L&D Lessons to be Learned from Rand Paul’s Silly #StandwithRand Selfie App

“The internet is where things go to go wrong.” So wrote NPR reporter Sam Sanders last weekend as he wrote about Republican hopeful Rand Paul’s #standwithrand selfie feature embedded in his campaign app.

Of course, it immediately made me think of L&D and our use (or mis-use) of social media as a learning tool.

In the #StandwithRand selfie campaign, the idea is to have people use an app to post a bunch of “selfies with Rand” to Twitter and show the world how fun the campaign is. It actually yielded some nice, supportive tweets like this:  Continue reading

18 Training Activities that Engage Your Learners AND Get Results

Over the weekend I spent some time playing around with a series of micro-videos that demonstrate 18 different ways that classroom facilitators can engage their learners. Having used these activities in my own workshops, I’ve seen the power and potential that each of these activities has in leading to concrete, sustainable behavior change.

Here is a link to the videos on YouTube (a new window will open). If you have the time, please come back and let me know your thoughts in the comment section – either immediate reactions or observations once you’ve integrated one of these activities into your next workshop.

If you found any of the components in the micro-videos confusing or if you’d like a more basic breakdown of the activities in the video, a complete explanation can be found here.

Happy Monday!

Instructional Designers Should Take A Cue From Pittsburgh Steelers’ LB James Harrison

Over the weekend, I read this article about American football player James Harrison, and how he returned two trophies that his sons had received because they had not really done anything to earn those trophies.

It made me think of the certificates that are given after people attend a training workshop or a conference or completing an elearning module. What do those certificates even mean?   Continue reading

If L&D is Gonna be the Bad Guy, then be “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

When a hero of mine passes away, I try to figure out a way to immortalize him or her in writing through my blog (here are posts about Casey Kasem and Maya Angelou).

It was with sadness I learned of the passing of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper this weekend. He made for the best bad guy the World Wrestling Federation ever saw.



With survey data suggesting only 7% of people turn to the learning and development department for their learning needs, sometimes L&D turns into the organization’s bad guy. If that’s a role we need to play, then we really should play it like Rowdy Roddy Piper. Here are a few ways we can do that:

Be entertaining. Rowdy Piper knew how to capture his audience’s attention, through spouting witticisms into the microphone before a match, through his talk show-like Piper’s Pit segments during wrestling broadcasts and through his flamboyance in the ring as he took on an opponent. I know there are a lot of people who gag at the idea of professional training as “edutainment”. I’m one of them. But it doesn’t mean that professional development needs to be boring. If you have a sense of humor, let it show from time to time. Give a dramatic pause before revealing a key concept or important fact. Create some amazing visual aids to supplement your presentation. Maybe even use Powtoon or Storyline to generate some enthusiasm about your session before it even begins.

Taunt them. I spent most of my childhood loving Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant and hating Roddy Piper. He was such a good bad guy, and he was a master of taunting not only his opponents, but also the crowd. If you’ve been able to develop rapport with your learners, perhaps you can even get away with taunting them from time to time as you check for their understanding of the content. Playfully and in good humor, of course. You may be able to get away with something such as: “Is there anyone in this room (or attending this webinar)… anyone at all… who dares think they can answer these three review questions correctly?”

Hit them over the head with a coconut. During one famous episode of Piper’s Pit, Roddy smacked Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka over the head with a coconut. I’m not suggesting that you take this advice literally. You can, however, take your audience by surprise by offering a well-timed, surprising fact or statistic that supports the reason you want your audience to do something new or differently or better. If you want to make your case even stronger, keep hitting them with another fact and yet another stat. Three or four eye opening pieces of data can really start your learners re-thinking whether they want to keep doing things like they’ve always done them.

Do all this with a good heart. Rowdy Roddy was such a good bad guy because he put his whole heart into it. Similarly, even if L&D professionals are cast in the light of “bad guy” because we’re designing compliance training or requiring people to be away from their desks for a day while we train them on some important topic, we can’t just go through the motions. We need to put our whole heart into our role, finding new, original, creative, surprising, entertaining and impactful ways to dazzle our learners and give them their money’s worth.

8 Lessons from My Fitbit that are Transferable to L&D Initiatives


I received a Fitbit last Christmas and I love it for two reasons:

1) With heightened awareness of how sedentary my life had become, wearing the Fitbit has helped me realize I need to move more.

2) Thinking about everything that goes into the Fitbit has spawned a bunch of thoughts about behavior change, which is what learning and development is all about.

Following are 8 lessons that transfer quite well into the world of learning and development. Continue reading

Is Training Worth It?

Is It Worth It

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my “go-to move” in the training room: an activity called How I See It.

Since that post, I received several notes from people telling me that they were excited to use that activity. Several others asked for more specifics about how the activity worked.

In April I was asked to deliver a presentation at our local ATD chapter’s annual workplace learning conference. My session was called: How One Key Question Helps Organizations Thrive: Is It [Training] Worth It? As part of that session, of course, I integrated the How I See It activity.

In today’s post, I’m providing: Continue reading

In honor of the Women’s World Cup goal-fest, here are 5 goals for L&D professionals…


Yesterday as I watched the US women make it look so easy to score five goals in the World Cup finals, I wondered if other people in other professions could ever make it look so easy to achieve five goals.

Here are five goals that learning and development professionals might want to consider. They’re certainly not easy to accomplish, but the key here is to make achieving them look easy. Continue reading

Play in the Training Room has a Perception Problem. Let’s Fix It!


Some feel that “play” is a four letter word when it comes to training and professional development. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with using play as an engagement strategy… as long as it’s an intentional design element.

This month I was asked by the folks at TD magazine to write an article outlining some specific ways that L&D professionals can incorporate play (with a purpose) into various delivery methods – from classroom-based to webinars to performance support.

It was an honor to be asked to write for TD’s “Fundamentals” section. If you have five minutes or so and are interested in how you can incorporate more play into your next training program, give it a read… and then let me know what you think.

Do you feel “play” is appropriate for the professional training room?

Better Trainer: Mr. Miyagi or Coach Norman Dale?

Better Educator - Both

Two of the best movies of all time, “The Karate Kid” and “Hoosiers“, featured plot lines involving strong leaders and the incredible transformation of their pupils. Mr. Miyagi, the aging, apartment complex handyman and Coach Norman Dale, the former NCAA Division III national champion basketball coach, had very different styles. From a learning and development perspective, which one of these immortal teachers was a more effective educator? Continue reading

What’s Your Go-to Move?

Go-to Move

We all have a “go-to move”. Danny Zuko had the old yawn-then-put-your-arm-around-Sandy’s-shoulders. Jimmy Superfly Snuka leapt from the top rope to head butt his opponents. A guy who lived across the hall from me in my freshman dorm had this irritating, unstoppable shot from just below the goal in Sega’s NHLPA Hockey ’93.

In the learning and development world, it’s that instructional strategy that seems to make its way into just about every one of our workshops or presentations.

Recently my go-to move has been an activity called “How I See It”. I first learned this activity as part of Casey Family Program’s training on racial and ethnic identity development called Knowing Who You Are (side note: this is the best diversity-related training I’ve ever attended). Here’s the activity in a nutshell: Continue reading