On Tuesday, September 24, 2019 I gave the first public presentation of my Dr. Seuss style poem “The Ball and The Wall: A Tale of Tolerance,” to my Tolerance and Diversity class at the American University in the Emirates (AUE).

The poem shares the story of a grandfather who, while fishing with his grandson, uses an unexpected encounter to tackle a teachable moment concerning compassion for others in addition to accepting people with different perspectives.

In invite you to watch a slightly edited version below (via YouTube) of the original Facebook Live video I broadcast while performing the poem; you can watch the original recording here.

I was first inspired to write this poem during the last meeting of my History 4C class at UC Santa Barbara in March 1996. At the conclusion of the class, the professor, Harold Marcuse, PhD, invited his teaching assistants to share any closing remarks. My teaching assistant, Kimber M. Quinney, PhD, asked us all to imagine that a large ball was floating over the lecture hall in the Isla Vista Theater (where the lectures for our class took place).

Encouraging us to accept that people have different perspectives, she explained how one side saw that the ball was red and the other side of the class saw that the ball was blue. Moving forward she asked us to accept that a perception that was not the same as our wasn’t necessarily better or worse, but that it was just different, and that was perfectly acceptable.

That last lesson stuck with me and marinated in my mind until 2003 when I wrote the first draft of what would become “The Ball and The Wall.” It has undergone edits and updates since, and will likely continue to be refined, but overall the intent and the idea are intact. It is my plan to publish this as an illustrated children’s book — for adults.

I hope you enjoy this spoken word performance and welcome any ideas it might inspire!

Hear ye, hear ye!

satisfactionistI’ve been featured on The Satisfactionist Podcast with Ben Olmos; what a delightful experience! What is a Satisfactionist? According to the podcast’s Facebook page, a Satisfactionist is:

…a person who seeks to promote well-being through the act of teaching good people lessons that will enable them to create and do amazing things for themselves and the people they work with.

This is the first of two podcasts in which I will appear. My interview begins at 46:56; listen to it on SoundCloud below or you can also hear it on Stitcher.

During the roughly 1 hour and 20 minute interview Ben and I discuss my professional journey to becoming a teacher and trainer — along with personal experiences that have shaped who I am and who I aspire to be.

Topics we talked about include: living in California, my educational experience at UC Santa Barbara and Woodbury University, a review of early employment including my first job as a paper route “collector,” my odd summer job as a “Christmas Elf,” and my time as a mathematically challenged bank teller.

andydickWe then fast forward to my first “real” job as a technical writer for a medical device manufacturer. This position lead to my marketing career with companies including the publisher of Cat Fancy, City of Hope, and Princess Cruises. Ben and I also discussed my marketing consulting work with clients like Andy Dick and Mike Garson, longtime keyboardist for David Bowie.

Finally we talk about my non-traditional transformation into teaching and the many mentors who guided me to where I am today (including Andrew Posey, Satinder Dhiman, Barry Bailey, and Chuck Lubbers).

I also briefly explain my very brief tenure in the “Ethics Office” at Los Angeles Unified School District, which indirectly inspired me to embrace adjuncting. Ben and I go on to discuss my adventures in academia including best practices and my 7 years when I was exclusively adjuncting in the “gig economy.”

In the second podcast Ben and I discuss my experiences as a full-time faculty member in Dubai; first at Jumeira University and now at American University in the Emirates (AUE). We will also talk about my book, “edX e-Learning Course Development” and a few other timely topics!

Be sure to also read about my second appearance on The Satisfactionist Podcast.

How do you identify and achieve your goals?

20130222_Me_@_MYLC_with_Dick Elder
With Theta Chi National President Dick Elder (far left) and another alumnus on Friday, February 22, the evening before my session.

In the video below I am presenting an individual goal setting session at the Mid-Year Leadership Conference of Theta Chi Fraternity at UCLA on Saturday, February 23, 2013.

Having helped found the (dearly departed) UC Santa Barbara chapter of Theta Chi it was an honor to participate in this event as an alumnus instructor. Since my birthday was the day before, it was a great gift to share my knowledge with undergraduate members of an organization I admire.

As an undergraduate I attended several events like this so I was well aware how events like this can positively impact personal growth and professional development. I met with a multitude of motivated undergraduates; their earnest desire to improve themselves and their fraternity was inspiring. Events like this made me proud to be a Theta Chi and grateful to be a teacher.

Of course you don’t have to be a member of Theta Chi — or any other fraternal organization — to appreciate what I shared during my session. It is my hope you find value in my presentation beyond the audience for whom I first prepared it.

I welcome your insights and ideas as well; I am a teacher because I am a lifelong learner. It would be my pleasure to learn from and with you as I did on this day with my undergraduate brothers in Theta Chi!

To recap the content in the video:

  • Why setting your goals is important.
  • Goal setting brainstorming and audience interaction.
  • A personal story about how we undermine our goals.
  • How to focus yourself with help from your colleagues.
  • Why setting your goals (not someone else) is important.
  • A personal story about setting my goals after undergrad.
  • Dealing with parents who try to set your goals for you.
  • What happens when you don’t set goals for yourself.
  • How to set and achieve your goals with your I.D.E.A.

You can also view via Slideshare the presentation I used in the above video: