ProfitU Origin Story
Hello, and thanks for being here!
I’m Anne C. Graham, and in 2000 I founded what has evolved into ProfitU E-Learning Corp.
Leaders are often curious about how the idea and content of ProfitU were developed because they’ve never seen anything like it.
It all started in the early 1990s when I had a front-row seat as a once-great Fortune 50 company tried to grow by driving sales at any cost, yet ended up desperately downsizing its entire worldwide workforce of 120,000 people in less than 4 years. CEOs in 2000, 2008, and 2023 have continued using that destructive “cut your way to growth” strategy. If that sounds familiar, I’d like to help you change that.
I’ve never forgotten how it felt to look my good people in the eye – the ones who’d helped return our division to profitability for the first time in 5 years - and tell them that through no fault of their own, they no longer had a job.
Since then, I’ve been passionate about making sure that companies have the profit they need to fund the growth they want, not at the expense of their customers and employees, but as a result of building a business where everyone cares about the bottom line.
ProfitU didn’t happen overnight. It’s the product of school-of-hard-knocks learning during a successful career as a turnaround expert, plus a massive AHA! Moment in the early 2000s after an epic turnaround failure when a visionary CEO threw endless bright shiny objects at my team, distracting us from our goal to get the division back on track. Sound familiar?
My AHA! was that endless “new ideas” needed to be replaced with a much
less dramatic, integrated approach
The secret to my successful business turnarounds was to simply get everyone doing the right things right every day across the entire business, Think “automatically brushing your teeth” rather than “trying to start and stay on a a diet”.
I decided to write a book to share what I'd learned. After six years working with a patient and long-suffering editor to organize 30 years of proven “what works to get employees taking care of profitability every day” practices, Profit in Plain Sight became a #1 Bestseller. An unheard-of innovation at the time, each chapter included links to free training videos.
Readers contacted me to say they were inspired but STILL having trouble finding the time and focus required to implement with their teams. Admittedly, in hindsight the training videos were cringe-worthy: long, tedious talking-head-and-PowerPoint productions that no longer exist.
The book’s success led to numerous speaking engagements with CEO Peer Mentoring groups. Thousands of CEOs confessed that they were grappling with profitability, related to the challenges outlined in the book, and welcomed a live discussion of how-tos. Some stayed in touch, sharing inspiring stories with me of how they turned their businesses around as a result of what they learned in those talks. Most returned to frazzled business as usual.
I knew I had to create a different learn-do approach that fit into their busy days and didn’t rely on a single motivated CEO or conventional consulting implementation model If I was really going to make a difference.
I had been exposed to adult learning methodology and early-stage learning technologies during a 7-year stint as an MBA faculty member at a leading University where I also served as Assistant Dean of Executive Programs. I still saw far too many executives leaving with binders I knew they’d never use – you probably have a similar collection?
Years later the technology evolved into a Learning Management System I could use to transform the book content into an Learn-Do implementation roadmap, modeled after the Corporate Universities I’d been exposed to in my early career that built a consistent corporate culture and focus.
The What is not enough without the Who, When, Where, Why and How
In 2015, the full ProfitU eLearning Management System was launched. This time around, very short, professional videos and web-delivered content created much more effective learning! For the first time, leaders could engage their teams each week to learn and (finally!) implement sustainable daily practices that delivered tangible bottom-line results. And eureka! Testimonials flooded in. Early results spoke for themselves, with teams achieving levels of profitability within months that had taken years for the CEOs from my speaking engagements to achieve on their own.
The weekly LEARN-then-DO rhythm for results is easily sustained and strengthens the culture
Since then, its been an incredible journey, full of enhancements to ProfitU based on client feedback, including the launch of the innovative Take it to the Bank system in response to hearing that they knew ProfitU was working... but wanted to see more tangible results. The Take it to the Bank system crystallizes profit gains that otherwise would vanish right back into operating expenses (ever have a great year on the top line but not much to show for it on the bottom line?).
Teams play with greater intensity when they keep score and celebrate wins
In 2023, the Profit in Plain Sight Dashboard application was launched, transforming rudimentary results-tracking spreadsheets into a full-blown cloud-based SaaS business intelligence system - a single, unified interface available at all times to help all participants turn good intentions into trackable results. This is the holy grail missing from most learning interventions.
The integrated interface creates accountability and engagement, eliminating the managerial challenge of simply hoping that the team absorbs the learning and actually does something with it once they're back at their desks.
Real-time visuals illustrate the right business practices while tracking wins. More than ever, employees see that the small behavioral shifts they can easily do every day, make a significant bottom-line difference, creating secure jobs and exceptional growth opportunities.
All actions taken within the ProfitU frameworks are tracked not only for activity but for the relative success of each. Management will quickly learn what works most effectively in their business, and which strategies are not being fully implemented.. The collection of the Completion Comments from each activity continuously ensures that the mindset and practices of profitability are incorporated into the standard operations of the company.
I wish to recognize and thank my Team of Learning Management and Database Development experts who are responsible for all the mechanics. They embraced and improved upon the original vision, made this joint effort, and we continue to have a lot of fun along the way as we put our heads together on great new ways to help our clients succeed!
Likewise, I’m grateful to my early readers and clients who transformed their businesses with early versions of the content, becoming important advocates as they rediscovered their passion for their businesses. I’ve been truly privileged to mentor amazing leaders and their teams. Their results-driven testimonials illustrate that my long-ago vision has become a solid reality.
We continue to develop ProfitU and the Profit in Plain Sight Dashboard, serving an ever-increasing client base of leaders and their teams hungry for a new way of doing business that provides everything they need to not just survive but thrive, no matter what the economy does.
When you decide that it’s time for your firm to benefit from the transformational impact of ProfitU, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to reach out to me personally if you have questions or would like to get started. I look forward to connecting with you.