Learning, The Tool Of The Future

– #33 –

Education, formal and informal, is essential to our lives. In fact, we can’t avoid it. Try to go through a day and not learn anything at all. You cannot not learn something; it’s impossible. So how do we make our learning meaningful?

I ran across this visual of a learning cycle that I found helpful:

Image courtesy of: stemresources.com

Go ahead and start anywhere on this cycle. You’ll go around and around forever. I’ve found the evaluation process is the most useful aspect of any learning cycle. This is where you get to see where you came from and where you are now, then you reset your goals.

Have you found an effective learning cycle that helps keep you sharp?

Our President! Our Leader! Our King?

– #27 –

From the print edition of The Economist | Jan 28th 2012

Barack Obama’s big speech to Congress was mainly a bit of electioneering


It is becoming hard to remember that Barack Obama’s speeches were once described as inspiring, visionary and transformational. His state-of-the-union message on January 24th was none of those things. Then again, circumstances were against him. He said, as presidents must, that the state of the union was “getting stronger”. But everyone knows that the true state of the union is dire: 13m Americans are unemployed, the recovery is fragile and at any moment the economy could be blown sideways by a new gust of bad economic news from Europe. Nor, frankly, was this speech a useful guide to the administration’s legislative plans for the coming year. Since the mid-term elections of November 2010, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has blocked most of the Democrats’ legislation, and will continue to do so, which means that the president’s plans count for little. To be understood, this speech needs to be seen for what it was: an audition for re-election.

Measured by that standard, how did he do? A president asking voters for four more years cannot just promise jam tomorrow. Since the Republicans want to make the coming election a referendum on his performance, Mr Obama has to brag about what he has already done. So, cloaked in praise for the armed services, he book-ended his speech with reminders that it was he who ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He called his controversial decision to bail out Detroit’s car industry a “bet on American ingenuity” that had put General Motors “back on top as the world’s number one”. He claimed (this is a stretch) that his reform of banking regulation meant that taxpayers would never again have to bail out a financial institution too big to fail. And, recognising that millions of voters still fume about the bail-outs, he said he was creating a special team of prosecutors to track down and punish those responsible for the abusive lending that pumped up the housing bubble and led to the crash of 2008.

A Different Kind Of Leader

– #19 –

Textbooks are expensive, clunky, and essential. So, what are students to do? E-Textbooks seem to be the leading solution to our never-ending textbook turmoil.

As the projected graph below implies, textbooks are beginning to slump in popularity against the cheaper and interactive alternative e-books.


Apple appears to agree with the trend. The Wall Street Journal published an article today titled “Apple Makes Push Into iPad Textbooks.” The report mentions that Apple’s iBook application will “support textbooks featuring quizzes, note-taking, study cards and other features, like the ability to interact with a diagram of an ant.”

What is your opinion of e-textbooks? Do you think they complement the learning process or distract from the purpose all together?


Leaders Influence, Leaders Create

– #12 –

We always have opportunities to reach those around us. Our family, our friends, our colleagues, and everyone we come in contact with throughout our days. We reach them through creating.

And what is it that we are creating for them? Experiences, art, designs, pleasure, problems; the possibilities of what we can produce are endless.

So, we all create and what we create is based on our own uniqueness, what does creating things have to do with leadership? When leaders create, people are inspired. People are influenced by their creations.

If you’re thinking, “Who is this guy to tell me that my creations don’t influence people because I’m not a ‘leader’?!” Now, I’m not seeking to impose any judgment upon your ability to influence others or that your creations aren’t of the caliber of leaders. My belief is quite the contrary.

You can create and you can inspire others; and you probably already do. Though we have distinct talents, we all have great potential to create highly influential things. It is in our makeup to do so. One thing alone sets the leaders apart from everyone else. Leaders aren’t afraid of their critiques.

There will always be fans of what you share and there will always be critics. Those critics often make us afraid or hesitant to create and share our creations. Don’t create for the critics! Create for those that want what you have to share.

Create. You will influence people.

The Vision Of A Leader

– #5 –

This time last year I completed the book “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins. I’m not hoping to give an exhaustive review of the book, but I will say that I couldn’t put the book down once I began reading it. What I really gained from Collins’ research and insight was a picture of the leader I want to become.

The successful leaders outlined by Collins had several important qualities in common. One trait in particular that made a distinct impression on me was their vision. They all had an ability to step back and look at the big picture. They could visualize the end and statically plan the means that would allow them to successfully reach that end.

In 2009, John Ryan wrote an article in Forbes about the necessity of vision in leaders. Ryan wrote:

“Henry Ford dreamed of a car families could afford. Steve Jobs dreamed of an easy-to-use computer that would unleash creativity. Nelson Mandela dreamed of an integrated, prosperous South Africa.”

The visions we have for our companies, careers, and lives need not be as resplendent, but the idea is that we need to know what it is we want to accomplish.

Do you have a vision of something you want to accomplish?