Posts Tagged ‘Tom Pattillo’

Response to Seth Godin’s July 7, 2012 Blog: “Thinking about your shoes”

Posted on: July 7th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Response to “Thinking about your shoes”

Hi Seth:

One of my most important precepts: At the end of a speech, program, or course, the participants, when asked about the course, should not say Tom. Rather they should be enthusiastically thinking about what they have learned and, more importantly, how they will use and benefit from the “learning.”

I have watched too many trainers, lecturers, professors, and teachers, going out for breaks and lunches with their students. Rather than listening to and enjoying the students’ experiences, the instructor spends the whole time regaling his/her students with stories reflecting how unbelievable he/she (THE INSTRUCTOR), is. Every student’s story is topped; every student’s “attempt” is denigrated.

Of course, the program evaluations (proverbial “happy sheets”) show overwhelming program success as a result of this incredible instructor.

Personal power over others can be formal or informal. Formal power comes from the person’s relative formal position compared with the rest of the group. A professor has formal power, and holds his/her students’ lives in the palm of her/his hand. There are many ways a student can receive top marks. Participation, group work, verbal exams are all, at least partially, subjective. Regardless of protestations that class evaluations are completely anonymous, students know that it is better to err on the side of “the professor is wonderful” that the opposite.

Informal power comes from “force of personality.” Those who talk longest and loudest overpower (especially when humor is involved) everyone else. Laughing along with the “professor/teacher” indicates “agreement and respect” and often the other students feel intimidated by the apparent approval and therefore “go along” with other students to give excellent evaluations.

It is also amazingly annoying for any teacher, professor, lecturer, trainer (or worse, those business coaches) to measure their success by the success of their best students. The bell curve clearly indicates that there will be students (far right of the curve) who DO NOT succeed because of anything the “teacher” does. The strategy for those students? GET OUT OF THEIR WAY!

The 34 % to the left of that group are keen but need to be reinforced, encouraged, and supported as they clarify and practice the concepts. The 34% to the left of the median, they are normally lacking in confidence, feel they are stupid, and need a great deal of practice to pass. That 34% is THE GROUP teachers are paid to teach. That is the group that needs our skills, our talents, and our intensity. It is the success of those students that most reflects the teacher’s ability. (And those students should be the ones who least notice the teacher’s impact at least in the short term.)

My company, Catalyst Consulting, (closed in 1999), created, marketed, and conducted programs that ALWAYS included a final day (not follow-up day) 3 months after the first three or more contiguous days. This day was not an option. The day was part of the program fee. This practice allowed so many good things to happen. The initial questions that began that final session? What worked, what didn’t, and why. After lengthy discussion (and demonstrations and coaching) the final question would be “where to do we/you go from here?”. Program evaluations at THAT point might be more accurate.

Just this past week I stepped away from an opportunity to team-teach with a friend (with whom I had a passing acquaintance) with years of teaching experience. The course: public speaking; two 3-hour sessions per week for 12 weeks. My co-teacher’s philosophy, always end the first class after 45 minutes. Always because students “love” it. And don’t worry about preparing much; it is just an “introduction” course. Not my way.

All of this to support your comment. The little things (right color shoes, or me throwing up (I did make it to the washroom, came back and continued) while teaching 300 people on ship in relatively heavy seas) are not more important IF the students are more engrossed with the ideas than in the instructor.

Below is the letter I send to the person I was to teach with:

I am up in the middle of the night struggling to think how I can ask you to re-consider your tradition of having the first class be only 45 minutes.

It is my feeling that the first class is incredibly important;

The experience of the first class sets the tone for the succeeding classes. If the expectation is that the classes are over in less than half the time for any session, it begs the question why a three hour class? And why all of this is schedule for 12 weeks? We only have 36 hours and to throw away 2 hours is over 5% of the class time available.

Each class is “only” 3 hours long. My challenge is never too much time, but too little time. I always start on time and finish on time. Finishing early for me means 5 minutes, and only if everyone has arrived on time, and has returned from breaks on time.

My initial formative teaching paradigm was teaching adults. To charge a substantial fee, and then begin late or finish early, infuriates adults. They paid 100%, they expect 100%. To let students out after 45 minutes of a 180-minute class is not acceptable.

I believe in the incitement of teaching. The first class demonstrates my passion for the subject, my ability to use a variety of teaching / training experiences to engage the different student learning styles, and my expectation of excellence in both student and trainer/instructor/teacher.

I love every class. I prepare for 3 hours each class. I give breaks. I vary the activities. I follow the Situational leadership process of being directive in at least the first class to create in the students the confidence that I know what I am doing and have the ability to help each student achieve the “university’s goals for the course, as well as, (and more importantly), their personal goals for the course.

As an ex-basketball coach and player, I knew the first practice would be/must be challenging, fun, exhausting and personally rewarding. Basketball (or any sport) requires hard work, determination and the willingness to push yourself to the limit of your abilities. (My favorite song of all time is “Take it to the Limit” by the Eagles.) Every practice has a purpose, and every practice is a full practice. And every practice starts on time, and finishes on time except in exceptional circumstances.

All of the above I believe fits within the way you and I think.

If there is any concern about 3 hours as too long for the first or any class thereafter, it is not shared by me.

I am prepared and excited to teach a full 3-hour class on Wednesday.

He was not amused, and he and I are not conducting the program together. C’est le vie!

On Jul 7, 2012, at 7:39 AM, Seth Godin wrote:

Thinking about your shoes

I woke up early to give a speech a few weeks ago and got dressed in the dark. Bad idea. I ended up wearing two slightly different brown shoes on stage, and I was sure that it was the first and only thing that anyone in the audience would notice. I was wrong.

People spend almost no time thinking about what you wear on your feet. A few hours after the meeting, we have no recollection at all about what tie you wore or how your hair was done.

On the other hand, we’ll long be impacted by your big idea, the project you didn’t launch and the gift you didn’t give.

It’s easy to obsess about trivia, mostly because the stakes are so small. What happens if we wonder about what we could to that might change everything instead?

Response to: “Hatching a Job Plan.” UAE National News SE2411

Posted on: September 24th, 2011 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

I respect Mr. Weir’s desire to offer ideas on “Hatching a Job Plan.”
I have some difficulty with the ideas.

First, “What does job creation look like in the Arab world?” is a good question.

Second: The three suggestions (addressed individually below) do not address the UAE reality, let alone the Arab world reality.

A few assumptions:

a) The primary (or implied) target market for these initiatives are Emirati Nationals. The goal is to increase the Emirati presence and percentage in the private business sector. (Thereby decreasing the dependence on ex-pats in the private business sector throughout the UAE.)

b) There is a “culture” in the UAE that embraces the “visceral feel of entrepreneurial greatness.” (Theodore Levitt “Marketing Myopia”)

c) If money were available, the only thing missing is training related to today’s job market.

Fuel entrepreneurial activity:

The very nature of the word “entrepreneur” (the person who creates new businesses), pre-supposes a national business environment and culture that accepts and supports private enterprise, accountability, and a level playing field. If this is not the case, all efforts are merely handouts.

The UAE is a “rentier” state regardless of protestations to, and denial of, this fact. (Please remember: “Just because you ignore the facts doesn’t mean they go away.”)

Please read: (or look up the definition of a rentier state)

A “rentier” state’s revenue does not come from the citizen effort, it comes from “external rent (that) liberates the state from the need to extract income from the domestic economy.”

“The government becomes an allocation state, which is very different from a production state.

A production state relies on taxation of the domestic economy for its income; taxpayers stay involved with government decisions because they are supporting them with onerous taxes.

An allocation state, by contrast, does not depend on domestic sources of revenue but rather IS the primary source of revenue itself in the domestic economy.

The primary goal of the allocation state’s economy is spending.”

“the rentier . . . violates the most sacred doctrine of the liberal ethos: hard work.”

“The economic behavior of a rentier is distinguished from conventional economic behavior ‘in that it embodies a break in the work-reward causation.’”
“Rewards of income and wealth for the rentier do not come as the result of work but rather are the result of chance or situation.”
The rentier mentality is a “psychological condition with profound consequences for productivity:

contracts are given as an expression of gratitude rather than as a reflection of economic rationale;

civil servants see their principal duty as being available in their offices during working hours;

businessmen abandon industry and enter into real-estate speculation or other special situations associated with a booming oil sector;

the best and brightest abandon business and seek out lucrative government employment;

manual labor and other work considered demeaning by the rentier is farmed out to foreign workers, whose remittances flood out of the rentier economy; and so on.

In extreme cases income is derived simply from citizenship.”

(Please refer to the website (address above) for reference information.

The efforts of all Emirati leaders are to be lauded. They are setting goals for Emiratization. They are providing education opportunities (often free) for their citizens. They are encouraging more participation by citizens in the private business sector.

However, you cannot create a “reality” that is at odds with the prevailing culture. Culture wins every time. Receiving money without attaching effort, accountability, pride, and “the respect of friends and family” will never push people to look for jobs in the private sector, let alone to take the risks associated with becoming an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs are a special group. They risk. They take risks. (Not unexamined and naive risks, (that just promotes failure), but they do step away from security, certainty, a guaranteed salary and lifestyle.

The suggestions to facilitate small-business loans and train workers for today’s job market, are irrelevant other that to provide opportunities to avoid reality.

My weakness is my desire to help Emirati college and university graduates enter the workforce, consider the private sector as a realistic and attractive alternative to the public sector, and help them become proud, effective, and creative citizens of the UAE and the world. And I have done and will do everything I can to help that happen.

I say weakness because I refuse to play the “colonial” game. I will not be a sycophant. I will say and repeat the obvious rather than stay silent and take the rewards; job, high salary, no accountability, and false credibility based on past education and experience. (I much prefer nepotism to cronyism. With nepotism you know what you are getting. With cronyism what you are getting is just a guess (without any reliable vetting). And only the new employee and his “crony” benefit.)

Please know, however, that I continue to be a huge fan and supporter of the Emirati college and university graduates (mostly women) with whom I have worked. I believe, however, that an employment strategy that ignores the cultural reality of a nation is both unethical and immoral.

A problem is either managed or solved. Pseudo managers, experts, and consultants benefit from “managing” a problem. To solve the problem means they stop getting paid to solve the problem. As long as these people can make it “seem” like they are doing something productive, they will NEVER solve the problem. (They will however, vigorously and vehemently attack anyone who questions their recommendations.)

Do I have the answers? No.

Do I believe there are processes both to address the issues and to develop (with continuous and in depth participation by all Emirati citizens)? Yes.

Do I think that ideas can be generated that include the rentier reality and it cultural impact, while generating a culture of, and a desire to be part of, the private sector. Yes.

If you agree with my response to Mr. Weir’s article, do something, speak to those in power, challenge them to accept rather than deny, and call on their national pride, their love of their children, and the potential of the United Arab Emirates, to be the stimulus that moves them to action.

Other resource: