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Boredom Busters:
Boosting Engagement in Meetings and Training

Greater Boston Area
September 25, 2014

Managers, team leaders, presenters, and sometime-trainers can discover how to make learning more action-focused.

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What's New

Words of Wisdom

52 cards and 15 activities to spark conversations and deepen learning.
Learn more HERE.



What We Do

The Firefly Group helps people use everyday situations for learning and connecting to the Big Picture. After working with Firefly, you will be energized with specific action steps to achieve your goals.

We do this through training of trainers, leadership development, performance improvement training, strategic planning, writing training manuals, 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

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

Read my book
Say It Quick!

August 2014

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
Build to Last How the World Sees You

Stand Out or Fit In?

The Power of You


Say It Quick

Uniformity may make the job of being a manager simpler but it doesn't necessarily allow people to use their best skills to the greatest advantage. Learn more beginning with this story in exactly 99 words.

Built to Last
The Incan ruins of Peru's Machu Pichu are famous for their massive stone walls fitted together without mortar. Even after hundreds of years, the blocks are so tight there's not the slightest gap between them. What's more, each block has a unique, irregular shape. Some are larger than an SUV!

Why build with such irregular stones when clearly any shape could have been fashioned? Because these walls have withstood earthquakes when walls of standardized block have crumbled.

Helping people fit into the place that's best for them builds a stronger organization than forcing people to conform.



How the World Sees You
By Sally Hogshead

There are many self-assessment tools like Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator and DiSC that help people learn about how they see the world and what influences their actions. But now, in the work of Sally Hogshead, there is a new self-assessment tool that provides insight about how other people see you when you are at your best.

By answering a few questions in an on-line survey, people can learn which of seven personality advantages they use most effectively. Then, working with on-line tools or Sally's book, How the World Sees You, people can discover how to use the advantages of their personality in ways that accentuate their effectiveness. These personality advantages are what other people find fascinating about us. Hogshead calls this your fascination advantage. (In full disclosure, I am part of a team working with Sally to provide training about her Fascinate system.)

Sally comes from a marketing background and her previous book, Fascinate, was about how to capture the attention of clients and colleagues. With her latest book, Hogshead has brought the concepts of Fascinate to a deeper level. Now, in How the World Sees You, readers can learn the specific qualities and attributes they use that others really appreciate and value. After taking the self-assessment, people are matched to one of 49 personality archetypes. The book devotes several pages to each archetype and explaining how people view that type of person, describing their highest and best value, and offering insight about working with them.

We use our archetype almost unconsciously. To us, it's the natural way to respond to situations and interact with others. But because we use our archetype so effortlessly, we don't necessarily realize when we have added value. In addition, our archetype and our personality advantages are often intangible and, as such, they don't tend to be reported in performance reviews or recognized at staff meetings.

How the World Sees You provides tools, suggestions, and insights for using your personality advantages in almost any situation. You can then be more intentional in using the talents that others already value. It's all about doing more of what you already do well.

As a reader of the Firefly News Flash, you can take the self-assessment free for a limited time. Click HERE ( and enter the code, BL-BWRemer, into the "Book Code" field then make an account. You can complete the assessment in about 5 minutes and see the results right away.

Now, before you walk into any room, you'll be able to know the value of your specific contribution - rather than feeling like just another brick in the wall.

How the World Sees You by Sally Hogshead, HarperCollins, 2014, ISBN: 978-0-06-223069-0,



Stand Out or Fit In?

What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead. - Nelson Mandela

We go to great lengths to be noticed. Some people perform stunts and post them to You Tube. Others upload photos to social media. Still others blog, sport the latest style, or strive to beat a Guinness world record.

I believe being noticed is an expression of our desire to have meaning in our lives. Whether we state it explicitly or not, we want to know our purpose, our reason for being. Everyone - or at least Americans - wants to know what value they are delivering, what difference they are making, what contribution they are adding, what legacy they are leaving. And for some, popularity is equated with meaning.

But, as the quote by Nelson Mandela suggests, there is a higher purpose for our individual purpose: making a contribution that is meaningful for the people around us. This is what makes the work of Sally Hogshead powerful. It opens a window on the unique things we do naturally and highlights their significance for other people. As we learn about the impact we are having, we discover more ways of sharing our talents and more situations in which our contributions will be appreciated.

In his fictional series The Tales of Alvin Maker, Orson Scott Card writes about an alternative reality in which individuals possess unique, extraordinary powers. Some can see the future; some can manipulate natural elements to create objects; some are fantastic teachers or leaders. A theme throughout the seven books of the series is that of not only discovering one's special talent, or "knack," but figuring out how, when, and where to use it. Many characters struggle with whether to use their knack for a creative, common good or selfishly and destructively.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if the goal of every manager was to take away the barriers that prevent people from offering their best selves in the workplace? Wouldn't it be wonderful if the objective of every team leader was to help their members identify and employ their hidden knack? Then, instead of being forced to conform to ridged expectations, people could shape what they have learned about themselves to fit alongside the work of their colleagues and, like the walls of Machu Pichu, build a resilient foundation for their organization.



The Power of You

If you would like to initiate a discussion about the value of individual contributions to a team goal, try this activity. Then, how people reacted and what difference it made for your team.

The Power of You

Time: 15 min.
Materials: 15 to 18 inches of string and eight metal washers for each individual
Participants: A team of 5 to 15; for larger groups, divide people into smaller subgroups and ask them to share washers and strings.

Procedure: For each small group (or for each individual, if possible), prepare a length of string 15 to 18 inches long with 7 metal washers tied in a loop at one end and another washer tied to the opposite end. Make one for yourself and hold it up in front of the group.

In your own words, describe the string and washer contraption: About 15 inches of string; 7 washers on one end; one washer on the opposite end. Hold the single washer between your thumb and index finger of one hand and drape the 7 washers over the index finger of your other hand. Move the single washer left and right horizontally (parallel to the floor) to demonstrate that the end of heavy washers moves up and down perpendicular to the travel of the single washer.

Pull the single washer farthest from your index finger so the 7 washers are dangling right below your finger. Keep the single washer horizontal and parallel to the floor. Now ask the participants to predict or make a hypothesis about what will happen when you let go of the single washer. Most will predict that the string of washers will fall to the floor. Don't respond to any answers; simply let the group hear them.

Warn participants to watch closely because things will happen quickly when you let go of the single washer. Release the washer. Instead of landing on the floor, the single washer will wrap itself around your index finger and prevent the whole string from falling. Repeat the demonstration if necessary then give instructions similar to these:

"Each of you (or each team) has a similar string of washers. Take the next few minutes to experiment with this phenomenon. As you do, talk among your team members. If this was a metaphor or an analogy for using one's best skills and talents in a group, what might it represent?"

After about three minutes, ask people to stop and share some insights from their conversation. Then choose from among the discussion questions that follow:


NOTE: There are many ways to interpret this experiment and make analogies to the use of one's unique abilities. Here are a few. You and your group may discover more.

7 Washers Represent…
Single Washer Represents…
Possible Conclusion…
Members of a team One individual One person can save a group from disaster (or halt their progress)
Contributions of team members to a project My contribution Using my unique talents strategically, I don't have to work very hard to contribute to a group project
Activities I find difficult and that drag me down My unique talents Knowing my unique talents helps me avoid the disaster of being pulled into activities I don't do well
Activities I do well and that boost my energy My unique talents Knowing my unique talents helps support my work in activities that are energizing
Collective talents of teammates My unique talents I can decide when to "release" my talents and be most effective


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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