Dale Carnegie Training president stepping down, leaving behind a legacy

When it comes to growing business and leadership skills, Terry Siebert has a winning recipe.

Siebert, age 68, is president of the Madison-based branch of Dale Carnegie Training, an international business coaching company that has operated for over 100 years. The Wisconsin arm of the franchise has its flagship in Dane County, and holds classes statewide on topics such as leadership, sales, public speaking and “skills for success.”

He first joined Dale Carnegie in 1979 as a part-time trainer, and has since spent decades alongside his wife Kathy, who is vice president of the company, helping people become better business professionals through the company’s specialized training programs. They have partnered with colleges, businesses and individuals looking for a competitive edge.

Now, Siebert is stepping down from his position as president and mentor and selling the local franchise.

“We are in discussion right now,” said Siebert. “Our goal would be to pass this on to somebody that is capable of taking it and growing it to another level.”

As it is, the company has already helped many across the state to reach their potential.

Joe Hamilton is the director of sales and marketing at Vortex Optics, a growing optics-technology company based in Wisconsin, and has worked with Siebert for years on leadership training.

“Terry will push you, and I personally like that,” said Hamilton. “It’s not overbearing; he pushes you to be better. Speaking, communicating, holding you accountable–I’ve always appreciated that he’s a straight shooter, and he pushes you in the right way.”

Managers at Vortex Optics took the Building Leaders course, which strengthens managerial leadership skills.

“In every case, there were major benefits,” said Hamilton, adding the value comes from two main things.

First, the course gets participants to organically come up with their own ideas for business strategy, rather than spoonfeeding a rigid program to follow. Second, it pushes them to follow through on those ideas, practicing them in roleplay settings and in real business scenarios.

These sessions helped the Vortex Optics team to come together and become a “more tight-knit group,” according to Hamilton.

Mike Weber, director of sales at Dean Health Plan, has known Terry since the 1990s, when he originally took a public speaking course with Dale Carnegie.

“When I went there, I was struck by the diversity of people that attended,” said Weber. “We all kind of learned from each other.”

He describes the courses as “challenging,” and sees the benefits there for his own employees.

“We are sending three people there this spring,” Weber said. “Sales is a tricky thing. The class gives them a lot of structure; when I send someone there, I know they’re doing it.”

He says that creating a discipline for sales is as important for him as it is for Siebert, whom he describes as “energetic, enthusiastic, professional and very involved in the community.”

“He’s a cool guy,” Weber said. “He gets it.”

Siebert and his wife are actively involved in two separate Madison Rotary clubs, and plan to continue that after the transition.

“If you’re in a service club, if we wanted to, we could spend 40 hours a week doing service project kind of stuff,” said Siebert. “There’s no question that we want to continue to do some kind of volunteer work in that kind of area.”

Their Rotary clubs perform outreach in the community such as scholarships, coats for kids campaigns, youth exchange programs with other countries and food bank projects.

“You know, you give and you give back, and you get a little back as well,” Siebert said.

As the married couple moves on with the next stage of life, he sees them spending a lot more time with their ten grandkids.

“We see them a lot, but not as much as we would like,” Siebert said.

Dale Carnegie has also partnered with Viterbo University to hold a class called Advanced Interpersonal Skills for the Leader. According to Tom Knothe, dean of the College of Business and Leadership at Viterbo, the class is “one of the most well-received, most popular courses.”

The partnership started in 2007, when Knothe and Siebert met at a Chamber of Commerce expo and realized that there was “a lot of synergy” between the two organizations. Importantly, they both saw the importance of preparing ethical leaders for the business world.

According to Knothe, students describe the course as “transformational, life-changing and immediately relevant.”

–By Alex Moe