"Adventures of a Geek Dad" -- my Ignite Asheville 2013 talk

I'm sharing this post on the IATF website because so many from the IATF community supported me in the following project (thank you all!)...

On February 19, 2013  I spoke at IGNITE Asheville. See my video below.

My talk was entitled "Adventures of a Geek Dad" and I won 1st place! The crazy thing is, I tried to back out of this event a couple of times. I honestly didn't think many people would be interested in what I had to say.

Although I've given many talks, this one was among the most difficult to prepare for and deliver. 

The difficulty stemmed from the format:  5 minutes long and slides auto advance every 15 seconds. 5 minutes is such a short amount of time. Every word counts. You'll see in the video that I got behind / out of sync with my slides - - so easy to do.

Assembling my slides took way longer then expected because I realized I had too much to say in 5 minutes and that meant I had too many slides. I had to eliminate, pair down, refine, etc. Not easy for a guy that likes to talk a lot.

The event organizers (all great people) provided a speaking coach and she was AWESOME. Her name is Angie Flynn-McIver of Executive Repertory. Angie met with me one-on-one and listened to my talk and asked me to make a couple of simple yet important changes. One tip she gave was to "get rid of the light saber". I was going to use a light saber during my talk but Angie said it would be distracting for me and the audience. I'm so glad I followed her advice on that one. 

Here are a few resources that helped a lot:

Scott Berkun -- Why And How To Give An IGNITE Talk

Scott Berkun's blog post on the same subject

IGNITE's tips for beginners

Jason Grigsby's "How To Give a Successful Ignite Presentation"

I bounced some ideas off of Ken Denmead at GeekDad.com (Thank you Ken!).

The biggest realization I had was how vulnerable I felt talking about parenting, my kids, and doing geeky stuff with my kids. The place was sold out with 420 in attendance and I just wasn't used to talking on a subject so personal in front of so many people. 

Towards the end of my talk you'll see me get a little choked up when the slide of my daughter's thank you card is on the screen. That was a surprise. I practiced my talk so many times and not once did I have an emotional reaction to my daughter's card. Sharing that image with hundreds of people really did get me connected with why I do this Geek Dad stuff - - it's a great way to spend time with my kids.


Sending a Video Camera to "Near Space"

For the past two years I've volunteered with TEDx Asheville.  For the November 2012 event we selected the theme of "THE EDGE".  I thought the theme was the perfect opportunity to send a video camera to "the edge" of Earth's atmosphere. In the fall of 2012 I began working with a group of middle school students and their science and math teacher to design a payload to carry the video camera.

This project turned into a great community builder for the school (teachers, students, parents). Area businesses gave us a great deal of support.

It was an amazing experience.

Here's the video of the flight.


Asheville, NC Tedx Near Space Project from Peter Lutz on Vimeo.

Team Batman & Robin -- Cameos from bat-climbs

The new Batman movie opens this week and I'm looking forward to seeing it.  However, I LOVE the original TV series from the 1960's.  One of my favorite parts of the show was when we would see Batman & Robin climbing the bat-rope up the side of a building and then a famous person (from that time period) would open a window to find the dynmaic duo scaling the outside of the building. 


Leadership Lesson from Stephen Colbert: "Yes, and..."

Stephen Colbert is one of my favorite comedians.  I love watching The Colbert Report.

Colbert started his professional comedic career in Chicago's "Second City" improve group.  In the commencement speech below Colbert offers the graduating class some words of wisdom from the world of improve theatre.

What I enjoy most about this "Yes, and" approach is that it remains openended.  Improve artists who employ this strategy are able to roll with almost anything they're presented with.

What if you and your team employed the "Yes, and" approach?


Funny Teamwork Video -- the value of thinking ahead

The video clip below provides a demonstration of the phrase "Can't see the forest for the trees."

How many teams an organizations end up like this?  Well meaning people putting forth lots of effort only to realize they weren't thinking far enough ahead.

This is the value of a teamwork coach.  One of the coach's most important jobs is to anticipate and look into the future. 

"Is this the right thing for us to do?"

"What happens if we succeed?"

"Have you ever considered...?"

"What's the message here?"

"What question should you (we) be asking right now?"

Learn how to be a powerful team leader at the IATF Leader As Coach Fast Track Program and you'll be able to see further into the future.

Teamwork Cartoon - rowing

My friend Fian is an awesome graphic artist and we got to talking about teamwork.  Fian developed a fun teambuilding cartoon showing a group of men rowing a giant folded bill.

A few observations about this image:

Team_work_rowing_cartoon_fian I like the rowing metaphor. In a row boat, if one person is rowing harder on one side, the boat goes around in circles. The lesson? Coordinate efforts to move forward with greater speed and efficiency.

The characters in this cartoon are without emotion (that's the way I see it). Back in the day, businesses could in fact move forward (compete) without expressing much emotion. Times have changed. The teams (businesses) that are winning express their emotion easily and they have a high "emotional intelligence" (high EQ). 

The metaphor of the dollar bill representing the team/business is somewhat dated. Boomers and Gen X probably relate well to the dollar bill metaphor however Millennials (aka Gen Y) aren't motivated by money like previous generations. Millennials are (in large part) motivated by other things such as life-balance, community, helping the planet, etc.

What do you think of this image?  Leave your comments below.

Can fun change behavior?

For centuries small groups of people have tried to figure out ways to influence the masses. 

Dan Pink's new book DRIVE - The surprising truth about what motivates us suggests that everything we think we know about what motivates us is wrong.

Turns out, one of the most effective and uplifting ways to influence behavior is through fun.  Watch the video clip below for an example.  CLICK HERE for more examples.

Fun, when used with a purpose, is a POWERFUL motivator. 

How are you using FUN to influence, uplift, and direct your team?

Teamwork and Ropes Course

Have you participated in a ropes course teambuilding event? 

Most ropes course experiences are advertised as a way to help teams become more effective.  A ropes course experience is most likely to help a team when it is part of a larger, integrated training plan.  Unfortunately, many teams think a one-day ropes course experience is going to solve all their problems.  The one-day ropes course experience becomes another mirage (read more about the training mirage HERE).

Ropes course experiences are a tool - - neither good nor bad.  It's all in how you use the tool.  Unfortunately, too many people have participated in ropes course experiences that are a joke which is why the video below hits home for too many people.

Fun Teamwork: National Wife Carrying Championship

The North American National Wife Carrying Championship was held recently in Newry, Maine.  See the video below.

Husbands carry their wives through an obstacle course with the best time winning.

During the pre-race interviews with contestants, you'll see "Joe Decker the World Record Holder for Fitness".  Conventional thinking would say that he will win.  Clearly Joe is strong, fast and competitive.  Only he doesn't win.  Joe Castro and his wife win.

When it comes to winning as a team, it's not so much about having outstanding individuals on the team.  It's more about how those individuals work together. 

Teamwork and Flash Mobs -- What does MC Hammer have to teach us about teamwork?

In the fun video below you'll see 100 people (a "flash mob") dressed in gold MC Hammer inspired pants flood into a clothing store and dance to Hammer's song "Can't Touch This".  It's hilarious.

What are the lessons here for Teamwork Facilitators?

Look at the dancers.  They're having a great time.  I don't know how much the dancers were paid to do this but I doubt it was much (they might have done this for free).  It's obvious to me that the person leading this team did not try motivation "techniques" with this group - - the energy of the group is a result of INSPIRATION.  When a team is inspired the energy goes WAY up.

How do you inspire a team (vs. motivate)?  Simple.  You use the Coach Approach to leadership.

Creative Teamwork -- "Freezing" 200 agents in the busiest train station in the world

An organization known as Improv Everywhere staged one of the coolest examples of teamwork I've ever seen.

From the organization's website:

On a cold Saturday in New York City, the world’s largest train station came to a sudden halt. Over 200 Improv Everywhere Agents froze in place at the exact same second for five minutes in the Main Concourse of Grand Central Station. Over 500,000 people rush through Grand Central every day, but today, things slowed down just a bit as commuters and tourists alike stopped to notice what was happening around them.

Watch the video clip below.  It's truly amazing and wonderful.

The leaders involved in this cool stunt are able to pull it off because they use a Coach Approach to leadership.  You can learn these skills in the IATF Leader As Coach Fast Track Program so you can work miracles with your team.

Teambuilding Game: Magic Carpet

The Magic Carpet teambuilding activity is easy to lead and requires simple and easy to obtain props.

Create groups of 6 to 10 people and provide each team with a "Magic Carpet" (a tarp measuring 5 feet x 5 feet). 

The team stands on top of their tarp and is then asked to "flip" the tarp over without anyone touching the ground.

This is a teambuilding game  you can lead with small groups or large groups (500+ people).  If the groups collaborate this teambuilding game becomes much easier.  You'll see an example of collaboration in the video clip below.

Would you like to lead this teambuilding game with your group?

Get instant access to the growing online archive of lead-it-yourself teambuilding game directions which include:

  • Setup & Preparation directions
  • Rules
  • Comments and insights about the teambuilding game
  • Debriefing suggestions
  • Variations
  • Detailed "how to make it" if props are involved
  • Video clips and photos

Over 100 new and different lead-it-yourself teambuilding game write-ups and growing!

All this and MORE when you become a member of the International Association of Teamwork Facilitators.  CLICK HERE to explore the list of member benefits.

CLICK HERE for a sample teambuilding game write-up.

The Penguins from Madagascar are an awesome team!

Did you watch the animated movie "Madagascar"?  The movie focuses on 5 animals (lion, hippo, giraffe, zebra) in a city zoo who end up getting sent to Madagascar due to bad behavior. 

The highlight of the movie for me was the team of 4 penguins.  What an awesome team they are!

Turns out the penguins were so popular a special short movie was made featuring them.  You can see this movie below. You'll see some wonderful examples of leadership and teamwork (and it's funny).

The penguin creedo:  "Never swim alone"

Want to see more of these penguins?  Click HERE

>> Everything you need to build a high-performing team. CLICK HERE