Box of Crayons Blog

Teaching as a Powerful Tool for Engagement

JenLoudenYou might have heard (or read) about my “Brain Trust” – a group of smart, savvy people that talks regularly and meets up once a year for a retreat.

They are my sounding board and help me reflect on who I am, what I’m doing and what patterns I’ve fallen into. I think everyone should have their own Brain Trust – it’s one of the most critical tools I’ve had in terms of personal and professional growth.

One of the Brain Trust’s original members is Jen Louden. She’s written a gazillion books, including The Woman’s Comfort Book,  The Life Organizer, and  The Woman’s Retreat Book just to name a few. One interest that we share is teaching, learning and change.

Jen has a terrific program called TeachNow. If you’re a teacher, facilitator, trainer or coach, you’ll want to take a look to see how it can help you better engage and inspire those you work with. Here are the details.

Even if you aren’t in a typical “teaching” role, you can benefit from using teaching skills to engage those around you – managers, employees and peers. There’s a preview class tomorrow, and you should really check it out.

Visit Jen Louden’s TeachNow to sign up for the preview class and program.  I highly recommend it.

Posted in self-management | Tagged

Help for First-Time Managers

What are you doing tomorrow? If you can spare an hour at 2:00pm EST, this webinar designed for new managers is a must. 

Today’s managers must be able to do more than just a good job; they’re expected, and often required, to get work done by motivating others to deliver. This can be a challenge for anyone, but first-time managers are often at a loss as to how to light a fire under their staff. The task gets even harder when you’re asked to manage people in other locations.

I’m a part of NetSpeed Learning Solutions webinar series that focuses on leadership. The series kicks off with Transition to Management: The Other Side of the Desk, led by NetSpeed Learning Solutions President & CEO Cynthia Clay.

Cynthia presents five Leadership Guidelines to support new managers in making a successful transition from competent contributor to inspired leader.

Check out this webinar if you want to hone in on how to:

  • Identify specific leader behaviours linked to the Leadership Guidelines
  • Stay balanced and on track in the face of shifting priorities and unpredictable challenges
  • Lead with confidence in a virtual world

Learn more about and sign up for Cynthia’s webinar, Transition to Management: The Other Side of the Desk.

Posted in self-management | Tagged

Twofer Tuesday: You’re Not THAT Busy (So Listen to Some Podcasts!)

It’s Tuesday –and perhaps you need to stop, look around and evaluate exactly how busy you really are. And, while you’re at it, enrich your work life by listening to a few podcasts.

You’re not that busy. (Please repeat that after me.)

Busy has become a badge of pride, hasn’t it? “How are you?” they ask. “Busy,” you say. “But a good busy.”

But I do think that “busy” often means you’ve just given up and given in to Good Work. In fact, I think it was Tim Ferris who said that Busy is just a form of Lazy because you haven’t worked out what matters.

 All provocative stuff, I know.

This article is a useful twist on the whole debate, not least because it challenges the usefulness of telling yourself you’re busy. Claim spaciousness, and more things get done, it seems…

Definitely worth a read. Do squeeze it in to your busy schedule…

Read: Overwhelmed and Our Epidemic of Busyness

How do you listen to your podcasts? (5 cool alternatives)

We’re mighty proud of the Great Work Interview series at Box of Crayons. In the last little while I’ve spoken with Bob Sutton about his new (and terrific book) Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More without Settling for Less, Rich Sheridan who runs a tech company in Ann Arbour underpinned by joy (hence the title of his book, Joy, Inc.,) and Dave Heath of Bombas who’s created an amazing Buy-One-Give-One about good socks.

So, I hope you’re turning in to my dulcet tones as I talk to these smart people.

And, to make sure you’re getting the best experience, here are five recommendation from Fast Company on cool (and free) apps you can use to enhance your podcast experience.

Read: Five Free Apps for Catching Podcasts

Continue the Conversation

Please join our LinkedIn Group, Tools for the Time-Crunched Manager, where we share everyday hacks to get more done, ideas on how to do your Great Work and information on improving your effectiveness as a manager or leader.

Posted in self-management | Tagged

Great Work Provocation

What has this inspired for you today?

Get provoked daily. Sign up our Great Work Provocations.

Like a shot of espresso in the morning without the caffeine.
Feel free to share – Blog it, Facebook it, Pin it…anyway you like.

Posted in Provocations

The Three Contradictory Secrets of Fun

You could do with a little more fun in your life, right? Just like fire requires three elements to burst into life, so too does fun.

Inspired by the 10 year anniversary of The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun, this short video covers war games, punk bands and mould all on the way to explaining the three contradictory elements of fun.

Posted in self-management

Rich Sheridan, Joy, Inc.

rich_sheridanThis month I’ve really been thinking about the general sense of fun and joy within organizations. So when I noticed a book called Joy, Inc., it got my attention. The book is written by Rich Sheridan, who’s the CEO of software company Menlo Innovations, and it’s all about how to build a workplace where joy is a fundamental concept.

I’m really excited to talk to Rich today about what Menlo Innovations has done and how other organizations can implement tactics and strategies to deliver Great Work, with more joy.

In this interview, Rich and I discuss:

  • The correlation between pairing and joy in the workplace
  • Why the culture of the individual hero is unsustainable
  • The benefits of continuous learning
  • How index cards can help eliminate ambiguity and foster creativity
  • How organizations of all sizes can achieve clarity and joy
  • The importance of engaging clients throughout project development

(Scroll down for more in-depth podcast notes.)

Listen to my interview with Rich Sheridan.

0:00:00: Rich introduces the concept of pairing in the workplace. He explains that it contributes to joy because it enforces knowledge sharing and enables organizations to produce better deliverables, leading to satisfaction during and after the work process.

0:05:15: Michael asks whether co-workers mind giving up individual control in order to work in pairs. Rich points out that pairing entails active collaboration and facilitates learning how to get along well with others. He notes that the superhero model of business success is outdated and that today’s complex software necessitates teams of human beings working together.

0:10:04: Michael comments on Menlo’s commitment to continuous learning, and he and Rich discuss its importance to remaining competitive in today’s business world. Next, Rich explains why his organization uses index cards: the act of writing by hand forces team members to think clearly about their project requirements, reducing ambiguity.

0:15:15: Rich elaborates on how an unambiguous system leads to success and fosters creativity. Michael then asks whether larger companies than Menlo would be able to incorporate some of the principles outlined in Joy, Inc. Rich points out that all organizations are made up of smaller departments, and that business leaders should focus on improving local functions within their organizations as a whole.

0:20:03: Rich explains his company’s unique approach to client relations, emphasizing the importance of involving the client throughout the project’s development process rather than waiting until project completion.

0:24:00:Michael concludes by directing listeners to to learn more.

Posted in Great Work Interviews | Tagged ,

Twofer Tuesday: On Keeping It Real & Making It Habit Forming

This week, I’ve found two ways to keep your mind trained on your goals — keeping yourself grounded in reality and developing the habits you need to serve you. Without further ado… (Feel free to join our LinkedIn discussion group – the details are at the bottom of this post.)

Is Positive Thinking Leading You Astray?

Here’s a short but useful article that provides some scientific backing to the practice of NOT indulging in fantasies of success not only do not make those successes “manifest” a la The Secret … but my in fact get in the way of success.

Read: The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking

Here’s One Way to Create a Habit

Someone of you might been the 4 million or so who have seen the video of a young woman deciding to learn to dance, and tracking her progress by video over a year. (Here it is, if you missed it.)

A little bit of deliberate practice every day: that’s the secret.

But easier said than done, of course.

Accountability helps, and this is a great site to track your progress by video and make your goal public.



Was this useful? Please feel free to share it… or why not join our LinkedIn Group: Tools for the Time Crunched Manager?

Posted in productivity

Getting Results in a Wired World

Whether you manage one person or 20, you must lead your team authentically from the next cubicle or the next country. NetSpeed Learning Solutions has invited five acclaimed thought leaders (and I’m one of them!) to inspire great leadership in this wired world.

Here’s your sneak preview of the 2014 Thought Leader Webinar Series.

You’ll find five thought-provoking one-hour webinars designed to challenge the way you think about leadership.  These webinars cover how to:

  • Transition from competent contributor to inspired leader
  • Adapt to the virtual world and empower your team
  • Coach effectively to increase the impact and engagement of your team
  • Differentiate yourself as a leader through your choice of language
  • Channel your brain’s style to become a more effective leader

Check out all the webinars and be sure to sign up!

Posted in self-management

Michael’s Sign Language

Where are you headed?

How can you get there beautifully?

Get provoked daily. Sign up our Great Work Provocations.

Like a shot of espresso in the morning without the caffeine.
Feel free to share – Blog it, Facebook it, Pin it…anyway you like…

Posted in Sign Language