Get to Know: 3 Questions (ok, a few more than 3) with Dr. Daniel LeBreton
CMNSH: What kind of learner are you? What are you learning about right now? When do you find it the most challenging to learn?
DLB: When I was in school, I was a conceptual and visual learner. I learned best when I could read about a theory and look at the structural model of a conceptual framework. However, having spent 10 years consulting and coaching people in organizations, I’ve been exposed to a great many other “modalities” that I find resonate with me when I’m the learner — such as metaphors, stories, and empirical data mixed in with theory. I find that my understanding is enhanced when I read something, view something, or hear something and then write it out — or write out my thoughts about it. I’m terribly un-green — I generate several yellow legal pads of notes every month. The process of actually writing (not typing but writing) my thoughts and ideas helps me integrate and process. I do now have a laptop/tablet with a stylus, so I’m working on writing more notes in OneNote and saving a few trees :)
CMNSH: What are your favorite day-to-day resources to feed your brain? Do you have any favorite blogs or publications? Books that you chronically revisit?
DLB: I watch a lot of recorded talks (e.g., TED, 99U, Creative Mornings) — in part, because I can listen while doing other things (though that is a terrible habit and not a great way to really process information and develop an understanding). I read research journals (e.g., Journal of Applied Psychology and Consulting Psychology Journal). I try to read books that I can recommend to my clients as well. Simon Sinek’s Start with Why is great…so is Difficult Conversations by Stone, Patton, and Heen — I probably recommend Difficult Conversations more than any other book and tend to pick it up every few weeks to re-read one part of it or another. We’ve built a virtue-based leadership model that is largely based upon Peterson and Seligman’s Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification — so I find myself picking up that massive tome frequently as well.
However, my most profound learning experiences don’t come from reading or watching something. They come from discussion, collaboration, and collective problem solving. I’ve learned more from working collaboratively with my mentor and colleague, Dr. Larry Newton, than from all the books, articles, TED talks, and professional conferences combined.
CMNSH: On your site, you have a great in-depth series on the virtues of leadership- what would you name as the great virtues of education?
DLB: Great question! My job is, in large part, about helping leaders learn and grow — so while we are very focused on the virtues of leadership we are also very focused on what makes a good learner — so I’ll answer the question with regard to my perspective on the virtues of a good learner. The first virtue of a good learner is humility. The people who learn the most are those who don’t ever think they’ve got it all figured out. They don’t ever think they’ve arrived or that they know everything they need to know to be successful. Humble learners are willing to look in the mirror and be objective about their learning needs.
The second virtue of a good learner is intellectual curiosity. Some people just want to learn enough to get by and others have a thirst for knowledge that cannot be quenched. They love to learn. They love to learn things that will help them in their careers, their lives, and even things that won’t “help” them at all. They just love to learn. The most successful learners are the people who view education as a journey, not a destination. They view it as a career-long and even life-long process that enriches their lives.
The third virtue I’ll mention of a good learner is critical thinking. In many ways, I think it is critical thinking that is most scarce these days. A good critical thinker is someone who is a good consumer in the marketplace of ideas — someone who distinguishes between good ideas and bad ideas; between ideas that have value and relevance and those that do not. For example, I learned a lot of stuff in graduate school — from leadership to work motivation to group dynamics to multivariate statistics to philosophy of science — but the most important thing I learned was the importance of good thinking skills. Interestingly, critical thinking skills are, themselves, learnable. Since I try to practice humility, I continue to work on my critical thinking skills as well!
Get to Know: Caitlin & Emma
There are few people in Nashville as young, driven and passionate about education than Caitlin Stubner and Emma Supica. Okay, that’s not true. As you’ll come to find on Friday, there are a ton of people in our city that care about making sure our city offers all students equal access to an excellent education. But Caitlin, Communications Director for Liveschool, an app designed to support positive school culture, and Emma, a former public school music teacher, are committed to exposing other young, driven people to join the cause.
“I moved to Nashville to become a teacher in my life when I was ready and willing to work hard to make something broken, better,” Caitlin says. (Note: Caitlin and I were both a part of the 2009 Teach for America Nashville Charter Corps. She was an awesome teacher. Still is.)
“I love reading—like all-consuming-fiction-reading—and lucky for me I became a reading teacher. At 23, I was not prepared to see 7th graders reading on average at a 1st grade level. After that, I became passionate about education because all students, no matter what their background or zip code, deserve to love reading or math or science or art or PE. They deserve to love school.”
Caitlin’s first teaching experience was at Smithson Craighead, a now-defunct charter middle school that closed after running through four principals in three years, and achieving little in terms of academic progress for students. In it’s last year, only 5 percent of students were proficient in math. Unfortunately, that experience isn’t isolated to one school. And despite the fact that Tennessee’s schools have seen some of the most rapid progress in student achievement in the country, there’s no denying that the problems are pervasive and difficult to prioritize.
“There are a gamut of problems facing schools today, both locally and nationally,” Emma says. “And there are a LOT of opinions out there on what’s going to “fix” the system.”
Recent debates have dominated state and national headlines: top-down reforms, such as the controversial Common Core standards, unclear direction and strategy around charter school implementation, funding… the list goes on and on. So much so, Emma says, that people tune out.
“Things get lost,” she explains. “And the cries for help from the students and teachers who need it most won’t be heard over a shouting match between powers.”
While Caitlin and Emma clearly see the challenges ahead—they both hold onto great hope for the future of our schools. For now, Caitlin places much of that faith not in the bureaucracy of politics, but in the power of effective teachers. In her work at Liveschool, Caitlin builds training to accompany an app that enables whole schools to incentivize positive characteristics from respect and empathy to grit and perseverance—characteristics that have significant and long-term impact on student academic achievement. After all, the ability of a teacher to change a student’s trajectory and life is always going to start in the classrooms of Nashville not in the board rooms.“There is so much hope for our schools,” Caitlin says. “Do I have a million stories that will break your heart? Yes. But I also have a million that will make you laugh with joy. Education effects all of us — and it’s time for people to get informed so that they can help make our schools worthy of our students.”
Contributed by Claire Gibson
Sponsor Spotlight: Creating Communities with Bongo Java
It’s not an uncommon thought that all of Nashville loves its coffee. After all, “coffee” and “creativity” might as well be synonymous. Our December sponsor, Bongo Java Roasting Company, continues to uphold the cohabiting of coffee and creatives.
Bongo Java Roast Company’s mission is to expand the definition of quality in the Nashville community in how things are not only produced, but also purchased and served—and not only coffee.
Nashville and its businesses are big fans of continuing the creative spirit, encouraging action on dreams and goals. Bongo Java is constantly giving back to the Nashville community, not only in the ways it brews its coffee, but also by donating to fundraising efforts, programs like Creative Mornings Nashville, and in big ways like pledging to give back $10,000 to its employees.
As a part of Bongo Java’s “Dream Grants” 2014 program, employees of Bongo Java were encouraged to submit an application for part of a $10,000 grant to help fund a lifelong dream of their own. We talked to Bongo Java employee, Dillon Smith, about what he did with his grant to get closer to his own creative dream.
“In my case, I have wanted the facilities to record and mix music since I was fourteen. My wife Amy and I had just bought a house with a detached garage for this purpose, so I applied for the Dream Grant with the hope to get a financial boost for the project,” said Smith, Barista Manager in the East Café location.
Smith has worked for Bongo Java at the East Café for four years. The East Cafe is located at Five Points in East Nashville.
“I’ve been the Barista Manager there for a year. That title means I’m in charge of which coffees get served, that brewing equipment is properly maintained, that our baristas meet or exceed company standards, and tons of other details,” said Grant.
Bongo buys all of its coffee organically and works to buy as much of its other products regionally. Bongo’s coffee is almost entirely bought directly from small-scale producers, working to support the Nashville community and Bongo’s mission.
Bongo Java is Nashville’s oldest coffeehouse. The Bongo Java company started as a small coffeehouse in 1993, and quickly grew into five cafes and two wholesale businesses. Included in this list of businesses is Fido, Hot & Cold, Grins Vegetarian Restaurant, Bongo East, and Bongo Java Roasting Company, Bongo Java After Hours Theatre.
Bongo received worldwide attention in 1996 when a cinnamon bun resembled very closely that of Mother Theresa- coined with the term NunBun. Since then, the NunBun has been stolen and never found.
(images via Bongo Java)
Bertrand Russell's 10 Commandments of Teaching and Learning
- Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
- Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
- Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
- When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
- Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
- Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
- Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
- Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
- Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
- Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
Listen and Learn
In honor of our “Education” theme for December, take some time this cloudy day and listen to this amazing podcast on Unstoppable Learning by TED Radio Hour, one of our favorites of all time.
Titular relevance for our “Education” theme of December, and a good way to get through these cloudy days!
Dancing Shoes and Corn Dogs
We were so excited to see everyone Friday morning for Brad Montague’s lecture on “Chance”, our November theme! It was our fastest ticket grab yet, with all 100 being claimed in under 20 minutes! If you didn’t get a chance to make it, don’t worry since Little Josh Productions took a great video which you can check out in our video library- along with every other lecture we’ve had! Libraries are the best!
I don’t know about y’all, but Creative Mornings are the perfect time to indulge in a little sweetness, and the doughnuts were almost (ALMOST) too pretty to eat! They were a great complement to the amazing Crema coffee while it lasted.We Nashvillians are not known for shyness when there’s a cup of good coffee on the line.
We had jugglers- did you see the jugglers?? Did you stop by our Wheel of Chance? What did it tell you? Did you see our tee shirts?? Our volunteers really stepped up this month to help us set up, break down, sell tee-shirts, and keep the morning running smoothly. THANK YOU!
Brad was kind enough to take some time out from his (many active projects- which you can learn about here) to answer a few questions especially for CMNSH after his appearance:
CMNSH: What project are you most excited by right now?
BM: We’ve been working over a year now on a book, “Kid President’s Guide To Being Awesome” and it comes out February 3rd. I’m beyond excited with how it turned out. YouTube videos are fun, but you can’t hold them in your hand. The team at HarperCollins let us create the book we wanted to make and its really fun and beautiful. The book features 100 ideas for how you can make the world more awesome every single day. We get to share some stories of incredible kids we’ve met on our adventures, share some behind-the-scenes fun, plus also include conversations with some incredible people - including Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s son, Martin Luther King III. What I’m excited about most with the book is not just that people read it, but that they take action! With the book we won’t be holding traditional ‘book signings’, instead Robby and I will be having a ‘book doing’ tour where we invite people to join us in doing things that make the world more awesome.
CMNSH: What is your most recent failure? How are you confronting it/ moving forward?
BM: My failures are pretty frequent. I’m pretty quick to admit that though I’m behind the camera - I’m not a director. I’m a captain. A director knows what he is doing, but a captain follows the wind. Following the wind is fairly risky, but it’s all I know to do. I’m always looking to make certain that we truly are doing work that sets the wind in our sails. It’s always clear when it isn’t. This project, “Kid President”, started as a small family thing. It was just for fun and we never imagined it would grow or spread or connect in the way it has. This has led to some wonderful things. It has also led to some challenges. We’ve had to learn as we grow to stay true to why we started in the first place. Anytime we take on something that isn’t true to who we are or why we started doing this it just doesn’t work. It lacks the fun. It lacks the love. It lacks the heart. When this happens, we pivot and we course correct and we find the wind again.
CMNSH: What role do you feel you are filling in education?
BM: It came as a surprise to us when schools started using ‘Kid President’ videos in their classrooms. More and more as stories came in from both educators and students, we began to realize that these weren’t just filling time in the school day, but were being used as key moments in the curriculum. This led me to becoming hyper aware of the messages we send out and the responsibility we have to shape conversations that matter. We’ve since worked hand in hand with educators to help make sure we are crafting messages that could be used to benefit students in new ways.
CMNSH: Have you always been conscious of the power of vulnerability, or when did that become a theme in your life? What advice do you have for staying open? (because its scary!)
BM: I’m often insecure about my abilities, my experience, my appearance, my background, my slight accent, and on and on and on. Thankfully I’m learning that these are not weaknesses, but simply part of who I am. I think it’s something I’m learning on a daily basis. It’s not exactly fun to be vulnerable, but the more I focus on being honest and true to who I am it allows others to do the same. This leads to some great places.
CMNSH: What do kids have that you want adults to rediscover?
BM: We should all stop and listen to a kid. Take a moment to listen to the children around you and also to the child within you. We were all children once. Somehow we forget that and think that we’ve become something greater or something more. There is something really beautiful about the way children see the world and see people and see problems. We’d do well to stop and look at things that way more often. I think we’d live in a more joyful, peaceful world.
What an amazing introduction to our theme for December- EDUCATION! Keep checking back for spotlights on our speakers (hint: they’re from our CMNSH community!) Hope y’all enjoyed the holiday- here’s bit of wisdom to get you back in the swing of things from MacArthur Genius Grant award winner Denise Shekerjian:
“Cut short the floundering and you’ve cut short the possible creative outcomes. Cheat on the chaotic stumbling about, and you’ve robbed yourself of the raw stuff that feeds the imagination.”
Stumble on, dudes!
Leaving the World of Supposed To’s with Matt Cheuvront
This Friday, Proof Branding Founder Matt Cheuvront will take the CreativeMornings stage at Mountain, in Downtown Nashville. Matt is one of those rare cats that was actually born and raised in this fair city. That means he was here when Outback was the only cool place to be on a Saturday night. And he’s still here, and over the last four years has worked with international Fortune 500 companies, one of the hippest new coffee joints in town, and many businesses in between. He knows this city the way he knows all 126 episodes of Saved By the Bell. In other words, he knows this city by heart.
“Minus a couple years spent in Chicago,” Matt says, “I’ve been here my entire life, and it has evolved a ton. This community lives and breathes craftsmanship—from the food scene to the design world and everything in-between, Nashville embodies passion for the craft. It’s been incredible to witness it, and now, to be a part of the movement myself.”
Like all CreativeMornings events this month, Matt’s presentation will center around one inspiration touchpoint: the word “crossover.” And besides Michael Jordan’s crossover into acting with Space Jam, the word has a ton of meaning in Matt’s life. To him, it means it’s never too late to reinvent yourself, or move into or onto something new. “Crossover,” means to leave the world of “supposed to’s” and live in the world of charting your own course.
That’s what Matt did when he started Proof in 2010. But the work of branding and creativity isn’t always easy. And since the work began, Matt’s learned that there are no guarantees when it comes to owning your own business.
“Every single day is a challenge,” he says. “It’s really freaking hard. The hardest part is managing the ebb and flow from month to month, week to week, day to day. I can’t ‘show up’ and know that everything will take care of itself. I’m in the drivers seat without a map to point me in the right direction. Sometimes that’s downright terrifying. But it’s also wildly exciting.”
For inspiration, Matt and the entire Proof team turn to books, blogs, magazines… just about anything they can read to spur on their creative juices. And in addition to reading material, they crave time with innovative people—people that can offer fresh perspective. So this Friday, when we gather together—you can expect one or two Saved by the Bell references from Matt, for sure. (Maybe even a Good Morning Miss Bliss, reference?!) But also prepare to have your perspective on the world altered, even if just a bit. After all, that’s what “crossover” is all about.
Guest Post by Claire Gibson
Bring a pair of new adult socks to our next event on Oct 24th or drop a pair by our collection bin at The Skillery (M-F, 8am-5pm). Help us reach our goal of 200 pairs of socks & let’s join Kid President & Soul Pancake on their mission to prove that even the smallest acts of love, like donating a pair of socks, can make a big difference in the lives of our neighbors who are homeless.
Learn more at Socktober.com & spread the word! #Socktober
Last week the CMNSH team took to the streets of NY(!!) for the first CreativeMornings Summit! For the first time, HQ invited all chapter hosts & their team members to join together in Brooklyn for a two-day Summit. From Bogotá to Singapore, we gathered from 30 countries to exchange stories, learn from each other, create together and—in the spirit of CreativeMornings—(finally) meet in person.
Thursday morning, bright & early, took us to the Invisible Dog in Brooklyn to get things started!
Monkeying around with MailChimp + all the great partners who have joined together with CreativeMornings to make this event and the CM community as a whole, something spectacular! Shutterstock, Squarespace, Moo, Blue Bottle Coffee & Six Point Brewery
Swag & snacks!
Our fearless leader, Tina Roth Eisenberg, took the stage to school us on the full history of CreativeMornings. Without her trust in other creatives we wouldn’t have our chapter here in Nashville today!
Tina Roth Eisenberg: Founder, Sally Rumble: Chief Happiness Officer, Carly Ayres: Chief Content Officer, Kevin Huynh: Chief Operating Officer = the Amazing CMHQ team filled us in to the inner workings of HQ and how all 99 chapters are doing in the big picture of our global conversation & global domination.
It’s easy to come to a local CM event & lose the big picture that we’re all part of a something bigger than ourselves. The Summit as a whole really put our CMNSH team on the same page and we’re stoked to help better educate our local community & continue the mission—with donuts!—& coffee!
On top of countless amazing talks & lessons by other organizers from around the world, we got to hear poet, Sarah Kay, speak and move us all with her words. If you haven’t seen her TED talk, look it up! We also got to divide into groups & workshop with Fred Dust & his team of IDEO in a CreativeMornings future brainstorming session. 2015 is going to bring loads of new ideas from this session & we cannot wait! (photos below from our amazing @swissmiss' instagram)
At times things just got crazy, in the best way. Sally constructed the geodesic dome, complete with disco light, cm quotes & fake cat decorated in gold! (Alicia may have found her spirit animal)
We spent an evening at the Shutterstock office in the Empire State building where we found ourselves on a tour of their incredible offices complete with hidden game rooms! Shout out to our new friend Rob, Shutterstock’s Social Media Manager!
Friday morning we attended CMNYC’s event on CROSSOVER at the MOMA with speaker, Steve Powers. All CM teams in attendance were also invited up on stage for the biggest CM family photo yet! (CMNSH stage left!)
After CMNYC we stopped by the shop of Steve Powers and the ICY Sign mechanics. You can see their work throughout NYC & Brooklyn as well as other cities worldwide.
Never miss a photo op with Tina & 2D Tina!
After such an amazing event it’s hard to imagine the after party celebration could get any better. Leave it to this incredible CMHQ team to end the night in style. Hosted at Pioneer Works, we celebrated in the most amazing indoor & outdoor spaces in all of Brooklyn. Not to mention the incredible work of Dustin Yellin, also Founder & Director of Pioneer Works, was throughout the space! We felt so lucky to enjoy this space.
To put the literal icing on the cake—CreativeMornings celebrated the Happiest 6th Birthday Ever!!!
Cue all the dancing & happy tears you can stand! This trip was one of the best things about 2014 for us all.
I’m not sure if the CMHQ team knew what to expect going into this event & I find that even more special. We left with excitement, new ideas, fire in our bellies + we left educated on what we’re a part of and a new desire to share the BIG picture of CM with our local community here in Nashville.
If you’re a community member & you’ve read this far—we thank you! We Thank You for coming out to events & meeting new people—in person. We Thank You for sharing your notes with us & telling your friends about the experiences you’ve had attending CreativeMornings. Organizing CMNSH is a lot of hard work & hustle but it’s the most fun I’ve ever had. If you want to know what that feels like, email us! We’re always looking for partners & ambassadors to help take over the creative world!
100 MORE BIG THANK YOU’S to our CMHQ Team for convincing 180 people from around the world to purchase plane tickets, take time off work & come to NYC for an experience beyond what any of us had in mind. You keep our gears turning & it’s safe to say we’ll follow you anywhere! Especially if there’s dancing—and coffee.
Find so much more online by searching #CMSummit14
Alicia + CMNSH team