Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Slide 29 Stole the Show

Slides for a 15-minute presentation at People's Park Baptist Church last weekend:

Lights On, Camera Off - Action

The Dark Knight was about choices. It was about the true definition of a hero. It was about evil being tied to and maybe a 'part of' good. It was about being hunted so others could glorify a version of the great evil-hunter. It was about giving up what one holds dearest.

The Dark Knight, like all great movies, generates loads of conversational topics. We love to talk about it, weeks after seeing the show.

What we could do more of - and could certainly gain from - is to take some action. Maybe we can ask ourselves, "After watching the movie...
  • What is one issue I'll read up (more) of? And teach someone else?
  • What is one place I'll visit? And what would I hope to achieve by going there?
  • What is one person I'll talk to, or talk to more?
  • What is one aspect of my behaviour I'll change?
  • What is one way my contributions at work can improve?

The Main Thing About Rapport

If he speaks with vibrant gestures, add some gusto your own hand movements. If her eye-brows are always darting up when she speaks, don't act like your best friend just died (and if her best friend just passed, don't act like you've won the Amazing Race). If their hands are on their hips, try the power position, too. If they're smiling a lot, smile back. Often.

Some people are great at building and sustaining rapport. The rest of us need a tutorial every now and then (especially during those times we wondered why the conversation didn't seem to be going anywhere).

And yet the main thing about rapport is simple: Do what the other party is doing.

Make It Worth The Interruption

Think about the individuals or groups you interrupt everyday or week. Be it via email or in the hallway or from the podium or on the phone.

People are busy. We're all swimming in an ocean of clutter. Attention is a depleting resource.

So when people you deal and intereact with allow their time to be interrupted by whatever it is you wish to communicate, they're certainly expecting something worthwhile in return.

How often we do interrupt people in a day? Are these good folks obligated to have their lives stopped in their tracks by you? And even if they are, would they remember the intervention as something delightful or something they wish never happened?

Do they secretly wish you haven't interrupted? (You'll never know for sure - unless they tell you - but it's no harm asking) Would they prefer another form of interruption?

The $60,000 question: What would make people eagerly long for your interruption?

Critical Point About Power-Point

Your slides must evoke emotion.

That's the No.1 priority. Nothing else matters.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Anwar & Shabery: An Alternative Agenda

A reimagined agenda on the Great Oil Price Debate two weeks back:

1. Shabery to introduce Anwar (as a friend would)

2. Anwar to introduce Shabery (likewise)

3. Shabery and Anwar to mutually explore the positive effects and future potential of the fuel hike (Johan Jaafar and his team can plot the points on a high-tech mind-map behind them)

4. Shabery and Anwar to mutually explore the detrimental effects and future dangers of the fuel hike (Johan & Co. to continue in full force)

5. Shabery and Anwar to mutually discuss ways to :
  • consolidate the good results of the fuel hike and reap the rewards (which may or may not include the further raising of prices)
  • minimize the negative consequences and cut-off impending danger (which may or may not include restoring fuel subsidies)

6. Johan Jaafar to fine-tune and publish the finalised mind-map online and in the press

Now, wouldn't this be more helpful? Unfortunately, parallel thinking - despite its simplicity and greater efficiency of ideas - is usually too radical for high-tension issues.

And thus it goes untried. Even by the good guys.

Monday, July 28, 2008

To Know What's Wanted Again and Again

My son has a habit of making sure I know he's delighted with something I did. If I do a strange dance or mix-up some of his nursery songs or make a funny sound or race him to our apartment door, he inevitably says, "Again!"

The role of a parent, therefore, comes fitted with the ability to know exactly what the beneficiaries of the role desire (sometimes it helps to know; at other times, especially when you're dead tired, it doesn't).

The role of a service provider or a pastor or a teacher, on the other hand, doesn't have as spontaneous a "want identifier". The people we serve don't naturally say, "Again!"

On occasion they do, but even then it's never that straight-forward. Most of the time, we have to figure it out. Winners work on it as a habit and align their delivery with their findings. The rest continue doing what they're doing, oblivious to the silent and hinted "Again!'s" of the ones they most need to listen to.

So we should ask ourselves: What can be done, and is much desired, again? And again...and again?

Create Excitement When None is Expected (T.G.I.M.)

What does the entertainment industry and church ministry have in common?

They're both busiest during weekends. And, for pastors at least, relatively easy on Monday. For the rest of us, weekends bring the blue skies and, sigh, Monday just brings the blues.

Surprisingly, I've yet to come across many (any?) products or services which help consumers look forward to Mondays. Creating a Monday equivalent to T.G.I.F. could be one of the last few untapped areas all industries can play in.

So the question is: What can you give your customers (or congregation or readers or subscribers or callers or shoppers or just anybody who you deal with) on a Monday, to make them remember you with eager elation on a Sunday evening?

How about reduced international call charges on Monday, so both you and your long-distance girlfriend can make Monday a Hear-Your-Voice day?

How about regularly showing videos for classes on Monday morning, until students have it etched in their mental timetables that the morning after weekends is 'Cool Video Clip' day?

How about setting an extra 10% discount or a Buy-3-get-3-Free on selected Mondays, so book buyers (or buyers of any standard $100-ish retail product) may actually jump out of bed with a skip in their step on Mon morning?

How about a free blood test on Monday (applicable to only the first 40 registrants by the preceding Tuesday)?

Or how about lowering movie ticket prices on Monday instead of Wednesdays?

The principle is about spot-lighting a mundane exigency and creating an opportunity to satisfy. When you give people a reason to be excited about you (great Monday promotions) in the context of something un-exciting (Monday blues), chances are you'll stand out from the rest. On all days.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Where is your Idea Notepad?

Graphic designer John Maeda photographs anything interesting he comes across. Jackie Chan keeps a small notebook in his pocket everywhere he goes. Zig Ziglar recommended putting pen and paper at bedside to capture those sudden dreamy inspirations. Microsoft has - after half a dozen Windows releases - finally thrown in sidebar Notes for Vista. Sivin Kit carries around post-it notes (first guy I've seen who does it).

Good ideas come and go. Naturally, they tend to go faster if we don't store them effectively when they come.

More importantly, ideas tend to disappear really quick when we don't recognise the need to capture them for future recall i.e. we don't even want to note it down.

Unfortunately, we can't control the timing of Eureka moments. If you're at office, capturing ideas is easy. But what if you're in the train, in a restaurant, shopping for groceries or taking a walk?

One has to be ready at almost all times (and whilst I think putting a marker pen with water-proof, but self-disappearing, ink in the bathroom is a little overkill, if it helps and your family doesn't mind, why not?).

With the advent of fancy palm-top organisers and Black Berries, this shouldn't be a problem (except I wonder how many use these devices to capture unexpectedly brainy in-comings).

Or, you can do a Jackie Chan and bring notepad and pen everywhere you go.

Easier alternative? Use your mobile's Reminder function. I do.

Fan the Mind's Full Flame

Our brains are like huge organisations where only selected divisions are functioning well. We must recover and (re)use our mind's full scope of abilities.

Infants and toddlers receive stimulations from all sources (tactile, audio, visual, the works) to open and vitalise as many neural channels as possible. At (a good) school, students are taught subjects as diverse as Art, Science, Languages and Dance. Patients at risk of Alzheimer's are told to exercise more areas of their brains.

And, yet, what are we 9 to 5-ers doing to maintain the full-dimensional use of our minds? Many of us perform the same activities which drive the same neural-cycles for hours a day, day in and day out.

This is the bane of specialisation and expertise: our minds turn a little mono-sided. We progressively nurture the under-use of our brains.

But when the opposite happens - when half dormant, itchy, shifty, yearning-for-arousal neurons come to life - pleasure follows.

Ditto the popularity of Sudoku (for non-Maths people). Ditto the joy of cooking (for the busy exec cum mum). Ditto the rise of fitness clubs (for folks stuck in a cubicle all day). Ditto the practice of doodling at work (for the high-school artist turned Marketing VP). Ditto enjoying friends who bring with them a different set of conversations from the kinds that happen at work.

All welcomed sparks of a steady flame we could fan on a regular basis. And we should fan it.

Maybe we could take a drive to a place we've never been or try a completely unfamiliar product.

Maybe we should take a break from the Epistles and spend a few weeks with Ecclesiastes.

Maybe we can talk to the wannabe heretic who's ideas are creating some awkwardness in the nice respected church community.

Maybe we can practice abstract, impressionistic art. Or try the paint-batik-by-number tool-kits (MPH has loads of it). Real fun.

Maybe we should call up some friends we haven't spoken to in months.

Maybe we should blog on the Environment instead of Politics. Or Marketing instead of Theology.

Maybe we should try the crossword or "Who Dun It?" puzzles in the papers. Or Sudoku.

Maybe we could take up prayer. I heard this kick-starts a couple of grey matter areas, too.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Learn The Mövenpick Trick

My family occasionally trots into Marché Mövenpick for a special-occasion dinner. We only go about three times a year. Yet each time I inevitably ask myself, "Now why do I keep coming back?"

I mean, the food is tasty but isn't exactly top-class. Furthermore, the prices are suspect: Paying RM9 for a small bowl of sauteed mushrooms feels a little wrong (which leads me to reflect on why I have less trouble paying RM11 for a Latte Grande at Starbucks).

But if the product and its competitiveness are only so-so, why hasn't it closed down yet? Why was it more than 80% full this evening?

The solution undoubtedly has to do with its ordering system. All guests are given a 'passport' which they are required to produce when they go to any one of the ten or so 'national counters', each serving different kinds of food. You order your food, they serve it to you and stamp your passport: Walk And Stamp (W.A.S.).

W.A.S. gives people an active role to play. A role in turn gives customers something to talk about. A conversation spurs interest and (slight) suspense when you friends look and ask what you brought back from the spread. And when you're done, the conversation resumes: What are you getting next? Waffles? Pies?

In a word, the W.A.S. system - not unlike a buffet system - creates continuous attention and conversations which otherwise wouldn't be there.

Everyone likes to talk about what they're doing. If the point of conversation if your product or service, and the talk is generally excitable and positive, voilà!

The trick is to give them a reason to do so on their own accord. Let people talk without you asking or reminding them to. Marché Mövenpick excels at this, and proves it's much more than a restaurant dressed up as a market.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Do It For Free, Skip the Samples

Samples are one thing. Free stuff is another.

There's a difference between saying, "Here's something I want you to try to see if you like for future purchases," and saying, "Here's a gift I hope will benefit you. If you like it, please call me and we can discuss more ways to help you."

One appears gimmicky, another benevolent. One is an isolated impersonal event, another initiates a relationship-building process. One is a shot in the dark (at the market), another is a shot at the heart (of a potential client).

This is why giving a free box of candies to customers is usually more effective in drawing clients than a person standing at the corner serving free candy bites. One's an unconditional invitation; the other's a feeler.

This is why offering an upcoming book F.O.C. to selected influential readers (and requesting them to spread the word) is, by and large, a better strategy than giving everyone sample chapters. Because a targeted freebie is felt as personal and generous. It isn't merely a separate version of, or substitute for, the 'real' thing (which is what samples are perceived to be).

Alternatively, non-fiction authors can give the masses an option to receive the first 2-3 chapters free (via, say, email?). These chapters can outline the problem and why readers should be concerned to learn more. This builds interest and, most importantly, initiates the relationship between author and reader.

Sample chapters from all over the book, on the other hand, can feel like merely offering 'bits and pieces' for readers to 'try'. Back to the impersonal vs. personal divide.

Last example: If you're planning on giving a free car wash, it'd be better if the wash was an incentive to pay attention to a new suite of car care products rather than as a sample of the car wash itself.

If it's the latter, people usually say Thank You, scrutinize the wash and, unless they're really satisfied, say Goodbye. If it's the former, chances are they'll say Wow(!) Thank You, scrutinize the car wash less and be slightly more open to a respectful dialogue on how their more important car needs can be met.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Don't Get Me Wrong"

How many times have you heard this phrase spoken? How often have you used the phrase yourself?

Explain! Contend! Argue! Convict!

And then: "But don't get me wrong..."

It's like a set of Cosmo magazines in the middle of a theological bookshelf. Like ads popping up during a climactic battle scene. Like driving towards a Sausage Deli with one eye on the Health Club membership card.

If a speaker has to use the phrase this usually means:

1. He's overdone his presentation OR

2. He's volunteering a reason to be less than fully convinced of his points OR

3. He's responding to anticipated objections or issues to his ideas

No. 1 is inexcusable.

No. 2 is tactically foolish (why are you doing your opponent's job for him? or bumping your listener's momentum?)

No. 3, apart from incorporating some of No.2's weaknesses, is plain weak. A good debater or presenter shouldn't have his delivery sound like an apology.

It should, instead, feel like a blow to the solar plexus. Or a sumptuous meal. Or a marathon. There is no pulling of punches, no reversal, no hesitation.

Take Yourself "Out Of" Yourself

I love my son. If he's ever sick, I get slight panic attacks and I can't perform very well in the office.

I also love my pride (hopefully not more than my son). If that gets punctured in the office, the bad feelings stick and it (sadly) comes out once in a while when I'm with family.

So there are emotions which help and emotions which don't. Whenever you get hit with a bucket of the latter, it may be wise to try disassociating yourself from the event. E.g. if your daughter is sick, and you're at the office thinking about her, you'd normally 'see' her in your mind's eye (triggering the all too common apprehension, fret and uneasiness).

But instead of visualising only your daughter, try to visualise yourself and her in one mental scene. This not only takes you 'out of' your much-troubled self, it also prepares you to act thoughtfully and carefully later on.

This principle also applies to high-powered presentations or critical conversations which fill us with dread (and a bad bout of stomach gas). Seeing yourself at the presentation or scenario takes you 'out of' the episode.

Performing 'helicopter view' disassociation helps isolate and thereby control the emotional surges which tend to accompany our mental representations of such things. It doesn't change the seriousness of whatever we're thinking/worrying about. But it certainly makes us calmer and more prepared to do whatever's necessary.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Don't Go MIA

Occasionally, lecturers and teachers do a strange thing. They decide, conveniently enough, that they needn't come back to teach the next day. Nor the next. Nor the next.

In common parlance, they went MIA.

This didn't happen much (if at all) at the consulting and software organisations I was with. But I've seen and heard more than enough of such cases with educational institutions.

Why do people do this? The usual (suspect) answers are: Stress and a better offer. One push factor, another pull. So why not? Wait until the paycheck comes in, cash out, leave without a word (or even a hint).

But everyone suffers: The students, the organisation and most of all, the name of the MIA-er. In a world where impersonal networks are growing and personal trust is shrinking, going MIA should be the last things on the mind of anyone who loves his/her career.

So, if you're thinking of doing a disappearing act from your job: Don't. It only suggests that you don't value your public integrity, which is another way of saying that you don't value yourself very highly.

If you're in charge of hiring people: Never encourage a potential recruit from doing an MIA with his/her present workplace. Surely you realise it might happen to you? And ensure you have a system for detecting MIA-ers' among the CVs' coming in.

It should be easy: "May I call your previous organisation?"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fast Things First

If you've got 5 easy things to do, 3 medium-difficulty things to do and 1 task you're sure will drain you out, which would you do first?

The answer - and this tends to apply to the office, the examination paper, the project, the kitchen, the tough relationship, you name it - is to do the easy ones first.

By 'easy' I mean the tasks you can complete the soonest.

Not the task you most enjoy. Not the task with the highest pay-off (whatever these could be). Not the most urgent task (I'm assuming that all tasks are relatively important, so importance shouldn't be an issue here). Not the task that everyone's talking about. Not the task you normally do at the time of day (unless it's also the one you can finish in less time than it takes to think it). Not the most comfortable task.

Not any of these tasks, but the task that requires the least amount of time.

Then proceed and finish all the rest. Chances are your to-do list will be checked off faster, you'll have less hiccups and you'll smile a lot more than usual.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Perfect Moment

On Sunday I had dinner at a new restaurant in Subang Jaya. My friends told me the food was good and reasonably priced.

Before we ordered, my friends were commending the pork, the fish, the duck - everything. I was spoilt for choice. I eventually ordered the pork porridge - I loved it. I couldn't stop gushing about every mouthful I was gorging down.

The meal was, in truth, bizarrely delicious.

Anyone observing us would be in no doubt that we loved the food from before we came in to the time we left. Anyone looking at me would be able to tell I was hooked and enjoying every bite.

Anyone, of course, except the people who ran the eatery. Or, if they DID know that me and my pals were having the meal of our week, they hardly demonstrated it.
  • They didn't make it irresistible for us to return real fast - with, say, a 15% discount card for the next visit (for all purchases above $40 in a single receipt)?
  • They didn't give us additional incentives to recommend the joint to even more friends (than we would have already)
  • They didn't add us to an exclusive 'Everyday Eater' scheme (collect 8 stamps get the next meal at 50% discount?)
  • They didn't give us a exit door gift for being such sporting customers (whatever that means)
  • They didn't even ask us for a name card (which I'd be more than delighted to hand over had I one)
I mean, the restaurant had me by the guts (literally). They could've exploited that for more business, and could've done so with my glad and eagerly given permission(!).

And yet they didn't. Instead they have to rely on my self-sustained and hopefully undistracted patronage. Good thing, I'll remember the experience for a while.

But it's wise never to let such an opportunity pass one by : When customers are really really satisfied, do something. They'll be more than glad you did.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How the Fuel Hike is Good News

Thinking 'against the current' doesn't mean you disagree with how everybody feels. It does mean you get a more objective and balanced perspective.

Today I asked about 20 students how they felt about the recent hike in fuel prices. They all said it sucked bad. I then told them to come up with at least five reasons how the recent fuel hike can be a benefit to Malaysian society. They had exactly one minute to do it.

Their answers were:
  • Focuses more attention to budgeting and economizing
  • Forces us to rethink the way we spend
  • Contributes less to global warming
  • Spurs interest (and research?) in finding alternative sources of energy
  • Reduces traffic jams
  • Encourages more people to walk or use a bicycle
  • Promotes car-pooling (and, as a result, deepening friendships?)

I then asked them how they felt after they did this exercise in thinking against their own emotionally charged conclusions.

I guess you could say everyone felt slightly better. We didn't end up feeling great, of course. But there was a small noticeable difference in our eyes regarding the issue.

I suppose even a minute's worth of thinking can matter, can't it?

Let Them Learn What You Do

In connectivism, decision-making is itself part of the learning process. This point could translate in to a few useful scenarios.

If your want your customers to understand more about your product or company (as a way of, say, building trust), allow them to participate in the kinds of decisions you make.

E.g. a news organisation could perhaps let its viewers/readers rank the importance of news headlines. This would be especially important if the company is reporting on 'foreign news' and needs some local-community insight into what's deemed important. Local newspapers may also conduct a periodic ranking to get customers' feedback on the importance given to various topics.

Already in education, some programs (e.g. International Baccalaureate) allow students to collaborate with teachers on what issues to work on over the semester. It usually follows that benchmarks and standards for assessment will also be agreed upon.

Part collaboration, part feedback - all learning and goodwill.

How else could we apply this into our business, community, church, etc.?

Adding Introductional Value

Introducing yourself is usually the start of a conversation with new friends. And we all know that 'what we do' is a common topic (pending interesting distractions) people talk about.

Yet many of us (definitely me!) miss out on opportunities to spice up our chats. Perhaps in some unconscious desire to not attract attention (a very Asian thing, eh?), we settle for the banal.

So I've told myself, next time I meet someone new, instead of saying "I teach Geography", maybe I can try:
  • "I spend my days trying to convince kids that the environment might actually matter."
  • "I work in a classroom persuading children of nature's use and beauty."
  • "I'm a classroom environmentalist."
  • "I'm a salesman for nature"
  • "I try to persuade this generation to save the environment for the next."
Another example. Instead of saying "I am a pastor", try:
  • "I spend my weekends talking about making earth as pretty as it is in heaven."
  • "I'm a manager of souls."
  • "I work in a church, tending the tender gardens of men's hearts"
  • "I construct and refine spiritual bomb-shelters for today's faithful"
Now, how about spicing up and adding conversational value to: "I run my own business", "I'm in sales", "I'm a housewife", "I'm a computer engineer", etc?

(Derek has written a much more comprehensive how-to post on this topic, "What Do You Do?")

Keeping People Awake in Church

The need to ensure one's listeners/audience/guests are 'fully awake' and keeping their utmost attention is a non-negotiable for corporate trainers, workshop facilitators and media people.

Yet somehow with academic and spiritual institutions one gets the feeling that students and the congregation are somehow OBLIGATED to concentrate.

I've heard and read quite a few comments about church sermons before, but a remark last week has been sticking a little.

A friend said that church members, "shouldn't have to GO IN to church all fresh and energetic, only to COME OUT all tired out (from long unengaging sermons or whatever)."

Now that's worth thinking about.
  • How do people feel entering the church sanctuary?
  • How do they feel during the church service (for that 2 hours or so)
  • How do they feel upon leaving the sanctuary?
  • What factors keeps the adrenaline (spiritual or otherwise) up? Or drag them down?

Should we care?

The Bridge

It isn't always about debts, wrath and judgment.

Reciting the Love Creed at Worship

God is love, right? (1 John 4:8)

The greatest commandment, a famous 2-in-1 innovation by Jesus, is centered on love, correct? (Matthew 22:37-40, John 13:34)

The best reflection to the world of Christian discipleship is love, agree? (John 13:35)

So why isn't something like the Love Creed of 1 Cor 13:4-8 recited during worship services?

Imagine if the following was spoken congregationally EVERY week in church:

"Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end." (1 Cor 13:4-8, THE MSG)

Sticking and Quitting

This book may initially look like your average typical "Never Give Up" material. But Seth Godin, in his better-than-average ways, has written something which is both original and worthy of serious attention (especially in a world obsessed with success and never-quitting).

Firstly, says Godin, one must never give up, yes. But this attitude is critical only for those skills/ideas/products you have which make you the best in the world (the 'world' meaning which community/market you're a part of and necessarily all the continents if you know what I mean).

, for anyone who wishes to achieve anything spectacular, there will always be a period of dryness, lethargy, costs exceeding benefits, (apparent) failure which one has to go through i.e. there will be a Dip.

Push through this and you'll come on the other 'end' of the loop a winner. What's important - and thank God(in) for the reminder - is that we must ANTICIPATE and PLAN for the Dip.

Another famous speaker who mentioned something which sounds like a Dip is Randy Pausch who said that,

"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!"

Where Godin differs would be in two things:

1. The brick walls can be overcome if you're the best at what you do (this is when you must STICK)

2. The brick walls should be accepted and left behind if not (this is when you must QUIT)

Which brings us to his third point, the one that raises the most eyebrows surely: You must recognise there are times one must stop or, better yet, not even start a project.

Why? Because if you're not the best and there's no chance you will be, pushing through the Dip only creates discouragement and takes away time you should be putting into that which you can be world-class in.

To stick? Or to quit? That he even raises the second question puts Godin, IMO, in the top 1% of the world's best thinkers and advisers. That it's okay and even commendable to quit is an almost-never-asked question which is more than way overdue.

This is not a how-to book. It's a why-not manual, a look-here work, an always-remember guide. It's also one the best (if somewhat subversive) "motivational" books around, one which nobody who's ever thought long and hard about irreversible (or hard-to-reverse) decisions related to careers and business can afford to miss.

Best thing is: It's a short book. No way you'll quit on this one.

5 Teaching Essentials

After 15 school terms, 30 assessments (involving the marking of no less than 50 papers each time), and about 1,000 classes (of 80 minutes each) I am confident of only a few things about teaching (none of which are very heavily covered in teacher induction):

1. You have GOT to make friends with the kids (yes, even those whose heads you want to use as punching bags). No friendship, no connection; no connection, no point. This means actively going up to a kid, shaking hands, saying how-are-you, asking them about life in general, etc. The child is a person and not a teaching project.

2. You have GOT to stop teaching sometimes (even in the middle of 'official' lesson times) and tell some great stories. If these stories are related to the subject, excellent. If not, then too bad for the subject.

3. You have GOT to make it a habit to use images. It's perfectly fine to stare at an image, look blank, say, "Now why did I put this there?" and ask the kids what they think. Seriously.

4. You have GOT to love your subject. Like fear and anger, the kids can sniff indifference or boredom from a mile off. How do you love it? Almost about the same way you learn to love people: act as if you do. So, if you absolutely loved Organic Chemistry, what would you be doing? Perhaps you'd be talking about it the way soccer fans talk about a great game, or reading up all the 'unnecessary' material on it, or collecting loads of websites, or - you get the point.

5. You have GOT to let the kids teach you a thing or two. Let it be anything. I suppose this is part of the whole friendship gig/deal. And c'mon, who's to say we 'adults' know everything, eh?