Starting an Elementary School Speech & Debate Club

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Starting a debate club
Speech and Debate clubs are great ways to boost your child’s confidence and a great way to engage them early on in public speaking, improving speech and vocabulary, as well as encouraging leadership roles. The club teaches them vital life skills like project management, and working to be unbiased and see both sides of a topic.
The easiest way to go about it is to have your child become interested. After taking a tour of at a specialty school, I became interested after reading a poster about a debate club. I asked my mother several questions. Her response to me was, “if you want to start a debate club, then write down the rationale on power point and present it to your principal.” Sure enough, that was what I did. My mother gave me a few suggestions, but off I went with her to a meeting to discuss this after school club I wanted to start. I was surprised that all I needed was a parent or teacher who will be there at every club meeting to supervise and facilitate. My mother wanted me to highlight that she called a few administrators for their support too. Fortunately, since she is a leadership coach, she had experience and skills in the corporate world that all the students leveraged while she facilitated and led our club meetings and events.
After the initial steps of creating a club, you want to connect with some high school debate students that show up on a regular basis and teach the kids the skills of researching, collecting, presentation and portrayal of data. Then put up posters around the front of the school about the club to get new members. We had around eight members regularly and smaller is sometimes better so that all kids can present and argue their points.
Then next step is figuring creating an agenda for the meetings. Keep in mind that speech is a HUGE part of the club, buy a book of tongue twisters and have all the students line up and have them practice saying them in a loud clear voice (after introductions of course). Make sure everyone has a turn and encourage the quieter ones to speak up. Then split the kids into two groups from youngest to oldest. Then have each high school student go to one group and talk with them about what they are interested in and which side of the topic they want to argue; pro or con. It’s vital that the children get to choose their topic so they’re more passionate about it.
Then have the kids work at home on their topic. The more they like it, the more they research! Have at least one club meeting while they are researching so that everyone is on the same page. Have the next meeting be the date of the argument, there should be equal numbers of pros vs. cons and mix in some of the stronger speakers so that the quieter ones feel like they have strong support. While teams are presenting make sure to watch along with the coaches, everyone should take notes. All coaches should point out at least one positive set of feedback from each child’s argument and at least one piece of constructive criticism. Make sure there are no “winners” while you may think one side spoke better, you have to put these children in a growth environment where they are fueled by passion and not by short lived competitiveness. Then start the process over again at the next club meeting, it’s nice for the kids to be able to pick their own topic and feel independent and strong which all funnels into their confidence and individuality as a person.
Then at the end of the year invite teachers, parents, guidance counselors, high school debate coaches, and super intendants to attend the end of the year debate. View this as their grand finale, give them a couple weeks to trim and practice their speech. For this debate it’s best to do something relevant so that everyone can see how the children view a certain issue or topic, their voices aren’t always heard and this is a way that we as parents can help them speak up for what they believe in. It’s important to see the children grow and thrive each week, by the end they become much stronger, confident public speakers—qualities that our youth need to be developing.

The Change Games

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Wearables, real time insights and feedback are here to stay.

It is taking people by storm.  Overwhelming, intrusive, and too much noise I’ve heard from a variety of people regarding this pivot we are all experiencing with the vast integration that technology is having in our day to day lives.

In the US, we are reminded of the familiar concept of competition with March Madness.  Yet we now see these concepts sliding into our crossfit (exercise) class  leaderboards our company  intranets and our personal applications.  I’ve see organizations taking these tournaments to new levels and allowing their divisions to compete against each other for charitable fundraising efforts or hackathons.

What I find ironic is that we have engineers leading technology programs who are great at what they do, but lack in the H2H strategy acumen.  So, why doesn’t HR have a seat at the table?  Why don’t the engineers invite them to the technology implementations?  Perhaps because our HR leaders don’t have the business acumen.  They grew up out of the transactional processing world and don’t have the field experience that allows them to truly understand what it takes to be a strategic business partner.  This is what haunts many great ideas that fall flat.  They lack thoughtful people strategies that look at the extrinsic and intrinsic motivators across these programs, not to mention integration into the diversity and inclusion mission.

My hope is that C Suite leaders hold their People Leaders accountable to embody this behavior themselves.  We ask our People / HR organizations to move from transactional into business partners who are change junkies and realize that the new world order has changed. 

Experienced designer and technologist Kristen Corpolongo stated, “From a creative technologist perspective Lauren brings up an excellent point. Have we begun to reflect on the irony that we are implementing collaborative technologies without engaging collaboration in the process?”  

Perhaps our organizational design structures haven’t evolved in tandem with the times?  Kristen shares that “we want our enterprise social networks to be successful, so we need to make our implementations social from day one, too. In our enterprise Change Games, we need to recognize that business is changing, the skills we need to have are changing, and that the process is more democratized than before. Innovation and creativity are not top-down cycles – they start by opening up to the diversity of thought in our organizations.”

Kristen recommends that “Engineers, designers, managers, and people leaders all belong at the forefront of social initiatives, and they need to look beyond the technology to the human factors that collaborative technology engages. Success in the Change Games begins with trust. Trust builds with consistency. Start with transparency, and coach your people leaders to share knowledge, build relationships, and honor the organic creative process in our enterprises and within themselves.”

Leadership and innovation are changing.  Harvard Business Review bloggers shared a Pixar innovation use case for their collective genius.  Leaders must look in the mirror to reflect on their own approaches while modeling the behavior if they expect their teams to innovate themselves.  So what are they waiting for?  Let the Change Games begin!

Women Collaborating with Women. Yes, More Please!

I’m raising young women to learn to collaborate with other women, not view them as a threat. This is important part of today’s society. Partnering, collaborating and aligning together in order to drive new outcomes, innovations and business in today’s society. Yet, how can I encourage this with youth of today if their mentors aren’t embodying these principles. For example, recently during a business conversation, there were several women on a call, yet one of them found the topic difficult to compete with other women during the conversation

How are you contributing to the movement? Are you spending time in your day to day lives helping your female colleagues? Do you coach / advice or mentor younger women to help them learn how to build alignment with other women with whom they study, carpool, work, or live?

It really boils down to the importance in society today to learn the fundamentals around partnering and building alignment with differences in opinion.

This isn’t about hierarchy, one being better or worse than another. It is about respect and value of one another in our schools, our communities and our workplaces. This is about helping one another through our actions and words to find ways in which we can progress, advance and live with one another.

Truly with all the psychologists, counselors, therapists, coaches and industry content this cannot be that hard. But the truth of the matter is that it really is hard. Suspending judgment, asking for candid feedback, giving candid and timely feedback all the while taking a step back to look at ourselves closely in the mirror are critical aspects to our ability as individuals to advance in our lives. Whether we are in 5th grade or Vice Presidents in an organization. We need to make sure that every day – we are thinking about ways in which we can impact the lives and outcomes of our offspring, our communities, our teams and our teams.

Brene Brown reminds us in her latest research on vulnerability that we really must be courageous and vulnerable in how we approach our lives. Personally, I have found this is riddled with pain – yet on the other end of the spectrum – it also brings one an immense amount of peace. So, what do you say? Follow her thought leadership and try some ordinary courage the next time another female isn’t supportive or feeling threatened by you in the workplace.Image

Mergers, HR and Social Technologies

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We are heading into another era of M&A activity.  Just look at all the Big Data companies fighting for market share.  For me, feels like Déjà vu from the 1990s and I hear the Pac man chomping up those little fruits, ahem, I mean companies now.

So the question I’m asking myself is, “How many of your People organizations are leveraging the insights from their tools?  How many are taking the talent analytics, performance data and collaboration metrics?”

According to Talent Management Magazine, “Successful companies begin by recognizing that people-related decisions present the most difficult variables in almost any transaction and pose the greatest risks, such as turnover up to 60 percent, or lingering cultural issues that cripple productivity. They beat the odds by carefully managing human capital to transform two groups of people into one functioning company.”

I’ve seen some progressive organizations taking the data from their enterprise systems to help them identify hi potential talent, which is laudable.  Why not take it a step further and allow these same individuals the opportunity to innovate on the merger and acquisition.  It becomes more about mentorship and learning than it is transactional.  Yes, there are financial and transactional tasks that need to be completed, of course.  But with all the human capital work streams and risk, why not invite new thinking to the process versus hiring an external consulting firm for all roles relating to the acquisition?  Fresh approaches can feel risky, but they could also reap big rewards. 

At a minimum, we can find ways to incorporate employees with strong relationships to help request feedback and spread information throughout an organization. 

Declarative Statements as Game Changers

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Ken Pearlman, engagement manager at Kotter International shared an article in Forbes  that inspired us to write more about simple statements that we could make to change the game or create conditions.  He highlighted how when one person stated that we are going to “be doing business differently.” That alone gave people permission to consider thinking differently, acting differently and being open to new ways of working.

Sometimes you just need a little affirmation that taking a new road is okay. 

I’ve often found in teams that most people really do want to make a difference, but they are simply bogged down in all the corporate policy and politics.  What people often want is to be heard, be respected and be given the green light to create something innovative and powerful. 

Of course, it takes more than just words.  It requires courageous leaders who are willing to fund, advocate or move barriers in order to drive something across a finish line.  Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that we as community leaders in our own words can create new conditions. 

In particular, we want to speak to the community leader.  Why?  Because they have learned leadership lessons from playing with Legos, they are tenacious and they know how to be game changers.  All of which are vital to being a strong and successful leader.

Passion, creativity and tenacity are attributes of great community leaders, and what brought you to this extraordinary role in the first place.   You’re in this role because you have an innate ability to connect with people and build relationships that are meaningful to your brand.  Your teams want your input, ideas, and creativity.  If you have a great idea that you believe will have an impact on the company’s’ business goals, you should share it. 

But before you do, be sure you have thought about it thoroughly, from inception to how you will measure its success, so that when you present your idea you’re able to show that not only are you dreaming up great ideas, but how you will go about launching and moving the needle to support the company’s business goals with your new idea.

These days and ages, being bold and brave is what the world needs – and is attracted to.  While not every idea will move the needle, I can promise you that one idea will lead to another brainstorm, individually and together as a team, that will move the needle.  So dare to dream big and share your ideas. 

Lauren Klein and Jenny Berthiaume

Allowing structure to emerge is harder than it sounds

Many of our organizations have enterprise communication and collaboration systems in place.  These systems are evolving and creating new communication possibilities.  Yet, I continue to find education gaps as it relates to leadership, communication and human effectiveness education that is aligned with them.   We are allowing our children to check into online portals to get fast feedback on their ‘tests’ yet we may not teach the foundations of respectful debate and critical thinking.

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I have found the work of Dion Hinchcliffe useful to help people visual the pivot that has been taking place.  He states, ”  The pace of advance today can seem overwhelming.”  I believe, a key thread that we must knit together as community facilitators is to invite individuals, teams, groups and organizations to look at our people, our processes and our technologies without judgment.  We must look at them at be open to throwing out the past and inviting in new futures with brand new approaches, models and methods so that we can navigate our journey.  I have found some people are reluctant to start over or re-invent within organizations.  Perhaps it is too risky?  Not sure, but what I do know is that talent will go to start ups and/or to a competitor in an effort to find a new environment that is more aligned with their preferred interaction style and culture. 

I was inspired to article by John Kotter around change leadership.  He states, “How does culture change? A powerful person at the top, or a large enough group from anywhere in the organization, decides the old ways are not working, figures out a change vision, starts acting differently, and enlists others to act differently.”

 

The Crimson Rose: Community Leader and Fire Goddess of the BMC

Photo courtesy:  hows-your-burn

Photo courtesy: hows-your-burn

Event: PERSEIDS – Meteor Shower Camp Out August 2013. Location: Black Rock Desert. Subject: Crimson Rose. Official Title: Burning Man Project, Founding Board Member.

I was honored to meet a founding member of the Burning Man Project Community on the Playa. Elation comes to mind as there is nothing more inspiring to me than meeting a passionate community leader in their zone. She is known in the Burning Man Community as the ‘Fire Goddess’. In fact, when I was conversing with her, what was running through my mind were concepts, images and stories of Itzpapalotl, the Aztec Goddess of Fire.

Just insert her name into Google Images and you can see her work. She takes the concentrated rays of the sunlight in a traditional fashion to travel to ‘burn the man’. This ritual starts with lighting of the cauldron “El Diabla”. What happens during the ceremony is a traditional drum beat with dancing and celebration. This act has deep meaning in the community as it represents the ‘birth’ to begin the festivities while serving as inspiration for all community members to remember to keep that ‘light’ burning within ourselves. Whether you are a writer, mother, sister, scientist or actress, this desire to create, refine, sculpt, contour, break down and find inspiration is core to a fulfilling life journey. The strength in ‘fire’ can also be a reminder that we should be allowed, permitted and in fact encouraged to be ‘reborn’. Interesting concept ‘rebirth’ as it’s not often something celebrated, but perhaps should be.

I applaud her profound passion for fire in representing this notion of ‘starting or igniting’ inspiration.
I learned a lot from her during the meteor shower that evening. She helped me to understand there are ten principles of the Burning Man Project:

• Radical Inclusion
• Gifting
• Decommodification
• Radical Self-reliance
• Radical Self-expression
• Communal Effort
• Civic Responsibility
• Leaving No Trace
• Participation
• Immediacy

It was a meeting of minds as we both feel strongly about civic and social innovation and change. We are both women in leadership and communities. For me, it was a great honor to listen to her passion as she describes how the ‘regionals’ are engaged throughout the world. How she personally can host members from Africa, Australia, New Zealand to come experience Black Rock City.

So next time you see a sparkler, roman candle or campfire. Drift off and allow your mind to wander. Allow the physical power to transfer into your mind and ‘ignite’ it.

Blogging – how to get started?

Join the pad!
Several people have asked me how to blog and get a style, so this is a brief attempt to share a few thoughts around see one, do one, and be one.

• Consider reading and searching around the internet, on-line resources, books, magazines or libraries. What I mean by that is: simply spend a few minutes reading content from industry experts, peers or your mentors. This can give you context on styles you relate to and/or inspire you.

• Secondly. Just do it. Most organizations encourage learning. If you are reading this, you can look into wordpress to post a blog, so all you need to do is create a blog title, write down a paragraph, run spell check and post. Don’t over think it. Just do it. Take a few moments to share something you have recently shared over the telephone with a family member, customer, business associate or partner and try to ‘capture it’ in words. If you can’t do that. Record yourself or ask someone else to do it. Actually I find it is a good opportunity to self-reflect and learn about your communication in general if you listen to yourself speak or present.

• Seek peer input. I often find that if I ask for feedback that I will get it. What I mean, is be explicit with your friends, family, staff, peers or your management. Ask them to carve out time to give you their candid feedback on what they would do if they were you, who influences their communication approaches and/or areas they see as ‘development opportunities’ for you to consider.

Business Leader Investing in Social Change and Courageous Leadership

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Sometimes you have those discussions with business leaders who you know just ‘get’ your niche business.  Well, this was the case with Mario Morino and me recently.  Talk about fresh wind.  He is investing in Social Change through helping philanthropy.  So when he launched into discussions around building high performing cultures that innovate, take risks and cultivate courageous leadership, I was all ears.  In fact, he has published a book called Leap of Reason and has a website full of articles, speeches, videos and guides that all build on that book. 

 

He is a visionary around building entrepreneurship, eLearning and business ambassadors.  His no airs style is direct and bursting with prickly truths that are refreshing around constructs such as community leadership, community business models, monetization and community business processes. 

He understands that social business and communities will take decades for us as leaders, entrepreneurs and businesses to understand it.  This is a paradigm shift, or as he calls it, “the Manhattan Project all over again.”  We must find wants to truly understand the power of network intelligence.  This is so much more than using #big data construct. 

 

I found his charter at Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) refreshing in how they approach learning with their investment partners and how they realize innovation while strengthening nonprofit organizations.   

Talent Mobility Summer Checklist

Read the Signs

I recently experienced a massive failure in a global talent mobility program. How can this be true you ask when we live in a world where great talent is critical to business success?  Because we get comfortable.  Which is why I encourage fellow talent professionals to consider adding a review of your talent mobility program to your summer checklist?

Often we put away our winter clothes and pull out summer clothes this time of year.  Which is why we absolutely should take the time to pull out all the vendors in our ecosystem to review them as we would our summer wardrobes? 

Ask ourselves the difficult questions: 

Do they still fit my talent acquisition objectives

Are they current with the times? 

Do they allow me to realize goals?    

I know, I know.  You are thinking, oh no, I’ve invested countless hours to establish these relationships, these rates and the overwhelming task of re-establishing them sounds daunting.  Don’t fear.  It may not be necessary to re-establish vendors.  In many cases, it may just require re-negotiations or real time adjustments and feedback sessions that are in alignment with your talent management programs. 

Talent Mobility Checklist

  1. Review quantitative surveys from past 12-18 months from vendors
  2. Review qualitative data
  3. Check in with current mobility clients and ask them about from past 12-18 months from vendors
  4. Reach out to employees who have left the organization in the past 6 months who had mobility packages and interview them yourself or a trusted delegate
  5. Call your mobility coordinators yourself to assess if they pick up the phone and/or how long they take to respond back to you? their experiences to better understand any areas they have opportunities for process or vendor refinement
  6. Review the approach your vendors are taking with issues and their resolution
  7. Check in with spouses or domestic partners of a cohort of recent mobility clients to gather spousal feedback on the programs
  8. Look at industry data and compare against your programs to assess gaps and/or opportunity areas
  9. Review financials with your vendors for the past few years to bench against industry rates to ensure you are in alignment and/or where you see opportunities
  10. Test out a mobility experience yourself from start to finish to live the entire experience as if you were your own talent