The Future of Learning-Part One (This is a series of blogs on how we learn)

August 31, 2011

In 2007, companies spent $127 BILLION dollars on training.  What is the purpose of training?  Either to impart a particular technical skill or to create a change in behavior. Technical training success is easy to gauge.  You either can perform the skill or not.  Unfortunately, most of the training designed to create behavioral change fails to accomplish this goal.

Did you know that up to 90% of learning and 100% of the application of that learning takes place outside of the classroom?  Think about that for a minute.  That explains the “three ring binder” syndrome.  We go to a training session and are excited about the many changes we will make.  Then, we get back to our work and our daily lives, and that enthusiasm falls by the wayside.  So we put the binder a shelf.  A year goes by until we need the binder.  So we take the contents and inserts out of the binder and throw them away.  Does this sound familiar? We’ve all done it.

The future of learning will be self paced with ample opportunities to access the learning whenever and whenever you want.  You will be able to create connections that will allow you to learn at your own pace and utilize the learning techniques that work for you.  We will have learning via social networks, via our phones, and via the internet.  Learning will take place in groups and everyone will help each other to learn.  Learners will have accountability built into the learning and mentors to help them to understand and apply all of that great information out there.  That is why all of our programs are a year in duration.  We have found that the changes in behavior due to the application of the learning BEGINS around the four to five month mark.  And this learning environment is filled with continual follow-up, daily application, daily reflection, ample accountability, and is reinforced continually by informal learning methods such as weekly emails, blogs, chat rooms, videos, and other media.

It comes as no surprise that we don’t ever create any behavioral changes in a weekend seminar!  With this continuous learning model, these behavioral changes are pretty solid by the seven to eight month mark, and we give it a few more months just to be sure and to let any slower paced folks catch up.  And it doesn’t end there.  We have reunions each year and check in with some evaluations followed by a 1/2 day session where we check in with what has changed, where are you going now, and what will you need to get there.  The participants then create new plans going forward for that next year.  It is vital to check in because people will revert back to old behaviors, especially during stressful times.  And can you think of any more stressful times than now?

Check out the following videos that illustrate these points.

TED Talk by Salman Kahn:


Also, take a look at our take on traditional learning and how we have changed that paradigm with the Total Leadership Program:





How to increase your oxytocin and boost the quality of your relationships

August 30, 2011

Oxytocin is an amazing hormone.  It is called the “cuddle” hormone and is secreted by mothers and babies when mothers are breastfeeding.  It is also released during orgasm and when we have basic human contact with others.  From handshakes to pats on the back to massage, that human touch starts the production of oxytocin.  It gives us that feeling of warmth and connection.  We naturally mirror the emotions of the person sitting across from us.  Mirror neurons in our brains fire without any conscious thought.  Emotions are, indeed, contagious from a  physiological point of view.  Try this experiment.  Get a partner and try not to show any emotion.  Then ask them to put a great big, genuine smile on their face.  What happens? Your mirror neurons kick in and you WANT to smile.  It’s involuntary and automatic.  Can you look at the following photo and not smile?

Think of the power of that connection and what you can do to affect it during your next encounter with another human being.

There was a study done where men sorted pictures of angry faces.  Normally this triggers a response in the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain.  These negative faces trigger a negative emotional response.  But they took half the men and had them inhale oxytocin.  The other half  inhaled a placebo.  The men who inhaled the oxytocin showed far less activity in the amygdala and far less negative emotions.

So, short of breastfeeding, how do we boost our own levels of oxytocin? There are no supplements or foods that naturally boost this amazing hormone.  But there are some things we can do.

1.  Smile.  Smiling not only releases lots of good hormones in your body, including oxytocin, it will excite the mirror neurons of the person sitting across from you.  They will be much more likely to “catch” your emotion that you are sending them.

2.  Make an emotional connection.  Ask the person how they are truly feeling.  Try to empathize with their situation.  Show real concern.  Remember, treat everyone kindly because we are all fighting epic battles.  This concern for another human being starts the oxytocin pumping.

3.  Reach out and touch someone.  What do they do every two hours to premature babies?  They hold them and feed them.  Humans need human touch.  One story from a Romanian orphanage tells of a child that survived in a room full of kids because he was near the door.  As the attendant turned out the light and shut the door, she touched the kid on her way out.  He was the only one that made it out alive and owes his life to human touch.  So look for appropriate ways to impart touch to someone else.  Ken Blanchard talks about the literal pat on the back.  Take every opportunity to give a good, warm, open, inviting handshake (and it won’t hurt to smile while you do it).  Hugs are also great things and I find myself hugging more, even in business settings.

4.  Send love.  I know this sounds a little esoteric, but emotions create energy and that energy will affect the outcome of any situation. So if you put yourself in a good emotional state of love or even a state of positive thinking, the people across from you will pick up on that energy and it will affect them and the outcome.  I have found that this works even with the most hard boiled people and the most contentious situations.

If you try these ways to increase oxytocin and improve your relationships, you will find that people will be much more receptive and open.  I would love to hear about your experiments with this approach.  Post here or let me know via email.


Forget About Your People And They Will Certainly Forget About You

August 29, 2011

I attended the SMPS (Society for Marketing Professional Services) National Conference this past week in Chicago and there was a common theme running throughout the conference:

It’s all about your people.

This goes for both internal and external customers.  This concept may seem trite and redundant and many of you will say, “Duh!”  But I think it bears repeating because during these stressful times, we tend to forget that.  Even if it is unintentional,  many companies neglect to truly take care of their people and their external clients.  They are in survival mode, and they buckle down.  The focus is internal, and we forget the people sitting across from us.  Keep in mind that, as a business owner, your people are scared, unsure, and likely approaching burning out with the amount of stress involved in trying to get new work.  This goes for clients as well.  Get up right now and go talk to someone near you.  Ask them how they are doing, and perhaps more importantly, how they are feeling.

During these stressful times, we crave connection with others, so do everything within your power to create those connections.  The golden rule says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  We talk about the platinum rule which says,  “Treat others the way that they want to be treated.”  Remember, others may want to be treated differently than you would want to be treated. The platinum rule honors that difference.

Both individuals and companies can focus on ways to create more connections with others both internally and externally. Increase the social activities during work hours and after work hours. Involve the families. Let people know you care. Celebrate the wins. Celebrate the personal milestones of births, anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, and graduations.  Mourn the losses personally and professionally with your people.  Let them know that you not only know about their life, but you care about what happens to them.  If you don’t take these steps, be prepared for a mass exodus when the economy turns.  People will go where they feel cared about and nurtured.  Period.  And if you have leaders in the company who don’t subscribe to this notion of taking care of your people, remember that the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t like their boss.

This isn’t hard to do, but it takes effort and focus.  And the payback can be tremendous!  If you have any success stories with this people approach, please share them.  I would love to post it on the BDI Blog!

The New BDI Blog

August 1, 2011

Welcome to the NEW home of the Brent Darnell International (BDI) Blog. Formerly found HERE, you can now follow and stay up to date with all the BDI Blog’s postings on Word Press. Comments & ideas are always welcome additions to the discussion and we hope to hear from you soon!

COMING SOON….each Thursday will feature a review and sneak peak of one of Brent’s newest books. Be sure to check back this Thursday for the review of Stress Management, Time Management & Life Balance for Tough Guys!”

And as always, you can browse Brent’s entire book collection, including the best-selling People-Profit Connection, right here.