Thursday, March 27

Pioneer Nation - My evolving list of Ideas, Plans, Inspirations

Pioneer Nation is a two-day event and gathering of people who are entrepreneurs committed to living a life of freedom and independence.  


A Query at Pioneer Nation
It's two days of working together to improve our businesses and to focus on actions for the purpose of increasing income, impact and sustainability.

I'm capturing my ideas as the two days progresses here.  Many of these thoughts come from conversations I've had with the other participants.

Why I'm here: Even though I'm pretty much obsessed with dancing right now, I don't want to forget about my two other primary goals for this year.  In addition to 1) competing in a Ballroom Dance competition (which is about to happen at SFOpen in April), I've also committed to 2) converting my Rock Your Talk seminar into a video course version and 3) (finally) completing the first draft of my book, MetaLearning: Creating Lifelong Self-Directed Learners.  SO...I'm after:

-connecting with like-minded people and inspiration
-collecting ideas on marketing, productizing, pricing
-having time to work on stuff (since sometimes focus is hard to come by in my daily life)


Random and Specific Notes:

I loved Chris Brogan's opening talk and his emphasis on building more business sustainability through Service which completely matches my values and how I love to operate.

Other people I've loved connecting with:

I loved hearing the story of James Todd's 24 Hour Book project which resulted in the book Everyday Superheroes.  I am intrigued about the possibility of using a service like his evolving A Book One Day.  I think it could get me past the obstacle of writer's block I've been experiencing since my computer was stolen out of my hands a number of months ago.  Action Step: Get back to using the interview process for finishing book.  Consider an interview for each MetaLearning skill.

A conversation with Seth Haley got me thinking about the possibility of collaborating with a videographer to create a product "Rock Your Talk on Video" offer which would help others speak effectively on-camera and which would result in a set of video modules to communicate the story.  These modules could be used for marketing.  Action Step: Explore the possibility of collaboration (QS videographer?) and/or price out as a supplied service.

[Friday:  Of note is the fact that the day after writing the above I discovered by chance that James homeschools his three kids and Seth was homeschooled.  I should be surprised since this event explicitly attracts people who are thinking outside of the box.)

Jenna Bee:  Totally resonated with her focus on working through the body as a metaphor and practice and her commitment and love of community-building.  Action Step:  Connect Jenna with the Watson U people, especially Tessa Zimmerman.

Doug Neill:  Involved in the super interesting field of SketchNoting or Graphic Recording.  I first saw this process in action at an Institute for the Future session on Hacking the Future of Education and have been intrigued by the process ever since.  My conversation with Doug was interesting especially related to the idea of teaching the process of SketchNoting for learning.

Sukhneet Singh: Amazing and deep conversation about values-based living, changing thinking, personal bias, science and religion relationship, Sihk culture and so much more.  Looking forward to doing a podcast with Sukheet later today for his Art of Change Project.  Action Step: Reconnect!

Connected with interesting people who are into Disrupting Education.  Patrick Larsen (writes about entrepreneurship, learning and travel and is a fellow-Hapa), Caitlin Muir (who was also homeschooled and took self-directed learning to hack college), Marli Williams (who counsels first-generation college students and has great ideas for expanding her service as well as an awesome evolving talk about empowering students to reclaim agency), Seth Perler (who helps struggling students shine).

Thanks to Ross Lukeman who writes a blog called AlternativeHomeToday I will look for a skype recorder and finally take interviews to an online post-able format.  Here's an example interview he did with Brittany Yunker.  I have to compare the possible free programs to the one he suggested which is Call Recorder and $29.  He notes that 19:9 aspect ratio is best.  (Ross: thanks! And do go for that talk.  It was fun seeing it begin to evolve out of our conversation.)  If you have experience and thoughts on this please do share your opinion in the comments, pretty please.  Action Step: Decide on program and start interviews for book and for courses, which can also be something interviewees can use for their marketing.  

Will connect more with Azat Mardanov who is an entrepreneur, web and mobile developer, yoga + paleo enthusiast.  He's recently published a number of books including Express.Js Guide and knows a bunch about e-book publishing.  He's currently writing "How to Write a Book" and is building out some programs requiring presenting.  Action Step: Reconnect to give support for presenting and get insight on book launch and web support. 

Gary Hirsch's Yes Bot
Really enjoyed my conversation with Gary Hirsch of On Your Feet.  Gary co-wrote "Everything's An Offer" which completely speaks to my belief that acting and improv are super fun and experientially effective ways to better understand communication, work and LIFE.  Like so many folks here, these guys are out of the box.  Check out their alternative compensation offer of Wild Work.  Love it!   Gary's Yes Bot is pictured at right.

Resources:

Strikingly.com: Gorgeous mobile-friendly websites in minutes
Call Recorder:  Records audio and video calls directly to your mac.
Time Trade:  Online appointment scheduling for individuals and teams.
From Jonathan Meade's Launch Anything:

  1. 40 Step Launch Checklist
  2. Trailblazer Movie Trailer
  3. Trailblazer Launch Blog and Sequence
  4. Trailblazer Affiliate Resource Center
Ideas:

In order to sustainably and effectively serve more people:

1) create clearer and differentiated product versions and multiple packages; (Great ideas from Nathan Barry and looking forward to reading his book, Authority which was just gifted to us all).  Action Step: Read book and Work on Packaging

2) Determine your Minimum Viable Product (which could even be an email sign-up giveaway).  Action Step: Put Speaker tip on email sign-up.  

3) Lots of push to outsource work.  Action Step: Consider outsourcing page design for products.

Action Item: Move testimonials around.  Weave them through content.

Reach out to Willo re: possible tech support.

SHOW that it works.  (Before and after video).

[The evolving story here]

How about you?  If you're at Pioneer Nation, what are your takeaways and inspirations?  If not, in the spirit of Chris's message what steps are you taking to be of service to your community?

If you're here at Pioneer Nation please say hello through twitter as I'd love to hear your story.  Or if your dance card is filled stay in touch by joining my mailing list.


Tuesday, March 18

Talk to Me First - Deborah Ruffman on Sex and Teens


Deborah Ruffman

 


March 18–19, 2014
Talk To Me First (Link to The BOOK)

Common Sense About Kids and Sex
Deborah Roffman is a nationally acclaimed educator and writer with over 30 years of experience working with children and adolescents. She urges parents to be the most approachable, reliable sources for our children’s sexuality education. Her advice for inviting natural, ongoing dialogs about sex is crucial to ensuring our children’s emotional health and countering the influences of a media-saturated culture. Ms. Roffman’s books includeTalk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “Go-To” Person About Sex and Sex and Sensibility.  On March 18, Ms. Roffman will address her remarks to the parents of teens and present strategies for guiding young adults toward healthy sexual relationships


I loved this talk. It was a real call to get talking to our kids early and often about sex. My notes are unmassaged but I think the essential points are important enough that they should be shared in any form possible so until I'm able to package it more nicely, here they are in their roughest form.

Most important research finding is that parents really matter.  Children who grow up in families in which sexuality (gender, sex and reproduction) is openly discussed,  and children are assisted in learning how to think critically and deeply, those children grow up healthier in all ways.  


With every 6 months that children postponed getting involved in risky behaviors the healthier they are.  When they become involved they tend to do so with much greater foresight and insight.  Our culture tends to introduce sexuality in ways that are sensationalistic and reductionistic (reducing complicated people, experiences and lives) to stereotypes and characatuers.   


Hoop-ups, sexting...they are soundbytes made up by the media to grab attention.  


Talk about it at the dinner table.  Even if they don’t participate they are getting the message that it’s important and worth talking about.   The process of dialogue that teaches children how to think about sex, gender and reproduction.   It almost doesn’t matter what you talk about but  giving the message that this is important topic and is worth thinking about.


The eye rolling is just that they have to let you know that there is at least one part of them that doesn’t want to listen to what you have to say.


How to engage in dialogue:


What are the issues:


Pregnancy and STDs
Female empowerment and enjoyable sexuality
Pornography
Notion of sex as an act of human intimacy
How to think deeply about sex in a culture that trivializes and simplifies it
Sexting
Helping kids develop their own values and knowing if they’re ready (what do you really want!?)  (K?)


Q:What does a teenage girl want from her dad?  
A: Same as she wants from her mom.  Everyday people in their life.  The Five Core Needs!


Clear difference between who belongs in the category of child (including teens) and adult.  How do you make the transition from the child paradigm to the adult paradigm?  A: Children are totally dependent and our job is to take them from total dependence to independence.  They come into the world with five needs that they cannot meet on their own.  The nurturing adults meet them and then gradually teach them how to meet their own needs at which point they are adults.  


Five Core Needs and the Corresponding Adult Roles


Need #1: Affirmation


a. Unconditional Love and Acceptance for who your child IS.  This does not necessarily include their behavior.  


b. Simple Acknowledgement and Validation.  (ie Tongue-biting and instead reflecting back what you’re hearing).  


c. Remembering to look behind your child’s eyes and remember that they do NOT see the world in the same way as adults.


d. Developmentally-based responsiveness and knowledge of who our kids are


Tie this together and how it related to sex:


Brand new in history that people on average marry in their late 20’s and we have a delayed adolescents 14 years of sexual but not married as opposed to 150 years ago when boys finished apprenticeships, girls got their periods and people married at 16.


Educating for YES.  Lots of sexual decisions to make during that 14 years.


Under what circumstances might it be ok for you to say yes to certain experiences.  In what circumstances would it be in your best interest to say “no”.   Because we haven’t been teaching yardsticks that may be the reason


Need #2: Ongoing need for Information


Even our schools are 3-7 years late in teaching sexual content.   Need to be attuned to the way they think at certain ages.  


9th graders can understand probably (ie. you might die but you might not)...but emotionally they think statistics don’t apply to them.  Nature’s way of convincing teens that they are safe even if they separate from parents.  But they still need lots and lots of supervision.  Age 16 alcohol use increases at the same time as adult supervision decreases.  


Need #3: Ongoing Need for Crystal Clear Clarity about Values


There are no clear values about messages about sex in our culture.  Many are contradictory.  We have to NAME the values we want for our children.  Tend to give them rules but we need to name the VALUES we want them to bring to every sexual situation they confront.  Also a single standard for everyone, regardless of gender.  
Need #4: Ongoing Need for Limit Setting

These are the limits we use to keep our kids safe and healthy.  They need adult supervision and limits are the brackets we put around our kids for that purpose.  The art is knowing how to work with the limits and how to turn those brackets over to themselves over time.  The way you know how much to turn it over is based on track record.  Limits are not optional and increasingly there are more parents who don’t get that setting limits are not optional.  They need them even when they’re rolling their eyes.  


Re: Internet Devices.  Remember the public service announcement it’s 11 o’clock do you know where your children are.  Internet connection is unbridled independance and we’ve forgotten that in our love affair with technology.


I believe that all families should have an acceptable use policy for all screens based on the idea that Independance is Earned.  Once you’ve mastered x then you can have a bigger space.


Need #5: Ongoing Need for Anticipatory Guidance


What if x happened?  Walking them through possible scenarios that they may find themselves in.  If your child refuses to have this conversation they don’t go.  What if they can’t answer the questions?  They don’t go to the party.  


You cannot do this on your own.  You have to network with other parents.   We have to help eachother.  Also keep reading, reading, reading about development.  If you have 10 year old you have to be prepared for next year as well.  


Get yourself a mentor.  Help me keep ahead of the psunami.  FInd someone who have children older than yours, who have good relationships with their kids.  


Resources:
Eric Ericsson
Piaget
Colberg


Resources for our Kids:
Heather Corrina books


Take apart the terminology: blowjob, handjob…which are prostitution terms.


Worldwide people say that relationship sex is the best sex.   What makes sexual behavior “sex”?  What makes a particular act sexual?  A: Arousal.  The behavior doesn’t matter.  It’s a spectrum of behaviors going from least intimate to most physically intimate.  


What are the Values that you want your child to bring to every situation (including every sexual situation)?


Respect (for self, others, boundaries, sex itself (happens to be the most powerful action on the planet...create life, change lives forever), all genders.
Responsibility
Honesty
Integrity
Enthusiasm
Generosity
Equity
Empathy
Caring
Compassion


Challenge is that everything your kids are hearing about sex and the images are not supporing the message of those values.


NOTE on lecture:  The overarching perspective seemed to be that it’s not ok for teenagers to have sex.  I was one of only a few people in the audience who raised my hand that it might be ok.  That experience really made me want to further explore the question and made me wonder a little bit about the contextualization.  It did NOT change my opinion about the valuable information shared.     

Tuesday, December 31

A Yearly Vision Process

I’ve noticed that goal setting has been taking a bit of a beating on the blogosphere as of late.  Still, I’m a big fan of intentional future planning with specific outcomes attached. 

I don’t know what it is about the process that excites me--especially though not only at the start of a new year-- but I suspect that reviewing the past and planning the future gives me a sense of fresh-start and possibility.  But I also get the Zen / Buddist concepts of Letting Go of Desire and Embracing Acceptance Of What IS!  And so, in our mad, treadmill world, I understand why there's a big push this year for freedom from the tyranny of goals.  But maybe it's possible to have both.  Personally, I like having envisioning my future desires, identifying concrete goals and holding it all with a sense of lightness, curiosity and acceptance. Both/And, baby! 

That said, if you do want to head full on towards no goals, Leo Babauta’s The Best Goal is No Goal offers some wise inspiration.


 
Joe and I have been doing a Yearly Review and Design process every December for the past 15 years.  Every year it’s a little different; Here are some of the 2014 elements:

Past Year Review

Reflection is such an important part of growth and I love to look back over my Yearly Reviews to see the patterns and to recognize parts of my journey.  Some of the questions we ask include:

What were the primary events?  
Where were we? (where did we live or what traveling did we do?)  
What were the landmark personal and work events?  
Who spent time in our home with us?  
Which of our relationships began, changed or ended?

And...what did we learn?  As a MetaLearning fanatic who loves and supports life-long learning, taking stock of the past year’s lessons gives self-direction some serious legs.  A couple of inspiring examples are Carson Khan’s 33 Takeaways of 2013 and Meredith Perry’s Jigsaw Falling Into Place.

Next Year Visioning

After the review, we look towards the coming year.  If it’s suits your style to keep it SUPER simple, consider Susan Washington’s suggestion of just one resolution such as asking yourself a daily question like:

“How could I have been more thoughtful today?” Let that be our New Year’s resolution even though it’s really 'simple'. Simple things repeated over and over are major. Because resolutions that aren’t maintained make us feel worse than small, lasting and meaningful change.”

I love that!  I’m absolutely a person who admires the wisdom of simplicity but for better and for worse (believe me!) can’t seem to keep from adding, adding and adding more to it.  So here is what my process includes.  

A Yearly Theme: One of the overarching steps I like to take is to create a theme for the year.  
This puts the primary emphasis on process while still allowing space for specific outcomes.  I haven’t completely decided on my theme for this year but I’ll probably choose between Emotional Resiliency, Joy or Completion.  

Focus and Intentions: These are concepts and values will ideally support or augment the Yearly Theme.  This year I’m looking at Focus, Completion, Ease, Love, Humor, Good-Enough and Random Acts of Kindness.  Some years I come up with a different one for each month.  

Identify Domain-specific goals:  We do this for ourselves individually, as a couple and for our family-- in each of the following domains: Relationship/Marriage, Home, Kid Education, Finances, Community, Work, Fun, Travel, Personal Development, Self-care, Family and Contribution.

Specific Outcomes:  These are my primary goals for the year and I feel that it’s useful to be specific while also holding the final outcome and the details of how it looks somewhat lightly.  This might seem counter-intuitive but I think there is power and beauty in this seeming contradiction.  

I generally come up with specific goals in each domain but this year I'm keeping my eye on the top three biggies, my primary goals which are:

1) Publish a book (probably “MetaLearning”)
2) Compete in a ballroom dance competition (probably Mambo or Rumba)
3) Launch a new product (probably “Rock Your Talk” video class)

Processes:  One of the primary reasons some might reject the concept of Resolutions is that they are so heavily associated with Dec 31st and the implication is that you only make ‘em once a year. While as I said, I especially love the fresh slate of the new year, planning this stuff works best if you have systems and processes in place throughout the year.  James Clear outlines his approach in Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

Some of the ongoing processes we use through the year are:

Family Goals: Every day we hold a family meeting in which we each identify a goal for the day which and then we set out to achieve it by 9pm the same night.   More details on the process are outlined in this article I wrote for Techmamas.

Daily Habits:  Cultivating what you do on a daily basis is a perfect example of systemizing for success.  It’s not about being perfect but rather about paying attention to the small steps that add up.  I use a spreadsheet to outline and track habits I’m working to cultivate but you can also use an apps like LIFT.




Monthly Focus: At the beginning of the year I make a plan for the progression of the year with a general focus for each month.  At this time I also review the goals I've identified and revise them if needed.

Quarterly Review: Each quarter Joe and I go back to our year planning document and review our progress in each domain area.  We check to see if we made progress or not and revise each area as appropriate.  

I compiled this information while going through my 2014 process and put it all together so that others could use whatever parts of it appeal to them.  If the New Year has already begun, don't worry, it still works.  That's the beauty of throwing out New Years Eve resolutions; Life planning, review and creation can be a part of daily life throughout the year!  


Thursday, December 5

Program Ideas for 14-17 year old self-directed learners?

Earlier this year, I wrote a post called My Current High School Independent Learning Crisis because that's what happens occasionally when loving, highly-involved parents have kids .  We're even more susceptible when we've accepted 100% responsibility for not just the basic necessity offerings, but also the responsibility for our kids' entire set of life and educational needs.  We are simply going to freak out every once in a while! Or every few months!  That was April; this is November.

Seriously, I'm kind of joking and kind of not.  The teen/high school years are a time of so much change not only in said kid's body and mind but also in terms of ME and my relationship with him.  I am learning how to parent all over; navigating the treacherous seas of guidance, navigation and letting go (while wanting both to do so AND to hold on for dear life).  I'm never really sure how much is too much or too little of each at any given time.  It's an ongoing frenzied, emotional dance of sorts.

SO, today I woke up realizing that:

1) As far as we've gone from the norm of education, we could afford to amp it up a notch further.  It might be time to get rid of the remaining threads of school-at-home and step one step further outside of the box.

2) Metaphorically, he's about where I was in my second year of University.  I realized then that I was taking content based classes but didn't know what I wanted to say once I had the skills I was being taught.  That's when I left and probably why I never went back.  And that's why I'm preparing myself to "toss" him out into the right real world situation (if I can find the right one).  Toss, you say?  Isn't it his job to rebel/leave; isn't that the way he will define himself.  Yes, and "at some point".  Right now, I'm a scaffolder.  I see it as my job to understand (with his help wherever possible) what he needs and help him get there.  I haven't yet pushed him in the proverbial pool to learn to swim but if I though it was the right thing, I might.

3) I care more about him caring about something than I do about the content in his knowledge base or even (and this might be new for me) his skill-set.  The reality is that once he knows why he wants to write, do math, explore science, then it will be easy for him to apply.  The missing link at almost 15 is self-awareness, self-advocacy and love/passion.

SO, given that he's far younger than I was at this stage of development...and I because I do still have the responsibility of scaffolding support, I'm looking for possible opportunities to expose him to the following:

1) communities of young people who are coming together to change the world in some positive way (even if that means starting with themselves).  The bottom line here is intentionality.
2) programs which support that change and last between 1 and 6 months (ie. not a full-time-give-us-your-kid-til-college kind of program)
3) leaders and leadership skills training for 14-17 year olds (ish)

Here are some of the possibilities that come to mind off the top of my head.  Do you have personal experience with any of these or have other suggestions?

Outward Bound  is more than just an outdoor camp. It is more than a wilderness adventure. Outward Bound has been changing lives through challenge and discovery for more than 50 years by using the wilderness as a classroom to provide unparalleled opportunities for discovery, personal growth, self-reliance, teamwork and compassion.  (NOTE: OB has been around for ages. I have no personal or anecdotal insight.  Expensive?)

National Teen Leadership Program is committed to create positive environments that empower, inspire and educate all teens to discover and maximize their unique leadership potential and embrace the diversity and equal value of everyone.  The focus during the 3 day summer program (in Sacramento or Southern California) is on the positive and on channeling the energy and enthusiasm already inherent in our youth to help them acquire focus and a vision for their future. The program challenges and empowers today’s youth by providing them with the skills and motivation necessary to positively impact their own lives and the lives of those in their communities.

Anake Outdoor School features 9 months of in-depth training in nature awareness and wilderness survival skills.  Participants develop a deep and intimate relationship with the natural world grounded in a powerful, community-oriented philosophy of learning. Your year is informed by the legacy of indigenous cultures from around the world. Each experience is crafted around a cutting-edge understanding of our natural heritage as human beings.


Unschool Adventures with Blake Boles offers a month long writing retreat.  (NOTE: I have a young friend who just returned from this years retreat.  She said it was life-changing in terms of the friends she made.)

The Woolman Semester School (Nevada City, CA) is a progressive academic school for young people who want to make a difference in the world.  Students in their junior, senior, or gap year come for a "semester away" to take charge of their education and study the issues that matter most to them.  Woolman students earn transferable high school credits while taking an active role in their learning experience through community work, organic gardening and cooking, permaculture, art, wilderness exploration, service work, and by doing advocacy and activism work with real issues of peace, justice and sustainability in the world.

Conserve School (Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin) inspires young people, primarily high school juniors, to environmental stewardship through academics and engagement with the forests, lakes, and wildlife of Lowenwood.  Each Conserve School semester immerses students in environmental history, nature literature, and the science of conservation. Innovative hands-on courses capture students’ imaginations while making the most of Conserve School’s 1200-acre wilderness campus. The school’s strikingly beautiful Northwoods location sets the stage for an exceptional educational experience; at Conserve School, forests, lakes, and wildlife become students’ inspiration, their course materials, and their laboratory. At the same time, Conserve School’s program advances students’ skills in standard high school subjects.

Sea Education Association is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education which also offers Seascape a 3-week summer high school level oceanography program. For 40 years and more than one million nautical miles, we have educated students about the world’s oceans through our fully accredited study abroad program, SEA Semester. SEA is based on Cape Cod in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. (NOTE: The High School program sails from SF on the same tall ship a friend, Christa C. sailed in the Gyre, with shore studies on Catalina Island.)

The Experiment in International Living has been offering extraordinary immersive cross-cultural summer exchanges, fun and thought-provoking adventures, and experiential learning programs since 1932. Today, The Experiment offers three-, four-, and five-week summer programs for high school students in more than 20 countries around the world.


Summer Programs

SPARC is a how-to-be-awesome camp for extremely bright high school students, focussing on math, psychology, programming, statistics, and general personal effectiveness. CFAR (the parent organization, http://rationality.org/) normally charges $4k for 4 days of training, but SPARC is free for high-school-aged students, so it's a great opportunity for any interested young people. SPARC has typically only admitted folks scoring in the top 50 in the US on mathematics competitions, but is now open to admitting a more diverse group, provided the applicants are sufficiently awesome. 

Thanks for your ideas!  -Lisa


----


PS.  Please note that there are so many amazing opportunities for self-directed learners 18+ but that's another story.  Look for an upcoming piece highlighting:

Trailblazers
Watson University
Uncollege
The Millenial Train Project
The Thiel Fellowship