March 5, 2018

I was recently asked by a potential client - "What do you stand for as a speaker?" and I thought - man that's a great question. Luckily I have been pondering this for awhile and thought - maybe people really don't know what I stand for. So here goes. I have spent a lifetime creating learning and development programs that make leaders better. My goal is to make every organization I work for or consult with or speak to have measurably better leaders when I am done with them. I stand for leadership that's different than traditional models and it comes from years of experience in which I've taken my Military time, corporate time and consulting time and mixed them all together and then created something unique. I have been a successful leader for a reason. I care deeply about the development of my peop...

January 23, 2018

With apologies to "Crash" Davis and the rest of the characters in Bull Durham - I'd like to tell you my Leadership (and other topical) Beliefs in bullet form:

  • I believe that life is not a cat poster - if you need a cat poster to get you motivated, you may want to look internally at what you are doing and pick a new career.

  • I believe you put people first - always.

  • I believe you take complete accountability when your team messes up and you give all the credit when they do well.

  • I believe that Lee Harvey was part of a bigger conspiracy. Yeah I said it...

  • I believe that your people do not need to hate you or fear you to perform for you. I have always done better because people WANT to do well for me rather than HAVE to do well to keep their jobs.

  • I believe in raises fo...

December 8, 2017

Today is the 37th anniversary of the death of John Lennon. Hard to believe he has been gone now almost as long as he was alive. I've always been a big admirer of his songs and charity work and IMAGINE is still one of my favorite songs to this day. So in honor of the late great Beatle and solo artist, I thought I'd IMAGINE the world being different with a few ideas of my own:

  • Imagine skinny jeans on men being banned forever. It's easy if you try...

  • Imagine using these three words - End Childhood Hunger (Author's Note: Get to know Share Our Strength - GREAT organization)

  • Imagine that every Monday was a holiday. That way we never have to hear either of the following two phrases again: a. "I hate Mondays" (Yeah, We all do. No need to keep saying it...) and b. "Happy Monday" (Usually spewe...

October 18, 2017

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “So, John, you’ve got these laws, and we have to admit, they are incredible! But what if a training scenario doesn’t quite fit your laws?” Well, I’m glad you asked incredibly perceptive, if not entirely random, readers. And the answer is:  you have to break the rules. That’s right, I said it! I know. I’m a renegade. A bad seed. A rebel with a blog and microphone. 

Ok, maybe that’s taking it a bit too far, but the truth is, there are times when the rules really don’t make sense for your training situation. That’s why the 8th and final rule in this series is “The Law Of Break The Rules."  Maybe there are times when a binder is needed. I can’t for the life of me think of one, but maybe?  There will definitely be times when the learne...

September 19, 2017

“This is the true story... of seven strangers... picked to live in a house... and have their lives taped... to find out what happens... when people stop being polite... and start getting real...The Real World.” Nope. Not that “Real World” from MTV.  Although many times in a management training program we take 2 strangers and put them in a hotel room for several weeks without seeing their family while witnessing each other’s annoying habits usually reserved for one’s own personal life. That’s when we find out who sucks as a roommate and who doesn’t! It’s not a reality TV series but definitely a not-so-awesome reality of some long term training programs.  

No, for the purposes of today’s blog entry, The Law of Real World pertains to making sure that the training we are giving, the exam...

September 7, 2017

While this law sounds like a western horror film about a ghost sheriff, I assure you that no sheriffs were hurt in the making of this blog. Let’s take a trip back in time.  Do you remember when you were in school?  For some of you, I’m actually asking that question – do you remember?  You were pretty wild back then and it might just be a blur.  For the rest of us who actually remember school, think back on taking the dreaded “finals” or final exams.  Everyone, including me, was cramming in as much studying (along with as much coffee, Jolt Cola and/or NoDoz) as humanly possible the week (or night) before the exam.  Most of the time you just concentrated on things taught much earlier in the semester because the recent material was much easier to remember. So basically what I’m saying is what you had...

August 22, 2017

Do you realize how much pressure there is on the person who is writing the Law of Fun? You gotta bring your "A" Game if you are going to write about fun, but can we get real for a second? Training is not always fun. There it is. I said it. Most of the time in fact, training is a chore. It's often something you HAVE to do, not anything you WANT to do. If you have been reading this series, you know that the better and more compelling you make your training programs, the more people will have the desire to learn what you are teaching (if you have not read the previous blogs, please feel free to go back and read those as well.  Go on. We’ll wait.). In this law we take the Law of Desire and we turn it up hotter than that habanero pepper that you bit into that one time because your friend swore it wasn’...

August 14, 2017

Before we get started, I want everyone reading this blog to take their mind out of the gutter. I realize that the Law of Desire sounds like a cheesy paperback novel you’d find on your mom’s nightstand with a picture of Fabio (is he still relevant?) and a half dressed woman on it. However, there is no law more foundational to adult learning than the Law of Desire. The cool thing about this law is it covers both the people who are learning and the people who are training, but in uniquely different ways.  Let’s talk about the learner first. 

There’s an old adage that states “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I love this saying but who knew it was so ambiguous and arguable?  Whether you believe it has its roots in Confucianism, Theosophism, or Buddha himself (somebody did s...

August 4, 2017

The ironic thing about the Law of Brevity is the word brevity itself. In its essence, it means short, compact, and concise. So it’s a longer word for “short,” but it means to keep it short? Okay, but for our purposes The Law of Brevity is a fancy way to say, keep your training programs and learning initiatives short & concise. Also, it sounds way better than The “Law of Short."

There are 2 parts to this law.  The first part is to say only what needs to be said. When I first got into training in the Air Force, I was pretty young.  I always felt like I had to prove myself. I might not have had the years of experience that some of my trainees had, but dang it I was going to show them how smart I was. I would talk as if they were only there to listen to me!  Then one day, Colonel Zerby, my Unit Command...

July 27, 2017

If I were ever in a position to strike phrases from the English Language, the first one I’d strike would be, “Hold on, I need to take a selfie,” followed next by, “Where are my skinny jeans?” and the cringe inducing “Because we’ve always done it that way.” Somewhere on that list though, and probably more appropriate for this conversation, I’d also like to get rid of the phrase “At the risk of repeating myself…” I don’t think there is any risk at all in repeating yourself.  It turns out that in today’s world of short attention spans and constant distractions, most likely no one was listening to you the first time anyway so it’s probably worth repeating.

Now I’m not saying you should repeat yourself over and over like my Uncle Dave after he’s had a bunch of his “special coffee” at a family reunion. I...

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The Learning Curve Blog - Musings On Life, Learning & Leadership

John Isbell is a Speaker, Writer, Emcee/Host,  Adult Learning Specialist, & Consultant 

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