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Monday, December 15, 2014

An extraordinary act of compassion

This past Saturday, I was the recipient of an extraordinary act of compassion doled out by a complete stranger. All that connected us were our geographic location and the soon-to-be-discerned revelation we both shared a similar trial.

I am honored to have been the recipient of both kindness and cruelty during the course of events that have unfolded since my car accident as both attributes have the potential to build character. But this is the first time someone so unfamiliar had impacted me so completely. I suppose the act itself can be to a certain extent quantified - except that in all the ways that affect me most, it simply cannot be measured.

How do you place a number next to a smile that starts in the heart and finds its way to the face? More importantly, how do you measure the quality of soul that leads one to identify a need, contemplate action, and then act, repeatedly, in such a way as to cause a smile like that?

Another thing I find pleasantly puzzling about this encounter: At some point during this prolonged encounter, it became obvious that the giver and the receiver had shared in similar experiences. In fact, we shared this much with each other. What makes the encounter both strange and natural, however, is that the totality of what was shared - especially preceding the acts of compassion - compiled so few words.

Which leads me to believe that some experiences shared by strangers at different times in different places under different circumstances affect them both somehow so they are less than strangers when they meet.

To this individual, how grateful I am the choice was made once upon a time to forsake the temptation to respond to a trial with bitterness and accept the challenge and opportunity to grow by consciously softening the heart. That decision led thought by thought, feeling by feeling, act by act, until eventually two not-so-dissimilar strangers met and shared what they could to provide one another with the compassion straight from the heart.

To those who will no doubt be affected for good by this individual in the future, may you strive to make similar choices that the compassion may be shared and made all the more sweet.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Coming soon: Gold Rush, the Los Angeles Lakers, and a polarizing business principle

I am working on a fun article that uses some examples from modern culture to shed light on the business principle/management philosophy of front-loading. Now, the principle is usually either loved or hated. By its very nature it is not designed to be lukewarm and have participants buy-in without having a strong opinion one way or another.

Two of the subjects of the article will feature individuals who are similarly polarizing.

And the contestants are...

 Tony Beets from the Discovery Channel's hit television show, Gold Rush;
Tony "the Viking" Beets (left)













And from the Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Byrant and Phil Jackson
Photo Source: espn.go.com












One of the fun things about this article is that it doesn't require the willful suspension of disbelief to read. There is no need to force these individuals into the story because they fall so naturally into it on their own.

This is one of those situations where the individuals, their approaches to life (and business), and the effect it has on their business success fit seamlessly into a legitimate discussion of the true star of the upcoming article: the business principle known as front-loading.

Marketing graphic options

I have been working on some graphics to marketing my consulting skills and related business. These are some of my favorites so far...


Since old books personify me so well...




Manwaring gets his own magazine profile...

An afternoon at the business art museum...

Who doesn't love a good business flick?
Actually not my largest newspaper photo



Let me help get you on that billboard!
Teaching classes, telling stories, smiling along the way

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, KTar.com, 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.


Conclusion


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.

Kudos.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The role of feedback in attracting and keeping talent

Liz Ryan of Forbes.com 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.