarking on the lively pace, positive environment, key learnings and practical application. When I encounter students months or even years later many remark on how they have used the skills in their daily lives.

Course Descriptions:


Speak with Power, Poise and Presence Would you like to approach the podium with excitement instead of dread? Is your avoidance of speaking opportunities keeping you from deserved promotions? Do you want your presentations to excite rather than extinguish interest in your topic? Come learn skills and techniques so you will welcome the podium and transform nervousness to positive energy. Learn to begin preparations with a careful analysis of the audience and your goals, craft a strong opening, build in a clear structure, and close with power. Develop strategies appropriate for prepared speeches, technical presentations, impromptu speaking, group discussions or casual conversation and practice delivery skills with videotaped feedback.

Women at the Podium

Women were traditionally prepared to be seen, not heard. Even today, many of us avoid speaking situations. It’s time for us to speak up. As women we can build on our people skills to develop our own comfortable, personal speaking style. We can turn everyday speaking into extraordinary opportunities for sharing ideas, for networking, for promoting causes, and for advancing in the workplace. We can step up as leaders when we develop our speaking skills. This workshop will provide support, tools and techniques, along with encouragement and practice with video feedback.

Put Your Best Voice Forward (voice improvement)

Is your voice an asset to your work as or does it detract from your effectiveness? Are you pleased with the sound of your voice? Personality, education, age, and ability are judged by the sound of your voice. Whether making presentations, leading a meeting, or mediating a conflict, the tone of your voice deeply affects the impression you convey and the outcome you can reach. Speech habits are learned — not a gift, accident or inheritance. You can learn to transform your vocal image to project greater maturity and authority, . prevent vocal fatigue and hoarseness as well as develop rich resonance and dramatic variety.

Accent on Speech: Improving Spoken English (for non-natives) Is your accent interfering with your professional development? Are you frustrated with being misunderstood? Come learn to “put on an announcer’s accent” and make your English more easily understood by mastering the rhythm and inflection patterns of American English as well as developing appropriate tongue muscularity patterns.

Thinking on Your Feet

Does your mind go blank or words become a jumble under pressure? Do you dread having to speak extemporaneously? Do your response ramble without focus? Come learn strategies and techniques for organizing on the spot, handling question/answer sessions, influencing persuasively in meetings, managing interruptions or diversions, and sticking to your agenda. You can discover ways to improve your thinking and speaking on your feet whether for meetings, casual conversation or formal presentations. Includes practice with video feedback.


Coping with Change: Learning to Ride the Rapids
How do we cope when it seems ‘Change is the only constant’? The pace and range of change is accelerating throughout our state and nation, indeed globally. Downsizing and re-organization are becoming permanent fixtures on the organizational landscape. Many experts claim the key survival tool for the next century will be the ability to change, adapt, and participate in lifelong, continuous re-training and learning. This workshop is devoted to helping individuals develop such skills by improving their understanding of the nature of change and its impact upon individuals and groups as well as the organization.

Raising Your Emotional Intelligence Quotient

Do you ever wonder why the most successful people aren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ? Even more than technical skills or intellect, your ability to master your own emotions and understand the emotions of the people around you will determine your success. Would you like to be more productive, feel successful and effective as a leader, and be someone others like to work with? Come learn strategies to expand your self-awareness, motivation, influence, conflict management and team-building skills so you can raise your EQ as well as help your organization raise its emotional intelligence.

Leadership Skills for the 21st Century (for managers or supervisors or those aspiring to be)

Your boss just handed you an exciting demanding new project and said, “Go do it!” Now what? Come learn strategies to get your co-workers and associates to willingly and reliably cooperate with your project. Learn about communication and work style to improve skill in influencing, inspiring and leading others. Identify your strengths and style preferences to pinpoint strategies to strengthen these abilities and develop style flexibility to accommodate and motivate a diverse workforce. Participants leave this session with a plan of concrete actions to apply the concepts learned to improve their personal style of effective leadership.

Strategies for Stress Control

Deadlines are building, managers are steaming, the school just called to say you must pick up your sick child…It’s no wonder we are affected by stress with our multiple roles and fast-paced, ever changing workplace. Come learn strategies to turn stress into success: Develop coping skills of relaxation, breathing and humor. Welcome healthy stress by developing realistic attitudes and expectations. Prevent unnecessary stress through wellness, communication and time management so you “work smarter, not harder” . By focusing on techniques and attitudes, you make real changes, instead of just acquiring more “shoulds.”


Gracious Assertiveness: Mastering the Art of Partnership Communication

Success and productivity in the workplace depend on our ability to communicate and manage human relations. Yet, as Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “It is a luxury to be understood.” Indeed, much of our communication seems to be miscommunication. No wonder: most of us grew up with poor models and little instruction. This session helps develop listening skills, gracious assertiveness and creative conflict resolution plus cultivate attitudes of good will, empathy and openness.

Managing in Times of Constant Change

How can managers cope when it seems “Change is the only constant” ? With the increasing pace and range of change, managers need to understand the change process and its impact upon themselves, their staff as individuals, the work group as a whole and the organization itself. Participants strategize the best ways to present change and build motivation and support so they minimize the dangers inherent in staff response to change — and maximize the opportunities.

Transforming Conflict in the Workplace

Is conflict at work adding to your stress and hampering your morale and productivity? While conflict may be inevitable, the outcome is not: destructive consequences can be averted while many productive uses of conflict are nurtured. Participants learn skills and strategies to transform conflict to an opportunity for improved understanding, creative problem solving and enhanced relations.

Meetings That Matter

Do you spend hours of frustration at unproductive meetings? Come learn to make your meetings matter: determine whether a meeting is really the best way to meet your group’s needs. Learn to develop action-promoting agendas, increase group participation and improve group decision-making. Whether you are the meeting leader or a participant, this workshop will help you create a positive and productive atmosphere, initiate action and contribute problem solving suggestions to help your group reach team objectives, enhance morale and reach consensus.
The course design goes beyond discussion by providing practice in leading meetings and in handling difficult participants.

Creating a Climate of Respect:

Collaboration and cooperation in the workplace are essential for success, productivity and excellence. Yet today’s changing and diverse workplace often finds men and women working together in an uneasy truce that may easily be broken. Even among people who share culture, language, and values, miscommunication is frequent. With the addition of cultural differences and accented speech, the fragile process is prone to yet greater breakdown. In this workshop the focus is the prevention of conflict or harassment by building awareness, acceptance and motivation towards bridging our differences.

Testimonials for Personal Effectiveness Training

“I would like to thank you for the training you conducted for the Health Care Authority yesterday. I learned a lot of useful tools that will definitely help me to improve as a supervisor and a State employee. I’ve attended numerous State courses and yours was among the best.”
— Preston W. Cody, Supervisor, Health Care Authority, Washington State

“I’ve taken many mediocre training classes in my 12 years with the State…this was definitely NOT one of them! I enjoyed this class and would recommend it to anyone interested in growing and learning!”
— Sandy Madsack, Department of Licensing, Washington State

“EPA’s Administrative Council for Excellence (ACE) was very fortunate to have you present Strategies for Success, Developing Exceptional Internal Customer Service… We collectively thank you for delivering an inspiring presentation loaded with humor and valuable information…We felt particularly pleased that you were able to restructure the course so quickly to meet the needs .… We each walked away with suggestions, tips, and resources to readily apply to our own individual workplace situations…”
–Jan Hemingway, ACE Chair for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

“Thank you, Susan. With your excellent coaching I have achieved my goals for public speaking.”
— Sally Passette, Attorney

“Great presenter! Especially liked the hands-on experience. Made people feel comfortable with their ideas. Included everyone without calling on a specific person (Great!) Concerned something that happens everyday at work. Susan really involved the participants and made this class fun! In fact, the time just flew by! Thank you!.”
— Joan Alexander, Manager, EPA

“One of the best training courses I’ve been to in a long time. Felt that the two days was worth my time. Learned a lot!”
— Harumi Tolbert, Department of Licensing

“I have improved a lot from my six week’s exposure to the class. I am using it as we speak, making me feel confident about myself and making good presentations. [Susan is] very approachable and open… She makes the class exciting. Her confidence and knowledge on the subject is clear. She is very prepared, with good handouts.”
— Ed McPherson, King County, Washington

“Susan is a great instructor. She kept the momentum going by a variety of teaching techniques – a very lively and enjoyable class.”
— Linda Mead, Washington Department of Licensing

“If I had to choose an idol – you would be it! . . . I feel now I CAN do Public Speaking.”
— V.T. Hatley, Deputy City Clerk/Treasurer

“We were asked for personal experiences or problems related to meetings in our workplace, then solutions were offered. I liked Susan Partnow’s teaching skills and handouts. She was warm yet direct – good sense of humor. Excellent verbal skills, including relating a wide range of experiences, hers and ours, to the subject. The mock meetings were very helpful.”
— Washington State Manager

“Susan was able to show applicability of theory to the real world. She allows course participants to apply newly learned skills through mock sessions, with opportunity to practice, play different roles, have hands on experience of meetings. I’ll be able to utilize so much of what I learned. Great handouts!”
— Tom Patterson, U.S. Fisheries & Wildlife

“Thank you for the outstanding keynote you delivered at the Washington Municipal Clerks Conference…You provided us with a lot of useful information in a short amount of time and got us off to a great start… We appreciate the contribution you made to make this conference one of the most successful we have held.”
— Jan Hubbard, City of Burien