Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Culture Code

I recently finished my first book from the Next Big Idea Book Club - The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle.  I had this book on my Amazon wish list before I joined the book club so I was excited to start reading. 

Coyle researched high performing groups to discover what makes their culture great.  He came up with three components of excellent culture: build safety, share vulnerability, and establish purpose. In each section Coyle tells stories, share principals, offers detailed how tos and ends with ideas for action. 

In the building safety section, Coyle talks about the importance of belonging cues. When we feel that we belong, we feel safe.  "Belonging cues are behaviors that create safe connections in groups." These cues are nonverbal body language things - eye contact, proximity and like.  They aren't isolated events, the cues are given off constantly. 

A common misconception is that you have to trust some one before they can be vulnerable with you.  Coyle debunks this and offers that vulnerability can lead to trust.  Vulnerability loops are opportunities for group members to share weaknesses with each other.  A leader can built a strong culture by being vulnerable enough to say "I screwed that up". Coyle believes it's the most important thing a leader can say. 

Crafting purpose is the final portion of Coyle's book.  As a leader, you are responsible for helping group members understand what they are working for.  Coyle cited a survey that said that only 2% of employees could name the top three priorities of their company. That was surprising to me. 

My favorite part of the book was the Ideas of Action chapters at the end of each section.  I would review my highlights from the section and the action items offered and make a list of things I could do in my organizations to improve the culture.  I really loved the benefits of being in the book club.  There is a Facebook group to discuss ideas as we read and a Facebook live with the author.  The book also came with a study guide.  And there's a member's only section of the website with additional materials.  I haven't had a chance to watch all the videos but I'm excited to see them and deeper my understanding of the concepts. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Petting Sitting

Over spring break, B started his pet sitting business.  He had two customers: Susan the hedgehog and Buckets the dog. 

Susan is the classroom pet for a teacher at my school.  Susan is young and Dr. Stovall needed help socializing her.  Hedgehogs are nocturnal and hiss when they are disrupted during the day. This is not great for a class pet since the kids want to interact with her during the day. So B was to take her out and play with her to get her used to people.  B really loved this, and the fact that she didn't nip like Peppermint. 
Bringing Susan home - she's all buckled in!

Dr. Stovall gave B a list of directions and a time table for playing with Susan.  He was very diligent about turning on her lamp, scooping her litter and getting her fresh water each morning.  Her running wheel also needed to be cleaned each morning but that job feel to me.  Every evening he shut his bedroom door and took Susan out to play.  I even got to join in a few days.
Playtime with Susan

Monday morning we took Susan back to school.  B got to stay and talk to Dr. Stovall's 1st period class about playing with Susan.  He was super psyched about that!

Dr Stovall & B

Buckets is B's cousin's dog.  B's job was to go to Bucket's house everyday and play with him. B also took this very seriously.  At the appointed time each day, he'd come running up and remind me it was time to go play with Buckets.  He also watered the plants at Bucket's house.  

Buckets is tired!

I'm very pleased with B's first foray into business.  He took it very seriously and did a great job! I enjoyed being his assistant.  My job was to clean Susan's wheel and drive him to Bucket's.  I'll be honest, cleaning the wheel was not fun but I loved spending time with B.  My boy wants to run a business and now I know he means business!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Leprechaun Trap

B-man is a fan of setting leprechaun traps.  The trouble is that he likes to make them when it's not St. Patrick's day.  As you might imagine, this causes a lot of consternation. This year I decided to be proactive about reminding him that St. Patrick's Day was coming and making a plan. 

I found a recipe for leprechaun bait on facebook and gathered the ingredients while he was with Nene last week.  This way I could get just what was needed for the recipe with no debate AND he'd be happy.  And I was so right! He was so excited to make the bait.  


He was so excited that he set up the trap super early.  Like Friday afternoon early.  He was not thrilled when I told him he had to take it down.  It involved chewed gum on my kitchen island.  He did remember to set the trap Friday night.

Unfortunately, he didn't catch a leprechaun.  Which is sad because he was going to ask the leprechaun for super powers with his wish.  I could use some super powers around here.  However, the bait was gone, green and chocolate coins were left in it's place.  That's closer than B's ever gotten!

Maybe next year!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Time with the Bigs

It's Spring Break, y'all.  It's been nice and sunny.  We haven't done much of anything.  Perfection.  I didn't have big plans but I did want to make sure I did get some time alone with the big boys.  

Sam had a baseball game Tuesday afternoon.  My momma took B-man home with her after the game.  The Bigs and I planned to go to see Black Panther then they wanted to set up their video games in the living room.  

As usual, things did not go as planned.  

I didn't pre-purchase tickets because I wasn't sure what time Sam's game would be over and I didn't think I needed to.  Wrong.  There were not three seats together.  We were starving so we decided to go eat at Cheddars and make a plan.  

After we downed some yummy Cheddar cheese fries, I wanted to take this selfie.  It took a while because I was trying to make sure Zac didn't look like he was glowing.  This prompted some "don't be that mom" comments.  I responded with more selfies.

Zac was cooperative. Sam not so much.  He tried to keep me from even getting into his side of the booth.  Of course, that made me try harder and act cheesier.  We stuffed ourselves and decided to just go home.  

We stopped at the grocery store for brownie mix and cookie dough on the way home, though.  

The boys did set up their video games in the living room.  Their favorite game right now is Fortnight.  Because the creators are evil geniuses, only one person can play per console.  They could not play together.  They did end up playing a WWII game together, against each other.  


What I really loved about spending time with my big boys, was listening to them.  I love listening to them talk to each other about football, video games and a ton of other ridiculous things.  I loved listening to them to talk to the random people on their video games.  I loved talking to them about goofy things.  I learned they are more like Ryan and I than I realized.  Given the opportunity, we'd much rather hang at home.  The boys too.  We're big fans of naps, the boys too.  We took a nap break between eating and video gaming.  

I worked really hard to stay present during my time with the Bigs.  Even when I wasn't in the conversation, I listened and watch them. I'm super aware that my time with them at home is fleeting.  But, I'm not going to think about that.  I'm going to think about our fun, goofy time together.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Long Way Down

how awesome is that cover?
I read a lot of nonfiction.  And I love it.  I'm a total geek so I love to learn from nonfiction and see what I can apply to my life. 

I'm also a librarian at a middle school so I process all the books coming into the library.  I also follow authors on Twitter so I can keep up with trends and new releases.  So, I've known about Jason Reynolds for a few months now.  When I first started following him on Twitter, I loved (and still love) that his bio says he loves his mama.  Then I saw his interview with Trevor Noah for the Daily Show and I loved him even more. 

He read his first novel at age 17 and has become a very prolific writer.  He writes for middle school kids and high school kids.  At the middle school we have his track series - Ghost, Patina, and Sunny.  These book tell the stories of kids on an elite track team. 

When I saw that our high school got Long Way Down, I took it home to read it for myself. 

Wow! Can I just say Wow!?

First of all, the book is written in verse.  Free verse.  It doesn't rhyme.  But it flows.  It flows beautifully.  And it flows quickly.  I read it one day.  Two sittings just because I left to go to the musicals. 

Long Way Down tells the story of Will, who's brother Shawn has been killed the day before.  Will follows "the rules" and decides that he needs to take care of the person he thinks killed his brother. He gets the elevator and gets another shock all together. The long elevator ride mirrors the long trail of violence that has led to this moment.  Will meets people he's known and loved who are a part of this string of violence.  Will must confront the question: will he perpetuate the violence?

Long Way Down has won a number of awards. 

The biggest award in my book is that I recommended it to my 14 year old.  And he read it in 1 day as well.  And we got to discuss it.  He even noticed that the author bio on the back flap is also written in free verse.  My momma-librarian heart fluttered.

And I did learn. I learned about a boy who is grappling with himself in the face of violence.  I'm a white 40-something woman in a suburban bubble.  I need to learn abut people outside of my bubble.  So do my boys and so do my students.  The more we learn about other people, the more empathic we can be.  Empathy leads to understanding.  And maybe the gap closes a little more.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dallas Summer Musicals

Once a month, I put on make up and an actual outfit on a Saturday.  My momma comes over and we drive down to Fair Park.  I plan around these Saturdays.  Nothing else gets planned on those days.  I really love these days.  I guess I should slow down, we've only done this twice.  But still, I love them.

You see, Momma and I got season tickets to the Dallas Summer Musicals.  For years I thought I'd be a real grown up when I had DSM summer musicals.  I'd finally feel cultured and refined. I'd be fancy. 

So far we've seen The Color Purple and On Your Feet.  They were not on my top musicals to see bucket list.  But gracious, they were good!

In both musicals I have been fascinated by the setting and scene changes.  The Color Purple had a multi-tiered platform and 3 tall panels with chairs on them.  The actors used small props to transport us to their world and different locations.  On Your Feet was more elaborate.  They also had 3 tall panels but they utilized computer graphics projected onto the panels to tell their story.  The backdrop was changed digitally as well. On Your Feet also had a slider (I'm sure that's not the official name) on each side of the stage.  The slider would bring out furniture to help tell their story. 

I am a fan of creativity and creative people.  Musicals highlight so many creative people.  Writers, musicians, performers, costume designers, set designers...I could go on an on.  It's so cool to spend an afternoon with my momma celebrating their creativity. 

I will confess, there have been moments that I felt a little like the country mouse coming to the city.  After The Color Purple, I thought I'd find a better way out of Fair Park.  Nope, I ended up driving around for 10 minutes then had to get right in the long line I'd been trying to avoid. 

This past Saturday, I really struggled.  I had received an email about the dining choices at the theatre a couple of weeks ago.  I decided to try pre-ordering food for intermission.  I went back to the email Thursday and visited the website.  I was looking for a way to pre-order through the website. I couldn't find it so I sent an email.  I didn't understand the answer I received so I had to ask more questions.  Turns out I needed to pre-order at the theatre before the show started. 

We got to the theatre early this week. We wandered around looking for the pre-order spot.  When I finally asked, I realized we had walked right based it.  We ordered then headed to our seats.  At intermission, Momma stayed in her seat and I ran down the get the food.  I was shown to a set table.  Oops! For some reason I thought I'd be picking up food and taking it back to our seats.  Nope, you go down to the restaurant to sit and eat.  So, I ran back up to our balcony seats to get Momma. We ate our fancy snack and had plenty of time to get back to our seats. 

I'm not feeling super fancy so far but I am loving spending time with Momma and seeing some awesome musicals! 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Next Big Idea Book Club

I think we can all agree on 3 things:
1. I love to read
2. I'm a huge nerd
3. 1 & 2 are super awesome

And maybe #4 - I do love to follow authors on Twitter and can fangirl from time to time.  Such a thing happened in December.  Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, posted about a new book club on Twitter.  The Next Big Idea Book club would be curated by her, Dan Pink, Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Grant. 

You know from yesterday's post of my admiration for Dan Pink. Malcolm Gladwell is in that same category.  I have all his books.  I also love to relisten to his audiobooks - he reads them.  I had just finished reading Adam Grant's book Give and Take when I saw Susan's tweet.

The club is a subscription box of sorts.  You get 2 hardcover books every 3 months, access to video content and e-courses and 2 books are given to students for each subscription.  Needless to say, this seemed right up my alley.

But, I didn't immediately sign up.  Honestly, I did not want to spend the money.  But I kept seeing tweets and getting emails about it.  When I saw that I could pay quarterly (as opposed to all at once), I was in.

A few weeks ago, I got my first box.  The first two books are The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle - a book that was on my amazon wish list - and Endurance by Alex Hutchinson.  The box also included instructions to access the bonus materials and Facebook group. 

I was very impressed with the box itself.  I love attention the attention to detail.  If they designed such a great box, I'm confident that they'll pick excellent books.  So far so good in that area, I'm really liking The Culture Code. The Facebook group is awesome too, fellow nerds talking about books.  What's not to like!?!

You can learn more about The Next Big Idea Book Club here.