1. Polling can be created on paid version of Zoom as well as MS Teams. Share results of polls to members. Example as an ice-breaker on generation diversity.

2. “Break out rooms” in Zoom for pair-n-share.

3. Whiteboard on Zoom for Affirmation to a group member, brainstorm or leaving feedback. Eg. Pose a question such as “Your favourite Leader”. “Annotate” function allows you to save the screen in a folder as a keepsake esp if its a “Affirmation” card.

4. Padlet is another tech whiteboard on its own. Used in the same way as above to write affirmations for someone or feedback. Create columns eg “I like” vs “I wish you could”. You can also load photos/images for sharing eg ice-breaker instead of bringing an item to class for “Show and Tell”, ask participanta to share their favourite item, or what they had for lunch.

5. MURAL – Post-its for brainstorming eg in case study. Alternatives are Miro and Google’s Jamboard.

6. Kahoot for simple exercises to test recall of information and understanding.

7. Menti-meter to survey the room eg years of experience. Sharing of expectations. Polling can be done. Brainstorm of ideas.

8. Classroom Screen for timers eg to track time taken for an activity or break

9. Wheel of names – for awkward moments where no participant wants to share. Round robin – cold calling.

10. Url shortener: https://www.shorturl.at/

11. How to download videos – Sign up for premium account. Add ss to youtube.

#Techtools #Virtual #Facilitation

T is for treasure. As a result of covid, the gym is locked, many of us have to turn to our neighbourhood parks.

View from Henderson Waves, Mt Faber Park

This is the view I see everyday as a result of daily walks. Although I moved into this neighbourhood ten years ago, I barely walk here 5 times prior to Covid, prefer to be stuck on my treadmill breathing in stale air.

View from my friend’s balcony

Yesterday, at 6pm, my friend who lives in another part of Singapore snapped this beautiful splash of colours in the evening sky from her balcony. We are never outside our office cubicle at 6pm. Even when she sent this photo, I didnt catch the evening light as I was on Zoom till 730pm..

What treasure from your neighbour are you missing? T is not for terrible or terror. T is for the treasure around, we fail to observe.

#treasure #TIME #Treasureinmyenvironment

https://qz.com/1712239/a-childrens-book-about-the-global-economy-and-the-future-of-work/

A children’s book about the global economy and the future of work — Quartz

Quartz’s Dan Kopf and Bárbara Abbês, Alphabet for the Next Global Economy

A is for Automation,
That great destroyer of jobs,
In the olden days,
It brought out the mobs
It can also be great,
Something people can dig,
The agricultural revolution for example,
Farming was a really hard gig
The effect is complicated,
It creates and it ends,
Is it going to hurt you?
Hard to know, it depends

This is what I call creativity. Combining two simple ideas and creating a fabulous and essential product. References to American companies like Uber which may confuse some.

Whats better, the words rhyme and comes as an audiobook. Three simple ideas into another outstanding product.

Im definitely trying to buy some as gifts for Christmas. Useful not only for children but for most of us trying to learn the vocabulary of the new normal.

A will be Agile or Adapt to the changing trends. With change, we certainly see no end.

If you were to recreate your own alphabet set, what’s A for you?

Im watching a Netflix documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Not being a basketball fan, this is the first time I see what it means to be an NBA basketball player. The footwork, the mid range throw, strategy, teamwork, 4 hrs practice sessions. MJ’s mid range throws improved as his athletic prowess diminished with age. 10 000hr rule. He improved over the years.

Food for thought on what such work ethics mean for my profession and my craft?

I pick up “Daily Rituals- Women at Work” by Mason Currey, page turned to Lynne Fontanne (1887-1983).

Currey researched Jared Brown’s “The Fabulous Lunts” and wrote that the theatre couple “worked out a meticulous routine for their sessions at home. Memorisation of lines came first…. Each would shout out the lines of the play without disturbing the other. After they felt reasonably secure in their lines, they worked in the same room, sitting facing each other… they began to exchange dialogue. If one of them faltered or gave the wrong lines, the other clapped his knees together and the scene began again. After several such sessions, their knees may have been bruised but they were letter perfect in their lines.” ( This reminded me of a comment of MJ when he played baseball. He practicised until his hands bled.)

“Once memorisation was complete, rehearsals began, with (the couple) playing each scene over and over again, each time modifying their characters” attitude and intentions. After multiple run throughs, they would come to an agreement about which version had been the most successful, and … another round of rehearsals “making small modifications to gestures, looks, points of emphasis, relentlessly polisgung every detail. Only after this (exhaustive) extensive “homework” would the Lunts be reasldy to rehearse with the other actors in a production – and even then, they continued to rehearse by themselves at home afterward.”

I stop copying here, not because Im afraid Currey would accuse me of plagiarism but because Im exhausted. Just the thought of this amount of practice. I always thought spontaneity would lead to materials being fresh.

Reading about “Ten Chimneys” their holiday home where the Lunts spent summers in personal amd artistic rejuvenation entertaining guests like Laurence Olivier and the likes of the creative folks. Its amazing to note that such sensitive folks do not feel threatened by others in the show business.

How much am I willing to put in to perfect my craft? If I get a coach, am I willing to listen?

“Studies show that 40% of the anxiety felt by people in the world is focused on things that will never happen. Apparently 30% is related to the past which we cannot change, 12% to other people’s criticism and 10% to health.

It is a very curious reality that only 8% of the time do we really worry about concerns that need to be faced in the here and now.”

Dr. Amy Orr-Ewing, Festival of Thought, Singapore

Even as we approach news of tightening circuit breaker till 1 June 2020, and thoughts of what ifs scenarios. If I can give you a penny for every time I hear the word “Covid 19”, turning on the television and see higher infection numbers. How can I bring the positive into the negative. Instead, every time I hear the word, I put myself into a meditation retreat with the acronyms. Try it for your self. Come up with your own.

C = Connect

Safe distancing doesn’t equal social isolation. Connect with friends, neighbours, family via technology. Connect with your emotions, understand its ok to feel fear, anxiety. Connect with your body. Breathe.  This too shall pass.

O = Options

What are your options? What can you control? What resources, medical, financial aid, healthcare are available?

What you cannot control? Other people’s thoughts and actions.

V = Values

Where is your compass? What values guide your actions and activities?  How will you want to emerge from this?

I =Inspire

What inspires you? What meaning and purpose can you draw strength from?

D = Do

It takes 21 days to form a habit. What activities can you meaningful engage in? Form a routine? What is within your control? What is outside your control? Example, people’s opinions. Do what’s within your ability to control.

“Virtues and vices – like carpets and hats – obey the law of fashion, and at different times, society with infuriating inconsistency punishes or rewards the same trait.

What characteristic in Churchill, won him adulation and honors? The same characteristic that earned him censure: his love of war. He never changed, but the values of the world did.

And if the years before 1940 were a prelude, the years after the war were a long decline. In the 1945 election, even before Japan surrendered, Churchill was ejected from office. The public sensed in him the permanent relish for battle, and they wanted no more of it.

Ch13 Churchill’s Bellligerence, His Defining Characteristic from “Forty ways of looking at Churchill” by Gretchen Rubin.

Can our weakness be our strengths?

Is there such a thing as strength or weakness? Gretchen Rubin concluded Ch 12 with this observation “Churchill didn’t care what anyone else thought. He never shut up, he was rude, he was undignified. Churchill’s greatest fault was the fault of his greatest virtue. His disdain for other’s opinions gave him his own clear vision, and he saw what others missed. Willingness to consider all points of view can be a source of weakness as well as strength; in 1940, Churchill knew the true course and led the way without listening to anyone.”

Forty ways of looking at Churchill” by Gretchen Rubin.

My initial reaction to the PM’s announcement that the “circuit breaker” will be extended till 1 June 2020, was one of despondence. Failing to queue for my favourite bubble tea, I went to Chinatown to buy a box of plum wine roast chicken and Chinese roast duck. The food surprisingly tasted bland. The mind plays tricks on our desires.

Instead of mopping if an L shaped or W shaped recession awaits round the corner, what if I use the next 10 days as entering a meditative retreat, in my own home. Minus tv or news. Minus noise. Minus activity. Just deep breathing. Simple food. But

allowed to read and write.

allowed to walk.

allowed to listen

to me

Not judge.

Today, the government is serious, a fine of $300 will be imposed on anyone who defies safe distancing rules. I discover, during this period, that I’m a sociable Introvert. Telecommuting is not the heaven I imagine it to be.

In Singapore, we even have a dish that requires us to engage socially, the lo-hei, a raw dish salad dish that we toss and wish each other blessings. Networking is the oil which culture is passed. Covid-19 is spread across this networking.

I am digging up a book by Michael Lieberman, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect. Social anthropologists such as Dunbar have long hypothesized that a species’ brain size or its neocortex is a function of its social group. Most animals have brains in proportion to their body size – species with larger bodies often have larger brains. But humans have bigger brains, six times larger than that expected for our body size.

This has puzzled researchers, as the brain is draining resource – burning 20% of the body’s energy while accounting for only 4% of its mass.

As evolution tends to eliminate waste, how did humans evolve large, energy-consuming brains?

A dominant hypothesis suggests that challenging social interactions were the driving force. Ecological problems only lead to human-sized brains when individuals can keep learning hard skills as they grow. When individuals learn from allies their culturally accumulated knowledge, such as making fire. Mauricio González-Forero and those of others suggest that a hard ecology and the accumulation/ transmission of cultural knowledge socially could act in concert to produce a human sized brain.

Why do we need to connect? Whether you believe in evolution or are a creationist, research seems to point that human survival is wired for it.

There is a price tag on relationships. Studies on the brain’s reward center, which turns on when people feel pleasure, found that the brain’s reward centre was indeed more active when people gave $10 to charity than when they received $10.  Emily Esfahani Smith

But the law of nature demands that sometimes, we have to be alone. A caterpillar enters a cocoon stage before it transforms into a butterfly. To transform from the ordinary world to the world of adventure, a hero needs to cross the threshold of tension between safety and growth. There is an illusion of safety when we hold on the familiar. Or now, during covid-19 when being safe means to keep a social distance.

The path of transformation starts with recognising that the pull of the familiar which is no longer relevant.

  1. Know thyself. To embark on a hero’s journey of personal transformation, start with self knowledge. There are several tools you can try: Strengths based VIA, or Jung influenced 16 personalities. As Socrates puts it, “The unexamined life is not worth living”.
  2. Future Self. While most strengths based instruments look at your top 5 strengths, another use of the VIA, is to examine the bottom 5 strengths that are underutilised or ignored. In my case, it is “creativity”, “zest” and “leadership”. This period of isolation gives me the space to map out where I want to be one year from now and the road map to get there.
  3. Goal-setting. World renowned educator and business coach, Marshall Goldsmith, Career Coach suggests in “What got you here, won’t get you there”, that we ask 6 questions with our team, “Where are you going”, “Where are we going”, “What are some suggestions for improvement”, “How can I help”, “What are some suggestions for me to be a better manager”. Some goals to work on, could be to ask yourself daily questions. “Did I do my best today” to: be happy, have positive relationships, meaning work towards my goals. Take up courses at Linkedin Learning or learn UX at GA.
  4. Build Accountability. “In leading through relationships”, Leadership Imagineer,Simon Bailey suggests that you can either get a coach or an accountability partner to go on the journey with you on developing yourself. Meet via Skype or any technology platform.
  5. Virtual Watercooler. One of the things we miss about going to work is bumping into colleagues at the pantry, or popping into your boss office for a quick check-in. Or catch up on office gossip during lunch, or on the way to the washroom. All that is gone with WFH. Teams at General Assembly have moved their happy hours online, as that is part of social grooming which is a necessary part of working life and building company culture. Others have created online exercise time together.
  6. Transition. Before WFH, the commute time from work to home allows the brain to decompress and signal that we are entering a different space. With WFH, that demarcation is gone and the overspill can create some form of anxiety or stress. Go for a walk- with your mask on, or play some music. Visualise the evening or start a gratitude journal on how you’ve survived another day.

In the meantime, stay safe. Only two more weeks to go.

Photo credit: NL, Taxi drivers having a conversation while waiting for customers, Okinawa 2018

Paul wrote his epistles in prison

John wrote the book of Revelation isolated in Patmos caves

David wrote some Psalms while hiding in caves running away from King Saul.

The cave/ prison/pit isolation experience runs through the Old Testament and New Testament Bible.

Several of the world’s leading schools of faith record their founders receiving divine insights during periods of isolation/ retreat.

Shakespeare could have conceived/ wrote his major Tragedies between 1603 and 1613, when his powers as a writer were at their height. His theatre, “the Globe and other London playhouses were shut for an astonishing total of 78 months – more than 60% of the time. [“Shakespeare in Lockdown: Did he write King Lear in plague quarantine?” Andrew Dickson, The Guardian, 22 March 2020]

According to “Deng Xiaoping” by Ezra Vogel, Deng formulated plans how to reform China in his 3yrs, banished by boss to manual labor in the Jiangxi rural countryside. Deng, the chief architect of China’s economic rise, read late into the night, and worked in the factory by day, did housework in evening, looking after aged parents, crippled son and ill wife. He was 65 yrs old then, while younger men fell to depression.

President Nelson Mandela of South Africa spent 27 yrs in prison for protesting against apartheid, emerged to forgive those who put him there. “I found solitary confinement the most forbidding aspect of prison life. There was no end and no beginning; there is only one’s own mind, which can begin to play tricks.” He used the time as “university behind bars”. (Mandela death: How he survived 27 yrs in prision, Mike Wooldridge, BBC, 2013)

How will you emerge from the cave of covid-19 “safe distancing”?

“Your mind is the garden, 
your thoughts are the seeds,
the harvest can either be flowers or weeds.” Wordsworth

How to retyre, 7 May 2015