The week is almost over…and it’s been one of epic proportions. I’m so glad the day is almost over. I’m so glad that tomorrow, my day will end early and allow me 5 whole days to unwind and reflect and relax. To disconnect from work. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but when you’ve spent the last 4 months effectively trying to drink from a fire hose of information, you come to a point when you just need to disconnect.
This week was filled with a workshop for MBA student graduates. New hires that go through a pretty intense program to get them from being a graduate – to being a valuable company player in 2 years. It’s pretty intense. The subject for the workshop was teaching them to think strategically and innovatively. It focuses on the art of asking open ended questions, of brainstorming, and then working through a process to solve a problem rather than just immediately trying to solve for it. I’ll admit, it’s a process very near and dear to my heart and one I’ve taught many of my teams over the years. I was excited to see how they would approach teaching these 100 students.
Random side note: The event was catered..and today – they had the cutest miniature desserts. Had to share with you all. 🙂 It’s hard to tell – but these things are TINY. the pies were about the size of a thumb. So adorably cute – not to mention amazingly tasty.
What I wasn’t prepared for, was how much speaking I’d have to do. How much leading and questioning and pushing I’d have to do. I thrive in that environment though. I did what I tend to do… disarm them, make them comfortable, make them laugh, and then make them question every statement or idea they through out there. 🙂 Every hour, they’d go around the room and ask who asked the most profound question – and every dang hour they’d all point at me. Made me laugh. One of my co-workers chimed in and said – Gee Jen, it’s as if you’ve done this before! hehe… you think? 🙂 But when I went home last night, I had a thought. This is something I’ve participated in now many times, over the course of different companies and situations. And it’s something I absolutely LOVE. And I find that every time I’ve seen someone else teach it – I get frustrated by the fact that they so often miss a few key strategies that I’ve adopted over the years. Maybe it’s a calling.. a sign that I need to consider teaching one of these courses myself. I love to teach, the students all gave me some amazing feedback that really helped me see that maybe I’m not wrong.
I met a man a few years back who teaches a similar course to teams. He’d focus on systems thinking and getting these teams to work together, he’d teach them brainstorming techniques and strategy techniques. He was hired by companies all over the world, traveled all over the world teaching his techniques. He was retired and during a break, he told me that he made more in retirement doing this kind of work than he ever did in his career. It’s tempting. It’s tempting to try and see what it would take to do this for a business. To go to companies like facebook and Samsung and T-Mobile and Microsoft and teach my style, my process and way of breaking things down… I wish I knew what these other companies charge for these workshops. I’ve worked with many companies doing these types of exercises and workshops. I’ve worked with IDEO, Teague, Frog design, I’ve worked with T-Mobile, and I’ve of course worked with Microsoft…. and over the years, my process has morphed and changed to get better. I’ve helped many teams build their strategy and plan their vision. It’s a skill I’ve honed and a task that I get very energized and fired up about. I’ve been told I am a great teacher, I always find a way to break down complicated things in ways people understand, I can speak their language. Funny, when I closed my small business 5 years ago, I said I’d never do it again. I’d never be a small business owner again and wear all the hats that you have to wear. Yes, I was successful, my business was successful for just under 6 years, but I was burnt out. But here I am, seriously considering it again. 🙂