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Some things in life are still free ...

For the severely budget- or time-impaired, some free resources do exist out there. Two places in particular to visit are the respective Web sites of frequent presenters and trainers Scott Simmerman and Sivasailam "Thiagi" Thiagarajan. The two are well-known for offering a small cache of free presentation and training goodies that can be adapted to many environments -- provided in the spirit of sharing and knowledge-swapping, but also to spread the word about their respective businesses.

Among the things Simmerman, who heads the Performance Management Co. in Taylors, S.C., offers on his site ( are free transparencies of his "square wheels" illustration, a cornerstone concept of his change-management, team-building and leadership training. The cartoon, which you can request by e-mailing Simmerman, shows a number of people straining to move a cart with square wheels, some pushing, others pulling. The cargo inside the cart is a large pile of round wheels. Using the free illustration, tip sheet and overhead, a deft presenter can make points about teamwork, innovation, leadership, change and more. "Sometimes it's just plain silly that people have to reinvent the wheel," Simmerman says. "There are a good deal of pre-existing tools out there proven to work."

Eric Snyder, who runs TCM Internet Services, an Ottawa, Canada-based firm that provides Internet resources for the training and HR communities, has used some of Simmerman's free resources. "I've never met Scott Simmerman, never attended a training program he put on, but I have adopted and regularly use two of his images -- the square wheels image and the caterpillar/butterfly image," he says.

Thiagi runs Workshops by Thiagi Inc. in Bloomington, Ind., and is well-known for his creative and highly interactive presentations at training industry conferences. On his Web site, he offers free software, interactive games, puzzles and exercises that presenters and trainers can tailor to their needs. There's also a useful list of tips for new facilitators. Go to and click on "freebies and goodies."

Dave Zielinski is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis.

Note that we no longer give out free tools like this but we do offer a wide variety of VERY inexpensive and yet powerful training tools and packages. See them at this location

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