Friday, June 23, 2017

You Don't Get to Complain

Summer is here, but my leadership journey has not stopped. As of June 23, 2017, I have interviewed 32 different leaders from a variety of organizations and positions, from CEO's to school administrators - even a Catholic priest! I have learned a tremendous amount of information and have started the process of applying the lessons to my life.

You Don't Get to Complain

Sharon, an outspoken former Vice President of HR, had a unique leadership philosophy. She stated "you don't get to complain unless you have a plan to follow up." In other words, you don't have the right to complain, unless you have a solution to offer.

How often do you complain? Several years ago, I read a book by Jon Gordon titled The No Complaining Rule. The premise behind the book is that we waste time, energy and spirit by complaining. When we are bogged down by the negativity that complaining generates, we cannot have a positive impact on our lives or the lives of others.

This does not mean that there is no room for challenging ideas or beliefs. On the contrary, leaders must stand up and productively challenge ideas with viable alternatives. In turn, our solution-oriented nature becomes a force of major attraction to others. Why? People are naturally drawn to leaders who are solution-oriented and welcome challenges.

Curbing the Complaints

Unfortunately, complaining has been a major weakness of mine over the years. It has been the glass ceiling of my leadership journey. I have complained, grumbled, and pouted, but have often failed to offer alternatives or solutions. Are you like me? Then, how can we curb the complaints and become a more productive leader? Here are some insights from my interviews:

  • Develop a solution-oriented mindset. Solve problems, don't create them with a poor attitude, brash comment, negative body language, or distracting behavior. 
  • Avoid the trap! Complaining often fuels gossip, stretches the truth, and warps your reputation. Avoid the trap of airing your complaints to the wrong person, in the wrong venue, or without a viable solution. 
  • Use the power of questions. Questions are often a leader's best tool because they shed light on the purpose behind words, decisions, and behaviors. Effective leaders use questions as a mechanism to guide others towards solving their own problems. 
  • Find the lesson behind the challenge. There is a lesson behind any challenge. How can you use this to prepare you for future decisions and action? 
  • Develop a Support Network. Everyone does need to vent from time to time;  however, we often forget to limit our venting to a trusted support network. We don't need to share everything with everyone. As one leader put it, "just because you have a thought, doesn't mean you have to express it." Use your support network to get it out, focus on the things you can control, and then let what you can't control. 
  • Exercise the 24 hour rule. A friend of mine introduced me to the 24 hour rule. You are allowed to be as upset as you want for exactly one day. Vent to your support network. Have a bad attitude or throw a temper tantrum in private. After 24 hours, you need to move on and let go of what you can't control.
  • You are responsible for you. I recently heard a speaker suggest, "People have a lot of problems. Why make them yours?" It is a good reminder that you are responsible for you. In other words, you are responsible for your actions, words, behaviors, and attitude. It's not to say that you shouldn't be concerned about other people; however, you need to realize that you cannot solve everyone's problems. You are only responsible to yourself and your responsibilities. 

Sharon taught me a valuable lesson. Leaders do not have the right to complain. Instead, effective leaders must be solution-oriented and avoid the trap of gossip. They must use the power of questions to influence and shed light on problematic areas. They realize that problems are nothing out of the ordinary. Instead, they try to view the lesson behind the challenge.

For more information on my 50 Leaders in One Year Journey, please visit the following link.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Change the Way Students Ask Questions with ClassroomQ

How many times have you been bombarded with a sea of full of student hands and had no idea where to start? It can be difficult to answer all of your student's questions in a timely manner. A friend of mine, created a new website called ClassroomQ to address this dilemma.  Here is how the site works.

Step 1: Create an Account

First, you will want to visit ClassroomQ and create a free teacher account.

Step 2: Start Your Session

Next, you will want to start your first Classroom Q session. As a teacher, you can customize whether you want a sound to play or student comments to appear in your message queue.

Step 3: Have Your Students Join! 

No need to worry about creating student accounts! Students will enter in a pin to join your session, very much like Kahoot, NearPod, etc.

Step 4: Have Your Students Ask Questions! 

Finally, you are ready to answer student questions. Students will use ClassroomQ to raise their hand and add a question or comment in the comments section. Questions will appear in the order they were received in your queue. No need to choose who goes first, second, third, etc.

Step 5: Check it Off 

As a teacher, you can go around the room and respond to student needs in the order they were received. When you are finished, simply click on the student's name and the question is checked off your list. The next question will appear on your list.


I really love this tool because it gives all students the opportunity to ask questions in realtime. It eliminates the barriers that many shy students face. They can ask a question without fear of embarrassment. It eliminates the conflict that arises when you are bombarded with questions and don't know where to start.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Self-Paced Spelling Quizzes with Google Forms

I recently received an interesting question from you all about Google Forms. How can you create a self-paced spelling quiz on Google Forms?

I was excited to give this a try, so I enlisted the help of Google Forms, Vocaroo, and Flubaroo. Enjoy!

Not only could this be used in the elementary classroom, it may prove helpful in the foreign language classroom.

I always enjoy getting questions from my readers. Feel free to leave a comment below! 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Create Amazing Videos with Toontastic 3D

Toontastic is even more amazing than before with Toontastic 3D. The company is now owned by Google and offers engaging ways to tell your stories on iOS and Android devices.

How does it Work? 

First, you will want to design your 3D character by using your photo or drawing your own. The animations are absolutely animation.

Next, you will begin plotting your story. How will it begin? Where is the climax? How will it end? Toontastic gives you the tools to create an amazing story!

Then, the fun begins! You can bring your characters to life through animations, narration, and creating a soundtrack.

Finally, you can easily export your video without the need for an account.


Toontasic 3D is a great tool for creating innovative and engaging videos on any device. Whether you have WiFi or none at all, you have the ability to work offline and easily export your videos. The App is free and available to download with no advertisements or in-app purchases!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Get Up! Leading with Two Feet on the Ground

Brett Favre is one of my favorite NFL quarterbacks of all time because of the way that he played the game. Favre was known to start big games with nervous jitters, making huge mistakes and missing open receivers; however, he was always a different person after the first big hit he would take. While some quarterbacks avoided hits, Favre would look for opportunities to take that first big hit! It would energize and inspire him.

Are You Taking Hits?

If we are honest, leadership is a lot like playing quarterback in the NFL. We don't always have the luxury of having a clean jersey and unbruised body at the end of the day. What often defines good quarterbacks from great ones is the ability to recover from a hit. Some quarterbacks avoid hits, while others look for them.  Every leader needs criticism, disappointment, and adversity to grow, but the real question is, how do you handle the hits you WILL take?

Get Up or Stay Down?

In a recent leadership interview, I was reminded that effective leaders are unfazed by difficulty. Instead, they change their perspective and become solution-oriented. How often do we get hit by a circumstance and allow it to change our demeanor or define our day?

One of the biggest reasons why I liked Brett Favre was because of his tough nature and energy. I admired the way no matter how hard he was hit; he would spring back up and not give his opponent the satisfaction of seeing the hit might have hurt. In fact, the harder he was hit, the quicker he would get up and the more animated he would become. You could never count him out because he never let his circumstances dictate his performance.

Get Up!

How about you? Do you let your circumstances dictate your response? Here are a few suggestions for jumping back up and not allowing adversity to gain the satisfaction of hitting you:

  • Take the hit and get up! Once adversity hits you,  take a moment to observe the challenge, gather your bearings, and get up! Get up and move on as quickly as possible because the longer you stay on the ground, the easier it is to give up. Leaders do not have time to wallow in self-pity because others are depending on you. 
  • Hit the Reset Button. We often see adversity as something bad; however, it can be a great opportunity hit the reset button. Adversity can provide us with valuable feedback and the opportunity to take a new approach. If plan A is no longer a viable option, abandon it and begin seeking out solutions to serve others.  The Apostle Paul is an excellent example of a man who embraced adversity. When he fell blind, he opened up his ears and allowed God to change his heart. It was in isolation and through adversity that he became an icon of what it means to follow Christ. 
  • Next Play. In his book Toughness: Developing True Strength on and Off the Court, Jay Bilas discusses the mentality that athletes need to adopt. If they make a mistake, they need to let go and concentrate on the "next play." Get up and focus on the next play. Live in this moment and learn from the past. We can't change our circumstances, but we can ask ourselves "what is great about this situation?" 
  • Always Protect Yourself. In the movie Million Dollar Baby, Franky, the main character played by Clint Eastwood, told his beloved female fighter the first rule of fighting, "always protect yourself." Although we cannot always protect ourselves from adversity, we can be on guard. What do I mean? Temptation often comes during our most difficult times. We need to be on guard in areas where we know that we are weak, especially during stressful times.  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Know Behind the No

Have you ever thought about the "know" behind a "no?" I know that it is a play on words, but sometimes we just cannot see that there are better things ahead. We are so blinded by disappointment and not getting our way, but things happen for a reason. We just may find out or know why at a later time.

A great example of this came from a story that a friend shared with me a few days ago. The story resonated with me because it made me ponder the meaning of life's difficult times.

A Man and His Message

A man was on his way to preach a message to a large audience in a foreign country. He could hardly contain his excitement at the opportunity to reach a large group of people.

Prior to his arrival, large tents were constructed and other preparations were made to the grounds. The day before the event, heavy rains hit the area and continued into the next day, prompting officials to cancel the event. The man left for home extremely disappointed, depleted, and depressed.

How often do we feel this way? There are times when we think we know what's best for our lives; however,  the twists and turns of life often have a way of furthering or preventing us from attaining what we think is best. We may even feel depleted and worthless, but the most difficult experiences are often the most valuable experiences.

What is Your No?

Several days later, the rain ceased and work crews began to clean up the grounds and take down the tents. Several workers noticed the wires of an explosive device protruding from the ground. The bomb was mean to kill participants of the event.

It suddenly became obvious to the man that he was being saved from disaster. How many times do we get angry and hurt when we are told no? We think that we know what's best for our lives, but life has a way of telling us otherwise.

All leaders have to learn to accept that there will be times when life says "no." It may be a missed opportunity or promotion, a broken relationship, a failed project, or a difficult situation. Have you ever considered that life may be protecting us from a disaster lying ahead? Perhaps, there is another opportunity ahead? You never "know" what is behind the "no."

Learn to see "no" as a good thing. Behind a "no" there is more to "know" and opportunities to "grow."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kahoot! Cheat Sheet

I recently came across several educators who have not hand the chance to enjoy using Kahoot!  To help my colleagues, I developed the following Kahoot! Cheat Sheet.

Please feel free to share with others who want to learn how to use this valuable tool!