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Dean Karrel, Principal, The Skyridge Group

Dean Karrel is Principal of The Skyridge Group and one of the most prominent educators on LinkedIn Learning. Dean talks to The Industry Leaders about why he left a successful 30-year publishing career to go back to University and how he now spends his time helping others pursue their career goals.

How did you end up sitting where you are today?

After graduating from college, I entered the publishing industry. I spent more than three decades in sales management positions with Prentice-Hall, Simon & Schuster, and then most recently Wiley, where I was the Senior Vice President of sales. In 2015, I wanted to pursue a new course in my career, so I went back to college for human resources and coaching instruction.

Today I am a career development coach, sales trainer, instructor of 14 courses with LinkedIn Learning, and author of Mastering the Basics: Simple Lessons for Achieving Success in Business.

What kind of work does your role involve?

It is so enjoyable to have a diverse portfolio of activities that are pretty much divided up equally. I spend time doing business coaching for those in the middle stages of their career, helping them navigate opportunities and obstacles.

My sales training work and sales courses with LinkedIn Learning aim to take the fear out of selling.

Then, doing presentations based on my book is fun because I am often speaking to those just entering the business world.

What gets you excited about your industry?

Having spent many years in the corporate world, I genuinely enjoy sharing what I have learned through both the successes and the disappointments. Assisting and motivating those I meet to enhance their skills and maximize their potential is such a terrific reward for my work.

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

My first manager was such a great mentor to me and always said to just be myself, believe in my abilities, and that family always comes first.

How do you support aspiring leaders in your field?

One of the great pleasures for me in my work is my connections and friends through LinkedIn and my courses with LinkedIn Learning.

I post quite often each week on a variety of business skills and sales-related topics. It has enabled me to share my ideas with business people from around the world. It also given me the chance to learn from them, too!

How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?

My background is in publishing, and I remain an avid reader of business books. Our learning never ends, and it keeps us more than up to speed; it keeps us fresh and healthy.

I also enjoy telling people that I went back to college a few years ago at New York University in classes with some really smart students, many of whom I was more than twice their age. It invigorated me and certainly kept me on my toes.

What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?

In 2015, after more than three decades in publishing and working with a terrific company, I decided I wanted to explore something new at this stage of my career. I had thought about it for a while and developed a variety of paths to consider.

The conservative approach would have been to stay where I was, but I am so glad I took that deep breath to venture on an exciting new route.

You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?

Don't we all have those "Wow, what would I do if I won the lottery?" moments?

Since I have a mantra of "Family comes first", I would have to apply that here with some dollar amount.

That said, how many families would benefit from an extra $20,000? $8 million divided by $20k = 400 families. Wouldn't that be nice to be able to pass that out to those who are in real need?

How do you switch off after a day at work?

Switching off and disconnecting is so very important. I do enjoy cooking. Can I take part of the lottery winnings to build a nice new kitchen? However, I do very much like working in my backyard and creating nice scenery for evening dinners outside and for the local wildlife.

If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?

In every industry, there needs to be continuous improvement of skills and quality for those at all levels. Treading water means we are falling behind. Ongoing education, training, and reviews of methods used is, I believe, essential.

What book or podcast should everyone know about?

I'd recommend everyone pay closer attention to "LinkedIn Lives" on LinkedIn, such as the one with Sara Canaday and Todd Dewett. I also enjoy Kim Kaupe's.

Pete Mockaitis has an exceptional podcast called, How to Be Awesome at Your Job. I'm also a big fan of Malvina El-Sayegh's, Stay Human podcast.

Pick up a copy of Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others by James Kouzes and Barry Posner.

How should people connect with you?

Please reach out and connect with me on LinkedIn at and follow my work on LinkedIn Learning at

*Ever wondered what kind of leader you are? Take our free quiz to find out.

**Looking to level-up your leadership skills? Check out our article on the best self-help books for business leaders and entrepreneurs.


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