Spring Ahead

April 2nd, 2015

UW cherry blossomsWill we tune into, and turn into, the promise?

There’s something about spring that’s so optimistic and energetic.

Something inside us wants to imitate the flowers and buds and trees – to burst forth, to BE the life we see around us.

So will we? And if not, why not?


Do You Know the Four Fundamentals?

February 16th, 2015

There’s something that all my award winners have in common.

Four somethings, actually. I sent out a video BRAINSNACKS a few months ago describing what I’ve identified as the four ingredients common to winning award submissions I’ve developed and contributed to –

four fundamentals video

  • Alignment: Does your corporate initiative align with your corporate strategies? Pretty straightforward. Another part of alignment is how tuned into, and involved with, your initiative the C-Suite and/or other senior stakeholders are. Their support is a key indication that what you’ve been up to matters and is making an impact.
  • Intelligence: This has two meanings. The first is what kind of sleuthing you did to figure out what the problem was (no problem? no need for a solution) and then how you leveraged the smartest stuff out there to make your solution shine.
  • Innovation: It’s hard to win an award for doing things the same way as everyone else. Not impossible, but truly there should be a spark of newness and “wow!” that makes judges sit up and take notice.
  • Impact: Winning awards is all about measurable outcomes. You have to prove that you made a difference. That’s why individuals, teams and companies deserve to be recognized for their efforts – because they irrefutably had the intended effect.

To learn more about how you can use these four fundamentals to determine the award-readiness of your best initiatives, contact me about a tailored assessment, my latest award resource.

Thanks and go be awesome!


Change Your Job…with Your Mind!

December 8th, 2014

For real.

OK, so I kind of have a thing for “job crafting.” It was the topic of my last BRAINSNACKS newsletter and also makes a guest appearance in my 2014 holiday greeting video.

Job crafting is a concept developed by two business school professors. It centers around cognitively changing your job by altering how you perceive it: e.g., a hospital janitor who sees his work as helping staff and sick patients vs. simply cleaning.

This is an earth-shattering notion! That we can all find higher purpose in what we do if we simply put our minds to it.

And it worked for me. As explained in the (serious part of the) holiday video, I reexamined what it is that I “do” for a living. Yes, I help companies win awards (hip-hip-hooray for my 2014 win rate of 100% and my 60+ client wins to date!).

But there’s more to it than that. By helping companies win industry recognition, what I’m doing on a deeper level is to:

  • Shine a light on greatness
  • Share best practices that other companies can benefit from
  • Celebrate unsung heroes who are doing amazing things but have not yet been recognized for it (I get a special joy from doing this)
  • Achieve recognition for thought leaders and innovators so they can keep making an impact doing what they love

Perhaps most importantly, though, I make people happy.

I make people happy. For a living.

People are thrilled and excited and feel affirmed and motivated–and have their careers boosted–when they win industry recognition. And they win because they do great work that makes an impact so it’s all well deserved.

Now, I already liked my work before I started “crafting” it, but it’s a tremendous thing to discover new purpose and meaning in one’s livelihood without changing anything but the way you see it.

How much else in life could we transform this way? A thought for the new year.



Why I Do What I Do

September 9th, 2014

OK, one of the many reasons I help companies win awards.

(Hint – It’s because I help PEOPLE win awards.)

Today I tuned into the Webinar that serves as the virtual Brandon Hall Awards “ceremony.” I was thrilled to see many current and recent clients winning big (whether or not I helped them with the actual application, though especially when I did).

I emailed folks right away to congratulate them, including someone I’d worked with to write up a very impressive program for a prestigious global ranking award. She and her team had independently applied for and won TWO gold awards, so of course I wanted to wish her well.

The reply I got to my short note makes me beam ear to ear and really underscores a part of my work that I love.

What a pleasant surprise to hear from you and what synchronicity…I was thinking about you as I listened to the awards announcement.

The credit for encouraging me to apply for awards for [Program X] goes entirely to you (as you wrote the [Program X] case study for [Global Ranking Award]). And I will always remember that with gratitude. The entire team had done an outstanding job; we knew that before and now it’s recognized in the industry.

Thank you so much for your warm wishes. 

Technically, I help companies win awards. In reality, I help propagate great learning and development concepts and initiatives by earning L&D rock stars recognition for their efforts. By doing so, I make people feel great about their important work and their accomplishments.

And earning a living by making people feel great is a pretty fantastic way to spend my time.




That Pesky Status Quo

July 7th, 2014

To drive change, first create discomfort.

I read an excellent blog post today and immediately wanted to share it. OK, first I wanted to read it, and THEN I wanted to share it.

Why the attraction?

Its awesome title: “What Just About Every Speaker Does Wrong.”

Now, who’s not gonna read that? (People who never have to speak? Or listen to speakers?)

But what made me want to share it is…its author, Nick Morgan, “one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches,” AGREES with ME. Yes. There. I’ve said it.

Actually, he agrees with Beckhard’s change equation, which I blogged about a few years ago. Beckhard’s formula posits that in order to effect change, you must first create dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Morgan writes about this in the context of his domain, public speaking. What most speakers do wrong, he suggests, is to forget about selling the problem before selling the solution.

But you’d never do that. Right? Right.




All Rise

May 28th, 2014

I would be remiss if I, like so many others, did not pay tribute to the inspirational Maya Angelou. Below is her famed poem, and rightly so.

But I also recommend watching her recite it. So wise, so powerfully truthful, sassy, funny and fearless.

A favorite Angelou quote: “When we find someone who is brave, fun, intelligent, and loving, we have to thank the universe.”

I thank the universe for this great lady.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Thought for Food

May 12th, 2014

My brain runs all the time.TED logo

I can’t keep up. Mind you, it’s not necessarily thinking great thoughts, just functioning with a constancy that can be incredibly fun and superbly annoying (sometimes simultaneously).

So I’ve come up with a way to occupy it while I’m fixing myself and then eating lunch, here in my home office in Seattle. Because, you know, I shouldn’t just be relaxing or thinking about my next vacation to Alaska.

I watch TED Talks.

Now, if you’ve never heard of TED Talks then I am unbelievably excited to be the one to tell you. In their words:

“TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.”

They have an amazing treasure trove of videos of all kinds of smart people saying and doing amazing things. And smart search capabilities so you can easily browse and/or navigate their wellspring of watchable brilliance.

Some of the speakers are famous, some because famous after their TED Talk, some perhaps still will be famous. But whatever interests you, it’s more than likely there.

A few options to start you off and/or bring you to new places (you can also click here for TEDs own TED 101, 11 “classic talks”).

I’d also like to point out that three of the top five most watched talks are given by women.

And that, friends, is thought for food.

Got a favorite? Let me know and/or share below. Thanks!


4 Vs of Big Data 4U

April 16th, 2014









In case you hadn’t heard.

Yes, big data is all the rage. And it should be. My friends who are big statistics nerds are suddenly finding themselves in one of the “sexiest” jobs of today: data scientist.

Sexy? Data scientist?


So, I’m not going to get very deep into this subject because I am not, you know, a big statistics nerd (although one of my greatest and most surprising triumphs was, after stumbling and bumbling repeatedly in class, earning a near-perfect score on the statistics mid-term my first year of business school; as the professor handed me back my blue exam book he said with a low voice and a wry smile, “So I guess you’ve been faking it all this time.”).

You’re probably not a statistics nerd, either. But regardless of what you do or where, ya gotta at least speak the language of data. So I want to (glibly, I’ll admit) arm you with just a tiny bit of data science vocabulary, namely the “4 Vs of big data,” to get you started on your way to big data mastery.

Without further ado, they are:

  • Volume: How darn much of it there is. There’s, like, SO MUCH.
  • Velocity: How darn fast we are creating it. Kazillions of Facebook posts and cellphone calls, all the time.
  • Variety: Who could possibly keep track of all the different KINDS of data being created? (Uh, data scientists?)
  • Veracity: Here’s the rub – it ain’t all reliable or accurate. Fer reals.

For a slightly more, shall we say, in-depth look at big data, click on the nifty infographic from the sexy data scientists at IBM (or click here).



Oh, Snap!

April 4th, 2014

Even the grandest among us may err. Including me.

When I saw the article title, I felt certain it did not pertain to me: “11 Surprising Words You’re Probably Mispronouncing.”

Now, it’s a fantastic example of an attention-grabbing title. Surprising? Probably? Mispronouncing? Haha. Not I.

OK, so it turns out there are some words I’ve been mispronouncing. Here’s the list. Want to know what I’ve been flubbing?

I’ll tell you if you tell me.

Read the article. It’s fun (the links below are to its author’s selected dictionary definitions).

1. comptroller

2. kibosh

3. sherbet

4. mischievous

5. prestigious

6. banal

7. peremptory

8. Realtor

9. cache

10. supposedly

11. flaccid

BONUS: niche




Context is King – They Said it, Too

March 24th, 2014

ShowDatainContext2Don’t you just love validation?

I got a big dose of it this week while checking out a very cool Business Guide to Visual Communications from very cool agency Column Five.

Now, I’ve said it before and will say it again – when it comes to data, context is king.

Is $5 million in sales a lot or a little? That depends on what the goal was. How much was sold last year. What competitors earned.

Folks, when applying for awards or doing any other kind of communication, give your audience a break–be they judges, stakeholders, colleagues, etc.–and give them the back story with the front one.

This lovely graphic captures it well (click on it for a larger, gloriously readable version).

The bottom line – use data for good. Be accurate and clear.




Learning Program and Team Awards 2009-2014


ASTD Excellence in Practice

Technical Training Award
Training Management Citation (for new programs)
Learning Technology Citation
Workplace Learning & Collaboration–Leadership Development (x2) Award, Citation
Workplace Learning & Collaboration–Onboarding Citation
Sales Enablement Citation

Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning

Best Custom Content Gold
Best in Learning Strategy and Governance Gold
Best Leadership Development Program Gold
Best Innovation in Learning Technology Silver
Best Leadership Sales Training Silver
Best Integration of Learning and Talent Management Bronze
Best Use of Games for Learning Bronze

Brandon Hall Technology Excellence

Best Advance in Social Learning Technology Gold

CLO Magazine Learning in Practice

Technology Innovation Gold, Division 1
Innovation Gold, Division 1
Business Impact Gold, Division 2
Business Impact Bronze, Division 2


Learning Organization Ranking Awards


American Society for Training & Development

ASTD BEST #1 (up from #32 in one year)
#2 (up from #37 in two years)

ELearning! Media Group

Learning! 100 #1 (first year on list)

Chief Learning Officer Magazine

LearningElite #1, #4

Training Magazine

 Training Top 125 #1, #2 (up from #41 in one year)