Steve Aguirre, Founder & CEO, Real Fun GrowthSteve Aguirre, Founder & CEO
Real Fun Growth (RFG) is a global leadership consultancy that is re-imagining the corporate learning experience. It works with professionals at all stages of their careers— from college interns to CEOs and other C-suite leaders. RFG’s differentiating factor is its focus on making learning incredibly enjoyable, valuable, and practical, as well as keeping the learning active after the program ends. It knows that leaders and executives are very busy, so it is essential that every minute of a session provides valuable and practical strategies. The company offers programs in four main areas— leadership, mindset, sales, and communication. RFG’s off-the-shelf programs are interactive and dynamic, but it also works with clients side-by-side to create custom programs. It has additional specialized capabilities including executive coaching, conference planning, MC services, orchestrating social events, conducting assessments, and consulting services that work in coordination with learning programs to drive sustainable culture change.

In an interview with Manage HR, Steve Aguirre, Founder and CEO of Real Fun Growth, sheds light on the company’s unique take on leadership development, the training process and the success factors of the company’s program.

How did the company come into existence?

I am passionate about communication, learning, and personal development. After graduating from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, I worked for the investment firm PIMCO where I refined my communication and finance skills. While at PIMCO, I was fortunate to move to Sydney, Australia where I gained a new perspective on international business. During this time, I also became immersed in the world of stand-up comedy, and since 2007 I have been performing stand-up comedy both internationally and in the US. Little did I know my varied skills would become valuable down the road. I went back to the US to complete my MBA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where I was president of the stand-up comedy club and I TA’d for academic sensation Adam Grant. After business school I decided to follow my passion for leadership and communication, so I worked for a boutique leadership consulting firm in NYC where I learned about the L&D industry.

I came to find many sales leaders and L&D clients were frustrated that vendors were not innovating, providing practical strategies or keeping the learning going after the live session. I saw an opportunity and brought all of my experiences together– leadership, professional development, communication, and stand-up, which resulted in the launch of RFG.

I selected the name Real Fun Growth because it represents our values. The ‘real’ in our name signifies practicality and authenticity - we strive to connect with participants on a human level. Unlike an overly corporate approach, we identify facilitators who connect authentically with the audience. We define ‘fun’ as time ‘flying by’ and ensuring that sessions are a great use of time. Think about it, every time you have fun you look back and were glad you did what you did, and the time flew by. It is also important to have fun when learning because this activates the creative centers of the brain, creates psychological safety, and makes learning enjoyable. However, even though we have fun we must always ensure that we are providing participants with valuable and practical tools they can use immediately. We integrate humor, fun videos and more, but they all work toward the purpose of learning valuable skills. Finally, growth: we want you to keep growing well after the program is over, and we have strategies to keep the learning alive after we leave. Our follow-up video content is similar to what John Oliver and Trevor Noah deliver – valuable content in an engaging manner. Our followup videos have humor, but at the core they are about important topics that are valuable to the audience. Our goal is to package valuable learning content in a way that is more enjoyable to consume.

RFGs approach to design

We have two approaches to design. First, we start with big-picture learning journeys, and second, we have a design philosophy that drives our course experience. To start, we partner with our clients to design impactful ‘learning journeys’ based on their objectives. We start with the behavioral change our clients are trying to achieve, such as an increase in sales, outstanding communication, enhanced leadership that drives performance or anything else they need support with. Our learning journeys may include in-person learning, blended learning, training programs with coaching, group coaching, pod groups, or custom assignments. We understand that clients have budgets, so we provide them with the best possible experience based on their budget. We work with our clients to take their participants on a journey to build skills that increase their value in the company. These particular journeys can be for new managers, new employees, interns, or those joining right out of college. We also have tailored journeys that are replacing open enrollment programs, such as a journey toward communication excellence or a journey to turn around your mindset or a journey to navigate the annual review process.

As for our courses, they are incredibly dynamic, interactive and engaging. We often get feedback such as— “I attend a lot of webinars, multi-task the entire time, and rarely pay attention. With RFGs, I literally put the phone away, listened, and interacted. Amazing session!” The other marker that demonstrates the power of our course design is clients who request longer courses, which is virtually unheard of in the industry!

We often hear feedback from participants that we “pack a lot of substance into our live programs, virtual programs and followup videos and that every moment is useful.” We love hearing this feedback because it aligns with our goal of making sure our programs are a valuable investment of people’s time.

Lastly, we provide a fresh take on classic topics that clients are familiar with such as Emotional Intelligence, Presentation Skills, Mental Resilience, or Psychology of Time. For example, Psychology of Time delves into time management but also explores the psychological relationship we have with time and how it affects our performance. However, we also have unique and innovative classes such as Creative Breakthrough, The Art of Dialogue, and the Principles of Stand-Up applied to Business Communication. The Principles of Stand-Up deconstructs standup comedy and analyzes how its elements can be applied while communicating in the office. Whether it is a classic topic, or a new topic, RFG brings a special magic that makes it engaging and practical. We have over 40 classes in our catalog and would love to bring a unique, impactful, and fresh take to your Sales, Communication, Mindset or Leadership offering.

Standing out in the leadership development space

The key to seeing what differentiates RFG is experiencing our programs. After sitting in a class for 5-10 minutes you can tell it is a powerful experience that provides the perfect way to engage adult learners. However, the learning doesn’t stop there because after the class is over you get to keep learning from Steve and his team through valuable and engaging follow-up content. RFG has five differentiating factors— an engaging learner experience, differentiated follow-up content, instructional design built for busy executives, outstanding facilitators, and great customer service. It doesn’t take long before you see what makes this company special.

Client experiences where RFG made a world of a difference

RFG has many successful stories, but we want to highlight two. The first exciting project RFG completed is with an organization that is transforming its sales team by building high performance sales habits that fit their culture and brand. The project includes multiple phases. Phase 1 was focused on providing foundational sales training. The core skills prioritized were prospecting, communication, brand building, running impactful sales meetings, and other core sales skills. The program was focused on providing sales professionals with the essential skills that would enable them to differentiate from the competition and land new clients.

RFG won awards for the sales training program and received feedback from participants who said it was the best sales training they had ever received. People early in their career loved the practical strategies and those who have been selling for decades appreciated how their knowledge and expertise were tapped into throughout the sessions. RFG’s programs supported many positive sales outcomes, such as securing more meetings, increased sales and deep and honest engagement with customers who previously did not have a good experience.

RFGs program positively impacted the clients sales professionals, who now ask better questions, listen more, and minimize less effective unconscious habits, like interrupting, decreasing their power, and more. It is currently developing future sales development phases that will focus on advanced sales skills through a range of dynamic experiences.
  • Our mission is to make learning incredibly enjoyable, engaging, extremely practical, and valuable for everyone in the room

In another instance, RFG was working with a large organization with locations all over the world (30+ countries). This organization wanted to provide its workforce with impactful content during and after the pandemic in a variety of languages. It created a customized mindset program that enabled participants to apply the tools both at work and at home. The program had a global feel due to the local facilitators who tailored the content for their respective regions. The participants found the class incredibly refreshing because it gave them tools to use in all areas in their lives, and they were impressed that their company provided them with tools that would have a positive impact both at work and at home. Participants regularly shared that “had a blast in the program” and took away practical tools they could use in all areas of their life.

The client was happy that they invested in a program that provided their people with tools that benefited both their professional and personal lives. The program was re-energizing for many, and the client said RFG’s delivery resulted in some of the highest ratings they’d ever received. Employees have shared how they used strategies from the program to quickly bounce back onto their feet after setbacks, in order to be more productive both at home and at work.

Partnering with clients

Real Fun Growth partners with clients to understand what challenges they face, so they can provide tailored solutions that will drive the desired behavioral change. They believe in constant feedback from participants and clients because it enables them to continually improve and refine programs in order to provide the best learning experience on the planet. RFG is a learning organization that strives to get better with every opportunity.