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First Thoughts

It's that time of year again. When we look back with nostalgia (or possibly shock?) that another year has passed. It's pretty easy to get caught up in the hullabaloo of the season (turns out Christmas is on the 25th this year! Who knew?!) So this month's theme is around intentionality and doing things 'on purpose.' 

So I thought I'd kick things off with a quick story about a guy named Griff. He's a flight attendant and *luvs* his job. During my most recent work trip, I was connecting through Baltimore and was fortunate enough to have Griff. We started off the trip with a prank on a new flight attendant, who was asked to page passenger 'Anita Mann.' (I'll give you a second to get the joke.) And the hilarity only escalated including an offer for passengers who can't help but smoke to step out on the wing of the plane so the rest of us can enjoy the feature presentation, "Gone With the Wind."

Griff didn't have to bring humor to work. He didn't have to stop and talk to passengers to make sure they were doing ok. He didn't have to find ways to make airline travel more enjoyable. But he chose to. He decided that if you're going to go to work, you should at least enjoy it and help others enjoy life too.

May we all be a little more like Griff.

Reader's Digest:

Creativity, Inc - Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace


  • How Pixar has systematized and replicated creative processes. It's not about genius or insight, it's about the free-flow exchange of ideas
  • The concept of the Brain Trust needs to be implemented in every organization. Yesterday. Imagine if your office, school, or PLC had this kind of open, honest dialogue and feedback systems...
  • Pixar utilizes 'research trips' before any story creation has begun as a means to give them more foundational knowledge to work with. I can't help but wonder how this kind of intentionality in the creative process could help schools struggling to infuse creativity into their classrooms... 
  • Many educators are getting on-board with EdCamps, informal learning gatherings with no set agenda. In 2013, Pixar implemented something that I see as very similar called Notes Day. The kinds of actionable follow-up questions and strong facilitation utilized could be part of EdCamp 2.0? 

Key Quotes:

“Easy isn't the goal, quality is... Ease isn't the goal, excellence is."

"If there is more truth in the hallways than in meetings, then YOU (the leader) have a problem."

For a far more thoughtful reflection on the book, please read John Spencer's fabulous post. You can also buy the book here.

Around the Web

Jason Does Stuff

Generally speaking, you should just subscribe to this blog. Super practical and easy to relate to. This post, however, really caught my eye. The title is Why You Need Limitations and Constraints.

Key Quote:

"A tool should be just that—a tool. It should have just the amount of features necessary to get the job done. When you have the right tool, it fades into the background and allows you to focus on the task at hand."

Worth a Listen:


Long one of my go-tos for productivity, this tool allows you to choose the genre and then it goes to work blending into the background, helping you center in and really focus on the task at hand. Great for noisy offices (with headphones, of course.)


An app as well as a website, this tool re-creates the ambient noise you might find in a coffee shop. When you don't want to listen to music, but a totally quiet space is just as disruptive...

Just for fun:

The holidays (generally) mean some downtime, away from work and spending some quality time with those you love. If you're anything like me, though, it can be tough to find things to do that don't break the bank but still result in quality time together. (Hint: you can only go to so many movies, where you sit in a dark room and don't talk to anyone...)

So, why not play a game? Here are some thought-provoking games that are sure to stimulate conversation. And some to challenge social issues (because can it really be quality time if social issues aren't discussed?) Just don't respond to every question like this.

A Small Request

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