Month: August 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

South Dakota

I just spent the last week in South Dakota with my family.  It was a needed break from the day-to-day stuff that has been going on for the last six months.

A time to unwind and relax.  A time to reconnect and think.  A time to focus on things other than work and obligations…

Buffalo

Buffalo at Wind Cave National Park

REFRESH

I’ve talked taking time off before in order to recharge ourselves (see here: refreshabbatical).  I’ve realized that it is very important that we do this – and yet it is so hard.  I wanted to take the time off completely – without checking in or doing any work.

Oh well…

I ended up needing to be on some conference calls, figuring out a problem with one of our rental units, and checking back into see how an issue was being resolved at work.  As a result I was up way earlier than I wanted to be while on vacation.   Putting it mildly, that sucked.  Setting an alarm for 5:00 AM while on vacation to take a conference call is not my idea of fun.

But by doing it early,  I was able to spend all day with the family – every day.

And I didn’t check twitter, or my blog, or the internet or even the news.  It was almost blissful!

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What Drives Meaning?

What is it that drives meaning in work?  True, real meaning that goes beyond the obvious “completed this project” or “achieved that goal”?  I have some ideas, but would love to hear what other people have to say first.  I’ll keep a track of the responses we get and put up another post on this with some ideas at a later time.

So please, leave a thought in the comment section!

Do you have wisdom you could share with small businesses? We need you!

As noted before – I am on the board of the non-profit Economic Growth Centers in Minneapolis (http://www.egcmn.org).  We are looking for experts and leaders who have some wisdom to share.

Economic Growth Centers (EGC) is focused on strengthening the economic vitality of Twin Cities communities and neighborhoods.  We do this through helping small businesses grow and prosper.

Small companies are the engines of economic growth for the USA – yet they do not have many of the human or economic resources that larger firms do.

Our goal is to create a library of on-line training presentations that can be accessed at any time for free by small business owners, managers, and employees.   By providing small business leaders and employees with the skills and information that they need to prosper, Economic Growth Centers is helping them grow revenue, increase buying, add employees, and build out infrastructure, thus increasing the economic vitality of the Twin Cities Metro area as well as other communities across the country.

We are looking for  experts in various fields to volunteer to host our training seminars. By volunteering your time and expertise you are helping these small businesses grow and prosper.   The library will be focused around key developmental areas that small businesses need to grow:

  • Marketing and Sales
  • Human Resources
  • Financial
  • Strategy
  • Legal / Regulatory

The success of this endeavor depends on ensuring that we have a robust offering of meaningful courses – I would encourage anyone who is interested in presenting to contact me at kurt@lanterngroup.com or at 612-396-6392 to get further information.

Please share this with people you know who you think might be a good fit.  Thank you!

Kurt

The Motivation of a child

Has something like this happened to you?

I was walking with my 4-year old child to the park. It’s just a few blocks away, an easy walk for him most days. But not today – he wants to be carried.

“I’m tired.” He says. Huh? He was just gung ho about going.

No matter how I try to get him to continue walking, he won’t. I try to use reason – “it’s just two blocks – you can do that.” I try to encourage – “you’re a big kid now who can do this easily.” I use incentives – “if you walk, we can stay an extra 15 minutes at the park”

It is all to no avail…

Ok. I pick him up and carry him on my shoulders. I carry him until the edge of the playground – and now…

Now he is full of energy. He wants down. He takes off. I can’t catch him. He runs, he slides, he swings and he plays….on and on and on.

So here is my question – do I have a lazy kid or did his motivation just kick in? Was it the proximity effect or was he rested because I carried him? Was I played? In the end it doesn’t matter: he enjoyed the park and I enjoyed watching him.

PS – I made him walk the whole way home.

Tell me your experience with motivating a child…

Awareness – how easy it is too not see

Yesterday I wrote about how we are not rational.  Today, we look at how sometimes we don’t even see things that are right in front of our eyes!  Take a look.

Did you see the bear the first time?  I know when I first did this test, I didn’t.  How long did it take you to notice the changes in the 2nd video?  I didn’t catch it until about 3/4 the way through and I was looking for it.

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5 Lessons From the Maze

People going through the maze

The Maze

Over the past 18 years I have conducted a team building event called the Electronic Maze® with hundreds of companies and thousands of participants.  Sometimes called the “Magic Carpet” the Electronic Maze is extraordinary, not because it is magic, but because of the team behaviors and emotional responses it elicits.

Those behaviors and emotional responses are surprising similar across a wide variety of groups: senior managers, line workers, middle management, cohesive teams, strangers, international audiences, men, women, and every group that we’ve ever done this with.

Those behaviors are also very insightful as to how we perceive the world, work with each other, and get things done.

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Why I Hate Training Wheels

Riding a bike

My 4-year old son just got his bike a few weeks ago.  He is in heaven.  Ask him what his favorite thing in the world to do is, and he will tell you, “Ride my bike!”  He wants to ride it everywhere…which is fantastic. He is definitely motivated!

I have one problem…he won’t ride it without training wheels.

We tried.  The first four days I was out with him every day, running up and down the sidewalk, holding on to the bike as he peddled.  But he was too scared.  He would stop peddling anytime the bike tilted.  He would always look back to make sure I was there (which caused him to turn the wheel and tilt the bike to one side and then stop peddling).  He would stop and say he wanted to go slower.

And the problem was he was actually doing a good job riding on his own.  He was able to go a fair way with me just running beside him and not supporting the bike.  I would let go and he would be riding just fine.

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Economic Growth Centers – Small Business Learning Initiative

Here is the link to the webinar I did with Economic Growth Centers (ECG), a 501C non-profit that I’m on the board of.  ECG’s mission is to strengthen the economic vitality of the Twin Cities Metro area.

One program that we are working on is to create an electronic small business education curriculum that can be freely accessed from our website by small business owners, managers and employees.  Our goal is to have an entire curriculum of educational webinars available free of charge, hosted by various experts in their fields.  This type of training or consulting would be cost prohibitive for many of the small businesses we aim to help.

If you would like to donate your time or expertise – please let me know kurt@lanterngroup.com or leave a comment.  We are looking for people to work with to create a one hour webinar that would teach small business leaders and employees a key business skill. If you are interested, let us know -we would love to hear from you!

Motivation Webinar Link

When Power Point Fails

Oops I read this article recently, PowerPoint Does Rocket Science–and Better Techniques for Technical Reports” by Edward Tufte.

Read this article.  Seriously, read it.

It is technical and it gets into details and isn’t constrained to just one page.  It has long paragraphs.  Read it anyway.

It highlights how we have come to depend on Power Point and its conventions – even when that medium or those conventions don’t work.  And how, in this instance, might have led to disaster.

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More on the Drive to Challenge & Comprehend

Why we do the things we do

I was reading an the transcribed copy from a conversation between Ira Flatow and Dr. Paul Bloom on the NPR show Science Friday.  This show was titled, “Why we like the things we like” and I think it highlights some very interesting insights that we could all learn from.

The following excerpt is a great example of the Drive to Challenge and Comprehend.

FLATOW: Well, you led into a topic I wanted to ask you about, and that is the pleasure of just learning about things. It’s – you know, just knowing more. I mean, I find that extremely pleasurable, and I’m sure a lot of our listeners do, or else they wouldn’t be tuned to this program.

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