(#366) Why Not You?

May 28, 2017

Speaking and writing does not belong to some elite group of individuals.

Have you considered publishing or speaking to broaden the powerful impact and reach you already have on those around you? It could be for a small local audience or something larger. You might do it for money—or for the sheer passion you have for a particular topic.

Later today (May 28, 2017), I will have the opportunity to facilitate a workshop at the annual NISOD Conference in Austin, Texas.  I will pose a simple question, “Why not you?” If you don’t share your talents, who will?

I hope to encourage participants to consider sharing their accumulated wisdom through publishing and/or speaking. I will be talking to college professors, advisers, and administrations. But whether you manage a retail store, teach students, serve customers in a restaurant, nurse patients in a hospital, coach a little league team, manage a household, or lead your community, you have experiences to share.  Speaking and writing does not belong to some elite group of individuals.

Take a moment today, and consider all that you have to offer with respect to your accumulated wisdom.

To be sure, just because you want to write or speak, does not necessarily mean you should write or speak.  And just as assuredly, not everyone has the talent or temperament for speaking and writing.

Before you brush aside the idea, though, consider what you have that others may be interested in learning.  From parenting, to surfing, to gardening, to home renovation, to mentoring young minds, you make a difference in your world. Here are a few questions to help you sort through your thoughts to share your wisdom. I encourage you to work through these with someone who will give you trusted feedback.

  • WHY do I want to publish and/or speak? Is it for ego, profit, passion, or the need to share an important lesson?
  • WHO cares about my work—and why should they? Huge question! If you decide to speak or publish, who will be interested enough to listen?
  • WHERE do I find opportunities? Local community organizations? Regional and national conferences? Letters to the editor? The community newspaper? A national magazine? Self-publishing?
  • HOW do I develop a supportive learning community of associates to help me develop your writing and speaking talents? And, how can I help others to find their voices?

When we start examining these types of professional and personal growth opportunities and questions, we identify and clarify our inner desires, strengths, and challenges. And we increase our chances to connect and form collaborative, supportive networks, and create community.

Rather than saying, “I’m not a writer or speaker” I hope you will consider (and act upon) “Hey, I can write and speak, too…just never thought about it.” Find a mentor to help you begin your journey.

In fact, you may find yourself saying, “Hell, yeah, that is for me!”

Video recommendation for the week.

Your story has power!

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

(#303) Give Your All Stars the Spotlight

March 13, 2016

Find a way to let your colleagues share what
they are proud of and how they do it.

At times, the execution of appropriate recognition can move from the sublime to the ridiculous.  I remember years ago sitting in a school auditorium during a student awards assembly that dragged on and on and on.  It seemed everyone got an award for something.  I remember a colleague turning to me and wondering when we would start calling people in from the streets for special recognition.

You probably have seen or heard of endless compliments and praise given for even the tiniest deeds (or misdeeds). Everyone is special and everything deserves special recognition.

Social media sites give “badges.”

Ridiculous? Possibly. I don’t think it’s sublime.

On the other extreme we can find the total lack of recognition. There are managers (definitely not leaders) who don’t take the time or don’t see the need to give a shout-out to their people.  Ridiculous—and worse.

Every workplace has All Stars. I don’t mean the egocentric-look-at-me-strut All Stars. I mean those who go about their calling with meaning, authenticity, and caring.  They make a difference in their work space and for the people they work for or with in that space. They lead the way. How do we recognize these folks—and share their strategies and achievements? How do we recognize these folks?

Photo: Steve Piscitelli

Photo: Steve Piscitelli

When I have the chance to work with an audience, I have the fortunate opportunity to stand in front of an auditorium full of people and “show my stuff.” I, also, like to share that opportunity with the audience in front of me. Each time I do it I am amazed (but not surprised) at what happens. Take my recent keynote on reflective practice to the faculty at Wake Technical Community College.

The organizers of the event requested I end my presentation with a fifteen minute Q + A.  I suggested to make it a Q + A + S session. Question + Answer + Sharing. I would gladly entertain any questions the audience had and I would also open the floor to the audience to share how they already incorporate reflective practice strategies in their classes. What occurred was energizing and validating. In the fifteen minutes (that could have easily gone longer), everyone who stood up in the audience shared their bright spots. Proud and full of energy they had the spotlight in front of their colleagues.  Unscripted. Unrehearsed. Unabashed. Proud! They represented the All Stars in that room.

David Castillo Dominici @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

David Castillo Dominici @FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have done this elsewhere as part of training programs. Department Chairs identified their All Stars. I then incorporated them into a small piece of the program. In an upcoming program for a corporate audience I will facilitate a similar exchange.

Leaders can set aside time for their All Stars to deliver an Ignite Session. Five minutes. Quick. Poignant. Team member affirming. Team building. I saw students do this effectively at a faculty convocation in Virginia.

And if you work for a manager rather than a true leader—someone who does not get the importance of this type of genuine and authentic recognition and professional development-then do it yourself. Hold teaching circles, clearness committees, or Ignite Sessions. Tony Hsieh of Zappos speaks of encouraging collisions to foster innovation.

Video recommendation of the week: Tony Hsieh encourages “collisions” to spark innovation.

Find a way to let your colleagues share what they are proud of and how they do it. They want to hear from you as well. Time for you and your colleagues to shine and grow.

Now, that’s sublime.

Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

(#261) Mixing it Up with Your Audience

May 24, 2015

So, go ahead. Mix it up. It will not only energize your
it will keep you fresh.

A note to my blog followers: This week’s post marks the fifth anniversary for this blog. Thank you for following and sharing my weekly posts. It all began in an Austin, Texas hotel room on May 31, 2010.  I had just completed facilitating a session at the NISOD annual conference and decided it was time I dove in to the blogosphere.   Ironically, as I start year #6, I am sitting in Austin once again. (Love this city! And NISOD!). Please let me know if you have ideas for future topics.

Tomorrow I will facilitate a session on student success strategies at the annual NISOD conference.  As is the case so often, strategies for success in school can be broadly (and at times, specifically) applied beyond the classroom.  Hence the inspiration for this week’s blog post.

Whether you orchestrate a staff meeting, call to order a community action group, or lead a classroom, consider mixing it up with your audience.  Especially if it is a repeat audience.

Image: renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Educational psychologist Lee Shulman developed a simple non-linear model for engagement in the classroom. It allows for a teacher/leader/organizer to start a lesson/meeting/session from any one of six entry points.   The six points are:

  • Engagement
  • Understanding
  • Performance
  • Reflection
  • Judgment
  • Commitment

I have found this one model a simple reminder that I never have to begin two sessions in the same manner. Nor do I have to stay in the same gear for an entire presentation. It switches things up for me, keeps the students “guessing” (what will he do today?), and helps make the material relevant.

There are times it is appropriate to deliver a lecture when the audience needs to have a quick grasp of knowledge. For instance, if students needed to know the safety precautions in a science lab, it would probably be best to provide a mini lecture for understanding.  Safety is probably not the area for experimentation. The same might hold true before sending a group of volunteers into a local river to pick up debris.

Or maybe you want to get the thought processes flowing with an opportunity to reflect on a significant event from the news headlines.  Speakers often begin with a story to engage the audience’s thinking. This requires that they also reflect on the words of the speaker and the meaning of those words to their lives (judgment).

Many times I had my history students begin a lesson by forming small groups (engagement), reading a primary source document (reflection) and then evaluate (judgment) how it supported an historical perspective.

Have you ever conducted the Marshmallow Challenge? This immediately places your participants in a performance mode. Engagement, reflection, judgment, and commitment soon follow.

Or maybe, after evaluating a particular issue from different points of view, your students/audience can commit to one position or another.

Video recommendation of the week:

As you can see, it is possible to use all of these in one session. They are not linear. You don’t need to do a certain one first and another one at the end.  You can enter at any point and mix and match as serves the needs of the people in front of you.

So, go ahead. Mix it up. It will not only energize your audience, it will keep you fresh.

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


(#233) Feed the Butterflies

November 9, 2014

The day I stop getting a little bit anxious before addressing a group
is the day that I need to stop speaking.

This past week I had the pleasure to speak to 1,000 educators at the annual Moran Lecture Series in Hobbs, New Mexico.  Although I did my usual “rehearse-aholic” preparations, I found the butterflies particularly active in the 30 minutes prior to the event kickoff.

Sitting in the backstage dressing room, the little butterflies could have easily been mistaken for elephants stampeding through my innards.

Tydings Auditorium Hobbs, New Mexico

Tydings Auditorium
Hobbs, New Mexico

As usual though, those little Monarchs simmered down. And they helped to keep my focused.

Actually, I go looking for them before each presentation.

Whether the audience is a 1,000 or 10, I ALWAYS get butterflies.  For me, that remains a positive. They give me an edge, keep me alert, and let me know that I still care about what I do.  The day I stop getting a little bit anxious before addressing a group is the day that I need to stop speaking.

For some folks, though, the butterflies create massive anxiety, dread, and a loss of confidence.  The following eight strategies have helped me tame my butterflies. Adapt as necessary for your situations.

Video recommendation for the week:

  1. Rehearse. If you want to feel more confident, you need to know your material, props and technology. Don’t “go on” if you are not prepared.  It’s insult to the audience.
  2. Walk-through. Whenever possible do a walk-through of the venue.  Know what it looks like from the stage (front of the room) and what the audience will see from their seats. Consider a virtual walk-through before you even get to the venue.  As I readied myself for the Hobbs talk, I found the venue (Tydings Auditorium) online and then found a video of someone giving a talk from the stage I would occupy.  In this manner I was fairly well prepared when I walked into the auditorium.  No big surprises about the room.
  3. Tech check. During my walk-through I do a tech check. Video, sound, projector, microphone, and lighting.

    Image: Arvind Balaraman/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image: Arvind Balaraman/

  4. Meet and greet. Before I start speaking, I always find it calming to meet members of the audience, shake hands and exchange a welcome. In large groups, it’s impossible to connect with each person but the mere fact that I am out and about lets the other audience members see me.  I find it disarming (in a good way) for me and them.
  5. Nourished and hydrated. I know what my body needs (light snack and water) and does not need (ice and carbs) right before an engagement.
  6. Quiet moment. In larger venues, a dressing room can provide an oasis of solitude.  Most of the time you won’t have that luxury.  So a walk down a quiet hallway, a moment in the restroom, or simply closing your eyes can provide the solitude needed.
  7. Kind eyeballs. This is something I learned from reading and listening to the late Leo Buscaglia. Once I get in front of the group, I scan the audience for those folks who are looking at me. I notice the dancing and gleaming eyes. While I speak to my entire audience, initially such kind eyeballs can put me at ease.
  8. Structure. The first few minutes of any presentation are critical.  This is where you will lose, gain, or at least buy some time from the audience.  Do/present something that catches attention.  It could be a pertinent story, a funny video (very short), or a demonstration with a member of the audience.  This, of course, requires planning and rehearsal.  See #1 above.

Understand that butterflies are a speaker’s friend.  Nurture yours. Let them guide you.

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.



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