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This is a question Training courses, seminars and conferences

Inspirational or a waste of precious slacking-off time? I once went on a buzzword bingo-laden training course which ended up with my being held at gunpoint in public. Could have gone better, to be honest. Tell us your tales from either side of the lectern

(, Thu 15 Mar 2012, 15:01)
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Microsoft...
...when running a Windows Azure hands-on boot camp for 50 free-lunch hunting furry toothed geeks, please ensure that the internet access provided by the venue isn't a 56k fax modem with an acoustic coupler.

It's extremely difficult to realise the benefits of a cloud based service when we all have to play with it one at a time.

Thanks for the pen though.
(, Sat 17 Mar 2012, 1:28, Reply)
No real story but....
I have been on a selection of courses over the years and there are some things I did manage to pick up. Here's a few suggestions.
1. The most useful part of any teambuilding course is the pissup afterwards. So if you really want your team to bond, save time and money by taking them down the pub.
2. If you are an instructor then breaking out your guitar is not a good idea. We are not laughing with you. we are laughing at you.
3. That goes double for a fucking banjo.
4. Get somebody to look up all the gay/drag bars in the area first. Having a gaggle of pissed-up and none too liberal matelots suddenly realise the pub is full of blokes sitting in pairs is just embarrassing for all concerned.
5. It's not a proper teambuilding course unless somebody comes close to getting twatted.
6. Or somebody's marriage ends up in trouble.
7. Try and pick a venue that has a swimming pool. There's no real business case for this but all the blokes will appreciate the opportunity to see the fit receptionist in a bikini. Call it morale-building.
8. And lastly. There is one person on every single course who really needs to shut the fuck up. It could be the middle-aged bore who thinks he knows everything, it could be the bitter divorcee who hates men and doesn't care who knows it, it could be the guy who thinks he is the second coming of Oscar Wilde. Either way, they will have made themselves obvious by lunchtime on the first day. Tell them the course has to finish early and put them on the next train back to Fuckwitsville. The rest of the course will love you forever.
Thank you. My invoice is in the post.
(, Sat 17 Mar 2012, 0:44, 8 replies)
How to get decent food at training days.
Many of the courses I go on are run by the local council and lunch can vary greatly. Usually a few curly sandwiches and crisps if we get anything.
One course was held in a local venue. Does things like weddings and has a lot of tribute acts. I'd been there before and had the cold buffet which was better than most but on this occasion the full a la carte menu was on offer as the council auditors were using another room.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 21:42, 3 replies)
Come suckle on the teat of my experience
I've been on quite a few. The only constant is this guy here www.b3ta.com/questions/trainingcourses/post1562323

There's always at least one of these on every course. They sit with their arms folded harrumphing and shaking their heads. Refusing to take part and disrupting where they can, going out of their way to sabotage.

Sometimes their devil may care attitude effects some of the younger more impressionable delegates and a cabal of non-conformity is created.

Take closer look at these fuckers. It's a journey-man, a jobs-worth or a fuck-up. The 45 year old who had his last promotion 20 years ago, the guy who, without fail arrives at 9:01 an leaves at 4:59 and has a cheese sandwich for lunch every fucking day.

These people don't want to learn anything because they can't learn anything.

It's 8 hours out of the normal working day. Go with the flow and see what happens, sometimes you'll learn something that'll really help. Sometimes it might seem brilliant but turn out to be bollocks, but it's cost you nothing.

Right, that's training. My advice for conferences is to make a bee line for the the slightly overweight girl from payroll with confidence issues.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 20:52, 8 replies)
Taking a bullet
On a training course up in the London, about 10 years ago, with 3 other people from department.
Monday : Announcement from our company that redundancies would be starting this week.
Tuesday : Redundancies started. Numbers were announced. My 3 companions were getting jittery.
Wednesday : The paring down continued.
Thursday : Announcement that the redundancy process had now finished, barring 1 person who was out of office. Panic on the training course now sets in.
Friday : Everybody is now on tenterhooks, the anxiety is killing them. So I took them to one side and explained that it was me. I'd been told on Friday the week before, that I would be made redundant, but to keep it quiet.
The reason for my redundancy : I'd told my line manager that he was a lazy bastard who spent more time doing his other role of Council Leader (not his day job, just had dispensation, and I was fed up backfilling for him, so asked for a transfer to another team).
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 18:16, 1 reply)
A Polish MacDonalds, smashed shot glasses and hookers
I got invited to speak at an industry conference in Krakow (awesome city, visit if you can) last year. Fancying a bit of a jolly, I accepted and it happened that quite a few other Brits were there too, either speaking or attending.

As speakers, the conference organisers fed us and paid the majority of our bar tab every night, and what the organisers didn't cover, the locals and attendees were more than happy to chip in, despite my protests. In 6 days, I spent a grand total of 80 there, and most of that was at the airport on my way back.

Anyway, I digress. The conference itself was 2 days long; I was there for 5 nights, as were the rest of the Brits (EasyJet flights are awkward and infrequent from my local airport in t'north).

After one particularly heavy night (3rd night in, I think) - where the locals in this beautiful underground bar had spent all night buying shots and smashing the empty glasses against the wall, with the bar staff not batting an eyelid - we left the bar bleary-eyed in to the evening/very early morning. Poland does not seem to have any real licensing laws; the bars just close when people have finished drinking, or when the bar men want to go home.

There is one 24 hour MacDonalds in Krakow; we knew it was close to the bar we'd just left, but could not remember where. Drunken munchies pushed us to walk around the city in search of this for an hour and a half, before we walked down a rather dark alley.

Here, many scantily clad ladies of the night were leaning against walls, lampposts and other cliche street furniture, overlooked by bulky skinheads, in the hope of doing some/the business. A particular young lady (I use 'lady' lightly; she could well have been a cross-dressing body builder from what my mind allows me to recall from that night) took such a liking to me she thought it prudent to grab my genitalia and entice me in.

I managed to de-engage my testicles from her hands fairly swiftly (well, as fast as I could without tearing vital tissue and spilling my 'nads over the street), took one look at the other Brit who hadn't given in for our MacD quest, and hastily beat a retreat (no euphemism) in the direction of a more brightly lit street.

When the missus asked how my trip had gone on my return, I may have negated to mention the street of professional ladies. After all, I quite like my testicles where they are.

tl;dr: Poland; booze, propositioned by the local professionals.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 17:41, 5 replies)
Nutter by proxy
Having worked in the alternative energy sector for 10 years I have been privileged to meet a whole rainbow of charlatans and whack jobs.

At a conference in San Francisco hosted by one of the USA's national laboratories where start up companies with renewable energy based business plans pitched their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists to compete for funding. It was essentially like a Dragon's Den type affair, except the venture capitalists were very polite and actually gave words of encouragement to some of the most ill-conceived business plans and technologies I've ever seen.

Myself and two colleagues got invited to a 70 year old philanthropist's hotel room to witness the ground breaking technology a physicist had brought to him. He thought we might be the very guys he was looking for to take it from a protoype to the earth shattering energy revolution it would undoubtedly become.

He unpacked it. Plugged it in. Air crackled. The smell of ozone was getting stronger as the air became ionised. We stepped back as he flung his arms enthusiastically around bare wires carrying some terrifying voltages.

To the untrained eye it might have looked like a large plastic vitamin jar lined with sticky backed aluminium tape, on a spindle in a perspex bracket, with a bent copper rail hovering over it. With the force of 10,000V from the stepper circuit attached to its jacksie it begin to rotate.

According to the inventor on the phone what we were actually witnessing was in fact a rotating gravitational wave and the solution to all our energy needs.

After switching of the lights and seeing the voltage breakdown through the perspex we informed him what in fact he had created was a DC motor. A really shit DC motor.

Two things made me thankful that day. 1) the rabid physicist had hung up after a passionate speech about how people like me needed to open our minds to over-unity devices (perpetual motion machines) and zero point energy (star trek). 2) The old guy still had all his clothes on when we turned the lights back on.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 17:14, 13 replies)
How to disappoint a trainer.
At a training session for working with people who have learning disabilities the trainer had wittered on for 45 minutes then said. "I'd like you to get into pairs and one of you be a service user who..."
One of the staff said very firmly, "We don't do role play!"
The trainer looked to the manager who concurred and we moved on to the next part of the session.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 16:50, 7 replies)
Jacuzzi fun
One of my first ever corporate jollies was at the Spider's Web Hotel somewhere near Watford in about 1990. I was a recently failed college non-graduate in the throes of failing as a commission-only insurance salesman for a cowboy outfit (long defunct) called General Portfolio. It was some kind of sales conference thingy - lots of by-the-numbers sales spiel and supposedly motivational guff like Ask Closing Questions, Always Be Closing, and so on.

I hated it, mostly because I was shit at it, in turn because I had the remnants of a conscience about flogging unsuitable policies to people who didn't really need them, but that's by-the-by.

The thing was, after a hard days' trying not to doze off, we were all given a slap-up feed and left to our own devices. Most of us were young - early 20s - so we were pretty uniformly keen on getting pissed and leching at the few women on the course (several of whom were pretty fit).

There was a gym/sauna type of thing at the hotel, which four of five of us were in, mainly because two of the foxiest women the late-Thatcherite insurance industry had to offer were also there. Our clumsy efforts (ok, my clumsy efforts) to chat them up included following them into a big communal jacuzzi, my first time in such a contraption.

It was a big circular thing, with room for about 8 people. One of the two women was clearly a bit pissed off by the attention of five cock-driven spotty herberts, but the other seemed to be enjoying it (more likely, she enjoyed the power of winding us up). So she was doing lots of stretching and back-arching to show off her impressive decolletage. This was even more impressive in t'jacuzzi, as her swimsuit became somewhat translucent. I hadn't had any since I dropped out of uni, so my old chap decided he wanted to have a look too, which just made me lean right forward.

This positioned my school-bathers-clad chocolate starfish directly over one of the water jets, which made matters worse from a stimulatory perspective, but I had few options to move as the jacuzzi was full, so I just stayed there hunched forward trying desperately to think of unpleasant mental images so I'd lose my erection and could get out and change without frightening passers-by with it. (Ok, without becoming a laughing stock.)

Once the girls got bored of their teasing, they left, followed shortly after by my mates, and were replaced by some fat Hertfordshire businessmen. Astonishingly enough, this resulted in the decrease in stimulation required and I, too, was able to get to the changing rooms.

After a few moments, though, I felt the urgent nudging of the turtle's head and dashed off to the lav. Sitting down, I proceeded to jet at least half a gallon of rust-coloured chlorinated jacuzzi water into the pan like I had a fire hydrant somewhere in my lower intestine that had just been switched on.

Yes, I gave myself a prodigious enema in public in a hotel in Watford. I'm not proud. At least not at the time. I was relieved, though, that the girls had got bored when they did - another five minutes, and all eight of us would have been sitting in my diluted bowel-washings.

Given that GP was one of the worst companies for pensions mis-selling, that's probably all we deserved...
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 16:25, Reply)
2 Fatties one bed.
Many many years ago the company I worked for attended a sales conference. All the sales team including the very obese Marketing director and his obese wife were in attendance. In the evening before the conference the Director summoned the team to his hotel room for a final pep talk.

Simultaneously the Director and his wife plonked themselves onto the bed and it promptly gave way depositing both of them on their arses.

Regretfully I wasn't there that evening but my colleague who was said there was a stunned silence followed by the whole sales team pissing themselves laughing as they watched the 2 outraged fatties heave themselves up and storm down to reception to complain that the beds were defective.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 16:07, Reply)
Unemployment courses in Australia
are pretty bad. They don't make us work in supermarkets for free, but they're pretty bad.

The person who ran the course told us that a particular motivational book was banned in Australia because it discusses the Bible. A few people's tentative skepticism was just ignored. This is equivalent to saying the Bible is banned in England or America - any adult should know it's not true.

I'd imagine that she heard something like that the book wasn't used on government courses because it promoted a particular religion, and she just didn't think about whether what she was saying made any sense.

I'm quite middle class, in the sense that a) I can go back to uni (which is what I did), and b) I don't really feel like I need a job for self-respect or to not go crazy from boredom.

But, obviously, most long-term unemployed people aren't.

The government / the taxpayers are paying companies like Sarina Russo (who ran my course) to help people find jobs, and they simply aren't doing what they're paid for.

Sarina Russo, by the way, is screwed up. The whole organisation seems to be devoted to making Sarina Russo (the person) feel better about herself. There are photos of her everywhere with her 'inspiring story', and a biography which you can buy and parts of which get given to everyone...it's all a bit cult-like. Anyone who spends that much time telling you they're great, doesn't think they're great. Also they seem to only hire women and 'camp' gay men. It feels a bit like Sarina might be scared of boys.

Also we had feedback forms, which I filled in with various negative things (I was quite angry by the end). As you'd expect, these forms were supposed to be anonymous and confidential. She looked through them, said "Oh, look what [someone else] has put" and then read the whole thing out loud.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 15:21, 15 replies)
Not quite there yet..
A complaint by a female member of staff led to a long, long lecture from one of the company directors on the evils of sexism, sexual harassment and what did and did not constitute acceptable behaviour .

When the monologue of the deeply obvious had finished, he asked if there were any questions.

To our surprise, there was one. Even more surprisingly, the question was coming from Stuart - or "Stretch", as our amiable 6'5" martial arts loving colleague was known.

"OK Stuart, what is your question about sexual harassment?"

"Please can I have some?"
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 15:12, 1 reply)
Mrs Airman Gabber is a Training consultant.
One time she went to train a Potato farmer in how to use her companys computer system. After a successful training session the farmer asked whether my wife liked potatoes.

"Err yes?"

"Great. I'll get one of the lads to bring you some"

Expecting to be presented with a small bag of potatoes as she walked back to the car my Mrs was bemused as some burly farmhand rocked up dragging one of the biggest sacks of spuds she'd ever seen and filled up the back of her car. Took two of us to get the damned thing out of her boot when she got home.

Took us months to eat those bastards, even after giving a everyone in the company I work for a free bag. The remaining ones ended up sprouting.

The Jacuzzi manufacturer she saw the week after never offered anything similar, the miserable bastard.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 15:00, 5 replies)
Demolition Training
I was approached by a local chap from one of the religious establishments in my town. He offered me some training in a far off exotic land that consisted of team building exercises, including blowing shit up which sounded great, especially as the work situation isnt great at the moment!! He even laughed at my youthful enthusiasm, exclaiming that hed see me next Tuesday for an initial induction.

Now Ive never worked in demolition before but thought this may be the perfect opportunity to get into it, better still he said the sex was on tap and with Virgins too, 22 to be exact. Now Im no fool and certainly not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and decided to take him up on the offer as hed mentioned that Id only be working one day a year and would have access to enough squidgy to last me a life time, I even get a cool looking vest with loads of pockets, something to do with carrying around the charges to blow up the buildingsI guess.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 14:07, 5 replies)
A simple one
When I did my power kite instructor's course (along with two IT guys, a coasteering guide and a former dancer for The Prodigy turned mental health counsellor), I was taught by a very large man with a lizard balanced on his shoulder. Then he bought us all pizza.

I'll take that over a health and safety seminar any day.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 13:54, 5 replies)
All inclusive. Excuses provided
Like many firms. My employer bought in an online expenses system of which i'm one of the admin (bane of my fucking life. "excuse me Mr innumerate-director-ten-grades-above-me-who-i've-never-even-met. That glass of wine you had with a working lunch last June isn't allowed under corporate policy. Can you pay back the 4.53 please?" *slit wrists).

I received an email from the (american) systems provider inviting me to a week-long conference and seminar on system developments in a rather palatial looking inclusive golfing resort in Florida.

The best part of this invitation was the proforma fill-the-blanks request letter that I was to give my boss outlining all of the wonderful benefits our organisation would gain from me making this transatlantic jolly.

Unfortunately, my boss was also on the mailing list and called over that I shouldn't bother as **we'd be busy living it up in the maldives on (charitable) company money over that week.

Fucksocks. Woe is me etc.

**sarcasm, if you hadn't guessed.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 13:46, Reply)
Lifesaving
Like many other kids, I did the lifesaving courses for swimming. Bronze medallion and all that. I was on a week long course in the local swimming pool. One activity involved towing an unconcious person through the water whilst giving them mouth to mouth.

We all paired up and jumped in the water. I was with a boy about my age. Of course we couldn't really do mouth to mouth so we were supposed to stick our lips on our partner's forehead: like snogging their head.

I got a bit carried away and managed to bite my partner on the head. Head wounds bleed quite a lot. Luckily I'd learnt how to deal with someone panicking in the water just the previous day.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 13:28, Reply)
I've been to training courses before.
They were dull as fuck, like this question.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 13:16, 27 replies)
The word "evangelist" belongs only in churches.
NOT at software release demonstrations.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 12:55, 5 replies)
A pass on a course
I am one of the First Aid persons in my office. Every couple of years we need to go on a one-day course, which is actually quite fun: practicing CPR on dummies, pretending to be non-english-speaking accident victims and so on.

Last time, I went with one other guy from my office, who I get on fine with. We were at the point where I was pretending to be unconscious, and he was practicing putting me in the recovery position. As he reached across me, his head came very close, and on a whim and just for a giggle, I blew sexily into his ear.

It was at that point that I discovered that he was, in fact, gay. A fact which I'd not been previously aware of.

Whoops.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 12:23, 6 replies)
Got one coming up next week
I'm going to have to trek halfway across the country to attend a "H2 kickoff" event at which we'll be told the usual company bollocks about how wonderful the company is.

Rather than complaining though, I see this as an opportunity. I'm leaving the company because they wouldn't extend my contract and the event is taking place the day after my exit interview.

I'm taking suggestions...
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 12:21, 13 replies)
Computer college 'Outward bounds training course'
Aged 17 I found myself in a YTS based computer training scheme. The government basically paid us 28.50 a week to go and get qualified in all sorts of computer related skills. This was absolutely fantastic for me and was something akin to a sex addict getting paid to wank themselves silly each day. I was in heaven.

1/2 way through the 2 year course and the bright spark manager decides we all need to go on a Team Building excersise to build up our character. 30 of us all pile into a coach and get driven to a hotel into the middle of some godforsaken forest in Yorkshire to do physical stuff.

At the end of one day of orienteering or some other stupid and pointless excersise my room mate Craig and I went for a shower in my cousin Joanne's room (who was also on the course) as our room didn't have one. Craig was going out with Joanne at the time so they were chilling out on the bed together as I was showering. I guess they didn't expect how quick I'd be as after a quick rinse I opened the door to find them hastily getting dressed.

"Did you just fuck my cousin as I was showering in her bathroom?"

*embarrased silence*

"Why would you *do* that?"

*embarrased silence*

One the way back to our room Craig proudly admitted that he'd managed to finish the job though. Bet Joanne was overjoyed.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 11:54, 10 replies)
Corporate courses...
Well there have been a few good ones, the defensive driver courses which involved a hire car and an ex police driving instructor was fun, the short anti-incursion training session in camp by the ex SAS security chief, but the best was while working in an office on the same location as a chemicals site. This meant we had our own fire station. I hang my head in shame for never having managed to get a go (or steal the keys) of the fire engine. However I did get to do the fire extinguisher course :)

Water - pretty cool against propane burner, Powder - to create an instant winter wonderland, Foam - boring slow petrol fire but the best was the CO2 extinguisher to put out a vat of petrol with propane bubbling through it, this was like being an F1 Marshal after one of those nasty incidents in the pits.

So if you are ever offered the chance to do a fire extinguisher course run by professionals jump at it and if its not on the training list, suggest it to your HSE manager. I mean, all that photocopy paper stacked in the corner near Dave from accounts wearing too much hair gel is a disaster waiting for a fire extinguisher hero.

Advice to students - if you have to set off a fire extinguisher, the water one is pathetic, always grab CO2 and never set off the powder one within 100m of your room.
My work here is done :)
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 11:38, 4 replies)
Conference in Canberra
Upon my return, my boss asked me if I had learned anything of benefit for my workplace. I told him the primary benefit was that he now had no fear of me ever leaving and getting a federal job in Canberra.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 11:26, 2 replies)
British Gas Farce
Going back a fair few years i used to temp for British Gas. Due to de-regulation new gas suppliers were coming in and in their infinite wisdom management decided to create some kind of presentation of how these new suppliers would fit into the industry and what the threats were to the business etc....

So me and all my other temp buddies were all called up to the top floor of the office which was unused, to find out what was going on. A curious sight beheld us. We sat down in rows infront of what was a large "race track" with a man (with a mic) on a lectern in the middle. After a brief introduction we were told that competition would be very much like a race.

Then to my utter disbelief the management came out in racing outfits and cardboard cars strapped to them to run around this track whilst the man with the mic provided Murray Walker type commentary.

We sat there mouths opened as the race went on for some time whilst the cars over took each other in a kind market prediction type way. I cant really remember if it helped at all but the sight stayed with me for some time. It was only later i discovered that the man with mic was then a jobbing Jon Culshaw, must has been seriously strapped for cash.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 11:23, 1 reply)
Health and Safety Day
A company I used to work for thought Health and Safety was the absolute top priority most important thing in the world, and to reinforce that fact we were going to have a Health and Safety day to promote Health and Safety.

But not, y'know, in work hours, or anything, because, hey, we have to make a profit, right? I mean, PRIORITIES, people.

So Health and Safety Day to promote Health and Safety was scheduled for a Saturday, and everyone HAD to come in, unpaid, and do various tedious bollocks on the theme of Health and Safety. I've no idea what most of it was, because thankfully I had a completely watertight reason for not actually being able to make it. Can't remember what it was.

Anyway, I rolled into work the following Monday and noticed a gap at the desk next door. "Where's Andy?", says I. "Oh, haven't you heard..."

Andy had gone to Health and Safety Day as ordered by the boss. Had got attached to one of those bouncy-castle bungie-run things, as ordered by the boss (wtf that has to do with H&S is anyone's guess). And had, in an act of genius, broken two bones in his foot and needed to be stretchered to an ambulance, right in front of the large crowd of employees, clients, suppliers, and all their families. He, hilariously, saw the funny side. None of the company exec did, however, and funnily enough there was never an H&S day again.
(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 11:18, Reply)
Don't do what Donny don't does

(, Fri 16 Mar 2012, 11:15, 3 replies)

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