Corporate Training Grew by 15% in 2014

The  2014 Corporate Learning Factbook, published in February of this year from Bersin by Deloitte, revealed that US spending on corporate training grew by 15% last year, to over $70 Billion in the US, and over $130 Billion worldwide. And it’s no secret why. Successful organizations understand that investing in their people is an important part of the strategy for building a competitive and profitable business now and for the future.

As a provider of corporate wine blending seminars, I have seen companies of all sizes and in industries ranging from software to retail, go beyond the standard company picnic to offer a unique way to combine leadership development and team building. Here are a few key elements to consider when using a new, and somewhat unorthodox method to bring employees together:

Set the Tone

Team formation happens more quickly when everyone is on the same level of understanding of the subject matter and feels relaxed and comfortable. This type of environment allows for more collaboration and prevents the person with the most background or knowledge of the subject from automatically taking over the leadership role. During my wine blending seminars, I start with an introduction of myself, a joke and breakdown what the group can expect over the next 2 hours. This eases any tension people might have about what they’ll be asked to do, or what they need to know to participate.

Break the Ice

Once introductions are made, I like to start with an ice breaker activity that usually surprises people. This activity requires a partner and involves sharpening each individual’s blind tasting abilities. It’s a great way to get people talking to each other and start to get the creative ideas flowing.

Create an Equal Playing Field

After the ice breaker activity, I move into a mini wine tasting class. Wine can be an intimidating topic to people who are less familiar with how wine is made, how to taste wine, and the differences and similarities of each varietal. Each blending seminar offers tasting of 4 varietals which are most often used in a Bordeaux Wine. I take a little time to ensure everyone has the knowledge base needed to do the blending and breakdown the what it takes to create a red wine blend. It’s a brief and interactive discussion that helps remove a lot of the intimidation. I often have people ask me questions that they say they have been too uncomfortable to ask in other settings. Wine is successful activity because it’s a neutral topic that isn’t work-related.

Design a Compelling Challenge

After the mini wine class, I break the group into smaller teams which are on equal footing for the challenge of coming up with a winning wine blend, as well as a creative name, label, and story for their new wine. This challenge has the element of using the blending principles taught earlier in the activity and leaves room for creativity and free flowing ideas and opinions. No one needs to be an expert, but teams will need to work together to achieve the common goal of coming up with the winning wine. The smaller teams get back together to present to one another, showcasing the innovation, creativity, and teamwork that have taken place during the exercise.

Let the Magic Happen

This type of activity really strengthens communication and works with any kind of group. I have been surprised by the creativity and interaction that occurs between participants who seem reluctant at first. One planner told me that the blending seminar was, “the best event their team could have attended,” given recent dynamics. The office environment had been rather tense and finding a neutral activity to bring everyone together really livened up the team, got them laughing together, and got their creative juices flowing again.

Participants take away not only new knowledge about wine, but also a better understanding and appreciation for one another. One of my best seminars was with a team of engineers. They were excited to create their wine blends, using formulas and percentages to perfect their recipe. But they had no experience with the marketing side, and were challenged when it came to the labeling and storytelling portion of the activity. They were used to building products and then handing them off to marketing to do the rest. The wine blending experience gave them a hands on experience bringing a product to market from creation, branding, marketing, and sales, through the final presentation.

Managers, or planners who are looking for a fun way to create more cohesive teams, should definitely consider adding wine to their next event or team gathering . We’ve heard that a little wine can do wonders for our health. It turns out that wine can also provide a long list of benefits for a healthier workplace.   

Charlotte Chipperfield, Founder & CEO

Sources :                        

Bersin, J. (04 February 2014). Spending on corporate training soars: Employee capabilities now a priority. Forbes. Retrieved from joshbersin/2014/02/04/the-recovery-arrives-corporate-training-spend-skyrockets/.

The 3 C's to Effective Corporate Team Building

Company benefits have gone beyond health insurance. Corporations, for example, understand the importance of investing in their employees. One of the ways in which companies do this is through team building activities either onsite or off. These activities go beyond the standard company picnic and here is why:

1. Communication: We've all experienced it. Unclear communication or the lack thereof has lead to much frustration at work. Interacting with coworkers in a setting outside of work allows insight into how each individual functions and reacts to challenges outside the workplace. This can lead to better understand on how a person communicates and can translate back to the office environment. 

2. Comfort: Getting to know fellow employees and managers away from the desk can lead to commonalities such as favorite sports team, favorite hikes or restaurants. Finding non-work related commonalities allows for colleagues to see one another as people outside of their titles and can lead to more familiarity which will also help with #1 above and water cooler conversations. 

3. Challenge: Team building activities that center around a non-work related challenge is key to promoting team cohesiveness. How to achieve this? Find a neutral topic such as wine, who doesn't love wine right? Engaging through a neutral topic that isn't work related allows everyone to learn from one another and build on something they are learning together. No one needs to be an expert but teams will need to work together to achieve a common goal.

If you are a company looking to invest time and money into team building, be sure to consider your goals and the three "C's" above. 

And be sure to check out the latest on The Wine Key's Team Building Seminars.

Charlotte Chipperfield, Founder & CEO

Does Love Play a Role in your Social Media?

Gone are the days when social media was synonymous with college kids planning keggers. Social media has become an integral part in both our personal and professional lives. Social media is just that, it's social. Be inspired to engage with your audience as Valentine's Day approaches. Love is in the air which makes this a great time to incorporate love into your social media plans and posts.

We're not talking about designing a bright pink "Happy Valentine's Day" post, although, those are great.  What we mean is, plan to incorporate love into your strategy for 2015 in these three ways: 

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

  1. Love for your business. Just because there is a computer screen between you and your customers, doesn't mean they won't pick up on appathy. Love your business first and it will shine through.
  2. Love for your product. If you don't have a true love for your product or service, how do you expect others to? Show the love.
  3. Love for your clients and customers. Never forget who is purchasing your products and services. Your clients and customers are the reason you exist. Show appreciation and let them know they are valued. 

Take the time to look at your social media plan and be sure to show the love this February.

Does your social media need a check-up? Do you need assistance putting love into your 2015 social media strategies, get in touch to learn to see how we can help:

Charlotte Chipperfield, Founder & CEO

It's a Fresh New Year - Start Planning Your Content

We've all heard it over and over again, one of the most effective ways of connecting with potential customers online is through valuable content. 

But how do we create this content and how do we define valuable? 

It starts with defining your goals. Common goals may include:

Plan for a success 2015 with The Wine Key's free content calendar 

Plan for a success 2015 with The Wine Key's free content calendar 

  • Reaching new audiences
  • Engaging your current audience
  • Acquiring new customers and clients
  • Brand Awareness

However, these goals can't be accomplished without creating actionable steps to achieve them. 

As the new year is in full swing, it is an excellent time to sit down and create a plan. Start small, plan for three months at a time if a year feels overwhelming. Over the next few months, monitor what works and what doesn't, then keep doing what works. 

To help you plan out your upcoming content, The Wine Key LLC. has created a free template to help you keep track and document your 2015 content ideas and put them into action. Click here to get your free content calendar. 

No matter the size or industry your business is in, January is the time to start planning for a success year.

Still feeling overwhelmed? See how The Wine Key can help plan and execute your content ideas for you. 

Charlotte Chipperfield, Founder & CEO