The third way to teach (a reblog from Seth Godin)

I’ve had a few bad teachers in my life. There have even been terrible ones who humiliated me and constantly compared me to my peers. That was in my younger years. Now, one can get managers who are just as bad but I’ve been fortunate to have mostly great managers. Bad managers think they can bully you to improve your performance or perhaps to suppress you if they feel threatened by you.Those are the absolute worst kind.


I read a blog post by Seth Godin a few days ago that summarised to how NOT to be taught. He says it better than I can. I like to think that in my career, I will master the third way to teach:

Three ways to help people get things done

by Seth Godin

A friend sent me a copy of a new book about basketball coach Don Meyer. Don was one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all time, apparently. It’s quite a sad book—sad because of his tragic accident, but also sad because it’s a vivid story about a misguided management technique.

Meyer’s belief was that he could become an external compass and taskmaster to his players. By yelling louder, pushing harder and relentlessly riding his players, his plan was to generate excellence by bullying them. The hope was that over time, people would start pushing themselves, incorporating Don’s voice inside their head, but in fact, this often turns out to be untrue. People can be pushed, but the minute you stop, they stop. If the habit you’ve taught is to achieve in order to avoid getting chewed out, once the chewing out stops, so does the achievement.

It might win basketball games, but it doesn’t scale and it doesn’t last. When Don left the room (or the players graduated), the team stopped winning.

A second way to manage people is to create competition. Pit people against one another and many of them will respond. Post all the grades on a test, with names, and watch people try to outdo each other next time. Promise a group of six managers that one of them will get promoted in six months and watch the energy level rise. Want to see little league players raise their game? Just let them know the playoffs are in two weeks and they’re one game out of contention.

Again, there’s human nature at work here, and this can work in the short run. The problem, of course, is that in every competition most competitors lose. Some people use that losing to try harder next time, but others merely give up. Worse, it’s hard to create the cooperative environment that fosters creativity when everyone in the room knows that someone else is out to defeat them.

Who is your worst teacher ever?

Both the first message (the bully with the heart of gold) and the second (creating scarce prizes) are based on a factory model, one of scarcity. It’s my factory, my basketball, my gallery and I’m going to manipulate whatever I need to do to get the results I need. If there’s only room for one winner, it seems these approaches make sense.

The third method, the one that I prefer, is to open the door. Give people a platform, not a ceiling. Set expectations, not to manipulate but to encourage. And then get out of the way, helping when asked but not yelling from the back of the bus.

When people learn to embrace achievement, they get hooked on it. Take a look at the incredible achievements the alumni of some organizations achieve after they move on. When adults (and kids) see the power of self-direction and realize the benefits of mutual support, they tend to seek it out over and over again.

In a non-factory mindset, one where many people have the opportunity to use the platform (I count the web and most of the arts in this category), there are always achievers eager to take the opportunity. No, most people can’t manage themselves well enough to excel in the way you need them to, certainly not immediately. But those that can (or those that can learn to) are able to produce amazing results, far better than we ever could have bullied them into. They turn into lynchpins, solving problems you didn’t even realize you had. A new generation of leaders is created…

And it lasts a lifetime.

Songs that never got away (from my pretty little head)

There is a defining moment in every person’s life. Within that moment, everything that that person is, shines its brightest.


I’m lucky to have had more than one defining moment in my life. And I’m sure that there’s more to come. Often I remember these moments through music. Music is very dear to my heart. Before I was a teenager, the songs that really stuck where those that I heard often, mostly from my dad turntable or in the car on a 8-hour journey to our home town. As I got older, I found that it was the lyrics of songs that caught ear; the way the artiste had expressed an emotion or a feeling or a place. In any case, these songs always remind me of the moment when I discovered something new about myself, about life and about why I was on earth in the first place. It wasn’t always a pleasant discovery. And I had no way of knowing that it would be a moment that would define my entire perspective. Like watching the video of ‘November rain’ and thinking that life can be very unpredictable and sad. An unpleasant realisation at the age of 13 or 14 but the memory of those moments make me live IN the moment. Cherish now, laugh, make fun. I remember also that ‘What are you waiting for?’ by Natalie Grant was just the lyrics I needed one Monday morning on my way to work. I can say unequivocally that that trip to the office was indeed the trip in which I decided to pursue my MBA and follow my heart on a whole bunch of other passions.

Looking through my iPod and CDs, I found some songs that take me back.  Below are the songs and artistes from my earliest defining moments to the most recent. Don’t let my eclectic taste in music get to you :):

Nesting years (~1986 to 1997)

  1. 50 ways to leave your lover (Paul Simon & Al Garfunkel)
  2. Talking about a revolution (Tracy Chapman)
  3. Eternal flame (The Bangles)
  4. Tears in heaven (Eric Clapton)
  5. No son of mine (Genesis)
  6. Zombie (Cranberries)
  7. Man in the mirror (Michael Jackson)
  8. Sail on (Lionel Richie)
  9. November rain (Guns n’ Roses)
  10. Love is all around (Wet Wet Wet)
  11. You will know (Black Men United)

Caterpillar years (1998 to 2008)

  1. You outta know (Alanis Morrissette)
  2. Question of faith (Lighthouse family)
  3. Teenage Dirt bag (Wheatus)
  4. No more drama (Mary J. Blige)
  5. Every Word (Sade)
  6. Desert Rose (Sting)
  7. Stan (Eminem &  Dido)
  8. WOW (Brandy)
  9. I paid my dues (Anastasia)
  10. Stupid (Sarah McLachlan)

Butterfly years (2009-20xx)

  1. Take you back (Jeremy Camp)
  2. She will be loved (Maroon 5)
  3. East to West (Casting Crowns)
  4. All things new (Sidewalk Prophets)
  5. What are you waiting for? (Natalie Grant)
  6. Empire state of mind (Alicia Keys)
  7. This = love (The Script)

What songs take you back? What songs are elements of your defining moments?

This post is inspired by one of Christopher Cocca’s older posts.

 Unfortunately, I broke Chris’ rules :P. I don’t know the exact year of song releases but I remember them by when I discovered them. My only rules are (1) only one song per artiste and (2) I must remember the words to all the songs selected. And I do.

Shoot me. I doodle at meetings.

doodle v scribble or draw aimlessly; n shape or picture drawn aimlessly.

The pleasure of discovering a novel product. Not to be misconstrued as any other Kleenex moment.

Crying over split milk

Internal relationships should be the most important, no?

Market share dilemmas....

These are my doodles and do not represent the doodles that my employers may produce themselves.
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