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Friday, October 10, 2014

New business series in development

I am pleased to announce the development of a new business series intended for syndication. The series will focus on common business concepts commonly misunderstood - and how becoming more proficient can make a significant difference in the workplace.

Are you a business student? An entrepreneur? An aspiring leader? A proven executive?

Individual articles are designed to be easily understood by the least knowledgeable and challenging to those most experienced. And continuing my trademark style, anecdotes will play a key role in demonstrating how to put each concept to work.

If you would like to request certain topics be considered for articles, please contact me or leave a comment on this post.

Monday, July 28, 2014

5 ways children can naturally gain confidence

About a month ago, I published a short article on how to help children naturally gain confidence. The article was initially picked up by FamilyShare,, and NewsOK (syndication).

On one hand, it was an easy article to write because I have seen so many effective methods work with my daughter.

On the other hand, it was terribly difficult to write because parenting is, more than one would ever want, a series of "best tries" we hope will end up with "best results."

It is now either my first or second most-widely read article (on sites where I am able to track total page views). The popularity of the article combined with the importance of the topic has led me to publish the article on my blog as well. I am pleased that an article focusing on family values is receiving so much attention and hope this article is only a very small piece in a very large and growing trend of values-based media saturating the web.

 5 ways children can naturally gain confidence

My confident daughter and her blessed father.

The role of confidence in children is difficult to overstate. It is a key ingredient in the recipe of strong individuals — an attribute that enables children to form healthy relationships and resist temptations of our day such as engaging in sexual activity or using drugs. There are many things parents can do to help their children naturally gain confidence.

Here are five principles I have adopted in an effort to provide my 11-year-old daughter with increased confidence that you may find helpful as well.

1. Encourage individuality

In the adult world, we talk of creating “buy-in” among those with whom we interact. Those who have a say in what happens tend to have a great interest in seeing it brought to fruition.

In this sense, children are no different than adults. They tend to find greater happiness and fulfillment in things that make them happier and more fulfilled — even if that means they don’t grow up to be the football player or ballerina we may have secretly hoped they would become.

The National Association of School Psychologists emphasizes “a child is more likely to learn and retain information when he is intrinsically motivated.”

Children lacking a sincere interest in what they do may find it difficult to develop confidence. Conversely, there is a special joy that comes to parent and child alike when children are allowed to embrace their individuality.

2. Embrace mistakes

Last year, as my daughter and I were cooking Tuna Helper together, she decided to carry the tuna fish cans across the open floor to the stovetop instead of carrying them across the countertops. As a result, when her grip slipped and she dropped the cans, gravity assisted the cans four feet down to the floor — instead of four inches down to the counter.

Tuna fish and tuna juice sprayed the floor and walls of the kitchen. It was everywhere.

I wasn’t thrilled, but I could also sense the anxiety my daughter was feeling. Instead of letting my frustrations show, I knelt down on one knee so we were roughly eye-to-eye and repeated our mantra: “Accidents happen.”

We talked about how the mistake could have been prevented, and why we had practiced carrying open containers to the stove the way we had.

When all was said and done, my daughter felt freedom to make mistakes while also understanding how following rules and guidelines could prevent mistakes.

“As parents, our responsibility is to keep kids unharmed,” states research psychologist and author Peggy Drexler, Ph.D. “That doesn’t mean shielding them from all possibility of defeat. It means letting them fail safely.”

3. Create rules together

Family rules that influence my daughter are created with her input. Not only does the process give us a chance to examine each rule with appropriate depth to provide understanding, it also provides an opportunity to see accountability at work.

More often than not, the rules we create together apply to us both.

For example, in our home we created a rule that said we couldn’t eat in our beds. At the time, however, I was dealing with severe injuries from a car accident and needed to eat in bed at times.

Because I respect my daughter’s input, I asked what she thought we should do. She suggested an exception to the rule if we got permission from each other. I agreed and complimented her on thinking to create a solution.

Each time I asked her if I could eat in bed I saw a confident, self-assured look on her face. Her confidence grew as she participated in the entire decision-making process rather than merely receiving the consequences of a rule kept or broken.

4. Let children see you learn

One area in which I was surprised to see have an effect on my daughter’s confidence was in my own willingness to let her see me learn.

I remember one time we had a debate about the answer to a certain question. While I don’t remember the question we discussed, I remember specifically the feeling I had when I did some research and discovered I was wrong — and she was right. The temptation to hide my own ignorance was severe, but I decided it would serve as an excellent opportunity for her to see how to respond to being wrong about something.

The lesson in humility had its intended impact. As the process was repeated over time, she developed the confidence to risk being wrong because she knew there was no shame in acknowledging she didn’t know everything.

By letting our children see our own learning process, we demonstrate that learning and confidence go hand-in-hand.

5. Emphasize effort

As parents, it can feel natural to shower our children with praise. However, if we praise our children’s accomplishments at the expense of their efforts, we can end up causing problems in the long term if our children become fearful of taking risks and losing praise associated with results.

Bob Murray, Ph.D., an author and clinical psychologist, recommends that we “praise the effort rather than the result. Praise the creativity, the hard work, the persistence, that goes into achieving, more than the achievement itself.”

For example, my daughter knows that I will praise her for her schoolwork in an atypical manner. I’ve told her that I don’t care if she gets A’s or F’s as long as she tries as hard as she can. This way, she knows it’s the effort she puts in that warrants praise.

My hope and expectation is that emphasizing effort will provide her with confidence that she can tackle any problem as an adult as well as she can now.


With hard work, love, and confidence of our own, we can help our children naturally gain confidence and grow into adults who are similarly confident.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Spoiler-free review of Brandon Sanderson's Words of Radiance

A short spoiler-free review of "Words of Radiance" has been turned in and will be published in the next 24 hours with the Deseret News. I'll include a link to the article when it posts online.

Update: Click here to access published review for Deseret News. 

Over the next several weeks, I hope to write a few more reviews and would like them each to be in-depth and focus on certain themes, characters, etc. These reviews will not be spoiler-free, but I'll provide spoiler notices and hold off until the most hardcore of the fans can work their ways through "Words of Radiance."

UPDATE 3/04/2014 --

Request for topic in series of Words of Radiance reviews?
If anyone has a specific request of a topic, character, theme, analysis, etc., to include in a planned series of "Words of Radiance" reviews, please feel free to make requests via email or in the comments section of this post.

Topics under consideration
Topics I am considering devoting 3-4 entire posts to include:
  • Spren
  • Shardblades
  • Brandon's acknowledgement one book may be written from the perspective of a character who has already passed away
  • Interludes: Integral or disposable?
  • Grandiose scope
  • Books No. 10+ - or the pros and cons of Brandon's verbosity and how many books the series is likely to have when the last words are finally published
  • Ghostbloods
  • Social castes
  • Cosmere: Magnum opus or too complex?
  • Character names in fantasy as a method for engaging readers

Questions for Brandon?
I'll also be sending a short list of questions that Brandon will be answering via email. If you have a question you'd like me to consider including in my list, please let me know.

A unique portion of my review/assessment of Words of Radiance
Also, while this isn't something you'll find associated with most reviews, I will occasionally make notes about the quality of the paper, bindings, etc. Although I finished the book via an electronic copy sent by the publisher a good little while before the hard copy arrived, I still thumbed through the hard copy to get a feel for the physical copy - as well as see some things missing from the ARC.

In fact, I was very impressed by the artwork, etc. However, I was surprised for a book with such an affordable cost per page ($28.99 for 1,088 pages) to have such fine quality of paper and a binding of better quality that anticipated.  For example, I once reviewed a book by a well-renown publisher who knows better than to produce shoddy material. The book was authored by a prestigious man, a master of many fields. The paper in a book of approximately 200 pages sold for approximately $2.00 less than Words of Radiance - yet the quality was so poor each time I touched the page it was like scraping fingernails across a chalkboard.

Tor has provided readers with durable, comfortable paper of a finer quality than is necessary at this price - something that should signal appreciation the publisher has for enriching the reader's experience. Additionally, the binding is not of poor quality - though this is likely out of necessity because of the page length.

In essence, Tor has encapsulated the masterful writing and artwork that comprise Words of Radiance in a hardcover book that should easily be able to withstand even a $10 increase in price. That the price is not higher suggests Tor is forecasting a high volume of sales. However, I also believe it is a sign of an ethical publisher in a number of ways. Now, I make this estimation based on a ludicrous sample size of one -- but as someone who has read from most major publishers, this quality appears to be more than a necessity to accommodate the massive size of the manuscript. Although this and sales forecasts almost surely played a role, Tor may be quietly providing readers with a high quality of workmanship for the cost in a lauded effort to retain its readers.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The role of feedback in attracting and keeping talent

Liz Ryan of has a wonderful piece out this month, entitled, "10 Ways Companies Drive Away Talent." The entire article is worth a read - and 2-3 minutes per category no matter how strong you think your organization, private or nonprofit, is in successfully combating the dangers identified by Ryan.

As I read through the list I noticed several that are dangers many leaders would recognize as challenges and accordingly guard against.

At the same time I noticed one danger in particular that many chief executives may be tempted to recognize as challenges for other organizations, but not their own.

Take a few minutes and think about the following text from Ryan:
Hear no evil feedback systems
My science friends tell me that entropy is a feature of closed systems. When no new information comes in, things break down. So it is in corporations where there’s no upward feedback, such that executive leaders are spared the inconvenience of reacting to messy reality and permitted to bask in the awesomeness of their delusional plans undisturbed. If your employer doesn’t have robust, active, constant feedback mechanisms in place and an appetite for hearing about life on the street, you’re pushing away talent as we speak.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 State of the Union

When I saw advanced notes of the text for tonight's State of the Union address by President Barack Obama, I worried a devotion to action would only increase partisanship - even while pleas for compromise were to be used as a deterrent to any one branch of government acting on its.

As I pondered more upon the subject I realized it is just the next step is what has been brewing for far too many years. This brief post won't go into detail, but it is becoming increasingly clear all three branches are seizing powers that erode the checks and balances so integral to our government.

And for those who say it isn't anything new, perhaps it's not. But the degree to which it is taking place is so great we may actually need to look back all the way back to the 19th century to see power-grabs and partisanship forming such a strong nexus.

It doesn't seem to matter what political party is in charge, to what degree it is in charge, or even if there is supposed to be a technical objective approach. Every branch seems to be increasingly seizing, inventing, or interpreting new powers.

This goes for the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court; as well as Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

And it needs to change.

Unfortunately, all the rhetoric in the world won't bring about the change that enables the return of a more functional government.

Yet despite the challenge of change, it is by no means impossible - though it will be hard to accomplish. 

In the end we need to vote for leaders who have the skills needed to govern. We need leaders with vision, leaders who can be bi-partisan, leaders who can compromise, leaders who can discern the difference between minutiae and principles - because when we make every issue one of principle we only dig our holes deeper and fill our packs with more weights.

God grant that the extremism in our government dissipate, that our discord be replaced with harmony - even with the occasional dissonance which adds layers of depth and complexity. Furthermore, if we cannot solve these problems now, let us vote for leaders who have the ability to lead - through both word and example.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Finished reading Words of Radiance, Book Two of the Stormlight Archive

Photo Source:
I have finally finished reading the advanced copy Brandon Sanderson's, "Words of Radiance."

It is not a short read - but overall, the length actually enriches the reading experience. Sanderson fans are likely to find the book worth the wait.

That's all I will say until my review is published.

My review will correspond approximately with the official release date of the book, March 4, 2014. However, I may take a rare approach and do a two-part review: one in the traditional mold and another with spoiler information (post-publication) included to do justice to some of the topics that deserve a thorough exploration.

In the meantime, TOR has posted a generous amount of preview material than can be read online for free:

Click here for the Prologue and chapters one and two.

Click here for chapters three, four, and five.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Reading Brandon Sanderson's 'Words of Radiance'

(Source: Endpaper by artist, Michael Whelan
This is day one of my reading schedule for the ARC of Brandon Sanderson's book, "Words of Radiance," the second volume of The Stormlight Archive.

The book is scheduled to be released March 4, 2014.

I am looking forward to immersing myself in Sanderson's adventure and then sharing my review.

Those who are as excited as I am to continue the adventure that began with Sanderson's first contribution to the Stormlight Archive series, The Way of Kings, you can pre-order Words of Radiance here.

While I won't be posting updates on my progress or thoughts while reading the ARC (per the privacy agreement associated with this ARC), odds are the quality will be found to be consistent with Sanderson's prior work.

In fact, TOR reported in the summer of 2013 that Sanderson requested more time to work on the book to ensure the long novel didn't skimp on quality at the expense of quantity.

(Source: Words of Radiance manuscript
In regards to quantity, Sanderson recently tweeted, "The press Tor is using cannot physically manufacture a book longer than 1088 pages. Good thing that's the exact length of Words of Radiance."

Judging by the size of the manuscript, I should stop writing and get to reading...


* NOTE: For those interested in any updates by the publisher and some fascinating blog posts during the period Sanderson was writing the book, check out this link at