Immersion, The Good, Bad and the Ugly!

Immersion is the concept of surrounding yourself with a given subject to concentrate on learning it.

The GOOD
The good is that immersion is a very efficient way of learning something. You can jam pack a lot of information in a very narrow window of time. Picking up the basics of a new language or skill is possible over a long weekend.

The BAD
Immersion usually occurs for a limited time. From a day to a few weeks, immersion is not something that you want to do for long. The learner risks burn-out as the human body needs to time break old habits and adjust to the new knowledge.

The UGLY
Immersion can overwhelm the learner. In such a short time, a lot of information gets thrown at you. While it is important to absorb as much information as possible, sometimes grasping the larger picture and concepts is all you can do.

My weekend at the Total Immersion swim clinic was definitely, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
1) It was good because I made huge improvements with my swim stroke.
2) It was bad because it was so short and I wish I had a little more than two days to grab all the information and absorb more detail.
3) It was ugly, by the end of the second day, my brain was so overwhelmed with information that it was almost exploded.

Have you ever tried immersion and experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly?

Collaboration, Do You Have It?

Collaboration.  It is a powerful word.

Cities are built on Collaboration.

Business rely on Collaboration.

The future of your career depends on Collaboration.

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”, some of the most intelligent people go untapped because of their isolation.  It seems the truly successful outliers were well connected with those that helped them take the steps toward world success. They had collaboration.

Collaboration is what you need to use to do anything large successfully.  Afterall, two heads are better than one.

If you don’t use it, you will find yourself in very different circumstances.

I think I will make that phone call to a friend that had a great idea to help our community.

How about you?  How are you going to collaborate today?

Improving My Cube: Further Thoughts

Now that the bonsai plant has survived it’s first full week in my cube, I am taking inspiration from it to a new level.   While I can’t reupolster the fabric on the cubicle walls, nor can I reconfigure the layout, I can start adding as many tasteful decorative objects as I feel necessary.

Taking further inspiration from my recent post, Components of a Comfortable Office, and thinking more about what I would enjoy, here is a list of potential additions:

Objects that have crossed my mind are:

– desk lamp

– water fountain

– additional plants

– artwork, (watercolor or oil painting)

– Fluval Edge with desert-scape

– large, artistic clock

While most people would pick a theme and start decorating around that theme, I am eccentric, so the stranger the mix, the better.

I am contemplating leaving it up to the social media world by having an Improve My Cube suggestion contest.  Those who suggested the top item for the week would be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card or similar gift.

What do you all think?  Do you want to help me Improve My Cube?

Why Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Will Succeed!

Starbucks is certainly a company that knows how to sell coffee.  Heck, it was Starbucks that helped save us from the percolated Folger’s of yester-year.  They even saved us from those coffee crystals that our grandparents swore by for years.

That is why many people are having a hard time with Starbucks’ new VIA Ready Brew instant coffee.  How dare the king of coffee take us back to the product that they saved us from.   However, this isn’t your grandparents’ coffee crystals.

Sure I was skeptical, but I ordered a pack of each flavor, Columbia and Italian Roast, from starbucksstore.com to get an early taste here in California.  As I tore open the stylish package and dumped it in the cup, I realized that there was something different about it.  It looked absolutely nothing like the instant coffee that is currently on the market… it looked like coffee.  Imagine that!

Adding the water and stirring it up produced a cup of coffee not that far from fresh brewed and without the wait.  Fresh brewed coffee, when done right, takes upwards of ten minutes to prepare (grind, heat water, pour, seep, taste, etc), but you can get something close in minutes with VIA.

So, why do I think VIA Ready Brew will succeed? Here are the major points:

1) It is a refreshing 21st century take on the old instant coffee of yester-year.

2) VIA looks nothing like what is on the market: from the awesome slender pocket friendly packaging to the real coffee look of the product.

3) VIA comes with the wonderful Starbucks buying experience that we love of their retail stores.  Baristas with smiles simply can’t compete with the grocery store clerk when you buy Folger’s.

4) The product has many uses: sprinkle it on ice cream, add it to a vinegrette or your favorite brownies to please any coffee lover

5) It is great to take with you.  The ultra-portable and stylish packaging fits in your pocket/purse and all you need is a cup and some hot water.  That stale workplace coffee will be getting even more stale with VIA Ready Brew in your cup!

While I was skeptical of VIA in the beginning, after spending one week with these little packets of awesome coffee goodness, I really think Starbucks have shaken up the instant coffee market by bringing us a pleasantly refreshed version of my grandparents hideous crystals.

What do you know… Starbucks has still saved us from instant coffee nightmares!

Improving My Cube: The New Bonsai Plant

Today, I bought a bonsai plant for my cubicle at work.  After writing Components of a Comfortable Office, I decided it was time to act and make my dreary tan and white cubicle at work a little nicer of a place to spend countless hours staring at my computer.

The first thing I did was clear the desktop of everything I haven’t touched in a week (filled the filing cabinet). I figure that if I do not need to find anything in the next month or two, I can just dump it all in the recycle/shred bin.

But then, the vast white space seemed a little too vast.  So, at “lunch,” I headed over to The Home Depot and purchased a bonsai plant (below) for $11.97.   I am a little skeptical as to how long it will live since there is no sunlight in my cube and the place is rather dry.

The $11.97 Bonsai Plant from The Home Depot

The $11.97 Bonsai Plant from The Home Depot

With the beginnings of a more comfortable cube in place, I will keep you posted as to how this develops.  I am thinking I need some dark cherry wood inserts, a zen garden, and a mock fireplace to really give it that custom look.

Those Incredibly Difficult Days

Every now and then we all have one of those days where we are always one step behind the world.  No matter how positive of an attitude we have, everything takes longer than it should, requires more effort than it should, and wears us down until there is nothing left.

Even when there is nothing left to give, look the day in the eye and build from it.  These incredibly difficult days are simply a means of testing our will power and our ability to run with the punches.  Analyzing the events that happened and learning from your reaction to them is where the true power lies.  The next day always shines!

Components of a Comfortable Office

As I begin considering a home office remodel, I have been looking at pictures of offices.  If a picture appeals to me, I try and figure out why.

Here are some of the things I’ve noticed:

1) Dark hardwood desk and cabinetry.

2) Clutter Free (indicates sufficient storage)

3) No Visible Accessories (printers, staplers, etc are hidden)

4) One to two plants

5) Decorative lighting including spot lighting and general task lighting

6) Ergo Chair

7) Creative use of wall space either for art or accessories including pens, whiteboard, etc.

What features of your office do you find essential and/or creative?