Of Note...

Brian Remer Receives Award for Lifetime Achievement. Read about it here:

What We Do

The Firefly Group helps people connect their every-day tasks with a bigger, wider sense of purpose and meaning. After working with Firefly, people are energized to attain the mission of their organization and they have a specific action plan to help them achieve their goals.

We do this through leadership development, performance improvement training, strategic planning, and clarification of organizational mission and vision. Our methods are engaging, thought-filled, and results-oriented.

If this sounds like a good direction for your organization, let's talk about how we might collaborate! Please give me a call (802.257.7247) or send an . - Brian


Where Can You Catch The Firefly Group?

North American Simulation & Gaming Association (NASAGA), Columbus
November 7 - 10

Keynote Presentation, Game Design Certificate Program Leader


Your ETR (Estimated Time to Read): 10 minutes
Your ETII (Estimated Time to Implement Ideas):
5 weeks

Read my new book
Say It Quick!

July 2012
Special Events:

Thiagi in New York City
Sivasailam "Thiagi" Thiagarajan will present "Interactive Techniques for Instructor-Led Training " on October 30, 2012. In the morning session of this two-part workshop, you will learn how to design a variety of effective and engaging training activities. In the afternoon, you will learn how to conduct these activities to ensure the recall and application of new skill and knowledge. Click HERE to read the brochure. To register for this one-day event visit thiagi.com .


NASAGA in Columbus, OH
Register now for the next conference of the North American Simulation and Gaming Association November 7 - 10, 2012. NASAGA is the best kept secret resource for all trainers interested in interactive learning. Attend this year and get connected to a network of practitioners who know how to make serious learning fun. Early bird registration ends August 4 and you can save an additional $10 when you sign up through PayPal!

July 2012

Say It Quick
a thoughtful message in exactly 99 words

bits of serendipity to inspire and motivate
fuel for your own continuous learning
tips and tricks you can try today
Threats Something Smells...

Follow Your Nose

Something in the Air


Say It Quick

Go Ahead, Get Emotional
As much as we shy away from them, emotions play a big role in determining how we react to situations. This issue is about being able to influence emotions in positive ways beginning with this story in exactly 99 words.

A Vermont town meeting is not representative. Anyone can attend and speak - and most everyone does. Last year we spent 45 minutes debating a $3000 increase in the town budget to contract for Rescue, Inc., the local ambulance service. That came to an increase in taxes of only $1.50 per household. Why was the debate so furiously hot? Because Rescue said they wouldn't serve the town unless their proposed increase was voted in.

People felt threatened and nearly voted it down. Rescue learned that you'll be dead on arrival if you drive the wrong vehicle to town meeting!



Something Smells…
By Susan Gamel Otto

Aromatherapy was first employed by the ancient Egyptians, who used essential oils to heal maladies. Since then we've learned that scents can boost confidence, ease stress, activate fond memories, and even arouse us sexually.

Yet aromatherapy has more to do with day-to-day living than you might think.

Serving garlic bread at dinner can promote positive family interaction. In studies, this scent reduced negative remarks by 22.7% and increased good-natured remarks by 7.4%. And, for those of you who are weight conscious, the bread doesn't have to be eaten to realize the benefits. So, serving garlic bread at the next team meeting may have a similar effect.

Smell a banana to curb your food cravings or place two drops of peppermint oil on a piece of cotton and whiff away for the same result!

Bake a pumpkin pie or serve black licorice to get your man more interested. Commercial perfume is only 3% effective at arousing a man's romantic feelings. Enjoy 40% effectiveness with pumpkin pie or 13% for licorice. (You may not want to emphasize this in the workplace!)

We all need to concentrate on intellectual tasks. Keep some fragrant flowers on your desk and take periodic breaks to "smell the roses."

The Training Company, a forward-thinking organization in Singapore, is using visual, auditory, and olfactory cues to make employee training more effective.

The owner, Gareth Poh, believes that unique learning environments help improve engagement levels in his classes. The Training Company's facility has been decorated to look like a beach, including wallpaper, lounge chairs, and music. Poh incorporates aromatherapy, adding scents like lavender and orange. He also uses soothing music to activate more senses.

So, do you want your participants to retain information longer and apply it on the job? Then start triggering their multiple senses. Add visual, auditory, and olfactory stimuli to your training to ensure that the training "sticks"…and consider using it in the workplace, too, so participants "sense" the connection.

Susan Gamel Otto is founder and owner of Training-Modules.com, LLC, which offers customized and off-the-shelf Instructor and Participant Guides, which internal trainers and non-trainers use to facilitate training. Susan's emphasis is on design, development, and documentation and making the training experience interactive and more meaningful for participants.



Follow Your Nose
Engagement is central to the success of businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and teams, as well as for our success as individuals. Business literature abounds with talk of engagement. An engaged workforce is motivated and committed to the mission of the organization. There are fewer accidents, more efficiency, and better relationships with customers, clients, vendors, and partners.

Clifford Nass (The Man Who Lied to His Laptop) points out that traditionally, organizational cultures were designed to control emotions by relying upon established policies, rules, and hierarchies. Touchy-feely training activities are still dismissed by many leaders as irrelevant to the needs of the business. Yet Nass points out that employees with no emotional connection to their work do only what they are asked while those who are passionate about their work take risks to excel.

Dan Pink, in his book, A Whole New Mind, cites empathy as one of six "senses" essential to cultivate in what he terms the "Conceptual Age." He defines empathy as "the ability to imagine yourself in someone else's position and to intuit what that person is feeling." Identifying and interpreting feelings is an innate human skill but it usually works below our conscious level. Developing one's ability to interpret and manage emotions can be critical for success in today's world, says Pink.

Other researchers agree. Stephen Denning in The Secret Language of Leadership, notes that attention is engaged by emotions. "Emotion slows down the process of analytic thinking, thus making the object "interesting." If you want to engage people in an important message, try to reach them on an emotional level.

Made to Stick, the book by Chip and Dan Heath, cites emotion as one of six criteria for crafting a message that will resonate with listeners and lead to action. The authors describe a study of two anti-smoking campaigns, one with an emotional focus, the other intellectual. "After two years of the [emotional] campaign, smoking among high school students dropped by 18 percent and among middle school students by 40 percent." In contrast, students exposed to the intellectual campaign "were 36% more likely to smoke!"

Why do emotions have such influence over our rational thinking? An explanation is offered by Kent Greenfield in his book The Myth of Choice. He notes the distinction between our highly evolved prefrontal cortex, which is involved with thinking and analysis, and our basal ganglia, which control involuntary actions. Usually these separate parts of our brain coordinate so we can do things like drive a car and carry on a conversation at the same time. But Greenfield notes that our intellectual "brain" is easily overruled by our more basic emotional "brain." If the prefrontal cortex, which also controls willpower, is overtired, taxed, or distracted, the basal ganglia take charge. In one study, people whose prefrontal cortex was taxed by remembering a long number, made a less healthy choice for a snack than people who had been asked to remember a very short number.

Our sense of smell is connected to our prefrontal cortex through the amygdala which is part of the limbic system and connected to the basal ganglia. On their way to the brain, olfactory impulses pass through the amygdala, which determines which memories are stored in the brain and where. This determination is based on the emotional impact evoked by the stimulus. This means that even before an olfactory sensation is decoded and named as a specific scent by our mind, we have already had an emotional reaction to it and we have connected it with other memories. Using emotions selectively, we can enhance retention of learning.

Aromatherapy may sound like a New Age solution looking for problem. However, the strategic inclusion of fragrances in the work or training environment can be a way to encourage people to make associations between their emotions and the task at hand. Whether or not you tell people why you are serving garlic bread instead of pumpkin pie depends upon your purpose for making an emotional appeal!

One thing is certain, as the ambulance company learned in the 99-Word Story, an emotional reaction to your message is inevitable. With that in mind, you might as well do whatever you can to influence that reaction positively - or risk your own demise!



Something in the Air
At its best, all training touches us on an emotional level. Most of the time trainers rely upon visual or auditory stimuli to connect with participants' emotions but the sense of smell is underutilized. In this activity, you can use powerful olfactory sensations to create lasting learning associations with your training topic.

Alternative Aromatic Activities


If you like what you have read in this issue, I would like to bring the same innovation, creativity, and playfulness to your next meeting or learning event.

Whether you need a keynote speaker, or help with strategic planning, performance improvement, or training facilitators and trainers in your organization, I look forward to your call (802.257.7247) or .

-- Brian

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