FARGO — Like many today, Jay Peltier's career path has not followed a straight trajectory. Fortunately, life's twists and turns ultimately led him to the career he was destined for as owner of the local Dale Carnegie franchise.

That isn't to say Peltier left his future up to chance. He began living a life based on self-improvement and accountability long before he first read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" or took a Dale Carnegie course.

Peltier recently sat down with The Forum to talk about his first year as a Dale Carnegie franchise owner.

From track coach to life coach

A native of Harvey, N.D., Peltier graduated with degrees in mass communication and business administration from North Dakota State University in 2006. After college, he worked for about 18 months as a job recruiter and was in the midst of interviewing for a sales job with a recruiting firm when his career trajectory took its first big curve: Peltier decided to take a shot at coaching when his cousin had difficulty filling a track coach position at Hopkins (Minn.) High School.

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"I showed up at the final interview (at the recruiting agency) and said, 'You know, I'm sorry, but I'm going to decline. I'm going to become a teacher,' which they thought was asinine. I turned down a high-paying job to educate the youth of America, but that was truly where my heart was," Peltier said.

While coaching, Peltier enrolled at Bethel University in St. Paul to earn his teaching degree. He accepted a part-time teaching position at Vista Ridge High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., after graduation because he believed he could "behave his way" into full-time work.

"My personal view on life is you behave your way in and and out of relationships. You behave your way in and out of jobs. So, I was going to behave my way into a full-time job, and that’s what happened," Peltier said.

While he loved coaching and teaching, Peltier said he became disillusioned with the education system after about six years when he felt he wasn't able to hold students accountable for their behavior.

That's when he began to research leadership programs in earnest.

"As a coach and an educator and a person who likes to better himself, I’ve been through a lot of them," he said. "When I was through the second online program of Dale Carnegie, what resonated with me is I got off of our session and I thought, 'Every person should take this. Every teacher needs to be in this course.' ... It was about how to have conversations and build people up, but also about holding them accountable. To me, the whole organization is about accountability and sustainability. It’s about building relationships and trust."

Winning friends and influencing people

Namesake and founder Dale Carnegie was born into poverty in the small town of Maryville, Mo., in 1888. He attended Warrensburg State Teachers College before moving to New York to teach communications classes to adults at the YMCA. Over time, Carnegie became known as a pioneer in the self-improvement industry and authored several best-selling books, including "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living."

The Dale Carnegie organization celebrated 106 years of business in 2018. According to its website, over 8 million people have graduated from its coursework.

For the individual, Dale Carnegie offers a number of online courses that deal with building relationships and effective communication. The majority of their business here in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota involves customized training courses for businesses, Peltier said.

"The courses are much more customized to their vision, values, goals and plans for getting from point A to point B," he said. "We can partner with them to create a stronger culture in getting to wherever they need to get."

A good mix

Peltier purchased the franchise in July from longtime owners Tonya Stende and Tamara Anderson. Both women agreed to stay on as freelancers for one year to help Peltier through the transition.

"Trying to extract their knowledge and making sure we have a smooth transition is very important, but it's also important that they're being honored on the way out," he said.

Stende established the franchise 17 years ago and brought on Anderson as a partner two years later. They began talking about a succession plan a few years ago. Their timeline sped up when Anderson's husband got a job in Denver two years ago.

Stende said Peltier brings a lot to the business.

"He's so passionate about leadership and culture, and he brings in a new energy," she said.

While she has no plans to retire, Stende said she isn't exactly sure what she'll do next when her contract is up in July.

"It's been a privilege to work with community leaders and organizations and to be able to partner with them to build their culture and leadership team," she said.

Her belief in Dale Carnegie remains strong.

"What we teach is more relevant today then when I started out 17 years ago," she said. "With everything driven by technology, we're losing that ability to have a conversation."

Peltier is ready to carry on the Dale Carnegie legacy.

"This is a good mix of business and coaching, so to speak," he said. "And we have one of the best teams. We have people who are very passionate and energetic about what they do. Even though transition is hard, that make it a lot easier."