• Talent Development for Creative Companies

    The future for creative companies is all about the talent. That’s where we come in: helping your team members achieve their highest potential.


    We do it through a variety of soft skills training programs that blend proven learning theory with real-world applications.


    With 25+ years' frontline management experience, we know first-hand the challenges that come with leading diverse teams and managing all sorts of client relationships. We speak your language.


    Gary Duke & Sheila Campbell

  • Introducing Coffee Break Videos

    Check out our new on-demand training courses for agency account managers, now available through the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's) Learning Academy.
    Click here for more info.

  • Clients

    Here are a few of the companies we've worked with.

  • Soft Skills Training Programs That Are Anything But "Soft"

    Our training programs help your staff members become better leaders, no matter their roles in the organization. They'll think more strategically. Communicate more effectively. Solve problems more creatively. Navigate conflict more adeptly. In short, they'll be better equipped to take on the challenges and curve balls thrown by clients, direct reports or industry disruptors.


    Every one of our programs is designed and conducted by the firm's partners. We have extensive experience leading organizations and teams as well as managing client relationships. We know what it takes to succeed in a profession that challenges your creativity, efficiency and - quite frankly, your stamina - on a daily basis.


    Our training programs are designed so that people can put what they’ve learned into practice the very next day. The format of every session is highly experiential and participative. We know that time is at a premium, so our content is adaptable to fit busy schedules. And each program can be customized to your unique training needs.

    Onsite Workshops


    Our onsite training workshops offer practical and intensive training to help restore initiative and improve productivity with the added benefit that your employees will be happier with their work.


    Training content can be individually customized for your organization’s training requirements. Workshops run from a half- to a full day and can accommodate varying numbers of participants.


    Online Learning Forums


    Our online learning forums allow your staff to experience much of our training content in an abbreviated format that accommodates busy schedules. The session is conducted live and exclusively for your team, allowing us to customize the content to your organization’s needs.


    Each online forum includes group or individual exercises and a follow-up discussion guide you can use to reinforce learning takeaways.


    “Gary and Sheila’s passion for the business and history of working in the trenches made them instantly credible. Our people believed in the workshops, looked forward to them, and are putting the lessons learned into practice with great success.”


    — Chris Laughlin, President & CEO

    LMO Advertising


  • Training Topics


    “I’ve never left a seminar with so many tangible points of action that apply directly to MY clients.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!” - WBY Workshop Participant

    Client Leadership

    Cited by the 4As as one of its top 3 most popular agency training seminars.


    Account managers and client-facing specialists must lead their clients, not merely service them. The Client Leadership Workshop uses this as the guiding principle to help agency managers determine how to spend their time most effectively and productively.


    This transformational workshop moves managers from “servicing an account” to “leading the client.” It’s based on enhancing critical skill areas, including:

    • Developing goals and strategy for client leadership
    • Stimulating organic growth from existing clients
    • Identifying client’s unmet needs
    • Improving communications skills 
    • Enhancing client relationships
    • Managing difficult clients and tough situations

    Mastering Management

    This multi-part leadership program is designed for anyone who is new to supervising other people, or who could benefit from a refresher course in being a more effective manager.


    Participants learn specific methods for keeping the team on track and they'll practice their new management skills using real-life scenarios. The workshop includes:

    • Understanding how to motivate and inspire those who work for you
    • How to delegate effectively and avoid micromanagement
    • How to give corrective feedback and encourage initiative
    • How to problem-solve with an action oriented focus
    • How to create and maintain an effective team
    • How to maintain your effectiveness as a leader during significant times of change in an organization

    Consultative Selling for Organic Account Growth

    Even the best of clients are often reluctant to accept and try new ideas. Participants will learn how to recognize the signs that indicate a client is ready for change – and how to create that readiness by taking advance actions.


    Skills learned also include a new way to listen deeply and how to identify the different levels of client need. Participants learn how to generate new ideas for clients using current social, technological and economic trends, and how to use communications styles for making their recommendations more enticing to clients. Areas we will focus on include:

    • Recognizing the stages of client need
    • Asking open-ended questions
    • Deep listening
    • The buying process from the client’s point of view
    • Anticipating objections

      Adaptive Leadership

      The continually evolving agency business is increasingly complex, creating a volatile environment full of unknowns. Yet, agency managers need to embrace these realities and hone new adaptive leadership skills that optimize communication in the moment, motivate and engage staff members to move forward despite these challenges, all while mitigating stress and keeping a productive outlook.


      This workshop introduces new approaches and techniques that can be used immediately by anyone who manages accounts and/or people, to better equip them in a business environment where change has become the only constant. Participants will learn:

      • The critical role Emotional Intelligence plays in a volatile environment and how to leverage it for success
      • How to identify and overcome challenges that contribute to miscommunication and conflict
      • New approaches that will help managers become more agile, responsive leaders 
      • Simple, easy-to-use techniques for managing stress levels 

      Strategic Thinking 

      This workshop teaches a methodology for developing and evaluating ideas that deliver specific business goals. It defines a process for how to think strategically about the client’s objectives, devise and evaluate alternatives, make hard choices, and align tactics.


      Most agencies need a deeper understanding of these areas to be credible with their clients. Without such knowledge, new campaigns run the risk of being good advertising ideas but not necessarily good business strategy. It’s also an update on some of the latest ideas in strategy. Participants will learn:

      • Elements of strategic thinking
      • Process for strategic planning
      • How business goals determine marketing strategy
      • A process for understanding the client’s business
      • The architecture of business strategy
      • Designing marketing strategy to reinforce the client’s goals
      • Writing creative briefs

      Performance Coaching

      (For Non-Coaches)

      The most productive way to lead people is to provide ongoing feedback and coaching. Yet most managers aren’t born with coaching skills. However, any manager can become a more effective coach by learning and applying a few simple-to-use methods and techniques.


      In this workshop, participants learn about the fundamental concepts of performance management (hint: it’s a shared responsibility between manager and employee), how to plan for different types of performance conversations and how to provide constructive feedback.


      They’ll learn how to prepare development plans for direct reports and will practice their coaching skills during the workshop using real-life scenarios. Topic areas include:

      • Performance management: what it is and isn’t
      • Types of performance conversations and how to plan for each
      • Corrective feedback: The three triggers and how to manage emotions in the moment
      • Preparing for and leading effective coaching sessions

      Presentation Skills

      The very best way for people to learn persuasive presentation skills is not to listen, watch and try to emulate, but to practice. In this intense but friendly workshop, participants get a chance to try out what they’re learning in front of the group, with live feedback, in a supportive environment.


      Each person will make several mini-presentations as they develop their personal style, practice new techniques and learn first-hand what others respond to best about his or her natural style. The workshop includes:

      • Finding an intrinsic style
      • Mastering physical presence and the power of voice
      • Organizing effectively
      • Telling a story
      • Presenting with a team

        Business Storytelling

        More and more we realize that what moves and motivates clients are often the stories we tell to make our points. Being an effective storyteller in business takes discipline; we have to learn when and how to use stories, and to develop the stories that will be most persuasive.


        At the same time, our stories must be short, memorable and – most importantly – demonstrate a key point.


        In this workshop for anyone who is client-facing, people develop stories and practice telling them in a concise but compelling way. We also use improv to help people speak more extemporaneously, plus how to support each other in their storytelling.


        Project Management

        Even though every company has its own process for managing projects, each project manager needs specific skills in order to run that process effectively: inspiring and leading teams, mastering negotiations, facilitating internal and external communications, and resolving the conflicts that invariably arise between team members.


        In addition, many project managers must now coordinate and collaborate with other agencies their clients are using. And, as agencies outsource more and more services, project managers must navigate those business relationships with outside vendors.


        In this workshop, participants will learn how to manage all of those relationships so skillfully that they become not just managers, but masters of the projects and agency processes.


        The workshop is appropriate for people in project management at any level who desire to become more effective in their day-to-day work.

          Creative Thinking

          Today’s competitive environment essentially requires that everyone in the agency be a more creative thinker. Developing creative skills is not just for people who have writing or design talent; anyone can learn to make their brain more fluent in producing new ideas.


          This highly participative workshop demonstrates why traditional brainstorming doesn’t work, and introduces people to a much more effective method – based on the latest research in brain science – for developing all kinds of ideas in the agency, for any department, and both with groups and individually. Participants will learn:

          • How account leadership can develop new ideas for clients
          • An effective methodology for generating new ideas
          • How to avoid typical patterned thinking
          • The most productive way to evaluate new ideas and build on each other's approaches to solving a client's business problem


          In this set of two one-day workshops, people learn both how to participate effectively in teams and how to lead their own teams. Although the two days complement each other, they can also be taken as stand-alone workshops. 


          Workshop A: For Team Leaders

          This workshop focuses on best practices for leading teams to a high performance level with maximum engagement.

          • Understand team dynamics
          • Motivate people who don’t report to them
          • Best ways to communicate with peers
          • Handle internal conflict
          • Assign team member roles and responsibilities
          • Set joint and individual goals for work product quality
          • Establish agreements on how the team will work together

          Workshop B: For Team Members

          This workshop focuses on how to organize and improve team performance. Participants will learn best practices for working with groups of people who bring different disciplines, mindsets and backgrounds to a project. They will reflect on their past team experiences and strategize how to make their current teams more effective.


          This workshop is particularly effective for intact work teams who wish to improve their performance. In addition, they’ll learn how to:

          • Understand each other’s communications styles
          • Provide mutual support and accountability
          • Think creatively about problems and solutions
          • Foresee obstacles in teamwork and how to overcome them
          • Monitor progress and keep work on track


          Business Writing Skills

          We write proposals, reports, plans, creative briefs, emails and PowerPoint presentations every day. Almost every one of these messages is intended, directly or indirectly, to persuade someone to move toward “yes.” The style of our writing nudges readers toward or away from that goal, no matter how good the content.


          Effective writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But everyone can follow simple guidelines to make their writing more persuasive. In this workshop, participants will constantly practice what they’re learning with short writing exercises they share with the group. The workshop includes:

          • The five biggest mistakes that occur in business writing 
          • How to organize any piece of writing for greatest impact
          • How to compose the most influential parts of any writing: the beginning and the end
          • How to tailor writing for the audience who will read it
          • The uses and mis-uses of PowerPoint/Keynote
          • Writing errors that irritate clients and the importance of proofreading


          Financial Stewardship

          Designed specifically for ad agencies, participants learn how the agency profits and loses money, how to protect the agency’s financial interests with clients, and how to increase income from the agency’s existing accounts.


          It's designed for account executives, account supervisors, creatives, production managers, and any non-finance manager who has financial responsibilities. The workshop covers:

          • How agencies make money
          • Why write-offs are so evil
          • Understanding client contracts and avoiding scope creep
          • Managing client budgets
          • How to handle agency mistakes
        • Consulting


          Now more than ever, your company's success is directly connected to the collaborative capabilities and creative output of the talent working on behalf of your brand. In addition to our training programs, we offer consulting services to help you maximize the collective potential of your employees:


          1) We conduct culture and talent development assessments to help your team members realize their potential and ensure your company is providing a positive and productive work environment.


          2) We offer one-on-one coaching to help your company's aspiring leaders develop skills to effectively manage their responsibilities and inspire the best from their teams.


          3) We conduct 360 interviews with internal or external stakeholders to solicit comprehensive, objective feedback about the performance of your organization.


          Contact us to learn more.



        • Retreats

          Companies convene retreats for many reasons – shaping strategic planning and action, building stronger teams, boosting creativity and problem-solving skills, jump-starting positive culture change, enhancing inter-departmental or client relationships and much more. We design and facilitate offsite retreats that help organizations reach their goals. Every retreat is constructed carefully around your own needs.

          Preparing for your retreat

          We begin by interviewing key people in your organization. What you and they tell us guides us in custom-designing an approach that responds to your strengths, challenges, and goals. We work in partnership with you every step of the way.


          Retreats give people time to dig deeply into their organization’s issues and develop appropriate strategies to address them. As a result, key decisions and plans made at retreats often have more solid and lasting support than those made in more hierarchical meetings.

          Holding your retreat

          At their best, retreats are a powerful means to bring about positive change. They provide a space where people are freed up from their day-to-day flurry of activities so they can think in fresh ways. The casual dress and informal structures of a retreat create an environment where participants can get to know and learn to trust one another, explore issues more openly, and generate new ideas more creatively.


          "Our agency couldn't get enough of Gary and his guided development tactics. He became one of us during our two-day retreat and helped us understand ourselves and each other better. According to the the post-retreat staff survey we took, we just wish we had more time with him."

          — Gail Sheffler

          Chief Idea Officer, Inspira

        • Meet Our Team

          Sheila Campbell, Founding Partner

          Sheila Campbell founded Wild Blue Yonder to work with ad agencies, corporate promotion departments and other organizations that need both creativity and strategic thinking as drivers of their success.


          Her clients have included Coca-Cola, the World Bank, Princeton University, National Geographic Television, America Online, the Inter-American Development Bank, Los Alamos National Labs and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, among others. She’s worked with well over 100 ad agencies of all types and sizes, including McCann Worldwide, Arnold, JWT, Publicis and Razorfish, as well as the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies), Asociación Mexicana de Agencias de Publicidad and the Institute of Communications Agencies in Canada.


          She has a masters degree in organization development from The American University, and she is co-author, with Merianne and Jeff Liteman, of Retreats That Work: Everything You Need to Know about Planning and Leading Great Offsites published by John Wiley & Sons.


          Before starting Wild Blue Yonder, Sheila was president of her own mid-size ad agency in Washington, DC. In her agency life, she worked on accounts like Marriott Hotels, Apple Computer, National Public Radio, Duron Paint and a regional airline which has since – like so many – been gobbled up.


          Sheila has taught strategy and creativity in the MBA program at Johns Hopkins University, and she has directed the Mid-Atlantic and Kansas City Institutes for Advanced Advertising Studies sponsored by the 4A’s. Also for 4A’s, she conducts workshops in account management relationships and leadership for ad agency groups around the country.


          Sheila has served on the Board of Trustees for Worldwide Partners, Inc., the world’s largest network of independent ad agencies, and on the Board of Governors of the American Association of Advertising Agencies Mid-Atlantic Council. For many years she was a docent at the National Gallery of Art.


          In her off time, Sheila travels, most recently to South Africa, India and Ethiopia. She spends a couple of months a year in France, where she plans and leads group trips for Politics & Prose, one of the largest US independent bookstores. (Sadly, despite her best efforts, she still only speaks tourist French.) She has hiked in such places as the Sahara, the Amazon, the Himalayas and all over western Europe, completing several segments of the fabled Santiago Compostela. Twice she has walked across England alone.

          Gary Duke, Partner & Chief Talent Officer

          Gary designs and leads training programs for ad agencies and marketing organizations looking to enhance the leadership, creative thinking, strategic and communication skills of their employees.


          He is also a recognized thought leader and Talent Development Partner with the American Association of Advertising Agencies, where he conducts seminars and training programs around the country. He applies his 25+ years of ad agency and client side experience to every training session, infusing learning theory with practical real world knowledge – and more than a few hair-raising stories along the way.


          Before joining Wild Blue Yonder, Gary founded EmpowerBrand, LLC, a marketing consulting and corporate training firm focused on empowering brand marketers to achieve their goals. Prior to that, Gary served as Executive Vice President, Chief Brand Strategist at MDB Communications, a leading independent advertising agency. Gary oversaw the agency’s strategic planning, media and account management disciplines.


          During Gary’s 17-year tenure at MDB, the firm earned a spot on Advertising Age’s Top US Agency Brands by Revenue List as well as the Inc. 500 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies. Under Gary’s leadership, MDB evolved its offering from traditional advertising to marketing programs utilizing the latest digital and social media best practices.


          Before joining MDB, Gary served in several senior agency and client-side positions for national and regional companies and has first-hand knowledge of the pressures brand marketers experience. Not coincidentally, Gary started his career at Rosenthal, Greene & Campbell, the highly successful ad agency that Wild Blue Yonder president Sheila Campbell founded.


          Gary lives in Washington, DC and when he’s not traveling around the country for work, he often heads back out on the road to discover new places and life experiences abroad.

        • Contact us for a

          complimentary consultation.

          Fill out the contact form below and we'll follow up with you within 24 business hours.

          If you prefer to give one of us a call, here's how you can reach us:


          Gary Duke, Partner & Chief Talent Officer: 202.746.6055

          Sheila Campbell, Founding Partner: 301.587.4555




        • News

          My clients keep me very busy with training gigs most of the year. But come July and August, things slow down quite a bit. Yes, summer is when we should all take some much-needed time off. I’ll certainly be taking advantage of the slower pace with beach time on Cape Cod. But summer is also the...
          According to Gallop's 2017 State of the American Manager Report, employees who have regular check-ins with their managers are almost three times as likely to be engaged in their jobs as those who don't have regular check-ins. The implication for managers is that regular check-ins require a...
          Planning and conducting a company retreat takes plenty of time and effort. But it can really pay off when you do it right.   My partner Sheila co-authored Retreats That Work, which is considered by many in the biz to be the definitive resource for planning a well-led and productive retreat. The...
          Our 2019 Training Guide is now available. Check out our new offerings, including our Performance Coaching for Non-Coaches Workshop, designed for busy managers with direct reports, and our on-demand Coffee Break Videos, designed for even busier client relationship managers. Download our 2019...
          September 20, 2017
          My partner Sheila co-authored Retreats That Work, which is considered by many in the biz to be the definitive resource for planning a well-led and productive retreat. The book includes a list of nine reasons why you might want to consider holding a retreat for your team or organization: 1....
          September 6, 2017
          While we’re probably best known for our talent development programs, we also design and conduct retreats for companies looking to bring their people together around important strategic decisions, or to improve the way they work together. Gary recently conducted a two-day retreat for a fast...
          BBH New York CEO Anthony Romano and the 4A's put together an "Inside Track on Account Management Playlist" of webinars, and we took the top 2 slots! You can check it out here.
          Drumroll please.... Our updated Training Guide is now available. We have some new offerings for 2017, including a Coffee Break video series, peer-to-peer online learning forums and 2Hour Power training sessions - all designed for people who are way too busy to squeeze in a day or half-day of...
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        • Our Side Hustle: Curated Travel Experiences

          We also design and lead unique vacation experiences to destinations in Europe and Africa.

          Because we really love to travel, in addition to our "day jobs" as talent development consultants, we also design and lead small group trips throughout Europe, South Africa and other interesting places.


          If you’d like to check out our latest trips, you can find them on our side hustle website, Wild Blue Yonder Trips. We can also design custom group trips for your own organization - contact us for details.

        • Here's a sampling of the kinds of travel destinations we offer through Wild Blue Yonder Trips.

          Check out our latest trips here.

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