Archive for February, 2012

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RELIGIOUS RIGHTS & FREEDOMS; WOMEN’S RIGHTS & FREEDOMS

February 19, 2012

It’s no secret that I became an OBAMA fan four years ago because I viewed him as a thinker of the 21st century…I felt strongly that he was of a new generation that had easily made the transition from the old industrial and service world and all that entailed, to an explorer of the century that lay before us.  I related to him because I saw him trying to conquer-in the world of politics and government- the same world of nay-sayers I was trying to conquer in my own small world of meetings and events- the comfort of tradition.  And through these four years as I’ve watched and evaluated and judged, I’ve found him, on balance, to be a good example of the tech-powered collaborator, searching for integrated solutions – just like he said he would do. That means he posed a threat to the Good Old Boys who at all costs, want to block change and the arrival of the “future” for which they are not prepared-wrapping themselves in the self-rightousness of past tradition.  And that means that along the way, as a risk-taker, he has experimented and sometimes failed – as we all do – then learning from his mistakes, made adjustments and moved on.

There is no doubt that the original healthcare mandate regarding payment for contraceptives was a miscalculation.  In the Obama administration, it was seen as a step driven by healthcare costs and women’s rights-and so they missed evaluating it from the perspective of the Republicans – who pounced on its omission of needed consideration of impact on religious freedom.  And perhaps, from a political point of view, having moved on to other pressing concerns, the Obama Administration-as the storm cloud began to form- took too long to respond to, reevaluate and rectify the issues that ensued.

Personally, assuming that in those 10 days, he was putting the country’s issues ahead of his own political future, I applaud him for focusing on his job, and not his career – nevertheless, it has created chaos across the land!

Charged up by experiencing a week when the country applauded their stance, the Republicans, despite the changes made, will not let it go.  And I say to them loud and clear:  “Judge not, that you be not judged.”  Matthew 7:1

Blinded by the glee of your “feel good” week, you have made a major miscalculation that I hope will bring you to your knees.

With a few angry and nasty words, you took me and so many other women around me back to the world of the l960s-70s and awakened a survival instinct in us so much stronger than a desire to win a US presidential election!

Immediately, the returning pain in my stomach and shortness of breath signaled “fight or flight”.  Whether women were out front as the “libbers”, or took measures, quietly and effectively, that conquered you and what you thought you did best, we were a united majority, supporting one another to achieve certain inalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence, expanded upon in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and rightfully fought for through the almost 100 ensuing years!

Make no mistake, we have not forgotten that struggle and will choose to fight again-no matter our political inclination.  In November, you, too, shall be judged.

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IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR…

February 14, 2012

And the CRV Event team is once again nominated not only for two ISES Star Awards, but individual team members are also finalists in several additional categories.  What a wonderfully talented group of professionals I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from over the past two years!

In a recent blog, Jeff Hurt did a great job of outlining 21st Century skills needed by planners in our industry as we confront major cultural and societal transformational shifts in the world around us.

THE RISK TAKER views each event as an opportunity to experiment and take risks; learning from failures.

THE VISIONARY always looks for ways to enhance the face-to-face experience; and is always on alert to changes in our clients’ worlds.

THE LEADER striving to help clients stay in sync with that rapidly moving world, remains on alert for impactful topics and trends.

THE ADAPTOR-recognizing a changing environment, new technology tools, and the presence of four generations of attendees at any given event –demands we cast aside the routine and do not depend on past processes.

THE COMMUNICATOR knows how to articulate event format changes and upgrades.  On site, they facilitate, entice and moderate 21st Century tools like texting, Skype and social networks.

THE LEARNER expands the focus from basic logistics, understands learning is a lifelong process and makes a commitment to seeking new knowledge and its application.

THE COLLABORATOR understands collaboration with coworkers and colleagues is imperative to success.

As I read Jeff’s blog, I thought of this team-every skill mentioned above is well-represented.  While we individually may not be experts in each of these seven areas, together, we’ve got it covered!

It is not the recognition of the Star Award, nor even the opportunity to do good work that motivates me.  I am proud to be a part of this team because we learn from each other, improving our skills each time we work together, and most importantly, we offer more value to the client for whom we are working, as we help them confront and conquer those seismic shifts that surround us.

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HOORAY FOR THE LAKEVILLE SCHOOL SYSTEM!

February 8, 2012

In the fall of 2010, I posted a blog entitled “The Fisch Flip” praising the concept not only for its innovative approach to education, but also suggesting those of us in the meetings/events world consider variations on the approach as we contemplate how to  better facilitate adult learning and improve the existing conference education model.

That started a to-be-expected dialog with the nay-sayers that continued offline with colleagues suggesting oh-so-many reasons why it was a far-fetched idea.

But undeterred, our collaborative team has continued to experiment with this and other unique learning exercises within the corporate environment and I have continued to advocate for needed change for improved results. So I was tempted to turn my morning coffee into a champagne breakfast this morning so I could appropriately toast the Lakeville school system whern I read in the Strib about their high-tech plan!

Not only has one instructor, Jason Just, “flipped” his classes by posting lectures online and facilitating interactive discussions and homework in the classroom, but the Lakeville superintendent of schools, Lisa Snyder, has launched a three-year plan to make Lakeville the “most wired” school district in the state -from first to twelfth grade.

Although the article in the Strib captured the students positive reaction, my one disappointment was that no reason(s) were given for why earlier experimentation with high-tech learning in Stillwater, Edina, and Hopkins was abandoned.  That would have created a powerful “learning opportunity” for those willing to continue the search for improved methods.

“These are the tools of the 21st century.” Snyder said.  “It’s a whole new world.  You just have to open  your mind to it.”

AMEN to that!   What a great way to start the day – with the HOPE that my own passion for experimenting with new learning methods is indeed alive and well in Minnesota!

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AS DETROIT GOES, SO GOES THE NATION

February 7, 2012

Isn’t it just amazing….Chrysler’s Superbowl ad with Clint Eastwood has got the Republicans all stirred up and issuing claims that Obama used the commercial for political purposes. And of course, the cries of dismay are led by Karl Rove! Will this man never be out of our lives?
Early in my career, I spent 20 years in the Performance Improvement/Motivation business-employed by two of the “Big Four” of the incentive companies – one of which gobbled up the third member. So I only missed exposure to the one “born above a drugstore in Detroit” and now based in Fenton Missouri.
And if you knew me then, you knew I was always questioning “why” about one thing or another. Early on, I was sure I could improve productivity if the world would just get rid of the emphasis on “cash flow”. If every company issued invoices when they NEEDED the money to pay vendors; and everyone paid invoices when they RECEIVED them, I was sure the world would be a better place! And after cash flow, there was another issue, and another and another…

But perhaps the one thing that irritated me most, was the Automotive Industry. With dealerships everywhere to support the American love of cars, they were BIG and coveted clients, with great influence on our business lives. And they had no qualms about milking their clout for concession after concession. So, of course, that became my new cause…which was destined, of course, to fall on deaf ears. Yes, there were issues and it was not “fair” but that fourth quarter point redemption as dealers everywhere purchased their Christmas presents was what made us the profitable company we were.
So every time I raised a new complaint, I was stopped in my tracks with the decades-old phrase: As Detroit goes, so goes the nation. And although it irritated me, I got the message. The success of our company as well as the nation was tied to that industry…like it or not.

Back in 2009, I too, admit to feelings of “it served them right” as they stumbled and fell. I too, had moments of questioning the bail-out. But over the years, I had come to accept that like it or not, they were too big to fail and if they went down, so too would we. So begrudgingly, I decided that others had more facts than me, I had elected them to make the decisions, and I should stop fretting. After all, by then I had learned my lesson – As Detroit Goes, So Goes the Nation.
So I watched Clint Eastwood in the Chrysler Superbowl commercial “It’s Halftime in America” and surprised myself with my positive reaction to the message. And before I knew it would be one of the most-talked about of the many commercials, I immediately related it to that old irritating slogan and laughed at myself.
Yes, their practices and the financial collapse of 2008 left the Automotive industry teetering on the edge. Yes, we as a country were right there with them in the disaster. And because they were “too big to fail”, we as a country helped them bounce back. And along the way, Detroit implemented significant changes that catapulted them into the 21st century and made them whole again.

So now, despite the Republican voices crying “Foul”, let’s hope As Detroit Goes; So Goes the Nation.

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EDUCATION FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW

February 4, 2012

I am not a scientist, a brain specialist, or educator by profession, but I AM a student of the world around me and I am appalled at the swirling arguments in Minnesota today on how to “fix” Minnesota Schools and our education system.

And so, about the ONLY thing I agree with in the misdirected, emotional and pandering stands on the topic is that YES, we need to examine why as a state we have evolved from a belief in providing a school system that continues to feed our greatest asset – our citizens and their children that make up and will continue to make up our work force pool- to a growing belief that the Minnesota school system is simply a solution to a financial problem.
These are pretty strong words from one that admits to not being an expert in the field, and yet, I would go one step further: I would vote to put a HOLD on the posturing debates and attempts to legislate until we are sure those “in charge” within our school systems and all branches of government have put aside their outdated 20th century positions and pledged that each can provide credentials that certify they have stopped, listened, and evaluated the body of knowledge available today on how our brains work, how we learn, and what will be needed from our labor pool in the future to support a state of which we are proud, Once they have done that, I realize some will still revert to their out-dated modes and fall-back position and at best, all will emerge with new differing views on how we best achieve our common goals. But at least those differences might be based on an understanding of the reality we have before us, rather than the reality of our past.

If my own bookshelves are full of tomes that reflect these advances, from John Medina’s “Brain Rules” to Davidson’s “Now You See It – how the brain science of attention will transform the way we live, work and learn”; why is it a stretch to expect that those to whom we have entrusted our state’s greatest resource should at least be familiar with this body of thought?

In the 19th century, we built our educational system on existing knowledge and our agricultural needs; In the 20th century, we updated our educational system based on existing knowledge and our emerging industrial needs; In the 21st century, it is now time to update our educational system based on existing knowledge and needs of the digital information world in which we already live-and what we envision our state’s needs to be by 2050 if not 2099!

I borrow from the Davidson thinking to challenge us all. When we have answers to these questions, we will be prepared to move forward towards implementing needed change:
• How can we redesign our schools to prepare our kids for the challenges they’ll face as adults?
• What will the workers and workplaces of the future look like?
• And how can we learn to adapt to life changes that seem almost too revolutionary to contemplate?
Of course it won’t be easy. Of course we will not all agree. Of course, what we envision today, will be far different than that which actually emerges in the next 30-50 years. But if we put our heads together, listen to each other and collaborate on potential solutions, we will have a much better chance of success than if we continue to dig in our heels and shout loudly about preserving the out-dated methods of the past.

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AND SO IT COMES FULL CIRCLE

February 1, 2012

Once upon a time in another life, the San Francisco Sales team at CMG had a new client that was interested in using the services of the CMG Meetings Division to assist with their annual sales meeting in Hawaii.  So off I went to Cupertino to experience the culture shock of my introduction to Apple Computer.

They were dressed in jeans, t-shirts, and shorts; they carried backpacks-not Hartman briefcases; they met in glass-walled conference rooms; all those with name badges numbered under 400 were millionaires including the receptionist and the mail boy; and they rolled out the beer kegs at noon on Fridays as a thank you to all employees for working hard all week.  And most unsettling, they challenged their vendors to play the game their way or don’t come calling.

Believe me, in the corporate world three decades ago, this was NOT the norm! Nor did I easily give up my formal corporate uniform…until they told me I wouldn’t be let in the door if I arrived one more time “all suited up”.

Many had heard of this fledging company that was doing something no one quite understood with computers (and crazy commercials) so I often was asked about them when I returned to Minneapolis.  My comments usually included some description of a west coast CULT – with a mission “to save the world” and if that was not silly enough, they were going to do so  by targeting K-12 kids as they put their “apples” in every school around the nation.   And so they did.

To see the headline “iRead, iWrite, iLearn” in today’s Strib should not have been a surprise.  To revolutionize “publishing space” by reinventing textbooks as they announced their three new products designed to uproot the traditional learning experience deserves a hearty round of applause. I was only surprised that the Star Tribune positioned it as “Apple’s venture into education”-as if they have not done this before!

And this time around, I expect it will be much more than a publishing revolution – the results it drives may well be the impetus needed for all of us to understand that it is time to take the leap and quit teaching to meet the needs of the industrial revolution of the 20th century.  It is time to throw out how schools supported industry and look towards rethinking what are education goals of today and how new knowledge uncovered in the last two decades has changed our understanding of how the brain works and how we learn.   Apply technology; create interactive tools, and engage our students in dialogues.  We’ll be surprised about what they will learn….and what we can learn from them!