Archive for January, 2012

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DISABILITY OR ADVANTAGE?

January 29, 2012

A few months ago, a friend (with years of experience and degrees to back it up in early childhood learning/development) asked me to teach her how to mirror-write.  The ensuing conversation reminded me I had sitting in my “to-do” pile, two books I had not yet read.  One of them, “Now You See It” by Cathy Davidson caught my eye because its focus is the brain science of attention and how it will transform the way we live, work and learn-a variation on the new theories of adult-learning-about which I am passionate.

The second, “The Dyslexic Advantage” by Brock and Fernette Eide originally peaked my attention because when I saw the title, I was immediately transported back to my parents’ house before I started school.  I was sitting at the dining room table, with my older siblings, Rosie and Ray, hovering over me telling me I was stupid.  And I did not understand why.  They were trying to teach me how to write my name and had become frustrated because much as they tried, as their voices grew louder and louder, I simply could not accomplish the task.  “You didn’t copy it the way we wrote it” and “She won’t do what we tell her to” filled the air.  Finally, they dragged me into the bathroom to demonstrate that what I wrote was “mirror” writing and backwards.  Since my brain did not see the letters I had written as any different from what I had copied; and since I did not understand the concept of a mirror reflecting an image that is the reverse of what is before it, being pulled into the bathroom was frightening, not enlightening.  All I learned from that experience was there was something else wrong with me besides being left-handed. And this one was a really bad thing – I was stupid.

Now of course, I don’t remember when the break-through happened and I grasped the concept of how to write, but since I don’t remember this being the issue once I did toddle off to kindergarten, it must have clicked sometime in the year I was four years old.   I did not have trouble learning to read and quickly a new complaint arose from them –“there she is again, with her nose in a book”.

And so, I have never thought of myself as dyslexic – a term that did not exist when I was a child.   And the lingering problem of instinctively mixing up the directions of right and left that I still battle today, I have always attributed to being left-handed – and not related at all to my original trouble with mirror-writing.

I did not forget, however, that instinctive way of writing, and even today, if I position myself with pen in hand at the upper right-had corner of a piece of paper, my brain automatically switches, and I easily can write my name , your name, or take notes – all only legible by holding the page up to the mirror.  I also have not forgotten that I am the “dumb one” in the eyes of my siblings.  And, no, they have not forgotten either – and often react to whatever I say or do with disbelief, disdain and comments that communicate that surely, I have misunderstood – but that’s another story not for today.  Suffice it to say, that it’s a deep wound and instinctive that when I achieve something of significance, I hope that perhaps I might hear just once from my family  ”Good Girl” – even though I know full well I won’t.

But I digress.  Prompted by the request from a friend to teach her to be “as dumb” as me”, I was motivated to go right home and open that waiting book – “The Dyslexic Advantage-Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslectic Brain”.

WOW!  I can only say, within minutes of putting “my nose in that book”, I learned so much that clarifies the life I have lived and where I find myself today.   Perhaps I am NOT the stupid one; perhaps I am just the only one of my siblings that “perceive the written word differently…conceive space more intuitively, see connections between unrelated objects, and are able to make great leaps creatively that others simply miss.” What a wonderful thing to contemplate after all these years!

But more importantly, this is a book that everyone with even a hint of dyslexia, and every parent and sibling of such a person, as well as every educator should pick up and read.  As the book jacket promises,  the Eides combine newly emerging brain science with their expertise in neurology and learning disorders to explain dyslexia.  And by doing so, they erase the stigma of disability, replace it with its advantages, and thus give to all those who struggle with the challenges of dyslexia, a reason for hope.

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THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE

January 22, 2012

This past week the immigration “issue” resurfaced in the Republican Presidential Candidate debates and I was reminded of an article written originally for the New York Times and reprinted recently in the Strib.

Its title, Illegal Immigration is an Outdated Issue, caught my eye and as I read it, I took note of the premise that the immigration crises PEAKED in 2000 and a remarkable story has emerged of how immigrants of the 1990s have been assimilated into our culture. The article cited some incredible facts I had not heard before that supported the author’s suggestion that we need a shift in policy from keeping newcomers out to encouraging migrants and children to integrate into our society.

These were facts I had not heard before and although I did not do any in-depth research, I did do some preliminary fact-checking of sources and found enough validity to repeat below in hopes that at some point the GOP immigration dialog can be reviewed, evaluated, and altered as needed to reflect 2012 ad beyond.

  • The total number of immigrants, legal and illegal, arriving in 2000s grew at half the rate of that of the 1990s.
  • Since 2008, that population has shrunk to estimate 200,000 annually; and illegal immigrants from Asia have similarily dwindled.
  • Some experts estimate NET numbers of Mexicans settling in the US today at ZERO

An important reason cited for the effective disappearance of illegal border crossers from Mexico lies in Mexico’s birth rate.  It has plunged from 6.8 babies per mother in 1970 to 2.1 babies today-very close to that of the US birth rate.  And, that shrinking pool of young adults to meet labor needs has meant less competition for jobs and Mexico so impetus for immigration lessons.

The article continued to explore the facts regarding assimilation and they, too, provided some food for thought.

  • Although only a third of immigrants in US today have high school diplomas, by 2030, 80% of children under 10 yrs. old who arrived in the 1990s will have completed high school, and 18% will have bachelor degrees.
  • By 2030, immigrant home ownership will rise to 69% for Mexicans and 74% for all immigrants – well above the historical average of Americans.

 

The author sees America’s immigrants and their children as crucial to our future economic growth and offers serval suggestions to alter federal and state policies to focus on developing talents of immigrants and their children so America can remain the world’s richest and most powerful nation for decades to come.

Coming from a point of little real knowledge of the immigration situation, I am in no position to judge the validity of the needed changes, but a need to RETHINK and return to viewing immigrants as vast untapped human resources for our country seems worthwhile to examine.  It is what made us what we are, after all.  Changing the “Immigration Policy” to a revitalized “Immigrant Policy” may just make sense.

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THE GRAND OLD PARTY

January 21, 2012

Whenever I tune into the political discourses surrounding the selection of the 2012 Republican presidential candidate for the 2012 election, I am reminded that this party and the media covering the battle are perhaps the single greatest example of a world refusing to accept that we are now in the SECOND decade of the 21st century.
In 2008, an election based on change and hope and preparation for the future was won by Obama. He won for the message; he won because he used tools from the 21st century to garner support and buy-in; and he won because more people than not were interested in preparing our country to first survive, and then excel in a world that was changing around us. The growing financial crisis and missteps of the early 2000s caused an economic collapse that shifted the emphasis in the short term, but it has not changed the need to reassess and reset how we think. Nor does it mean we can destroy the technological advances of the 20th century that replaced people with robots in factories and created a need for people educated in the ways of the digital age, not the industrial age.
And yet, instead of re-evaluating how to best “catch up”, the GOP seemingly dug in – back to their roots in the mid 19th century as an agrarian culture was slowing transitioning to an industrial age. The topics and comparisons and examples of how things should be done today continually drill down from a time beginning with FDR/Truman and moving to the glory years of Eisenhower, Goldwater and Reagan – reflective of a time 30-80 years ago.
COME ON PEOPLE!! What about life in 2012 has much similarity to life from 1950 to 1990?
Is there a single politician out there who has a plan for collaborative growth that will prepare us to continue our leadership role in the world? Is there a plan that recognizes the rest of the world is using those very technological advances and positions we are so proud of has created a NEW WORLD? Does anyone have a position on how to revise our educational system which was based on needs of an industrial age and flawed thinking about how the brain works and how one learns? Does anyone in that party understand that the world is progressing without us because others listen, reflect and collaborate with one another? Does anyone in that party even TRY to visual a world and a country driven by the exponential growth of technology and new understandings of how things work? And if so, does anyone even attempt a dialogue on what we need to do to prepare?
Over and over, I am amazed about this. As a borderline traditionalist/baby boomer, the only explanation I have for this phenomenon is that dwelling on the past and holding it up as our model wraps us in a euphoria of fond memories of our younger days – days that for some, were days when race and gender prejudice ruled, and religious issues raged…and that was all ok.
But for the good of the country, we can only hope that once the Repos select a candidate, the emphasis will move AWAY from the Good Old Days to what we as a people need to do to catch up with the 21st century, and the GRAND OLD PARTY will have a choice…RETHINK or RETREAT to your smoke-filled rooms of the past and let our country get on with what we need to do to prepare us all for the New World we are already immersed in!

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MY KEURIG INSTINCTS PROVEN CORRECT!

January 19, 2012

After years of buying, using, and then throwing out one version or another of the “Mr. Coffee” style coffee maker, in the early 1990s, I became a convert and invested in a Krups Espresso machine.

It served me well for twenty years, but a couple years ago, it died and I was off on a search for a new alternative….and discovered that in the 20 years, the world of coffee makers had changed significantly!  The popularity of coffee houses, along with normal price inflation had forced the cost of espresso machines skyward.  The new “inexpensive” was in the $400 range; with prices escalating to the thousands.  The only good news was, one had a LOT of choices.

At first, not willing to invest that much money, I searched for alternatives and discovered the coffee pot had been replaced by the Keurig system…it was everywhere.  But space for the pot, as well as a tree of little cups on my countertop was not a welcome option…not to mention my suspicion of what it would taste like.  I imagined it much like the little cups of fake cream seen everywhere plus I wondered how “green” this product was.  A bit of discussion at the store and a tasting and I determined it was not for me… I went home with a brand new Krups –three times the price of the old one, but if it lasted another 20 years, it was worth it right?

WRONG.  It died in a year. So back to the store again – only to find that Keurig had multiplied as had the espresso machines and there were not many other alternatives.

Not wanting either, I finally bought a FARBERWARE Percolator on Overstock.com and now enjoy a fast-brewing, great-tasting, hot cup of coffee every morning – brewed not from a specialty bean, home ground, but from a can of Folgers – just like my mom used to serve!  I love it!

And this morning, the STRIB included an article about that Keurig I was suspicions of…it seems 46% of dollars spent on coffee or espresso makers last year went to the purchase of Keurigs-with consumers opting for convenience  rather than environmental impact. It seems the cups are difficult to recycle –in fact they are not bio-degradable.  Even Keurig is quoted as saying “we understand the impact of the K-cup portion pack waste stream is one of our most significant environmental challenges.” 

In this case, I think some things old should be new again, and the ease, low-cost, and quality of a cup of coffee brewed in a percolator has my vote!

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I THINK IT’S CATCHING ON…

January 18, 2012

Slowly but surely, our collaborative platform for creating interactive experiences that tell client stories is bubbling to the surface in our industry, finally following trends long seen emerging in Europe since the mid-2000s.

Progressive, high-end magazines such as EVENT DESIGN and EVENT MARKETER sponsor industry shows that focus on that transition – and of course, EXHIBITOR’S Gravity Free Design Show remains for me, the Piece de Resistance – although every year I dream of attending and have not made it yet!

And what about PCMA- long the innovative leader on the meeting planning side?  Back in the 80s, the original CLC’s CMP certification program was based on the PCMA “Professional Meetings Management”; that 1985 First Edition was my own study guide when I became one of the first five CMPs in Minnesota. Today, they’ve made the leap, taking risks, experimenting with integrating digital tools, learning lounges, and changing up that old general session in their last couple national conferences.   Industry trades are a-buzz with the result of their efforts and I sense a critical mass is gathering.

The glimmer of hope came last year when our first CRV Experience garnered not only local, national and international press as well as five ISES Star Awards, but in the background, I have continued to worry and fret about the 20th century thinking that permeates our industry and keeps it mired down in ineffective general sessions and theme parties.

So I was uplifted yesterday when I attended the roll-out of the new sales and marketing efforts of Meet Minneapolis.  They have capitalized on the wave of the future; their market research and marketing plan was impressive-geared to opportunities to move forward.  Their redesign of the website clearly reflects a welcome change.  I’m looking forward to their Annual Meeting in March and to the Meeting Planner’s Seminar in April where the focus seems to be grounded in Creating the Experience.  I left that meeting charged up – committed to being a more active partner supporting their efforts.

And this morning’s Strib added icing to the cake with two feature stories.  Although the first was a report on the comeback of boating in Minnesota, its sub-theme caught my eye.  The show touts a new attraction – an indoor marina, complete with 20 boats “moored” at docks and a waterfront patio with food and live music.  The show producers certainly understand – they have created an experience that puts their Minnesota audience in the midst of a familiar dream – if only they owned a boat!  And they’ve added to that experience an opportunity to get wet with a Flow Rider ride that allows low body surfing, board surfing and wakeboarding in pseudo-waves.  Finally, amidst the lake/river illusion and the Parade of Boats, they have recreated a marine service center right on the floor.  “Fred’s Shed”, an interactive learning center offers tips on installing boat electronics, engine maintenance, upholstery repair with local marine service mechanics on hand to conduct the seminars. This is good stuff!  Although today I am not a boater, I may just have to attend that show – to learn from what they did and witness the energized crowd they will capture.

Finally, there was the “Tres geek” success story of Ralph Lauren as they embrace tech-driven digital marketing strategies- from 24-hour touch-manipulated storefront windows to iPhone apps to 4D events to a strong presence on the internet.  They too, understand.  To be relevant to shoppers, they need to be able to talk to their customers in channels where those customers spend their time.   As Ralph Lauren embraced high-tech interactive experiences, they joined Nordstrom and Tiffany’s and reaped strong sales in an industry that generally did not do so well.  A 14% plus increase in sales and 18% increase in profits is cause for celebration.

Yes, I think the world is catching on!

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2011..WHAT A WHIRLWIND

January 2, 2012

Has it really been seven months since I last posted?

Anothe CRV event for 5000 meant a total of 5 days off between Memorial Day and October 1…significant siblings/spouses health issues…another flood at my home in Edina…and finally a move back to the Mpls  riverfront just before the holidays…and now I am off to physical therapy for a while to repair the damage.

I am so glad to bid 2011 farewell and so grateful for the support of two good  friends JJ and ML who accept me for who I am and were there to hold me up through some very troublesome times…and now I’m looking forward to a better 2012 wherever that takes me.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!