Sunday, May 15, 2022

Rolling University

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

A master class is a class given to students of a particular discipline by an expert of that discipline - usually music, but also science, painting, drama, games, or on any other occasion where skills are being developed. 

Yesterday, my entire family attended a Master Class, held by Marshall Goldsmith.

Well, sorta.

We had around eight hours in the car this weekend. And I had the new Audible book, The Earned Life in my phone - and so - we (all of us) enjoyed having Marshall Goldsmith riding along with us. For eight hours.

There is something about an audio book, read by the author. Some people love the good old fashioned paper book, I get that. Me, I'm a big fan of Audible - but ESPECIALLY when it is a business book read by the author. It feels like they are speaking directly to me

My two sons graduated from Schools of Business. I am in business - I have been a serial entrepreneur since the 80s. I am also an executive coach, so I am a little bit in awe of Marshall, the "Coach of Coaches" if you will. 

We live in a multimedia, transmedia, omnimedia world. BOOKS have been around for thousands of years, especially if we count the ones that are carved in stone. As I write this Sunday's blog, I have CNN on my TV, I have three screens open on my computer, I have laptop, an iPad and a smartphone all turned on, and everything is displaying - something. Oh, I also have my Jabra wireless headset, listening to music.

Just as how "books" have been around for a very long time, so has distance learning. I always say that Distance Learning has become DIGITAL Learning, and now, it is all just DIGITIAL LIVNG. If you really want to get down into the weeds, the phonograph (or gramophone) was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison (we think). Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory made several improvements in the 1880s while Emile Berliner moved things from phonograph cylinders to flat disks. 

The disc phonograph record was the dominant commercial audio recording format through most of the 20th century. In the 1960s 8-track cartridges and cassette tapes were introduced as alternatives. In the 1980s phonograph use declined sharply due to the popularity of cassettes and the rise of the compact disk. And then came digital music in the 2000s. Ah yes, Napster, Spotify and the like. 

"OK, Google, how many podcasts are there?"

"Good morning, Thomas. In short, if you're asking 'how many podcasts are there', I think the right answer is more than 4 million, and not just what's in Apple."

I am one of the 4 million. Our (aka Coffee in the Clouds) video podcasts reach millions of eyeballs, because many times our show guests have millions of followers. Actors, authors, celebrities, entrepreneurs all "teaching everything they know" in a fireside chat style interview. And, whenever possible, we "gift" the books of authors to our global community, as a value-added member benefit. So everyone wins: the publicists, the publishers, the PR firms, the authors and of course, the growing NYDLA membership

And so, this weekend, our car was a rolling university with Marshall Goldsmith as the guest lecturer at  

In The Earned Life, Marshall teaches us how to live our own lives, not someone else's version of them. The key to living the earned life, unbound by regret, requires a commitment to a habit of earning and connecting it to something greater than the isolated achievements of our personal ambition. 

For many years my battle cry was "everything is distance learning" and people would say I was wrong. I would ask: Did you ever watch a TED Talk? Did you ever watch a Netflix documentary? Did you ever listen to a podcast? Very quickly I usually win the argument as I lay out the case for the Distance Learning > DIGITAL Learning > DIGITAL LIVING journey. 

My family got to meet Marshall Goldsmith this weekend. Again, sorta. Marshall rode along with us for 8+ hours in our rolling university. Sadly, he did not chip in for gas. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

“Mothers’ Day” with the apostrophe in the plural

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

Heather Cox Richardson reposted her blog from two years ago regarding the history of "Mothers' Day" - with the apostrophe in the plural. A link to it is here and I sincerely hope that you read it and share it. 

When you hear the word "mother" do you first think of the noun, the verb or the adjective? 

A female parent. A woman in authority. Or, an old or elderly woman, like Mother Hubbard.

Necessity is the mother of invention. The mother of all construction projects. The mother of all ocean liners. To give rise to, to give birth to, to care for or protect like a mother. Birth mother, den mother, expectant mother. Mother country, mother figure, mother hen. Mother ship, mother tongue, queen mother. Single mother, surrogate mother, mother-in-law.

There is great power in the word mother. I think that power comes from the fact that if you are reading this blog, you have (or had) a mother. It is a word that unifies us all. A good friend of mine, Lee Cockerell, who ran Disneyworld with 40,000+ under his care, would say "Manage like a Mother." 

How many times have we heard that mothers are the true superheroes in our world? Multitasking masters, proper prioritizers, consummate communicators. And of course, the keeper of the snacks. Great managers, like moms, are natural leaders. They build a culture of trust, candor, and accomplishment. They have teams of people that love their jobs and feel lucky to go to work everyday. 

Moms (and managers) when seen in action, they seem a little magical. But it is not magic. A large part of their success as leaders is that they work hard on developing appropriate soft skills. And, in fact, many of the same soft skills that lend themselves to being a great mother are also what makes a great manager

The Mother of Soft Skills

Soft skills, defined as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and professionally with other people, are related to our attitudes and intuitions, which mothers are well known for. These skills are valuable because they enable people to function and thrive in teams and organizations as a whole. A productive and healthy work environment depends heavily on managers with great soft skills. Any workplace is an interpersonal space where relationships must be built and fostered, perspectives must be exchanged and occasionally, conflicts must be resolved.

Another good friend Loralyn Mears, PhD has recently launched Today, especially in our post-pandemic world, the mastery of soft skills is critical. Her company STEERus is the world's first soft skills academy. So, I guess one could say that Loralyn gave birth to right? 

Letters from an American is the newsletter from Heather Cox Richardson where she ties the day's news to events of the past. Her day job is a professor of 19th century American History at Boston College. But her newsletter (and now podcast) reaches millions of people. Her newsletter is her baby. 

Historians are fond of saying that the past doesn't repeat itself; it rhymes. To understand the present, we have to understand how we got here. 

Ah yes. How we got here. 

Well, we know one thing for sure: it all started with a mother.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

May Day
, also called Workers' Day or International Workers' Day, is a day to commemorate the historic struggles and gains made by workers and the labor movement. It is usually observed in most countries on May 1.

So, May Day - a day that we reserve for fun springtime activities, like the maypole and picnics and golf and tennis - a day that kicks off summer with days at the beach and ice cream and such stuff, well of course that would be perfect for airplane pilots calling for help, right? 

Well. May Day is not Mayday, the internationally recognized radio word to signal distress. It is used mostly by aircraft and boats. How many times do we hear Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! on a TV show or movie.

Mayday first came to be in 1923. There was a lot of traffic between England and France in those days, and there were enough traffic (and disaster) problems over the English Channel that a good distress signal was needed. One that everyone could easily use and understand. And, there were some problems with using S.O.S. for the radio (voice) such as: 

S.O.S. was great with Morse code. But aircraft used the radio and a pilot would not have time to clarify to anyone that it was S as in Sam and not F as in Frank. A short, easily understood WORD that could not be mistaken for something else, was necessary. 

Mayday was the phonetic equivalent of "M'aidez", the French for "Help me." 

So, there was an RAF "flying boat" whose engines failed over the Channel. And the pilot shouted out M'aidez M'aidez M'aidez over the radio and that was it. It stuck. M'aidez becomes Mayday. In 1927 the United States formally adopted Mayday as an official radiotelegraph distress signal. 

OK, Tom, land the plane.........

Today is SUNDAY ("sun's day") and tomorrow is MONDAY ("the moon's day") and May Day is an ancient festival marking the first day of summer. International Workers' Day took over "May Day" but it is very different from the traditional May Day. 

These days, both workers (and pilots) needed saving. See the Haymarket Affair, also known as the Haymarket Massacre, The Haymarket Riot, or the Haymarket Incident. It began as a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour work day. 

So, on this SUNDAY we celebrate May Day and tomorrow will be MONDAY, where hopefully while at work - you do not feel the need to shout out Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! 

Now you must excuse me, I need to get ready to dance around the maypole.