Why Children Need to Learn How to “Steal” Ideas.




As parents and teachers we spend a lot of time trying to help children learn right from wrong and that includes plagiarism.  The idea that a person might directly steal someone else’s work word for word is horrifying, and yet it’s happening every day around the world, just look at how many high school and college kids have been caught submitting an essay written by someone else in order to gain good grades.  The difficulty is that even as adults most of us don’t really understand the difference between plagiarism and “stealing” someone’s ideas but then making them your own, so we issue a flat decree “if you didn’t come up with it yourself, it’s not your own.” This can be detrimental to growing one of the most sought after skills now and in our future, creativity and solutions.

Here is where things get messy but important. In today’s world we are continuing to evolve and employers as asking for more great creative thinkers and problem solvers, but we’re not teaching and more importantly showing our young people how to do this.

If you ask any great creative person they will tell you that nothing is original it’s all a mixture of other ideas and finds but put together in a slightly different way, with a twist or within a different area and with that you create something new.  I know it sounds simpler than it really is.

It is a skill that can be learned, I was lucky enough to be part of a culture which practiced this every day and I saw many people rise to become fabulous creative strategist by learning how to borrow ideas from others and creating new ideas with what the famous TED Talk by Kirby  entitled “ Everything is a Remix”.  The idea is to show young people the difference between not only gathering raw information but also other people’s concepts and then creating a new idea out of these pieces.

Why it’s so important is that many of us have spent endless hours sitting in front of a piece of paper or our screen believing that we didn’t have the “creative gift” that others do all because someone once told us that our ideas had to be original, but not explaining what that meant and at least one of the tools you can use to get there.  I for one , upon seeing the curtain pulled back, had a huge Aha moment, which I really could have used in my first year at UBC or better yet back in high school.  So the question is how can we teach this to our children?  There is a great book by Austin Kleon called “Steal Like An Artist” which talks about this aspect and a few others which help build bigger thinkers and ideas, I refer to it often.

You can also play a quick and simple game which begins to hone these skills for youth of all ages, while driving in the car or if you’re making dinner.  Pick 3 totally unrelated items like Kangaroo, pennies and chowmein.  Now have every person tell a short wild story which has to incorporate all three items, the longer the better.  Something as simple as this requires you to think on your feet, pull from different parts of your brain and work to create a story that flows, integrating information so it’s easier the next time to pull together ideas from different places into one complete thought.  Have yourself and your young people give it a try.

Risk Takers Action Sheet


Congratulations, if you’re here you’ve just taken your first risk, the first step to doing all of the great things you were meant to do.

Below are 4 exercises to get you started stretching out, and working to create less fear of failure, while building the muscles you need in order to take on what you’ve always wanted to start or move forward.

This is part I of the action sheet, to get you started. If you’re interested in having a free copy of the second part as well, just send me a quick note as I’m working on it now. lynn@ovisionconsulting.com ,


Good luck in your ongoing adventures, and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have.

1. DIVERSITY MATTERS: One of the simplest ways to start building new ideas and taking more risks in thoughts is by infusing new ideas and sources of input into your daily routine, in order to give you the resources and experiences needed to pull from when you need it most.  It takes very little time and often no money but has a huge impact on us believing in what’s possible and how far we can go.

  • Start going to online sites which you wouldn’t normally visit. So, if you normally like to hang out on food sites  like Epicurious, now take some time to go to Architectural Digest or Fast Company. This might feel like a small risk but it’s a big way to open up new ideas that will help you stretch out in the long run.

2. COMMUNITY FACING COUNTS: Do you remember volunteering when you were in cubs or presenting to your class?  Those actions where you were able to share your ideas and your work with a larger group are what helped you to hone your skills, even if it did make you feel a little sweaty.  Anytime we know we will be seen by a larger group of people we not only feel there is risk involved, we also put extra thought and energy into our actions.  When we complete community facing exercises we feel better about sharing with a larger group and this makes us more likely to share other strengths we have.  It’s a win / win no matter how you slice it.

  • Look for a way to give back to a community you care about.  Is it your local community, the community of hunters you belong to or the online community of teachers you work with?  Take that opportunity to go one step further and share your thoughts and work online, in a blog post or in another way which will impact more people and inspire them to do something good for a group that matters to them.  It might feel risky to open up, but the offshoots you’ll create and never see are enormous.


3.  THINKING LIKE A TRAVELLER:  This is a way of thinking/acting developed by IDEO designer Tom Kelley.  The idea is to pay attention to the everyday small details like you do when you’re on vacation in foreign lands. We normally take these finds for granted at home, but away we savour every detail. The idea is to use the strengths we already have but put the finds together in new ways.  On the surface this may seem low risk but it’s what you do with the outcome,which makes things exciting.

  • Start practicing this with your kitchen gadget drawer.  Open the drawer and pull out two unlikely gadgets, we’ve all got lots of them.  Now create a game with them, rules and how to win.  Now invite a family member, friend or share this new remix online with your friends. What kind of feedback did you get?  What new solutions could you create next with everyday items you work with or see on your path to home on a regular day?  It puts a new lens on old items and thinking and allows you to practice risky thinking in a small way.


4. MAKE AND SHIP STUFF OFTEN:  Many of the great thought leaders from Seth Godin to Austin Kleon and more, spend a great deal of time making things and then putting them out there in the world for everyone to see.  For most of us this is a beyond frightening thought.  If you are a perfectionist or you haven’t made anything by yourself for a while the thought can be paralyzing. The truth is we don’t have to make big things or even great things to start with, but we do need to start things and then we need to send it out into the world in order to gain the feedback we need in order to know how to make it better. It’s creating small opportunities for failure in order to build up to doing the bigger things we really want to do.

  • What’s the area you most want to be creating things in but believe you’re not an expert in?  Now go and make something in that area; a blog post, a table, a painting, a connection.  Send out one small flair or make one small thing, now show it to at least one person and get their feedback good bad or ugly.  Once you’ve done this do it again next week or next month, keep yourself on a regular schedule and you’ll find that before you know it you’ll be making waves in the area you really want to be part of and those fears of failure will be long gone, since you will have already started.

The Power of Doing Good.



Doing Good for others is really much more powerful than we may have originally thought.


Sure we know that doing things for others generally makes us feel better about ourselves, it turns out there is much greater value held in the act of giving instead of receiving.

In a world where community facing social causes for Millennias is more important than ever, and at a time when most under 30s report feeling less connected to people than ever before, despite being the most “connected” generation online, they continue to look for opportunities to make the world a better place While on the surface it might seem like a “nice” thing to do, in reality it’s one of the most critical things we can help our children get involved with, and here’s why.

For many of us growing up with community involvement and volunteering was baked into our social structure.  If you belonged to cubs you experienced it, or if you belonged to a church or community group, it was just part of the gig.  But there’s been an evolution recently and with those changes in social structure, family make up and our constant busy schedules, volunteering or community facing opportunities have taken a back seat to sports practices and other commitments.

You might not think it’s a big deal, but as recent studies on mental health and new trends in education continue to evolve, it’s becoming clear that the benefits of being involved in community service is more than just a nicety and really a key ingredient to cultivating long term authentic success in our children.

In a recent article from Tim Elmore and study from the university of Illinois,  showed the incidents of depression decreased long term as giving back to a larger “community” over individual gains increased.

This feeling of making a difference and being part of something bigger, which is at the core of what we all want more of, turns out to be a main element in helping young people thrive long term.  In an article from Fast company on how much Millennias want to be part of organizations that involve employees in social causes, we see the importance the under 30 age group puts on this aspect as a critical component that they want woven into their work/life balance.

We know that youth who take part in community facing events build richer soft skills and a deeper sense of self, which in turn impacts their confidence and work/ life paths.

For Millennias being recognized interacting in a social space is important whether it’s virtual or live action, they are used to playing on a wider stage and this is just one more part of that total picture for them.

Our job as parents is to help them search out and create opportunities for giving back, which in turn builds all of those amazing skills that allow them to become great leaders

30 Days of Risk Taking



Artist: Ageta Oleksiask “Olek”, stretching out.

For those of you who want to move something forward, get “unstuck” or better yet start something you didn’t think possible for fear of failing.  I’ve got a challenge for you.  I’ve worked through my own questions around this area, which can include things that scare me or are holding me back, and as I coach my own clients, we know the best way to tackle anything is go out and start doing something in an area that matters to you.  It sounds simple but when you’ve been stuck or aren’t sure of what the start looks like, it can be harder than it looks and always best to ask some simple questions to frame things and then take the first steps. Questions such as, what matters most to me and what do I need more of or less of in my life?

In the past few weeks I was fortunate enough to listen to an amazing discussion with thought leader and humanistic marketer Seth Godin on fear of failure and what he suggested to do in order to move past it, including setting yourself up for lots of small failures.  This idea sparked my 30 Days of Risk Taking, which is the personal challenge I hope you’ll take part in now. Determining one risky thing every day and then taking action, small, big and in between whatever feels uncomfortable to you. We’re not talking about actually doing something risky, like jumping off a building, that would be bad, but the perceived feeling of being risky.  It can be as small as saying hello to a stranger or as big as saying you’re writing a book or standing on a super tall ladder.

My theory is that with every stretch out we’re able to build the muscles needed to take on the big thing we really have wanted to do, but were too afraid to tackle, whether it’s starting a new job or learning how to make jewelry.  What is it that we really were meant to do, but kept putting road blocks in the way?  So here’s where the rubber hits the road with myself as the guinea pig, and I have to tell you  that with the 30 days under my belt now, things felt at times exciting, nerve racking,  and most importantly created an anticipation of what’s going to happen next.

The reality is that finding that one thing a day is as much of a challenge as doing it, you have to be present, looking for opportunities and then willing to jump when they come up, the ultimate risk taker. If you get stuck one day don’t give up, take that day to figure out what you need to do next but keep it going no matter what.  If you want to see what one person’s journey looked like, mine is below.

A quick note that what feels risky for one person might be really easy for another, it doesn’t matter what it is but more importantly how it feels.  I know whatever happens I’ve learned a lot, met some nice people along the way, so what else could you ask for.  I hope you find this interesting, but more importantly inspiring enough to get you to join the challenge, like others have done already.

Let me know what you’ve done, how it felt and what you want to do now because of it.  In the end it’s all about doing the great work we set out to do.  Have a super adventurous day, whatever that looks like for you.


Stay Curious,




1. Saying Yes to a Podcast on a Topic I’m Passionate about but Not an Expert On.

I’m excited but nervous, should be interesting to see how I do, although I know a fair amount about fear of failure and risk taking since I’ve been wrapped in it personally and professionally for over 18 years, there is nothing like putting yourself out there for everyone to listen to what you think.

2. Told a Writer that I’m Writing a Book.

I’ve started a book and while I don’t consider myself a “writer” I knew it was time to put together my thoughts in order to help others looking for the same information. The real opportunity to came when a travel writer asked what I was doing, it was at the moment I told her which I felt both nauseous and committed and I realized saying it made me all in. I’m now thankful that I know a few writers who will be honest with me when it comes time to look at what I’ve got.

3. Stood on a Very Tall Ladder.

Here is where you might find that what’s scary for you isn’t necessarily scary for me.  I don’t like heights but on a recent volunteer day there weren’t any other jobs left, plus I knew what the outcome should look like, who better to get up there and make it right than me.  It made me sweat for sure but the final product was lovely and I didn’t fall off , so all was good.

4. Wore a Dolphin Hat to Welcome new Kindergarten Parent Breakfast.

While this isn’t the first time I’ve donned a dolphin hat, it was a bit nerve racking to wear something in front of strangers/ peers who met me for the first time are now going to base their understanding of me on a foam hat.  On the flip side it says I’m serious about school spirit and their children’s whole development, so I think it was a win all around.

5. Introduced myself to a Big Wig, Just Because.

I can be weird about cold introductions to strangers on the phone with no connection.  I’m great in person, I love finding out about people, thanks dad. Put me in front of a room full of strangers to speak/facilitate and I’m all good to build a bridge so we can make something bigger happen, but do a cold connect, yikes.  I followed my intuition the other day and sent a note, then did a phone call with the head of a company who I now am having some really interesting talks with on how we help more children stretch further.  Well worth the jump.

6. Sent a note to acknowledge  my lack of gratitude

This one was hard and it’s just the start.  I consider myself a generally strong self aware person, who believes being grateful for what I have is a key to living a good life.  There is one situation in which I didn’t do the follow up deserved for someone 2 years ago. The person went out of her way to help me in a big time of need and I didn’t reach out, again totally not my usual MO.  When I look back I think some of it was me being steeped in insecurity and wanting to stay hidden at the time.  Whatever held me back it’s haunted me not saying a proper thank you but as time went by it seemed weird/awkward to contact her, until this week.  I sent her a note yesterday explaining how I felt and hoping we could meet for coffee so we could catch up.  I’m not sure what will happen but for myself it was an important step in tying up loose ends that can weigh you down, no matter what the outcome is.

7. Put together a new educational offering on a dime.

The recent teacher’s strike in our area could be seen as a tragic situation or an opportunity.  I’ve chosen to look at it as an opening to try some new work ideas out I’ve been rolling around.  So with shorter than comfortable prep time I sent out a note to my closest circle to see who was ready to try out something new for their tweens.  Can hardly wait to see what happens, but a little nervous as well.

8. Dance to Pharell William’s “Happy” in front to the school.

With the school year coming to an end I hosted a walk to school day.  I noticed a few younger students grooving in the crowds and then some older ones clearly wanting to but not wanting to appear silly.  It was at this point that I realized I was going to have to help them with this and broke into full dance mode, despite the horrified look on my son’s face.  I’m not sure what was better his look or the that of laughter on every parents face.  Here’s to jumping right in.

9. Placed promotional materials on the cars of people in my middle circle.

Today I declared myself and my passion to a group of people I consider aquaintences.  That group of people who have seen you around but don’t really know who are what you do.  I figured it was a perfect opportunity to introduce them and their children into the area of youth coaching that I help with under 30′s by the good old fashioned method of leaving material on their car.  I have to say it was definitely outside my comfort zone as I like nice controlled environments that still show my professionalism.  Today I let it go for good old fashioned information exchange.  I feel like I bridged a mental gap.

10. Came armed with a totally different birthday present than the norm.

I decided that at a no birthday present party I would come armed with a non traditional present, and while everyone else still brought things like flowers, baskets and wine, I brought lemony potatoes, a fan favourite for many of my friends and a decided item that I love to make. I determined that it would be better to share a part of myself that is a strength and says something about me leaving something of myself I want them to share in, than doing something standard.  Rave reviews from the birthday girl and all those at the party.

11. Ate something different from a menu we love.

Ok, this might seem small and especially if you’re adventurous food lovers like ourselves, but taking an opportunity to shake up our menu picks even left the long time owner of our local Indian restaurant saying.  Way to try something new, clearly it was time.  Ooo how we love good south east asian cuisine, it makes you feel warm all over just thinking about it, and it opened the door for making me wonder what else we haven’t tried that we really need to.

12. Admitted a politcal bent at a party.

It’s not that I don’t have a strong point of view, most who know me know that I’m not afraid to share but I have an unwritten rule that parties shouldn’t be taken over with political views as sometimes it has a reverse party outcome.  This time I made an exception and while the conversations went fine, coming away and doing the analysis I’ve decided I’m going back to my original theory.  I would call this a smaller failure, that I learned from and will use to gauge, not stifle, my political views moving forward.  Lesson learned.

13. Started an Interesting Conversation.

While in to see my doctor.  I decided to stretch out on a topic around youth, normally I wouldn’t bring my business into my doctor but I thought if I really care about what I’m doing, I’m going to see if there is another way to connect the dots.  The conversation ended up giving me a whole new set of insights and possible ways to assist under 30 and possibly the overwhelm facing doctors on topics as well.  Win/Win.

14. Took on Facebook

So for many this is an every day thing.  Using Facebook to share parts of who they are and what they’re doing.  For me it wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to share as much as what  and technically how.  I built a big ugly wall around this that even a grandma would have thought impressive.  I signed up for a small class where I started by announcing my biase and that I was behind and then proceeded to ask lots of questions.  I feel much better now and am starting to stretch out to the world in a new way.  Feels just fine.

15. Made Technology my Friend.

This week technology is the key.  I faced yet another technological question around e transfers. Sending money in different ways feels like it’s going to help my relationship with money grow.  A good thing for sure.

16. Agreeing to Present to a Group on a new topic

Something strange happened today when I decided on a whim to say yes to a group who asked to have a presentation done on a topic I love but am not a specialist in.  I’m only slightly nervous.  Talk about weird.

17. Made friends With a Stranger at The Cafe

I saw this person sitting at the cafe and decided to start up a conversation.  It turned out that they knew other people I did in town, a totally small world.

18. Agreed to a Horror Movie

I hate horror movies but I finally agreed to sit with the family through one.  Ok we agreed to an oldie, Carrie, so I made it through most of it and yes then had some nightmares.

19.  Did my first HugDug

Did my first book review online which then gave back to charity.  I have to say it felt pretty good to promote something I love and do good.

20.  Tried something new

Went into the local veggie market and tried yellow tomatoes.  It turns out they aren’t half as good as the red ones, just my opinion but I’m glad we tried them

21. Did my first podcast, on risktaking

How funny was this.  Finally doing my first podcast on  Risk Taking and then finding out that the equipment failed.  Take 2.

25.  Learned how to take out a trailer toilet

Ok, so while youtube did show us how to fix it.  It didn’t tell us about all of the other problems we would create.

26. Yup day 2 of the great toilet caper

We now have chanelled our inner Macgyver and any other handyman we could think of ,then had to admit defeat and the need for a new toilet.  Learned lots in the process.

27. Was Honest With a Family Member

Got up the nerve to tell a family member something I’d been thinking with my inside voice.  I think it went fairly well, and I don’t feel like I’m carrying it around with me anymore.

28. Tried to Kickstart a Teen Volunteer Group

Had this great idea for a teen volunteer group.  It didn’t quite work out the way I’d imagined but I’m going to try again.

29. Cooked a Meal I’d Never Tried For Company

I don’t usually take risks with dinner on out of town guests but did it this time.  I have to say it was  quite good and started to get over the fear of being perfect, so that’s good.

30. Giving a speech on 50 Years of Marriage

How do you sum up 50 years of marriage in minutes in front of the people you love most.  As it turns out it’s a lot easier than it looks.


The Value of Small Life Experiences for Youth


As we head into summer and a more relaxed pace I’m reminded  of what a great opportunity it is to set up openings  for young people to gain new experiences and skills no matter what their age, through not only work experience but single projects.

It’s funny as parents we’re often so focused on providing fun summer outings that keep them busy, we may miss our chance to connect this to gaining skills, increasing confidence and building personal stories that young people will use later in their quest to move forward and increase resilience.  If this sounds like it might be a lot of work, it doesn’t have to be.

Think of something as small as setting them out to do a good deed for one neighbour or volunteering in the community, to painting that old outdoor chair that is in need of attention.  It’s looking for ways that they can gain new skills and the knowledge that they are capable of doing many things which others value.  This increases their sense of self worth and often provides a small start in believing they can take on bigger responsibilities.  We need them to stretch out and try smaller experiences, so that if it does or does not go well it’s easy to use the experience as a great source of learning, as opposed to just a source of disappointment.

In a recent discussion with a group of educators we talked about the importance of letting young people take more risks and fail in small ways, and then most important to look at the learning from it and discuss what they do next.  If you are dealing with younger children it might be small home or one time community projects and if they’re older get them to look for either short term summer jobs or even one time community projects.  This will not only build their resumes but offer the opportunity to work under a leader, collaborate with others and possibly find new areas that they care about and connect with.  I truly believe that gaining experience through action is the best way to help young people engage and open doors to doing more great work as they move forward.

For parents why not take on the challenge to create one opportunity this summer for your children to give back and build new skills.

If you happen to live in the Greater Vancouver area and are looking for a free opportunity to have your young people volunteer, take a digital break and connect with other youth, feel free to join us on the first or second Wednesday of the month where we’ll be doing various community volunteer projects. Find out more at www.ovisionconsulting.com  in the speaking and events section.

Not Playing Small


A theme has appeared over the last few days between conversations at conventions and with those in my circle, and it all seems to stem from the thought of “not playing small”, with the strengths we have.  What I mean is taking the talents or perspectives you have and stretching out with them, even when you’re not sure if this might out shine others around you or upset the norm.  It doesn’t mean being boastful or as parents artificially pumping our children up by telling them they are good at everything, but in fact getting them to recognize the strengths they already have and putting those into action in a bigger way.

Take for instance the counselors I met the other day at a convention who proceeded to tell me about the students they have who they know have great skill sets (photography, drawing, math) but don’t value them because those around them don’t, so they’re hanging back not following up or taking extra classes or gaining experience with them. On the opposite side, they then believe they have nothing to offer and no starting points to connect possible life / work paths to.

When we authentically move our own passions, loves and natural abilities forward, we have a way of making things better for ourselves and others.  Where things can run into trouble for young people is when they either hide the talents they have so as not to attract attention, jealousy or comment from those around them, or when they spend so much time trying to be something they’re not, that it lands them in a feeling of overwhelm.

Is this a balancing act, you bet, and as parents it’s our job to ensure that they learn lessons about resilience and sticking with things when they feel hard, but also helping them see the value in the things they are naturally good at and come easily to them, in order to highlight their best parts, even when it might make others feel temporarily uncomfortable.

It’s that age-old lesson in surrounding yourself with people who want to see you succeed, no matter what you excel at.  I for one believe we need to begin early instilling these lessons in young people so they stay connected to the paths that matter most to them, despite possible bumps in the road.

What about those “Bossy” Girls?

Photo of Rachel Parent, Kids Right To Know Founder.


There’s been a lot written about “Bossy” lately, but as a former girl and now a big girl in charge, I wanted to weigh in on why I think this is something we should keep talking about.

When Sheryl Sandberg came out with her book on women in leadership, Lean In, there was much talk about what makes great women leaders.  Within that conversation came the discussion about assertive girls being called “Bossy”, while boys are called leaders and go-getters.

Coming from a family of 3 “Bossy” girls whom my dad groomed very carefully to take charge and not be afraid of helping others to achieve what they set out to do,  I think it’s fair to say that anytime someone has made a reference to my ability to lead, including being called a bulldog by other senior managers in my advertising career, I have proudly worn the badge of “ Bossy”, but a recent conversation with a peer has made me realize that not everyone was taught to embrace this tag the same way and society at large can be cruel once the title is attached.

While I don’t agree with the recent dialogue on banning the word “Bossy”, like you could ever really do that but nice job of keeping the conversation going, I do think there is value in having us move away socially from labeling young girls with this tag, which in many cases ensures they feel self conscious enough to shrink back and not follow their natural leadership inclinations.

Anytime we begin to hold back who we truly are in order to “fit in” or make others feel more comfortable, we are setting ourselves up for a world of confusion and hurt.

Norway has recently passed a law requiring companies to have women on boards of directors, of all companies, while the newest research isn’t conclusive it’s trending positively.  You might think this was an equal opportunity bill, nope, they’re following the other data that says companies which have women in senior leadership positions are doing better economically. The fact is that women come with a different perspective and all great creative thinkers know that diversity is the way to creating bigger thinking and problem solving.


So my advice to parents is to nurture those “little miss bossy pants” girls, because the world needs more of them in order to thrive.  I do want to take this moment to say that there is a big difference between being a “bossy” girl and being a mean girl, and we should make sure that they know the difference. We don’t want them leading without putting their best emotional intelligence in play.  It’s one of our greatest strengths and should be promoted in order to help ourselves and others succeed authentically.

They Have Everything They Need


Photo: Leo Hidalgo


Lately there have been a large number of things crossing my desk on fear of failure and anxiety amongst our young people.  It’s an area that’s quickly rising on my radar screen as it is for other parents and educators I’ve spoken with.  We’re going to tackle this as an ongoing set of articles and tips but for today I wanted to start from what I think is the beginning.

We know for most of our young they begin with “not knowing what they don’t know”, what I mean is, that from the beginning most of them start with this amazing capacity for curiosity and happily tackling everything as “figureoutable”, thanks Marie Forleo.

Somewhere down the line, for many reasons, including what society and sometimes us as parents or educators lay out as parameters, they start to doubt their capabilities, it’s not that we’re not supportive but sometimes of the wrong things. We can start to see this become fear of trying, “what if I should fail”.  While this is a complex area, with no one simple answer, luckily there are some simple things we can do as starting points to get our children/students back in the game and realizing that life is both an experiment and an evolution.  There really is no one-way of finding answers or getting things done.

In order for them to be able to put the tools and thinking in place that allows them to keep taking risks and utilizing their curiosity to try things and find new solutions, they need to have a solid starting point.

I think this begins with them knowing that, they have everything they need already to start and become authentically successful, and that they are good enough the way they are.

For those of you with a competitive nature who are cringing about now, I’m not talking about giving everyone a ribbon, but exactly the opposite.

We’re not pumping them up by telling them that everyone is equal and they did well too, but exactly the opposite.  We’re focusing them on utilizing their unique strengths and talents to move themselves forward in ways that make sense and empower them.  To differentiate themselves at the same time embracing and valuing the things they are good at and then putting those things in play in a big, crazy Cirque de Soleil way, which helps them build solid paths forward.  It also means encouraging them to stretch out and add skills that they require to assist them with the things they love and sometimes they won’t be fabulous at them, but will use them as building blocks to support the things they really want to do.


Keep giving them examples/stories of how yourself and those around you have certain skills you highlight and use more frequently in coordination with others, who have different skills that help you collaborate successfully. It’s no secret in my house that my husband keeps us organized and I’m the one who starts and pushes projects forward.

Give them ideas on what they are good at and how that fits with others in accomplishing every day tasks, so they get a feel for how they fit in to real world scenarios.

We’ll call this step one in our ongoing series on building resilience, getting “unstuck”, and accomplishing the things they really want to do.  Above all, have fun with it.

It’s In The Small Details.

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know my dedication to thinking like a traveler. The idea made popular by IDEO founder Tom Kelley, in which we can find the most amazing opportunities within the everyday items we experience, if we’re really able to pay attention. When away on a trip we are hyper present,  often finding new meaning and solutions that we haven’t thought of before from items we may have otherwise considered average.


I’ve just returned from a family vacation to Mexico and I learned more this time than all of the other trips combined, as I tuned in and really listened to how my children were experiencing it for the first time.

Questions from why the grass wasn’t like ours to what flavours soda pop came in opened up the opportunity for not only discussions but learning on everything from climate and culture to society and preferences.

By the time we were ready to come home we all had recharged our batteries and our level of curiosity.  It reminded me that it doesn’t require a trip to foreign lands in order to build muscles in the curiosity department and that learning how to really see things, and the small details they are made up of, has more power, requires no money and often leads to the most interesting questions and conversations that one could imagine.

This tool leads to the ability to reframe the circumstances you’re in no matter where you are, and that is a skill which is not only in demand as our children head out looking for life paths but for all of us to embrace.

It’s never to soon or to late to start this practice with your children.  When they were younger it happened all the time, we would point things out ask them questions and take the time to make sure they were really experiencing things, then the practice tends to slide away.  It’s time to start again.

Yes they might think you’re a little silly to begin with asking questions from what kind of chewing gum flavor is missing to why we only have stop lights in 3 colours , but you’d be surprised at where those initial conversations will take you and them in re-imaging what’s possible.

Have fun with your next conversations.

The Power of MOOC’s


In the past few weeks I had the opportunity to speak with a group of parents about where our young people are heading. In the session we spoke briefly about MOOC’s or Massive Open Online Courses.

If you haven’t ever heard of them before , they are university level courses offered by the world’s leading learning institutions, like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT, and the world’s top professors in each area.  One of the originators, Coursera, was developed to answer the call of watching young people worldwide who did not have equal access to knowledge and what would happen if they did?


For myself, MOOC’s don’t represent a scary and uncertain future but more importantly an outstanding door opening for everyone to build on their strengths.

Imagine if you always wondered what it would be like to take courses in astro physics, or social entrepreneurship in South Asian countries?  Now you can take these classes for little or no money and not only explore areas you think you might like or ones you love, but open paths that you never would have before.

Many post secondary institutions scoffed at these courses originally and now are panicked by them, but for me I believe it’s the beginning of creating a balance in the distribution of information and more importantly, not only customizing our education but bringing back a new level of curiosity we so desperately need in young people today.

Imagine that you are interested in becoming a fashion designer who creates socially responsible clothing, but with a high tech impact, this is a big area now, you know you need to learn to code along side your typical classes, and you also want to understand social entrepreneurship in order to really succeed.  Now you can take the extra classes you need to hone your area of expertise and love, without having to be excepted by a certain university or paying to take part in their whole set of courses.

You have just begun to add layers that make you uniquely qualified to lead in this area.  Add your real life experience and you have a personal brand and career path untouchable as a start. You work on something that matters to you and evolve to where you really want to be.

After having taken a class from Stanford’s Venture program myself on a Crash Course in Creativity, I had the opportunity to work with 30,000 other people from around the world and be taught by Tina Seelig, one of  my role models and top professionals in innovation and creativity. How much better could it get than that.  Below are a list of some of the outstanding MOOC’s currently offering courses.

www.coursera.org, www.skillshare.com, www.udacity.com, www.udemy.com, www.edx.com