You might say that education is Nashad Warfield’s family business. His mom is the principal at an elementary school in Plainfield, and he has been doing motivational training for high school and college students for years.
Although Warfield’s mother was heavily involved in his education, she had to struggle to complete her own, and didn’t get her bachelor’s degree until age 44. “She was in school when I was,” he says, “raising me and my brother. She had one full and two part-time jobs and was going to school at the same time.” She taught elementary school for five years, then got a master’s degree from Teachers College at Columbia University and became a technical coordinator. After getting a second master’s degree, in educational administration from Kean University, she became vice principal and then principal.
Warfield’s exposure to his mother’s focus and perseverance in achieving her educational goals fueled his interest in becoming a motivational speaker in academic settings. He worked for six years with Making It Count, offering free presentations to high school and college students on how to be successful, and he now has his own company, New Jersey Student Success. Two years ago he was certified as a trainer for Dale Carnegie, an international program that has been teaching adults the skills to be successful for 80 years.
The Carnegie training is based primarily on two books written by Dale Carnegie: “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” in 1936, and “How To Stop Worrying and Start Living.” Warfield read Dale Carnegie’s book the first time when he was 20 and “got fascinated.”
The Dale Carnegie company has also created a Generation Next program for teens, to teach the principles it has taught to adults for decades, and the program just became available this year in New Jersey. Warfield will be leading its third iteration, for teens entering ninth through twelfth grades, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, August 28, 30, and 31, at 9 a.m. at Dale Carnegie’s Bordentown office at 243 Route 130. The cost of $895 includes books, materials, breakfast, lunch, and a snack. For more information visit www.centralnj.dalecarnegie.com or call 609-324-9200.
The program uses simple exercises to teach teens five major skills. In Dale Carnegie lingo these are “drivers of success.” They are building greater self confidence, enhancing communication, strengthening interpersonal relationships, developing teamwork and leadership, and effectively managing attitude. Each exercise usually develops multiple skills at the same time.
Meeting and conversing with new people. “Most people don’t know what to talk about past the weather,” says Warfield. This exercise, called the conversation stack, remedies this by using a series of pictures, linked together, each representing different parts of a conversation.
Picture a rock with a bright gold nameplate (representing the person’s name). Behind it is a large house (where the person lives and is from originally); through the windows you can see family members (relatives), and inside are a cat and dog (pets). Covering the chimney is a huge textbook (schools and careers), with an airplane on top (vacations), which has tennis rackets as propellers (sports and hobbies). Bounding off the rackets are flashing yellow light bulbs (ideas on current events and other topics).
Warfield says that once students have mastered the conversation stack, “they can hold a conversation with anyone they ever meet for the rest of their lives.” Asking questions can always get a good conversation going, he says, because “most people love talking about themselves.”
Giving and receiving compliments. Warfield explains that compliments come in three flavors: about things, like hair or clothes; about achievements, like awards or grades; and about personality — who the person is. It is best to give “strength-centered comments,” he says, “about who people are and where they have showed they are strong, courageous, and giving.”
As far as how to take a compliment, a simple “thank you” is most appropriate. “We don’t take compliments very well,” says Warfield, “because we’re always taught not to show braggadocio or puff ourselves up.”
Focusing on past successes to learn self confidence. The teens give persuasive talks that highlight a moment of achievement or a time of overcoming stress. Acknowledging past achievements readies a person to move forward with greater confidence. “If you have achieved in one area,” explains Warfield, “you have that same ability to achieve in other areas.”
Knowing how to correct others’ mistakes. “Never tell somebody they are wrong,” says Warfield. But if you do need to point out other people’s mistakes, be sure to point out your own first. “That puts the attention on you, not them.”
In addition to the three-day format for the Generation Next program, Dale Carnegie also offers an eight-week program where students work on concrete changes in themselves and their relationships with others. In that course students pick a person with whom they want to strengthen a relationship, as well as the principles they will use to make changes. These principles, for example, could be the three c’s — never criticize, condemn, or complain — or maybe the principles could be encourage other people to talk about themselves and become a better listener. A couple of weeks later they report back to the group.
Students also make commitments about where they will be more enthusiastic in their lives — whether in extracurricular activities, practicing for a team sport, learning to be more cooperative with parents and family, doing homework or chores, not turning on the Instant Messenger, not procrastinating, or winning people to their way of thinking.
More enthusiasm can work wonders, says Warfield. “I’ve seen kids get As in chemistry or a foreign language for the first time.”
He starts off this quest with an exercise: “I have them demonstrate ‘how I’ve been before and how I will be — the old me and the new me.’”
On the left side of a line of tape on the floor, they will be gloomy and in the dumps. When they cross the line, they act out a more enthusiastic self. If on the left side they hate a class, don’t want to go to it, and don’t ask questions. On the right side they will begin to ask questions and talk to the teacher about how they can do better. “It reflects in their performance on tests and their relationships with teachers,” says Warfield.
“The whole emphasis of the program is taking the focus off yourself and putting it on other people,” he says. “As you become a stronger people person and reach out to other people, they feel better about you.”
Warfield lived in Plainfield through high school, graduated as valedictorian of his business class at Morgan State University in Baltimore in 1997, and got his master’s degree from New York University in speech communication. After working in sales for Proctor and Gamble and for Black Enterprise magazine, he became a motivational speaker for Making It Count, which is now owned by Monster.com.
The talks he gave, sponsored by corporations, were free to students. The program encouraging success in college, for example, focused on the importance of freshman year, getting internships, time management, and how and when to study.
“I wanted to have an avenue to help students be successful,” says Warfield, who has reached about 400,000 students around the country in close to 500 presentations. The company he now owns, New Jersey Student Success, also offers motivational keynotes and programs: being successful, finding your passion and your dreams, how to be effective leader, dealing with peer pressure, and diversity, among others.
People often don’t want to push the envelope, but to be the person you were meant to be, says Warfield, “you have to break out of the box and be yourself.”
In his workshops for teenage students, he observes major transformations. After the training they talk about a major benefit they have gotten from the class, for example, greater confidence talking to people. Kids who had very bad relations with their parents may talk about being able to communicate with them parents for the first time in a cooperative rather than an argumentative spirit.
For many parents, that alone is worth the price of tuition.