Friday, February 24, 2012

Dear Future Brand Planning Me,

How are you future Director of Brand Planning me? You look great! Slimmed down, smarter than ever, really on top of your game.  Those brands are really benefiting from your insight and inspiration.

I was just recalling that night we watched that Colbert Report about his sponsortunity with Wheat Thins.  Remember that? Are you sure?  It was the perfect example of things that make us crazy:

1. Documents that describe the brand that are not
in easy to understand English.
2. Documents that describe the brand written for one audience,
then given to a different audience.
3. Having a goal, but no strategy.
4. Bullshit

Are you sure you aren't doing any of these things?  Are you?  If you hesitated in saying you are not doing these things, go back and watch this segment:

Branding at it's worst is #4, but at its best it really helps someone make an informed decision about products and services that will help address a need or want in a her/his life.  Remember that.

Gotta Go,
Stay Classy,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Holy C&#% I love this gal's work.

In my last post -- a long time ago-- I mentioned that I love visual displays of information.  It seems this is getting really popular in the press, too.  But what I like is seeing info-graphics used by people who are not trying to show how clever of a graphic they can produce (although I have a strong desire to info-graph Downton Abby), but to actually communicate information to clients.  People who are actually trying to provide useful information in a useful way.  This gal on this site seems to do this with each post.  And her expertise is color!  Also in my last post I mention how much I like color theory, particularly how it impacts us emotionally.  So what does this post do? Combines info-graphics with the emotional impact of orange!  I could cry. In a good way.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Creative Solution Finding Challenge: Innovating My Professional Self.

My favorite lappies: RasKal, Koneko, and MacBook
Now that I have achieved my goal of graduate school, I have been doing an inventory of those areas of interest that most impact my professional life. In other words, I did not include my Pomeranians. But here is a picture!

This is a good second step to any creative solution finding.  Inventory what is important: feelings, opinions, and, in my case, passions. Since I like to make pictures, that's what I did. 
I am actually skipping the first step, unintentionally, and that's imagining the overall goal. It's basically, "It would be great if I had a job/income." This is just a really basic wish statement and not really complete.  Stay tuned for next steps: Defining the Problem/Opportunity.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Connections make my brain go round.

I like lists.  They help me grasp and remember the most important concepts and then I can keep the nuances and details swirling around in my head.  Then I mash the list and the ideas in my head together as I craft an answer to an essay question, create a presentation, or go grocery shopping for a special dinner.  To me, this is an example of how the brain works.  Or at least how my brain works.  As Reardon pointed out, “each brain is unique.”  According to Reardon, “every brain simultaneously perceives and creates parts and wholes.”  To me this is similar to Zull’s recommendation in The Art of Changing the Brain, that teachers “arrange for firing together…associated things should happen together.”  When I look at the two lists supplied by Reardon and Zull side-by-side, I can see connection everywhere!

Reardon: How the brain works…
Zull: What teachers can do…
My connections
The brain is a parallel processor
Repeat, repeat, repeat
 Same info presented in different ways will access different parts of the brain so the parallel consciousnesses can each be accessed.
Learning engages the entire physiology
Misconnected networks are most often just incomplete; try to add to them
Use different parts of the body/mind/spirit to connect to the whole physiology for deeper experiences.
The search for meaning is innate and occurs thru patterning
Try to understand existing networks, build on them; nothing is new
As we connect new patterns to old patterns we create a third pattern with deep roots in something we already retain as knowledge.
Every brain simultaneously perceives and creates parts and wholes
Arrange for firing together; associated things should happen together
I would caveat that don’t always be so sure to exclude something from a group. Look for connections in what previously seemed unconnected.  This is where new ideas come from.
Emotions are critical to patterning
Be careful about resurrecting old networks; error dies hard
Emotional patterns may be the most difficult to break; once overcome, be prepared to address them again if there is a relapse.
Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception
Focus on sensory input that is errorless
Don’t distract from the main point with an unrelated tangent; Enhance the main point with a meaningful story providing memorable examples.
The brain remembers best when facts and skills are embedded in contextual memory
Construct metaphors, analogies, similes
Like searching for meaning, roots in something familiar aid in memory and understanding.
Learning is enhanced by challenge, inhibited by threat
Don’t stress mistakes; don’t reinforce neuronal networks that aren’t useful
Stressing mistakes can be very threatening.  Small wins can be very powerful.
Each Brain is unique
Watch for inherent networks (natural talents) and encourage the practice
Build on your strengths to succeed.

I have also made some graphic pictograms for recalling Zull's suggestions for teaching.  I think they are fun devices for understanding how the brain works.  I hope you enjoy them!


Monday, November 1, 2010

EI phone home!

What was my biggest a-ha from this weeks reading?
Ever since Emotional Intelligence hit the business world in the 90's, it's been confusing to me. I come from a very smart family.  And that doesn't mean grades.  It's the kind of smarts that other people, go "wow, she's so smart," just from having an everyday conversation.  Learning about EI when the theories were becoming more mainstream was humbling for me.  I was never sure what it meant.  This week's reading, however, helped really define EI for me, so it's a lot less scary.  I have worked really hard to be self-aware.  I have plenty of self-motivation and good social skills.  I now know which areas of EI that I could work on to improve.

How does this apply to my own learning or practice?
Since school learning came easy to me in most cases, EI was not something I paid attention to while in school.   I think as a learner, it's important to be good at self-regulation because you can be motivated, but without some personal discipline, it's like having a spark but never letting it catch into a flame.  Through empathy with others, you may open yourself up to more opportunities to learn.  By listening well in class to classmates, without thinking about what you want to say, you might learn something new in a different way.  This is all true in the workplace, too.

What is your opinion of the importance and/or possibility of teaching emotional intelligence?
I think it's like teaching someone strategies for how to learn.  When teaching ESL in Japan, there were many classes for teaching students how to take the TOEFL test, or other English Language standardized tests which allowed students to study abroad.  These classes were taught in Japanese because they were more about strategy then actually the English lessons.  I thought this was brilliant.  It didn't take away from a students ability or desire to learn English, it added to it by giving them skills to use their knowledge efficiently in this particular situation.  I think this is what could be done with EI.  Since there is no way to effectively measure EI, then it is unfair to judge one person as having a higher EI then another, but we do all have some sense of the different components.  Having someone address the five components in a classroom situation and teaching effective strategies for each would be very helpful.    

What are the possible outcomes of doing so?
One particular outcome that I think would be very helpful is for team building.  An entire team could take a course in EI as a way to build a common language and framework for communication. I believe the team could learn to work better together for more innovation.  When conflict arose, which is inevitable in an innovation process, the team could refer back to the concepts behind the skills as a guide.  In the example we read, it was all about teaching managers how to manage employees or customers.  What if one person was not the only one responsible for this code of conduct?  Wouldn't the work place be better over all for everyone?  I would certainly feel more motivated and valued, being treated in such a way that I could be expected manage myself. Reminds me of the principles and theories discussed in Wlodkowski and Knowles.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Girl, you got style...

 I like taking tests.  I like taking standardized tests.  I like filling in the little ovals...I like that I can select an answer from a group of answers, thus having a chance to reason it out, I like to write essay question answers...I am a big geek.

I also like to have my personality explored via tests.  It's a little like the fun of a fortune teller.  You take what works, you leave behind what doesn't.  And as I have gotten older, it seems to be more and more consistent.

So as a learner, in the VARK, I was really happy to see they added the R, because as I suspected I am a High Visual Learner AND a High Reading/Writing learner.  Joanne talks about note taking in HS in her blog, well I am always the note taker in meetings.  I am accurate and fast.  And once I write it, I remember it, so I don't have to look at it again.  Sometimes my notes are in the form of a pictogram to describe what I am hearing.  This does slow me down in reading, as I like to skip the niceties, transitionals, things I already know/agree with and write down the main points so I can recall them.  If someone is a good non-fiction writer this usually is in the first line of the paragraph.  Highlighting is not enough.  I have to re-write it.  Sometimes I wish all text books would be in the form of a chart that you could look at for the high level ideas, and then click on them for examples and details....WAIT! BRAINSTORM! Copyright Marianne Witterholt Carr 2010! Got it!

And this is also representative of my other learning style according to Kolb.  I am just a bit right of the center on the line between Diverger and Assimilator.  According to this theory, the closer to the middle, the more of a well rounded learner you are...but what does well rounded mean?  I think I was taught to be able to learn in these difference manners in elementary school.  I was fortunate enough to attend grade school in Connecticut in the late 60's early 70's when many experimental educational programs were occurring even in the public school system.  We were taught how to learn.  

I have always been very comfortable with divergent thinking -- coming up with many, many ideas.  I think any one can be encouraged to improve this skill (as indicated in the video supplied in Tobi's blogg).  I think the assimilation part mirrors my love of making charts and pictograms of concepts.  Often this is the art of taking concepts and assembling (or assimilating) them together to show relationships.  Good stuff.

So as a teacher, I think I have to be very cautious to remember that everyone is not like me.  I have to push outside my own comfort zone and include more kinesthetic or aural work so that for those students they can feel connected.  I believe I will actually need to be conscious of looking for specific activities and tactics that teach the same thing, maybe four different ways. 

This is also the case in leading brainstorming activities.  There are many different types of divergent and convergent activities.  Different types of people will be more productive in the different activities because of their learning styles.  Learning styles may also come into play as a way to market an innovation.  In order for people to embrace something, they must learn about it.  So how do you make a launch of an innovative product appeal to all these different kind of learners? WAIT! BRAINSTORM!Copyright Marianne Witterholt Carr 2010! Got it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Self-reflection as a form of learning.

I think I am stuck…I just read The Seasons of a Woman Life, by Daniel J. Levinson, and I realized I am stuck.  When looking at my life, I am feeling that perhaps I didn’t do so hot in the “culminating life structure for early adulthood stage.”  This is a time when I was supposed to be “forming a structure with in which I can establish a more secure place for myself in society” (26).  Well, during this time I got married, quit a job, got a divorce, changed careers, moved to Japan, moved back, changed careers again.  Does that sound particularly secure or stable? 

So how does this impact me as a learner?  I think the first step of any learning is realizing you don’t know something.  “Know not know,” is the phrase I have heard in the past.  And this is a painful stage.  It’s the one that comes after the “ignorance is bliss” stage.  Oh, for the bliss of being un-diagnosised. 

I did some additional self-diagnosis in examining the generational differences.  For me, it was a bit like horoscopes.  Take the label off and you can get that feeling of “that’s me” from each of these descriptions.  I did take a test once that measured how much you have in common with Gen Y (millennials).  I actually got a 91%!  So I am always interested in the descriptions of the other groups.  I do feel I have the least in common with Gen X, even though I am on the cusp. 

It has been difficult for me to pin down my learning style definitively.  I do like to experience some things, I like to attend lectures by really good speakers, I like to take notes and create visuals of concepts.  So what does that make me? 

So in conclusion, and so forth, and I would have to say (to quote a pageant contestant) I want to have learning experiences that stimulate and help me evolve.  I definitely have some internal motivation, an important part of being an adult learner.  But for now, I am going to have the rest of my latte and ponder how if I have really entered a developmental crisis phase, or read my New Yorker.  Self-reflection, this is a form of learning, too, isn’t it?

Source: Levinson, Daniel J. 1996. The seasons of a woman’s life.Knopf. New York.