Santa Ken Short Bio

Short Bio:

Like so many Santa’s, someone needed a guy to wear the red suit and I was a good fit. I was working at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore as the director of Clinical and Non-Clinical Nutrition Services. (Basically, I was responsible for 12,000 meals per day, and I had 32 Registered Dietitians on my team and about 400 union employees.) When the Holiday’s rolled around, they needed a “Full Figured,” “Big Boned,” Chubby guy with a quick smile and experience spending time with very sick kids. I was that guy.

After doing some paid Santa jobs and many more Hospital and Pediatric Hospice visits, I decided to go to Santa School. I went to the Charles Howard School in Michigan.

I worked for a Global 500 company for 37 years. After my time at Hopkins, I was the VP for client relations. I honed my skills as a facilitator, presenter, writer, and problem solver. It was all learned and practiced by networking with customers, clients, clinical people, academics, vendors, non-profits, religious leaders, community leaders, and anyone else you can imagine. I volunteered for things. I took all the free training I could get. I met people.

I see opportunity everywhere. At Santa School, I tried to meet as many people as I could. I wanted to listen and learn from them. At our dinner one night, I sat next to a Santa named Bob. As luck would have it, Bob was the Monday through Friday, Magic Kingdom Santa. Very long story short, that opened the Disney door for me. I am now a Disney Santa and I help with much more.

I have also been Santa for Pedego Bikes (I have one and I asked the guy in the shop a ton of questions about HIM and HIS Business.) I love riding my Santa Bike—it’s Red and White. People notice the bike and the Big Man with the White beard when I ride it. Now I am a Greeting Card Model. I learned about a photographer at the beach by asking questions and she took my picture. Now she has a dozen poses of me, on my on a bike, a boat, a beach, and more. I am also now helping her husband become Santa. Together we joined the Palm Tree Santas in Florida. Long story short, A Santa I met there two weeks ago set my wife and I up for something Called ENCHANTMENT. The show goes for 39 days, is run in Las Vegas, St Petersburg FL, Washington DC, and Dallas TX. In St Pete where we live, 350,000 people went through this attraction at Tropicana Field. The cost is about $30 each and there is ice skating, a maze, music, lights, and Santa. We can’t wait. It will be a great way to meet people.

I like chicken. I also like talking to people who own businesses. They impress me. Again, that is how I became the New England Chick Fil A Santa until I moved.

I like Farm stands, Christmas Tree Farms, and Apple Picking. You guessed it—I did a ton of work for that type of business. Not because I was in their face pushing Me as SANTA, but because I asked them questions and listened. And when the opportunity door opened, I stepped in.

What I don’t like to do is change my oil and do the routine maintenance on a car. OK—I do like that stuff, I just don’t like trying to get on the ground, get under a car and get back up again! I’m happy to pay the guy for that. Recently I had a less than satisfactory experience at an oil change franchise. I filled out the survey, honestly -but without venom, and the VP reached out. He listened to me. I listened to him even more. I saw an opportunity. This week I have a face to a face-to-face meeting to finalize plans to do a Motivational Speech for the top 200 people in their Corporate Meeting. I will “Talk about Being Good!” as Santa. I have Santa Beards and Hats and Kazoos for everyone in attendance. (On top of my speaking fee, I will charge $10 per person for this SWAG. My cost is $5.00—I saw an opportunity and the guy loved the idea of everyone being a bit more like Santa.)

Group Facilitation

The most important things I have learned about group facilitation, especially in a virtual format, are also very simple things. Let everyone introduce themselves. Then ask a question and get people talking. I have years of insight that I can use to round out a discussion. But a facilitator is at their best when they guide the group discussion, not dominate it.

A good facilitator must listen and respond, to move the conversation along. I like to draw out the people who have something to say but are hesitant to speak. It is also important to help people who want to dominate, to pause to let others share. Although this takes some finesse, it is something I have practiced for many years as a facilitator. When I talk 10 percent of the time and the group engages for the other 90%, it is a good session!

To get the ball rolling, I would use a few prompts like the ones below.

How do you define opportunity? What does it look like to you? (Building your business, your brand, your faith, doing good for the community, learning new things, fixing your Karma—what is it to you?)

Who do you know who can help you? Who do you know, who knows someone? In the words of Zig Zigler, “You can get anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want!”

What do you already know about the people who can help you and how can you learn more?  (This is a secret that I ONLY REVEAL TO THE BEST SANTA’s—THE SECRET is to ask. Just ask people. Go to the place where you seek opportunity and introduce yourself. Talk to people. Ask people about their business, church, organization, hospital, foundation, photo studio, club, school, and anything else. Build the relationship. Relationship building starts with building rapport. How do you do that? To go deeper you need to build trust and respect. This takes a bit more time. I never expect to make a deal the first few times I meet with someone. To build Trust and Respect you start by making and honoring commitments.  In talking to the Oil Change guy, I learned that his wife was coming to my town. I offered to send him some information. Then I did it. I said I would call him at a specific time. I did it. I also learned more about them and I sent more info. As I was doing this I was also learning about his business and his issues. I learned what keeps him awake at night.  This week we will sign a deal, or I will keep that relationship going until he is ready.

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Santa Ken is a Real Bearded Santa Claus for hire serving St Petersburg, Tierra Verde, Pass a Grille, St Pete Beach, Sarasota, Clearwater, Tampa, Bradenton, Gulfport, Madera Beach, Isla Del So, and all surrounding areas.