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.




I’m Lucky

February 10th, 2014

VictoryRocks!I like what I do AND I’m good at it. And my clients rock.

I recently attended the Training magazine annual conference and Training Top 125 Award gala in San Diego.

It was an awesome night. 

My clients did very well overall. In fact, some did exceptionally well. Here are some results –

  • #1 – up from #2 (both a small and a giant step)
  • #2 – up from #41!
  • #15 – up from #28
  • #19 – up from #63 last year and #118 the year before!
  • #30 – up from #101!
  • #35 – first time on the list (only one newcomer placed higher)

I was absolutely thrilled by their success, which made me realize a few things –

  1. I know what I’m doing. Like, fer real.
  2. I’m genuinely fond of my clients. They are good people who win me over with their dedication and passion for what they do as well as the excellence they achieve.
  3. My clients seem to dig me, too. One picked me up, spun me around and shouted, “You’re a rock star!” Definitely a top moment of the evening.
  4. I AM LUCKY. All this adds up to me having a pretty good life.

So thank you to all the wonderful people who put their trust in me to help them shine.

P.S. I couldn’t help but put together a slide of all the selfies and photos from that night and drop them into my session presentation the next day. Pretty good proof point.




January 31st, 2014

They’re really trying hard.

Too hard, perhaps.

Microsoft has for years been trying to become a customer-centric company after a long history of success by virtue of monopoly.

Lately, it seems, they are trying to make up for lost time by overdoing it on the customer service end. Recently I have contacted them for support with Office 365 and other questions. On the one hand, I’m quite pleased with being able to speak with someone quickly and resolving my issues satisfactorily.

On the other, I get follow-up emails or phone calls from the person I spoke with and sometimes emails or phone calls from that person’s manager. While I appreciate that they want to make sure I’m satisfied, they’re asking for a lot of my time in doing so.

Microsoft, do us a favor: please chill out. Make your websites/tools more intuitive and customer service a one-shot deal and you will be just fine.

Thanks from all of us. Except, of course, Mac users.

Beer and Metrics

January 21st, 2014

An important link you should know about.

In the business section of this Sunday’s New York Times, an article caught my eye. “Craft Beer, the Very Limited Edition,” is about a brewer in Vermont who makes very limited runs of his beers.

The article goes on to report that Hill Farmstead produces only 60,000 gallons of beer each year. And even after installing new equipment, production will be limited to 150,000 gallons annually.

Is that a lot or a little?

Ah, this is the key question whenever one speaks of impact metrics.

“For context, the Russian River Brewing Company, a craft brewery in California, made 437,100 gallons last year, and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware produced 6,300,000 gallons.”

Context. Context is king.

Just as you might struggle to understand whether 150,000 gallons is a lot or a little without knowing any backstory, someone else might not know whether your report of a $3 million increase in annual sales is a fantastic or a disaster.

If your goal was to increase sales by $1 million, you’re a rockstar. If the goal was $10 million, you’re in the doghouse.

Here’s to keeping everything in context, and perspective, in 2014.



December 12th, 2013

Sometimes you have to chalk it up to fate.

Watch my annual holiday video, and then check out this link, found in my Twitter feed just hours before I sent out the video link.

The universe works in mysterious ways…

Happy holidays to all.

Wise Words on Coaching

December 11th, 2013

Support and Motivate Just About Anyone

Researching content for my latest holiday video, I found many articles about how to be a good workplace manager, and many others on being a good sports coach.

But one article in particular supplied what I thought was excellent advice for any kind of coaching, formal or informal, business-oriented or not.

Four Top Coaching Tips that Work in the Real World,” by Sean McPheat, author of Coaching and Mentoring, provides guidance applicable in any number of situations:

1) Encourage self-evaluation

Not only does it help folks figure out for themselves what they need to do, it encourages self-awareness and accountability.

2) Create a vision that inspires

It’s not enough to set goals – those goals must have inherent worth and meaning. A vision can also support creativity and, of course, motivate action.

3) Set challenging expectations

Measures and milestones on the way help maintain focus and energy while also building confidence as progress is made. Making these milestones challenging can push people beyond what they might do if left to their own devices.

4) Build ownership & commitment

The sum total of taking risks, making decisions, solving problems and building confidence is essentially ownership. And once those actions have been taken, commitment goes hand in hand.


What’s some of the best coaching advice you’ve ever gotten? Given?


Mandela on Communication

December 6th, 2013

A group of American and South African students, aged from 11 to 19, met with Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, on 2 June 2009. This is part of a series of activities ahead of Mandela Day on 18 July.

A very humble homage to Nelson Mandela (1928-2013)

The world lost a great man this week, a tremendous role model for all of us.

The media has been awash with Nelson Mandela tributes and stories, all well deserved. I’d like to share just one quote:

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Far be it from me to imply any likeness between Mandela and me, other than a hope that I might display an iota of his courage, strength and determination, and yet I was struck by the similarity of his message of my mantra:

Who do you think you’re talking to?

You must always know who you’re speaking with if you intend to influence them. At the core of communication is an understanding of the audience, their hopes and fears, what they know and have, and what they aspire to.

Rest in peace, Madiba.

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)