Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Speed of Trust

The plan was to write something that heartfelt about God or Family or America this next blog, but thanks to an experience a few minutes ago at Wal-Mart this is going to be a blog on business and trust. For work a couple years ago I was given a book which I read called The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey, Jr. It's all about how business moves faster and better if there is trust in it. Not stupid blind shoot me in the back trust, but straight forward trust such as don't keep pestering your co-worker to get something done, just trust them to do so, and it'll get done faster.

So back to Wal-Mart. I've been doing the grocery shopping lately since my wife has a condition called pregnancy. I know, I know, what an excuse right? :) About a week ago she sent me to Wallyworld with a list of things to get and a bunch of coupons and other adds from Krogers, Marsh, and other stores. She also listed all the prices next to the items in her list if the competitor's prices were better. When I got up to the line, the lady helping me asked if I had any coupons or price matches. I said I did. She said, "Great! Tell me what they are when I ring them up" and I did just that. Each time an item came up I'd say something along the lines of "Marsh is selling that for $1.67" and she would change the price. No questions asked. I was able to leave quickly and felt probably the best I've ever felt leaving Wal-Mart.

Today was a different story. I was again in line for a total of 45 minutes. This time through the cashier didn't trust me. No, he made me show him every add, even some of the fine print, and when a couple of the adds said 10 items for $10 he was going to make me go and buy 9 other items, even though everyone and their brother knows that stores really mean they are selling those things for just $1 and you don't have to buy ten of them. His manager had to come over and tell him I was right and to give me the stuff for $1 each. I left Wal-Mart this time with a bad taste in my mouth, probably a good 15 minutes later than I needed to be leaving, and not feeling trusted.

To me this was a real life example about the speed of trust. The first Wal-Mart cashier trusted me. I got out of there quicker, even came back only a week later, and they saved money because they were able to get more customers through the line faster. The second cashier really annoyed me, probably really annoyed the people behind me, and took that much longer which means Wal-Mart pays him more. Now I'm sure there are people out there that would lie and say that gallon of milk is $1.99 at Marsh instead of the $2.09 it really is, but I'm guessing those are few and far between.

So my suggestion to Wal-Mart, to all the small businesses out there, to the managers and supervisors across America, and even to the parents and siblings in your homes, if you want to increase speed and efficiency then you need to trust the people you are with. Again, not some dumb blind trust such as let's hire a child molester to work in the day care, but good business trust such as not wasting time making the customer prove that Uncle Ben's Spicy Rice is $0.15 less over at Kroger's.

By the way, Stephen Covey Jr didn't pay me for this blog, but if he would like to I'd trust him to send the money to my home address.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Old School Paper

I found this old school paper while cleaning out files tonight. Here it is, must have been a small project, only a page and a half. Thought people might find it interesting to read or not. I haven't been in the mood to write lately, but I'm sure my next post will be a whopper that will bring tears to your eyes and snot to your nose.

Since everyone has a different way of learning, one of the biggest challenges for teachers is to present their lesson in a way that is the most beneficial to each individual. Whether it is writing on a whiteboard, playing an audio clip, allowing the student to actual “do” the lesson, or a combination of 
those methods and more, a student has certain ways that they learn best. David Kolb investigated 
these ways and broke them down into several categories of learning (Werner, 2006, p.102) including 
the two categories this post is going to look at: convergent and divergent.
A convergent learning style is one of thinking and doing (Werner, 2006, p.103). The learner tries to think about the problem, how they can practically solve it and then do so. This is someone that is more analytical and practical. This type of learner is someone who, because they think deeply on the situation, would be less likely to make a gut decision. However, when that decision is made, they want to be there doing what they have thought out and completing it themselves.
The divergent style of learning is different than the convergent. The divergent learner will look for other options, be more open to change, and make those gut decisions that it would be unlikely to see out a convergent style learner (Werner, 2006, p.103). They will sit back, evaluate the situation, and then make their decision, though probably changing it on the way. These learners are people that are more likely to learn from having options and coming at a problem from a non-traditional standpoint (Kilgour, 2008), than learn from being given a problem with a single answer to analyze.
Trying to teach two managers, one who learns in the convergent fashion and the other has a divergent style of learning, would be a difficult assignment. Training them in the same way would be fine, but training them in only one way would not be. In other words, giving them both a direct approach in feedback to analyze and carry out would be an advantage to the convergent learner, while having many methods of feedback and having them feel their way through what works best would benefit the divergent learner more.
The important thing to remember is that by playing to the strengths of each learning style, a trainer cannot only allows those types of learners to learn the way they do best, but it also will help the other learning styles as well, just not as much. Because though many people do seem to have a specific learning style that stands out, they often can learn in a variety of ways, perhaps just not at the level that they learn when using their main learning style. Often, by putting these two different type of learners together in the same training, they will not be able to generate “multiple ideas”, but will then be able to “correctly identify the best solution” to giving their employees feedback (Creativity and Innovation, 2007).

Creativity and Innovation: Must-Haves for Global Success.(2007).  HR Focus, 84, (3), 8. Retrieved on May 22, 2008 from
Kilgour, M. (2008). The Eureka Moment. NZ Marketing Magazine, 27, (3), 12. Retrieved on May 22, 2008 from
Werner, Jon M & DeSimone, Randy L. (2006). Human Resource Development. Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bean Boozled

Last week while I was in DC a former co-worker gave me some Jelly Beans called "Bean Boozled". These beans come in a variety of flavors that include Top Banana, Coconut, Juicy Pear, Blue Berry, Licorice, and other great tasting flavors. They also come in some rather unsavory flavors such as Booger, Pencil Shavings, Baby Wipe, Centipede, Rotten Egg, and Moldy Cheese among several other generally nasty and gross flavors. The best part about them is you don't know from looking at them or smelling them whether you are getting a good tasting one or a bad tasting one. They have been a great source of fun for a couple coworkers and I!

The first day back I put them in a small cup on a file cabinet by my cube. I noticed some missing, so I know somebody had walked by and grabbed some. I wonder what flavor they got? Then I gave one to my buddy Sean, he about puked right there when he bit into that Rotten Egg flavored one. Laura was my next unsuspecting victim and she got something like Juicy Pear first, but it was so good she wanted another and I dished up some Rotten Egg for her too! Then came Angie who ate two beans, one good and one bad, without even complaining. Just said one tasted a bit like burnt popcorn. By now though, everyone has realized that the Jelly Beans aren't to be messed with.

Now though we've made a game of it. Occassionally throughout the day, when someone comes by my cube, we'll play Jelly Bean Roulette and each eat a bean. At first I lived with Pencil Shavings and Baby Wipes, I mean they weren't the worst thing ever. Centipede and Booger were actually pretty similar, the latter being a bit more "slimey" tasting than the former, but overall not call enough for an immediate glass of water or a mint. Then I got Moldy Cheese. That was absolutely horrible! Instand mint needed and a doggy bag just in case. However, there have been the nice tasting banana flavor or the Strawberry Jam.

So if you want to spice up your day, live on the edge of life, or just like to take a risk every-once-in-a-while, go get some Bean Boozled today and take a bite of nice, juicy, thick....Booger.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Amulet of Samarkand

I’ve reviewed board games often enough, but have never reviewed a book before, so this is my first try. The book is Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. I think I’ll try it in a format that I’ve used before in reviewing games, which is the “5 Things I like about…(You might too!)” format™. That’s right, I just trademarked my format.

Quick Overview: The book is essentially about two characters. One is a young boy named Nathaniel who learns he is to be trained as a wizard and the other is a djinn named Bartimaues who is a servant to Nathaniel. They are located in London during modern times, though unspecified times, where wizards are the ones that rule the government by employing various imps, djinni, afrits, and other spiritual beings to do their tasks.  

1. Humor is a good thing. At least I think so. There are very few books I’ve ever laughed out loud on. Off the top of my head, I’d say that some of the Percy Jackson books made me laugh out loud, but that is about it. In the Amulet of Samarkand, henceforth referred to as AoS, I did though. What made it funny is the footnotes. For example when Bartimaues gets called as bad as a human, there is a footnote down below that simply says, “Ouch”.  I found that very funny! Maybe you all won’t, but I like that the book doesn’t take itself too seriously.

2. The writing style was different than I’ve been used to seeing. As I’ve said, the story follows to main characters and makes it very easy to distinguish between the two by how the writing is done. All of Nathaniel’s side of the story is written in third person about him, while Bartimaues’ side of the story is in first person by Bartimaues. This allows for quick recognition of how is talking and makes for a different perspective of essentially the same events.

3. I love the footnotes in the book. They explain all kinds of things, can be humorous,  and really make the book for me. What is the best part about them is the way they allow the reader to read the story that is currently happening without needing a big long background story. However, if you want that background story (I’m all about background stories) you can get them. So the footnotes, just like in non-fiction books, fill in the cracks of the story.

4. I like the story. I have always liked these type of stories. You know what story I’m talking about the young apprentice finding out he is a great warrior/wizard/dragon rider/jedi and discovering all the new world that opens up to him. Seeing the good and the bad in the world and deciding where to land and how to fight for what he believes in. So if you’ve read/watched and enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, the Inheritance Cycle (where is book 4 at Paolani?!), Harry Potter, Star Wars, Ender’s Game, even Lord of the Rings in a way with Frodo, then you probably would enjoy AoS.

5. It is book one in a series! I love reading series of books. I’m not talking about dozens of books in the same series (I’m lookin’ at you Sharpe’s Series by Bernard Cornwell), but three or four or five books is great. The AoS is just the first book in a series about this young wizard named Nathaniel and the quick-witted djinn called Bartimaues. So if you are looking for a good series to get started in, from my experience with the first book, I suggest you get involved in this one. The overall series is called The Bartimaues Trilogy.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gone on Business

I was gone on business this last week for 4 days and let me tell you - I missed my girls. Got back late Thursday night. Then worked Friday. Friday night did nothing special. Took a nap, watched The Office, played xBox, relaxed together. This morning we've been cleaning the house, Kaylee and I called Poppy and left a message, and now while Krista is showering Kaylee and I are writing this blog. It's just nice to be with family, even though that being may not be doing some extraordinary thing all the time. Sometimes it takes time away to remind us of that.

This is the shortest post I've ever made.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Iced In

I've been off work the past two days thanks to all the ice we've gotten here in the Indy area and so have been spending time with my wonderful wife and fun little girl. Here is a quick rundown on what we've done.

Throw the ball at Kaylee's head. She liked it. It kept bouncing off her face and she kept thinking it was hilarious, so I kept throwing it at her. She did catch it once, but that was when Krista threw it to her. She can't catch Daddy's slider.

Watched some TV/Movies. Well, I'm old so I fall asleep when I watch movies. Krista watched Knight & Day. Seemed she liked it. I fell asleep. But then I did watch some of The Office and watched a couple episodes of this new show called The Cape. I like it. Also, watched an episode of Hoarders and then filled a garbage bag full of clothes I'm taking to Goodwill.

Worked on IndyCon 2011. Sent a few emails, called a few companies, discussed some ideas with Dave on the phone, created a brochure to hand out at the convention, and tweaked the website some. I'm so excited about this convention, hope I get to go to it. Hang in there Elanor!

Played some XBox 360. I've pretty much come to like only sports games on the video game consoles. So I've been playing a ton of NCAA Basketball 2009. I'm the coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes, after have 3 solid seasons and two national championships with the Evansville Purple Aces. Also, downloaded the trial game of Magic: The Gathering. Played a game. It was okay, but I won't be buying the full version.

Read some books. Currently I'm reading two books. First, is Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. I've read about three chapters now and so far have found it very interesting. Probably the most interesting part so far is where he explains that glorifying God is not beautifying God, because that insinuates God can be made better. He says it is more like magnifying God, but like a telescope and not a microscope. I'm not sure I completely follow him on that one, but we'll see where the book goes. Second, I'm reading The Amulet of Samarkand, which is the first book in the Bartimaues Trilogy. It is excellent! I'm going to put the second book on hold from the library as soon as I'm done writing this blog post. Third, I've read Kaylee's scrap books to her and her book of things at least 1/2 dozen times. I'm tired of looking at 3 bunny rabbits and 2 bowls.

Played some games. So far this ice break Krista and I have played Ascension (I won), On the Underground (she won), Pecking Order (I won), and Carcassonne (I won). Today I'm hoping to get her to play some LotR TCG, Fury of Dracula, and maybe another go around at Carc with expansions this time though. So, it has been a good ice storm for me and I thank God we have power and I have my great family to spend the time with. Also, I'm grateful for an employer that is worried about their employees dying in horrific ways while trying to get to work.