As a coach and professional development provider, I often find myself having some variation of the following conversation with an organization’s chief executive, HR director or program coordinator.

“Please make sure,” they say, “to include lots of practical examples for everyone in the room when you speak.” They explain their request as follows. “Oftentimes when we bring someone in to present a workshop we get blowback, particularly from the old-timers. They’ve told us that other presenters’ content was too theoretical. They also say that the examples may have been useful to others in the room, but it did not address their specific needs.”

As a former teacher and principal, I know exactly what that person is talking about. So often, I would sit through a workshop and wonder about its applicability to me and my classroom. Many others around me would do similarly, and often find other more useful things to do, such as grade papers.…

(read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

How “in touch” with the front lines are your leaders?

  • Very — they understand the front line very well: 13%
  • Kind of — they generally know what’s going on with the front line: 36%
  • Not very — they are mostly in the dark about the front line: 35%
  • Not at all — they have no idea what’s going on with the front line: 16%

Get Out of Your Office. How can you run a business if you don’t know how it’s running? Sitting in your office all the time and managing your organization without ever seeing how things are working on the front line is akin to driving your car by remote control from your laptop. Get out there. You might learn something.…

(read more…)

This post is sponsored by TraceGains.

Penny Marsh, global director of regulatory compliance at Sensient Flavors & Fragrances, recently completed her second master’s degree — a Master of Jurisprudence in Global Food Law from Michigan State University — when she decided she needed a new challenge. So, she is learning to play the violin through instructional videos she watches on her iPad.

“I like to be challenged and like to learn, so I said, ‘Why not take up an instrument?’” she explains.

That attitude serves Marsh well in her role at Sensient, which requires constant learning as she researches food-labeling regulations in countries around the globe.

Sensient, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., supplies a range of ingredients used to make packaged food products and other goods, and Marsh is responsible for making sure those products receive the correct label that adheres to regulatory standards. Those labels can include: allergens, kosher, halal, organic, vegetarian, free from genetically modified ingredients and other key product attributes.…

(read more…)


This letter appears in our new publication SmartReport on ISTE2015.


I loved summer camp when I was a kid. Every July, my folks shipped me and my bags off to Camp Cedar Crest in the mountains of San Bernardino, California, for a week of friends, fun, games, activities and classes. I ate a copious amount of S’mores, played volleyball for hours, sang around the campfire and giggled with my friends into the wee hours of the night. It was always a good time. And I always came away from camp with great memories, new friends and fresh energy for the school year.

The annual ISTE show and conference reminds me a bit of camp. For four days each summer, educators from around the globe come together to network, exchange ideas, learn from one another and find new ways to tackle the challenges of education. This year’s show was no exception, and SmartBrief editors were on the ground to catch it all.…

(read more…)

The profession of education is going through unprecedented change. Many aspects of teaching and school will eventually never be the same again — nor should they. Although wholesale and fundamental change is slow, there are some things that educators will have to accept and embrace, if they plan on being successful and staying in the profession. They are:

  1. Education is more PUBLIC than ever. I am tired of the word “transparency” – and that is really just the beginning of being “public” as an educator in our changing paradigm. We need to showcase our professional work as educators, as well as the work of our students, with larger communities. Venues such as YouTube, Twitter and all social media outlets will be a foundational way for us to continue the idea of being public. Every classroom, school, district and beyond will be daily showcases to the world of what they are doing.
  2. (read more…)