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Training Contracts: 8 Things eLearning Pros Need To Know – Christopher Pappas

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Everything eLearning Pros Need To Know About Training Contracts

Joseph R. Codde first introduced the term “Learning Contract” in 1996, years before the term “eLearning” was even coined. However, it’s the perfect addition to online training programs that lack structure and learner motivation. Applied in a corporate setting, “training contracts” hold corporate learners accountable for their own L&D, while still giving them the support and resources they require. Thus, they are more likely to actively engage in the online training experience and receive the full benefits. Here are 8 tips to use training contracts in online training.

1. Let Corporate Learners Take The Lead

Corporate learners must be able to construct their own training contracts based on personal learning goals and objectives. If they need some help identifying areas for improvement, provide self-assessments that shed light on strengths and weaknesses. Training contracts should be as specific as possible so that corporate learners can focus their efforts, instead of trying to concentrate on a multitude of tasks or topics, which often leads to cognitive overwhelm.

2. Include A Detailed Timeline And List Of Goals

Training contracts should also contain a detailed timeline of when each milestone will be achieved. For example, the date by which the corporate learner must complete their compliance certification course and take the final exam, or a schedule that highlights when they’ll achieve incremental goals that support their primary goal. If there are multiple outcomes involved, encourage corporate learners to break them down into easier digestible tasks. Otherwise, they may lose their motivation and drive before they reach the finish line.

3. Outline Relevant Online Training Resources And Activities

Corporate learners need online training resources, tools, and activities to accomplish their training goals within the specified time frame. Once they’ve chosen their milestones and overall objectives, they should turn to the online instructor/facilitator for recommendations. In this case, the online instructor serves as a guide who helps corporate learners stay on track and provides them with the support they require. It’s best to create a list of relevant online training resources, such as online training courses or links to external tools. For instance, eLearning articles, online training tutorials, or videos that will benefit the corporate learner and help them bridge the gap.

4. Develop Clear Assessment Criteria

Success means something different for everyone. Thus, you need to clearly define the criteria corporate learners must use to evaluate their progress. For example, online training assessments or instructor-led evaluations that focus on their areas for improvement. You can even use online training simulations and branching scenarios to test their practical knowledge application. Ensure that your criteria are measurable and clarify expectations. Corporate learners should know exactly what they need to do in order to achieve each milestone. Once again, they must play an active role in the criteria development process.

5. Have A Feedback System In Place

How do corporate learners know when they are on track or need to adjust their online training course? The answer is receiving ongoing feedback from the online instructor or facilitator. You can also use peer-based feedback if the online instructors play a less active role. The key is to provide constructive input that corporate learners can use to guide their efforts. It’s also essential for them to offer their own feedback based on their personal experiences. For example, they would like more interactive or audio-based resources that cater to their learning preferences. The feedback system should be clearly outlined in the training contract, including how often it will be exchanged and through which outlets.

6. Schedule Regular Progress Checks

It’s wise to schedule regular meetings wherein the corporate learner and online instructor or manager can discuss how to move forward. As an example, the corporate learner is not achieving their milestones as expected. Thus, they may require additional online training resources or additional one-on-one support, such as a mentorship online training program. You may wish to set the date for each meeting in the original training contract, or simply schedule each meeting a week in advance. It all depends on each party’s personal preferences and agenda.

7. Re-Evaluate The Terms Periodically

Nothing is set in stone. A training contract that works well for a corporate learner now may not be suitable in months to come. This is why it’s essential to periodically review training contracts and make adjustments when necessary. Their objectives may have evolved over time. The milestones need to be adjusted if the corporate learner is struggling to keep up, or if they are advancing more rapidly than expected. It’s a good idea to schedule progress check meetings to ensure that everyone’s on the same page. This also gives you the opportunity to analyze the existing training contract item by item and verify that it still addresses areas for improvement. For instance, the corporate learner may have already bridged a skill gap that is covered later in the contract timeline.

8. Provide Online Support Resources

In addition to the regularly scheduled meetings and peer-based feedback, corporate learners should have access to online support resources, such as social media groups, online discussions, corporate eLearning blogs, and FAQs. In some cases, a question can be answered immediately, instead of having to set up a video conferencing session with the online instructor. Microlearning online training libraries are also an invaluable tool for remote learners. These online training repositories feature bite-sized online training resources that are quick and convenient. Another notable characteristic is distinct categories that allow for easy access. For example, the online training repository is broken down into skill-based sections or topics. You might even consider learner-generated microlearning online training libraries. Corporate learners have the chance to upload their own online training content or share links with their peers. Last but not least, consider an online mentorship program that provides one-on-one support.

Training contracts empower corporate learners to take charge of their own skill and knowledge development. You can use these 8 tips to create effective training contracts, as well as the framework that goes along with this learner-centered strategy. It’s also important to collect continual feedback from your audience in order to personalize your approach.

Do you know how to create online training courses that allow your employees to hone their talents and achieve professional growth?  Read the article 8 Tips To Facilitate Professional Growth In Online Training to discover top tips to give your staff the support and online training resources they need to be their very best.

 

 

 

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A Future of Monetized Branded Content Begins With Customer Value – Lauren McMenemy

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Content noise has reached epic proportions, and standing out from the crowd is no longer as easy as chucking money into paid distribution. Providing customer value becomes paramount as users have millions of links all vying for their clicks. They are more discerning, and also more skeptical; so the quality and provenance of content is evermore important.

Traditional media outlets have been struggling with this for at least a decade. As the internet became all-pervasive, media companies just duplicated their print offerings online, for free. It was a scramble to stay relevant in a digital age, but it actually damaged brands and the industry as a whole. By the time paywalls started going up, and the publishers began asking their audience to pay for access to content they had already been getting for nothing, the expectation and value of the content had already been assumed to be, well, free. Consumers naturally were resistant to suddenly being required to pay to read. After all, the internet should be free… right?

“In the transition to digital, a great error media companies have made is trying to emulate technology companies’ business model. If you’re Google or Facebook, advertising works. You’ve got the scale to make sense of keeping a product free … [But] unless buoyed by reach of billions of users, those who don’t charge for at least part of what they do are doomed.

“If you stand by the principle of not charging for anything, sooner or later it’ll make you compromise on everything,” writes online publishing course owner Edward Druce on Medium:

This is all well and good for traditional media outlets, those places we’ve turned to for centuries to inform and entertain us. We pay for the print versions, and evidence shows around two-thirds of news outlets in Europe now have some kind of pay model for digital content.

But the media landscape has changed—brands are now getting in on the publishing act. As brand publishers mature in their offering, the big question has yet to be asked: Will consumers pay for branded content?

Legacy Branded Content Still Sells

The short answer is yes, actually. Age-old content marketing products like the Michelin Guide, prove that consumers will pay for content that provides value, regardless of who has written it. Michelin now prints a range of travel guides, maps, atlases, and more to complement the world’s best-known restaurant guide—all created, of course, to get people into their cars and wearing down their tires.

man reading a magazine

In the UK, The AA (Automobile Association, a roadside assistance provider) follows a similar path, but adds in printed versions of the Highway Code and books to help study for your drivers license. Once you’ve got that license, you’ll need their services, of course.

It’s not just the car industry that has customers paying for content. Weight Watchers Magazine has a total paid circulation of 1,127,545, 90% of which are subscribers. That’s more than one million consumers automatically paying monthly for a magazine that has the sole aim of promoting the Weight Watchers nutritional plans.

So while paying for branded content can work, these are special cases of well-established brands providing tremendous customer value. There is still yet to be a brand that harnesses the power of a paywall for branded content on a mass scale. However, marketers aren’t ruling out the possibility.

Ideas for Leaders explores the idea of charging for online content, ironically placing the crux of the content behind a subscription paywall: “It is crucial how a fee-based charging structure is implemented: charge too little and you are missing out on valuable subscription revenue; but charge too much—or for the wrong content—and you will lose viewers, further undermining advertising revenues. The key is for media companies to take a flexible approach, charging optimal fees for selected content.”

How Can You Charge For Content?

Man standing on train platform reading newspaper

There are various models out there, both in the traditional media world and the world of freelance creators, that a company could look to adapt for its own revenue stream.

A paywall

Hide all of your content behind a payment portal, and charge an annual or monthly subscription fee for access. This model, however, requires a lot of trust on the part of the consumer given they are basically purchasing your content without knowing its quality. If you disappoint them, it may well do more than just lose you a subscriber—it could hit your brand’s reputation.

Remove the ads

If your content hub is currently complemented by banner advertising—be it for your own company, or sold space—some of your audience may be willing to pay a small subscription to remove the ads. Of course, this option is less likely today as ad blocking software is becoming more prevalent, and will necessitate flexible design.

Premium content offerings

Taking a cue from the Telegraph, you could drop the paywall in favor of offering additional special content in exchange for a small payment. In this way, most of your content will remain free to access, but those who truly value the quality of your analysis would get access to special reports or additional reporting.

One-off publications

Many brands know the impact a special report or regular review can have on downloads. True customer value can be found in providing industry analysis or investigative reporting. These publications are the result of months of hard work—why give it away for free? Likewise, you could ask for a small stipend in return for e-books and educational resources. Take a leaf from Michelin’s book and consider producing a guide that will offer insights to your industry.

Webinars and e-learning

Edward Druce’s Course Concierge, helps content creators to serve their audience and get paid for their efforts. One of their clients is Steve Ramsey, who spent 10 years creating woodworking videos on YouTube for a subscriber base of nearly one million people. He’s now offering more in-depth online courses to that subscriber base and making nearly 10 times the income he was on YouTube alone. While Steve is a one-man operation, what’s stopping your company from launching your own online instructional programs?

Paid subscriptions

Subscriber numbers are the holy grail for content marketers, a sign their content offers a valuable ROI to a loyal audience. It’s also a great way to create a community, something many freelance content creators have been doing via sites such as Patreon and Substack.

Screenshot from Patreon website

The former allows creators to run a membership business for fans, providing a meaningful revenue stream while being free from restrictions of third-party platforms such as YouTube. Substack, on the other hand, helps writers to start an email newsletter that makes money from subscriptions. A very new platform, it reportedly has just over 11,000 subscribers to newsletters paying an average of $80 a year for content.

Both options present a quick and easy way to monetize content as well as examples of how a brand might be able to build a subscriber base willing to pay for its content.

Asking for Payment? First, Offer Value

One of the founders of Substack, Christopher Best, has wise words for content creators looking to start a payment model: “The most important thing is knowing who your audience is and what they need and what they want; it’s them feeling like they have a connection with the author that gets people to pay,” he told Nieman Lab.

“When you’re orienting towards paying subscribers, you do start to see some metrics that don’t necessarily matter—just getting a huge number of clicks, in an advertising-driven world that is an end unto itself. But it doesn’t matter from a subscription perspective. On the other hand, you still have to get people to show up and see what you’re doing; you also have to show them the value of what you’re sending them.”

Mind you, a poll held on debate.org found only 20% of Americans think newspapers should charge for content online, so what hope do brands have? It doesn’t mean it’s not possible, it just means you should very carefully consider how you introduce the new revenue stream.

Ensure you’re offering optimum customer value, which means your content should be absolute top quality. Nothing “quick and dirty” will cut it. And importantly, don’t try to charge for something that was previously free. If this is something you want to explore as a potential new revenue stream, introduce a new content outlet, and perhaps test it out on small pieces to begin with.

One marketer I discussed this idea with spoke of an idea he’s had for a while—that the future of journalism will go the way of music, and we’ll have a Spotify-style service for written content. The idea would be that you pay to subscribe, and in return you get access to content from a selection of quality publications who are then paid royalties for access. There’s no reason why content from a brand couldn’t fit such a service—as long as it is top quality.

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The Emotionally Intelligent Way To Resolve Disagreements Faster – Josh Davis and Hitendra Wadhwa

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Imagine you run a tech startup. Cash is tight, but you can’t afford to enter the market with a product that doesn’t live up to its promises. And right now, it’s clear that your engineers aren’t focusing enough on the user-experience issues. Your senior engineer just won’t play along, though. You and she can’t seem to agree on what matters. She wants to do an early launch so the engineers can test features and improve them before fine-tuning the UX, arguing that other software companies, including major tech giants like Apple and Google, launch beta versions all the time. She suggests that you’re just burning cash and wasting time, that you don’t understand how tech companies work and need to trust her on this.

But you don’t. You’re worried about the brand; what if first-time users give you just one chance, hate the UX, and never return? If your launch product isn’t user-friendly, your whole business could be destroyed. Weeks go by and your disagreement with the senior engineer is going nowhere. You’ve tried bringing evidence and examples to prove to her that she’s wrong, and she’s done the same to you. The arguments have started to get heated, she’s getting concerned about your leadership, and you’re getting concerned about her commitment.

What should you do? What you should’ve done much earlier: Find something–anything–to agree on, as long as it’s meaningful.

Agree on something (other than the solution)

It’s natural during conflicts to feel you have to prove that you’re right, but this only escalates things. One party may give in, but it will be at the expense of wasted time, energy, and morale. However, a surprising thing happens when you take the opposite approach. By finding some common ground as soon as you detect the first signs of tension or conflict, you can start working quickly toward a mutually agreeable solution.

There’s always something true in the other party’s thinking. It may be their intention, premises, logic, concerns, or the factors they’re weighing. For example, you might agree with your senior engineer’s concerns and say to her, “I agree. It would make a lot of sense to get real user testing at this stage on our basic features before we put a lot more energy into other things. Let’s find a way to do that without a public launch. I need to also make sure we protect the brand experience.”

Alternatively, you might agree with her premises and say, “You make a great point that the tech giants do a lot of this kind of testing, and it’s hugely beneficial to getting the product features right. We should follow their lead. I think we won’t get the chance to learn about those features unless users have a simple and positive experience. That’s something else great companies do. What will it take for us to get to that point before we put our product out there?”

Or you may even seek a deeper truth and say, “I appreciate how much you want this product and this company to be amazing. I share that optimism and enthusiasm. That’s why I think we have so much potential here. Let’s think about where we’re both trying to get to.”

 

When you find a way to agree with something other than the solution to the problem you’re debating, you can shift the frame of the conversation to include a factor you both see as true and relevant. That makes it easier for the other person to lay down their arms and stop fighting. Instead, they start listening.

The psychology of agreeing

This approach creates what psychologists call “shared reality” and “procedural justice.” Shared reality is what happens when others see the world as you do and then find a way to let you know. It’s very unsettling when others don’t share your understanding of reality. When they do, however, it puts people on the same team and opens them up to collaboration. Procedural justice is about getting a fair hearing. It’s when people can ask themselves, “Did I get a chance to actually be heard?” and answer in the affirmative.

We’re far more likely to accept an outcome if we feel like we’ve been listened to and understood. Not only does finding something to agree on fulfill both of these psychological needs, but research also suggests that people tend to automatically reciprocate. So when you agree, your opponent is more likely to find something else to agree with you about in turn.

Wait, though: What if agreeing makes you look like a pushover? What if the other person really is to blame for something–will you be letting them get away with it? And if you give a little ground, won’t they just take more? These are all important concerns. But the fact is that they remain liabilities whether or not you find something in their argument to agree with; acknowledging common ground doesn’t totally invalidate your argument.

You can agree and remain very strong about what matters to you. You can agree and still address how you came to be in the situation. And you can agree and stand your ground. Having created the basis for shared reality, procedural justice, and reciprocity, you’re less likely to meet resistance for standing up for your own needs in these ways.

So when you find yourself locked in disagreement, the emotionally intelligent thing to do is to agree–not necessarily with the other party’s conclusions or proposed solution, but with some truth in what they believe. It could be their goals, intentions, concerns, emotions, or something bigger-picture that you share. It has the surprising and counterintuitive effect of disarming people, so you can move past disagreement and on to collaboration.

There’s one more, often unexpected result of this approach. Agreeing tends to bring out the best in other people, but it can also bring out the best in you. By pushing yourself to find common ground, you can shift your own thinking in a more collaborative direction, too. A little more flexibility and understanding–on all sides–is surely a good thing.

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Apply These 10 Cool Techniques to Increase Sales and Marketing ROI for your Small Business

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There isn’t just one correct way for small businesses to make sales. You can use social media, content marketing, or even good old fashioned phone calls. No matter what tactics you use, it’s important to have a plan and a way to measure results. Here are some techniques suggested by members of the online small business community for increasing sales and marketing ROI.

Uncover Your Best LinkedIn Prospects

If you use LinkedIn for sales, then you need to know how to uncover the most relevant prospects on the platform. A recent Social Media Examiner post by Josh Turner features tips to help you use LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search to find results and make more sales.

Take Advantage of This New Google My Business Feature

Google offers plenty of tools to help your local business get found. But if you ultimately want to get those customers on the phone so you can make sales, a new “call now” button on Google My Business could be another great solution. Learn more in a recent Search Engine Journal post by Matt Southern.

Quantify Marketing ROI with These Metrics

In order to determine which marketing and sales activities are worth your time and investment, you need a way to quantify ROI. In this Startup Professionals Musings post by Martin Zwilling, you can see some of the top demand generation methods to help you make those important decisions. Then you can see what BizSugar members have to say as well.

Automate Your Sales with Chatbots

AI offers plenty of opportunity for small businesses to automate processes. Chatbots in particular can help you make more sales by answering common questions quickly and concisely. In a recent CorpNet post, Samantha Engman outlines some of the chatbots with the best ROI for businesses.

Use These Marketing Tips to Increase Back to School Sales

Back to school season offers plenty of opportunities for some businesses to really increase their sales. But you need to have a solid marketing plan in place early. To kick off the season right, check out the tips in a recent Biz Epic post by Chad Stewart.

Don’t Waste Time Creating Content That’s Too In-Depth

Content marketing can help you reach more customers and potentially make more sales. And in-depth content has an even better chance of getting you noticed. However, there comes a point where your time spent creating content might not be worth it, as Neil Patel discusses in a recent post.

Build Your Own Customer Support with Wix Answers

Customer service is absolutely essential to any effective sales strategy. And setting up a process for answering customers quickly online doesn’t have to be difficult. In a recent Smallbiztechnology.com post, Ramon Ray details how you can use Wix Answers to provide customer support.

Value These Successful Business Traits

Whether you’re looking to increase sales, build a team or complete any other important business tasks, you need to have strong instincts and leadership traits. In a recent post, Takis Athanassiou outlines some of the most important traits successful businesses have in common. You can also check out the commentary from members of the BizSugar community here.

Rally Around ROI and Prioritize Your Marketing Efforts

At some point in running your business, you might have to make budget cuts or prioritize certain tasks over others. In those cases, it’s important to keep ROI in mind. A recent TopRank Marketing post by Alexis Hall goes into some of the ways you can make the most of your marketing budget.

Don’t Believe These Myths Keeping You from Winning on Amazon

If you’re looking to increase sales on Amazon, you could have some long-held beliefs holding you back. You can read about some of those myths and learn the truth about succeeding with the online retail giant in a recent Marketing Land post by Andrew Waber.

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Building A Tinkering Mindset In Young Students Through Making – Alice Baggett

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The most important thing you can do to set up your tinkering space for primary students has nothing to do with the space. Of course you’ll need space for your students to work in, but the physical space for tinkering matters much less than the mental space that you create for young makers.

To be effective tinkerers, students need to achieve a state of mind in which they are primed to play and make joyful discoveries.Young kids who are playing don’t worry about making mistakes. They’re just playing, and the idea that they could make a mistake—that there’s a wrong way to play—doesn’t enter into their consciousness. It’s this freedom that enables the creation of elaborate pretend games and castles built from playground bits. Replicating a sense of play in the classroom is vital to creating a tinkering mindset for children.

One of the most powerful things you can do to set the philosophical tone in your makerspace is to hammer home the idea that taking risks, trying new things, and making mistakes are not only acceptable actions—they’re desirable actions. That’s what you’re hoping for! But telling a group of little kids that it’s okay to make mistakes is not an effective way to deliver your message.

The droning voice of the teachers in the Peanuts cartoons springs to mind! To get kids to internalize your message and truly take it to heart, you have to show them in a wide variety of ways what you really mean.

Here are some ideas for getting across the idea that taking risks, trying new things, and making mistakes are desirable outcomes.

READ STORIES ABOUT MISTAKES

There are lots of good children’s books about mistake making. My absolute favorite is Barney Saltzberg’s Beautiful Oops. This short book features mistakes repackaged as something awesome! For example, a torn piece of paper becomes the smile on an alligator. Young children respond to the simplicity of the “mistakes” and the delightful revelation of the reworked mistake into something beautiful and surprising. This book is a wonderful jumping-off point for a bigger discussion about how to handle mistakes and how mistakes can lead us in new, inspiring directions.

I read this story to each of my classes at the beginning of every year, and kids ask to hear it again and again. A few weeks after I read it to a kindergarten class one year, we were working on a challenge in which students were using graphic design tools to draw on a photograph of their faces. One student carefully tried to trace his eye so he could use the paint bucket to fill the shape. He hadn’t quite managed to draw a closed shape around his eye, though, so the paint spilled all over the photograph completely covering his face. Watching from across the room, I braced myself. Sometimes students are distraught when things like this happen. Would there be tears?

This student straightened up in his chair and blurted out, “I made a beautiful oops! I know how to turn my whole page white!” The other kindergartners jumped out of their seats to come have a look at this marvelous discovery. They all wanted to know exactly how he did it so they could go try it out.

Of course, students do not always react to their mistakes this way. However, I have found that deliberately creating a climate where risk taking and mistake making are valued makes a notable difference in the way students handle mistakes.

Frequently reading stories about risk taking, failure, recovery from failure, and mistake making goes a long way toward assuring students that you actually believe in the learning that comes when students make and recover from errors. Check the list of excellent story ideas in chapter 8 for more suggestions.

A graphic showing how play and purpose lead to outcomes when tinkering in class.

ACTUALLY MAKE MISTAKES IN FRONT OF KIDS

Modeling that it really is okay to make mistakes is vital. Fortunately for most of us working in a budding makerspace with young tinkerers, there are many opportunities to publicly fail in front of students. There is so much to know and things change so quickly. Technology’s unpredictability benefits us in this instance! When I’m teaching a lesson and my projector malfunctions, the demonstration program I wrote does not even begin to do what I had hoped it would, or my robot goes backward instead of forward, I take it as an opportunity to model resilience and grit. I let students see me flustered and then (hopefully) recovering. I invite them to help me diagnose what went wrong, which they LOVE.

Taking public risks and making public mistakes not only helps normalize mistake making, it inspires enthusiasm for collectively problem-solving and collaborating. All of this is a desirable part of the philosophical underpinnings of a tinkering mindset. If you are the kind of educator who rarely makes a mistake, you can strategically plan to make errors for students to catch. These preplanned mistakes can still help students see you as a real person who actually makes mistakes and recovers from them

USE VISUAL REMINDERS

Posting quotations about or pictures of mistakes can go a long way toward reminding kids that you’re serious about the value of mistakes. I have James Joyce’s quote “Mistakes are the portals to discovery” displayed in huge letters on my classroom walls, and at the beginning of each year we have a discussion about exactly what the students think that quote means. At each workstation in my room I have a little sign stating, “Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. Mistakes are normal and we learn from them.”

At an art fair, I purchased a colorful print emblazoned with the phrase “Mistakes Make.” It seems like the artist accidentally got the words in the wrong order. Kids think it’s hilarious! I have a picture of my face posted in a prominent place in my classroom encircled by the words, “Ms. Baggett: Proud Mistake Maker Since 1966.” I have a series of posters I made of silhouettes of heads with famous people’s quotes about mistakes. The visual materials in my room affirm that I mean what I say about the value of making mistakes.

I start my year by having the kids do a scavenger hunt to become familiar with the room. One of the items they are supposed to search for is something that lets you know it’s okay to make a mistake. One year, as the kids were searching for all the items, I heard one girl say, “There are so many things in this room that let you know it’s okay to make a mistake, but I can’t find the specific one for the stupid scavenger hunt!”

HIGHLIGHT BOTH EPIC FAILS AND SPECTACULAR DISCOVERIES

To further develop the idea that risk taking and mistake making can lead to something positive, I created an Epic Fails and Spectacular Discoveries bulletin board in my room. I wanted to create a place for students to share their highest highs and their lowest lows, the idea being that the more kids talk openly and honestly about their successes and failures, the more normalized the idea that we all have highs and lows when we’re problem-solving becomes.

Students who want to participate can fill out a slip of paper (or ask me to fill it out if they’re still learning to write) that asks them what their epic fail or spectacular discovery was, how they happened upon it, and what about it made it an epic fail or spectacular discovery. Then they post their slips on a bulletin board so that other students can read them. Kids love reading what other kids have to say, and I often have to encourage them to go back to working on their projects instead of spending all their time reading the board.

One year after I finished introducing this idea to my students for the first time, a little hand shot up with a question. “But Ms. Baggett,” the boy said, puzzled, “how do you tell the difference between an epic fail and a spectacular discovery?”

I adore this question! It gets at the fundamental nature of process -based, inquiry learning. Failure and discovery are so closely linked, so connected and interrelated, that it is very hard to distinguish between them, especially when failure leads directly to discovery and vice versa.

EMPHASIZE THAT A MISTAKE IS NOT THE END

I have all sorts of old projects lying around my room. Students love to look at them, but they also find them intimidating because most of the projects are physical objects in a final state. They look perfect and finished.  Students have a hard time envisioning the steps that led up to the final object’s creation: all they see is the incredibly cool final iteration.

To help students understand the messy process of creation, I ask students to track their progress during any project (much more about this in chapter 6). Tracking a project’s progress helps illuminate the many mistakes along the way. Students looking at old projects can look up the reflection and documentation fellow students did on a given challenge to get a fuller picture of what happened along the way.

It’s fun to see how many challenges a student has to overcome to complete a project. Students have the chance to internalize the idea that continuing to work even when a seemingly insurmountable obstacle presents itself is vital to learning and growing.

TALK ABOUT THE PROCESS

Kids enjoy sharing what is happening with their work on a project, and it’s great for other students to hear their peers talking about all the different challenges and successes they’ve experienced. Peer-to-peer sharing also opens the door for collaboration and collective problem-solving when a student is unsure of how to move past an obstacle.

I regularly invite students to teach their classmates. Students address their peers, explaining and demonstrating their mistakes and discoveries. It is not unusual for them to have so much to say that I must gently help them wrap things up. Talking about the messy process of making is thrilling to students, who although they cannot always recognize why this appeals to them, appreciate the focus on their learning process instead of their final product.

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Why Freelancers Are Good For Your Company – Irene Corchado Resmella

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More and more companies are hiring freelance writers nowadays. Some companies need to increase their content production and their current team can’t cope with the workload. Others are expanding into new markets and struggle to find writers in other languages willing to relocate. Likewise, many start-ups rely on freelance writers during the early stages of their business before they can set up an in-house team.

Whatever your case may be, you may be asking yourself whether working with freelancers is a good idea. While setting up an in-house content team has numerous advantages, freelancers can bring many good things to your company – from more productivity to added-value. You can even save money!

If you’re not sure about working with freelance content writers, here are four good reasons to do so.

It will boost your productivity

The more writers you have, the more content you produce. It’s a no-brainer. However, the process of hiring full-time employees is time-consuming and expensive, and in-house writers aren’t generally as productive as freelancers. Writing is a creative activity that requires high levels of concentration, and that’s when the flexibility that comes with freelancing helps. Freelancers can choose where and when to work.

They don’t waste time sitting at their desk waiting for the creative muse to show up. If they aren’t inspired or feel stuck, they can take a long break, hit the gym or go for a walk and return to the text with a fresh mind. By maximising the times when they are most creative, their productivity improves, and a productive freelancer can produce more content than a stressed or overworked in-house writer.

Working with the right freelancers will add value

Freelance marketplaces are full of amateur self-proclaimed writers looking for some extra cash to top up their income. That’s why they’re cheap, and that’s why the risk of receiving sloppy articles is high, so choose your writers wisely. Look for professionals, not hobbyists; subject experts, not generalists.

To get maximum value, hire writers with a strong personal brand, and social proof. Building a portfolio is key for writers and they normally share the (credited) content they produce. A writer specialising in your field who has an active online presence and a large following will help your content reach a relevant audience and increase exposure for free. This is a value-added collaboration which will certainly pay off, so think about it as an investment and budget accordingly.

Their flexibility can be your lifesaver

In-house content writers aren’t flexible as far as time is concerned. They need to attend meetings and do everything thrown at them content-wise. If something isn’t finished by 5pm it won’t be finished until well into the next day. Having a freelancer at hand will help you fit in small urgent projects at odd hours, even if you need to pay a bit extra.

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Freelancers can also be your lifesaver during peak periods or emergencies. Think about your in-house content team being overloaded with seasonal content projects, too many people being off work at the same time, or an important piece of content for your imminent campaign launch being ‘forgotten’. Misunderstandings and mistakes can happen, too, so a freelancer is your best bet here.

You will save money

Hiring freelancers isn’t always more expensive than setting up a team in-house. Not only that, but it can even be cheaper and help you save money, as you won’t have to cover the costs associated with employees.

I’m referring to taxes, for example. You don’t have to worry about taxes, as freelancers pay their own. Likewise, you don’t have to win them over offering pension schemes, gym membership cards or insurance. Moreover, you won’t pay for wasted time. Let’s face it – office writers don’t stay focused for eight hours, but you still pay them a full-time salary. With freelance professionals, you only pay for projects completed.

Another advantage is that experienced freelancers don’t need training. Companies setting up an in-house team often go for junior writers. By training them they save a bit of money on salaries, as they can pay them less than to senior writers. What they often forget is that they could be saving money and time by hiring experienced freelancers instead. External writers won’t be paid a full-time salary and your trainers’ time will surely be better spent doing something else, like managing the content strategy. So, choose content writers who are subject experts, set up an initial chat on Skype to go over the basics and provide a detailed briefing and a style guide. That’s all they need.

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How to Succeed at Work/Life Balance Without Going Crazy – Monica Harrison

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The first secret to work/life balance is recognizing that it’s not about balance. It is about balancing work and life. What appears to be a state of balance is something entirely different — an act of prioritizing and counterbalancing. (For example, a ballerina appears to be perfectly balanced on her toes, but a closer look reveals her toe shoes vibrating rapidly, making minute adjustments for balance.)

The second secret of work/life balance is recognizing there are two types of balancing: the balancing between work and personal life and the balancing within each. Think about two balancing buckets. Separate your work life and personal life into two distinct buckets — not to compartmentalize them, just for counterbalancing.

  • Your work life is divided into two distinct areas — what matters most and everything else. You will have to take what matters to the extremes and be okay with what happens to the rest. Professional success requires it.
  • Your personal life has multiple areas, and each requires a minimum of attention. Drop any one and you will feel the effects. This requires constant awareness.

An extraordinary life is a counterbalancing act. Let the right things take precedence when they should. Get to the rest when you can.

Does it seem like every day you and your team have more and more that “simply must get done”? Do you often feel overbooked, overextended, overcommitted, and “in the weeds”? Do you (or your direct reports) feel like a human pinball, bouncing from task to task throughout the day, hoping to check as many things as possible off your to-do list — but later realizing you didn’t actually accomplish anything that truly matters?

To-do lists (whether in our head, on paper, or in an electronic system) can help collect our best intentions, but they also tyrannize us with trivial, unimportant stuff that we feel obligated to get done. If allowed, a to-do list or inbox can dictate our priorities — keeping us busy but not letting us achieve real success for ourselves and our organization.

Activity is not related to productivity or success — and certainly not to extraordinary results. So how do you decide what to do, or what to do first?

Successful people have an eye for the essential. They:

  • Pause long enough to decide what matters.
  • Do sooner what others plan to do later.
  • Defer to later (or indefinitely) what others do sooner.
  • Work from a clear sense of priority.

In this episode, Jesse shares what he’s learned from chapter 4 of the book The ONE Thing and provides examples of applying the lessons. His personal tips include:

  • Success list: At the end of each day, selecting and writing down the ONE Thing you will do tomorrow that will make it a successful day for you; any other to-dos are relegated to a different list and generally not worked on until the ONE Thing is done.
  • Cerato or Scleranthus: Gentle herbs in the family of Bach remedies; these two options can help your mind be more clear and decisive about setting priorities. They are inexpensive and available many places online or in many health food stores.
  • Decision points: As discussed in episode 165, these are moments in your day when you have the opportunity to decide what to work on next, based on your priorities, your energy, and the amount of available time.
  • Mindfulness meditation and prayer: Helps you become more aware of what really matters in your work and personal life; helps improve your focus and resistance to distractions throughout the day; helps you make the most of each moment for maximum effectiveness, satisfaction, and fulfillment.
  • Pareto’s Principle, also known as 80/20 Rule: Apply this lens to your to-do list to identify the few things that matter more than the rest. Then with your shorter list, apply it again, and again, until you identify the essential, imperative ONE Thing that matters the most.

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

A Few Thoughts For Entrepreneurs Wrestling With Depression – Chris Myers

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This has been a hard week for those of us who care deeply about depression and the people who wrestle with it.

Both entrepreneur/designer Kate Spade and chef/TV personality Anthony Bourdain took their own lives this week, leaving many to wonder why people who seemed to have it all would go to such lengths.

If I’ve learned anything during my entrepreneurial journey, it’s that people who have ambition, vision, and big dreams tend to suffer from what author Nassir Ghaemi calls “A first-rate madness.” The genius is often offset by battles with personal demons.

That there is a link between creativity and mental illness is known to some extent, details regarding that link are mostly unknown.

Entrepreneurs are, if nothing else, creators. They thrive on the unknown and live to create something out of nothing. With that drive, however, comes an increased risk of depression and mental illness.

While I don’t claim to know precisely what happened in these particular cases, I do know that the stresses of living a high-profile, creative, or entrepreneurial can take their toll on people, both physically and emotionally.

I want to be very clear about one thing. I don’t have all the answers. Like everyone else, I’m just trying to find my way in a complicated and challenging world.

I have, however, learned a few things along my personal entrepreneurial and creative journey that have helped me navigate challenging situations, particularly in regards to stress, anxiety, and depression.

Let’s be honest about the difference between mental illness and circumstance

Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that there is a stark difference between mental illness and the shared human response to challenging circumstances with which we are forced to deal.

For so long there was a stigma associated with mental illness, and people were afraid to entertain the idea that they might be suffering from its effects. Fortunately, this stigma is starting to give way to a more honest and understanding view of the matter. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, you have to ask yourself “Have I suffered from panic, anxiety, or depression my whole life, or is this something new?”

If you find that your feelings and sufferings are part of a larger pattern, please don’t be afraid to talk to a medical professional.

In many cases, anxiety and other symptoms are biological. No matter what you try to do, or how you try to cope, you won’t be able to run away from the underlying biological problem. There are, fortunately, solutions and treatments out there that can help.

If what you’re experiencing is relatively new for you, there’s a reasonable chance that it is mostly circumstantial. This is where I can offer some insight, having dealt with this type of emotional stress firsthand.

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Keep things in perspective

A few years ago, Business Insider published a great article about the depression epidemic in the startup community. According to the article, only 7% of the general population report suffering from depression, but a whopping 30% of founders report dealing with its effects.

That statistic is staggering but entirely believable.

Entrepreneurship is an intensely personal journey, and it’s incredibly difficult to separate your identity from the business that you’re trying to create. Soon, business setbacks (of which there are many) seem like personal setbacks, and depression can quickly take root.

The key is always to strive to keep things in perspective. Life, like business, is a journey full of ups and downs.

When talking to entrepreneurs and other creatives going through tough times, I often encourage them to think back to high school. For most of us, there were moments in our high school lives that seemed to be monumentally crucial that in retrospect seem childish.

At the time, of course, the pain and anxiety that you experienced were real and raw. However, the more distance you gain from the situation, the less painful it becomes.

While the problems that you’re facing right here and right now may seem insurmountable, it’s important to realize these too will pass and fade in time.

Entrepreneurs have to accept the fact that the odds are stacked against their success. Most new business ventures fail, and even those that are eventually successful take a long time to get off the ground.

Setbacks will outnumber successes, and there’s a good chance that most days will be stressful. That’s the game we chose to play and the ability to embrace these realities is what makes us entrepreneurs.

Still, when challenges pile up, it’s easy to feel like the world is ending and that we’re failures. I recently had lunch with a good friend who was in the process of shuttering his third startup in seven years.

During our conversation, I reminded him that in his brief career to date, he’s accomplished more than the vast majority of people do in decades.

His pedigree and experience put him in the top one percent of people in his age group, and, as a result, his opportunities are vast. Sure, the latest venture didn’t work out, but he can and will live to fight another day.

Wherever you’re at this point in your life, there is an excellent chance that your current endeavor will not be your last. In fact, many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world hit their stride on the second or third attempt.

Consider the case of Mark Cuban. Before he struck it big by selling his business to Yahoo, Cuban had a string of failures.  After failing as a cook, carpenter, and even a waiter he remarked, “I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed. You only have to be right once. I tried to sell powdered milk. I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all.”

The lesson here is that there are second (and third and fourth) acts in life, and it’s important to remember that whenever you encounter failure.

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Don’t be afraid to get help

I’m fortunate in the sense that I have a fantastic support network I can call on when I need help. My family and friends are always there when I need them, whether it’s to listen to my struggles or to lend a hand.

Not everyone is as lucky. Entrepreneurs need to be able to reach out and get help when they need it. This can be difficult in a world where everyone feels the need to be “crushing it” all the time. Asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness, which leads to people merely keeping their difficulties to themselves.

We in the entrepreneurial and creative communities need to change this mentality. People should feel free to get help without the fear of judgment, and it’s going to take a few strong influencers to initiate the change.

I know a few people in the industry who care about this deeply, including Structure Capital (a team of high-profile venture investors based out of San Francisco), but more are needed. There are good people out there who want to help. It’s just a matter of having the courage to reach out.

There will be bumps, setbacks, and even catastrophic failures on any worthwhile journey, but remember that you’re not alone. Keep your challenges in perspective and live to fight another day.

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