Before I was a corporate trainer, I was a law enforcement trainer. I worked in both the city and county jails around the St. Louis area for 12 years. So it was a natural choice when my current job asked me to train the Active Shooter Class.
By this point active-shooter scenarios are by no means obscure. It feels like we see them on the news every other week. According to the Dept. of Homeland Security, there were 160 active-shooter situations in the United States from 2000-2013. In the last 3 years we have added to that significantly. But believe it or not, you actually have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being involved in an active-shooter situation.
Would you believe that approximately 250 people are struck by lightning in the US a year? Roughly 48 of those are through direct strikes and around 200 are injured from the lightning hitting something first then hitting the person. Your chances of being struck are about 1 in 3000. (Now you understand why you shouldn’t play the Power Ball with your chances of winning being about 500,000 times more likely that you’ll be struck by lightning over your lifetime.) I know, it’s still fun to dream about winning.
These weird lightning facts seem to help calm people’s minds about being involved in an active-shooter situations. However out of the 30+ classes that I taught over a 3 week period, I was surprised at how many people said they were in an active-shooter situation. (Although most were robberies, not really active-shooter situations.)
For the one’s in the group who had never experienced gun violence, those people said that they never really thought about what they would do in real-life active-shooter situation.
So in case you fall into that group who’s never thought about it, I’m going to give you the 3 ways to survive an active shooter situation:
- Run—and I would add, duck to the ground and look where the shooter is, then run the other way.
- If you can’t run, try to HIDE. Preferably somewhere that has a locked door. Try not to trap yourself in. But if you are trapped in and that door opens, be prepared to do the last one, which is…
- FIGHT! If you’ve never punched someone in the face before, this would be a good day to give it a try. If you’re not the fighting type, look around for objects that could be used for improvised weapons: water bottles, phones, pens-which can be used like an ice-pick and fire extinguishers.
These are the 3 basic things you need to know to get through the situation. Your main thought should be, “I’m getting the hell out of here alive. I’m getting to a door now!”
Below is a link to the video that I showed in all my classes. It’s only about 5 minutes long. It was produced by Homeland Security and the City of Houston. I will warn you that there is some simulated violence, but once the shots are over, the rest of the video is about how to react in an active-shooter situation.
Please take the time to watch the video and then I want you to think about your own job. Do you know where all the exits are? In most cases, 83% of people will go out the door they came in. Do you know where the side and back doors are?
Start paying attention to where the other doors are when you enter somewhere like a movie theater or a restaurant. Remember, there is always an exit through the kitchen. Don’t believe me? Let me ask you, unless you were at McDonald’s, when was the last time you saw the bus-boy bringing trash through the dining room? (There’s always a backdoor or loading dock area. Usually two guys will be sitting there smoking a cigarette. Run past them.)
Again, I want you to start thinking about exits when you go out somewhere. Just because you parked on one side of the mall, doesn’t mean you have to go that way to get out. I want you to tell yourself that you will get out if you had to.
And remember your 3 options: Run, Hide, Fight!
Here’s the video. (Click the link if you are receiving this through email.)
Gamification is a hot new buzzword in the business world, but the idea of it has been around since the beginning of time. Gamification is the idea of applying elements that makes games fun into just about any kind of activity or process.
The most common gamification process in the business world right now is in the field of marketing—“Make it fun, make it interactive.”
Another process or activity that is incorporating gamification in the business world is filling out insurance applications—reach page 3 you get a medal, reach page 5—Boom! A little wizard might pop up saying, “You’re a Wiz! Keep on going!”
Gamification is even being used in exercise. If you look at gyms like Orange Theory Fitness, they pit individuals or teams against other teams. The people exercising can see in real time who’s working harder and who’s in the lead on the screen. This motivates the other teams to get moving. It also helps that they have a coach up in the front giving feedback in real time.
If you’re a runner, you may have heard of the app called Zombies, Run! It’s one of the most popular exercise game apps out there with over 1,000,000 downloads. You plug your headphones into your phone, listen to the story line and scary music, next thing you know you hear, “There’s a zombie! Run!”
You take off running. As you run, you come across things that you can pick up that will help you with your quest. Music, points, a sense of danger, all of these elements are part of gamification or game theory. Who knew running could be so fun?
Some other elements of gamification are: Status, Access, Power and Stuff.
- Status—it doesn’t matter if it’s Military Badges, “Power Seller Status,” or Level-statuses; all of these things make people feel important. And the best thing about them is they’re free. It doesn’t cost anything to make people feel important because they only get these if they accomplish something. The harder it is, the better.
- Access—this also can be free, but it is very valuable to the person obtaining it. Why is it valuable? Because normally the person wouldn’t be able to get close to it own their own; whatever it is. Let’s say you worked at People or Forbes magazine, interviewing Oprah or Warren Buffett may feel like just another day at the office. But if you’re a person who enjoyed reading about celebrities and you wanted to learn how to get rich and you never met a billionaire, much less two famous billionaires as famous as Oprah or Buffett, this would feel like the opportunity of a lifetime.
- Power—everyone likes a little power, even if we don’t want to admit it. Some just let it go to their heads like an elementary school hall monitor or that first month never-been-a-manager-before-manager. But in gamification, power equals advantage and everyone likes that.
- Stuff—this is the one that most people think we want the most. But most of the times that’s not true. Free things, a discount and cash-back is nice, but look at the three above things and really think about what you want more?
I’m stealing this example from Gabe Zicherman one of the leading thought-leaders on gamification, would you rather skip a 15 minute line at Starbucks and walk right up to the front, they will have your drink ready right when you come in, then you pay with a “Speed Pass,” and then you’re out of there? Or would you rather wait 15 minutes in line and have a free-coupon for any drink you want?
Most people would rather walk by everybody and still pay. Why is that? Because humans are not rationale creatures and gamification incorporates this. This is why you still see the claw-crane games crammed in the corner of an arcade begging for some sucker to grab a three-cent stuffed animal for a $1.00 that will take $6.00 or $7.00 to get.
“Oh, but it’s so fun and my kid really wants one.”
If you are interested in becoming certified in gamification, the Engagement Alliance is offering classes through UDemy. Of course they have four levels, each varying in difficultly, price and amount of work that needs to be done.
Wonder how you can use this idea to get employees motivated? There’s an app of course! It’s called Due Props. Let’s face it, no one likes doing, peer-reviews, annual reviews or filling out feedback forms. Due Props lets you give instant feedback to peers, employees and even higher ranking people than you. As data is collected, it can be complied for a more comprehensive review later.
So why should gamification matter to you? The biggest reason is because it’s going to change the way you do things and you probably won’t even notice that it’s happening to you. From exercise, to filling out long boring applications, to getting your performance evaluations at work, gamification is going to creep into your everyday life and hopefully you will be having more fun doing every day chores.
The trick for you business minded people is figuring out a way to gamify something before someone else does so that you can make your millions. If people can do it from exercising and running, I’m sure you can apply it to whatever your passion is.
Did you know you could make a career out of drinking beer? Can you imagine the look on a parent’s face when they asked their child, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
And they said, “Eh, I think I’m going to drink beer all day and talk about it to people.”
There are many careers out there that many of us aren’t aware of. Once you understand that there is not always a clear cut career path to doing what you love, the sooner you will realize that sometimes you have to blaze your own path. As far as knowing everything about beer goes though, there is a clear cut path. It’s called the Cicerone Certification Program.
There are four levels of the program: Level 1 -Certified Beer Server, Level 2 -Certified Cicerone, Level 3 -Advanced Cicerone and finally Level 4 -Master Cicerone.
There are almost 67,000 people who have been through Level 1 training called—Certified Beer Server. To get this designation you have to take a 60 question closed-book test and pass with at least a 75%. Questions would include things about: proper storage, styles of beer and knowledge about the Cicerone program in general.
There are roughly 2000 people who have been through level 2 training or are called Certified Cicerones, which can take up to a year to complete. But when we look at Levels 3 and 4, the numbers drop off significantly.
There have been 13 people who have been through Level 3 Advanced Cicerone training and only 11 people worldwide who can call themselves a Master Cicerone.
Mirella Amato was the first person in the world to become a Master Cicerone outside of the United States. She has created a really cool business called Beerology where she does tastings and food pairing workshops centered around beer.
Amato also has written a book called Beerology-All You Need To Know To Enjoy Beer and has been teaching all-things-beer to students since 2007. She’s also been a judge at major beer festivals and beer tastings all over the world.
I had the chance to ask Ms. Amato a few questions regarding her business and the Cicerone Program:
What made you decide to pursue a Cicerone designation in the first place?
“My whole career is based around me learning as much as I can about beer and sharing what I’ve learned with others. By 2010, I had been working as a beer specialist for a number of years – doing sommelier-type work and doing public workshops to promote beer appreciation – and wanted to acquire some sort of credential so that my students and customers would trust my level of expertise. This led me to my Certified Cicerone certification. The Master Cicerone exam was more of a personal challenge; I really enjoy learning and found this to be a great way to structure my learning and work towards a tangible goal. It’s a 14 hour exam, so it requires a lot of dedicated study.”
When did you realize you were going to start your own business and incorporate beer in that business?
“I’ve always worked for myself, so the decision for me wasn’t so much about owning my own business as it was finding the right business. Freelancing is a combination of passion, intuition and hard work. I had many passions and was exploring a number of them in the year before I founded Beerology.
The reason I landed on beer is that there was a real need – that’s the intuition piece. At that time – 2006 – craft beer was finally gaining traction and, as it did, an increasing number of people were looking for information and guidance. There were people making beer, but there were very few people in a ‘beer sommelier’ type role. Because this was an emerging field, though, I had to figure out a lot of things on my own. It was quite a challenge!”
Do you have any inspiring thoughts you may have about people saying, “Your idea is nuts. Just forget about it.”
“There’s always someone who will tell you you’re nuts. They may be wrong, or they may be right – only you know for sure. Occasionally take a step back, look at the work you’re doing, and ask yourself:
1) Are you passionate about it?
2) Is it filling a real need?
3) Are you willing to work hard?
If the answer to these three questions is ‘yes,’ then you’re on the right track!”
Mirella Amato is one of less than a dozen people in the world who has blazed her own way in a career field that is as unclear as a pint of stout. She should be an inspiration to us all.
Please feel free to visit Mirella’s website. And if you really want to know how to taste a beer, click here and let her explain how.
I’m in a dilemma. Again.
I recently purchased a book called Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher and now I know what’s wrong with me.
I’m a Scanner.
A Scanner is someone who is interested in a lot of things. They research these things intensely and when they learn what they want to know about it, they move on to something else and research that intensely.
Scanners drive the people around them nuts. They seem flighty and unfocused. Some people call them a Dilettante. Webster’s definition of a dilettante is, “A person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.
But what Barbara Sher brings to light is that Scanners have a very curious and are highly creative people. They also can get bored easily.
Here are some things I’ve looked up this week (but mostly in one day) and spent anywhere from 20 minutes to four hours researching it this week:
1. Birthstones, specifically blue ones: Aquamarine, Topaz and Sapphires
2. Gamification—how to make learning fun. I even sat through an hour webinar from the VP at Adobe.
4. I made a list of all the cool things I’ve done over the last 10 or 12 years: the birth of my child, places I’ve visited, jobs I’ve had, houses that I’ve bought and sold, college degrees, too many things to list for this post.
5. Lyrical Essays for a possible submission—the “braided essay,” is the type I’m going to use.
6. That got me into looking up things that were related to writing in general and that brought me to Stephen’s King’s On Writing…
7. …which lead me to looking up, “How to submit to blogs for being a guest writer.” Hint: Google “Write for us.”
8. I checked in with this blogger named ViperChill who wrote a really long article on: How to buy Facebook likes for less than a penny each.
And then he described how to make two business pages on Facebook, send out the same stuff as the other one, but link the two together and somehow this gets more people to share your content because Google will index it differently.
9. Then I decided I needed to look up houses on the waterfront here in the St. Louis area, which in case you don’t know, is in the middle of the United States, so…there’s either rivers, creeks, ponds or lakes.
Well, I found a house that’s less than $100,000 on a lake by where I currently live and I didn’t even know it was there. But the bad news, it probably needs another $100,000 in work.
Somehow I let this take me out of the game for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour.
11. I went to her blog which lead me down the rabbit hole for another hour because she’s that damn good and what she does. Besides writing her own stuff, she writes SALES LETTERS for other artists and they are just irresistible. No wonder she’s helping so many people make money from their art.
12. So of course I had to look up Bob Marley stencils, because you know? I like to make art. And I like to make money. And I’ve made a few stencil art pieces in the past.
13. So then I went to Ebay and looked up how much stenciled Bob Marley paintings are going for. Answer–$12.00.
So I decided to write this post about Scanners instead of painting a Bob Marley painting to try to show you what it’s like to have this kind of brain.
To some it’s a curse. To others it seems like, “You can never pick one thing and stick with it.”
To me, it’s just what I do and this blog is my outlet for it. I hope to be able to harness the full potential of it one day. Until then, I’ll just keep being curious and keep on writing.
I saw an old friend recently and he said, “Hey, how come you didn’t write about your new ukuleles you got on your blog?”
“I think I did,” I said.
“No. I just searched it. You don’t have anything on there,” he said.
Most of my friends and readers know that I grew up in Hawaii and that I play the ukulele. I own five or six of them. Some uke players say that I have U.A.S. or Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome. But the good news is the last two new ukuleles I have, I got for free.
Well, they were free money wise, but not time wise. See I received the two new ukuleles on a barter and I’ll show you how you can do it too.
Most people have forgotten about the age old tradition of bartering. Back in the day, everyone bartered. Maybe they gave a quilt for some food or a blacksmith traded their services for a tailor’s service.
Today you can go to Craigslist and they have a “Barter,” section. Most of the times people list specific things they are looking for. For instance, I saw a guy looking to trade fishing gear for “things that go bang.” It’s illegal to advertise firearms on Craigslist. Most of the times an add like that would get flagged.
So how did I get involved in the barter in the first place? I contacted an overseas ukulele company to see if they would consider me to be a distributor for their ukuleles. I also mentioned politely that their site could use some help with the English translation. (“Wood make very good tone, nice looking.”)
I said, “I’m sure you speak better English than I speak Cantonese, but I would be willing to fix your ad copy for two custom ukuleles.”
The owner of the company got back to me to say that they are not interested in distributing to the United States right now. But he also said, “I happy to trade you a custom ukulele to fix site words.”
He agreed on the trade after seeing a writing sample. After going back and forth about for about 3 months, I now have custom ukulele. The guy even laser-etched my Polynesian tattoo design into the fret-board and the body of my ukulele. If I were to have a luthier make an ukulele here in The States with as much detail as this guy has given me, it would run $2000 to $3000.
I figured out a year or so ago that it doesn’t really matter where you go work-wise, you will probably end up not liking it somewhere along the way. You might like the profession, but the job itself will suck time to time.
A new Gallup Poll came out in the last month or two that said, anywhere from 48%-60% of Americans do not like their jobs. And that number is closer to 70% in other countries.
So what I’ve been doing is researching why that is? Does it make sense to live in, “The greatest country in the world,” and more than half on average hate what they are doing?
I will say for the record, I don’t hate what I’m doing. I just hate some of the attitudes of the people I’m dealing with. I also feel like those same people have an attitude of, this will get done, because they aren’t the ones who have to do the work.
Employee engagement, self-employment and follow you passion, these are three of the biggest search terms in Google. Tens of millions look these three words up every month and I plan on figuring out how to help these people, including myself.
This was my first time at Word Camp. For those who’s never heard of this, it’s tech seminar on using WordPress.
WordPress is a content management system and this site was built using WordPress.
I made this blog posting in a blog lecture. The speaker said we should blog during class.
Do the prices at the gas pumps have you asking, “Is this 1995 or what?”
If so, you’re not the only one. For years I thought that election years almost always kept gas prices low. Then as soon as the election was over, prices would shoot back up, which never sat well with me.
I was discussing the gas prices with a friend of mine and he informed me that I didn’t know what I was talking about. “The election has nothing to do with oil prices,” he said. “The Saudi’s are pumping at full capacity right now.”
This article explains the low cost of oil and after reading it, I realized that my friend was right. It has nothing to do with it being an election year. The biggest reason prices are so low is because Saudi Arabia is flooding the market, keeping more expensive oil that the U.S. and Canada in the ground.
Click here to read the article.
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We are in the third week of the New Year, how are your New Year’s Resolutions holding up? If you’re like most Americans, they’ve either come and gone or you’re still waiting to get started.
I decided not to do New Year’s Resolutions this year. I did however make five goals that I wanted to try to accomplish this year. Below is the list and how I’ve attempted to integrate them in my life:
1. Cultivate relationships with people I want to keep in my life.
Sometimes we let people go in our lives. Usually it’s not done on purpose. Although sometimes it’s blatantly obvious you need to cut them out of your life—like when they stole your change jar and crock-pot while you were out of town and they were supposed to be dog sitting.
But usually it’s less dramatic than that. Your friend will call and invite you to a party, but you already had other plans. Then you call several weeks later and invite them to a dinner you’re having with a group of friends that they don’t really know that well, but you invite them anyway because you’d like to see them. But they decline because they’ve got to take grandma to bingo…then several months pass by before you try again, but again they’re busy, then the next time you run into them, it been a few years. Next thing you know, they are asking about, “the old gang,” and your response is, “I see them on Facebook,” which is exactly the same boat you two are in now as well.
I noticed this happened to me with a few of my friends and I didn’t like it. So a few days after New Year’s Day, I picked up the phone and called them. I let them know I was thinking about them and they agreed we should hang out sometime soon. Well, it’s roughly three weeks later and I’ve only seen one of the four people I called. But hey, one’s better than none.
2. Be closer to 200 lbs. than 250 lbs. by the end of 2016.
My second goal is health related. I wanted to lose weight, but this time I broke it down to smaller goals like, “drink more water and eat healthier.” So I joined a “Biggest Loser,” contest at work and weighed in. I was surprised to see that I was slightly closer to being 300 lbs. than I was to 200 lbs. (250-something)
I then worked out twice right off the bat and lost 9 pounds in one week. After that, I immediately stopped working out, gained back 6 of the 9 pounds and the weigh in is in 2 days. This post is a wake-up call to myself.
3. Write at least one story, poem or blog post at least once a week.
I have written at least one story a week so far this year. I was given a writing prompt book called, “365 Days of Joy,” or something like that. Every time I see it lying on the table, it reminds me I need to pick it up and writing something. (I wrote most of this post while waiting to be helped over the phone with my web-hosting company. I was on hold 38 minutes, which brings me to my next goal…)
4. Get a side business going this year, preferably doing something fun.
I have been working with a lady over the last few months who is a creative career coach. I have gone through her training and am now licensed to use her material. The two types of people I will be working with are: People who know they want to start a business, but don’t know what kind. Or they know what kind of business they want to start, they just don’t know how to get going. I will mainly do this online or over the phone, which is why I was on hold for 38 minutes trying to get my website going. More on that later in upcoming posts, which leads me to my last goal…
5. Be a better guitar/ukulele player by the end of 2016 than I was at the beginning of 2016.
My last goal of the year has been my most successful so far. I have played the guitar everyday this year so far. (It’s only January 18th.) I’ve also watched dozens of guitar tutorial videos on YouTube. It’s amazing what you can learn on YouTube.
I’ve been teaching other players some techniques that I’ve learned and if I didn’t already have two blogs, I would start a third called, “The evolution of a guitar player.” If I had the time, I’d spend the year showing my progress.
I’m not doing that though because I don’t need another project. I have bitten off more than I can chew many times over my lifetime. I now realize that in order for me to be successful, I need to set small goals and do something to achieve them on a consistent basis. Writing a post helps me keep on track. I hope that reading this will help keep you on track as well.
On a different note, Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day. Lately I’ve felt like we are taking a giant step backwards in race relationships. Here is a post I wrote 4 years ago on Martin Luther King Day. It seems like things have gotten worse than they were when I originally wrote this: Click here
Here’s the link if you’re getting this through email.
Every year around this time I start taking inventory of my life and looking back at what’s happened over the last year. This year was a bumpy ride for me and my family.
I haven’t written about it up until now, but after 10 years of marriage, my wife and I separated at the end of last year and we have lived apart for over a year now. We sold the house we lived in and moved to separate apartments. Our daughter splits her time with both of us 50/50 and I think that we can all agree that the current situation is better for all that’s involved.
Having said that…I’ve started dating again and overall it’s been a great experience. My daughter really likes her and I’m grateful I don’t have to go through the nightmare of them not caring for each other.
I also got a new position at work. I’m now in charge of a team of 8 trainers and am responsible for 800 people’s training. I now know first-hand that it’s not easy being in charge and there are some days I wish I could go back to not being the boss. But most of the times I’m happy to jump in with both feet and stay busy working and teaching classes.
Every year many of us make New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve stopped doing that a few years ago because I know that long-term change for me happens when something hits me randomly and that’s never been on New Year’s Day. Although this year I will still make a goal list. I will probably hang it up next to my desk and it will look something like this:
1. Cultivate relationships with people you want to keep in your life.
2. Be closer to 200 lbs. than 250 lbs. by the end of 2016.
3. Write at least one story, poem or blog post at least once a week.
4. Get a side business going this year, preferably something fun.
5. Be a better guitar/ukulele player by the end of 2016 than you were at the beginning of 2016.
Anything more than that is just wishful thinking for me.
If you’re going to go out this New Year’s Eve, be safe out there. And if you’re going to drink, don’t drive.