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Certified or Self-Proclaimed Trainer, Who Is Better

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Hey, this is Rajiv Kumar Luv Trainer, Coach, Workshop leader, Author, podcaster, Youtuber and founder of The Personality Boss which conducts the Ultimate Personality Development Program, Course, Coaching, Training and Workshops in Mumbai. I help you design the life you want. The articles that I post on my blog also have one purpose in mind “Leadership through Personality Development” Now over to the article…

My eyes were glued to a large advertisement which appeared in The Times of India. This ad was released by a well known Institute which conducts training in soft skills. What really bugged me was, the ad was trying to convince the readers that only certified trainers from their Institute were of value and all the self-proclaimed trainers were useless. In this article, I want to defend all you self-proclaimed trainers out there.


First things first, let me tell you I have nothing against certification. By all means get certified. I would definitely want the pilot who flies my aircraft, the doctor who treats me, the driver who drives my car, the machine operator, the safety guy to be certified. Most importantly, the politicians who run our country.But when it comes to soft skills, I don’t agree that a certification is a must. On the contrary, I think a certificate will actually limit the trainer. So let me present my perspective…you are free to have your own.

At one of the event I attended, as one of the trainer was being introduced, it took the person 5 minutes to read out all the different courses the trainer was certified to conduct, I could see the audience rolling their eyes and getting uneasy about it.There are trainers who even though they have certifications don’t talk about it but there are others who insist on flaunting it.

Around 1986, when I started working towards becoming a soft skills trainer, I asked my Guru, who is now 96 years old, “Sir, what certificate should I get to become a trainer in soft skills?” He replied, “Rajiv if you want to get a job as a trainer in a company then get a certificate or diploma but if you want to strike it on your own and make a difference, then ‘get results’ and collect written testimonials” By the way, during those days, I never heard of a certified trainer.

Everywhere I went, I would ask for a testimonial, soon I had a file full of them. One day, I went to a College in Ghatkopar and met the Director and offered to conduct a ‘Personality Development’ program for their students. The director asked me, “Are you a certified psychologist?” I said, “No” “Are you a certified psychiatrist?” “No” “Do you have this certificate, do you have that certificate? My answer was No. Then I said, "Sir, I don’t have any certifications but I have file full of testimonials from people who have benefited from my training, would you like to see?” The director looked at me and waved his hand to keep the file away and said, “Sorry, you can’t conduct a ‘Personality Development’ program in our college if you don’t have a certificate. I thanked him and quietly left.

Why are Self-proclaimed Trainers better? Self-proclaimed trainers are better because they spend lot of time doing their own research, testing what works and what doesn’t work, they develop a style which is natural to them, they connect better with people as they are very down to earth. They don’t live on borrowed credibility of the Institute or the charisma of the Personality who certified them, they go through the University of hard knocks, which I think is an essential part of becoming a soft skills trainer. Self-proclaimed trainers have to work extra hard to market themselves, build their reputation, credibility and trust to get repeat business.

A self-proclaimed trainer will always do his best to give his best, because if he doesn’t, no one will call him again. They can’t afford to get complacent, they have to constantly update themselves, they have their own uniqueness which differentiates them from others. Imagine people like - Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Jack Canfield, Les Brown, Jerry Clark, Robin Sharma, Dale Carnegie, Deepak Chopra, Jim Rohn, Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon Hill would they be the same, if they were certified trainers? I doubt. I found that my favorite trainer Bob Proctor didn’t even finish his formal education.

Self-proclaimed trainers because they develop their own content, the content gets internalized and the trainer is more enthusiastic and more convincing while delivering it. If you have made your own slides, you have no difficulty in explaining it, giving examples and doing exercises. There is a website which sells ‘PowerPoint presentations’ on practically any training topic and they are excellently made slides but you can’t use them as you are not very familiar with them. If the slides are not your own, you will keep reading them from the screen, lose your audience and the impact you can have.

Why be certified? A certificate is just a stamp, that’s the reason why so many do MBA. When I asked a student, why he’s doing MBA He replied, “Because the MBA ‘tag’ opens doors for me, will give me a better package. Mind you, he could not even construct simple sensible sentences in English, while speaking.

Why does a company want certified trainers? Because it makes their jobs easy to decide which trainer to hire, they don’t have to worry about the credentials of the trainer as someone has already done it for them.And they don’t have to bother about their seniors questioning them. One HR Manager told me that they only accept trainers certified from IIM’s and IIT’s.

When the certificate becomes more important than the person, then expect poor quality and poor results. A trainer who has only a certificate is just like a beautiful body that attracts but which lacks a soul. The real power of the trainer should come form him not from the certificate.

For a certified trainer, everything is given ready made or we can say they are spoon fed. Someone has already done the thinking for you, they have created a structure that is best according to them, there is no contribution from your side. All you get is a canned program which you have to deliver the exact way you have been trained. So the Institute starts churning out trainers who are groomed the same way, dress the same way, speak the same way, use the same exercises and activities, use the same diction, using the same body language, and have a similar website. How does one differentiate from the other?

Some years back, a friend of mine who was working in Kuwait dropped by at my house to catch up with me. He gave a me an attractive looking leather-bound thick journal. He said, “Rajiv I have no use for this, maybe you can put it to better use” I opened it and I saw that it was a ‘workbook’ used by participants of the Stephen Covey’s Program “Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” I asked him, where did he get it. He said he attended the program in Kuwait conducted by a Covey certified trainer. I was getting excited as I was a great fan of Stephen Covey. I pulled out my pad and pen and told my friend to share all that he learnt in the program. I wanted it straight from the horse’s mouth. He shook his head and said, “Aw, it was no good.” He said the trainer was dull, boring, bland and mechanical. The trainer didn’t bother whether the audience got anything or not. He just went through his process and was not able to even cover all the things given in the workbook. The friend said he paid more than 2 lakhs to attend the program. The trainer kept showing videos of Stephen Covey and found it very difficult to keep the audience awake. My friend said, at the end of the program he asked his fellow participants their views about the program. Almost everyone said, “It was superb” ‘Great" “Awesome” “Wow.” The beauty of such programs is, nobody can say anything bad about them, Why? Because you are the one who must be crazy to criticize an Internationally recognized branded program. I am sure if Stephen Covey himself would have conducted, it would have been electrifying. Why? Because it his baby, he gave birth to it, no one can feel it the same way, he feels. Does that make sense?

In fact, just because they are certified, some trainers think they can get away with anything and they do. I attended a one day program conducted by a famous trainer, who was charging Rs.20,000 per participant, per day. The slides were awful, the guy had put an entire page of a book on the screen which you couldn’t read. He would keep going off track. He was in love with his own voice. If somebody asked him a question, he would start speaking only to that person and the entire hall would feel disconnected. I could see the audience completely disinterested, some were dozing off and some walked away dejected.

Here is an outlandish thought, that I would like to share. Today on television you can see children as young as 4-5 years demonstrate skills that are much much better than adults whether it is singing, dancing, cooking, speaking or acting. So let’s take a kid and train him to become a soft skills trainer, their grasping power is so good that they will pick up everything in no time, they will easily outsmart adult trainers. After completing the course, he is now a certified trainer. Here’s my question, “Would a HR Manager hire this kid to conduct a workshop for his people? No? Why not? He is certified. What more do you want?

So if you are a self-proclaimed trainer who is driven by a higher purpose, develops his own content, makes the content easy to understand,someone who constantly keeps updating himself, someone who is down to earth, someone who wants to make a difference, someone who connects, someone who is natural, punctual, committed, passionate, someone who has been through the University of hard knocks then my dear friend be proud of yourself, you are much superior to a certified trainer, any day. Go out there, and make a great contribution to the world.

I am Rajiv Kumar Luv. My passion in life is to make a difference in the lives of people so that they achieve their personal as well as professional best. I am absolutely committed to specially helping youngsters become leaders in their chosen fields. In the past 28 years, I have trained over 100,000 people from all walks of life. Through my two-day program “Leadership Through Personality Development” I help the youth plan their career, build confidence, make better decisions, manage time and develop their employability skills to meet today’s real-life challenges. You can learn more about me and the work I do by visiting: