Today’s technology has made doing business a lot easier, but for many old souls, it can also be very intimidating.
Cathleen Page, who runs Page Integrity Inc., a business technology consulting firm, recently opened The Learning Lounge at the Peekskill Hat Factory at 1000 N. Division St. to give clients firsthand help with all the gadgets in the marketplace, as well as hosting daylong seminars on subjects like job interviews and business continuity.
“Technology has caused everything to be so integrated,” Page said. “You just can’t avoid it.”
At The Learning Lounge, Page, who grew up in Croton-on-Hudson, aims for a relaxing environment that allows people to feel at ease while they get down to business. The office space resembles a funky New York City loft with a large mural, couches and soft lighting. Page’s office also features a 50-inch Smart Board to play videos and the latest computer and technological equipment. Page began renting the space in 2009 and spent three years making it just right for her clients.
“It is often hard to make time for fun,” Page said. “At The Learning Lounge, we’ve created a comfortable space where people can learn what they need and want to know. Leave your stress at the door. It makes people want to be here.”
Page said that many businesses, particularly ones that have been around for years, are often reticent to adapt and are scared by tablets and smartphones. Page showed a moving company how they could use a tablet to calculate estimates and invoices for customers on the spot, rather than doing everything back at the office.
Before starting Page Integrity in 2005, Page spent 16 years in corporate technology and business management.
“I can use my experience to really help people,” Page said. “I’ve worked with the smallest of businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Business owners have to be able to bring something to the table.”
Page said that business owners don’t need to know everything about the latest technology, or own the latest iPad or Android to be successful, as each business is unique with its own business plan. Businesses simply need to learn what technologies benefit their business and how to successfully integrate it.
“I don’t want to throw technology right at their face,” Page said. “I have people who have been in business for 50 years and are skeptical – ‘What does this woman offer us?’”
Her clients include a diverse group of businesses throughout the Hudson Valley and Fairfield, from architects to Realtors.
Page’s love affair with technology started while she was a student at Croton-Harmon High School and the school began offering a technology program. While Page’s grades didn’t qualify her for the program (an A+ average was required, she averaged an A-), she was persistent and ended up taking the program after school, two days a week.
“I may not have fit the profile for the class, but I wanted to learn,” Page said. “It was enlightening. It sculpted who I am today. They said I can’t do the program, I said ‘I can, I will, and I will master it.’”
One of Page’s hallmark workshops is her eight-hour course called Nail the Interview, to help prospective employees impress employers while remaining true to themselves.
“It’s really important to teach them how to be real people,” Page said. “Job interviews should go like conversations in a coffee shop. That’s really big.”
Page also works with teachers and schools on how they can use technology to better the classroom environment, and how teachers can get the most out of Smart Boards.
“Our teachers often don’t have the tools,” Page said. “You need to keep it interactive; it helps keeps their minds working.”
Page has also worked with area nonprofits and with the New York State Veterans’ Home in Montrose, helping veterans get acclimated to the latest technologies so they can more easily find work upon returning home.
Page, who describes her background as eclectic, has worked for companies like AAA and United Defense Industries.
“I think it has made me successful,” Page said. “I have learned what works and what doesn’t work. I’m business savvy and I’m tech savvy.”
At The Learning Lounge, Page has learning partners who help teach her clients and lead her seminars. Page said her business experience lets her know quickly if someone is technologically capable and willing to learn.
“People feel like that they have to be perfect, but it’s all about comfort,” Page said. “You have to feel like you can relax and take a load off. It’s how you learn best.”
Some of Page’s upcoming workshops include “iPhone Mania: What is the Hype and Do I Need to Have It?” and “Thinking Inside the Dropbox: Ten Cool Things You Can Do With This Software to Simplify Your Life.”
“For us, it’s all about meeting people’s needs in many aspects,” Page said. “In our tech-savvy age, technological stress is very real.”