Larry Elle, President of the Professional Development Collaborative
Larry Elle’s BIO
Larry Elle is President of the Professional Development Collaborative, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) non-profit whose mission is to provide affordable professional development trainings to unemployed professionals, speeding their return to work. He helped found the non-profit in 2004 and became President in 2008. Today the group serves thousands of in-transition professionals in the metro-Boston area. (www.pdcboston.org)
Larry is also Director of Success Associates Career Services (www.careersuccessassociates.com), and facilitates WIND South, a networking group for transitioning professionals. He provides private career counseling services to Boston area professionals and presents on career issues to local alumni and professional groups such as Northeastern University, Tufts University, and Women in Publishing. Larry recently produced Power Networking: The Path to Job Search Success, a DVD.
Larry trained in History and Psychology at the State University College in Buffalo, N.Y. and at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the published author of Community Connections: Resources for Massachusetts Unemployed (1994 and 1998), and Not So Long Ago: Oral Histories of Older Bostonians. He has been featured on the New England Cable News and in local print media.
Prior to 1998, Larry worked for the Corporation for Business, Work and Learning, providing counseling services at large outplacement centers in Massachusetts including the High Tech Center, Woburn Professional Transition Center, Quincy and Cambridge Career Centers, South Weymouth Navel Air Center and the Purity Supreme Center where he developed highly successful Job Search Success Teams, returning people to work in half the normal time.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
1. Please share with us what prompted you to launch Professional Development Collaborative?
Larry: I have been involved with career and job placement services for a number of years.
The Professional Development Collaborative (PDC) was created in 2004, during the “internet recession”, to help unemployed professionals gain the workplace skills they needed to land a job. I and several colleagues noticed that professionals received lots of job search advice but many were missing the key skills they needed to attract an employer’s interest. Often they couldn’t afford to take these key courses due to their low income and the extravagant cost of many courses. Our mission was thus born: to provide affordable professional development courses to speed people’s return to work.
When the Great Recession hit in 2008, we redoubled our efforts and we have been offering important professional development courses ever since, including such courses as Project Management, Lean-Six Sigma, Presentation Skills, Social Media Marketing, Grant Writing, etc…
2. There is no typical day in the life of an entrepreneur. Please share with us a sample of your day, start to finish.
Larry: The PDC is a collaborative effort. My work as President is enlisting people to help and then coordinating their efforts. We’re small. We have three paid staff and scores of volunteers but it’s amazing how much work gets done. I oversee four main groups: Our Training Committee which selects courses, teachers and dates; Our Marketing Committee which makes sure the public (especially unemployed professionals) hear about our courses; Our Fundraising Committee which helps underwrite our educational programs keeping them affordable; and our Website Committee which maintains our link to the public (www.pdcboston.org). Keeping on top of the activities of all four groups takes considerable time and energy.
3. What are your ‘can’t live without’ Smartphone or desktop applications?
Larry: I use a smart phone for calls, information and GPS help when needed. I also design a number of our course flyers and use Word and PowerPoint regularly. But, as wonderful as these technologies are, they don’t replace the importance of one-to-one communication and contact.
4. What are your tricks for time management?
Larry: I work in spurts with slow days and then highly productive days. I create lots of “to do” lists and then follow up. I’ve also learned the hard way to avoid putting off to tomorrow what can be done today. Also, learning to delegate tasks to others allows me to focus on what I do best.
5. What was the best advice you received when you started your career?
Larry: I started my career way back in the 1970’s (not all entrepreneurs are in their 20s). The best advice I received was to do work you enjoyed and do work that would “make a difference” in the world. I have followed that path my whole life.
6. Given the current economic climate, what has been your strategy for building awareness of Professional Development Collaborative? (what you do for short term and long term growth)?
Larry: We are into building our presence in the community mainly by providing high quality professional development courses to today’s professional jobseekers. We expect the quality of the courses will create a “buzz” around us. We also attend job fairs, build our email list, have a Facebook page, and create alliances with professional associations and career centers. We are about to launch a quarterly ezine to our many followers discussing educational issues, the labor market and upcoming PDC courses.
7. What is your proudest achievement as an accomplished entrepreneur?
Larry: My proudest achievement is to have launched an important educational group which has taken on a life of its own and which engages the positive energies of volunteers while helpin professionals grow their skills at prices they can afford.
8. How do you achieve balance in your life?
Larry: I take time three days a week to exercise while also finding time to read and garden. Getting my hands dirty in the garden is a nice counterpoint to the mental and people work of running a non-profit.
9. Your top 3 book recommendations?
I read in three areas:
the economy and labor market; in the field of Positive Psychology and in history.
Current readings: Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching by Robert Biswas-Diener; The Fall of the House of Dixie by Bruce Levine; and Thriving In the Workplace for Dummies by multiple authors.
10. What are your most rewarding charitable involvements?
Larry: Work with my own non-profit is number one but I have been a regular supporter of Habitat for Humanity. It’s a great group which has helped build homes for thousands of people.
11. Who has influenced your career the most?
Larry: All the idealists in the world including people like Martin Luther King, Robert Moses, & Michael Harrington. People who displayed tremendous courage in the pursuit of their dreams.
12. What is your advice for someone interested in entrepreneurship?
Larry: It’s been said that “if you wait to have children until you’re ready, you’ll never have them” Similarly, you don’t have to have it all together in order to start a business. Be willing to start small and learn along the way. Go ahead, have big dreams but make a plan and start taking the first steps. Also, be adaptable along the way. There is no straight line to success.