Proving that Virtual Learning is More Engaging

Over the past several weeks, SVEE partner Advantexe has conducted 14 virtual learning programs for 393 participants. virtual-business-acumen-learning

The topic areas have included Business Acumen, Business Leadership, and Strategic Business Selling.

During these programs, they conducted several experiments including asking participants their pre- and post-confidence levels and tracking their physical engagement in the learning process for the purpose of identifying key trends for sharing and process improvement.

In tracking the physical engagement of participants in the programs, they tracked the following criteria:

  • Was the camera on?
  • Were they observed to be active listening?
  • Were they participating in conversations and decision-making?

In summary, they observed that 90.28% of all participants going through these programs were actively engaged and learning for an average of about 16.45 hours per person

At a 90.28% effective engagement rate, that is a net of 5,837 pure hours of focused and intense learning. In addition to the observations of engagement, they have also been polling participants before and after the learning to gauge their increases in confidence and skills. The cohorts in the survey reported:

  • 68% of all participants had an improvement in their confidence.
  • 51% of participants had an improvement in skills that will lead to better decision-making and results.

Virtual Learning Design Best Practices

What are the best practices of designing engaging and interactive virtual learning that leads to these types of results? During the same time, they have been tracking the data above, they have also been working with participants to identify the best learning configurations to optimize their experiences. Here is current thinking for best configurations based on the data and results:

  • Total learning hours to be effective: About 18-20
  • Number of “Connections” of learning to be effective – 5 (a connection is a virtual workshop that features content and application)
  • The average length of connection 4 hours
  • The ratio of content to application: 1-3 (for every hour of content, three hours of application
  • Distribution of learning connections: Thursday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday of one or Tuesday – Thursday week one, Tuesday – Thursday week two.

Content to Application

“I don’t think there is anyone on the planet right now who thinks the most effective way to learn is being talked at by a talking head in a virtual training room. What people may not realize is that there are great ways to learn by doing including case studies, role plays, and digital simulations.

As a digital simulation professional, it’s been the joy of my career to watch learners engage and learn by doing,” said Rob Brodo, Co-founder of Advantexe.

There are three different types of business simulations that have become popular and can increase confidence and skills in the same manner as our survey:           

  • Business Acumen Simulations – Small teams run their own simulated company setting and executing the strategy through operational decisions. In these types of simulations, participants manage the complete operations of the simulated company including all the functions.
  • Best Practices Simulations – smalls teams take on the role of a character weaving through different scenarios making decisions and building their leadership behaviors.
  • Blended Simulations – small teams go through a simulation that blends the hard skills of business acumen with the soft skills of business leadership.

In summary, while many feel that we will soon go back to traditional classroom learning, we think the data speaks for itself and the conclusions are obvious. Virtual learning is more effective and productive.

why business acumen matters
Robert Brodo

About The Author

Robert Brodo is co-founder of Advantexe. He has more than 20 years of training and business simulation experience.

How to Lose Control – Managing the Environment Instead of Controlling the Situation

By Dr. Robert Kovach and Robert David

For most of us, when we recount a stressful situation, we emphasize the things that created an emotional response. We’ll not just talk through the substantive areas of a negative work assessment; we’ll mention how it was in the middle of the day, wrecking our focus for the rest of the afternoon. We don’t just explain a team member’s disagreement with us on a specific issue; we’ll describe their tone, or mention who else was in the room. Our primary – or even primal – reaction is how it made us feel. Usually, we feel threatened. On a subconscious level, that leads to a fight or flight response – either of which are really about regaining control. You aren’t going to punch a colleague or flee the room (let’s hope), but your brain is distracted because . . .well, it really, really wants to. In the workplace, executives and other senior leaders will sometimes accommodate this reaction by trying to control the situation. They become preoccupied with how things are happening. But it’s more productive (and more emotionally pleasant) if one can focus on the desired goals and whether they are achieved – what could be described as managing the environment. It isn’t easy – but the more aware you are that you’re hard wired to fight back, the more likely you can let go.

Are you managing the environment or controlling the situation?

Out of control. There have been some reports in the business press about Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon’s encounter with a junior-level banker from his organisation last year. Reportedly this person was having lunch at the same restaurant as Solomon in the Hamptons — during the workday – and approached him to say hello. Goldman Sachs employees were largely working from home during the pandemic; Solomon has gone on the record repeatedly saying that he does not envision remote work as a long-term solution. According to some accounts, Solomon was incensed by a number of factors, including the age of the banker, the exclusive location and the . . .uh, confidence (?) with which he approached Solomon. Apparently, Solomon has recounted the story numerous times, as an example of why employees must go back to the office. But is it?

Whatever your view on remote work, most agree that there are, in fact, valid reasons for wanting employees back in the office. For example, there’s informal mentoring that happens organically when people are physically together. There’s also impromptu idea sharing, rapid resolution of questions and an acceleration of team building dynamics (for example, you start to read your colleagues’ personalities and work styles better). But a young banker being at lunch during the workday isn’t actually proof that employees need to go back to the office. All it proves is that their movements weren’t being as strictly controlled by their managers as a traditional in-office environment. A recent article came out on the side of the banker, while conceding the merits of in-office work: “Wall Street’s chieftains may have a point about the value of staff gathering in person. It supports a common culture and is essential to training young workers. But the tone of chiefs is too often arrogant and unseemly.”  In other words, maybe Solomon had a point. But his tone shifted the focus from valid reasons such as corporate culture or productivity and turned it into a conversation about tone and power.

Guardrails, not guidelines. One way to think about this dynamic is to separate “managing the environment” from “controlling the situation”. If you are a parent of more than one child, it’s likely you’ve already done this at home. You may set general rules for how your children have to treat each other. For example, you may say no hitting, no cursing, no setting things on fire (or whatever). But you may find that you often don’t intervene if your children are simply bickering. You create an environment that puts guardrails around the range of acceptable outcomes. Ideally, your children learn to resolve conflict amongst themselves, but due to those guardrails, they incorporate into those resolutions the values of non-violence and respectful language.

Your colleagues, no matter how young, should not be treated like children (obviously). However, as a leader you should find ways of empowering your team members to have control over situations and decisions that are the mere tools to produce the outcome you want, as long as they reflect the values and mission you establish. This can be more difficult than it sounds, especially if you are a Gen X or Baby Boomer executive. Traditionally, the most experienced person in the room was deferred to on both form and substance, rightly or wrongly. And, for a long time, in-person work was the only option. And therefore mentorship and corporate culture were only experienced in-person. Someone who had been doing the same thing a long time probably was the appropriate authority. But that’s not necessarily true now. In 2021, can you find mentors, resolve problems impromptu and absorb the corporate culture via Slack and Zoom? Unclear if David Solomon really knows. More importantly — Solomon doesn’t need to. The person who actually has the most to lose is the younger employees who don’t go to the office and discover they are missing opportunities or making mistakes because they’re not there in person. If they don’t meet the goals set for them, they are likely to self-correct.

Thinking clearly – crystallized intelligence. There’s another reason senior leaders should focus on managing the environment more than controlling the situation. It’s the idea of fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. These are two different ways in which we synthesize information and solve problems. Put simply, fluid intelligence is learning how to do things based on facts on hand, as opposed to prior knowledge – figuring out a new app based on a YouTube video, or identifying patterns. Fluid intelligence was originally believed to peak in early adulthood; some now believe it peaks around age 40. Crystallized intelligence is making decisions based on experience – including the variety of outcomes and the different inputs that led to each outcome. This includes things like hiring decisions or creating a budget. Crystallized intelligence reaches its apex as late as your seventies. As a senior leader your strength is to leverage your crystallized intelligence – for example, no one knows how the economy will recover post-pandemic. But someone with thirty years’ experience in the financial markets is more likely to have seen multiple disruptive events and at least anticipate possible likely scenarios and ways to accommodate them.

Managing the environment makes you less of a boss and more of a leader.

Combining a philosophy of not trying to control every situation with a focus on objectives that require a lot of crystallized intelligence have two advantages. It cannot only help executives better utilize their team’s strengths, but frankly, take some of the emotion out of it. It also shifts a mentality from being the boss (“I dictate where you physically perform your job.”) to being a leader. Your average Gen X or Baby Boomer executive would have grown up (professionally) in a time when their bosses were respected partly out of fear. As one (Gen X) Bloomberg reporter opined about the Solomon incident “If you are a midlevel investment banker . . . hav[ing]a long leisurely lunch at a Hamptons restaurant, and you see the chief executive officer of your bank sitting two tables away, what is the move? My instinct is definitely along the lines of ‘put on a hat and sunglasses, scuttle to the bathroom with your head down, climb out the window, catch the next helicopter back to the office and never eat lunch again,’” Controlling the situation might scare people into compliance – but as Robert wrote recently, now is a time when leaders can improve their organisation, not be held hostage to it. But this also isn’t about giving in – it’s about being more self-aware and finding productive ways to get the outcomes you want at work. Wherever “at work” might be.

Dr Robert Kovach is a business psychologist who spent 14 years working in Cisco’s executive assessment and development group. He is currently an advisor to companies on driving business strategy through executive leadership and team effectiveness ( He divides his time between the US and London.

Robert David has spent 40 years in the tech industry and held most every position in a workplace (from entry-level to CEO). Now, drawing on his experiences and life-lessons to cover talent development and the future of work, he’s currently Executive Director for an HR non-profit and on the Faculty for Silicon Valley Executive Education. He resides in Half Moon Bay, California.

Advantexe Sim for SaaS

Advantexe Partners with Silicon Valley Executive Education (SVEE) to Offer Innovative Business Simulation focused on a SaaS Model Business Framework

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. (PRWEB) June 28, 2021 — Advantexe Learning Solutions, a global leader in business simulation-centric training solutions and Silicon Valley Executive Education (SVEE), an Executive Education solution provider, today announced a partnership to provide a new business simulation learning experience focused on understanding the dynamics of a Software as a Service (SaaS) based business.

The simulation has been developed in response to the rapid shifts in today’s business ecosystem and the growing need for managers and leaders in all industries to better understand how SaaS-based companies operate and make money. Utilizing this simulation as part of a business acumen learning journey builds the competencies of strategic thinking, financial management, and leading across the enterprise. As a result of completing the simulation, learners will be able to,

  • Understand how operational decisions drive company performance
  • Leverage a company’s financial position and key business metrics to improve decision making
  • Recognize the importance of retaining top talent to ensure the company can deliver on its vision

In much the same way a flight simulator enables pilots to hone their instincts and build their flight skills, the SaaS simulation provides professionals with the opportunity to build their business acumen skills by “flying a business” in a risk-free learning environment. In the simulation, learners manage the daily operations of a struggling SaaS company. The simulation experience allows learners to experiment with different strategies, interact with diverse characters, and visually see the immediate effect that operational decision-making has on the financial performance of the simulated business.

Designed to be completed individually or in small teams, the SaaS business simulation can be delivered virtually, or during an in-person learning event. The simulation is ready to use off-the-shelf and has been built to allow for customization to reflect a client’s unique environment and situations. The typical simulation play time is 8 hours.

“We are extremely proud to be working with the SVEE group to provide organizations with a new and innovative learning solution,” says Robert Brodo, Advantexe CEO. “SVEE is a leader in this space and has a stellar reputation with their clients. We are looking forward to working with their team to assist learners in developing the necessary skills to succeed in today’s complex and changing SaaS market.”

“The leadership playbook is always changing, but there’s one constant: when you invest in the development of your people, you always win,” said Robert David, SVEE Faculty Director. “We could not be any more pleased to be partnering with the team at Advantexe and look forward to bringing their business simulation platform to new audiences.”

About Advantexe

Advantexe Learning Solutions partners with clients around the world to build the business acumen, leadership, and selling skills needed to execute their business strategies and achieve meaningful business results. Our comprehensive toolkit includes skills assessments, dynamic learning engagements powered by computer-based business simulations, and reinforcement tools that encourage immediate skill application. These elements combine to produce a measurable and lasting impact on our clients’ businesses.

About SVEE:

Agile, content-focused, and results-oriented, SVEE is a unique player among traditional executive education organizations: a provider driven by behavioral practice and geared solely toward real-world success. With a flexible digital model and an impressive roster of expert faculty at its disposal, SVEE has quickly established itself as a transformative force in the ExecEd marketspace.

Improve your sales team’s negotiation skills

Are you looking to improve your sales team’s negotiation skills? Are you getting back to in-person training sessions?

SVEE can develop a fully-customized program for your enterprise/organization. Participants apply negotiation science to contractual and commercial negotiations (both formal and informal). We devote significant time to simulations (individual 1-to-1) and conversations designed to extract long term value.

The workshop will cover the following topics:

•           Key tactics for creating and claiming value

•           Power dynamics (cross-cultural DNA)

•           Developing trust

This is hands-on program with interactive discussion, enabling participants to step back and reflect on their negotiation behavior, with the goal of breaking old habits and refining with new habits by gaining new skills and insights to apply in future negotiations.

We’ll do two negotiation simulations during the day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They are critical for skill development and can be video recorded.

The time between simulations is dedicated to analyzing simulation results, discussing the negotiation tactics associated with successful negotiation performance, and applying these tactics to participants day-to-day negotiation challenges.

Contact [email protected] for more information.

Creating the Environment for Courageous Inclusion

This online program is designed for mid- and senior-level managers, directors, and those interested in driving change in their organizations and is available as part of Lehigh University’s Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership.  It can also be applied as a non-domain option in the Executive Certificate in Project Management and the Executive Certificate in Supply Chain Management.

This program costs $1195 and will run online on May 5, 12, 19 & 26, 2021 and June 2 & 9, 2021 from 1:00-4:00 PM ET (Participants need to complete all sessions to meet the program requirements). 

To register:

When at ‘Checkout’, please be sure to put “REFERRED BY”: Other, then “SPECIFY”: SVEE. Thank you.

Program Overview

Many companies today are facing growing pressure from well-organized social movements and their own employees to provide equal opportunities in hiring and advancement. Research shows that when they build a more diverse workforce, these companies haven’t just satisfied social and moral mandates: they benefit from strengthened innovation, competitive advantage, and decision-making; improved engagement and retention; enhanced reputation; and increased productivity and profitability.

Getting there, though, isn’t easy. Traditional diversity training does a good job of building awareness and starting the conversation, but simply hiring more people of color, women, or those from other underrepresented groups isn’t the solution. If there aren’t measures or cultural norms in place that keep these new employees from feeling included, they won’t stay—and the company is back where it started.

Creating the Environment for Courageous Inclusion takes a different approach. Designed for decision-makers who can drive change in their organizations, this live online program doesn’t stop with building awareness of the challenge. Over six three-hour sessions, it provides concrete insights, specific tools, and practical steps for change. Participants will identify processes, policies, and procedures in their organizations that currently maintain inequity between groups, and through exercises, assignments, and interactive discussions will learn how to transform them. Ultimately, the program works to create transformative changes instead of quick fixes.

Impact & Benefits

  • Gain a heightened awareness of the challenges to creating an inclusive workplace
  • Learn frameworks, tactics, and best practices for the work that needs to be done
  • Become an advocate and guide for driving transformative change in your organization
  • Identify next steps and create a blueprint for achieving them
  • Build a network of peers and colleagues who can serve as resources as you begin to implement new approaches within your organization

Who Should Attend?​​​​

  • Senior leaders including c-suite executives, VPs, trustees, and directors
  • Managers and supervisors
  • Human resources professionals
  • Those who have an interest in driving positive change


Donald Outing, PhD, is Lehigh’s first Vice President for Equity and Community, and the University Diversity and Inclusion Officer. In this role, he leads institutional efforts to advance its work on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Prior to his appointment at Lehigh, Dr. Outing served as the Chief Diversity Officer and Director of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity for the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point. He served as the academy’s senior leader in coordinating efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive environment, developed and implemented the USMA diversity and inclusion strategic plan, and created an integrated assessment process to measure effectiveness.

He was certified as a diversity and equal opportunity practitioner in the U.S. Department of Defense in 2015, after completing the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), and received the Commandant’s Award for highest overall achievement.

Dr. Outing has more than 34 years of distinguished federal service. He is the recipient of numerous awards to include the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the National Society of Black Engineers’ 2013 Janice A Lumpkin Educator of the Year Award and the 2014 National IMAGE Meritorious Service Award, and the 2014 College For Every Student Mario Peña Award for his work to increase college access and success for underserved youth.


“This program brought together both the personal and the professional, and that balance is so important in diversity work. The intention is to be lifelong learners, never completely able to eliminate our biases, but be vulnerable enough to recognize them and prevent them from causing or supporting systems that are unsafe and undignified.” Shannon Jaeger

“This course is a real opportunity to have authentic conversations that can help us in our organizations to continue to explore DEI in a unique way.”Shawn Mack

“The program gives you a safe place to learn and practice skills, get feedback, and make improvements before you take them back and apply them in the real world.”Doug Robertson

“I could take this program again and learn more, and I highly recommend it. Dr. Outing moves from a personal exploration of the topic to a strategic business one, which is critical for making this process truly effective.” Melanie Sanchez-Jones

SVEE Partners with BetterManager, Expands Industry Footprint with All-New Suite of Services

ExecEd solution provider Silicon Valley Executive Education (SVEE) inks brand new partnership with BetterManager to complement lineup of curricula and coaching.

Half Moon Bay, CA (April 16, 2021) – Silicon Valley Executive Education has signed a partnership agreement with virtual leadership development platform BetterManager. SVEE is expanding its services to include new outlets for individual learning as well as group lessons supported by an easily accessible library of supplementary audio, video, and digital print material. Centered primarily on issues of interpersonal communication and strategic alignment, and targeting both managers and senior leaders, BetterManager will allow SVEE clients to take advantage of hands-on coaching delivered via proven models for applied learning. Clients will also be able to trace participants’ progress with BetterManager’s 360° surveys and insight tools.

Robert David, professional faculty at SVEE sees the BetterManager partnership as an ideal complement to SVEE’s already highly progressive solutions for ExecEd. Citing BetterManager’s commitment to strengthening human connections in order to build better businesses, David notes the platform will give SVEE clients even more of what they want. “The addition of BetterManager’s services,” David says, “helps us flesh out operations even further and enables us to offer more of what our clients ask us for: deeper relationships that create better outcomes and a more lasting impact.”

“The leadership playbook is always changing, but there’s one constant: when you authentically invest in the development of your people, you always win,” said Stéphane Panier, founder and CEO of BetterManager. “We could not be any more pleased to be partnering with Robert and the team at SVEE and look forward to bringing our leadership training platform to new audiences.”

About SVEE: Agile, content-focused, and results-oriented, SVEE is a unique player among traditional executive education organizations: a provider driven by behavioral practice and geared solely toward real-world success. With a flexible digital model and an impressive roster of expert faculty at its disposal, SVEE has quickly established itself as a transformative force in the ExecEd marketspace.

About BetterManager: BetterManager cultivates leaders and enhances the effectiveness of managers at all levels. Its scalable, evidence-based combination of Coaching, Training, and Technology lays the foundation for a thriving workplace environment where innovation can flourish.

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