Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tracy Graf, CEO of Fuse - Igniting Communication, located in Denver, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Organizations are transformed via Fuse’s communication training workshops focused on team and leadership development skills. Employee feedback surveys often reveal that communication is deficient both internally and externally at most organizations. Fuse helps organizations bring their communications to a better, healthier, more productive place to achieve this important yet often unmet expectation. Fuse has experience delivering exceptional team and leadership development workshops for a variety of notable organizations, from Fortune 100 tech companies to prestigious research universities, to exceptional small businesses and non-profits.
Tell us about yourself
Before launching Fuse - Igniting Communication, I held senior marketing, communications, and project management roles with prominent international corporations for 15+ years. I put my heart and soul into leading teams of professionals to grow revenue for more than 25 prestigious international brands in my positions with Vail Resorts, Life Time Fitness, and Disney on Ice.
In 2015, my boss, the CMO (now CEO) of Vail Resorts, asked me to take on a special leadership project to improve the communication skills of our 300-person marketing team. She sponsored my accreditation to deliver Think on Your Feet®, a workshop teaching how to communicate with ‘Clarity, Brevity, and Impact®.’ I soon discovered facilitating communications skills workshops was much more fulfilling than my corporate marketing role. So, I decided to follow my passion for helping others interact more effectively and efficiently.
Today, Fuse - Igniting Communication provides a wide variety of engaging and innovative immersive adult learning experiences that improve communication skills delivered virtually, in a classroom, or outdoors. Every workshop is designed to increase team success that drives results. Fuse is the only U.S. company providing four unique immersive learning workshops that use artificial intelligence technology to provide participants with experience managing a multi-month simulated project in only a few training hours.
Fuse - Igniting Communications’ network of expert workshop facilitators across the U.S. delivers exceptional workshops for notable organizations, from Fortune 100 tech companies to prestigious research universities to exceptional small businesses and non-profits.
Fuse is proud to be a City and County of Denver certified Small Business Enterprise, Minority/Women Business Enterprise, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.
I am motivated each day to work on my business because we get to increase others’ success and make a positive contribution to society:
- Increasing others’ success - The more people take part in communication skills workshops, the more people are improving how they get their message across to others. Improved communication leads to greater professional and personal success. I want to see that for everyone.
- Making a significant positive contribution to society - It is fulfilling to see the positive impact Fuse’s workshops make on participants’ lives. I find much joy in providing an engaging, enriching experience for participants and improving how they communicate with others. It is so rewarding to hear participants regularly say this was the best training they have ever experienced and how appreciative they are for learning a life skill, not just a job-specific technical skill. The participants and I feed off each other’s energy to create a delightful experience for everyone involved.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is becoming a U.S. distributor and facilitator of three top-notch unique communication skills workshop brands coming from three different countries - Canada, France, and Scotland. I am the sole distributor in the U.S. for two of the workshop brands, one of which provides the ultimate learning experience via AI simulation technology. These live, facilitated workshops provide months of realistic, simulated workplace experience in only a few training hours! This gamified learning approach is a major, recent learning and development advancement and a source of pride.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Marketing! Even though I was a Marketing Director for several notable brands for many years, I still find marketing challenging and something I must force myself to do. Very few entrepreneurs start their businesses because they like marketing. I started my business of helping others communicate more effectively, so I could stop communicating corporate marketing messages as my profession.
I feel it is such a shame that there are so many talented, potentially successful service providers, artists, innovative thinkers, consultants, inventors, etc., who cannot reach their full entrepreneurial potential because marketing is not their strength. Why is a good repair technician or lawn service owner also required to know how to master website design and social media to be successful? ...because online search is the first step in most consumer-to-business transactions these days.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Don't dread marketing by thinking you have to be "salesy." Think of it as:
- Doing a favor to your connections by letting them know about the awesome product/service you offer. They would be missing out on great stuff if you didn't tell them.
- Just getting to know people - the most successful sales often come when you are just having a "get to know you" conversation with someone and not "cold calling."
- A necessary evolving (not evil) technique to grow from being a little-known entrepreneur to an undeniable success story!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Reach out to me if you are also passionate about providing high-quality professional learning and development experiences and would like to get accredited to deliver either Insights Discovery or our AI Business Simulation workshops! We accredit both L&D consultants as well as in-house training at organizations of all sizes to deliver these innovative, engaging team and leadership development workshops. You can deliver the training under your brand, with no mention of Fuse.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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