How can you dream bigger and better?

I attended a Big Dream Gathering event recently where people elected to post their dreams to a wall. These dreams essentially encompassed their goals in life. Big things they wanted to realize. But I was shocked. Many of the dreams I saw were not really big dreams, or even admirable goals…but aspirations to mediocrity. Safe bets. These posts were dreams of University of Wisconsin students who chose to attend a Big Dream event. They were certainly qualified to be big dreamer (we all are) and they had already achieved a big dream by enrolling at a great institution like the University of Wisconsin in Madison, one of the country’s best places to live. Needless to say through, many of their dreams now were hardly as big.

The first dream I saw on the wall was to “help my friend get a job in Madison.” The dream sheet said that the friend is getting a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. Should be pretty doable to get a job with that degree. The next dream was “to graduate.” Pretty doable…more than 85 percent do. The third I saw was the most alarming…”pass Math 222.” The dream wasn’t to get an A or even a B…but to pass. A grade of D would mean dream realized. These students can dream bigger. They have a lot greater potential than the dreams they elected to share. But what I was noticing was that many did not have a very long term view of their own lives…their dreams were things that could be realized within the year. Also, the dreams seemed too small to fail instead of too big to inspire. Plus, many of the dreams were not specific or unique…they were trying to hit the mean, be normal, do what everyone else does, and be a part of the herd.  But one thing we’ve definitely learned here in the state of Wisconsin: If you are just part of the herd, expect to get milked!


Later on in the evening, it occurred to me that many of these people had actually already realized big dreams. If you are accepted to and attend the University of Wisconsin, or any great university, that’s a big dream! That’s something you look back and take pride in your entire life going forward. From what I could see, many of these people who had achieved a laudable dream like this were already failing to continue dreaming big—to push the pedal to the metal and give their own vehicle some acceleration in life. No. Instead, they were shooting for the mean—to be normal.

I talked to a guy I met there, Kevin, who was achieving his dreams. He grew up on the southside of Chicago, loved microscopes as a kid, and wanted to be a scientist and fight cancer. So, as a student, he sent 200 inquiries for internships and got one. He dreamed big and took action…and he is. We talked about the kinds of dreams we saw posted on the wall and both agreed with the desire to “fit in” and be normal as well as the short term view that people had vs. the long term view or vision necessary for dreaming big dreams.

I am aware that a dream like “graduate from college” is actually a very big dream when compared to the population of the world. Less than 7% of people in this world do! The point is that, once you get to college and graduate from college, you need to keep dreaming…and dreaming big…and in our time of rapid change and acceleration..dreaming the things that may not even seem possible.

Also, I saw some of the BIG DREAMS were things I’d actually done…they seemed really big while I was a mediocre high school student in a small rural town, but while I was doing them they were easier than they seemed. Some of these students expressed their dreams to get a Ph.D., start a business, or reach one million people through their own work. And I’ve realized those dreams myself, for instance. This made me see that I can go bigger…and that the big things weren’t that big when you actually are doing them…they seemed big. AND, that I want to help people also achieve these dreams, dream bigger and better in their life, and take action towards those dreams. I am grateful to have learned the art of dreaming and achieving while I was in college. I hope others can also learn it at that critical stage. This event was a start but they need to seek on their own now.

Go wild. Some of the dreams I had require a medical breakthrough or new technology to be created…but at the rate of technology acceleration, this is quite possible and probable. So, we need to dream bigger and more unrealistically because reality is becoming unrealistic.


A motivational speaker that inspired me when I started my dreaming journey, Les Brown says, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” It’s OK to not achieve a big dream…but you will achieve more meaningful things on a journey to a big dream than if you didn’t have a dream or one so small achieving it is almost guaranteed. Some may not go for big dreams because they feel like they would need to achieve it. If they didn’t achieve it, it would be a failure. No, that’s not how this dreaming business works. Dreams not achieved are not failures because when you pursue a dream who end up oftentimes achieving something worthy (maybe different, but better than your original dream). You also learn new things you can apply in your next round of dreaming and doing.


What are some of your big dreams? Things that are BIG (maybe don’t even seem possible) and far out into the future. How about 5 years from now? 10 years? 20 years? With the acceleration of opportunities maybe your 20 year dream could be realized in 2 years? You never know unless you dream and do.

We need to learn how to dream bigger and better. How can your dreams leverage the best of you…your specific strengths, passionate interests, values, and what the world needs? Many of us were never taught how to dream for the future…much less how to strategically work toward realizing a big dream. How do you learn that? By doing it. Let’s do it now. Grab some paper, your favorite note-taking app on a mobile device (I like Google Keep), or your computer.

Take action to learn to be a bigger and better dreamer.
Start small. Take dreaming action now.

What is a thing you could do now to dream big? Here’s an idea. Spend 3 minutes with your eyes closed visualizing the future you want in 5 years. Describe that future vision in a note or draw it out on a sheet of paper.

Next, based on that future vision, write each specific dream that is a part of that future vision out on it’s own note or sheet of paper. Get specific and go big. What do you have now and what do you need to do?

Now, what is something you can do today, a tiny thing, to start momentum and action towards a big dream. Start small and take action again. What can you do today to move towards that dream? Do it. Dreaming and doing takes courage. Dreaming and doing with courage leads to more courage and more dreaming.

For now…just get started visualizing the future and dreaming big and specific! We go deeper into this process in our “design thinking your career for your life” online program. We’ve brought this program to universities across the country and I’m motivated to help more people (students and anyone) who can benefit from dreaming bigger and better! Our world needs this now more than ever.

Reflect on this…and let us know in the comments!

What do you think the state of big dreaming is today?
How have you learned how to dream bigger and better?
How can you be strategic with taking action on your dreams?

No Tech is the New Tech

No Tech is the New Tech

no tech is the new tech
“No tech is the new tech.”
– Darin Eich

What does this quote mean to you?

I’ve been thinking about this one for some time. When do we need no tech? Who needs no tech, and when?

In the world of innovation, the application and use of new technologies is a focus. Paradoxically, it seems like there is an emerging trend or interest now for “no technology” at important times from many people. This could be times when one needs to “disconnect,” or a focus on less “screen time” for kids, or teens becoming too addicted to their phones, or adults checking email or social media compulsively. Sometimes we need to go inward and not into a device.

There have been creative interventions to help people disconnect. These range from depositing your mobile devices into a “phone jail” before a class or meeting, or friends turning their phones screen side down during dinner and the first one to turn their device over has to pay the bill. Also, people have found success with not bringing their phone with them into their bedroom before bed to prevent social media scrolling while one should be sleeping. Others have gone so far as to uninstall Facebook from their phone. Some block off a certain amount of time in their schedule to read and respond to emails, instead of continuously.

If you are part of an organization looking to create the latest product or service for your customers…consider “no tech” as a new tech to work on applying. Many customers don’t want a solution with the latest technology or a chatbot…they want a solution with no technology powered by a human. So, in addition to many of the new technologies that can be benefical…add no tech to the list.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very interested in new technologies and their application. I just believe that “no tech” should be one of those technologies at times.

How to learn and develop a skill in steps

Learning to Swim [Innovate] Again

How to develop a big skill in small steps

With so much change happening in our world and important new things to learn, the skill of how we can learn to do new things (or old things in new ways) has become critical. How do we learn and develop skill? It is never too late to learn something new (again).

I took swimming lessons as a kid. Beginner. I think I may have failed intermediate. I don’t like putting my face underwater. It’s hard for me to float and I doggie paddle to get places.

At age 41 I decided it was time for me to learn how to swim again. My wife is a good swimmer and I asked her to give me a couple of lessons. We have a lake near our place in Madison, Wisconsin called Lake Wingra. They have a beach there, but it’s a pretty weedy lake.

I started to swim in the lake. Most people don’t because of the weeds and occasional beach closing due to harmful bacteria. I’ve found it to be fun though. The lake is surrounded by an Arboretum and plenty of trees.  There are also cool birds there, like big herons who fly over like World War II bombers and catch fish in the lake.

The first few times I went swimming I would do my usual doggie paddle and backstroke. Always keeping my head above water.

After a few times of going swimming by myself, my wife came with and gave me a swimming lesson. It was amazing the little things I didn’t know, like keeping your fingers together so your hand acts more like a fin.

It was a little embarrassing with people watching as my wife held me to back float. It was something you see a parent do with a 7 year old. That day I wore her swim goggles, not with the intention of putting my face in the water, but just to wear them as a first step. BUT, I over-performed that day and went the extra step. I tried putting my face in the water and swimming. I coughed a lot. Then I tried a little more, and a little more. It was a victory! I had done some swimming underwater. I had also tried breathing and then putting my face in the water. I looked like a gasping fool and my wife had quite a laugh.

Two days later we went swimming again. I was committed. It was 65 degrees and raining but we still biked to the lake. This time it was interesting. The University of Wisconsin Badgers were playing their first home football game of the year less than a mile away at Camp Randall. You could hear the cheering of the fans and the announcer from the lake. We knew when there was a touchdown. I love watching the games but I was committed to swimming. This time I did more than last. I swam a number of 250 feet lengths with being underwater and breathing. It was still a mess but it was much better than last time.

Two days later I devised a new routine. I would bike 20 minutes to a favorite coffeeshop. At the coffeeshop I would change into my swim trunks and bike to the lake on the way home. I would put my bike down next to the water and do my swimming. This time I did much better with the breathing. I even swam 12 lengths of the beach with 5 of those being underwater. It was difficult, but it was more than I’d ever done.

Improving a little more each time was now becoming habit. Two days later I biked to my coffeeshop and stopped at the lake on the way back. This time my freestyle stroke was better than it had ever been. The breathing looked more like a real person. I swam 14 lengths of the beach and 7 of those were underwater, including 1 where I experimented with a new underwater stroke in addition to the freestyle.

Each time was better than the last. I made a habit of going swimming every two days. I knew if I could do 3, 4, or even 5 or more times every other day and focused on the underwater swimming and breathing I could make progress even if it was very difficult at first. I had “key performance indicators” like how many breaths I could take in one nonstop swim, how many lengths I could swim, how relaxed I could be, how fast I could go, how little I could exhale or inhale, etc. I could compare myself to the last time on a number of measures, and then I could track these things on a spreadsheet or reflectively like in this article. I also documented it and am sharing it. This has helped me learn to swim again.

What in your personal life or work life could you learn how to do again? What could you commit yourself to making little consistent improvements on? How could you work on innovating yourself to a whole new level and do something you may not have thought you could do?

Project Based Learning to Innovate

I’ve recently had two of the most powerful learning experiences of my professional career. Both experiences involved projects in which I accepted a new challenge. One, I found and interviewed 107 innovative leaders at a wide variety of organizations to learn how they were learning and doing innovation. Two, based on things I learned while doing those interviews, I did something I’d never done before…acquired another web business.

Project Based Learning

I’ll describe both of these in more detail in future articles. But…a key thing I learned was that to learn innovation you have to do innovation. It isn’t enough to keep reading books, blogs, tweets, or watching TED Talks online. You have to do. Take on a challenge to develop something new. As a result of doing that, you learn the knowledge and skills needed along the way through seeking information online and talking to people….and then taking action and implementing changes as you go. I recommend developing something you’ve never built before…but that thing you develop is still is a complimentary fit with you or your organization.

I’ve done this “project” before with writing a book, designing a website, building apps, conducting a research study, starting a business, and now acquiring another business that someone was selling. I’ve spent years in graduate school reading articles and writing papers but I’ve developed the most skill through these different projects where I had to develop something new for real purposes.

What is a challenge or project you would like to take on? Remember, you learn most not by reading what others write, taking tests, listening to podcasts, etc…but by actually doing and creating for yourself. Developing something for real and for you.

What innovation project could you work on? The goal is to develop something new that you’ve never done before that could be useful to you or your organization. I recommend this entrepreneurial innovation online course that will walk you through identifying a challenge or project in your sweet spot and then generating and developing ideas for it.

If you do the activities in the online course and engage in real project based learning, please leave a comment or send me a message to let me know what project you are working on!

Innovate how you Present & Facilitate

I wrote a version of this article for Facilitator U to share my “innovative facilitator” journey story. Inspired by this, I’m offering an innovative facilitator coaching program to help you innovate how you facilitate, present, and lead others through the innovation process.

Innovate how you Facilitate

Have you heard the anecdote about planting a tree? They say the best time to plant a tree was years ago, the next best time is today.

Is it time to innovate how you present or facilitate? Do you need to redesign your classic workshops or sessions or integrate new activities, tools, or techniques after learning more about your audience, often only after arriving on the scene? Do you need to implement new ideas on the spot while you are in front of the group based on what is happening…or isn’t happening?

You can meet all of these challenges with innovation. If you find yourself doing the same things over and over again and your events are feeling stagnant, it may be time to innovate how you facilitate.

When I started my career I wanted to be a speaker. I wanted to motivate audiences and help them learn and develop their leadership skills. I went to graduate school to learn how to design programs to help people become better leaders.

I was shocked to learn that research on effective learning didn’t match what I was doing. I learned that when people just listened to a speaker, very little learning happened. And here I was telling my audience things I’d read in other people’s books. I even used Power Point slides and bullet pointed ideas I’d read in other people’s books! Even while I was discovering that people learned best when engaged in real activities, having conversation and reflection with others, and working on real projects…I wasn’t doing these things myself. I was still stuck in the old “sit and get” paradigm!

Then, as I began research for my dissertation, I interviewed stakeholders of some of the most high-impact leadership development programs I could find. From over 60 learning leaders, I heard firsthand the types of program experiences that most impacted their leadership development and lives. It wasn’t the lectures they heard but the activities, the projects, the relationships, the reflective experiences that most positively affected them.

Then I got it. Now I knew that I had to change because I’d heard it face to face from so many people. I had to shift from lecturing to facilitation. It was uncomfortable for me to cut out so many of my great tips and instead, have them connect with each other to do activities that I would design and facilitate.

This was a big change and it was a little scary. However, I soon discovered that I actually enjoyed the design of keynotes, workshops, programs, and activities more than I enjoyed scripting speeches. I enjoyed the improvisational nature of facilitation better than I enjoyed trying to remember the exact words to say and saying them. There was the “fear of public speaking” anxiety with this new and innovative way. This was my first big experience with innovating how I facilitate. It took me a while to change but I’m glad I did and over 1 million people have gotten the chance to experience activities I’ve designed or facilitated. This wouldn’t have been the case if I didn’t have the catalyst to innovate how I facilitate.

Innovation CoachingSo what is your challenge to innovate?

Like me, do you need to help people learn and develop in a greater way, increase engagement, be more authentic, reduce your anxiety in front of a group, respond to changes on the scene and in the moment? Do you just need to freshen up what you’re doing and add new tools, techniques, strategies, models, and ideas to your practice as a facilitator or leader?

To innovate, we respond to a challenge (either a problem or opportunity) with new actionable ideas…and these actions will have a positive impact.

You can apply the innovation process for yourself by:

1. Picking a facilitation challenge you want to work on.
2. Gathering ideas that could be solutions or new things to try.
3. Actually launching your new ideas when you are in front of a group.

ACTION

Try a simple innovation activity yourself. What is a challenge that comes to mind? It could be long-term challenge like redesigning a future workshop, meeting, keynote, etc. It could also be an “in the moment” challenge like ideas for what you could do when the group seems to be disengaged.

1. What is a facilitation challenge you have?

2. List at least 10 ideas for what you might do to address that challenge?

3. Based on your ideas…what will you choose to try and when?

Do you want to innovate how you facilitate with 1:1 help from Darin? I’m offering an innovative facilitator training program to help you innovate how you facilitate, present, and lead others through the innovation process. This is good for directors, facilitators, speakers, and those offering leadership development or innovation services.

Internet of Things Trend for New Ideas & Innovation

Internet of Things Workshop Toolkit

What is the “internet of things?” What does it mean? You probably have a smartphone, tablet, or perhaps a TV (or at least a device that connects to your TV) that allows information to flow online. Maybe you have a fitness tracker or fancy scale that collects data and shares it with you to assess yourself, get motivated, and make better health decisions. Perhaps your car gathers and shares information thanks to sensors — or you can track the location of the bus you want thanks to GPS and an app on your phone.

You and your devices are already a part of the internet of things. Get ready for that smart fridge next. Understanding, creating new ideas, and innovating with this “internet of things” trend could help you and your things be more effective, save money and energy, and benefit your work and life.

This IoT article and these videos and slides are helpful, visual explanations full of practical examples to help you understand the internet of things…and the potential future of it.


21 Websites That Will Make You Smarter

21 Websites That Will Make You SmarterA LifeHack article named UniversityWebinars.org as one of “21 websites that will make you smarter in every way.” It’s great to see an idea that you built become something that is useful to a large amount of people!

The LifeHack article includes a great list of sites that I admire including CreativeLive, Coursera, Evernote, and BBC Languages. Give the article a visit to find some new tools for learning and check out UniversityWebinars.org if you haven’t yet.

Leadership Books for College Students, Courses, and Programs in Higher Education

Books for Leadership Development Programs

Root Down & Branch Out: Best Practices for Leadership Development Programs is designed to help you develop a high quality leadership program or course for college students. It shares a number of different program types and activities that have positively impacted student learning and leadership development. It is a source of ideas. You can design and assess your program or course using the tool in the book.

In researching and writing a couple of earlier publications on leadership courses as well as leadership retreats, I reviewed a number of leadership books used with students. I’d like to highlight books that could be great for students and used within courses or programs. I choose books that are relevant for and geared towards students, are good theories to develop educational experiences around, and are readily applicable for leadership practice by students. I also like these books because they have companion instructor’s guides or workbooks that give you activities to do with students. Many also have companion assessments.

Leadership for a Better World
Understanding the Social Change Model of Leadership Development

The three components of the leadership development model and/or the “seven C” values are good content for leadership educators to design program with.

1. Individual Values
a. Consciousness of self
b. Congruence
c. Commitment

2. Group Values
a. Collaboration
b. Common purpose
c. Controversy with civility

3. Societal/Community Values
a. Citizenship
b. Can also add a section on “Change” if you need another C!

Stated Description: The Social Change Model of Leadership Development particularly appeals to undergraduate students because it’s an approach to leadership development that views leadership as a purposeful, collaborative, values-based process that uses multiple perspectives to enact positive social change. This accessible textbook engages the reader in understanding the nature of social change and the dimensions of leadership that help one become an effective change agent. It includes case studies, reflection questions, and learning activities to help facilitate engagement with the model. Written and edited by some of the country’s most recognized and active scholars and educators in student leadership, the book has been field-tested by leadership faculty.

This approach to student leadership development was initially developed by a 15-person “Working Ensemble.” The approach differs in certain basic ways from traditional approaches that view “leaders” only as those who happen to hold formal leadership positions and that regard leadership as a value-neutral process involving positional “leaders” and “followers.”

There is an instructor’s guide available for download from the National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs.This short guidebook was developed for leadership educators to use with college students. Citizens of Change: The Application Guidebook and The Socially Responsible Leadership Scale are companions for using the social change model. The original Citizens of Change Application Guidebook and newer instructor’s guide include many different activities that correspond to each of the social change model values. I highly recommend it for your leadership development resource library.


exploring leadership book cover

Exploring Leadership
For College Students Who Want to Make a Difference

You could build your leadership education experience around the five components of the Relational Leadership Model which is a good leadership framework for college students.

1. Inclusive
2. Empowering
3. Process-oriented
4. Purposeful
5. Ethical

Stated Description: This third edition is a thoroughly revised and updated version of the bestselling text for undergraduate leadership courses. This book is designed for college students to help them understand that they are capable of being effective leaders and guide them in developing their leadership potential. The Relational Leadership Model (RLM) continues as the major focus in this edition, and the book includes stronger connections between the RLM dimensions and related concepts, as well as visual applications of the model. The third edition includes new student vignettes that demonstrate how the major concepts and theories can be applied. It also contains new material on social justice, conflict management, positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, emotional intelligence, and new self-assessment and reflection questionnaires.

For those focused on the practice of leadership development, the third edition is part of a complete set that includes a Student Workbook, a Facilitation and Activity Guide for educators, and free downloadable instructional PowerPoint® slides. The Workbook is a student-focused companion to the book and theFacilitation and Activity Guide is designed for use by program leaders and educators.

PLUS! Each copy of Exploring Leadership, Third Edition comes with an access code so students can take the Clifton StrengthsFinder, a 30-minute online assessment which has helped more than eight million people around the world discover their talents. After they take the self-assessment, they’ll receive a customized report that lists their top five talent themes, along with action items for development and suggestions about how they can use their talents to achieve academic, career, and personal success. In the book, the authors discuss the importance of understanding oneself, and how using the StrengthsFinder assessment will help one do so. (E-book customers must prove they have purchased the book to obtain their StrengthsFinder access code from Wiley Customer Service.)

This book is widely used and was developed specifically for college students. An Exploring Leadership Instructor’s Guide is also available online.


Leadership Challenge Amazon
The Leadership Challenge

Using this book you can build the content of your course or experience around the five exemplary practices of leadership.

1. Challenge the Process
2. Inspire a Shared Vision
3. Enable Others to Act
4. Model the Way
5. Encourage the Heart

Stated Description: The 25th anniversary edition of the bestselling business classic, completely revised and updated

For more than 25 years, The Leadership Challenge has been the most trusted source on becoming a better leader, selling more than 2 million copies in over 20 languages since its first publication. Based on Kouzes and Posner’s extensive research, this all-new edition casts their enduring work in context for today’s world, proving how leadership is a relationship that must be nurtured, and most importantly, that it can be learned.

  • Features over 100 all-new case studies and examples, which show The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership in action around the world
  • Focuses on the toughest organizational challenges leaders face today
  • Addresses changes in how people work and what people want from their work

This is a leadership book that has sold over one million copies and is based on a large amount of research. It is not written specifically for college students but is applicable. It proposes the five exemplary practices of leadership. The Student Leadership Practices Inventory, an instrument for college students, and The Leadership Challenge Workbook, would make excellent companions to the book for conference developers.


Primal Leadership

You can build the leadership learning content around Personal and Social Competence and/or the Emotional Intelligence Domains.

1. Personal Competence
a. Self-Awareness
b. Self-Management
2. Social Competence
a. Social Awareness
b. Relationship Management

Stated Description: Daniel Goleman’s international bestseller Emotional Intelligence forever changed our concept of “being smart,” showing how emotional intelligence (EI)-how we handle ourselves and our relationships-can determine life success more than IQ. Now, Goleman teams with renowned EI researchers Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee to explore the role of emotional intelligence in leadership. Unveiling neuro-scientific links between organizational success or failure and “primal leadership,” the authors argue that a leader’s emotions are contagious. If a leader resonates energy and enthusiasm, an organization thrives; if a leader spreads negativity and dissonance, it flounders. Drawing from decades of analysis within world-class organizations, the authors show that resonant leaders-whether CEOs or managers, coaches or politicians-excel not just through skill and smarts, but by connecting with others using EI competencies like empathy and self-awareness. And they employ up to six leadership styles-from visionary to coaching to pacesetting-fluidly interchanging them as the situation demands.

This New York Times national bestseller is from the author of Emotional Intelligence (EI). This book could be interesting for students as it looks at leadership through a different lens of emotion.


emotionally intelligent leadership for students AmazonEmotionally Intelligent Leadership

This new book provides a guide for students on emotionally intelligent leadership. You could build your leadership development experience around the core facets of the model of emotionally intelligent leadership.

1. Consciousness of Context
2. Consciousness of Self
3. Consciousness of Others

Stated Description: The only book for students which explores the connection between emotional intelligence and effective leadership

Emotionally Intelligent Leadership: A Guide for Students is based on a conceptual model that helps students to become emotionally intelligent leaders. Research from around the world has demonstrated that there is a relationship between emotional intelligence and leadership. For the second edition of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership, the authors have incorporated their revised, data-based emotionally intelligent leadership (EIL) model into an engaging text for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students.

The book can be used in conjunction with the Emotionally Intelligent Leadership for Students Inventory and Student Workbook for an immersive and transformative educational experience. Students will appreciate the opportunity to learn more about themselves as they reflect on their experiences as learners and their own leadership journeys.

  • The new edition is substantially rewritten based new research on the EIL model
  • Its clear structure is organized around the three facets of emotionally intelligent leadership and 19 leadership capacities
  • Questions at the end of each chapter encourage purposeful reflection and leadership growth

Emotionally Intelligent Leadership is one of a kind, fostering growth and promoting intense self-reflection. Students are empowered to enhance the campus experience and develop into effective leaders of the future. Emotionally Intelligent Leadership is the perfect introduction to leading with emotional intelligence.

There is also a workbook and inventory available.



Strengths Based Leadership Amazon
Strengths Based Leadership
Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow

Stated Description: In recent years, while continuing to learn more about strengths, Gallup scientists have also been examining decades of data on the topic of leadership. They studied more than 1 million work teams, conducted more than 20,000 in-depth interviews with leaders, and even interviewed more than 10,000 followers around the world to ask exactly why they followed the most important leader in their life.

The results of that research are unveiled in Strengths Based Leadership. Using Gallup’s discoveries, authors Tom Rath and Barry Conchie identify three keys to being a more effective leader and use firsthand accounts from highly successful leaders — including the founder of Teach For America and the president of The Ritz-Carlton — to show how each person’s unique strengths can drive their success.

A new leadership version of Gallup’s popular StrengthsFinder assessment helps readers discover their own special gifts and specific strategies for leading with their top five strengths. Filled with novel research and actionable ideas, Strengths Based Leadership will give you a new road map for leading people toward a better future.


The following books may help you as you design, and assess leadership development programs for students.

handbook for student leadership development amazonThe Handbook for Student Leadership Development

Stated Description: This is a comprehensive handbook provides essential research, theoretical framing, and practical guidance to help higher education practitioners develop, advance, and sustain a student leadership program. This new and thoroughly revised edition introduces a model for designing and executing any student leadership program, which will serve as a framing device for the book. This model covers: Foundations of Leadership Education, Program Design, Program Context, and Program Delivery. In addition, the book includes a rich, organized array of further recommended resources that will be connected to elements in various chapters.


Student Leadership Competencies Book Amazon
The Student Leadership Competencies Guidebook
Designing Intentional Leadership Learning and Development

Stated Description: Bridge the gap between leadership development and career preparation!

This guidebook gives leadership educators the tools they need to help students develop the competencies necessary for their chosen careers and required by their academic programs. It also offers a way to understand and demonstrate the effectiveness of leadership programs.

Organized into chapters each focused on one of 60 leadership competencies common across 522 academic degree programs accredited by 97 agencies, each chapter covers:

  • a definition and description of the competency through the lens of each of four dimensions: knowledge, value, ability, and behavior;
  • a scenario related to college student leadership that showcases the competency in action;
  • related competencies to help readers understand how developing one competency may also intentionally or unintentionally develop another;
  • a correlation of the competency to the Relational Leadership Model, the Social Change Model, the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, and/or Emotionally Intelligent Leadership; and
  • tangible curricular ideas to use with students to help them develop each dimension of the competency.

This is an infographic about leadership education in colleges.

Leadership Education in Colleges Infographic

Root Down & Branch Out: Best Practices for Leadership Development Programs is designed to help you develop a high quality leadership course or program for college students. It shares a number of different program types and activities that have positively impacted student learning and leadership development. It is a source of ideas. You can design and assess your program or course using the tool in the book.

Are there books, models, or guides not listed here that you use with good results? Please comment below and I can add them to this toolkit.

Storytelling Workshop: Techinques, Models, Tools & Resources

Storytelling Workshop
Models, Tools, & Storytelling Techniques

My friend Phil invited me to design a storytelling workshop for a Nonprofit conference in Madison. While we were designing it, it caused me to think about those storytelling techniques, models and resources (like CAR, SUCCES & the Hero’s Journey) that had been most helpful for me. Plus, when I told friends about what I was doing, they suggested storytelling technique videos to me (like Mike’s great Ira Glass find) that I hadn’t seen before.

Whether you have 20 seconds to talk to someone you’ve just met or if you are preparing for an hour long presentation, share a story. There are different models that can help you to piece your story together. The Made to Stick SUCCES model (Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Emotional Stories) for communicating ideas that stick at the Lead with Story CAR model (Context Action Result) are good ones for shorter stories. Joseph Cambell’s Hero’s Journey is a great one for longer stories.

Lead with Story CAR Model

CAR story structure: Context-Action-Result
This is similar to ancient Greek (Aristotle) three act structure models like Setup-Confrontation-Resolution or Situation-Conflict-Resolution.

Made to Stick SUCCES Model

Simple-Unexpected-Concrete-Credible-Emotional-Stories
Made to Stick Model for constructing better stories (pdf download)

Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey Model

This is a favorite of mine and great for longer stories (like a movie or biography).

Ira Glass on Storytelling

You may have heard Ira Glass and “This American Life” on public radio. Ira talks about the building blocks of a great story.




Pixar’s 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling

Why Stories?

When I think about the biggest projects I’ve ever done…most have gotten off the ground by telling a short story to someone I met at an event or in a meeting. We both shared a story about what we were working on and sometimes there is a fit work together. The story helps people to understand who you are, what you do, and what you are working on. Telling a short (and real) story helps people understand your idea and collaborate with you. Using “storytools” can help you to do this.

Story Workshop Development Activities

Here are other story creating, showing, & telling techniques I demonstrate and facilitate at lengthier workshops or retreats:

  1. The origin story-what catalyzed you for this cause? What happened?
  2. How you got into doing this. +1 to share the roots and the DIRT (vulnerability).
  3. The why story-why do you do what you do? What is a real problem?
  4. Naming names. Tell a real example of a person or organization you helped.
  5. The success story…so we know you can help us too.
  6. The here and now story. Why are you here in this moment?
  7. First storyline
  8. Storybase
  9. Storyblocks
  10. Storyboard
  11. First question
  12. From this to that

Let us know what some of your favorite story models, tools, techniques, and resources are. If you were to design your own storytelling workshop to share what has worked best for you, what would that be?

Text to Speech Tool: Have your computer read to you

I’m working on a little something new now that the innovation book launch is behind me. I’d like to show my top productivity/innovation tools in a series of 4 minute videos. I thought of this tool yesterday when I had a long article I couldn’t quite motivate myself to read…here is the tool. It is Sesame Street simple. Have your computer READ those long articles to you with “text to speech.”

In this video, I walk you through how to set up the tool and use it on your computer. There are also text to speech apps for your various devices. In this instance I’m using my Macbook.

Text to Speech Tool

How to use the “text to speech” tool on your computer:

– Use it to listen to articles instead of gluing your eyes to one thing on your screen.
– Use it to hear how your writing sounds and check for edits.
– Use it to get into action on a long (and intimidating) article you need to read.
– Use it to learn and become more educated by reading articles you normally wouldn’t have the time (or mental energy) to read.
– Use it to make time in the kitchen or doing household tasks more interesting (since you can listen to articles in the background).
– Use it if you have a hard time seeing the text with your eyes (hear it instead).

Have you given the text to speech tool a try? What do you think?
What other innovative tools help with your productivity? Leave a comment to let us know!

More innovation tools, resources, and programs from Darin at http://innovationlearning.org.