That Was the Year That Was

That Was the Year That Was

There was a television program, I think it was back in the 1970’s or 80’s, called That Was The Week That Was. It was a British show that in Canada had the titled shortened to TW3. Being a British Show, it took the typical British tongue in cheek view of the news of the day. I want to resurrect the name with a twist. 2020 TW3 – That Was The Year That Was.

Leaving 2020 behind.

Certainly, there have been other years that carry the same feelings, family health issues or deaths, job losses and other similar difficulties in the passage of life. But I believe 2020 should win the title and the Crown, as the most, in nearly every category of significance.

We began the year with the most successful economy in American recent history. For instance, we saw the lowest income quintile see their net worth rise 37% while the top quintile held steady (Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances). A tight labor market forced employers to raise wages and the minority workers, black and brown, as well as women, saw their net worth rise 10 to 20 times their white male counterparts. The economy seemed to be performing exactly as society would have wanted.

Then the Pandemic hit. “The depth and breadth of its economic disruption was greater than that of any postwar recession.” “The distribution of the job losses was completely different than what one usually sees in a downturn.” “Low-income earners were the hardest-hit group.” (WSJ 2020 in Review) This downturn affected women and people of color disproportionately. Service businesses, restaurants, barber shops, hair salons, bars, gyms, etc. were declared non-essential services, by various governments, and shut down. Many of those business will not return having already declared bankruptcy.

Then the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police brought the sight of violent riots and demonstrations to the nightly news. Society, as we knew it, was being fractured. Let us remember this is not the first time this has happened. Not by a long shot.

And of course, we had the election in November which showed a seriously split electorate. Roughly 80M versus 75M split between Democrats and Republicans for the Presidency. Significant gains by the Republicans in the House and basically a stand still (at this writing Georgia has yet to vote for the Senate) in the Senate. Thirty of the Sates are controlled by Republicans and twenty by Democrats. Pretty much a “schizophrenic” voting population.

Finally, a Vaccine. One the most amazing feats in modern medicine is the research into, development of, the actual testing regimes, and regulatory approval of vaccines to stop the spread of the Pandemic. Politically they called it “Warp” speed. Now the roll out of the vaccinations to the world is underway.

That Was the Year That Was alright. But I don’t need a repeat of this year again in my lifetime. Thank you.

Earlier in the year I read a remarkable book by George Friedman, an author for whom I have much respect, titled “The Storm Before the Calm.” It is an incredible read from a very astute author. If you haven’t read it get it, you can thank me for the suggestion later. Which brings me to my thinking today.

I believe that 2021 will be a year in which we “reset” our businesses. If we had our eyes open, we learned a lot.

  • that we could have some job functions “Work From Home” a new acronym WFH. This also exposed us to a lot of office building space being superfluous to our needs.
  • the critical nature of “Internet Based” Businesses. Our need for 5G internet speeds and significantly most robust security tools on our systems.
  • how to conduct “Virtual Meetings” with previously unheard-of businesses like Zoom becoming a house hold name.
  • how education was changed in ways that no-one had foreseen. This was a change that was necessary to happen as student debt for University education had become the largest single debt in America.
  • that Companies generally have procedures in place for upskilling their workforce. Teaching employees what they need to move up in the organization, such as management skills or technical knowledge. Reskilling workers, to move them to a different role, is very different today.
  • We learned how to save money. Americans have accumulated $2 Trillion in new savings since February.

And we learned that we had choices to make in our lives. Those of you that know me will understand me when I say I refuse to be a victim to what goes on around me. I am too stubborn to let that happen. I want to always find a way to make things work. Work better if at all possible. That is my belief and it has driven me my whole life and I see no reason to change at this point.

So, I would ask all of you to stand and raise your glass with me. I am going to “KICK” 2020 out this year. Much more than I am going to welcome in 2021. We are going to see a remarkable 2021. The world will start to return to normal and with a fresh optimism we are poised to do remarkable things.

The time is now.

The Evolution in Learning which is fast becoming a Revolution

The Evolution in Learning which is fast becoming a Revolution

From my grandmother who taught in a one room schoolhouse, to today we have seen a lot of change in education.

I want to go back a little further than that today. Socrates, our logo, and one of the fathers of teaching, distrusted learning from books. Students reading words would gain only shadows of the original authors’ insight and worse would not understand the difference. Of course, there were not many books back then.

In his book “The End of College, Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere” Kevin Carey puts forward some interesting statistics.

  • Less than 40% of students enrolling for the first time at a four-year college actually graduate in four years. Fewer than 66% within six years.
  • There are almost thirty-three million college dropouts in America over the age of twenty-five. Many with large student loans.
  • Fourteen percent of college graduates scored at the basic level of literacy. That makes them good enough to read grade school books.

Richard Arum in his book “Academically Adrift, Limited Learning on College Campuses” said, “American higher education is characterized by limited to no learning for a large proportion of students.”

The purpose of post high school learning according to educators was practical training, research, and a liberal arts education. In 1869 Harvard University hired thirty-five-year-old Charles William Eliot to lead the school. One of the many things he did was replace the mandatory curriculum with an elective system. This exploded the courses offered, increased the faculty dramatically and caused expansion of facilities to accommodate the increased student body. The rest is history.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, (NCES) part of the Department of Education, there were 4,726 degree-granting institutions at the peak in 2012. That consisted of 3,206 four-year institutions and 1,700 two-year institutions. The enrollment in these institutions peaked at just over 21,500,000 students in 2010.

The final straw was when the Federal Guaranteed Student Loans and tuitions exploded upward. The average debt is estimated to be $37,172 per student in 2016. The total outstanding student loans in the United States reached an all time high of $1.41 trillion in 2019. Amazing isn’t it?

Today as noted in previous blogs surveys indicate that nearly 75% of three hundred professionals prefer internet-based learning instead of classroom learning.

There is one other critical factor to consider. Teaching and Learning has made a radical and very dramatic shift. We have shifted from “passive” learning to “active” learning.

With passive learning the teacher is responsible for improving the skills of the student. With active learning it is the student that has the responsibility for their own learning.

Creative thinking, collaboration and interpersonal skills show great improvement with active learning methodologies. Businesses need to pay attention. One of the main challenges in the coming decades is going to be in the area of personnel. Attracting, Recruiting, Hiring, Developing, Appraising, and Retaining talent will be a huge challenge. I believe to the core of my being that with the right people in your business you will prevail in whatever it is that you want to do. Without them you will fail.

Companies must set up a proactive learning environment to motivate their workforce.

At Learning Without Scars, we start with JOB FUNCTION SKILLS ASSESSMENTS to determine the knowledge and skill categories of individuals. From the skill category of an individual we can customize their learning experience. We can direct them to the applicable subject specific classes available for their personal progression through the skill categories; Basic, Core, Advanced and Expert.

If individuals want to take a subject specific class(es) we can tailor that as well that into five specific areas; Customer Service, Selling, Operations, Finance and Leadership. The individual can select from an array of classes choices in each of those disciplines.

This is all aimed at allowing the individual employee to design their own learning path with JOB FUNCTION SKILL ASSESSMENTS in place to monitor their progress. This is our contribution to “active” learning where the individual employee takes control of their own destiny at work. They can grow their skills and in so doing increase the likelihood of earning more money and taking on more challenging and rewarding work assignments.

As R.C. Sproul, the founder of Ligonier Ministries, said “Our problem as people is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.” And if we want to go further with him, he says “If you’re not accountable in your life that means ultimately that your life doesn’t much count.”

You have a choice to make. To be on a path of constant exploration and learning or to do nothing. The choice is YOURS to make.

The Time is Now.

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts from the Past Week.

Tthis month, June 2020, is my 40th anniversary in the Consulting Business. I am amazed at that and thankful that I made a living doing it. For the record I still want to make a difference in the lives of dealers and employees in the parts and service world. And… I am still confident enough to think that I can. So as an observer of the world I live in let me share some observations with you.

  • Surveys are showing that professionals would prefer Online training to Classroom training by 75% to 25%. We are counting on that at Learning Without Scars.
  • The thinking is that 50% of the Universities and Colleges in the United States will go bankrupt in the next eighteen months. Is that a good thing?
  • Hewlett Packard is giving online meditation and mindfulness services to employees: nine Thousand employees spent five hundred thousand minutes on the application.
  • Esther Yang, Global Benefits Manager for BlackLine said, “As we transition to a virtual or fully virtual or dispersed environment, we needed to make sure we still continue to create a culture where we are connected.” How do you do that?
  • How does an individual who is WFH – imagine an acronym for “Working From Home” (sometimes we can be crazy, can’t we?) separate their lives between work and home?
  • Lindsay Crittendon, head of the Headspace for Work program said “Businesses are increasingly seeing the importance of addressing the impact that chronic stress has on people – or on their bottom lines from lost productivity, healthcare spend and attrition. What about the cell phone that is attached to us 24/7 and emails and texts and even phone calls happen 24/7?
  • Most people that have worked with me, been in a classroom with me, or clients of mine have heard my three questions of my coworkers and also of client employees.

 

My coworkers were asked very regularly:

  • What do I do that you like that I do and you want me to continue to do?
  • What do I do that you don’t like that I do and want me to stop doing it?
  • What do I do that doesn’t really matter to you?

I often ask my client’s employees for input. They know a lot more than people give them credit for so I ask for their help with what I do. What are Five Things You Identify in the following categories?

  • To Improve Operations
  • That are a Pain To Do
  • That Would Make Your Job Easier

The Time is Now.

Looking Forward to the Future

Looking Forward to the Future

These have been unbelievably difficult times. Since we became aware of this Virus the world has been devastated and the lives of many people lost. Those of us lucky enough to have remained healthy have had to be “Locked Down.” We human beings are social people and this has been an extremely difficult time. Many people do not have jobs that translate well to working from home, and are unable to work. They have lost their ability to support themselves. Even with the incredible flow of money from the Federal Government there is widespread fear in their hearts. They are unsure of their ability to be able to eat and live through this catastrophe.

Let’s never forget the pain from this event. We should not just return to our lives as they were in the past. This can be an opportunity for us, even though it has come with pain and upheaval and fear.

Let’s look at our actions. What have we done since the shutdown of our country? How did you and your loved ones get through the days and weeks and months that have passed? How did we care for others in need? We are a resilient people that do not take things lightly. Nor do we give up.

We are going to be stronger as a people, as a nation. We will not be dependent on a foreign source for critical items. Our supply chains are going to change. The international elites that have driven the world for the past seventy years have been exposed. They had no loyalty to anything but money and their power. That goes for many of those in the so-called “deep state.” The unelected technocrats that have been running the government. George Friedman’s book, which I have mentioned previously, “The Storm Before the Calm,” describes this quite convincingly.

But that is the world over which we have little control. We need to pay attention to the world over which we have some control. We must learn from this event and make ourselves better. For some time, I have been lamenting the imbalance between our investments in technology and sociology. We have forgotten the fundamental truth. We are PEOPLE FIRST.

Let’s help each other more. Let’s be more attentive to the needs and wants of our employees. Let’s bring back a spirit of “serving.” Let’s cooperate with each other rather than compete with each other. Let’s never forget how vulnerable we were when this was happening and in fact that we always are vulnerable as individuals. Let’s be honest, with everyone including ourselves. Let’s be responsible for ourselves and accountable for our performance. And let’s step up and be people of character. That’s how this country was built. That is the way we used to be. Let’s get started on the path to a brighter future.

The Time is Now.

Where Do We Go From Here?

In our last post, we talked about thinking outside the box (or triangle).

For those of you who have previously taken our classes, you know I often ask about “the box.”  Why is there a box?  Who decided to get me into this box in the first place?  I hate the idea of being penned into one set of ideas and one way of thinking nearly as much as I HATE discounts.  You are all well aware that I hate discounts immensely.

I think that doing things the way we have always done them is what constitutes the box we find ourselves stuck in so much of the time.  It is human nature to find a routine to follow.  It’s against our nature to reassess that routine and push for change.

Every time someone tells me that change isn’t all that difficult, I tell them to go home and suggest to their spouse or partner that they switch sides of the bed.

Change is tough.  Pushing for change and constantly striving to stretch and grow has a lot to do with changing our way of thinking.  To gain a different perspective, we must see differently.  To see differently, we must look, as Proust said, with new eyes.  To have those new eyes, we need a new mindset.

Education is key.

This year, let’s challenge ourselves to grow and stretch and move our paradigms with ongoing education.

That’s the way to find constant growth and improvement, both within our careers, and within ourselves.

The time is now.

Friday Filosophy: Socrates

Most of what we know about Socrates we have learned from his students, especially Plato.  We know he was a Greek philosopher and a teacher.  From his teachings, we developed the Socratic Method: a style of teaching that involves the asking of multiple, open-ended questions of the students.

It was Socrates who told us, “I cannot teach anyone anything.  I can only make them think.”

As we have learned in the many centuries since then, thinking is the foundation of all learning.

From this Greek Socrates, we have named our Learning Without Scars “mascot.”

lws-owl-logo

We felt that the owl was apt, as owls symbolize wisdom.  And naming him Socrates took our commitment to continuing education into the perfect symbol.

At Learning Without Scars, we are dedicated to continuous improvement for people: managers, supervisors, salespeople, counter people, and every individual working to make your dealership a profitable and effective business in today’s market.

Let us show you what happens when you have highly trained staff who are confident in the job that must be done.

Join us in 21st century, online employee development.  You won’t be disappointed.

The time is now.

Getting Personal #MondayBlogs

My daughter wrote on her Friday Philosophy recently about “Outliers” and framed it in a manner that my granddaughter did regarding athletes. It is interesting, as many of us will relate to Malcolm Gladwell’s book entitled “Outliers.” That gave us the famous 10,000 hours as the floor for being an “expert.”

 

So why I am interested in this concept is that I believe in “Options.” Well this is where I come from on many things in life. I believe in the almost unlimited capacity of mankind. As people we have done and do today and will do in all of our tomorrows incredible things. I am certain that I am just like everyone else – an incredibly talented person in some form or fashion, I just haven’t found what it is yet. So that brings me back to “Options.”

 

George Bernard Shaw said “Youth is wasted on the young.” I think he was jealous. My granddaughter and grandson are experiencing lots of options in their lives. They have a loving home, terrific schooling, access to music and athletics and the comfort and security to pursue whatever they want within the boundaries established by their mother. What a gift.

 

So they have “Options” and thus they can find out in what manner they can be “Outliers.” 

 

So I continue to tilt at Windmills.

 

I continue to believe that each of us can learn more, and do more and become more. We are our own limit. To that end I enjoy teaching or training people.

 

I was very blessed myself in the mentors that I have had in my life. My grandmother who received her Master’s Degree from the University of Manitoba in the 1914. Imagine that? To my mother and father and my sister for the opportunity that I had to grow up with schooling and music and athletics. To my complete working life starting at The Lac Marois Country Club where I learned a whole bunch of stuff and learned to teach and lead. To the nondenominational Church which introduced me to Priests, and ministers and Baptists and Rabbis and all manner of differing philosophical belief systems. To the bar where I played piano (I would not get arrested if there was a raid as I was underage) but as an employee I was safe. To the various part time jobs including selling encyclopedias. Then to the teaching work at McGill University establishing programs on instruction for outliers – early infant swimming and older fearful swimming, and then teaching people how to teach and coach in water sports. To the Boy’s Farm and Training School which had my great grandfather as one of the founders. This was initially a “Home for Wayward Youth” which morphed into a cog in the prison system in Quebec where I was taught to do personality profiling, amongst other things. (I nearly had a breakdown with that one, as part of my job was to reside on site and act as a warden.) To finally arriving at Hewitt Equipment, the Caterpillar dealer in the Province of Quebec in 1969. This was a strange happening as my mother got a call from the parent of one of my students at McGill who asked “Didn’t he take Mathematics and Physics at University? Which led to him asking her to have me give him a call. (He was the VP Finance at Hewitt, his name was John Swift.) This led to my being engaged on a “one-year contract” to find and fix a problem with the computer system that was driving parts inventory control. Then the real mentoring opportunities came into being.

 

There was the Senior partner from Urwick Currie, Mr. Steele, in Ottawa who had sold the system to Hewitt who spent one day a week with me for months helping me learn the system and general business application software. (I had a minor in computer science which in those days was programming and the like.) There was Larry Noe, at Caterpillar Tractor who was one of the early employees in Dealer Data Processing (DDPD), which was the batch system offering from CAT to their dealers in the late sixties and early seventies. There was Bob Kirk who smoked his pipe while regaling you with stories about parts inventory management. Then Ian Sharp of I P Sharp Associates who introduced me to the programming language APL and the Internet in the early 1970’s. The list goes on and on. I was very fortunate to have so many people take an interest in my career. All of this prepared me for my consulting career and allowed me to develop a training business and financial modelling business. From 1969 until now, I have been working in this Industry now for forty-seven years. As another of my mentors, Burton Grenrock, said “Whodathought.”        

 

So now it is my turn to transfer some of my experiences and knowledge to the people that are following me in this Industry.

 

We started Quest, Learning Centers in 1994 and closed it in 2014. We opened Learning, Without Scars, in 2015 and it continues to go forward. It will become a Hawaii Corporation in 2017 when we move from California to Hawaii.

 

And this is where it gets interesting. For me that is, if for no one else.

 

With the driving force of my daughter, Caroline, we have created quite the learning platform for adults in the capital goods industries. Learning Without Scars is supposed to indicate that the “students, the learners” do not need to experience the scars that I have received over my career. They can learn from me and avoid those scars. I have many clients who disagree most vigorously on this Company Name. They tell me there is no such thing as learning with me Without Scars – rather they say there are lots of SCARS. But that is an opinion, right? And everyone has opinions.

 

Learning Without Scars has created products to fit into the learning environment of the 21st Century.

 

  • We offer Learning On Demand (LOD) products. This replaces “webinars.” Each program represents two hours of subject specific learning. We offer sixty such LOD programs.
  • We offer Planned Learning Programs (PLP) products. These product offerings allow management and supervision to be exposed to all aspects of their departmental business. We have programs for Parts Businesses and Service Businesses. Each program spans three years and provides sixty hours of learning.
  • We offer Planned Special Programs (PSP) products. These product offerings are for specific job functions in the Parts Businesses and Service Businesses. The will cover such job functions and telephone and counter sales, or warranty administrators, etc.

 

As I said it is exciting for me to be involved in these leading edge learning programs.  

 

Now let me introduce you to Socrates. Our logo is the symbol of “wise” with a mortar board of accomplishment. And the Socratic method of teaching is still alive and well even today. This logo is the product of my Daughter in Law, Joanna who is an extremely creative woman.

This is Socrates:     

 lws-owl-logo

So I started from Caroline’s Friday Philosophy of “Outliers,” which to me are those special people who have made the tough choices in their lives to strive to reach their potential. Which leads me to the various “Options” that have been available to you over your life and career.

 

And that takes me to the end of this rather long Blog entry. Which will be the switch point for me from the career of “Doing” through Consulting Work and “Teaching” through the Classroom work to the career of developing Learning Products for the Internet Age. Please wish me well if you would.

 It wasn’t very long ago that Caroline dragged me, under protest, onto Twitter and social media.  Now, the modern technology is opening still more options.  It’s an exciting time.

The time is now.

Friday Filosophy #2016-27

Many of you know that I often say that I don’t really believe one person can motivate another person. BUT. I do believe that any person can demotivate any other person. I really resent when on person demotivates another person. We need to respect each other and have respect for the dignity of work. Do you best at whatever it is that you do. Our elder in our church when I was growing up took an interest in me. He said to me “Be happy in your work OR work and be happy. You don’t have a choice – the HAVE to work.” It was and continues to be great advice.

 Here are some quotes on motivation to give you a lift in this Friday Filosophy #2016-27.

 

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until you good is better and your better is best.

St Jerome.

 

It always seems impossible until it is done.

Nelson Mandela

 

A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.

PLEASE REMEMBER: No one has to lose for you to win.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Arthur Ashe

 

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

Confucius

 

Never forget:

Good is the enemy of doing things better.

Better is the enemy of what is possible.

Never settle for what is – strive for what is possible.

 

The time is now.

Friday Filosophy #2016-26

Well I enjoyed Independence Day and I hope you did as well. Then we had an interruption in life with some surprise surgery in the family. Everything is going well again and we are back to our Friday Filosophy #2016-26.

We continue to see the attack on the status quo in Turkey tonight and hope that everything can be resolved with little loss of life. 

Some quotes on adapting to change.

 

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

Stephen Hawking

 

Reasonable men adapt to the world around them: unreasonable men make the world adapt to them. The world is changed by unreasonable men.

Edwin Louis Cole

 

Adapting is a common, natural way for people to adapt to their environment.

Joe Barton

 

Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.

H.G. Wells

 

Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.

Marcus Aurelius

 

Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your talent.

Nolan Ryan

 

The time is now.

Friday Filosophy #2016-25

What a week! Starting last Sunday with Father’s Day. That followed our comments on the status quo and disruption. And we were given a gift on Thursday with Brexit. Not a gift in the manner in which you are thinking, but in the manner of following the thoughts on status quo and disruption. I believe that we constantly need to be challenging the status quo which brings me to the topic of Friday Filosophy #2016-25: dreams.

 Some quotes on dreams.

 

Reality is wrong. Dreams are real.

Tupac Shakur

 

Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?

Leonardo Da Vinci

 

You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.

Billy Wilder

 

Like all dreamers, I mistook disenchantment for truth.

Jean-Paul Sartre

 

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

Colin Powell

 

Every dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

Harriet Tubman

 

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

Walt Disney

 

My thoughts go out to the citizens of the United Kingdom who have retaken control of their own destiny. Best wishes and lots of luck.

 

The time is now.