Better every day

Eric van de Graaff, ilearnr

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Empowered state of mind

It was the morning of the day that I was having an interview for a new role. The high tech company had a lot to offer and I felt almost intimidated to apply. Yet I knew I could bring a lot to the table.

That morning I used my three favourite techniques to come in the right state of mind. A state of mind in which I feel empowered to influence people to change.

One is reflective and planned, based on insights from the Dalai Lama and more recent Jay Shetty. The second one is derived from Anthony Robbins. The third is a pose is based on research of Cuddy into how others rate you after the pose. For me they are complementary:

Technique one: reflective and planned

1. Rise at 06.00am and meditate with 7 breaths while thinking these words: I believe everyone wants to develop to be his best. I deeply believe we should develop to be our best for this world. I do this by by building collaborative and interactive learning interventions that are driven by business value and embedded in adult learning and blended/hybrid learning principes. 

2. I feel gratitude for 3 things in my life. 

3. I think about my storyline, what steps did I take to come to this position.

4. I strengthen my beliefs about my learning interventions, trainings and virtual coachings: I fast forward in time and sketch moments that I want to experience. I see them vividly in front of me and feel all the positive feelings in my body. I immerse myself completely in it. Turn 100% that feeling tap open. I experience it as if it really happens. 

5. Focus on feelings of joy and smile. 

6 Take a walk outside.

7. Think over the 3 most important assets for today, that I wrote up yesterday.

Technique two: instruct your Sub-consience

This technique is almost on the other side of mindful meditation. This is an almost in the moment activation of my sub-consience, at the moment that I need it most. 

I say the following lines with power while tensing my muscles and slamming my hand into my own hand. There is no room for other thoughts. My subconscience has to follow my will. People watching me may find me fanatical and fearsome:

I demand to be in a state of mind. -I now command my sub-conscience mind  -to direct me in helping as many people as possible I can help -It is to better their lives -by giving me  -the strength -the emotion,  -the persuasion -to do whatever it takes -to show these people and  -to get these people to see and  -to change their opinion – now.

Technique Three: the star pose

Stand with stretched arms and legs, chest to the front, breathing normally for two minutes. The pose is based on research on how you are rated more positive in job interviews. It was followed up with saliva sample analysis. After the pose you may have an 8% increase in testosterone, building your presence. And a 25% decrease in cortisol, lowering your stress level.

These three techniques work for me and that is why I am sharing them with you. I am curious what these techniques do for you!


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Your heart already knows

Our true nature, our passion and our purpose, they are in our heart. Not in our head. In fact our heads often get in the way of our passions. Some excuses to close our mind:  “I’m too old to start my own business”, It would be irresponsible of me to make this change”, “I can’t afford to do this”.

Other false of self-deceiving beliefs: “I already know that”, “I’ve always done it this way”, “That way won’t work for me”, “I don’t have time”.  Be aware of how fear may keep you from trying new things and how ego may block you from trying new things too, effectively blocking progress. 

Yay Shetty advises to embrace your dharma. It resides at the center of your skills, your passion, your compassion and your usefulness for others. Find a job comprised of these elements and you will thrive!

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Your heart already knows

Our true nature, our passion and purpose, are in our heart. Not in our head. In fact our heads often get in the way of our passions.

Some excuses to close our mind: “I’m too old to start my own business”, It would be irresponsible of me to make this change”, “I can’t afford to do this”.

Other false of self-deceiving beliefs: “I already know that”, “I’ve always done it this way”, That way won’t work for me”, “I don’t

have time”.

Be aware of how fear may keep you from trying new things and how ego may block you from trying new things, effectively blocking progress.

Yay Shetty advises to embrace your dharma . It resides at the center of your skills, your passion, your compassion and usefulness for others.

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50 ways to learn fast

Have you ever experienced pressure cook learning? After 4 months in my new job I feel challenged to write a recipe. It reads as follows: Get hired in a job at the forefront of technology, in a customer partnership focussed culture with very cool colleagues, aiming to solve the big challenges of 21st century!

This is exactly where I am at in my new role as pre-sales learning consultant. My most impactful moments of learning:

Committing to a deadline for a customer without realising the full impact of the task ahead: not clever. When you do accept it and fail, it becomes downright stupid. Asking a colleague for help and forgetting to plan time afterwards to digest the advice: not clever.

Not recording the navigation across a powerful platform: that is a waste. Heading to miss an already extended deadline, before a well deserved holiday: painful. It is okay to not know and it is okay to ask. It is annoying to ask for the same solution for the third time, because you failed to take notes. Answering a question without knowing the right answer is even more painful.

So what did I learn? So far 7 lessons: Balance: do not try to cramp 3 jobs into a 50 hour workweek from home. Enjoy: find pleasure in the conversations with new colleagues from different cultures. Let go: Do not hold on to the conception that you should know it all. Ask for advice when you need it and inform other when things may divert in the wrong way.

Inspire and challenge others and yourself to be your best, even when you make mistakes. Empatically bond in your team and understand other perspectives. Visionary: talk with the founder of the company to learn his passions and dreams. Energetic in the way you prioritise and complete your tasks.

In short, if you collect the starting keywords from above: BELIEVE! My dream is helping companies to learn faster and smarter. I feel proud to be learning to be this guide on this journey in digital learning. Do let me know your challenges and lessons in transitioning to digital learning, we learn together!

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How do you measure and evaluate learnings?

The truth is that most learning analyses stop short of numbers of participants and percentage of active promoters. Excel, powerpoint, survey monkey and mentimeters are used to their full extend, but soon the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve trolls the L&D department and the “lessons learnt” are lost.

Is there another way?

We humans, or should I say: I can only process so much. I remember last years introduction group, but what do I remember of that marketing course last May, that ran in five locations, in three countries?

As a learning & development manager, I recently changed to a forerunner of digital learning. Now I feel humbled and lucky to get the chance to see how learning analytics can support business strategies.

I already had the knowledge of statistics and organizational dynamics. I desired to improve human skills and business performance. And now I discovered the two missing links: xApi and LRS.

According to Wikipedia an xApi is Experience API (Tin Can API), an e-learning software specification that allows programmatic inclusion of the learning content.

Basically it says: ‘I did this’ (also known as an actor-verb-direct object) statement, alongside a variety of contextual data. “I” stands for an individual user, “did” stands for a relevant learning verb and “this” stands for a learning-element. Any element: stopping a video, restarting, completing an e-learning, joining a class or finishing a book!

Learning Record Store (LRS)[1] is a data store system that serves as a repository for learning records collected from connected systems where learning activities are conducted. Great you may say, so what?

Well the LRS, with all the XAPI can be used within a business intelligence tool: 60% of learners exited the course 3 minutes into the video. 80% of learners who completed the course produced 60% less compliance fails. 75% of users that completed this course generated 20% more sales, etc.

xAPI and LRS may improve the quality of future lessons, they may start to improve business results, but I hope these two missing links will future proof you when you prepare to measure, store and analyse your next valuable learning intervention.

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“When one teaches two learn” –

A solid way to master a topic is to provide a training on it. As a teacher you think through the logical flow of your “class”, so that students will achieve their goals. You preview your students and you assess their current knowledge level. You anticipate questions and you think of answers. That in itself may bring you new insights. During class you may learn new insights on your class and topic too. Some students actually know a lot about your topic already. And they will probably bring new topics to the table. Meaning you will learn of lot!

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Why I enrolled in a MBA… and why you could too!

“live as if you die tomorrow, learn as if you live forever”

-Mahatma Gandhi

In October 2019 I wrote my application and send it to Haroun Education Ventures MBA Degree Program. Chris Haroun, who has raised over 1 Billion in venture capital and has over 1 Million online students, reviewed the application and accepted it. Now that I look back at my application, I can confirm that it is about my ambitions for myself and for the world. Having completed the MBA it was well said by one of the other graduates: “this graduation is only the end of the beginning“:

Dear Chris, 

Thank you for your time to address my questions and set up the video interactions today. It was informative and fun and it is a good way to get a feel for the MBA interactions. In this motivation I like to share who I am, why I want to participate in the Haroun Education Ventures Master of Business Administration Degree Program 2019-2020 and how I see my best life in 10 years:

Who am I now?

I develop people and teams so that they can realize their dreams, that is my passion! I am sort of addicted to everyday learning and putting learning into practice. I am a father, a husband, a friend and a life long learner, dreamer, trainer, coach, snowboarder and personal growth hacker. My skills round up like: communicative • go-getter • emphatic • eager to learn • result-oriented • strategic • teamplayer • innovative.

Why do I want to get an MBA?

I want to get out of my comfort zone. I train soft skills and organise learning and I want to be able to translate this into business value and financials. I want to know the latest International Business trends and I want to keep challenging myself.

I look forward to network and interact with other students and teaching staff from different cultures and learn from their management experience. I may join a new company as a learning lead or I may even start my new business again. This time not so much working in the business as much as working on the business.

At this point I am considering to set up an online training business and the MBA will help me broaden my cultural horizon and  international business career prospects. The MBA network helps me find companies that I want to work for or with. It can help me arrange meetings with potential employers.

The real advantage of an MBA for me , however, is its proven versatility. With an MBA, I want to reignite my career and advance to be the tech savvy learning sponsor with a finance foundation.

What is my perfect life in 10 years? 

Family: My kids will have completed their educations and they will regularly visits us at our home in Velp. My wife has trimmed down her workweek to three days and participates in local charity work a the local dog-care unit. 

Friends: the friends from my youth are al still there and we continue to visit the isle of Schiermonnikoog once every year.

Success: my life’s satisfaction comes from helping other people grow and make their dreams come true. I feel More motivated. More confident. More competent. Than 10 years ago.

Career: I have reignited my career and I am the finance savvy, tech savvy learning lead in a company of 500-2000 people. Next to that I have an online community of 25.000 people. This generates participants for the online training.

Health: I am free of serious health sorrows. I participate in the weekly bootcamp hour and I participate in the business hockey competition. I take weekly doses of vitamins, Whey, diet candy and I weight 84 kilo’s.

Quality of life: I feel appreciated by family, friends and neighbours and we enjoy an occasional holiday, dog Teddy included. The cats stay happily around the house. 

Spiritual connection: my adagio is: understanding is forgiving and I have kept up a daily routine of being grateful for three things in my life and taking the time to reflect on what I can do for society. I am happy and enjoy challenges.

Personal growth: my interactions with students lead to a lot of learnings: when one teaches, two learn! I listen to one podcast a week, and I read on book a month.

Fun and enjoyment: I have lot’s of fun with my wife, our grown up kids and our dog. We go out for a walk on the Posbank at least once every day. 

My life makes me smile and makes my heart sing and I am motivated to learn new things.

This MBA is my essential next step!

I am convinced that with my skills in leading, collaborating and learning I will contribute to the MBA and support the group to maximise our potential. I am looking forward to participating.

The best number to reach me is +31 648 797 809. I look forward to speaking with you in a few business days.

Yours sincerely,

Eric van de Graaff

Everyone is different and everyone has different reasons to start or not start an MBA. In the end I think investing in your knowledge is always a wise decision.

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7 Sources of Personal Power

Every battle is won before it is ever fought.

-Sun Tzu

How to build Personal Power: In this episode we will discuss how to identify the sources of Personal Power. For my travel to Nepal I packed my backpack with clothing and gear, to discover I did have a lot of t-shirts, but I was missing some essential medical supplies. Now you will see what you already have in your Personal Power “backpack”.

From their practical experience, David Gershon and Gail Straub wrote the book Empowerment. It outlines that the inventory of your life consists of 7 vital aspects. These 7 aspects of life you can shape and or create the way you prefer.

These seven aspects are: emotions, relationships, sexuality, the body, money, work and spirituality. From each of these aspects we will discover what it is that we most desire. Ultimately the goal is to live life the way you and I want to.

So take a couple of breaths and relax while you pause reading after each question, so that you can take notes. The exercise helps your relax and focus.

Take three breaths, funneling the air to your stomach. Then slowly focus on the air and trace it from your stomach to your nose. Then focus to breath in through your right nostril and out through your left.

I know it sounds out there, but trust me; try it. Do this three times and notice that your world quiets down. When it does your are ready to listen to your answer on the first question. Just read it out softly and let your mind wander and work to come up with your answer:

1: Which qualities of someone else do I find most important in a relationship? And what do I have to offer? Please pause and take notes. After you completed your answer, please repeat the breathing exercise till you are ready for the next question.

2: What is one thing I can do to create more love, more sensuality, more passion in my life? Please pause and take notes.

3: If my body could speak to me, what would it say to me about how it is being treated? Please pause and take notes.

4: If I had as much money as I wanted, what would the first five things I do with it be? Why? Please pause and take notes.

5: If I did not have to work for money, what kind of work would I do? Why?Please pause and take notes.

6: Which emotion is easiest for me to express? Why? Which emotion is the most difficult for me to express? Why? Please pause and take notes.

And question 7: What three things can I do to get in better contact with the miracle and mystery of life? Please pause and take notes.

I hope you enjoyed this episode on how to identify your sources of personal power. Feel free to share these insights with people around you and remember I made all the mistakes in growing up, and developing personal so you dont have to! See you in the next episode!