Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lessons from the Martial Arts

Previously, I mentioned a Bruce Lee quotation book that contained some excellent reflections on teaching. Anyone who knows me knows that I will now have to pull on that thread and see where it takes me (or what cloth I pull apart).

So, I went to my other favorite used book store and scoured the martial arts section, looking for any teaching wisdom that I could find. Two books caught my eye - "Martial Arts Teachers on Teaching" by Carol A. Wiley, and "Martial Arts Teaching Tales of Power and Paradox" by Pascal Fauliot.

When I opened "Martial Arts Teachers on Teaching", the first quote I saw said,
"If you follow the present-day world, you will turn your back on the Way; if you would not turn your back on the Way, do not follow the world" - Takuan.
The quote immediately resonated with me, as - according to the reactions I get - I'm the last man on earth without a cell phone. I'm not sure what 'the Way' is, but I'm pretty sure that cell phones are not...

Studies of 'flow' conclude that uninterrupted time is a prerequisite to reaching a flow state in any activity. Surely, it is possible to own a cell phone while maintaining uninterrupted time, but no one I know has succeeding, and it's an experiment I'm uninterested in pursuing.

So, I will 'not follow the world' (with regards to cell phones) anytime soon.
In what ways do you 'not follow the world', in order to find 'the way'?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Learning Moments: Empty Nest Syndrome

Our empty nest

Well, we had a baby hummingbird that we named summer.
We watched mom build the nest and tend the eggs.
Then we watched our little hummer grow up.

Sunday night, Summer flew the coop. We went outside around 6pm and found the nest empty. Summer was sitting about 3 feet above the nest on a small branch. We watched her for the next two hours as she tested her wings. She seemed unable or unwilling to fly downwards. She just kept going higher and higher - sometimes grabbing branches that were too big for her feet, and then slipping and grabbing another branch.

When mom came for Summer's nightly feeding, she also found the nest empty. That kind of freaked her out. Summer was about 30 feet above the nest at this point, on the other side of the tree. As mom flitted madly about, Summer did something we had been waiting over a week for... she made her first noise. She called and called, but mom seemed to have very poor echo-location skills.

It was painful for us, to say the least. We could see summer, we could see the mom, but they couldn't find each other. This went on for about 30 minutes, until mom finally found summer and was able to feed her. We watched mom feed her until the sun went down and then we left them, hoping that summer makes it through her first night out of the nest.

I looked around on Monday morning. Mom was to be flying around, but no sight of Summer.
I climbed up and took a photo of the nest this morning. If you click on the image above, you'll see what I saw - another egg! Hummingbirds lay eggs in pairs. I'm assuming this one will not hatch, but I'll keep an eye on it over the next week to make sure.

Monday night, we saw Summer again. She made it through her first night, which was a relief to both of us. We look forward to watching her grow up.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Make Work Great (one person at a time)

Last week I received my copy of Ed Muzio's new book, "Make Work Great".

I'm a big fan of Ed's work (writings, videos, and presentations), because he's one of the few thinkers out there who is trying help individuals build a bridge between great tools and productive relationships.

Also, because he's a great guy who happens to be a friend. Full disclosure: I acted as one of the 'peer reviewers' for "Make Work Great" last summer. I'm also the instructional designer for the companion one-day workshop.

Ed's 'Overtness' framework - which combines overtness of task (purpose, impact, incentive, progress, resources, and capability) with overtness of relationships (clarity, questions, approach, and agreement) - is a powerful tool. This framework helped me look at what I do and how I interact in a new light.

Ed's goal is to increase output - while reducing stress - in the workplace. This book points us in the right direction. I highly recommend you check it out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Learning Moments:

Baby Hummingbird

How cool is this? We've got a baby hummingbird in our backyard. With the help of a stepladder, I took some photos.

We've named him/her Summer (the hummer) because, well, it's summer! We've been watching Summer for the past week, as he/she grows quickly from a little hummer with a tiny beak to the point where it's positively bursting out of its' nest.

Today, Summer is moving a lot. I expect that he/she will be flying off within the next few days. Until, we plan to enjoy the process (and then clean all the 'residue' off of our back patio.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Learning Moments:

So... you wanted to get close to nature, huh?

We spent the fourth of July weekend at Point Reyes National Seashore, where we ate a lot of oysters, drank a little wine, did some reading, and fit in a couple of 8-mile hikes.

One of those hikes was the trail out to Tomales Point. Now, I know that it's been a rainy year in California and that the wildflowers did quite well. This was a little over-the-top, though, don't you think?

There is a trail that ran straight between me and Angie in the photo above. You just can't see it through the growth. While that may look spectacular (and it was even better in real life), it wasn't so spectacular on our legs.

We've walked this trail a bunch of times before and even debated taking a different trail this trip. Once again, however, we learned that, 'one can never step in the same river twice', because everything changes. As long as you're open to it, even seemingly repetitive events can create a brand new experience.

Four Lessons for Teachers from Bruce Lee

Last week, at one of my favorite used book stores, I picked up a book of quotes by Bruce Lee, called "Striking Thoughts".

I knew Bruce was a bit of a philosopher and definitely a sharp guy, otherwise I wouldn't have looked at the book. But, I didn't expect to find so many great thoughts about teaching and training:
  • "Remember, I am no teacher; I can merely be a signpost for a traveler who is lost"
  • "The ideal teacher - not 'what' to think, but 'how' to think"
  • "Defeat simply tells me that something is wrong in my doing it is a path to success and truth"
  • "Where method is, freedom is not"

I have often said that facilitation is more like zen than any other activity I can think of - Bruce's words confirmed that for me.
Can there be four better lessons for teachers and students than:
  1. Take my words and do with them what you will. Your milage may vary...
  2. Observe and explore my process, not my content.
  3. Failure is not only to be expected, but welcomed and even celebrated.
  4. If you didn't hear me the first time, reread 1, 2, & 3!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quote of the week

"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me"
- Shakespeare, Richard II

I haven't decided what I want to appear on my gravestone, but that's certainly one line I don't want on it!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quote of the week

"Adventure is just bad planning".
- Roald Amudsen

As a frequent 'accidental adventurer', I can only nod and laugh at this brilliant quote.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quote of the week

"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing"
- Larry James

Sometimes the simplest advice is the best advice.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Learning Moments:

Quail Chicks at Carmel Mission, CA

It's the time of year when you need to keep your eyes open. Warm weather brings bare skin, ice cream trucks, fresh blooms, and babies of all types.

I was taking photos at beautiful Carmel Mission this afternoon, when a little bird sprinted across the courtyard in front of me. My first thought was, 'uh oh... someone fell out of a nest'. After watching the little bugger do three hundred-yard dashes, however, I realized that he didn't fall anywhere. This was a ground bird.

Soon, a couple of his family joined him. They zipped back and forth maniacally, like the Keystone Cops. I just sat back and watched, snapping photos on the few occasions that they stood still. The groundskeeper and I had a short conversation about them. He hadn't seen them, so he just stood, smiling with me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quote of the week

"Ain't got no distractions, can't hear no buzzers or bells. Don't see no lights a flashin', plays by sense of smell."
- The Who, Pinball Wizard

What a great description of focus, or the 'flow state'. There's a reason why that boy 'sure plays a mean pinball'.
What can you do to reach a similar state of focus this week?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Learning Moments:

Hummingbird Nest in our backyard

This is cool. We've got a hummingbird nest in the tree behind our condo. The nest is about 5 feet outside our back door, and about 10 feet up. Mama, pictured above, has been flitting about - putting the nest together and sitting (I assume) on a couple of eggs.

Hummingbirds are one of my three favorite birds (pelicans and kingfishers are the other two), so I'm psyched about watching a little hummer grow up in our backyard. I know nothing about hummingbird life cycles, so I'll be doing some research on that over the next few weeks. What I do know is that the next is about the size of a sake cup, so that's got to be one small egg...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quote of the week

"Objectives are not fate; they are directions. They are not commands; they are commitments. They do not determine the future, they are a means to mobilize the resources and energies of the business for the making of the future."
- Peter Drucker

This is a brilliant response (like there's any other kind from Mr. Drucker?) to the tired complaint, "I can't make goals, my work changes too much".
Well, duh, says Drucker. You can change them!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quote of the week

"Focus on eliminating anyting that doesn't serve the fulfillment of your goals".
- Michael J. Gelb & Sarah Miller Caldicott, Innovate Like Edison

I can't say it any more clearly than that...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quote of the week

"Become a milestone activitist"
- Tom Peters, The little BIG Things

Tom gets it. Do you?
Milestones = targets.
Milestones = feedback.
Milestones = momentum.

Do you think you can be successful without any of those? I don't, and neither does Tom.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Quote of the week

"I believe in starting each project with a stated goal"
- Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit

I find it interesting that all successful people - even creatives - use goals (in some form) to achieve their aims. Twyla Tharp is a world-famous dance choreography, and goals are just as important to her as to any CEO.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Quote of the week

"If you want to make a stand, help others make a stand, and if you want to reach your goal, help others reach their goal."
- Confucius

Wow, there's a lesson for managers. You want employees to push towards organizational goals? Show them how it meets their goals as well.

And there's an additional lesson for all of us - you cannot do it alone. Help others and you'll find the help you need.

Do you know the goals of those closest to you?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Quote of the week

"If you start me up, if you start me up I'll never stop."

- The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger on the art of management? Probably not, but there is a lesson in there for all managers. It doesn't take a lot to get your employees going (unless, of course, you already sucked all the life out of them... we'll pretend you haven't done that).

The key is just get them started and then get out of the way. And then they'll 'never stop, never stop, never stop, never stop'...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quote of the week

"As if you could kill time without injuring eternity!"
- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quote of the week

"Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?"
- Foo Fighters

I love this song and I love this line, because it's asking two questions. Is someone getting the best of you, as in 'taking advantage of you'? Is someone getting the best of you, as in 'are you giving them your very best'?

Both good questions. Both questions that I haven't always been able to answer in ways that make me feel good. But it's a process, like most things. And I'm getting closer.

Is someone getting the best of you?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spreading Good Fortune...

Chinese Lion Dance, Chinatown

Angie and I are in San Francisco this week.
I'm presenting at the ISPI (International Society for Performance Improvement) Conference 2010.

I'll be speaking about SMART goals, but really - like this Lion Dancer we saw in Chinatown yesterday - I'm hoping to spread good fortune. I've learned a lot about SMART goals over the past 18 months and we've seen some very powerful results from creating 'red hot' goals.

On Thursday, I'll be doing my dance in front of a room full of this countries best business performance consultants. There, I will pass along much of what I've learned. Hopefully, I'll also pass along a little of the good fortune that's come with the application of that knowledge.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quote of the week

"I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one's business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in his courtship. I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not far behind."

- George Bernard Shaw

Hmmm... he's probably not the first male to equate success with being knocked off by a female (nor the last). Despite that disturbing imagery, I resonate with the bit about 'continual becoming'.

One book I read about writing proposed that a 'villain' is just a fully developed character, while a 'hero' is one who is still developing. While not a complete definition, it's an interesting one.

So, what are you 'becoming'?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quote of the week

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
- Douglas Adams

This sounds a lot like me. When I set my own deadlines, there's a 90% chance that I will miss them. I need someone else to set deadlines for me - something real.

Schedule a workshop with an audience and I'll finish my class. Schedule a product review and I'll complete my plan. Set an arbitrary date, and you can expect a 'whoosh'.

What's your relationship with deadlines?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Learning Moments: Go to the source

Mission Ranch, Carmel, California

Many years ago, we were kayaking on the Sea of Cortez near Loreto, Mexico. Our good friend, Bill Bengele, was catching fish and asked if we wanted to eat them. I asked if they would taste good.

Bill looked at me for a moment and then said something I have never forgotten, "Glenn, the worst trash fish in the world tastes better fresh than the most expensive fish in your local grocery store will taste by the time you get it home and cook it".
And he was right.

I never liked artichokes as a kid. I could only laugh and repeat the line from the Little Rascals - "It might chock Artie, but it won't chock me!"
Now that I live in California, though, it's a different story. I love fresh grilled artichoke. Proving, once again, that everything is better when you get closer to the source.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Quote of the week

"Live can be pulled by goals just as surely as it can be pushed by drives".
- Viktor Frankl

I love this quote for the visual it forms of internal drives and external motivations.

Stop for a moment, think about something important you're about to do, and ask - Am I being pulled by goals? Or pushed by an internal drive?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quote of the week

"If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes".
- Andrew Carnegie

This statement is true for life, true for work, and very true for the classroom. Learning without goals is just fast food for the mind. Unless you have a goal to practice or use what you've learned, the learning is unlikely to 'stick'.
Students with goals typically outperform other students, by a lot!

Lesson - have a goal to apply what you intend to learn. It changes everything...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quote of the week

"Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit".
- George Carlin

George's observation aligns very closely with the research of the Gallup Organization, which shows that only 20% of US workers are 'actively engaged' at work. The rest are 'disengaged' or 'actively disengaged'.

Which are you? And why?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Quote of the week

"The only reason for time, is so that everything doesn't happen at once"
- Albert Einstein

Albert obviously never worked in corporate America, where everything does happen at once - the fiscal year end. In my goals research, it's amazing to see how few goals include a date. That's why so few goals are achieved until the end of the year.

Something to think about...

Monday, March 8, 2010

A nice reward

For the past two days, Angie and I have been working our way through two months worth of mail. Most of it was worthless - or, more precisely, less than worthless.

This - my diploma for my Masters in Adult Education - however, brought a smile to my face. It's funny how something that was such a big part of my life for 18 months can just disappear, almost unnoticed, replaced by other things.

Though it's completely illogical, I expected the completion of an advanced degree to change me in some small way.

Did I think I'd feel more mature? No.
More confident? No.
More intelligent? Professional? Literate? No. No. And no.

And yes...

But it doesn't work that way. Any gains I made in maturity, confidence, intelligence, professionalism, or literacy were incremental (and certainly arguable).
What was gained was gained one fraction of an inch at a time, like the growing of hair. There's almost no change from last night, until suddenly you need a trim.

Well, it isn't like I need a brain trim (what would that be like?). But... even if the destination is anticlimactic, the journey was great.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I was reading "The Architect's Guide to Fame" and stumbled upon a brilliant quote that captures my (mostly negative) feelings about the current state of design for buildings, cars, clothes, and - yes - presentations:

"Bad design is smoke. Good design is a mirror."
- Juan-Carlos Fernandez

Saturday, March 6, 2010

One last thing?

Traditional Korean Music at Incheon Airport

Saturday, March 6th
Learning Moment: Incheon Airport, Korea

Just when I thought our Korea experience was over, another music performance cropped up. This one took place at the airport. For thirty minutes, we were entertained by some great traditional music.

I carry my camera everywhere and am often not rewarded for the effort, but today I was...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 58 of 58

Just did it...

Saturday, March 6
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

It's her Yu-naverse and we are just living in it.
COEX has been plastered with posters of Olympic Gold Medal figure skater Kim Yu-na.
This entire corridor to Samseong Station is lined with her image.

Today, we leave her universe and return to ours - California.
I'm not looking forward to a 12 hour flight, but it will be nice to get home.

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 57 of 58

Lee Hyeon Cheol gives me a lesson in Janggu

Friday, March 5th
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

Today was my last day of leading workshops on this 8-week trip. We completed an excellent session of Managing at KT. I really enjoyed the interaction with the Korea business team.

After the session, Angie and I went to Central Seould to watch Miso, a musical featuring traditional dance performances. The show started at 8pm, but I arrived at 7pm for a janggu lesson with Mr. Lee.

The lesson was a lot of fun. Mr. Lee walked me through the basic rhythms of the janggu and taught me some of the terminology. He was assisted by Carina, who acted as an excellent translator and a darn good photographer as well.

The show itself was great. I really enjoyed the music.

Tomorrow we return to California. As always, my feelings are mixed.
It'll be nice to sleep in our own bed and get back to some normal rhythms. On the other hand, I'll miss the food, the forays into different cultures, and - of course - all our friends, old and new.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 56 of 58

6pm Bell ringing at Bongeunsa Temple

Thursday, March 4th
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

Every evening at 6pm, we can hear the ringing of the bell at Bonguensa Temple, across the street from our hotel.
Tonight we ran across the street to watch the ceremony.

The monks ring four different bells - the large bell pictured above, a drum, a fish bell, and a cloud bell.

The temple was quiet, so we wandered around a bit and enjoyed the atmosphere.

Votive Candles

After visiting the temple, we dined on Korean Barbecue and Cold Stone ice cream.
All-in-all, a pleasant evening.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 55 of 58

Jung Ji Hyun performs the Hwaseon Dance

Wednesday, March 3rd
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

Tonight we scored front row seats for a traditional dance performance at Seoul Namsan Gugakdang. The winter series of performances featured Jung Ji Hyun, a master dancer and professor at Kyungsung University.

We were the only foreigners in the building, which attracted the attention of her husband and producer. He gave us a warm and friendly greeting, wanting to know where we were from, what brought us to the theater and where we got our tickets.

The performance was stunning - easily the best traditional dance performance we've ever seen. The choreography was creative, the costumes were beautiful, the music was powerful, and the venue was perfect.

Of course, Jung Ji Hyun was outstanding - graceful, beautiful, athletic, and able to convey a myriad of emotions through her face and body. This was truly the highlight of our trip.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 54 of 58

The Lounge, COEX Intercontinental

Tuesday, March 2nd
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

The Intercontinental Hotel has a very nice WonderHour each night, where they offer unlimited wine, beer, and soju with a mini-buffet of meat, fish, salad, and appetizers for about US$19.

It's a tough deal to beat, so Angie and I headed down there tonight and drank our money's worth of alcohol. Oh yeah, we ate a little food, too.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 53 of 58

Keepsakes from Seoul

March 01, 2010
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

It's cold and windy today. It was raining this morning; then it turned to snow.
We decided to take care of some errands and relax. First, we went to the COEX mall, where we grabbed lunch, bought bananas at Hyundai Dept Store - where we ran into a Singapore colleague, Graham Lynch, and his girlfriend - and picked up a souvenir I've been looking at.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have some basic criteria for buying a memento. On this trip, two items have met my criteria.

The first, which I picked up in Insadong, are the three ceramic folks pictured above: a drummer, a dancer, and a flute player.
The second, which I bought today, is a fish gong.

A mogeo, or fish gong

Both are small (enough), musical in theme, and very cultural. So, now they are both going home with us.

We also booked tickets for a traditional dance at the Namsan theater on Wednesday night, and for MISO on Friday night. I can't get enough of Korean music and dance.

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 52 of 58

Performers at Namsan Hanok Village

Sunday, February 28th
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

Yesterday was quite a day in Seoul. Apparently, the first new moon of the year is an important one in Korean culture. There were numerous festivals to celebrate the occasion.

We ended up at Namsan park, with a lot of other people, to watch traditional crafts and entertainment. The gentleman in the white suit above walks (and jumps and bounces and does comedy) on the hire wire/rope that is behind him.

The Bukcheong: A Korean Lion Dance

Later, there were lion dances that featured the bukcheong, an interesting variation on the Chinese Lion dance that turns up in varying forms all over Asia. The Korean lion is shaggier than most, which I happen to like.

The grass teepee behind the lion is filled with written wishes that would be burned. The smoke then lifts your wishes to the gods.

What will the next year bring?

If anyone was looking for answers today, the fire responded with a resounding question mark.
This is only fair, I guess. No one really wants to know what the next year will be like, do they?

We ended our night with traditional dance.
Again, I was invited on-stage to drum, so I received another set of drum sticks.
So far, I've been to four dance shows. Three have pulled up audience members. All three times I was selected.
I don't mind...

More spectacular colors...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 51 of 58

Faces of Insadong

Friday, February 27th
Learning Moment: Insadong Street, Seoul, Korea

If there were a vote for 'favorite place in Seoul', Insadong would probably be the people's choice. Popular with young and old, locals and foreigners, teeming with those who are curious and those who are curiosities - Insadong is filled with great restaurants, cutting edge galleries, traditional shops, music, and the entire range of human drama.

While we were wandering Insadong yesterday, I conducted two interviews with college students who are studying English. This is a normal occurance. Students lurk all over the street with notepads, waiting for a foreigner who isn't moving with a sense of purpose. When they find one, they ask, "May I interview you?"

Everyone is an artist, a subject, or both...

One student asked me, "What is your favorite thing about Insadong?"
The answer was easy - the energy of the people on the street.

Despite the restaurants, the galleries, and the historical sites that surround the area, I could be happy just standing there all day and watching people on the street - so I did.

Who needs art galleries?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 50 of 58

something I'd never seen before...

Friday, February 26th
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

Big day today in Korea...
We had a very successful slide:ology workshop.
Kim Yu-Na won the gold medal with a record setting performance (if you think that might not be a big deal in Korea, you would be way off target).
And, I saw something I'd never seen before.

This is, of course, the reason why I travel. When traveling - if you pay attention - you will see at least one thing a day that you'd never seen before. These things are sometimes beautiful, sometimes sad, often perplexing.

Today's sighting falls squarely in the perplexing category.
Our workshop was held on the 9th floor of the Kongdong building. On this floor there is a company and a public meeting room. The restroom is shared.

In the restroom is what appears to be a public toothbrush container. I'm not sure if this is a shared toothbrush collection, or if Korean trust is so high that you can store your personal toothbrush in a public restroom without worrying that anyone will do anything (and, of course, I mean anything) to it.

On the other hand. It does have a UV purifier, so maybe it doesn't matter?
Yeah, good luck with that.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 49 of 58

A Solo Fan Dance at Pulhyanggi Restaurant

Thursday, February 25th
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

It's really hard to perform well when the audience sucks. Seriously.

Audiences seem to have little clue that they own some of the responsibility for the strength of a performance. Whether it's an athletic performance, a musical performance, a dance, or a public speaker: the next time you witness mediocrity, it would be fair to wonder if you're partially to blame.

That's what makes nights like a tonight seem like a minor miracle. Tonight, we had a nice dinner in a traditional Korea restaurant. The audience consisted of approximately 10 people. The show consistent of 4 so-so musicians and one very good dancer.

The audience didn't seem interested in the performance. They ate and talked more than they watched. In fact, their talking seemed to get louder through the night.

And yet... the dancer performed as though 400 pairs of eyes were glued on her every move. More accurately, she danced as though no one were watching; as if she were dancing only for herself. If only we could all summon that energy or passion when we need it.

Strangely, at the end of the show, a group of five that had talked through her entire dance made sure to get their photo with her. She obliged. This brought to mind the popular refrain of Wayne and Garth, "We aren't worthy".

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 48 of 58

Wednesday, February 24th

Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

One of the most important lessons I learned from slide:ology was the lesson of storyboarding: don't build your slides until you've built your storyboard.

On this eight-week tour of Asia, I've been able to put that principle into practice. I'm preparing for a 90-minute workshop at ISPI's 2010 Conference in San Francisco that takes place in April.

In the photo to the left, you can see my storyboard taking form. I've been working on it during my 20-70 minute taxi ride to/from Bundang in Seoul. The notebook is a 'Clean Sheet/Expedient notebook' by Kyokuto associates co, ltd.

I bought this notebook in Japan because it fits neatly into my blue Eagle Creek Travel bag (you can see the bag in the photo). The travel bag holds my notebook, Sharpie pens, and a Ziploc Easy Zipper bag filled with Post-it notes (starting to sound like an advertisement, huh?).

You can see that I'm using different color post-its. Yellow is slide content, Orange is quotes, Blue is for exercises. Green is for new ideas that I'm thinking about.

This system is working out very well for me. It's fast, flexible, and convenient. As I get closer to presentation time, I'll post the full storyboard.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 47 of 58

Drumming with the Dancers at Korea House

Tuesday, February 23rd
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

Korea House is one of my favorite places on the planet. Great music, pounding drums, beautiful women, energetic dances, colorful costumes, and great food; that's tough to beat.

We never make a trip to Seoul without visiting Korea House, and this one would be no different. They've redesigned the stage and the program since we last visited. I loved the changes. The stage is more dramatic, and the new dances are still brilliant.

The legendary fan dance

The fan dance is always a highlight, as are the 'drumming dances'. But, the highlight of tonight - for me, anyway - was when I was invited on stage. When they invited me (along with a few other foreign guests), I started to say no. Then I realized that they didn't want me to dance, they wanted me to drum. I couldn't pass up that opportunity.

So, up I went. At the end of the song, they gave us all souvenir drum sticks, which was pretty cool. And I have to show a picture of Angie with our dinner. Do you think we got enough food?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 46 of 58

Sunset over Seoul

Monday, February 22nd
Learning Moment: Seoul, Korea

Heat is, apparently, highly valued in Korea. Our hotel room consistently runs somewhere between 76-79 degrees. The heat is centrally controlled, so our only choice is to turn the heat off completely. It doesn't seem to do much good. We have an oscillating fan, which helps a little.
Last night, I slept without covers.

We've had this problem at other Korean hotels, so it's not an Intercontinental Hotel problem.
I guess it comes from the culture of heated floors.

My classroom today was very hot - somewhere around 75 degrees. I was in short sleeves, so I was marginally comfortable, but I was asked at least three times if I was "okay". They were concerned that I might get cold.

Hell, I would have been barefoot and in shorts if it was up to me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 45 of 58

Sunday, February 21st

Learning Moment: Seoul, South Korea

We spent the day wandering the area around our hotel.

We visited Bong Eun Sa, a Buddhist temple, and then went to Seolleung, the royal tombs of King Seongjong. The tombs were built in the 14th century.

After that, we went to COEX, a large shopping mall, where we ate dinner at "On The Border". It was our first Mexican dinner (or approximation thereof) in 6 weeks. And we needed it...

Anyway, I've seen temples before. I've even seen royal tombs before. But, I've never seen a divining (or 'dowsing rod') class being conducted.

I'm not sure if they are learning to find water. It seemed as though they were learning to track energy. The instructor (who spoke Korean, so I am learning interpreting actions, gestures, and the occasional English word like 'energy') kept demonstrating that his rod wanted to point to the top of any nearby pagoda or stupa.

Whether it works or not, I cannot say (science says, "no"). But, it was pretty funny watching a group of serious looking guys in suits play with these fancy sticks.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 44 of 58

The Yokohama Bay Bridge

Saturday, February 20
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

We traveled from Japan to Korea today.
It was a relaxing day, with a late checkout from the Intercontinental Hotel in Yokohama. The picture above - taken from the limobus - shows our approach to the Yokohama Bay Bridge.

Our flight to Korea was smooth, and we reached the Intercontinental Coex at 10:30.
We ready to spend the next two weeks with the Korea team - enjoying the food and culture of Seoul.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 43 of 58

Friday, February 19th

Learning Moment: Kamakura, Japan

Angie and I spent some time in Kamakura today.
It's a 25-minute train ride from Yokohama to the former capital of Japan.

We wandered the back streets and temples, where we saw school kids on class trips, the first apricot and plum blossoms of the year, and the guys pictured to the left.

These are karasu-tengu, or crow tengu. Tengu are spirits or gods that protect the mountains. They are usually pictured in a more human form, with a red face and long nose.

I like these guys better than the human version. There are a lot of crows in Japan, so I like the idea that there might be more to them than meets the eye.

We found the karasu-tengu in the back of the Zen temple, Kencho-ji. There is a mountain shrine called Hansobo that overlooks the temple. From Hansobo, you can see the ocean and - on a clear day - Mount Fuji. It's a beautiful area, with bamboo groves, caves, and sculptures.

It was a nice end to our Japan visit.
Next is Korea!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 42 of 58

Raw Horsemeat (Basashi)

Thursday, February 18th
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

We had dinner with two good friends and colleagues, Haemi and Yagi-san.
Food, sake, and friends is a great combination in Japan.

I also had raw horsemeat for the first time in many years. I used to eat it quite a bit when I traveled to Kumamoto, but it's been a long time.

It was still delicious.

Haemi Kaku and Mikio Yagi

But, no matter how good the food, the conversation was even better.
Catching up with friends is one of the reasons I love to travel.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 41 of 58

Angie at Maimon, Yokohama

Wednesday, February 17th
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

One of our favorite things about Japan is the food. Here Angie is about to dig into a fried shiitake mushroom. Yum!
Behind her you can see part of the Yokohama Cosmo Clock (part ferris wheel, part clock) and the Intercontinental Hotel.

One of our least favorite things about Japan is that the smoking section still often gets the best views... Boooo!

Oh well. Great meal anyway.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 40 of 58

Garr Reynolds at KLA-Tencor Japan

Tuesday, February 16th
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

We had a big day today.
I conducted the slide:ology workshop at our Japan office, where I was joined by Garr Reynolds - the author of Presentation Zen and Presentation Zen Design. Garr was, as expected, brilliant.

He spoke about Simplicity, Restraint, and Naturalness - three design criteria that are too often absent in the high-technology world. Garr models all three, making it easy for anyone to understand and identify with him and his message. He's also, by the way, a lot of fun. We had some good laughs throughout the day.

If you're ever fortunate enough to have the opportunity to hear Garr speak, take advantage. If you can't hear him speak live - order his DVD. It's the next best thing.

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 39 of 58

Yokohama Intercontinental Hotel Place-mat

Monday, February 15th
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

The Yokohama Intercontinental Hotel is one of the more distinctive hotels in the world. It's shaped like (according to the website) a 'yacht under sail'. It's such a singular look that they echo the design in many of their graphics and souvenirs.

For example, the place mat above creates a yacht shape by using little yacht shapes.
This pattern is also in many on the fabric of many of the chairs and sofas.
Smart use of an excellent graphic.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 38 of 58

Streets of Yokohama

February 14th, 2010
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

Spent the day catching up on music (I bought the latest cds by Cocoo, Anna Tsuchiya, Mizrock, and Chara), picking up some stationary supplies, and soaking in all that is Yokohama.

Angie and I then had a traditional kaiseki dinner at Minokichi in Landmark Tower. Along with three carafes of sake, it made for an excellent Valentines Day dinner.

Finally, I spoke with Garr Reynolds tonight. I'm beyond excited that Garr - author of the amazing Presentation Zen books and website - is joining me on Tuesday for a slide:ology workshop. It's pretty intimidating to be leading a workshop when Garr, a truly great presenter, is both watching and speaking. The good news is, he's on my team!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 37 of 58

with Angie at the Hard Rock Yokohama

Saturday, February 13th
Learning Moment: Yokohama, Japan

We had a smooth flight from Singapore to Japan today. For 6 hours, I worked on the storyboard for my book proposal. It was very productive.

We arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel at 5pm, and then went to the Hard Rock Cafe for a burger. It's strange going from 90 degree temps to 30 degree temps, but I have to say it felt great.

Japan will always feel like a second home to me...

Gong Xi Fat Chai!

The Gate for Singapore's Hong Bao

Friday night, I took a quick run to Singapore's Chinese New Year Celebration.
Despite the fact that this is my year - the year of the Tiger, I was disappointed in the 'new and improved' Hong Bao.

What used to be a funky, crowded, and intimate festival crammed into the corners of a riverside park is now a large, soulless cattle herd. They took the celebration out of a green park, and put it on a floating barge. It's basically a parking lot filled with decorations.

This is a clear example of a new plan being implemented that 'fixes' the old problems without stopping to ask what was working at the old location. And that's unfortunate.

Regardless, people were happy - largely because Chinese New Year isn't really about floats, lanterns, fireworks, or parade. It's about family.

So, Happy Chinese New Year to you and yours.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 36 of 58

Leaving with a smile on my face...

Friday, February 12
Learning Moment: Ubud, Bali

We fly back to Singapore this afternoon and then to Japan on Saturday.
There's still time for some adventure today - it's the start of Chinese New Year, after all - but the Southeast Asia portion of our tour is about to come to an end.

We'll be swapping shorts, sunscreen, and swimsuits for winter jackets, freezing temperatures, and cold winds. On the other hand, we'll get to see old friends and familiar places.

So, much like the Balinese statue pictured above; I'm leaving with a smile on my face.

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 35 of 58

Thursday, February 11th
Learning Moment: Bali, Indonesia

Today was another busy day.

I visited the monkey forest and got some free grooming from a new little pal.
Angie and I walked about 5 miles - from Ubud, through Peliatan, and back.
And we bought a pile of paintings...

Two things that I was reminded of:

First, it's hard to get a better bargain for your art dollar than the one you'll find in Bali.
We got five paintings of Balinese dancers, including the one on the left, for about US$65.

Second, I would never try to make my living as an artist. Barriers to market entry are approximately zero. Branding is almost impossible. It's really difficult to articulate the 'value' of your product. And everyone (along with their sisters) believes they are either an artist or an art critic.

There's got to be an easier way to make a living...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 34 of 58

the Setting for our Kajane Romance Dinner

February 10, 2010
Learning Moment: Bali, Indonesia

Romance can be bought. Richard Gere did it, so can you.
In Bali, however, it will cost you a lot less.

Angie and I had a great day. I got a lot of work done on 'SMART as Hell'. We had a great breakfast by the pool. We witnessed a temple festival in downtown Ubud (music, dance, prayer, sarongs, incense, shadow puppets, and throngs of people - Asia in an hour). We had a great lunch at Ary's Warung. We watched dance, while listening to a Bamboo orchestra (jegog). And then we had the romance dinner served to us at our villa.

Above, you can see the 'make-over' the wonderful Kajane staff did to our patio. Flowers strewn about. Colorful cloths draped across our furniture. Candles turned our pool into a reflection pond. Music filled the air (and mosquitoes did not).

The food was excellent, the service perfect, the weather Balinese.
The price? US$45.
Of course, you need a villa - and someone beautiful to sit across the table - first...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 33 of 58

Tuesday, February 9th

Learning Moment: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

As part of our package, our hotel - the Kajane - included an 'adventure' outing of our choice.
We decided to trek in the rice fields.

So, we woke up early, ate breakfast, and joined our guides for a personal tour. The weather was perfect; sunny and relatively dry. We got up close and personal with the rice paddies, and also saw a large variety of trees and plants.

During a snack break, a local farmer scurried up a palm tree for us and brought down two fresh coconuts. He then sliced them deftly with his machete and handed us one with a ready-to-pour spout. Coconut is one of my five favorite food/ingredients, so you know I loved it.

A we continued our hike, we spotted cows, water buffalo, lizards, herons, dogs, and cats. We passed through a jungle ravine and emerged at a small village.

As part of our package, we received one-hour massages and a traditional Indonesian lunch. Tonight, we'll head to the palace to watch dancers perform the Ramayana.
Just another day in paradise...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 32 of 58

An Offering

February 8th, 2010
Learning Moment: Bali, Indonesia

Almost the first thing one notices in Bali is the offerings that lie scattered everywhere.
Usually, the first notice is taken as one accidentally kicks the offering from a sidewalk into the nearby street.

I made this mistake many, many times during my first visit. Fortunately, the Balinese don't take it personally.

Balinese offerings are ubiquitous. They lie in front of stores, inside stores, in shrines, on rocks, and in tree branches. I would not be surprised to find one anywhere.

These offerings are democratic - they are presented for the benefit of many gods, both good and bad. Once offered, they are food for birds, dogs, monkeys, and insects.

I've tried to emulate the Balinese with my course offerings. My workshops are available to anyone. I'm ready to conduct them anywhere. And I don't mind repurposing the content for any situation or audience.

How about your products?
Do you treat them as 'goods for sale'? Or as offerings?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Le Grand Tour D'Asia: Day 31 of 58

Ary - a Balinese Dancer Unmasked

February 07, 2010
Learning Moment: Bali, Indonesia

We spent the morning relaxing in our villa. Private pools are, for me, one of the best reasons to come here. Bali is one of the few places on earth where a normal human can afford a villa with a private pool. And, with the humidity, you want to swim every day.

So, we ate a late breakfast, swam in the pool, and did some reading.
In the afternoon, we headed to ARMA - the Agung Rai Museum. There we viewed the art collection, ate dinner (nasi goreng, with a glass of arak), and had an almost private viewing of a legong dance.

There were six audience members in a small hall for a full gamelan and dance troupe. It was like hosting a show in your living room. Before the show, I happened to meet Ary, the dancer pictured above. It was the first time I have seen a Balinese dancer out of costume. We talked a bit and she let me take her photo.