Jennifer Hofmann, a pioneer in the field of virtual classrooms, is the president of InSync Training, LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in the design and delivery of virtual and blended learning. Featured in Forbes Most Powerful Women issue (June 16, 2014) as a New England Women Business Leader, she has led InSync Training to the Inc. 5000 for three years in a row, in addition to being named the 10th Fastest Growing Education Company in the U.S. in 2013 and the 20th Fastest Growing Education Company in 2014.
Hofmann is the author of The Synchronous Trainer’s Survival Guide: Facilitating Successful Live and Online Courses, Meetings and Events (Pfeiffer, 2003), Live and Online! Tips, Techniques, and Ready-To-Use Activities for the Virtual Classroom (Pfeiffer, 2004), and How To Design For The Live Online Classroom: Creating Great Interactive and Collaborative Training Using Web Conferencing (Brandon Hall, 2005). Additionally, she is a chapter contributor to The Handbook of Blended Learning (Pfeiffer, 2006), The AMA Handbook of E-Learning (The American Management Association, 2003), and The ASTD Handbook for Workplace Learning Professionals (ASTD, 2008, 2014). She has co-authored, with Dr. Nanette Miner, Tailored Learning: Designing the Blend That Fits (ASTD, 2009), a book focused on taking advantage of distributed technologies to create the best blended training solution possible. She has also authored a monthly Training Magazine Online series titled Virtually There.
What do you do best?
I see solutions that other people don’t see by connecting ideas that don’t seem connected. I rely on instinct (though instinct is based on experience). I believe we all have these ideas swimming in our brains, and if we ‘listen to our gut’ we can pull them together in a coherent, productive way. I ‘listen.’
What makes you the best?
I surround myself with great people, and totally empower them. I focus on the idea, and allow others to handle the implementation. For me, being the best is an external process. Being a visionary isn’t enough. If you don’t have the right way to implement your idea, it doesn’t work. I have a vision, and I know to bring it to the right people, to get out of their way, and let them do what they do best.
I’m really proud of having created an industry. I started this company in the late 1990s when companies were investing in technology, because technology was going to do the work for them. I was involved in training, and I recognized that this new technology was just another classroom. With everyone focused on the tech, no one was talking about how to use the tech well. So I created the language we use to talk about the Virtual Classroom, and the best practices we use today.
What are your aspirations?
Personal: I’m a lifelong learner, so I’d love to learn about Philosophy and Physics, to better understand how people apply logic and how the world works. It’s all about connecting ideas.
Business: I have two goals. The first is to build a business how to create a great virtual business. My second goal is to mentor women who want to be successful in small business. Small business drives the economy, creates jobs, and is exciting and innovative. I’m an example that women can make this happen.
Most challenging moment?
The failure of my first business. It was a dotcom that was so cutting edge that it went out of business before everyone else did. Actually closing the doors and walking away wasn’t the hard part. It was making the decision to do what was necessary and having the courage to live through it.
I try to be inspired by many things, so I’ll say that my favorite motto this month is, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin.
My husband and my son, for sure, as well as, my group of close friends. I also love people who are generous, who aren’t petty, and who are willing to take risks. If you’re brave enough to change direction to follow your passion, we will get along wonderfully.
I have a place where I sit with my tea and watch the sunrise. It’s simple, but beyond comparison. I try to make my favorite place wherever I am right there and then. But I know where I want to come back to.
Front Parlor Blend tea, a great wine glass, and the Kindle and Flipboard apps on my iPad.
Being active and moving every day is wonderful. I can’t wait until it’s warm again so I get back to paddle boarding - I have to be 100% focused on what I’m doing to not fall off. I call it my “moving meditation” and it brings me to my present moment. It’s also a nice metaphor for a lot of things – when you’re in shallow water, it’s more dangerous because you can hit more obstacles. Deeper water is safer because when you fall, you just get back on.