Magazine Store

30 Most Reputable Companies of the Year 2022

Transforming Clients’ Cultures by Teaching People the Conversation Skills They Need to Ensure They’re Heard: Fierce, Inc.


“Our philosophy has been to focus on providing learners at our companies the opportunity to "practice" and change their habits.”

Fierce, Inc. is an award-winning leadership development and training company that drives results for business and education by enhancing workplace communication. Fierce creates authentic, energizing, and rewarding connections with colleagues and customers through skillful conversations that lead to successful outcomes and measurable ROI. The company's programs have been successfully implemented at blue-chip companies, non-profits, and educational organizations worldwide, including Ernst & Young, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, CARE, and Crate & Barrel.

Edward Beltran, CEO of Fierce, Inc., spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review about how his company-built solutions solve culture challenges.

Interview Highlights

Q. From your perspective, how is the industry you serve currently evolving? And where does Fierce, Inc. stand at the moment?

The leadership and development training industry is needed more than ever, particularly as companies figure out how to navigate their ways beyond the challenges COVID-19 posed. What we've learned in more than 20 years is 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. Our company's founder, Susan Scott, discovered early on that her conversations with executives around the country at companies of all sizes laid the foundation for our approach today. We have learned over the past two years that effective communication is at the heart of every company's ability to create workplaces that are welcoming and productive.

The industry is moving toward scale, application, and sustainability which is at the heart of everything we are doing at Fierce.

Q. How responsive is Fierce, Inc. to the changing needs of its clients?

Since we're in the business of helping corporate leaders be more effective communicators, we have taken the time to listen to our clients and do our independent research. To help us with this, we recently hired Dr. Gabe de la Rosa as our chief behavioral science officer. He will work with our clients to enhance their clients' leadership, culture, and communication outcomes. De la Rosa has some extraordinary experience measuring the impact of stress on individuals in some of the highest stakes workplace cultures, including the U.S. Navy. This includes research on "Operational Stress and Correlates of Mental Health Among Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay Military Personnel" and other peer-reviewed, groundbreaking work. By working with our other team members, we've got some exciting new products and services that will be rolled out in the future.

Q. How do skillful conversations lead to successful outcomes and measurable ROI?

Conversations are the API (Application Protocol Interface) of human-to-human connection and are critical to achieving extraordinary results. Conversation training provides leaders with the philosophy that they can tackle their toughest challenges while enriching the relationships with those they interact. This training provides learners a template to initiate the conversation and then a step-by-step guide on how to have it.

Conversations are fundamental and complementary to the success of any initiative or program, especially to those whose success is predicated on interactions such as influence, change management, cross-functional collaboration, diversity equity, and inclusion, to name a few. Our research demonstrates that practicing these skills leads to resilience and adaptability while empowering leaders to manage stress and be more mindful. For executives and leaders, these skills and behaviors maximize your return on investment on your initiatives and are mission-critical to strategic execution – the day-to-day blocking and tackling.

We have created our corporate assets with "lego bricks" in mind. We can assemble different content assets combined with delivery modalities to customize our clients' needs to solve their toughest challenges. This, combined with our in-house implementation and client success specialists, puts us at the table with our clients to co-design impactful training into the critical people initiatives.

Q. That's not all Fierce, Inc. does. What are its other focus areas?

Within the past three years, Fierce has been busy. Our philosophy has been to focus on providing learners at our companies the opportunity to "practice" and change their habits. We've embraced the metaverse even before it became the "cool thing." Our 3D/V.R. simulations are a perfect example of this. We put the learner in real situations, where they can choose the direction of the conversation, experience the outcome, hit redo, and learn from an immersive environment in 15 minutes or less. Over the past 18-months due to COVID-19, we've been working with a wide range of clients, particularly in retail, who are trying to manage interactives with customers. We've helped frontline nurses learn how to delegate and provide feedback to doctors and in helping team members better understand how to identify and address microaggressions.

Fierce Connect is an APP that helps team members practice and improve their conversation skills in real-time. We are using A.I. to predict what conversations our learners need to have and provide them with the resources to have successful conversations that will positively impact their professional and personal lives.

We have also invested in the research that links having Fierce Conversations to lower stress and driving better outcomes. This is core to who we are and what we do by providing the tools, practice, and confidence to tackle your toughest challenges and never walk away from a situation thinking, "Why didn't I say…?" or "I should have said…" or "What just happened?" or worse, the dreaded "That meeting was a huge waste of time."  Our research has directly tied resolving these stressors to a positive impact on the organization's work environment, culture, and financial results.

Q. No doubt Fierce is charting new territories in this segment. Given how frequently circumstances change, what plans for transformation are you pursuing to remain relevant now and in the future?

By bringing on Dr. de la Rosa, he has already written a white paper, "Impact of Stress at Work," that makes a direct connection between poor communication between team leaders and members leading to higher levels of stress within the workplace. The result is lower morale and lower productivity. We are actively working on innovative tools and approaches to help corporate leaders and their team members track, measure, and identify stress points so they can adapt their communication styles to transform their cultures. We know that learners have different styles. For example, some people love to read hardcover books; others like to read books using an e-reader, and others listen to books. At Fierce, we're setting out to reach all types of learners, helping them get the skills they need in real-time to make an immediate impact.

Q. How do you plan to counter challenges you think Fierce might face in the next five years?

I'm a firm believer in disruptive innovation. That means as a leader, I've got to embrace the reality that there will be competitors in the marketplace challenging us to be more innovative, responsive, and creative to provide products and services to our clients. We must continuously look around the corner, listening to our customers and building our research to adapt, pivot, and move forward. With the experience over the past two years, the standard operating environment has presented us with challenges that we could have never anticipated. The impact? We pushed ourselves to look at how we could deliver our services in new ways via virtual simulations. We found ways to assist our customers in confronting some of their concerns, from customer management to addressing unconscious bias and microaggressions through our Conversation Catalysts and partners – Dr. Yasmin Davidds and Kaplan Mobray. The need for conversation techniques or API of human-to-human connection to tackle your toughest challenges will never go away. The challenges that we face will continue to evolve, and this is where Fierce will be, to help connect the dots to application, be it DE&I, devise politics, change management, resilience, and adaptability.

The Visionary Leader Upfront

Edward Beltran, CPA, is the Chief Executive Officer of Fierce, Inc. He brings over 20 years of expertise in finance and operations and has been a leader at Fierce since 2017. Before joining Fierce,

Mr. Beltran was Head of Finance with large multinational organizations such as Agilent Technologies, Avnet Inc., PricewaterhouseCoopers, Arthur Andersen, and advising and supporting start-ups and early-stage companies.

Edward 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.

He is an avid road bike cyclist clocking 120+ miles a week year-round, helping his mental, physical, and spiritual balance, as he puts it.

“We have created our corporate assets with 'lego bricks' in mind, whereby we can assemble different content assets combined with delivery modalities to customize what our clients need to solve their toughest challenges.”