P.C.Pop with Pablo

Posts Tagged ‘College Students’

“Harold and the Purple Crayon” — Story Book Leadership

In Books, Children, Children's Literature, College Students, Education, Harold & the Purple Crayon, Leadership, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, Story Book Leadership, Uncategorized on November 12, 2012 at 7:33 am

Story Book Leadership -- Harold & the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnsonby Crockett Johnson (1955, Harper & Row, New York)


{First Read PC Pop post: Story Book Leadership — Getting Started — 8 Steps to Powerful Presentations, which you will give you more specific information on how to use children’s literature in teaching leadership to college students and adults.}


Topics:

  • Controlling your Destiny
  • Crisis Management
  • Creativity
  • Goal Setting
  • Problem Solving

Plot (in six words):

Harold takes adventures with his crayon.


Plot Summary:

The story begins with Harold wanting to take a walk and explore with his purple crayon. Soon Harold is fighting dragons, feeding pie to porcupines and falling off a mountain ledge. Harold uses his purple crayon throughout the story to draw his way out of each of his dilemmas and life threatening accidents. After a while Harold just wants to go home but he is a bit lost. Again he uses his quick wit and his purple crayon and finds his way back to his room and drifts off to sleep.

Despite all of Harold’s adventures, it is an easy paced story. The artwork is simple and so is the story. But the lessons for Leaders are powerful and inspiring.


Getting Started

When I use children’s literature to teach Leadership to college students — I like to surprise them. I keep the book hidden until we are ready to begin. I ask them to take it seriously and be ready to discuss the book and its leadership lessons. I also like to use props like real purple Crayola crayons or a big (3 foot) purple crayon bank. I have also led the students to our room by having them follow a purple line on the floor — made by using colored duct tape.

Once the students are settled and I have selected someone to show the pictures from the story book, I read the book to the students and then begin the reflection. For the reflection discussion I basically use a three step process asking: WHAT?, SO WHAT?, and NOW WHAT? Ask the question and wait for a response. Be ready for creative and insightful answers. As the facilitator you should encourage a lively and meaningful discussion by not being too judgmental but keeping them on track. Practice active listening and clarify and summarize their comments when necessary. For more specific information on the Story Book Leadership method, read the PC Pop post: Story Book Leadership — Getting Started — 8 Steps to Powerful Presentations.

Below are suggestions on specifics questions to direct your discussion and some answers to expect after reading Harold & the Purple Crayon to your group of student leaders.


WHAT.

Question: What was this story about?

  • This is a story about an adventurous and imaginative boy name Harold who has a magic Purple Crayon. When Harold gets in trouble he uses his crayon to draw.

SO WHAT.Story Book Leadership -- Harold & the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Now that you know the story — So what? Why do you think the story was chosen for you at this stage in your leadership with this organization.

  • Question: Who is Harold?
    • Person with authority, with titles, with power
    • Leaders, student leaders, bosses, organization officers
    • Team members, committee chairs
  • Student Leaders need to be…
    • Adventurous, Risk takers, daring
    • Innovative, creative
    • Forward thinking, visionary, moving forward
    • Confident, decisive
  • Attitude — Remain positive, calm, and be able to Make the Best of each situation
  • Problem Solving/Dealing with Crises
    • Be able to deal with problems
    • Don’t blame others
    • Focus on solving the problem not who’s at fault
    • Make sound and quick decisions — decisive
    • Be able to Act
    • Use all of your resources and experience
  • Question: What is represented by the Purple Crayon?
    • Your “wits”
    • Resources
    • Decisions, problem solving
  • Question: How did Harold react to the Police Officer? How did Harold react to each dilemma or crisis?
    • Harold kept calm
    • Harold used his Purple Crayon, his resources and experience, to take action and solve problems
    • Harold remained polite — even when others like the police officer were not helpful
    • Harold remained positive — never wasting his time or energy trying to find out “who is to blame”
    • Harold focused on solving the problem
  • Question: What is the meaning of the Moon, the Bedroom Window, Bedroom? What is special about Home?
    • There are things that guide us morally in life — the Moon, Window — and we must always keep them in view
    • Home is a comfort — and we all eventually want to and need to go Home
    • Home represents family and community focused values
    • Even the most adventurous leader must “go Home” and rest — get renewed

NOW WHAT?

Now that the students are aware of the lessons learned from the adventures of Harold and his Purple Crayon — Now what?

  • Question: As leaders, how can you use this information and new insight to make a positive impact on your organization and environment?
    • Encourage the participants to use “I” statements like “In the future I will be more patient when problems arise and focus on the problem and not on who to blame.”
    • As a leader, I will take more risks and use all of my resources and experience to persevere even when times get tough or things don’t go my way.

CLOSING THE SESSION

  • Lastly, ask the group a few closing questions like:
    • How did this exercise make you feel?
    • Did you enjoy learning in this manner?
  • Encourage the student leaders to use Story Book Leadership in their workshops, meetings and retreats.

The information above is merely to give the presenter a better idea of what to expect during the discussion of Harold and the Purple Story Book Leadership -- Harold & the Purple Crayon by Crockett JohnsonCrayon. The key to making this a successful exercise is allowing and encouraging the participants to engage in a meaningful conversation about the Leadership Lessons in the book, how it relates to their current leadership experience, and what they can do NOW to use the ideas from this book to improve their organization and their environment.

College students and adults love to regress with a quality children’s book. If you select a well-written, well illustrated book that is relevant to the leaders — you will get a wonderful response from your participants. They will laugh, learn, and gain new insights while enjoying every minute — what more could you hope for?


For more information on Story Book Leadership, read the PC Pop posts as follows:


Why I Love to Vote!

In Children, College Students, Election, Family, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, parenting, Politics, Tradition, Uncategorized, Vote on November 3, 2012 at 9:02 am


“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” Franklin D. Roosevelt


As election day approaches I start to get more and more excited because I love to VOTE.

I grew up in a house filled with politics and lively discussions about the issues facing our community and our nation. My father was a city council member for many years; and my mother was appointed by the mayor of our city to serve on the city’s Housing Authority, of which she soon became the chair for more than 15 years. In addition to my parents’ direct service as public officials, one elected and one appointed, we were involved in several political campaigns. We always had candidates’ signs on our lawn, we always worked our party’s “booth” at the various town gatherings and festivals, and we always worked on election day. My parents wrote letters to editor, called their elected officials, spoke at open forums and attended meeting regularly. My mother was asked to leave a few open “public” meetings, once even by the mayor. Of course she challenged them by filing a complaint with FOI (Freedom of Information) — and BTW she won — resulting in the mayor and city manager having to personally pay a fine.

As a teenager on election day, I made phone calls to remind people to vote, drove people to the polls to vote, collected data from polling sites for the party headquarters, and even worked for a national TV network to survey voters and call in polling information. I attended several post election receptions — and for the record, I prefer partying with the winners. That was the fun part. It wasn’t so much fun when my father voted against the teachers’ contract triggering a teachers’ strike. The head of the teachers’ union was my calculus teacher, and he did not hesitate to make comments about my father in class. My brother got the same treatment from his Italian teacher who was also his soccer coach. I laughed it off; my brother got angry and quit soccer; and my sister was too young to understand. My parents eventually transferred by sister to catholic school. That was not fun — but it was a great learning experience and made me even more passionate. When I attended college, I joined a political student organization and continued to work on campaigns and work on election day. My involvement and interest in politics, campaigns and elections never waned.


“Thinking is not to agree or disagree. That’s voting.” Robert Frost


Then I began my career in higher education and chose to put my personal political beliefs aside. I say “chose” because it was not a hard/fast policy. I decided that if I was going to “serve all students” I had to be nonpartisan. Being nonpartisan meant that every student leader and every student organization could count on me to serve them well — regardless of their politics, regardless of their beliefs, regardless of their religion, regardless of their attitude. I encouraged political engagement; I encouraged political rallies and protests (and counter-protests); and I assisted in candidate and surrogate visits (including three Presidents, several US Senators, and a few Governors). Everyone knew that I would work hard to support them and make their dreams come true — no matter their agenda. They were important, they were valued, and they were a vital part of our campus and our nation. I pushed them to exercise ALL of their rights and fought for them when others objected. What a great job it was. I worked with a wide variety of student organizations including the following:

  • Amnesty International
  • College Democrats
  • College Republicans
  • Conservative Action Network
  • Feminists
  • Green — Anti-Coal
  • LGBTQ Student Alliance
  • Libertarian Socialists
  • Libertarians
  • Marxists
  • Military
  • Non-Theists (formerly known as Atheists)
  • NORML – National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
  • NOW – National Organization for Women
  • Occupy Wall Street
  • PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
  • PIRG – Public Interest Research Group
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Pro-Life
  • Pro-Peace
  • PUGWASH
  • Socialists
  • Student Government
  • Students Against Sweatshops
  • War on Hunger

Since I was unable to put a sign on my lawn, wear a button on my lapel, support a candidate, openly debate political issues, or work for my party on election day — encouraging students to care about politics is what kept me going. During this time I grew as a professional and as a citizen when I was truly nonpartisan — when I was working hard for ALL student leaders – ALL student organizations. Today, I am a little bit more open about which candidates I support but still hesitate because of all of those years keeping it under wraps. Those year did however help me develop a much greater respect for anyone who gets involved in any part of the democratic process. After all  how much fun would it be if everyone agreed with me? Not too, that’s how much!


“In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.” David Foster Wallace



I love voting. I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to election day though. On election day, I will get up early and put out our USA flag. I wear only red, white and blue — and have a special “election day” tie and a wide assortment of flag lapel pins. Before I was eligible to vote, I couldn’t wait until the day came that I could vote — especially in a presidential election. My visit time was as exciting as I imagined. Before I vote — I study, I read, I listen, I debate — until I am ready. I take this process very seriously. I usually vote the straight party ticket — but I never pull the straight-party lever. I enjoy pushing a lever for each and every candidate — and vote on every question and referendum. I also don’t vote early – even though I passionately support early voting — and anything that enables more citizens to vote. I am afraid that if I don’t vote on the actual election DAY it won’t feel the same – and I am not willing to take that risk. For me it is all about getting prepared, waiting and anticipating, and getting more and more excited — and voting on election day, the second Tuesday in November (not before). If a candidate visits our city, I am there whether or not I agree with their platform. To name a few, I’ve attended speeches or debates with Jerry Brown, Mitch Daniels, Chris Dodd, Ross Perot, Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Richard Lugar, Lowell Weicker, Joseph Lieberman, Evan Bayh, G. Gordon Liddy, Bill Bradley, Mario Cuomo, and Colin Powell. I was even involved in the first ever Rock the Vote campaign in 1992.


“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” John Quincy Adams


To me it is a privilege and honor. To me it is a duty and an obligation. I know it sounds corny, but when I am voting I feel very patriotic. And I wear my “I Voted” sticker with great pride. Voting on election day gives me such joy. I love democracy and I love the United States of America. I don’t take my citizenship for granted — and know how lucky I am. I can’t even comprehend US citizens who are eligible to vote who DON’T. I just don’t get it. I also believe if I vote then I will have a right to complain later. And those who don’t vote; well, you know – how do they have the nerve to complain? The people who really baffle me are the self-proclaimed “undecided” voters. How can this be possible? Who are these people? Are they messing with us — or just in need of attention?


On Undecided Voters: “To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes​ down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. ‘Can I interest you in the chicken?​’ she asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of poop with bits of broken glass in it?’ To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.” David Sedaris


Lastly, I don’t even acknowledge the argument by non-voters that “my one vote doesn’t count and doesn’t matter.” I truly don’t believe that and even if it were true — that would not stop me. I AM VOTING!


“Voting is the most precious right of every citizen, and we have a moral obligation to ensure the integrity of our voting process.”  Hillary Clinton


I truly appreciate my parents for surrounding me and my siblings with politics and getting us involved in current issues and the needs of our community. They made it accessible and exciting. My mother (who is a few years past the age of legal retirement) still attends Housing Authority meetings and is an advocate for any tenant who needs her support. Our weekly phone conversations typically include some talk of the politics of the week. And nothing would stop her from voting — nothing!


“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Winston Churchill


My obligation to my country and my parents is to VOTE. And now that I have two kids (12 and 14 years old) – I must keep up our family tradition. A family tradition of caring, staying informed and getting involved — and being patriotic, loving our country and doing our duty as engaged citizens. Both of my kids, especially my oldest, get fired up as much as I do about politics. My oldest even watches political news shows with me — and get frustrated and laughs at the appropriate times. This is the greatest gift I can give to my parents…and my country. The next generation will have at least two kids who will VOTE and will become involved, good citizens — stepping up to serve their community, studying the issues, supporting candidates, putting signs on their lawns, and working on election day.


“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.” Gore Vidal


I must admit — I am ready for the 2012 “campaigning” to end but I can’t wait to VOTE. My only complaint is that my time in the voting booth isn’t long enough. I believe in democracy – I believe in this country – and I believe in the strength and resilience of the generous and caring people of this great nation. I am an eternal optimist and have great hope – always. And when I VOTE – Inever feel more HOPE and hopefulness deep within my soul. This one act – VOTING – defines who I am as a US citizen. It is a beautiful and inspiring thing.


“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.” Theodore Roosevelt


So, next Tuesday (and every second-Tuesday of November) — I will meet you at the Voting Center. Please – don’t forget to VOTE and bring a friend to VOTE too. We all matter — and our votes do count! If only for that wonderful feeling of patriotism — that knowledge that your vote is as important as anyone else’s — that sense of duty. Then, perhaps, you will LOVE to VOTE and get as excited to vote as I do. I am certain of it.

Have I mentioned — I LOVE TO VOTE!


{For more information on how to VOTE and get engaged — click HERE.}


“Stand beside her, and guide her | Thru the night with a light from above” – Irving Berlin



Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts:


My Story of Pasta Fazool

In Family, fatherhood, Food, health, Italian, parenting, Summer for Renewal, Uncategorized on August 25, 2012 at 12:58 pm


Pasta Fazool aka Pasta e Fagioli — This is My Story


Pasta e Fagioli is one of those dishes in my family that popped up every now and then — and everyone loves it. Later in life I was given more insight into this simple Italian meal from my Grandmother, Phyllis. If I hadn’t lived with my grandmother for a while in college, I might never have heard some of these stories about our family, our heritage, our Pasta e Fagioli. When I was accepted into college my family didn’t have a lot of disposable income to support me 100% — so, I made some tough decisions to make college more affordable. First decision was to attend a regional campus of UConn to save some money.  Commuting to the Hartford regional campus would allow me to live at home and pay a fraction of the cost of tuition/fees compared to the main campus. By the time the first day of classes rolled around I unfortunately no longer had a working car. Just getting to the campus every day was a challenge. I did various things to get back and forth and for part of that time I lived with my grandmother. My grandmother lived in the south-end of Hartford and the UConn Hartford campus was on the west-side of Hartford — actually in West Hartford. I soon became a city kid and got comfortable taking the bus everywhere.

My new home was in one of the oldest Italian neighborhoods in Connecticut. Franklin Avenue is a well-known center of the Little Italy of Hartford — and I live right on Franklin Avenue in an apartment with my grandmother. The street level of her building was one of the best Italian grocery stores on Franklin Avenue and directly across the street from one of the best Italian bakeries in the city. It was a very walk-able neighborhood — everything you needed was within walking distance and downtown Hartford was only a 20 minute bus ride away. My grandmother did not drive or own a car either but never struggled getting by on Franklin Avenue. At this point in her life my grandmother was retired but still very busy. I soon realized that during the day through early evening she had a definitive routine.

My grandmother’s routine was driven by “her shows.” Her first soap opera came on at 11 a.m. so everything had to be done by then. She got up and made breakfast. One of my favorites was French toast made with Italian bread. She often ate hers with salt and pepper — not maple syrup. Once breakfast was done, my grandmother planned the menu for the day and then went shopping for fresh bread and everything else she needed for lunch and dinner. She enjoy really fresh food, so she shopped every day at the small grocery store downstairs, the bigger grocery store a block away, and one of the several bakeries on Franklin Avenue. Her options of places to shop increased on Wednesdays because she walked a couple of blocks up Bond Street to attend early morning mass at St. Augustine’s. My grandmother worked very hard all morning planning the meal, shopping, tidying up the apartment, and making lunch. Her ultimate goal was to be settled in her chair in the TV room with her lunch ready to eat at exactly 11 a.m. when her first soap opera started. The dinner she planned would be pretty traditional with an Italian flair but lunch was consistent — a sandwich and a side dish. My grandmother used fresh Italian bread, fresh deli meat, and fresh cheese usually provolone. She then prepared a hot side dish. Although for most this would be just another lunch — but to my grandmother it was an inspired work of art made with love. The sandwich was toasted or grilled and was a masterpiece.  The side dish could be almost anything like a simple soup (chicken noodle, turkey rice, split pea & ham, minestrone), vegetables (ratatouille or grilled vegetables like peppers, onions, squash, zucchini), pasta (risotto, pastina), or creamy polenta with grated cheese and/or tomato sauce. I learned a great deal about cooking and planning meals during these times. My grandmother shared little tricks and techniques and soon I knew how to turn a good sandwich into a great sandwich.

Most of the time, my grandmother was so focused on getting settled for her soap opera TV show, that there wasn’t much time for chatting. But I learned that if I listened carefully, I could learn a lot. She not only taught me about food but also would tell me the story behind the food. One of my favorite stories is how this is the food that the poor people at in Italy. Most of the ingredients of her side dishes were inexpensive, grown in the garden or from left-overs from dinner. As I mentioned in another blog, we rarely went out to eat at an Italian restaurant because they served we could make better, fresher and much less expensively — for pennies. As Italian chain restaurants started to pop up and become popular it amazed my grandmother that they offered and charged a lot for Italian “peasant” dishes like polenta, pastina, risotto, Pasta e Fagioli, and even pizza with homemade pizza dough.

Another story was about Pasta e Fagioli. Pasta e Fagioli is the ultimate poor-family meal. Among her friends when she was a kid, Pasta e Fagioli was made at the end of the week with the left overs from the entire week. Pasta e Fagioli literally translates into “pasta and beans.” So technically any soup that includes pasta and beans can be called Pasta e Fagioli. It is a delicious, hearty meal that you could make with everything you had on hand. Pasta e Fagioli can include meat but it can also be a vegetarian meal. Now you have to be careful with old time Italians because even though it was served vegetarian most of the time in my family — the flavor in the broth came from pork. A hunk of salt pork, some bacon fat or a ham bone was often used to add flavor. Salt pork or bacon fat was used when sautéing the onions and celery and if you had a ham bone on hand you would include it with the water or broth when you begin simmering the soup.  You then add the first of the two main ingredients — the beans. It can honestly be any bean you like but in my family it was typically kidney, chick peas, canteloni beans or some combination of the three. After an hour or so of simmering, remove the hunk of pork and ham bone and add beans and pasta. My favorite is a mini tube pasta called ditellini. Others in my family prefer a bow-tie pasta. I think you get the idea — frugal families would take all of their leftovers for the week (including hunks of salt pork and bones), add rough-cut vegetables, onions, celery, garlic, broth/water and the magic ingredients — pasta and beans.

Pablo’s Pasta e Fagioli Recipe – click photo

The best part about Pasta e Fagioli is it is the ultimate Italian food for the soul. There is nothing more comforting that a hot bowl of Pasta e Fagioli with grated parmagiana, crushed red peppers, and a slice of crusty Italian bread. So it is not surprising that most Italian restaurants offer Pasta e Fagioli; and it is one of the best things to bring to a carry-in or potluck. And when you want to show your friends that you care about them during tough times or times of joy, nothing says you care more than sending a big pot of Pasta e Fagioli. You’re not only sharing a meal but you are sharing your heritage and a family tradition.

Another quite humorous part of this meal is the pronunciation itself. When I was growing up we ate something called “Pasta Fazool.” Everyone in our family called it Pasta Fazool; our friends called it Pasta Fazool; you could order Pasta Fazool in a restaurant on Franklin Avenue and get what you wanted without the server giving you a strange look. Basically there was no reason for me to question the proper pronunciation of Pasta e Fagioli. It wasn’t until the coordinator of the potluck lunch at work asked me for the recipe of my Pasta Fazool that I actually saw how it was spelled. And then the first time someone ordered it at the chain Italian restaurant, the well trained server of the fake Italian restaurant gave us a funny look and corrected our pronunciation — which by the way wasn’t correct either. I again denied our family mispronounced Pasta e Fagioli because we also didn’t pronounce other foods phonetically — like lasagna, manicotti, mozzarella, or ricotta. I later discovered that the pronunciation, Pasta Fazool, is unique to the American-Italian community in the Northeast. So I now proudly say Pasta FAZOOL!

Our Pasta e Fagioli is vegetarian (often vegan) and a healthy, high protein, low fat meal. Today, I share this story and meal with my family — the next generation. The most wonderful part of this meal are the memories of my grandmother and our time together. The cook that I have become is in large part to my grandmother. She was a creative and confident chef. She loved making meals special and loved sharing meals with others. As a tribute to her and all of the other great cooks in my family, I am committed to not only sharing these meals with my kids but also keeping the stories alive. My grandmother would be very pleased that I have kept many of her traditions alive and I am still sharing her stories and our memories.


Buon Appetito!


If you want my recipe for Pasta e Fagioli, click here.


This PC Pop Blog post is a part of a series called the Summer for Renewal. Read the other Summer for Renewal posts too.  They are as follows:

 


Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts:


Survivor Leadership: 4 Powerful Lessons from Reality TV

In CBS, College Students, diversity, Exploring Leadership, Group Dynamics, Interaction Process Analysis, Komives, Leader, Leadership, life, Malavenda, Nance Lucas, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Reality TV, Robert Bales, self-fulfilling prophecy, Survivor, Survivor Cook Island, survivor women, Timothy McMahon, TV, TV shows on May 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm

The Complete Guide



The Complete Guide to Survivor Leadership contains 4 Powerful Lessons.  Studying LEADERSHIP by watching the CBS reality TV show, Survivor will give you powerful insights into how leadership develops in teams AKA tribes. I have taught leadership for close to 25 years.  I have used various techniques to make learning leadership meaningful and topical.  As long as Survivor has been on the air, I have been using the reality TV show to emphasis and highlight the various aspects of several leadership models, practices, and theories.  From the first episode through the live Finale show, Leadership is present, can be observed, predicted and studied. The 4 Survivor Leadership Lessons are as follows:


Survivor Leadership


Lesson 1 — The Leadership Primer


This PC Pop blog post is the quintessential Survivor Leadership primer. In this post you will learn about the basic LEADERSHIP models that give the framework for being able to study leadership and how leadership emerges among tribe members. Using Leadership models and theories that emphasize relationships as much as task completion, you begin to understand how Leadership develops among tribe members.  If you love studying leadership you will love finding out how LEADERSHIP is an integral part of the group dynamics on Survivor.  If you read this before watching Survivor, you will begin to see the relationships and interactions on Survivor in a much different way. It makes watching Survivor a much more exciting experience. READ more…


Lesson 2 — Self-Fulfilling Prophecy


This PC Pop blog post discusses a concept called “self-fulfilling prophecy.” In order to study LEADERSHIP among the castaways on Survivor you must examine some of the variables that will impact the group dynamics.  In this post we look at how casting affects the group development and the tone of the tribe communities. Read this post and learn about how casting can reinforce negative stereotypes and complicate the natural development of teams.  If you are interested in how important diversity and inclusion are in Leadership, you will find this post very interesting. READ more…


Lesson 3 — Family First


This PC Pop blog post focuses on what the members of the tribe must be concerned about if they wish to be a LEADER. The tribes within Survivor resemble in many ways a “family.”  This post explores the concept of LEADERS first know who they are before they may be effective.  Leaders must first must know them-SELVES, then their FAMILY, then OTHERS. Once you become self aware of your own talents and issues, have the love, support and coaching from your family — you then impact your community and change the world. LEADERSHIP is about community and family; and this blog post explores that within Survivor.  As you will see sometimes it works and (like this season) sometimes it doesn’t.  You will enjoy the analysis of the men’s tribe; and it will give you more to think about the next time you tune into Survivor. READ more…


Lesson 4 — Serving Your Community


This PC Pop blog post focuses on the importance of Leaders developing a sense of Community. In order to understand others, you must first understand yourself.  You cannot lead a team or tribe unless you understand others enough to include and empower them.  Once they are empowered they must be coached, challenged, and encouraged. In Survivor, your immediate tribe is your core community (small c) or family.  The entire group of castaways regardless of their tribe affiliation and their alliances is the Community (Big C).  Unfortunately, the castaways become so focused on Leading their tribe and playing the game they fail to become great Community Leaders. To examine this further we must look at various LEADERSHIP models particularly Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership. This season there are some clear examples of castaways completely disregarding their community — and getting eliminated. READ more…


Survivor: One Worldthe twenty-fourth season of the American CBS competitive reality television series, premiered on February 15, 2012. I triple love Survivor for many reasons — but mostly because of the LEADERSHIP lessons learned by observing the group development, teamwork and relationships among the castaways. As a self-proclaimed, cultural anthropologist with a specialization in Pop culture — Survivor gives me great joy.  Tune in and let me know what you think.  If you already planned on watching, I hope these four Survivor Leadership blog posts give you something more to observe and reflect upon.  I hope I’ve convinced you it may be worth tuning into Survivor in future. You might find some value in studying Survivor — some value in studying Pop Culture — some value in studying Reality TV.


To understand more about Survivor Leadership, please read each of the PC Pop blog posts 1, 2, 3, 4. Please check back here often because this list will be updated regularly.


CBS Survivor episodes and videos can be viewed online.


Saying Goodbye: You’re Off to Great Places

In Adjourning, Books, College Students, Dr. Seuss, Exploring Leadership, Group Dynamics, Komives, Kouzes, Leader, Leadership, Malavenda, Nance Lucas, Oh the places you'll go, Pablo Malavenda, Posner, Timothy McMahon, Tuckman Stages, Uncategorized on May 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm


Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away.


Saying Goodbye can be a powerful and transforming action that many Leaders overlook. Leaders spent a tremendous amount of time and energy building a hardworking, cohesive team and often see great results. But Leaders fail to give appropriate praise and recognition which should include some type of ceremony at the end of the year. In many team situations there is a clear and definitive “end” of the year, completion of the work and inevitable dissolution of the relationships. This is especially true in organizations in which the leader, chairperson, or president must be elected (or re-elected) each year — like student organizations and societies in college and high school. It is that time of year when some students are getting ready to graduate and for life after college, and all of the other students are preparing to move on to the next level of leadership. Leaders often let the outgoing members of student organizations just fade away though and allow the incoming  Leaders and the formal graduation ceremonies take precedence. What Leaders must do however is give formal recognition to the accomplishments of the team which has been together for the entire year and most likely has many wonderful things on which to reflect and of which to be proud.

Great Leaders spend part of their tenure recognizing accomplishments, rewarding good work, working on team building and trust among group members, and empowering and encouraging their team members to work hard, take risks and make history. Ironically these same Leaders often leave office and fade away without properly “Saying Goodbye” and more importantly without allowing the team members to say Goodbye to each other. When Kouzes and Posner talked about “Encouraging the Heart” they were not only referring to recognizing individuals throughout the entire year but also having an upbeat year-end celebration to give closure to the entire team (Kouzes & Posner, 2008).

Encouraging the Heart is based on two commitments: recognizing contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence and celebrating the values and victories by creating a spirit of community (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).  For some leaders Encouraging the Heart comes naturally but for most it is not their strongest trait. Believe it or not it is easier for many Leaders to “Challenge the Process” but Encouraging the Heart frightens them. Yet is it so important that Kouzes and Posner dedicated an entire textbook to this one behavior of their Leadership Challenge — Encouraging the Heart. Now there’s a book, Encouraging the Heart workshops, and the Encouragement Index. So don’t blow it by not coordinating an end of the year celebration. According to Kouzes and Posner the importance of Encouraging the Heart is backed up by research that reports that approximately one-third of North American workers say they NEVER are recognized for a job well done, a little more (44 percent) say they receive little recognition for a job well done, and only 50 percent of Leaders say they give recognition for high performance  (Kouzes & Posner, 2003). Great Leaders know that people matter, and Leader must make people feel in their hearts that they are valued and appreciated — and we’re not necessarily talking about money or salary.


You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers

Who soar to high heights.


Also remember that every group, team or organization goes through developmental stages explained well by Bruce Tuckman’s Group Development Model. Tuckman’s original stages of development, as you will recall, are as follows: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing (Tuckman, 1965).  In 1977, Tuckman with Mary Ann C. Jensen added a fifth stage: Adjourning. Adjourning has also been referred to as the De-Forming or Mourning stage.  Tuckman and Jensen (1977) realized the function or design of many groups is to complete a series of tasks and to dissolve.  Even if the group continues to exist the members of the group will be different and the developmental stage would revert to the Forming stage also know as Re-Forming and Re-Storming.  Adjourning allows for the group to continue on with new members, new leadership and a new set of goals and tasks to complete.  According to Tuckman and Jensen (1977): When it is time to end or change the group in some way, managers can be perplexed by the blind refusal to change or contemplate a future that is different from today. This requires the skills of “Change Management” Leaders to be deployed, for example in celebrating the successes of the past whilst steadily revealing the inevitability of the future (Tuckman & Jansen, 1977). As with beginnings, rituals help people cope with the changes of ending. If properly implemented the Adjourning stage which includes Encouraging the Heart behaviors can be transforming for all members including outgoing members and new incoming members as well.

The 3-steps to a successful “Goodbye” are as follows:

  • Celebrate
    • Bring all members together
    • Have a meal
    • Dress up
  • Recognize
    • Say Thank you
    • Recognize major accomplishments
    • Honor members – leaders, staff, volunteers, advisors
    • Give a Keepsake
  • Leave a Legacy
    • Pass the Gavel
    • Introduce New Leadership
    • Share Vision for Future — finances, services, programs, and leadership


On and on you will hike.

And I know you’ll hike far

And face up to your problems

Whatever they are.


From an organizational perspective, plan the ceremony and pick a date as soon as possible.  Get the event in everyone’s calendar and make it an expectation to attend.  Assign the planning of the event to someone on the executive team.  I prefer the event to be coordinated and planned by the vice president.  The VP has enough knowledge and connection to the entire organization to plan something appropriate and special.  Make sure the event is within the budget and communicated as an expectation as well as a priority.  Most of your budget will be needed for food and beverages and the gift to all members.  That being said focus on the objectives of the event which represents the Heart of the organization — the people, relationships, memories, and the personal growth of each member; therefore, don’t let the lack of funds prevent you from planning something creative and special.  Everyone should attend. Everyone who attends should feel very special at the event.  Everyone should be acknowledged, thanked and recognized — EVERYONE.  This is consistent with the principles of the Relational Leadership Model concerning Empowerment and Inclusion (Komives, Lucas, McMahon, 2007). Be careful not to plan one of those banquets that makes a few people feel great and most feel ignored and under-appreciated (again).  A proper Goodbye is wonderful and uplifting for EVERYONE!


And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)


How you Say Goodbye is up to you and should be appropriate for the culture and consistent with the values of the organization.  Here are some ideas that may work for you.

  • Thank You — A thank you gift that each member may take away. It may be engraved with the “year” or term of office or something that can be personalized like a picture frame.
    • Flowers — a flower for each outgoing member
    • Gift — glass, mug, picture frame (for the group photo mentioned below)
  • Recognition
    • Plaque – may include photo, name, year or term of office
    • Certificate of Achievement/Excellence — this is most inexpensive recognition item you can give but it will be treasured by the members.  They look great if you use multi-colored certificate paper, and they can be personalized and signed by the VIPs of the organization.  For a few more cents, you purchase certificate covers and fancy stickers and ribbons to make the presentation even more dazzling.  Check with your national/international office for pre-printed certificate paper.
    • Photo of Group — the photo may be distributed electronically or made available online; the photo should include a “key” with names of everyone pictured and not pictured.
    • Logo Item — a lapel pin, patch, medal, hat, fancy pen, coaster, etc.  If the organization is a national/international or has a specific logo, there may be items for sale from the national office.
  • Program
    • Emcee, Keynote, Presenters — decide who will be hosting and emceeing, select and invite a keynote, and select presenters
    • Keynote Remarks — should focus on Leadership and leaving a legacy for the future. Considering using creative, leadership focused quotes and books like Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss. {More information on how to use Story Books in Leadership may be found in this PCPop post: Story Book Leadership: Getting Started.}
    • Script — Write a script. Do not ad lib or “wing it.”  Don’t deviate from the script once it is written because it was developed to give everyone equal recognition and assures that no one is singled out as extra special (unless that is part of the original plan).  We have all witnessed this disaster — when the emcee calls up each member to receive their certificate and offers personal remarks about one particular member and then has to come up with something equally impressive for everyone else.  It never works out well, and it makes the program awkward for everyone.
    • Awards — are optional.  If you choose to give awards like best program, best committee, best chairperson, best senior, best alumnus/a, etc — make sure they don’t do more harm than good.
    • Special Recognition — decide if you wish to honor specific groups or categories of members like all graduating seniors, all executive team members, advisors, staff, or committee chairs.
    • Creative Presentations: Superlatives, Limericks, Funny Awards for each member.  With these creative presentations you must make sure there is one for each member.  A small group of officers or committee members may create these presentations or they can create the awards and superlatives and have the members vote (like “Most Likely to Succeed”).
    • Passing the Gavel: Give the outgoing president an opportunity to give remarks about the year’s accomplishments and highlights.  The outgoing presidents then presents an engraved gavel to the new president for the upcoming year.  The new president shares his/her vision for the next year building on the success and hard work of the outgoing members.
    • Photo/View Slideshow — Every organization should have a director of communications who is responsible for taking pictures and video at all events.  Their ultimate goal is to have enough photos to create a meaningful slideshow for the end of the year banquet.  The slideshow can then be shared online with all members — another gift for all members — as well as alumni and friends of the organization.
    • Music/dancing:
      • Dinner music –if you have the funds, during dinner it is a nice touch to have live music featuring a piano player, jazz combo, violinist, or harpist.
      • Dancing — After the formal presentation, some group may enjoy dancing to a DJ, who will also play “dinner” music and supply you with a microphone and sound system for your keynote and presentations.
  • Food & Beverages — Dinner, Lunch or Breakfast
    • Plated — served, sit-down meal; must coordinate special dietary meals in advance
    • Buffet — hot meal, easier to accommodate special dietary needs
    • Picnic – variety of menus will work: burgers/dogs, steak/potatoes, shish kabobs, bbq (ribs, chicken), clam bake
    • Hors d’oeuvres — this is a great option if your budget will not allow for a full meal but make sure the food is hot and plentiful.
    • Desserts — this is another great low(er)-budget option but make sure you have healthy options too like fruit smoothies, yogurt, granola, fruit salad or fresh fruit platters.
      • Buffet with a chocolate fountain (Yum!)
      • Ice Cream Sundaes — make your own — make sure you have lactose-free (soy) and lower fat options like sherbet.
  • Beverages
    • Cash Bar — general rule of thumb is that if more than half of your honorees and guests are of legal drinking age a cash bar would be appropriate.  You may disagree but I don’t think using organizational funds to pay for an open bar is appropriate.
    • Coffee — if dessert is a part of the event, coffee would be a nice addition.
  • Venue— once you decide on the program and the food you would like to serve, you have a few options for venue.  Remember to ask about catering options, food charges, vegetarian options, tax charge, service fee, tip/gratuity, bar fee, bar minimum, security requirements and any other costs.  Make sure you ask about specific requirements and the cost, if any, for a microphone, lectern, video projector, screen, dance floor, linens, flatware, centerpieces, table for awards, etc. Options for your venue are as follows:
    • Banquet hall
    • Hotel banquet room (tend to charge extra for everything — so, get a quote!)
    • Private home (obviously technology challenges)
    • Park, beach, golf course club house, country club, pavilion, outdoor plaza/patio, neighborhood clubhouse
    • Restaurant — private room
    • Museum, gallery

So…

Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray

Or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,

You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…get on your way!

(Dr. Seuss, 1990)


It sounds like a lot of work, but the rewards are tremendous.  Each one of your members will feel wonderful about their experience with the organization, be proud of what they were able to accomplish, and be confident that their contributions are appreciated and valued. New incoming members and officers will be inspired to continue to work hard toward accomplishing the mission and vision of the organization.  You will have started a meaningful tradition that members will look forward to attending each year. You will have become a great Leader who is comfortable Encouraging the Heart and understands the importance and significance of the Adjourning phase of group development. “You’re off to Great Places – Today is Your Day – Your Mountain is Waiting – So, Get on Your Way!”


References:

  • Komives, Susan R., Lucas, Nance, & McMahon, Timothy R. (2007) 2nd Edition. Exploring Leadership for College Students Who Want to Make a DifferenceSan Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (2003). 2nd Edition. Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (2008). 4th Edition. The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Seuss, Dr. (1990). Oh, The Places You’ll Go! New York, New York: Random House.
  • Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Development sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63, 384-399.
  • Tuckman, B.W. & Jensen, M.A.C. (1977) Stages of small group development revisitedGroup and Organizational Studies, 2, 419-427.

For more suggestions on must-read LEADERSHIP books, check out this PCPop blog post:


For more on Story Book Leadership, check out these PCPop blog posts:

Survivor Leadership, Chapter 4 — Serving Your Community

In CBS, College Students, Exploring Leadership, Group Dynamics, Komives, Leader, Leadership, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Reality TV, Robert Greenleaf, Servant Leadership, Survivor, survivor women, Timothy McMahon, TV, TV shows, Uncategorized on March 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Karma


Before reading this PC Pop blog post, you may want to first read the other posts about Survivor and Leadership: Survivor Leadership, Chapter 1 — The Leadership Primer; Chapter 2 — Self-Fulfilling Prophecy; and Chapter 3 — Family First.


As an instructor of LEADERSHIP for college students, I use many techniques to demonstrate and teach aspects of leadership — including watching Survivor.  Generally though we only watch the first four to five episodes as a class because at some point the “game” becomes more and more autocratic and Machiavellian — and mean spirited. Ultimately the Survivor premise — of voting everyone off until there is only one Survivor — is the antithesis of the best practices of LEADERSHIP. But during those first four episodes you can really see LEADERSHIP emerge among the members of the tribes; what I refer to as Survivor Leadership. After 4 to 5 episodes into the season, it is important to focus on the importance of Community LEADERSHIP.

Robert Greenleaf

Robert K. Greenleaf

In order to understand others, you must first understand yourself.  You cannot lead a team or tribe unless you understand others enough to include and empower them.  Once they are empowered they must be coached, challenged, and encouraged. In Survivor, your immediate tribe is your core community (small c) or family.  The entire group of castaways regardless of their tribe affiliation and their alliances is the Community (Big C).  Unfortunately, the castaways become so focused on Leading their tribe and playing the game that they fail to become great Community Leaders. To examine this further we must look at various LEADERSHIP models particularly Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership.

Colton has lost sight of one important aspect of leadership — all of your actions should be to benefit the common good.  This is best articulated in the definition from The Relational Leadership Model which states: Leadership is a relational process of people together attempting to accomplish change or make a difference to benefit the common good (Komives, 2007).  At this point in my class, I would tell the students “this is where we lose Hitler.”  Hitler may have been effective in mobilizing lots of people to do his bidding but nothing he was doing was for the “common good”; therefore, he was not a leader.

Christina

Christina

Alicia

Alicia

This past Wednesday CBS aired the sixth episode of Survivor: One World and the castaways have been together now for 14 days. It is at this point in the competition that I fantasize about how different it would be if the castaways had some insight into leadership. As I watched the episode unfold — it reminded me of the potential we all have to have a tremendous impact on our Community.  During this episode, the villian Colton had found an ally — Alicia. Colton and Alicia turned on their tribe-mate, Christina and became classic bullies.  Colton has no legitimate right to authority or power in his tribe or the entire community but others are for a variety of reasons allowing him to not only lead but to also be a coercive, manipulative meanie.

Colton Cumbie

Colton

Colton’s action were not for the common good of his tribe let alone the entire community of castaways in this camp.  If you define great leadership as actions or changes to benefit the common good it allows you to explore values, service, humility, civic engagement, empowerment, inclusiveness, diversity and community.   Colton’s behavior or style also does not resemble that of a Servant Leader — where you serve others first, selflessly, and lead next (Greenleaf, 2002). Colton is a prime example of a meanie who thinks he is a leader.  So regardless of what Colton and his allies think, he is not a LEADER.

In the competition of Survivor focusing on the needs of others, being selfless and promoting and developing others is a risky strategy. But I would argue ignoring the needs of the Community is short sighted and will eventually be your undoing. If you know anything about Survivor you know  eventually the tribes merge into one tribe.  If you acknowledge the collection of all tribes (families or neighborhoods) to be a part of a larger Community — the merge is pivotal in one’s success as a Leader.  If you are NOT focused on the holistic aspects of your entire Community until the merge — it is too late to have a positive impact.  What a different sociological “experiment” in human behavior Survivor would be if each castaway employed the principles of Servant Leadership — listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, and commitment to the growth of others and building community (Greenleaf, 2002).

Similar to the world and communities in which we lead, Servant Leadership is such an inspirational, aspirational and attractive theory — but can it really be implemented?  As Leaders we often see things from a selfish, self promoting lens — focusing on material things and the next promotion. Like Survivor there is an ultimate prize at the end of the competition.  Logically we can see, even if we don’t believe in Karma, that there are great benefits to ignoring those selfish urges and focusing on the needs of others, serving first/leading next, and working hard to develop the skills of others, empowering them to become more engaged and better servants and leaders themselves.  This philosophy is virtuous but risky and threatening.  You must take the leap of faith. In Survivor you build alliances to get you farther in the competition until eventually you will have to turn on your allies and attempt to promote yourself — to the supreme role of Sole Survivor.  Is it possible the Survivor  is more similar to the corporate American ladder than we would want to admit?

Sabrina

Sabrina

There is some encouragement in this season of Survivor though. Sabrina has been a great example of a leader with the ability of Encouraging the Heart (Kouzes & Posner, 2008).  One of the five elements of The Leadership Challenge is a concept called Encouraging the Heart.  Encouraging the Heart is such a powerful concept the authors dedicated an entire text to the subject — Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).  As a leader I am comfortable Challenging the Process and Inspiring a Share Vision, two of the other elements of The Leadership Challenge, but I have struggled with Encouraging the Heart (Kouzes & Posner, 2008).  I have had to be very intentional about sending thank you notes, celebrating small victories, and sounding sincere in my praise of others’ work.  When I assemble a team, I always try to recruit a leader who is strong with Encouraging the Heart to complement my strengths.  Sabrina has consistently been the one castaway on Survivor this season that has been genuinely concerned about the feelings of others.  Sabrina has been a strong competitor but this week her tribe, Salani, was required to have one member sit out the reward challenge. Sabriana sat out of the challenge but was completely engaged.  She cheered on her tribe-mates with words of encouragement and great sideline coaching.  Her role in this reward challenge made the difference and they won — a luxury prize with ice cream sundaes with all the fixings.  Another example of hope this season is how Christina dealt with being bullied by Colton, Alicia and others in her own tribe.  Christina stayed focused, did not retaliate with hateful words, and did not hold a grudge when Colton needed comforting.  When Colton started to experience extreme pain, Christina was the only tribe-mate who went to Colton’s aid and helped him find comfort.

Message to Mark Burnett, Executive Producer of Survivor — consider a new reality TV show concept, Survivor Leadership. The concept would be very similar to Survivor with one major difference.  The difference is each castaway has been trained in LEADERSHIP.  Each castaway would be required to complete the curriculum of a special Survivor Leadership Academy.  The syllabus would focus on the history and development of Leadership theories, practices and models.  It would focus on self-awareness, inclusiveness, group dynamics, teamwork, ethics, communication, community, and service.  How wonderful to see how the members of each of the tribes would develop if their collective focus was on the needs of the entire Community; and they focus on service first and leading next (Greenleaf, 2002).  They would work together to build a shelter, start and maintain a fire, find drinkable water, hunt for and cook food as a family, and make sure everyone felt valued, challenged, healthy, appreciated, and heard.  It would not only be a better “experiment” but a better example for aspiring and emerging leaders.

Immunity IdolNow back to Karma.  I mentioned Colton was feeling some pain toward the end of the episode.  Well although I predict Colton’s strategy would have backfired on him eventually — his appendix ended his game sooner.  Colton was diagnosed with an acute appendicitis and was ordered to leave the game. It is hard to ignore that Colton was the architect of his own fate.  (Note that it was later disclosed that Colton actually suffered from a severe bacterial infection in his stomach and intestines.) Colton did not disappoint and was evil until the bitter end.  Given the option by Jeff Probst to give his immunity idol to another castaway before he was carted away on a stretcher, Colton decided to keep it as a souvenir.  Another brilliantly selfish move.

Let’s hope that Survivor: One World Post-Colton is as exciting and a bit more compassionate.


References:


For more suggestions on must-read LEADERSHIP books, check out this PCPop blog post:


For more on Survivor Leadership, check out these PCPop blog posts:





Signs of Spring — Blooming Flowers and an Increase in Suicide

In depression, flowers, health, life, spring, suicide, Uncategorized, wellness on March 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

Malavenda Flower Garden -- photo taken and owned by PCPop


Signs of Spring are everywhere.  Flowers are blooming, grass is getting green, and the bird songs and sunshine are waking me up each Spring Rosesmorning before my alarm clock.  Today, I took an exhilarating 15 mile bike ride through the country with a gentle breeze, billowy clouds in the sky, and sunshine. I feel the anticipation for the happiness that Spring brings.  It also reminds me, though, that we are approaching the season with the highest incidents of suicide. I have a background in psychology, counseling and human development and have worked with Malavenda Tree -- photo taken and owned by PCPopcollege-aged students my entire career.  My commitment to leadership, service and community engagement led me to serving on the Lafayette Crisis Center Foundation Board for several years — three of which as president.  During this time I became acutely aware of the needs of the community, especially those in our community who suffer from depression due to abuse, illness, bullying, and  mental disorders. During my time with the Crisis Center we focused on Suicide awareness and prevention especially in the Spring.

I don’t suffer from depression but I am a bit obsessive.  And Spring not only has many opportunities to put winter behind us but Spring also pulls us in many different directions.  The energy is welcome and the motivation is increasing but the projects whether “spring cleaning,” gardening, or yard work can be more than some of us can manage. I will admit it makes me anxious.  Making to-do lists, task lists, and having a plan of action helps — not just to make tasks manageable but to also keep your emotions in check.

Malavenda Flower Garden -- photo taken and owned by PCPopFor those who suffer from depression, it is hard to understand why everyone is so excited about the Spring.  It is difficult for anyone to make it through the holidays, the new year, and the stresses of winter but most get out of their funk when the first signs of Spring appear. So if you are the only one still feeling burdened with anxiety, despair, shame, and confusion — you may sink deeper. Individuals who suffer from anxiety or depression already feel like they are not normal — not like their healthy, happy friends.  When they continue to be depressed through Spring — and no one else is — this is often too much to handle.

For every student it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on getting through the semester after Spring Break.  It is also getting to the point of no return for students who have not kept up with their school work and have been in denial about their academic future.  If you are failing most of your classes and facing expulsion, Spring is the season of reckoning. No longer can this student avoid telling their friends and family that their college Malavenda Flower Garden -- photo taken and owned by PCPopcareer is over.  To many, it seems like the end of the world and the shame is unbearable. And thus, Suicide is the second highest cause of death among college students (first is accidents).

For these reasons and more Suicide peaks in the Spring. Many still don’t realize that in the months of April and May there is a spike in suicides in the US and all of the northern hemisphere. We don’t think about it because it isn’t really logical in our minds.  In so many ways Spring has outward signs of happiness, hope, and a new beginning.  We become more active and motivated to begin new projects and engage in our communities. Perhaps this same energy and motivation explains why those who suffer from depression actually make plans to take their own lives in the Springtime.  What a juxtaposition.  They become more focused, more determined, and even in some cases, more angry and aggressive with severe mood shifts. A new beginning perhaps means the end.

Malavenda Flower Garden -- photo taken and owned by PCPopToday every community has local resources that are tremendously effective — when we’re aware of them and use them. The first step is being aware of the Warning Signs signs and Causes of Suicide.  Since untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide it is also important to understand what causes depression.  This includes drug and alcohol use/abuse, bullying, accident, illness, abuse, loss, unemployment and more.  (A more comprehensive list of the causes of depression may be found here.) Remember — There are almost ALWAYS warning signs of depression and suicide.

Suicide is preventable. But remember that Suicide does not discriminate, and it is a real issue in today’s society. There is one suicide each minute of each day and over 30,000 each year in the US. — 1350 of which will be college students. This issue, like Spring Rosesmany, needs to be confronted as a community.  If you want to help you should become AWARE of…

  • the people you love — call or visit with your family and friends and neighbors — check in regularly
  • take action if you observe any warning signs
  • be familiar with your local resources and reliable online information
  • get help from professionals — you’re not alone

If you suspect one of your loved ones or friends is contemplating suicide, you can help best by following these guidelines offered by the American Association of Suicidology and the Lafayette Crisis Center. Here is a summary of the guidelines:

  • Take Threats Seriously
  • Watch for Clues
  • Answer Cries for Help
  • Confront the Problem
  • Tell Them That You Care
  • Get Them Professional Help
  • Offer Alternatives

Malavenda Flower Garden -- photo taken and owned by PCPop

Don’t hesitate to call 911 — but if you find yourself with someone who is suicidal (and it is not an emergency), here are some tips for what to do while you are waiting for help to arrive (from Suicide.org).

  • Listen
  • Comfort
  • Be Concerned
  • Talk openly about Suicide
  • Don’t be judgmental
  • Be careful what you say
  • Listen some more (and then Listen)
  • Get professional help
  • Follow up regularly and often

If YOU are thinking about Suicide, read this first.  You should then visit a professional or call one of the Hotlines listed below including Spring Roses1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).  Each of these Hotlines and crisis centers are staffed by caring, trained staff who really want to talk to you.  In our community you may also call 2-1-1; and speak to a trained, non-judgmental person who can assist you in many ways. The 2-1-1 staff have information on important community services. So if you need essential human services – you are looking for training, employment, food pantries, help for an aging parent, addiction prevention programs for teenage children, affordable housing options, support groups and ways of becoming part of the community– 2-1-1 allows people to give help and to get help. If you need someone to talk to — just call.  Make it your first call. For more information on 2-1-1, click here (because it may not be available in your area — it is in mine). See below for more Suicide Hotline phone numbers.Malavenda Tree -- Robin -- photo taken and owned by PCPop

We must also work together to raise awareness of important resources in the community like the Lafayette Crisis Center and “2-1-1.”  Agencies like the Lafayette Crisis Center are offering services that are vital to the members of our community who need assistance — because the municipal and state governments are not going to in the near future. These agencies also need your support of time and money — please support the United Way and give directly to the Lafayette Crisis Center.

Malavenda Tree -- photo taken and owned by PCPop

Awareness — Empathy — Nonjudgmental Listening — Community Action. We all need to be aware that Spring is wonderful, but not for everyone. Sometimes all you need is to be aware — aware of what Spring Fever may bring — in addition to blooming flowers. If we work as a community to watch out for our friends, our family as well as our neighbors — depression can be overcome and suicide can be prevented.  Lastly, remember that YOU are not alone — and it will get better.

Now go out and enjoy the warmer weather, the beautiful flowers, and a new beginning.


Call 211 -- Get Connected. Get Answers.


Suicide Hotlines

  • Need Help Now?
    • Call 9-1-1
    • 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
    • 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • Text Telephone: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)
  • Military Veterans Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (Press 1)
  • Suicide Hotline in Spanish: 1-800-273-TALK (Press 2)
  • LGBTIQ Youth Suicide Hotline: 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386)
  • For info on Suicide Hotlines in your state in US, click here.
  • For info around the world, click here.

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Story Book Leadership – Getting Started – 8 Steps to Powerful Presentations

In Books, Children's Literature, Dr. Seuss, Group Dynamics, Leadership, Literacy Month, Lorax, NEA, Pop Culture, Reading Across America, Story Book Leadership, Theodor Geisel, Uncategorized, Yertle the Turtle on March 15, 2012 at 10:01 am
Story Book Leadership

“Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted.”


Inspired by this Dr. Seuss quote and a class project many years ago, I explored the use of story books in my work in higher education. {Read PCPop blog post: Happy Birthday to You, Theodor Geisel!} I have been teaching LEADERSHIP to college students for close to 25 years and have been using Children’s literature for over Dr. Seuss15 years. When attending retreats, workshops and conferences, adults including college students love to regress. The joy on their faces when you pull out a children’s story book is priceless.  Once they realize you are serious about using a children’s book to teach leadership, students really get into it. After reading the book out loud to the group, I lead a discussion using a tried and true “reflection” outline asking three questions: WHAT? – SO WHAT? – NOW WHAT? The discussion is lively, fun, and meaningful. The insights about leadership the students come up with are incredible. It is magical. (Read the entire story in the PCPop blog post: Story Book Leadership – Teaching College Students Using Kiddie Lit.)

So follow these 8 simple Steps for a successful leadership development teaching experience using Children’s literature.


Story Book Leadership guidelines are as follows:

  1. LEARNING OBJECTIVE – Decide what your learning objective is (see list below).
  2. SELECT A BOOK – Select one or several Children’s Book(s) with a similar message. (Read the PCPop blog post: Story Book Leadership – Book List for suggestions.)
  3. FORMAT – Decide how you will use the Children’s Book.  Some ideas are as follows:
    • Read to large group; lead large group discussion.
    • Split large group up into small groups; have each group read the book and have a small group discussion; have all small groups report back to large group; lead large group discussion.
    • Use the book as the focus or a primary part of the workshop or educational session.
    • Use the book as a small part of a larger retreat or full day conference.
  4. Have at least two copies of the book — one for you to read; the other for showing the pictures to the group.
  5. SETTING – Have the room set up like “story time” in Kindergarten; have an arm chair for the reader and ask the students to sit on the floor around the chair. Be creative and have fun with it — wear a cardigan like Mr. Rogers.
  6. ENGAGEMENT – Recruit a volunteer to show pictures to the group. This is where the extra copies of the book come in handy.
  7. GET STARTED – Sit and Start by doing the following:
    • Show the book — Read the title and the author
    • Explain expectations – ask them to:
      • pay attention
      • listen with leadership in mind
      • be ready to have a lively and meaningful discussion after the book is read to the group
    • Read the book – using a lively, animated voice – taking it seriously though
    • Make sure the volunteer showing the pictures from the story is keeping up
    • Finish – repeat the title and author
    • Begin reflection discussion, using the following questions:
      • What?
        • “someone please give us a plot summary describing the main elements and themes of the story”
      • So What?
        • “why do you think that I chose this book to read to you at this time with your group?”
        • “what lessons do you think I had hoped you would get from this story?”
      • Now What?
        • “now — how can you use this new information learned from this story to make a positive change in your group?”
        • “please give some examples of things you may do or changes you may make based on the lessons learned from this story.”
  8. CLOSING
    • Question — “how did you feel during this exercise?”
    • Give a summary of the comments you heard during the reflection discussion
    • Challenge them to follow up on some of the suggestions made during the “Now What?” part of the discussion.
    • Thank them for playing along and being good sports — and emphasize how you can learn a great deal from Children’s literature.

Some of the LEARNING OBJECTIVES or topics that can be further explored using Story Book Leadership techniques are as following:
  • Brainstorming
  • Budgeting – Financial Responsibility
  • Burnout
  • Communication
  • Co-sponsorship
  • Creativity
  • Diversity – Inclusion
  • Fund-Raising
  • Holidays
  • Individuality
  • Meetings
  • Overcoming Fears
  • Peer/group pressure – Group Think
  • Persistence
  • Power
  • Problem Solving
  • Responsibility
  • Risk Taking
  • Role of Advisor
  • Social Action – Civic Engagement
  • Stress management
  • Team-Building
  • Time management – Prioritizing
Also remember that every group, team or organization goes through developmental stages explained well by Tuckman’s Group Development Model. Story Book Leadership works well in starting a discussion with a group to help the members work through or enhance the “stage” in which they are or are approaching. The Tuckman’s stages, as you will recall, are as follows: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning.  I particularly enjoy using Story Book Leadership during the Storming and Adjourning stages.

Selecting the perfect book is the next challenge. I encourage you to select one of your favorites from your childhood — your passion for the book will add genuine excitement to your presentation.  I would love it if you also went to your local library and bookstores (locally owned, of course), sat on the floor over the course of a few months, discovering and rediscovering the wonderful world of Children’s literature.  But in case you don’t have time for that level of commitment, a list of some of my favorites can be found in the PCPop blog post: Story Book Leadership – Book List.


Please follow PCPop with Pablo to read the series of blog posts featuring many of the Children’s books (listed in  the PCPop blog post: Story Book Leadership – Book List) starting with one of my favorites, Harold & the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.


For more information on Story Book Leadership, read the PC Pop posts as follows:


Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole world watching you on TV. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!

(Dr. Seuss)


FrederickBig Bad BruceHarold & the Purple Crayon

Story Book Leadership — Book List

In Big Bird, Books, Cat in Hat, Children's Literature, College Students, creativity, Dr. Seuss, Group Dynamics, Harold & the Purple Crayon, Leader, Leadership, Lists, Literacy Month, Lorax, Malavenda, Maurice Sendak, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Purdue, Shel Silverstein, Story Book Leadership, Theodor Geisel, UConn, Uncategorized, William Steig, Yertle the Turtle on March 6, 2012 at 7:29 am

stack of children's books

I have been teaching LEADERSHIP to college students for close to 25 years and have been using Children’s literature for over 15 years. When attending retreats, workshops and conferences, adults including college students love to regress.  The joy on their faces when you pull out a children’s story book is priceless.  Once they realize you are serious about using a children’s book to teach leadership, students really get into it. The discussion is lively, fun, and meaningful. It is magical. (Read the entire story in the PCPop blog post: Story Book Leadership – Teaching College Students Using Kiddie Lit.)

If you too want to use Story Book Leadership techniques with your students, find out how to get started by reading the PCPop blog post: Story Book Leadership – Getting Started. Selecting the perfect book is one of the first steps in the process of using Story Book Leadership.

children readingI encourage you to select one of your favorite’s from your childhood — your passion for the book will add genuine excitement to your presentation.  I would love it if you also went to your local library and bookstores (locally owned, of course), sat on the floor over the course of a few months, and discover and rediscover the wonderful world of Children’s literature.  You can learn more about my story by reading the PCPop blog post: Story Book Leadership – Teaching College Students Using Kiddie Lit. But in case you don’t have time for that level of commitment, a list of some of my favorites are as follows:

  • A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith ViorstAlexander
  • Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
  • Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
  • Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss
  • Benjie by Joan Lexau
  • Berenstain Bears and Too Much Pressure by Jan & Stan Berenstain
  • Big Bad Bruce by Bill Peet
  • Brave Irene by William Steig
  • But Not Billy by Charlotte Zolotow
  • Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin
  • Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss
  • Eli by Bill Peet
  • Ella by Bill Peet
  • Farewell to Shady Glade by Bill Peet
  • Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy
  • Frederick by Leo Lionni
  • Gertrude McFuzz by Dr. SeussBig Bad Bruce
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  • Hector, the Accordion-Nosed Dog by John Stadler
  • I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today by Dr. Seuss
  • I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss
  • I Saw Esau by Iona & Peter Opie
  • If I Were in Charge of the World by Judith Viorst
  • I’m Mad at You! by William Cole
  • Ira Says Goodbye by Bernard Waber
  • Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber
  • It’s Not Fair by Charlotte Zolotow
  • Jennifer and Josephine by Bill Peet
  • King Looie Katz by Dr. Seuss
  • Let’s Be Enemies by Janice May Udry
  • Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky
  • My First Hanukkah Book by Aileen Fisher
  • My First Kwanzaa Book by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate
  • My Mama Says There Aren’t Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures, Deamons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, or Things by Judith Viorst
  • Nobody is Perfick by Bernard WaberHarold and the Purple Crayon
  • Nobody Stole the Pie by Sonia Levitin
  • Oh, the Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss
  • Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! by Dr. Seuss
  • On Beyond Zebra by Dr. Seuss
  • A Person is Many Wonderful, Strange Things by Marsha Sinetar
  • Play Ball Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
  • Pooh: Oh, Bother! No One’s Listening by Betty Birney
  • Pooh: Oh, Bother! Somebody’s Grumpy by Betty Birney
  • Rosie and Michael by Judith Viorst
  • Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Pinkney
  • Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
  • Spinky Sulks by William Steig
  • Tacky the Penguin by Helen LesterFrederick
  • The Ant and the Elephant by Bill Peet
  • The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola
  • The Big Bragg by Dr. Seuss
  • The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss
  • The Chanukkah Tree by Eric Kimmel
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • The Glunk That Got Thunk by Dr. Seuss
  • The Gnats of Knotty Pine by Bill Peet
  • The Hating Book by Charlotte Zolotow
  • The Island of Skog by Steven Kellogg
  • The King’s Stilts by Dr. Seuss
  • The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  • The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein
  • The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein
  • The Painter and the Wild Swans by Claude Clements
  • The Whingdingdilly by Bill PeetYellow and Pink
  • The Wump World by Bill Peet
  • The Zax by Dr. Seuss
  • Timmy Needs a Thinking Cap by Charlotte Steiner
  • What Was I Scared Of? by Dr. Seuss
  • When the Wind Stops by Charlotte Zolotow
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  • Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros? by Shel Silverstein
  • William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow
  • Yellow and Pink by William Steig
  • Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss

Yertle the TurtlePlease follow PCPop with Pablo to read the series of blog posts featuring many of the Children’s books listed above starting with one of my favorites, Harold & the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. If you too want to use Story Book Leadership techniques with your students, find out how to get started by reading the PCPop blog post: Story Book Leadership – Getting Started.


For more information on Story Book Leadership, read the PC Pop posts as follows:


To enjoy my Pinterest board on Story Book Leadership, click here.

Children Reading

Please suggest new books for the list — the list is a work in progress and will be updated as needed. What Children’s Books inspire you and would be perfect for teaching LEADERSHIP…and why? I would love to hear your suggestions and stories.