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Archive for June, 2014

Received the following email this morning from Ruslan M. So this is supposed to be Pmemory 4.0?

(I see the laughably discredited datum about using 10% of the brain’s capacity is still being recycled on the website.)

Please somebody explain what is new. It looks identical to the 2.0 version of the course I took.

Fair use quote begins:

Hello [name],

Did you know that there is a way to boost your learning speed up to 60 times and never forget what you have learned?

I have spent the last few years developing a way that would make something like this possible and I am finally ready to share with
you what I have discovered.

The fun part is that I have tested it out on people already and now I have their video reports that you can also see.

Be ready to be blown away. 🙂

Here is the link:

http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=7qlE8&m=Jn5jI0oRJtwky5&b=m_Z027H4OslG.EZG2wX03w

Ruslan M
(new) pmemory.com

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I had seen a message advertising an open day at the London campus of the Open University, and out of curiosity I decided to drop in.

One of the staff approached me, and I said I hadn’t decided upon a course of study, and that I was only there to take a look and see what was going on. Nevertheless, I was encouraged to see the next available advisor for a chat. I sincerely hoped that this wasn’t going to be either a high pressure sales pitch, nor the sort of thing resembling one of those awful “I’m going to catch you out” style interviews conducted by a third-rate HR assistant, like I experienced at the London Metropolitan once.

So we got talking, and it rapidly became apparent that the advisor didn’t know what would be the best subject for me.

I said that I knew one of his colleagues in the University’s qEEG and Brain Lab,  that I had attended every single one of their workshops since 2011, and that this colleague had encouraged me to set up shop as a biofeedback practitioner but said that at some point I would need to obtain some kind of qualification to lend weight to what I was doing. I said I was interested in biofeedback, neural stimulation technologies, EEG and neuroscience.

By this stage the advisor was kind of scratching his head, and got out some psychology degree brochures. I was rather underwhelmed, saying I wasn’t interested in a lot of this stuff, and that when I had looked at their curriculum online once the only course modules that had grabbed me were the ones in neurobiology and psychometric testing, and the rest of it I couldn’t care less.

The reason, I explained, was that I had experience in delivering training courses and a type of personal counselling that had a very positive focus. The counselling wasn’t about addressing addictions or any other medical condition, but was a method of self-exploration to improve personal effectiveness. The courses were designed to improve study and communication skills, or improve various areas of life and business, and my target clientele was therefore professionals.

I asked if there was anything they could offer that could put an official stamp on my more than 10 years’ experience of delivering these courses and services. So we looked at the education degree brochure, but it almost entirely focused on child development and teaching children. Not a mention of adult or professional education.

At some point in the conversation I mentioned how in the early 2000’s I had started a business management course elsewhere, but had dropped out after the first year because of the simplistic nature of the work and the slowness in sending the next lot of materials after I had finished and turned in each assignment. He showed me some business and management brochures, but I didn’t see how it was going to help given my current interests.

The best advice he could give at this point was to pick and choose various subjects and combine them into an “open” degree, i.e. it would actually carry the title “BA Open” or “BSc Open” (rather than having a specific subject name). If the objective was to get something that carried professional weight I wondered how useful that would actually be.

We talked about various other interests of mine, my music, my writing, and so on. “Is there anything you’re not good at?” he laughed. “Making pots of money,”  I replied wistfully.

“Look,” I said, “I’ll tell you what I’m really interested in. I want to explore the area where my background in education, training and self development on the one hand, and the information from those neurostimulation technology workshops meet in the middle. I’ve got tons of research ideas. The question is, how do I get there?”

“Wow,” he said. “That would be a Master’s level at the very least.”

Going home, I was having crazy thoughts about how the school couldn’t meet my educational needs as a kid. It seems that my need for a tailored curriculum carries all the way through to University level.

Am I really such an oddball that I can’t find a course in what I’m interested in, and on the right level for me?

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This is a reposting of an article I wrote on LinkedIn.

We hear a lot about what teams expect from the individual. Here are a few thoughts on what I would wish to see in a team.

1. A team should communicate at all levels and welcome input.

I have seen organisations where communication tended to be stratified across the org chart, and others where it was a strictly top-to-bottom process. Typically, decisions regarding the organisation’s policies, strategies and plans would be taken in a boardroom somewhere, and would be filtered down on an increasingly “need to know” basis through the ranks of partners and associates,until it reached the staff, who were treated like mushrooms.

“Oh, but we have employee satisfaction forms!” you hear the protests. Let’s see. What good is feedback when it is (a) solicited only rarely and (b) acted upon even less frequently?

I want to work in a team where communication and influence is possible in every direction. If you make decisions over my head, operating on an agenda I was not even made aware of, and which I had no means by which to influence, only to eventuallycommunicate the outcome on an infrequent and erratic basis, then you have effectively disenfranchised me.

Where is the teamwork in that?

By contrast, here is an example of how a team should work.

I belong to a successful showband that went on tour in Europe last year. The goal was to get a gold medal at the World Music Contest in Holland. Every member from the bandmaster and committee all the way down to the youngest player understood and agreed with the goal, and that is why we had a hugely successful trip. You don’t get to play high profile gigs like Disneyland Paris or compete in world class competitions without everyone pulling in the same direction. The difference with regard to the band was in the way every member, no matter their role, was valued and included.

Which brings me onto the next point.

2. A team should allow contribution and value each member’s wider skillset.

There have been times when all of us just needed to get a foot in the door somewhere, somehow, and perhaps there was a time that might have worked. Whereas it might have been possible to get noticed once upon a time for your work ethic, willingness and abilities, and moved up the company, I don’t believe that is the case any more. That has certainly been borne out by my own experience: every job where I joined as support staff, I have eventually left as support staff. Opportunities to progress were either not there, or were being actively blocked by a jealous line manager (another example of poor team playing).

If anything, my volunteering, outside studies, and other interests and accomplishments have tended to be regarded by certain previous employers as an unwelcome distraction, rather than being seen as the signs of an achievement minded individual who wants to better themselves. I think the problem is because organisations, particularly as they become larger, get too locked into a “boxes on the org chart” mentality.

If you’re a broom-pusher, it’s hard for them to imagine that you might have skills that could add much more value to the organisation than clean floors. Or, for that matter, even be capable of learning them.

Once I prepared a full cost analysis proving that the company could potentially save a six figure sum per annum, just by making certain organisational adjustments. Yes, I’d had to estimate certain figures because I didn’t have access to information that would have revealed details about the partners’ salaries, but if the amounts were a bit off, someone only had to adjust them. Other than that, the work had already been done.

When the cost analysis was presented to the partners, they were so unprepared for the concept that someone who wasn’t a manager or a finance professional would even have the knowledge or inclination to prepare such a proposal, that I was given a metaphorical pat on the head and sent back to my desk to type a letter. The attitude was, effectively, “Let the big boys deal with that sort of thing, and don’t worry your pretty head about it.”

Somehow the various ideas I was suggesting, the other skills and knowledge I was offering, and other input above and beyond my paper title weren’t considered to constitute taking initiative, but tidying up someone else’s filing without being asked was. If you’re mere rank-and-file staff, initiative so far as managers are concerned should only be about focusing on the details. If you’re a natural big-picture thinker, then what?

A good team should allow a person to grow their role, or be flexible enough to move them to a role that is a better fit for their wider skillset. Or, dare I suggest it, even create one, where appropriate, in order to utilise the person’s talents for the benefit of the team.

How is it good for the team to keep those with rockstar potential pigeonholed in menial positions where they are, to put it bluntly, wasted?

(And then wonder why they become harder to motivate. Or see them as a problem and use the “revolving door” approach.)

3. The expectations placed on team members should be a two way street.

When I had an evening appointment and simply couldn’t work late at short (or no) notice a third day running, colleagues muttering under their breath about flexibility and being a team player isn’t helpful. No, it isn’t inflexibility or poor team playing every time you have to say no.

I’ve been in situations where I’ve been expected to endlessly go out of my way to offer to take on colleagues’ work, stay late at the drop of a hat to handle every emergency of someone else’s creation, and had the word “proactive” preached at me (what a horrible, tautological neologism – what does the word convey that the word “active” cannot?). But if I happened to be the one who needed a hand, where was the team then?

In that same department, out of all the people who left over a four year period, only a handful were wished well on their way with hugs and flowers. The other dozen or more just suddenly disappeared one day, in some cases after having worked loyally for years with our head of department.

If I am prepared to go out of my way to work hard for and with the team, then I want the team to be equally prepared to look out for me. Otherwise it violates the principle of exchange, and it is the team that eventually implodes due to the cynical culture it creates.

4. “Team player” isn’t a personality trait, it’s a process.

I worked in an organisation a few years ago where the policy was that students were not to be left alone in the classroom during study periods, even for a few seconds. I was therefore physically stuck in one place for most of the day. Often the only time apart from lunchtimes and a short afternoon tea break that I got to see any my colleagues was when an executive from another department came to check the attendance roster.

A couple of colleagues started a whingeing campaign alleging that I was isolating myself from the team, but where were they for most of the day? Not once did a colleague come into the classroom and ask if I needed any absentees called, or whether any students needed a volunteer partner for a practical exercise or drill, or if I needed help with any admin. And then the communications director disconnected the phone to my classroom so I couldn’t even call down to Reception if I needed anything!

Team members need to realise that good working relations have to be worked at by everyone. The manager or team leader needs to play an active part in ensuring that not only is this done, but that it is not prevented by little cliques excluding certain individuals.

I believe it is folly for organisations to demand in recruitment adverts or performance appraisals that people be “team players”. The way that team behaviour manifests is largely down to the culture fostered by the management, not down to the new recruit. Even the most responsive, approachable and willing person can’t be a team player in isolation.

5. A team should recognise when something is best done by the individual.

There are parts of the creative process that are best done alone. While teamwork is valuable at the implementation stage, thoughts and ideas come from one individual at a time.

And sometimes the best way to get something done is just to let the person get on with their work.

6. A team should welcome different perspectives.

I always think it is very sad when organisations seem to want staff who are happy to be assimilated by the Borg rather than just let people be themselves in the workplace.

Under the mantra of “team fit”, we’re supposed to meet a cookie-cutter personal specification before we are graciously allowed a seat at the table.

Without a certain diversity, teams stagnate, and the risk of groupthink sets in.

Teams need to welcome colourful or eccentric characters, those with unusual interests, those with unconventional educational histories including the self-taught, those from different working backgrounds, the multidisciplinarian, the creative visionary, the guy/girl with the genius level IQ, or the Aspie with astonishing talents. It’s not good enough to justify their rejection because “they won’t fit in”.

This mindset is further reinforced with thought-stopping mantras like “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’.”

We have become so indoctrinated into the idea that the team is all and the individual nothing that organisations are now refusing to include the sectors of the population who have historically been the drivers of progress. In the name of the mighty team.

And that is a shame, because these are the people that teams need. Asking whether someone will be able to work with the team is the wrong question. We should be asking how teams can work with those people with extraordinary minds.

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