Tamara Simon's Weekly Blog
Business Insights for RTOs
from my favourite Movies, TV Shows and Books
(and some other bits and pieces)

Are You Running The Fortune-Cookie RTO?

There are so many relevant West Wing quotes for RTOs that I could just use this show as my Blog inspiration for the whole year!

So in my final Summary Blog, I have picked 4 quotes which to me, not only sum up the TV Show, but also key lessons for anyone working in RTO land.

I hope you also concur.

Summary Lessons


Josh Lyman (speaking to Donna about Governor Ritchie’s campaign philosophy which has been ‘stolen’ from other writers and claimed as his own).

What does this remind you of? 

‘I believe in hope, not fear’, ‘I’m a leader not a politician’, ‘It’s time for an American leader’, ‘America’s earned a change’, ‘I before E except after C’.

It’s the fortune-cookie candidacy! 

These are important thinkers, and understanding them can be very useful and it’s not ever going to happen at a four hour seminar.

When the President’s got an embassy surrounded in Haiti, or a keyhole photograph of a heavy water reactor or any of the fifty life-and-death matters that walk across his desk everyday, I don’t know if he’s thinking about Immanuel Kant or not.

I doubt it, but if he does, I am comforted at least in my certainty that he is doing his best to reach for all of it and not just the McNuggetts.

Is it possible we would be willing to require any less of the person sitting in that chair?  The low road? I don’t think it is.

(Red Mass)

Too often, we use esoteric phrases to talk to our marketplace (students).  But when we really drill down into it, not only is everyone saying pretty much the same thing (your competitors); but there’s no substance in what’s being said – it’s just fluff.

So are you marketing to your students ‘fortune-cookie’ training?

Are you providing your students ‘fortune-cookie’ training?

Or is there, truly, more depth, value and substance?


Toby Ziegler (speaking to staff after someone leaked an off the cuff quote to the press)

There’s an old saying ‘Those who speak, don’t know; and those who know, don’t speak.

I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I know that by and large the press doesn’t care who really knows as long as they’ve got a quote.

…..We’re a group.  We’re a team.

From the President and Leo on through, we’re a team.

We win together, we lose together, we celebrate and we mourn together.

And defeats are softened and victories sweetened because we did it together.

And if you don’t like this team…. then there’s the door. 

It’s great to be in the know.  It’s great to have the scoop… and so the press becomes your constituents and you sell out the team.

… I’m simply going to say this: you’re my guys.  And I’m yours.. and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.

(War Crimes)

It’s very important that everyone working in your RTO (including you) is of a ‘Team Mindset’ and not a ‘It’s all about ME’ Mindset.  Otherwise, the subsequent actions (or lack of) will be detrimental to your RTO business.

And that’s not only apparent in your bottom line, but also your productivity and staff morale.

However, it’s very hard to have a Team Mindset if there is a disconnect between actions and words.

So are your staff ‘your guys’ and are you theirs; or are there some people who need to be shown the door?


Josh               What are you doing?

Donna           I’m trying to figure out if you have to pay for the plane ticket to Phoenix.

Josh               It was official travel.

Donna           Yeah, well that doesn’t really seem to make a difference.

Josh               What does the rule say?

Donna sits back down, sighs and reads from the big book.

Donna           An employee may not use contract airline/rail passenger service provided under the contract with the General Services Administration.  See part 301-15 subpart B of this chapter.

Josh               What’s the problem?

Donna           Well, let’s set aside that there’s no subpart B.  The rest of it uses a sentence structure with which I’m not familiar.

Josh               Just put it on my credit card.

Donna           No.  See, I think this is what it’s designed to do.  I think it’s designed to break a person’s spirit.

Josh               And damn it, that’s my job.

Donna           We’re getting beat by the system.

Josh               We are the system.

Donna           We suck.

I love this banter between Josh and Donna but it’s not really a laughing matter, is it? 

How many systems have you got that ‘suck’ because they not only don’t work because of the missing pieces; but they’re so complicated, they break the hearts of your team and your students.

Result: People walking away from your RTO (which is money and IP) because the systems are too hard.

So wouldn’t the easier and better solution be to design simple systems in the first place which are easy to follow, and serve their desired purpose?

And here’s my final thought:

Setting: At the Debate between President Bartlet and Governor Ritchie


Governor Ritchie, many economists have stated that the tax cut, which is the centrepiece of your economic agenda, could actually harm the economy?  Is now really the time to cut taxes?

Governor Ritchie

You bet it is.  We need to cut taxes for one reason – the American people know how to spend their money better than the Federal Government does.


Mr President, your rebuttal.

President Bartlet

There it is.  That’s the ten word answer my staff’s been looking for two weeks.  There it is.

Ten word answers can kill you in a political campaigns.  They’re the tip of the sword.

Here’s my question:  What are your next ten words of your answer?

Your taxes are too high? So are mine. 

Give me the next ten words: How are we going to do it?  Give me the next ten after that, I’ll drop out of the race right now.

Every once in a while… every once in a while, there’s a day with an absolute right and an absolute wrong, but those days almost always include body counts.  Other than that, there aren’t many unnuanced moments in leading a country that’s way too big for ten words.

I’m the President of the United States, not the President of the people who agree with me.  And by the way, if the left has a problem with that, they should vote for somebody else.

(The Game On)

I’m all about helping RTOs turn their ideas into profitable solutions by implementing simple systems.

In a nutshell… I’m all about the HOW.  It’s great to have ideas or the ten word answers; but what’s more important is the execution.

So HOW will you turn the ideas on your To Do List into simple solutions which will save time (increase productivity), make money (increase profitability) AND bring the fun back to your RTO… for your staff and your students.

What’s Next?

President Bartlett always uses the phrase, ‘What’s Next’ to tell his staff he has got the point and was ready to move on and take action.

So what’s next for your RTO?

Want some help from Tamara?

If you would like some help to turn your RTO ideas into simple profitable solutions, please check out my coaching services on my website


Or contact me direct:

0438 262 727 or tamara@takeanotherlook.com.au

Next Month’s Movie, TV Show or Book:       What will it be?