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I’ve noticed that word “should” appears a lot in my writing and in my everyday discussions. Too much, IMHO.

There is an embedded complaint in every “should” sentence, and also a baked-in excuse for why we don’t deliver the quality we want to. Oftentimes these are really good excuses and totally valid complaints! Still, it boils down to complaining and delivering work that is beneath our standards.

I don’t know about you, but personally I want no part of reinforcing such culturally-accepted norms. I believe we can do better, and I’m willing to work as hard as is needed toward that goal.

While I’ve been trying to catch myself and stop from using this particular word for some time now, it’s not easy. Occasionally I lapse, and the same sentiment comes out anyway, only maybe with different wording.

Constraints are real, dependencies matter, and we can only control what is within our control, but using these harsh truths as excuses for producing work that we’re not proud of is a choice. With your support, I’d like to make better choices than that.

YOU have my permission and encouragement to catch me here. I’m calling myself out to help hold the line I’d only privately held until now. Because I’ve seen that I do need help holding this line.

So please call me out if you see me falter. Extra bonus points if you can do so playfully, which is how I intend to receive your support. Thanks as always for helping me learn and develop myself, and not just tell other people how they should.

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I’m honored to be part of this fantastic panel on HR.com a week from today (December 7th) where we will be discussing how to evolve your learning strategy into a positive employee-centric experience!

This is not a typical presentation-focused webinar, but rather a dynamic and well-moderated discussion amongst experienced professionals in Learning & Development, Leadership, Talent Management, and more.

Do join us, won’t you?

Here’s the writeup:

The time is now to evolve your learning strategy into a positive employee centric experience.

Learning has been evolving alongside business for the past 2 decades. Skills training has shifted to individual development and in-person live multi-day workshops have gone to virtual and on-demand formats. While the “what and how” of learning has kept up with the demands of the business, the “why and who” seem to be lagging. An effective learning strategy focused on the employee experience might just be the magic wand needed to improve engagement and retention.

Much of what drives course content and offerings from the Learning and Development team are business needs and training requirements, which often change throughout the year. That leaves L&D to select content and formats that deliver expectations to the business in the most efficient way possible and in a timely manner. But other than checking-a-box to meet legal or mandatory requirements, how does learning help employees from the lens of the employee? No one is arguing that mandatory compliance training or required skills courses do not help employees, however the challenge with only having an HR owned learning strategy is that employees lose sight of what they need as individuals to be the best version of themselves.

We invite you to join us for a live discussion with a panel of L&D and Engagement experts who will share their experiences and recommendations on how to adopt a positive employee experience and employee centric approach to learning. In this session we will answer the following questions:

  1. What prevents L&D from putting learning decisions into the hands of the employee?
  2. How can we predict what development is needed for each employee to create a one size fits one strategy?
  3. What is the role of a leader in employee development?
  4. How can companies support new learning models with minimal costs and maximum impact?
  5. What is the best way to measure the impact of learning on engagement and retention?

In this session you will learn:

  • The critical elements of an effective and holistic learning strategy
  • Which types of learning content are most helpful in creating a positive employee experience
  • Ways to shift development responsibilities from HR to leaders and employees
  • The best way to measure employee engagement
  • Methods for creating just-in-time learning opportunities when and where they’re needed

Register yourself at: https://www.hr.com/en/webcasts_events/webcasts/upcoming_webcasts/when-will-we-learn-how-to-do-learning_kv9llf9d.html

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My sister got married last weekend. And I’m biased, but it was honestly one of the most perfect weddings I’ve ever been to, from start to finish! Part of my contribution was recording & editing this for the happy couple.

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I’m just back from my sister’s wedding — which was incredible by the way! One of the best weddings I’ve ever been to, and I’m sincerely happy for (and proud of!) the new bride & groom.

But while at the wedding, I heard the question a few times from family & friends I’d not seen in ages:
“How’s performing?”
“Are you still making music?”
“What ever happened to your One Mouth Band?”

Each time I made jokes about having the least COVID-friendly artform there is, because I’m literally spreading my mouth moisture and breath as far as is humanly possible. But the truth is that I haven’t been The One Mouth Band for a long time. I do miss it, yes. But not enough to start up again.

When I started performing solo a cappella, it was because I was working my way through school and it was simply difficult to coordinate singing with other people. Even as a teenager, I was super busy and super far from where anyone else in my group was. I made music by myself because I couldn’t not make music and there was no one else to do it with. Or I should say there was often no one around who was willing to make music with me, as back then I wasn’t very good. I’m naturally a good listener, but I wouldn’t say that I’m naturally a good performer. I had to work very hard to make what I heard in my head happen through my body.

Over time, through trial and error and a ton of embarrassing moments that I vowed never to repeat, I did get better. By the time I was 25, I was performing pretty regularly at open mics and local TV and radio, and occasionally getting paying gigs and recording albums. The idea wasn’t to keep singing by myself, but rather to become the musician I needed to be to sing with the people I wanted to sing with.

It worked.

I got good enough (and lucky enough) that by the time I was 30, I was singing with the idols of my youth backing me up at some of the most prestigious venues I could imagine! This is before everyone had cameras on their phones, so unfortunately I don’t have the documentation to show for it now. But trust me, it was frickin’ awesome :)

As I sang with groups like SoVoSo, The Irrationals, Acapplaya, RoShamBo, The Elements, and most recently Outta Da Vox, I kept working the solo thing too. I recorded and released my own solo albums, did my own solo gigs and toured & taught all over the world for many years as a solo act. I even competed & won awards in both international a cappella competitions and national beatboxing events! To my knowledge I’m the only person ever to do so.

Once I moved to Utah full-time (around 2017), I stopped trying to pursue this so hard though. I said “yes” when people asked me, and occasionally contributed to projects as it was convenient to me, but almost nothing was, because…Utah. While they have quite a bit of a cappella music here, they really have no idea what to do with me as a solo act. I tried many times, it just never once worked. Neither did singing with anyone else, as I have no musical friends here and (unlike every other place on the planet that I’ve ever visited) I haven’t been able to make any.

So gradually I did less and less singing, accepting invitations to provide musical support back in the San Francisco Bay Area up until my last show for my friend Alyssa DeCaro on 2/29/2020 — right before the world went crazy. Now, I don’t know when I will sing in public or even in private again.

Yes, I performed at my brother’s wedding years ago. No, I did not perform at my sister’s last weekend. I still keep making music to myself because I can’t not do that. Sometimes lyrics still spring forth, and occasionally they turn into fully-fledged songs and everything. But performing? Don’t really do that anymore, sorry.

Maybe someday The One Mouth Band will return.

I wonder what he’ll sing about? What would you like to hear from him?

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