Last month I travelled to Washington DC for National 4-H Conference
. It's a youth leadership conference for all 4-H youth leaders from every state. They come together for a week and figure out solutions to problems that their generation will face.
Here's the cool part, they prepare presentations about their solutions and deliver them to officials at the USDA, HRSA, and White House! A seriously amazing opportunity for a teenager.
Teens also spend a day at the US Capitol meeting with their own Senators and Representatives telling them their 4-H story.
Here's a video I made about the experience:
I accompanied the 4-H youth leaders who presented their plan to increase youth's desire to study STEM subjects to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Their solution: Provide youth with fun, hands-on STEM activities and help them gain confidence in themselves so that they believe they can pursue and master these areas of science. They all agreed that the best way to promote this would be through social media. They highlighted the FIRST
and the Maker movement
One of the policy analysts asked the youth 3 questions:
- How many of you do STEM? All hands raised.
- How many of you are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat? All hands raised.
- How many of you share your STEM experiences on these social networks? 2% raised their hands.
After the meeting, I sat down with the youth to debrief on what they had learned from their experience (this is what we do in 4-H; Do, Reflect, Apply). I asked them, "Why don't you share your experiences on social media?"
Their responses were interesting, one youth remarked, "Nobody cares, what I say won't make a difference." I replied, "But you just told the White House OSTP that the best way to market STEM education was through social media?" I followed up with, "Haven't you ever been influenced by content you've seen on Facebook?"
After this reflective conversation, I shared the story of one of my 4-H youth leaders in Washington County, Utah who made a difference promoting our 4-H Robotics program
. He did amazing work, but the story would have gone nowhere unless I made a video and tweeted the heck out of it. I asked the youth leaders, "What can I do to help you realize that you actually can make a difference?"
The response I got was fascinating. Another youth said, "You just did. We know what we need to do, but it's hard. It's easier to just ignore the leader inside telling me to step outside my comfort zone and do something challenging." That's when they understood something that could be summed up in one of my favorite quotes: Fear is an indicator of what you need to do next.
- Seth Godin
This week I'm at National 4-H Conference
in Washington DC. I'm chaperoning Utah's youth delegation as they work to create solutions to our our nation's biggest problems (STEM education, bullying, feeding a growing worlds, obesity).
During the conference I like to check my LinkedIn
, where I often find the best content to feed my hungry interests. I came across this incredibly motivating post
about "ideas" and "execution" by Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary's perspective reminded me how nearly worthless ideas are without execution. Then I remembered what Derek Sivers
had to say about Ideas x Execution:
This content provided me with an important lesson to teach these 4-H youth leaders before they give the presentations (about their ideas) to the federal government. Here's what I told them: Ideas on their own are just a multiplier, they're worth NOTHING without execution.
I then added the most important part of making a conference effective: Go home and DO SOMETHING! TRY! MAKE a DIFFERENCE! Otherwise all this time and effort was a waste.
Then I read this quote from Gary's post: Put in the work. Execute, and then you've got a shot. Your ideas are cute and all, but without execution, most of you will fail.
Thanks for the content and perspective Gary! (@garyvee
) You inspired a very effective debriefing session with passionate youth leaders on the cusp of making a huge difference in their communities, nation, and world.
I've been enjoying these amazing TED Business Talks
on my awesome new LG Tone Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headset
with my iPhone 5 on my 19 minute drive to work.
It's so refreshing to gain such amazing insight and knowledge every morning before I dive into work.
Here are three perspicacious talks I hope you'll take the time to listen to this week
My perspective about training has changed forever. Special thanks to Mike Myatt
for sharing The #1 Reason Leadership Development Fails
Mike has taught me that "training is...the #1 reason leadership development fails." I asked myself, "Really? Training? Why?" The answer is because "development strives to call out the unique and differentiate by shattering the status quo." Training really is an attempt, "to standardize by blending to a norm and acclimating to the status quo." And the status quo is something we all need to fight
The reason why training kills leadership is because it presumes
. "It presumes
the need for indoctrination on systems, processes and techniques...[and] assumes
that said systems, processes and techniques are the right way to do things."
I've never been a fan of best practices (we do it all too often in academia) because as Mike points out, "Training is...a rote, one directional, one dimensional, one size fits all, authoritarian process that imposes static, outdated information on people." I think the primary reason I despise trainings is because I don't enjoy lectures and such one directional presentations. I need to ask questions, I want people to ask me questions. I crave meaningful dialogue. I don't care what happened in the past. I learn so I am better prepared to meet future needs.
From now on, every time I am invited to attend a conference and give a "Best Practices" presentation I'm going to call it "Next Practices" and we're going to have a dialogue! That's a promise...a challenge to the status quo.
Training is for mindless cogs, non-thinkers, sheepish people who want to work in a factory and be told what to do. Development is for innovators, critical thinkers, and creative problem solvers. We don't need more factory workers, we need creative problem solvers.
If you're like me, you still need help determining the difference. Here are Mike's 20 points that differentiate between training and development:
- Training blends to a norm – Development occurs beyond the norm.
- Training focuses on technique/content/curriculum – Development focuses on people.
- Training tests patience – Development tests courage.
- Training focuses on the present – Development focuses on the future.
- Training adheres to standards – Development focuses on maximizing potential.
- Training is transactional – Development is transformational.
- Training focuses on maintenance – Development focuses on growth.
- Training focuses on the role – Development focuses on the person.
- Training indoctrinates – Development educates.
- Training maintains status quo – Development catalyzes innovation.
- Training stifles culture – Development enriches culture.
- Training encourages compliance – Development emphasizes performance.
- Training focuses on efficiency – Development focuses on effectiveness.
- Training focuses on problems - Development focuses on solutions.
- Training focuses on reporting lines – Development expands influence.
- Training places people in a box – Development frees them from the box.
- Training is mechanical – Development is intellectual.
- Training focuses on the knowns – Development explores the unknowns.
- Training places people in a comfort zone – Development moves people beyond their comfort zones.
- Training is finite – Development is infinite.
The most important thing I've learned about leadership is that you don't need permission to lead.
In my career, I live by and teach this Five Step Plan.
It applies to just about everyone and everything:
1. Go, make something happen.
2. Do work you're proud of.
3. Treat people with respect.
4. Make big promises and keep them.
5. Ship it out the door.
When in doubt, see #1.
Not that you needed it, but I give you permission to lead.
You can't be RIGHT by doing WRONG. You can't be WRONG by doing RIGHT.
-Thomas S. Monson
This video is all about Seth Godin
's triangle of: Strategy, Tactics, and Caring.
Here's a preview of what you'll learn:
We now live in a 'Connection Economy.'
It's now easier than ever for you to speak up and be heard.
Normal is crumbling.
Be willing to fail.
Work without a map.
How to market: Tell stories to pockets of people who share a world view.
Spend most of your time doing work that is revolutionary.
My favorite author Seth Godin
sits down with Jonathan Fields
to discuss books, business, life, art, being stuck, pressing forward, and quitting. All the the inspiring things I like to talk about with my friends, family, 4-H'ers, and colleagues.
I'm particularly fond of sentences that start with, "You should..."
Actually, the truth is...I'm not. Neither should you. I recall a moment when I should on a coworker. I said "You should develop this product line." He replied, "I should do a lot of things."
I know what I would do in a situation, but I'm not you...and you're not me. I know, you know, and we all know that each of us would do different things in a given situation. So let it be, or present it in a different way. When you should-on someone you're just stressing them out. We are all busy and have tremendous workloads these days.
If you really believe in your idea and you're not just spouting off some worthless idea, then here's an alternative to dropping a big should on someone:
"I think this (insert your idea) would be a good idea, would you be interested in working on it with me?"
Paul Mitchell the School has a great culture. For the most part, creative students are excited to be there and they all have a million ideas for marketing, service, parties, events, hair styles etc. When a student comes up to a learning leader with a great idea and begins to should on them, the reply is, "Would you like to be the 'Creative Master' over this project?"
The ball gets passed back to the person with the idea to work on. If it's really worth it then they'll make it happen and hopefully ask for help. Ideas are great, we all have ideas, but it takes hard work to make them happen a reality...hard work that most people are not willing to do.
It was National 4-H Week October 7-13th and my program in Washington County, Utah really represented! I'm very proud of what we were able to accomplish together so I'm going to brag about it for a moment.
First, I was in Washington D.C with one of my teen leader's accepting an award for his 4-H project he did on technology education. Read about it HERE
Then I flew home and the very next event on my agenda was Farm Field Days. We had nearly 2000 4th graders come out to a local farm to learn about where their food comes from. Read about it HERE