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Basic Training For Business
CEO Boot Camp Means Push-Ups
For Everyone - BY GREGORY KRIEG
Mar. 15, 2007— The
transition from Captain of Industry to Private Pyle is
easier than you think.
The most domineering boss has a way of melting in the presence of the drill
instructor's flush cheeks. And the royal waistline loses some of its cache
when draped in mesh gym shorts
"Yeah, we break down their egos real quick," said
Senior Drill Instructor Matt Terlop.
Terlop is a former U.S. Border Patrol agent, and the lead drill instructor
at CEO Boot Camp.
in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, "boot camp" is more like
a corporate retreat with a rusty edge, a place for the boss and his underlings
to crawl in the mud together.
"CEOs have to pull together [with their employees]," Terlop said, "because
when they're in the boot camp platoon, they have no rank, they're just average
individuals in the structure."
the "troops" hit
the field, Terlop is the boss, and like any good drill instructor, he's not
shy about the fact.
"People look to me for the motivation they
see how the military's U.S. Border Patrol has trained me into being a disciplined
individual," Terlop said. "I transfer that to those executives,
to help them be sharper, more fit. That transcends into the work place."
Discipline and self-reliance are the cornerstones of the 6-8 week courses,
which come with the promise of a bolstered espirit de corps, a drop in work-wide
cholesterol levels, and most importantly, t-shirts.
perks are lavish but they come with a price. And not just in sweat and tears — the
courses cost an average of $150 per person in addition to location fees (Boot
Camp will relocate to a high school football field near you if necessary).
Those dollars can add up in a corporate office that counts a couple hundred
The drill instructor is not impressed. To him, this kind of training is priceless.
"We want this to be an excuse-fee environment," Terlop warns. "The
price and location we can discuss and make sure it works But
when I come out there in the campaign cover, the Smoky hat, I'm a different
guy. It's pretty crazy. The trainees feel like they're getting pulled off the
camp trainees are never off-duty. Terlop and his deputies routinely show
up at the office during the work day for what he calls "a sweep." They're
searching for contraband in the form of sweets, nicotine, and other unhealthy
The message is clear: Leave the jelly donut at home or pay the price.
will be first in line when casting calls for "Full Wool Blend
Jacket" begin sometime in the near future, but please don't be mislead,
there are no live rounds at CEO Boot Camp.
The schedule is much more docile. And no matter how out of shape you are,
there's no chance of pulling latrine duty. Instead, the focus is on team building
standard boot camp "day" runs
about two hours, once per week. Day One opens with a fitness test. Body fat
measurements, body weight measurements, a mile run, and push-ups all included.
Your improvement from the first session to the last is documented and presented
to the company, which is encouraged to post the results in the office.
The intra-office competition is what keeps CEO Boot Camp from descending into
high school gym class with benefits.
"That's the thing," said Gary Shamis, the managing director of SS&G
Financial Services, an Ohio-based accounting firm, "it allows people in
our organization to spend time together who don't normally have that opportunity.
And those that do, get to do so in a different way."
"Boot camp breaks down barriers," said Mark Mussig, a partner at
SS&G, "especially for the newer staff who might be intimidated by
people like myself, or the other partners. But we're standing right next to
them, doing what they're doing."
Just what they are doing varies from one organization to another.
the aim is to keep the experience as authentic as possible. That means bear
crawls across a football field, running up and down the adjacent bleachers,
over and over again, and marching in tight formation while keeping up with
the drill instructor's relentless cadence calls.
do a lot of sit-ups," Mussig said. "Put
it this way, nothing that [Terlop] has us do would be hard to do ten of it's
usually in the hundreds."
the spirit of the all-volunteer army, the company does not require its employees
to attend the training sessions, but Mussig said that employees are "encouraged" to
And if the peer pressure and promise of quality time with the boss isn't convincing
enough, there is always Matt Terlop.
"Yes," Mussig said, "Matt
will appear in the office five or so days before a camp starts, for recruiting."