Articles and Resources - Fun Stuff!



Music, Running and Elvis

Are you a runner?  Do you enjoy good music?  Then the Fargo Marathon is a destination for you.  Rock and roll bands, high school bands, Indigenous drummers, various DJ’s, and even Elvis can be found along the route.  

In May 2017, Fargo, North Dakota celebrated their 13th year of their famous Running and Rocking Marathon.  It started on a Thursday and finished with the grand finale on Saturday with the full marathon.  (Sorry local drivers.)   There are races of various distances for every type of runner, including the youth run, relay, 10K, half and full marathons.  Also included was the Furgo Dog Run and Cyclothon.  And did I mention that Fargo has the best medals!

It is a fast, flat and friendly run.  With almost no elevation changes and thousands of cheering spectators along the way.  If you are more serious runner, this is also a Boston Marathon qualifier. 

These are some of the fabulous features.

  • The pre-race Expo offered everything an athlete could want or need, including running gear, shades and shoes.   There were many free samples to check out including new-fangled vitamins and don’t forget to pick up a bag or two of the famous Old Dutch potato chips.  After all, you need to load up on your sodium the night before.
  • We noticed that the timing devise was smaller, so you can go faster.  It’s just a thin strip of foam.  It is not something extra that you need to tie on to your shoes or worry about.
  • Be sure to book your accommodation 8 to 10 months in advance, as hotel rooms fill up quickly.  Expect the rates to be higher than normal.  Some hotels offer a special full, hot breakfast starting at 5 am for the early birds.  Meals are high in carbs and protein.  Some hotels even give out free gift bags to runners in appreciation of their hard work.  The place we stayed at must have been managed by a runner, because breakfast was better than home and enough to fuel 26.2 miles!  The gift bag, which consisted of bottled water, fresh fruit and an energy bar, was also appreciated!
  • Spectators can rent a bike and follow the runners from Downtown to the Fargo Dome.  The cost is only $4 and 100 bikes are available.  They even have the B-Cycle App to get directions.
  • Abundant water, Powerad and free jell stations lined the course with thousands of cheering fans along the way.
  • Catch a shuttle at West Acres Shopping Mall or another location and let someone else take care of the driving and parking.  Friends or family can pick you up at the finish line or let the shuttle take you back.
  • The beginning and ending of the big races take place inside the Fargo Dome.  It is great for bad weather, but you will feel like you are with a herd of cattle inside a massive chute.  You will also need to be outside before you can start your timing device.
  • As you are near the finish line there is a live video camera outside the arena, so your cheering section can see you coming and get their cameras ready as you sprint the last 50 meters to the finish line.  Look up high and you will see yourself cross the finish line on a massive screen.
  • Hot showers are available at the finish line to complete your day.
  • Chocolate chip cookie dough, hot pizza and free beer for marathoners were an added bonus.

I have completed the half marathon 3 times and another family member has run 10 full marathons.  We highly recommend this experience!



Driver's Safety 101

I decided to attend a driver’s safety presentation.  Not because I am a poor driver, but because it was many years since I had taken a driver training program – plus it was FREE!  I had heard that there were some changes in the driving world and I figured it was time for a refresher.  By the way, I had a perfectly clear license, until the lawn motor was parked in MY CAR’s parking spot … let’s not go there …

I found the following facts to be of interest and will benefit my driving habits, perhaps yours as well.

  1. Always look ahead for the big picture.
  2. Practice thinking, “What if ...” This planning will keep your attention and prepare us for last minute surprises.  For example, look for feet under cars, large snow banks for creeping vehicles, small children near the road.
  3. When making a left run – keep the wheels straight.  If you turn left and are hit on the backside, your vehicle will be pushed into the oncoming traffic.
  4. If you are driving and make a change of direction, which results in a mishap, your vehicle will be your fault.  Yes, this is a “Manitoba rule.”  So if I decide to make a left turn and the driver behind me is following too close, and rear ends me – it will be my fault.  (Not sure about this one, Manitoba Public Insurance…)
  5. When making a left turn, there should only be one vehicle in the intersection at a time.
  6. When planning to make a left turn, check the mirror to ensure that the vehicle behind you is slowing down.  If they are still coming full speed, it might be a good idea to continue ahead for a block or two so they regain their attention.
  7. When making a change lane, practice MMSS – Check mirror, check the second mirror, signal and shoulder check
  8. Allow plenty of space in front of you, depending on road conditions.  Look for “a way out” if something happens.  Aim for the soft spot.
  9. When two vehicles roll up at the same time at an uncontrolled intersection, the vehicle on the right goes first. Check to see if the wheels are rolling of other vehicles, to confirm that they are moving.
  10. Don’t stop for the chipmunk in front of you.  It is very sad, but the vehicle behind you will not know why you are slowing down and it could result in a collision.
  11. Only make right turn signals when using a turnabout or calming circle.
  12. Did you know that a potential Driving Instructor needs to give up their license, do a written test and then a road test before they can get their license back?  In one case, a potential Instructor’s wife drove him to work for a month!
  13. At a crosswalk, wait for the pedestrian to touch the opposite curb before proceeding.
  14. Carry paper towels in the vehicle to clean headlights during a messy day.
  15. During a rainstorm or snowstorm, put on 4-way flashers if you are pulling off to the side or proceeding very slowly.
  16. Semi-trailers cannot see 6m in front and 60 meters behind them.  If you can’t see their mirror, then cannot see you.
  17. Sipping on coffee or water on the drive home from the gym can cost you a ticket, as it is considered distracted driving.
  18. School bases have cameras.  If you don't stop when their lights are flashing, you will get caught.
  19. At a light stop, stop so you can still see the car’s tires in front of you.  If you get rear ended and hit the vehicle in front, you will be charged for following too close.
  20. When driving, hands should be at the 10 and 2 position on the wheel.  While waiting for a traffic light, lower the hands to 9 and 6 or 8 and 5.  If you get hit from behind and pushed into the vehicle in front, the airbag will be deployed and you may end up with broken wrists.
  21. The parking pass around the front mirror can be a missile during an accident.  People can get injured from articles stored above the back seat.
  22. Look at the mirror every 5 to 8 seconds – seems a bit much, but you must be totally aware of what is happening around you.
  23. Always look ahead and plan.
  24. Never drive with the cruise on during a rain or snow storm, as the vehicle could hydroplane or come across an icy patch.

By driving defensively you could prevent an issue and keep yourself and the other drivers safe, healthy and happy.

Happy Driving!



Ideas Worth Sharing

The #TEDxWpg2016 event was a real treat to attend! It was a impressive learning and networking day. So many wonderful speakers and attendees to learn from!

After the event, I shared some of my experience and there seemed to be a lot of interest in the variety of topics, therefore the following is a snippet of some of the ideas.

Did you know that … aging speeds up in space? Research shows that there is rapid increase in bone loss and artery deterioration. When people return from space, muscles, tissue and bone rapidly regenerate.

Did you know that ... our health is determined by 3 main factors? Sleep, fitness and nutrition. Chronic insomnia is an issue for 9 to 10% of adults. Poor sleep is almost a public problem. Our environment has changed with constant electronic diversions but our ability to adapt to these changes has not occurred.

Did you know that … one-third of children who live in poverty end up with PTSD? Art appeals to all types of learners such as visual, audio and tactile. Art and film also help children and young adults deal with stress and pressures of day-to-day living and help to overcome diversity.

Did you know that … our behavior looks different from the other side of the eye? One critique can rattle our entire being. Be ready to accept critiques. Others are there to help us – we just need to be open and receptive.  How would you change if you could see yourself as others see you? 

Did you know that …. we need to know the priorities of a community, or else we will loose direction. Research shows a 27% reduction in the use of City of Winnipeg water over the last 20 years. 

Did you know that … bugs (or parts of them) are in our food? One cup of coffee can have up to 60 bug parts. Crickets are a good source of protein and contain more protein than steak. Consume them in a protein shake – vanilla and chocolate work quite nicely! I tried it!! Lobster and shrimp were once considered to be the equivalent of eating insects these days.

Did you know that … everyone has a playbook of skills, gifts and abilities that we bring to the game of life? Have a bigger plan, know the rules of the game and execute one play at a time. Be consistent and productive. Passion and production will equal balance. Outperform the competition and always adjust along the way. Find a mentor who knows the key moves and techniques. We need discipline, flexibility and patience.

Did you know that … when it comes to protocol, we need to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason, with respect? When travelling, we need to know the customer, culture and protocols. Protocol brings calmness to an event.

Did you know that … people with concussions recover more quickly with biofeedback and support? Hurt athletes should not suffer in silence.

Did you know that … four percent of the population hears in color which is called synesthesia? What make you weird is also what makes you awesome and unique. Celebrate it.

Did you know that … in the future, we will be able to travel using virtual reality, powered by a cell phone? If you could put anyone in your story, what would you tell them? 

Did you know that … a band teacher inspires her students by giving them the honor of signing their name on a brick wall? Nurture the individual and make the investment in them by using their name, compliment them specifically on what they have done well, and be curious by asking questions.

@TEDxWpg2016 was one of the best learning and networking events I have attended in Winnipeg. Even after all of my years of training and development workshops, there is always more to learn and explore.



Did You Know That Managing People Is Like Running A Marathon?

Over the summer, I have run in two half marathons. The first one was the Fargo Rocks Marathon (complete with live bands at every mile) and the second one was in hometown, Winnipeg. We were fortunate to have ideal conditions. The skies were overcast and temperatures were in the mid-teen’s or mid-60’s for our American friends. Each run was fast, flat and friendly. Two years ago, I actually ran (and successfully completed) my first full marathon. But that is a subject for another blog.

As I reflect upon the races, I believe that running is similar to managing people.

In order to complete a marathon in a reasonable time, runners need to get in shape. I remember my first attempt. I ran the distance of 1 street light to the next and then walked to the next one. It took me 3 weeks to run around the block without stopping! When managing, we need to develop the necessary competencies and skills to do the job. It might consist of working with a coach or mentor, taking formal or informal courses or training to bring up our skill level. Even seasoned runners constantly look for ways to improve their times. Personal and professional development is a necessary part of life.

Runners constantly set goals for themselves. The goal might be for an upcoming race, running for charity or running a few minutes longer without stopping for a walk break.  Managers set short and long terms goals for themselves and their staff. The goals could relate to their current position and how they want to strengthen their management style or longer term in their career path or profession. Goals give us a sense of direction and purpose.

When running it is easier to focus on an object and run towards it. It is easier to say, "I need to run to the next street light or the next tree," rather than, "I need to run 10 more miles." They focus on the smaller objects, but every so often they need to look at the horizon. A manager has overall objectives to accomplish which is the broader horizon. Why are we here? What do we need to accomplish? Then they break it down into smaller, manageable chunks.

It takes a team to run a marathon. Thousands of volunteers are along the route, handing out water and cheering the runners. Police make the route safe by blocking traffic. Family and friends provide support so that runners have the time to train, eat properly and rest before the big event. It also takes a team to get our work done. We could try to do everything by ourselves, but many hands make the load easier.

There will be challenges along the way. That’s life. Injuries will happen, shoes will get worn out and temperatures will vary. If we are committed to our goals, we will find a way to deal with the obstacles. Management is not always easy. There will be difficult decisions to make and not everyone will agree with us. But like the runner, focus on what is most important and take one day at a time.

At times training for a marathon may feel like taking 2 steps forward and 1 step backwards. Not every day will be a Personal Record (PR) or Personal Best (PB). As my 91-year old Uncle would say, "The most important thing is to keep moving." One step at a time for a runner or manager. 

We would love to have your feedback! What has been your management (or running) experience? What has worked for you? We would also like to know what have you learned in your journey. Tell us what you have done and the results that were achieved!



10 Ways to Engage Your Audience in Training Workshops

Robert was excited to attend an Essential Skills for Supervisors workshop. He came in with some expectations and looked forward to sharpening his skills as a new Supervisor. But after the first 20 minutes he was tempted to check his emails and update his Facebook status.

A challenge that presenters and trainers often face is that we need to transfer new knowledge, but the same old methods are used and participants are easily bored.

In this age of rapid fire technology, participants are uninterested with the traditional methods of training such as pour and snore lectures (the lecturer pours the information into the heads of participants while they snore) and habitual classroom instruction. It’s no wonder that participants soon pull out their i-phones and start to surf the net. Not good!

According to Dorothy Parker, "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."

In the Trainer's Inside Edge book and Train the Trainer workshop, several key ways are used to connect with participants and keep them engaged long before they even think of checking Facebook updates.

  1. Game Shows – Prepare questions/responses and play the game, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" or "Jeopardy". Some software is free or it can be purchased online.
  2. Radio Show Host – Participants role play a radio show interview in front of the class.
  3. Make up a Poem – Participants prepare and present a poem that represents the key topics.
  4. Learning Circle – Participants prepare and present a main idea or topic, while standing in a circle of participants.
  5. Dummy – Use a doll (similar to a ventriloquist) and carry on a conversation between the dummy and workshop leader about the topic. This method is similar to the radio show interview, however the dummy asks the trainer questions.
  6. Crossword Puzzle – This one has been around for years. Prepare a crossword puzzle. Participants are given clues about the topics discussed during the course. It serves as a good review of key topics.
  7. Interactive Games – Use games to reinforce and apply ideas or concepts. For example a tower building exercise with index cards can illustrate the ideas of leadership, working together, planning, organizing, directing, controlling and celebrating success.
  8. Gamification – Use game thinking to help participants solve problems. Learners compete against one or more individuals in an interactive experience that rewards the learning experience in some way. For example, use a video game that has a story, in which they learn the subject matter, interact with the game and practice what is learned.
  9. Role Plays – Participants assume a role in a make believe situation to actually apply a concept or process. It is beneficial for skill development and dealing with real life situations.
  10. Case Studies – Participants use case studies to test concepts, analyze situations, and problem solve difficult issues. The case study can simulate an actual situation.

If you have some creative ways to transfer learning – we would love to hear from you!



5 Key Training Workshop Energizers

Have you ever been to a training session in which participants say, "I cannot believe how quickly this day has gone by?" What did the trainer do to make this workshop so engaging?

As a rule of thumb, participants (and trainers) need some activities to provide variety to presentations, especially if the content is highly technical. Put in an energizer every 30 to 40 minutes, especially after lunch and in the late afternoon.
The following are five options:

  1. Time to stretch – Tell participants to stand up. Clasp the hands together and push the palms towards the ceiling, while pushing the shoulders down. Hold for 15 seconds. Reclasp the hands with the opposite thumb on top and repeat. Now roll the shoulders forward 4 times and roll backwards 4 times. (Participants will feel that the upper body is more relaxed.)
  2. Walk About – Tell participants to stand up, turn right and walk around your table. Then turn left, walk around your table and sit down. (Participants appreciate being able to stand up and stretch their legs.) 
  3. The “What is” Game - Each participant has a colored index card. Tell them to write down one response to a question (i.e. What is your first job, most unusual job, worst vacation location, a phobia or proudest achievement?) Collect the cards, shuffle them and then pass them out. Participants need to guess who is the owner of the card. A variation is to read out 3 or 4 cards throughout the day. (Participants will get to know their class members better and share some laughs.) 
  4. Sitting Down Exercise – Tell participants to tilt their head to the right 4 times, then to the left 4 times. Roll the head to the right 4 times, then roll it to the left 4 times. Roll the shoulders 4 times forward, then roll the shoulders 4 times backwards. Place hands on shoulders (like chicken wings) and roll the arms forward 4 times, then backwards 4 times. Squeeze butt and hold for 15 seconds (will generate some laughs). Do this 4 times.  Raise the right leg and point toes forward 4 times, then raise the left leg and point toes forward 4 times. Raise both legs and point toes forward 4 times. (Participants will feel refreshed and energized while staying seated.) 
  5. Bouncing Balloons – Tell participants to stand up and spread out. Give everyone a balloon. Bounce the balloon with the right hand for 1 minute, bounce the balloon with the left hand for 1 minute, alternate between left and right hand for 1 minute. With a partner, bounce one balloon back and forth using the right hand for 1 minute, bounce the balloon using the left hand for 1 minute, then bounce the balloon with a partner alternating between the left and right hands for 2 minutes. This exercise will involve balloons flying off course and plenty of laughing. (Participants will feel energized and ready to tackle more difficult tasks, after the bending, stretching, reaching, teamwork, and hand-eye coordination.) 

Workshop Trainers need to manage and pace their energy. If we are bored with the material and speak in a dull, monotone voice, participants will become easily distracted and bored as well! Go for a brisk walk during the break, do some jumping jacks (behind closed doors) and visualize a fun workshop and Happy Training! 
If you have some workshop training energizes that really work – we would love to hear from you!


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