The Silicon Review
“There is a convergence between leadership and development and employee wellness that Fierce is on the frontier of innovating.”
Fierce, Inc., a professional training company, trains individuals to expand their ability to engage in productive conversations, thereby improving workplace communication. It teaches skills designed to improve a person's conversational impact for business or social purposes. Fierce serves clients across the United States.
The Silicon Review contacted Edward Beltran, CEO of Fierce, Inc., who spoke about how the company is making a difference in this segment and plans to stay at the forefront. Below is an excerpt.
Head to Head with Edward Beltran, CEO of Fierce, Inc.
Q. What is Fierce Inc’s point of differentiation? And how does the company provide real-world solutions to the many problems business leaders face in meeting rooms?
Our company’s founder, Susan Scott, discovered early on that her conversations with executives around the country at companies of all sizes were critical to the success of companies now and in the future. What we have learned over the past two years, particularly with the onset of Covid-19, is that effective communication is at the heart of every company’s ability to create workplaces that are welcoming and productive.
The leadership and development training industry is changing, and we are at the forefront of driving disruptive change in this industry. After more than 20 years, we know that our clients want more than textbook approaches to becoming more effective leaders. They want practical, hands-on, actionable approaches that will allow them to make changes today – not tomorrow or a year or two years from now.
We are at the center of change, offering business leaders innovative approaches to training and developing using the metaverse via customizable 3D/VR simulations and pushing forward practical solutions that center on the ‘API of Human Communication.’ We provide clients the tools they need to make changes in their behaviors and transform cultures now, not months or years later. There is a convergence between leadership and development and employee wellness that Fierce is on the frontier of innovating.
At the heart of Fierce’s overall model is our strategy — focused on moving toward scale, application, and sustainability.
Q. What can you tell us about your Fierce for Life™ and how does it work in favor of your clients?
Fierce for LifeTM is a membership-driven model that empowers our clients to access the full range of our training capabilities. We have learned over the years that training and development should involve all levels of the company to drive effective results. We build off our expertise in helping leaders become more effective at having meaningful conversations that could be tied to employee evaluations and feedback, project management, developing teams and diversity, equity, and inclusion. We offer microlearning through 3D simulations, on-demand courses, and more than 100+ resources. Studies show that companies that invest in team members continuously learning are going to retain employees longer and improve morale. Too many employees are leaving their jobs because they don’t feel valued. We also know that gone are the days when learning and development are pushed off to the side as “nice-to-haves,” but they have increasingly become must-haves. That’s why the Fierce for Life model provides companies the flexibility to tap into sorely needed resources to improve the way team members talk with each other and their customers.
Q. What are the various programs Fierce offers?
We offer more than eight programs that are designed to help companies better lead and manage their employees because, at the end of the day, it’s about the people and the culture. Our programs include:
Fierce Team™: Provide teams the opportunity to work more effectively and dynamically.
Fierce Coach™: Help team leaders to better manage one-on-one conversations to know the right questions to ask to enable team members to soar.
Fierce Confrontation™: Provides participants tools to confront difficult questions and identify the pitfalls of confrontations to avoid.
Fierce Feedback™: Offer participants the skills to provide ongoing feedback
The point of our suite of modules is to enable anyone to address the issues that are plaguing them in their lives: Whether it is confronting their boss or peer, providing feedback to their employee, or getting curious about their significant other. Our goal is to provide the step-by-step script, the how-to, and the confidence for everyone to tackle their toughest challenges.
What our science has found is that tackling your toughest challenges head-on with our tools which involve other people, statistically lowers stress and drives positive outcomes for the individual and organizations. Specifically, our research has shown that “being fierce” generates very insightful results, including:
These results are compelling and lend to the connections between leadership and development and wellness.
Q. How skilled is the Fierce team of experts? And how do they bring value to the company?
We have a highly skilled team of expert trainers who must complete an extensive training process before they begin engaging with our clients. Our team members have worked for Fortune 500 companies such as PwC, Starbucks, Amazon, and The Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control.
Q. What strategies are in place to encourage innovation in your company?
I consider myself a disruptive innovator. That means I am constantly thinking about how I can work with my team to create new products and services to outpace my competition that is always ready to pounce. Almost every day, I engage in conversations with my team that challenge them to think about how we can meet the growing demand for our services. Every week, I offer a weekly video commentary, “The Future of Communication,” where I take on some of the hottest issues, offering my analysis. We recently added Gabe de la Rosa to the team as our Chief Behavioral Scientist. He’s working with all of us here at Fierce to research new approaches to training as well as how best to analyze feedback from our team members and clients.
The bottom line: I encourage everyone from all levels of the company to share ideas. When we develop ideas, we quickly test them in small teams, separate from our core business, but charged with determining the viability of the idea. As Edison said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” When the pandemic hit, latched on to the great mantra of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, who said, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”
Q. In what industries are your clients? Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how your solutions helped them overcome those challenges?
When Covid-19 hit, we knew we had an opportunity to put our expertise into action. We got a call from a large telecommunications company that had retail locations all around the country. It faced an ongoing problem with customers entering their stores very angry, not understanding why they had to wear a mask. In other cases, customers were jittery because they were concerned about their personal space. They didn’t want to worry about trying to shake their hand or use a pen handed to them. Our team went into action. We created 3D/VR simulations that captured the “magic sauce” that allowed employees to shift to a more consultative sale. The company immediately deployed it through their stores, allowing employees to get the skills they needed without missing a beat.
In another scenario, a large hospital chain wanted to assist its nurses, who play a critical role in every patient’s health care. As we know, during the pandemic, these front-line healthcare workers were working 24/7, 365. They were heroes, but extremely exhausted, overworked, and physically drained. Since the nurses couldn't be offline for hours or days, we worked with the hospital’s leadership to deploy 15-minute scenarios that allowed the nurses to learn some basic skills, and immediately put them into action.
Q. What do you think are the biggest challenges your industry will face in the next five years? And how do you plan to counter those challenges?
Despite all the technological innovations, it’s human-to-human communication that will define workplace culture. At Fierce, we believe conversation is the culture. And culture is the currency for success.
Let me explain. We believe that one of the key drivers to success in workplace culture is the API (Application Protocol Interface) of human-to-human connection. For most organizations, as in life, some people talk to each other all the time, but too frequently we have conversations that leave us confused, or worse, feeling offended, intimidated, or insecure.
These negative interactions impede collaboration and innovation, and create toxic environments that lead to turnover, low employee engagement, and negatively impact the bottom line. Stress is causing these negative interactives, which means we have to vastly reduce this stress when we face these daily challenges head-on.
What we are offering is conversation training that arms leaders with the tools to combat their biggest challenges while creating more enriching relationships. We have a proven, step-by-step approach that learners can use in their professional and personal lives every day. If team members can embrace these skills, they will reap the benefits. They can apply these strategies to promote change management, cross-functional collaboration, diversity equity, and inclusion to name a few. When employees employ these skills, they will become more resilient and adaptable while also empowering leaders to effectively manage stress and be more mindful.
Edward Beltran | CEO
Edward Beltran, CPA, brings 20 years of expertise in finance and operations and has been a leader at Fierce since 2017. He holds two Bachelor of Science degrees from Arizona State University in Accounting and Computer Information Systems, and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He has held an active CPA license since 2004 and holds certificates in Entrepreneurship from Wharton and Harvard.
Before joining Fierce, Ed was Head of Finance with large multinational organizations such as Agilent Technologies, Avnet Inc., PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Arthur Andersen as well as advising and supporting start-ups and early-stage companies.
Ed is an avid road bike cyclist clocking 120+ miles a week year-round helping his mental, physical, and spiritual balance as he puts it. He is passionate about helping those who don’t have the privilege, background, or resources to be fully prepared to engage in effective conversations at different levels in life (College, Professional, Personal, Parenthood).