Monday, December 4, 2017

TED TAlks Part 3

TED Talks
Part 3 The Preparation Process
Should we use visuals? Well, according to Chris Anderson author of TED Talks, that’s up to us. One-third of TED speakers don’t use slides. But, two-thirds do. Slides are good when using the revelation tool of sharing ideas. They’re also good for explaining. And of course there is the aesthetic appeal. However, beware, no slides are better than bad slides. If we really want to use them, we might want to get professional help with our slides.
Some things to be aware of when using slides is that even though a picture is worth a thousand words because it shows and tells; we should limit each slide to a single core idea. Also, don’t put bullet points on slides because people will mentally leave us and read ahead. Instead, do something like putting a question on a slide, or a photograph, or video, maybe even some animation or perhaps just some key data will do nicely.
As mentioned earlier, visuals have aesthetic appeal. It’s actually okay for us to show a lot of images to help increase the audience’s delight. Some speakers even have a system that shows a new image every few seconds as they’re talking. If using pictures, remember that a black background will make it look like we are using a black border and will really help our images pop.
Here are some things to beware of. Don’t use multiple type effects in the same line. Don’t use bullets or dashes. And resist underlining and italics. Don’t put too much on one slide. Instead, let’s use feeds. It’s wiser to build onto the slide through clicks. Also use 24+ font size. We can use context photos, but have to be careful that they don’t look like year book photos. And we shouldn’t show videos longer than 30 seconds. Nor, show more than 2-4 videos. We should also avoid fancy transitions. It’s better to just go to cuts. And remember, with graphics, less is more. Finally, we need to always practice on the equipment that we’re going to use.
Should we script or not script? Or use some sort of combination of the two? Anderson believes that scripting can help us make the best use of our time up there on that stage for those short 18 minutes. But, scripting also has the danger of sounding like we are reading it. And even if we go the extra mile of fully memorizing the speech it can still sound off. Like it’s not real or authentic. Anderson calls this awkward place the, “uncanny valley”. The bottom line is that the best speeches come off as if the speaker is sharing his or her ideas for the first time.
It’s almost best to go somewhere in between scripting and not scripting. Write the speech. Make an outline. Memorize the opening and the closing. Then have a few notes for everything in between. Don’t worry. The audience won’t mind if we take a peek at our notes from time to time. A good way to do this is by taking a sip of water and glancing over at our notes before we continue our talk.
However we approach preparing for our speech, the most important thing is to practice, and practice a lot. The practice isn’t about trying to memorize our speech, it’s about becoming more comfortable with being up on that stage and in front of that crowd. When we’re more comfortable, our audience is more comfortable too. And that’s a good thing.
Anderson also expresses to always prepare a speech that is 9/10 of the time that we are given. Prepare a 54 minute speech for a 1 hour presentation. And a 16:12 speech for our 18 minute TED Talk. This gives us time to pace ourselves, pause, screw up a little bit, milk the audience and basically have some breathing room. This breathing room will add to our level of comfort and thus add to the level of comfort and joy our audience is experiencing.
Now, not to put any more pressure on ourselves, but we need to remember that in this modern era there is a tug-o-war for people’s attention. This is especially true in online formats like TED Talks where people can just click away. Our first words really do matter. So, let’s not waste them away with small talk.
A good way to open our speech could be with a dose of drama. Think about the movie industry. How would they approach this subject in the opening minutes of their movie? Another good strategy to open with is to ignite their curiosity. The best way to do this is by asking a surprising question that creates a knowledge gap our audience’s minds fights to close.

A third approach to opening our speech could be as simple as just showing an impactful slide, video or object. Finally, one can also open with teasing the audience a little bit by using words that excite curiosity like, “reveal”. This strategy encourages our audience to go on our journey. However, beware, if we tell them everything in the first 30 seconds they will have no reason to go on our journey with us. So, do tell them with some hints of where we’re going with this little talk, but don’t immediately tell them everything in your opening.
Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: Thanks.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

TED Talks Part 2

TED Talks
Part 2 Talk Tools
Our first idea building tool is connection. According to Anderson, author of TED Talks, to make a connection as a speaker we have to go to where the audience is and win them over. We do this by not rushing into our speech, but by taking a moment to smile and make eye contact. It also helps to show a little vulnerability. It’s okay to be nervous. The audience will see our humanity and root for us to succeed. Our nervousness pushes their empathy buttons. Also, let’s try to make them laugh at least once. But no corny jokes. Laughing breaks the tension and makes everyone feel like they are on the same side. Laughter is a great tool for connecting and gets everyone to listen closer to us.
Narration is our second idea building tool. Narration is simply a good story. So, let’s tell a good story. Anthropologist and professor Wiessner shares that ancient campfire stories played a crucial role in helping expand people’s abilities to imagine, dream, and understand the minds of others. Basically, our minds co-evolved through storytelling over many, many campfires. We can’t help but like stories. It’s in our DNA. And every one of us gets something out of stories because every one of us has some level of understanding, regardless of where we are on the age spectrum, experience spectrum, or intelligence spectrum. There is something for everyone in a good story.
Telling our own stories is the simplest talk to give. But, beware. According to Anderson, there is a danger to taking this simpler road. The majority of talks that TED Talks turns down are talks people have about themselves because they lack a central idea that ties the narrative together. Remember the take-away has to be obvious for everyone in the crowd.
Overcoming the curse of knowledge may be one of the most important things we can do as speakers. Making the speech as simple as it can be, but no simpler is how the best speakers use the third tool of building ideas through explanations. For the explanation method to be effective it has to start where the audience is. Build curiosity. And it has to be delivered piece by piece with metaphors built in to show how it all fits together with clear and easy to follow examples.
The best explainers say just enough to let people feel like they’re coming up with the idea themselves. The best speakers bring in new concepts and describe them just enough so that the prepared minds of the audience can slide these concepts together into place for themselves. This strategy is time efficient for speakers doing the short 18 minute TED Talk, and it’s deeply satisfying for the audience members who like to feel clever.
One more thought on explanations. According to Anderson, sometimes it helps to clear the muddy water by beginning our talks with what it isn’t. By sharing what it isn’t with our audience we make it easier for them to close in on what we have in our mind of what it is.
Our fourth tool for speakers to build ideas in others’ heads is persuasion. Persuasion is the act of replacing someone’s world view with something a little better. This won’t be an easy thing to do, however. People cling to what they think they know because it’s the only way they know how to make sense of their world at the moment. No one wants to live in a senseless world turned upside down. To be effective in the art of persuasion, a speaker has to have the element of reason as a central building block of their persuasive speech. Reason is best accomplished through intuition pumps or a detective story approach. Adding some humor early on, adding an anecdote, offering vivid examples, using 3rd party validation, using powerful visuals and other plausible priming devices helps one persuade others to their vision of a better world.

The fifth talk tool of a speaker trying to build ideas is the revelation. The revelation is the most direct way of gifting an idea to an audience because it just simply shows something new to them. However, let’s not simply just walk our audience through bullets in a power-point presentation. That’s boring. Instead, let’s figure out a way that engages, intrigues and enlightens our audience. This route will bring some wonder and delight. Some of TED Talk speakers have achieved this wonder and delight through “Wonder Walks”. Others have done it through Dynamic Demos. Some have even done it through “Dreamscapes”. Ultimately, what we want to do as speakers is to paint a bold picture of the future. And we want to do this in a way that will make them desire that future!

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: Thanks.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Ted Talks Part 1

TED TALKS: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson

Part 1: Foundation

          Every piece of human progress has happened because humans have shared ideas and the collaborated to make it happen. We need people to step forward out of the shadows and share their ideas on today’s problems. Thankfully, we have the avenue of public speaking to do this. Speaking is an ancient art that is wired deeply into our human minds. And now thanks to the Internet, our campfire talk is open to the whole world. We all have something valuable to say. And as along as we say it authentically, in our own unique ways nobody can argue that point.
Speaking successfully and authentically could start for many of us as early as our school years if our schools would just resurrect “rhetoric”- the art of speaking effectively. Schools should make speaking effectively the 4th R. Many would agree that today presentation literacy has the potential to make the biggest impact. It could do the most good going forward for our youth and our society, especially in this new multi-media digitally connected streaming world.
A talk can open doors and transform a career. And yes it’s scary! But, fear can be a good thing in that it will help us have the energy and will to prepare. It can be done! Everywhere we look, we can see people who have overcome their fear of public speaking from Eleanor Roosevelt to Warren Buffet to Princess Diana. If we can talk to a group of friends over dinner, then we can speak publicly and even go as far as to give a TED Talk.
The central thesis of Chris Anderson’s book, “TED TALKS: The Official Guide to Public Speaking” is that anyone with an idea worth sharing is capable of giving a powerful talk. Confidence doesn’t matter. Stage presence doesn’t matter. Neither does being a smooth talker. The only thing that truly matters is having something worth saying. The good thing is that we all have far more worth sharing than we’re presently aware of. We all have a blind spot and can’t easily see what’s unique and special about ourselves. Asking those who know us best will help us uncover the shining star that we all have hidden somewhere deep within us. 
Now, if we think we might have something special worth sharing, but are afraid that we don’t know enough about it yet, don’t sweat it. Anderson has a solution. And it’s a simple one. Let’s just put ourselves on a mission to find out more about what we have that might be worth sharing. And if we find ourselves dragging our feet on it, then let’s just simply sign up to give a speech on it. The fear that will immediately follow will be enough to get us moving, get us learning, and get us growing again.
Focusing on what we want to give our audience and starting where they are at is a great foundation for building our speech. However, when building our speech we need to be careful that we are giving and not taking. NO SALES PITCHES! No rambling either. The audience’s time is valuable. Let’s not disrespect them by not thoroughly preparing our speech and then wasting their time through our own rambling. Also, let’s not talk just about our organization; no matter how interesting we may find it. I guarantee you that others won’t find our job or place of employment as interesting as we do. They can’t love it like we do because they don’t work there and aren’t familiar with it like we are.
Since the point of our talks are to say something meaningful, Anderson shares that it helps if our speeches have a throughline that ties together each narrative. Think of a throughline as a strong rope that we attach each element to that are parts of our ideas we’re building in others’ heads. We want to make the audience’ take-away obvious. And we make it obvious by knowing our audience and not trying to jam too much stuff in too short of a time. Cover less and the impact will be more. Anderson encourages us to plan our 18 minute TED Talk and then cut it in half. And then cut it in half again. Hmm…

Once we have a throughline in 15 words or less, then it’s time to plan what we’ll attach to it. Some of the tools that speakers use to build ideas are connection, narration, explanation, persuasion, and revelation. Most speakers use one of these idea-building tools or a mix of them. We’ll explain them more in the next section. 
Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: Thanks.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The End of Average Part 6

The Age of Individuals Continued
Another interesting company that is doing some really ground-breaking stuff according to Rose in his book, The End of Average, is Morning Star. Morning Star has a self-managing philosophy. There are no managers. There is no hierarchy. Morning Star does everything it can to promote the power of the individual. Employees can even modify their own jobs however they want to as long as they can convince employees affected by the change that it’s a good idea.
Believe it or not, this can be the new win-win type of capitalism when individuality is taking seriously instead of the Robber Barons and every employee is transitioned into an independent agent. The new empowered employees are tasked with figuring out the best way of doing his or her job and contributing to the company in a meaningful way rather than being disengaged and having one foot already out the door. Remember, the 2013 Gallup Survey found that 70% of employees disengaged. And Walmart has a turnover rate of about 50% annually. That means that Walmart has to replace about a million people a year. Just think about the enormous costs of doing that…
Western Governors University is breaking out of the traditional Taylorism system of education where high schools and colleges are controlling almost every aspect of their students’ lives and forcing their students to be just like everyone else, but only better. In addition, students are paying more and more for this kind of maltreatment as well. Western Governors University has on-line self-paced classes with competency exams. This University only costs $6,000 for as many classes as one can finish in two semesters.
More than 200 schools are now exploring competency-based forms of evaluating performance. And many are doing away with traditional grades. Even MIT is offering several credentialing programs because it offers more flexible and finer-grained level of certification of one’s skills, abilities and knowledge than the typical four year college diploma. The State of Virginia is also offering credentialing instead of the four year college programs where they have a shortage of qualified candidates.
In short, students should be able to take courses anywhere and stack credentialing from all over, according to Todd Rose. Students should be able to learn the material at their own pace, and even for free if they can figure out a way, like maybe going to the free public library, for some of their education. In addition, with self-determined competency-based credentialing there will be fewer penalties for experimenting in order to discover what one’s true passion really is. This would also create better matches between students and employees because credentials would adjust in real time. Rose doesn’t want to do away with colleges, he just wants them to change to meet the needs of today’s students.
A good fit with our environment, whether it’s a classroom, cockpit or corner office, creates opportunity to show what we are truly capable of as unique individual human beings. But one must remember that equal access is not the same as equal fit. Equal access helped move us forward as a more fair society during the Industrial Age. Today, it’s different. Today, only equal fit creates true equal opportunity.
Back in 1931, James Tuslow Adams coined the term, American Dream in direct response to the growing influence of Taylorism and the efficiency movement, which valued the system, but had no regard for the individuals to whom alone any system could mean anything. The American Dream wasn’t about the white picket fence or being rich. Rather, it was about having the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest, as well as being appreciated for who we really are.
Unfortunately, averagarianism has corrupted the American Dream, and has made it more about economic success than anything else. This corruption of our American Dream has caused the fabric of our society to change, as well as the way we view each other, and view ourselves.
The principles of individuality presents a way to restore the American Dream, and even better, the chance for everyone to attain it in their own unique way. It’s time for all of our institutions, especially our schools, to embrace individuality and to adopt equal fit instead of equal access. We can break free of the tyranny of averagarianism and standardization by choosing to value individuality and get the American Dream back again by being the best we can be and living a life of excellence as we define it by ending the age of average.

Are you willing to do your part in finding and obtaining your American Dream?

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: Thanks.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The End of Average Part 5

The Age of Individuals
In the Taylorist averagarian system of standardization and hierarchies where the system prevails and the average employee is expendable, a 2013 Gallup Study found that 70% of employees felt disengaged from their job. Google and Costco have turned away from this system of Taylorization and have now been named to the list of “Top Places to Work” due to their new philosophy toward the individual. If you hire great people, give them good wages, treat them with dignity, and give them an honest path for a career, great things will happen.
Costco truly believes in finding a good fit. One of Costco’s strategies to finding good fits is by identifying students from local colleges who are already working part-time for them who are a good fit. They hire these people for fulltime work when they graduate. Costco finds this strategy much more beneficial than actively seeking out and hiring graduates from prestigious universities. Costco also gives their employees great benefits and pays them 75% more than Walmart does and has still been profitable every single year since they went public. A lot of Costco’s success has to do with employee loyalty and low employee turnover costs. This is helping them beat Walmart at their own game of low costs and efficiency. Walmart has any extremely high employee turnover costs due to its Taylorization system.
Another interesting case is Zoho Technology Corporation of India who took on the behemoth Microsoft. In the beginning Zoho couldn’t afford to hire the kind of talent that Microsoft could, so Zoho had to look for talent in different ways and in different places. Amazingly, even against all these odds, Zoho quickly became known for creating great stuff with a talent pool that none of their competitors would have hired.
Zoho’s founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu found that there was little or no correlation between grades and perceived quality of diploma and on-the-job performance as computer programmers. This made him wonder why all the Big Boys were wearing blinders and made the narrow pathway of college a pre-condition to be hired in their companies. Zembu decided to cultivate talent himself by creating his own Zoho University where he would not only give raw, unproven kids a shot, but he would even pay them to go to his school. His school was self-paced, had no grades and used feedback based on projects. And guess what? It’s working! Vembu has hired some amazing unknowns from some of the poorest neighborhoods in India from his university program who have gone off to do great things.
Since Vembu doesn’t agree with evaluating people based on averages, Zoho doesn’t have performance reviews. There are no score cards. There are no employee rankings. If a manager has a concern with an employee, they have a one-on-one discussion so the manager can address it and help that employee right then and right there rather than several months later at a nerve-racking performance review.
Zoho pays fair wages and great benefits. It identifies talent and nurtures it. And that talent responds by being fully engaged and extremely productive. Zembu says that if you treat individuals with respect, as individuals, you will get more out of them than what you put into them. These simple common sense strategies based on individuals over the system is how Zoho can compete with the Big Boys while using a talent pool that the Big Boys would never even look at, let alone consider hiring and working with.

So, what are you capable of doing with your people?

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: Thanks.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The End of Average Part 4

The Principle of Individuality Continued
People change according to the circumstances they find themselves in. The often used trait theory and existentialist thinking does a bad job of explaining human behavior because it ignores the second principle of individuality called the context principle. Trait-based tests assume that you’re either one thing or another thing, like an extrovert or an introvert. However, Yuichi Shoda, a top researcher in child development showed that people are really both, an extrovert and an introvert depending on the context that they find themselves in. And similar to Molenaar, people also accused Shoda of promoting anarchy.
The bottom line is that we rarely see the diversity of contexts in the lives of our acquaintances, so we make judgements about who they are based on limited information. Knowing contextual if-then signatures (if this happens, then she does that) helps us make better decisions about people. Asking “Why” people are behaving that way in that context helps parents, teachers, counselors and managers help their people succeed and builds positive relationships. This strategy can also be applied to oneself and can produce some great results.
People change according to the circumstances that they find themselves in. Thus, we all end up walking the road less traveled. However, Averagarianism thinking dubes us into believing that not only are there ‘normal’ brains, bodies and personalities, but there are also ‘normal’ pathways that lead us to the one right way to learn and obtain our goals. We can thank Fredrick Taylor and Edward Thorndike who promoted a standard career track within hierarchical organizations, which then trickled down to education, for this faulty kind of thinking about pathways to success.
This faulty kind of thinking is very limiting. These temporal norms originally designed to maximize factory efficiency has unfortunately turned into invisible pace-setters for all aspects of our personal and professional lives. We all have come to believe that we’re either on the right track for success or not.
The cold hard fact that there really isn’t a single normal pathway for any type of human development, biological, mental, moral, or professional forms the basis for the third principle of individuality called the pathway principle. This principle makes two important affirmations. First, for all aspects of life, there are many equally valid ways to reach the same outcome. And two, the particular pathway that is optimal for you depends on your own individuality.
According to psychologist Kurt Fischer there are no fixed ladders of development, but only webs of development where each new step opens up a whole new set of possibilities according to our own individuality. You see, we assume that way to success is to follow a well-blazed trail. But the fact is that we are making our own trail. Thus, we need to spend some time understanding our own jaggedness and if-then signatures because that’s the only way to judge if the path we are on is the path that fits our individuality. There will always be more than one pathway available to us, and the odds are that the best one for us is the one that is less traveled.

So I must ask now, are we judging others too quickly, and have we been climbing a ladder to success or a web to success? 

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: Thanks.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The End of Average Part 3

The Principles of Individuality
The first principle of individuality is jaggedness. Something is jagged if it contains multiple dimensions, and these dimensions are weakly related to each other. In the language of mathematics this would be called a weak correlation. Unfortunately, according to Rose, one dimensional averagarianism thinking has caused us to believe weak correlations mean something that they do not.
A (0.4) correlation between two dimensions means that we have managed to explain 16% of the behaviors in each dimension. Do we really understand something if we can only explain 16% of it? Well, if our ultimate goal is efficiency and the system, then 16% appears to be enough for most people since Quetelet started applying his astronomy math to human beings. However, if our goal is to identify and nurture individual excellence, then wouldn’t you agree that a 16% correlation isn’t enough to be basing decisions about ALL human beings?
Initially, Microsoft, Google and Deloitte evaluated individuals by ranking them. They too fell into Galton’s belief that if someone was good at one thing, then they must be good at most things. But, they soon discovered that talent can’t be boiled down to one number and then compared to the average because it’s one dimensional thinking.

When organizations embrace jaggedness, like these companies above eventually did, they often feel like they have found a way to uncover diamonds in the rough or to discover hidden talent. However, the real difficulty is not in finding new ways to discover talent, but it is in getting rid of the one-dimensional thinking blinders that prevented us from seeing it all along. And even more importantly, Rose believes that the blinders that we need to take off the most are the ones we use when looking at ourselves. When we recognize jaggedness, we are not only better able to open doors for our own children, students, athletes, and employees, but we’re also able to open doors for ourselves… And that’s a good thing, wouldn’t you agree?

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: Thanks.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bee-haviors of Successful Sales Professionals

What do you think about sales people who always appear to be doing great regardless of how things are going? When things don’t go their way, they seem to have the ability to just shake it off and move forward. When things do go their way, they almost always act as if they expected it to turn out that way all along.

If you look at the way those people handle their sales careers, you might notice that they handle their accounts with that same kind of attitude and consistency too. They dress their best for every meeting and exude the confidence that goes along with it. They take their client’s calls, and take action to resolve issues, treating each situation they encounter as an opportunity rather than a problem.

They put their time and energy into their accounts just like other sales professionals do, they just do it with enthusiasm rather than complaints. The funny part is that they seem to look forward to handling whatever comes their way—both the good and the bad.

Back when you were starting your sales career, one of your goals was to make a good impression with every account. Chances are good that you went the extra mile when you could too. Granted, the accounts you’re handling now are probably bigger. You might even describe your current list of accounts as “comfortable.” But don’t let complacency and a poor attitude become an excuse for letting things slide with any of your key accounts.

As a sales professional, your livelihood will be heavily influenced by the quality of both your attitude and your process, and that means following the same protocols with each of your key accounts.

Making the commitment to being a great sales person is what sets the stage for long-term growth in sales revenue, and it’s a great disservice to your clients to assume that they can’t tell the difference between the sales rep who’s committed to doing what’s best for the them and the rep who’s just putting in enough face time to keep the account alive. They can. So, if you want your revenues to keep growing (because maintaining without growth isn’t an option these days) put aside some time to revisit your sales process, and your attitude.

What are you doing that works? What are you doing that hasn’t been working lately? How consistent are you with your sales process and protocols? Are there times when your assumptions (rather than your research) directly interfere with your process and/or attitude to your detriment?

I could go through the long list of things there are to look at, but you should be able to look at your process, and your attitude, and figure it out. If you’re having trouble deciphering or remembering what your personal sales process is, or you’re realizing that you’ve gotten off track and aren’t sure of how to get back on, or you’re struggling to reclaim your positive attitude, it’s time to schedule a consultation with me so we can figure it out, because:
There’s never a better time than the present to reignite the fire in your gut!

Alan Luoma: I am a Sales Coach with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, new

product development, sales and product training. I work with a great national sustainable packaging company and their exceptional distributors to increase sales. My success has been and is in utilizing the Pareto 80/20 principal in business and life. I have become an expert in seeking out and eliminating behaviors that prevent business people from being successful. I am a member of The National Speakers Association and New England Speakers Association. You can view my profile on LinkedIn, or contact me at 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The End of Average Part 2

Fredrick Taylor’s book, The Principles of Scientific Management, was a huge success as it swept across all the world’s capitalistic industries and countries. In some cases, such as in the communist regimes in Russia and Asia, standardization was taking to even higher levels in Stalin’s 5 Year Plans and Toyota’s system of “Just in Time”. Today, Taylor’s scientific management philosophy remains the most dominant business philosophy in every industrialized country in the world.
According to Todd Rose’s book, The End of Average, back in 1900, U.S. factories needed semi-skilled workers. However, only 6% of the American population had graduated from high school at that time. And more and more immigrants were washing up on our shores every day. At that time in our history a real crisis of not enough skilled laborers was developing. Thus, Taylor work place practices of standardization came to save the day by trickling down to our American educational system to supply our factories with the workers they needed. A standard education eventually won out over a holistic one, and students were educated all the same exact way, regardless of their backgrounds, abilities or interest. Like their parents in the factories, they had been automated in the schools, graduation rates soared, and it seemed like once again, averagarianism and standardization had been successful.
In the Age of Average the next Quetelet disciple to come along was Edward Thorndike. In his book Rose states that Thorndike was one of the most influential psychologist of all time. He helped invent educational psychology and educational psychometrics. He established the mission of schools and colleges. His mentor at Harvard, William James, called him a freak of nature for his workaholic productivity. Thorndike embraced Galton’s ideas of separating and ranking students, as well as Taylor’s standardization. Thorndike believe the purpose of schools wasn’t to educate all students to the same level, but to sort them according to their innate level of talent and proper stations in life.
Thus, due to the influence of Quetelet, Galton, Taylor, Thorndike and others, today all of our social institutions ignore people’s own unique individuality and assess people in terms of their relationship to the average or how closely they approximate the average and how far they are able to exceed it.
Now, to be perfectly clear, Rose believes that the Age of Average wasn’t a complete disaster. Rose admits that it made us productive enough in our schools and factories to become a world leader. However, it did cost us something too. Now society compels us to conform to certain narrow expectations in order to succeed in school, work and life. We all strive to be like everyone else, but only better. Sadly, our uniqueness has become an obstacle.
Fortunately, along comes another averagarianism scientist named Peter Molenaar who would eventually shake up the Age of Average. Molenaar came to realize that the bible of testing, Statistical Theories of Mental Test Scores, concealed the thread that would unravel averagarianism. Molenaar recognized the fatal flaw of averagarianism was in its paradoxical assumption that you could only understand individuals by ignoring their individuality. He named this error “The Ergodic Switch”.
According to ergodic theory, one can only use group averages if every member of the group is identical and will remain the same in the future. It should be pretty obvious to all us by now that complex human beings are not ergodic.
The funny thing is that no one disputed Molenaar’s math. What they did respond with however, was, “What you are proposing is anarchy!” They also responded with, “If we can’t use averages to evaluate, model, and select individuals, well then… what do we use?”

So, what do you use? And how do you feel about our social institutions ignoring people’s own unique individuality and only assessing people in terms of their relationship to the average or how closely they approximate the average and how far they are able to exceed it? Can we do better? Can you do better?  

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: Thanks.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Is It Too Late to Write Your Book?

Everyone who dreams of writing a book knows what that genuine burst of inspiration, enthusiasm, and energy feels like when a really great book idea pops into their mind. They just know, without a doubt, that there are people everywhere who will absolutely benefit from all the great content they’re going to share. And the benefits! There are so many external benefits to writing a book:

  • Establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field
  • Recognition as an expert in your field
  • Increase in visibility
  • Increase in income
  • Increase in clients/customers/market share

 The biggest internal benefits?

  • The feeling of accomplishment that goes along with successfully completing something most of your peers will never even attempt.
  • Knowing you have contributed a valuable “conversation” in a format that will be around long after you’re gone.  

The biggest hurdle?

  • Getting started.

It’s really easy to push the idea of writing your book off to one side. You have every intention of getting to it at some point, but right now, it’s “just not the right time.” Sadly this is the whole “I’ll get to it tomorrow” paradox because tomorrow never comes.

If you truly don’t have the time to write your book, there are still things you can do to keep the inspiration and ideas for your book alive.

Acknowledge the value of questions:
  • Start keeping track of the questions your clients and customers are asking. You already know most of the answers by heart, and once combined, they will provide a great source of content for your book.
  • Ask your clients and customers questions too. Not yes or no questions that will make them feel dumb if they don’t know the answers. Come up with open-ended questions that give them the opportunity to expand on their thoughts, experiences, and opinions. Be open to the truth that even though you’re good at what you do, you can still learn from other people.

Pay attention to what others are writing. Some people think it’s too late to write their own book when they come across a book that’s been written and published on the same topic, by someone else. But there are very few cases when this is true. Instead, think of these people as your peers rather than your competition. Think of those books as opportunities to riff off their work. (That’s riff not rip!) If fact, it’s when we contemplate the work of others that our minds are stimulated to agree, disagree, add to what they came up with, alter it so it’s more accurate, fill in the missing pieces, etc.

Embrace the reality that only you can share your thoughts and ideas. In books, just as it is with people and in business, you aren’t going to establish a connection with every person you meet. But that’s all the more reason why you need to write your book. There are people waiting for the solutions you have to offer. And yes, solutions might already exist, but people don’t listen to voices that rub them the wrong way. They want to hear from people they feel a connection to. That’s where your unique voice comes in. The only way you can fail at connecting with your audience is if you never write your book!

It’s never too late to write your book. Never. But if you’re struggling with getting started, let’s have a conversation.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The End of Average Part 1

      Todd Rose’s book, The End of Average shows overs and over again that most of our social and institutional systems over the last hundred years or so are designed around the average person and sadly are doomed to fail. No one is average. The moment one needs to make a decision about an individual, the average is useless and even harmful because it gives us a false sense of knowledge. This quassi-knowledge has been based on an imperfect human invention of the average that helped solve the problems of a 100 years ago during the Industrial Age.
            Furthermore, the Age of the Average, which came out of our Industrial Age, was built on imperfect science. Adolphe Quetelet, who was born in 1796, was a man who was looking for fortune and fame. He wanted to be the Isaac Newton of his age. He kind of achieved this by using the mathematics from his failed astronomy career and applying it to humans. He borrowed astronomy methods of averages (averages were used because most astronomers couldn’t agree on anything), and actually applied it to human beings! And somehow this imperfect science caught on and the world changed to where according to Rose the average person came to represent the true human, and the individual person became synonymous with error. Every one of us became a flawed copy of some kind of cosmic template for human beings, which they called, “The Average Man”. Basically, average became normal, even though it didn’t truly exist, and the individual became error. Kind of crazy sounding, isn’t it?
            Next came Charles Darwin’s cousin Sir Francis Galton. He agreed with everything that Quetelet said except the average being the perfect being. Instead he created a ranking system and said it was better if one was above average. He used Darwin’s research on evolution and survival of the fittest to back up his claims. So now, with Quetelet’s influence, if one wasn’t average, they were wrong. And then with Galton’s influence, if one wasn’t above average, they too were wrong. It was a lose-lose situation for most of us, if not all of us.
            Sadly, Quetelet’s idea of the Average Man and Galton’s idea of rank somehow became part of our current system of education, hiring practices in the work place, and employee evaluations. Individuality, eventually didn’t matter anymore. The thought process became that people could only be understood by comparing them to a group. Today, we judge, whether we want to or not, everyone we meet against the average, including ourselves.
            Rose next speaks about Fredrick Winslow Taylor, who like Bill Gates, opted out of Harvard so he could go change the world. Taylor believed that he could eliminate inefficiency in our newly electrified factories during the Industrial Age, which was just as big as a deal as what Gates did in the Information Age. Taylor decided to make his mark through adopting the principles of averagarianism and standardization where the system would trump the individual. The worker, who was once celebrated as a creative craftsman, was demoted to the role of automation. Here the new role of the manager was born despite the fact that people initially thought it was crazy to hire someone to plan a job who couldn’t actually do the job.

            So, in closing of part 1 of this multipart blog, are you unknowingly comparing yourself and everyone you meet to the average? If you are, is there anything that you could do different or even better? And if you’re a manager of people, are you truly seeing your people? 

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: Thanks.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Value of Random Thoughts

We all know what random thoughts are—the ones that pop into your head and you think, Wow… that’s a really cool idea. These are the thoughts that have you puffing up with pride at the notion that you could come up with something so good on your own, or delighting you with your own ability to solve a problem. They make you feel brilliant… and then they’re gone... like stars at sunrise.

Everything that exists in our world started out as a flash of an idea in someone’s mind. Not all of those minds belonged to geniuses either. They belonged to people who grabbed hold of their thoughts, and didn’t let go until they turned them into a reality.

If you want to write a book, but are having trouble getting started, here are a few things you can start doing right now.

Write your flashes of brilliance down! Books aren’t written all at once. They’re written word by word (and not necessarily in order). Get a notebook. It can be a fancy notebook or not, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, or how many pages it has. What matters is that it’s one and only purpose is for you to record your thoughts and ideas. No to-do lists! No journaling!

I have a couple of books like this; small ones from the Dollar Store, each with its own designated subject. Then, whenever I have an idea, thought, or flash, I have a place to write it down.

Embrace the power of post-its! Funny little things—post-its, but powerful little things to have handy because brilliance rarely checks to see if one of your notebooks is nearby before gracing you with its presence. With a post-it, you can capture your idea with words before it fades away.

What I really like about post-its (besides the fact that you can write something down and then add it to your notebook later) is that they come in all kinds of shapes and colors. You can choose colors that match your mood, or even color code your thoughts if you want.

Most Importantly! When you do write down your thoughts, ideas, flashes of brilliance, etc., make sure to write down enough of the thought so you’ll know exactly what you were thinking when you came up with it. I can’t even imagine how many wonderful thoughts and ideas have been lost through the ages because someone wrote a four word sentence and thought, I’ll remember what it means. Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure that what you write is as complete as it can be.

Don’t share! I know that sounds like a bad thing to say, but ideas can be fragile things. Treat them like the newborns they are. Don’t give them over to strangers. And, as we’re not really talking about babies here, my advice is not to share them with loved ones or trusted friends either—at least not at first. Write them down, and then let them settle long enough for the inspiration that sparked their existence to take root. If you work with a coach or mentor, those are the people you can share them with because your best interest is their top priority.

Respect your own process! People create at their own pace, so cut yourself some slack if your book isn’t taking shape as quickly as you’d like it to. If you’d like some guidance understanding and defining your process, let’s chat.