Book Review “The Learner’s Journey – Storytelling as a Design Principle to Create Powerful Learning Experiences.” Written by Bastian Küntzel Review by Matthew Hill

“Identity is the story we tell ourselves”

Bastian Küntzel, Interculturalist, trainer and volunteer, has pushed himself to produce a practical book, that reflects its subject matter, is fit for purpose, and, keeps the audience engaged all the way to the end. Just like a good story.

Success – The book works. Imagine if this tome had failed to keep the reader turning the pages or left the trainer / coach / presenter more confused than when they started!

A journey to wisdom

Tone – The author adopts an intimate style with self-deprecation, revealing honesty and scattered references to Hollywood films that we all know – Harry Potter, Die Hard, Lord of the Rings, Iron Man, etc. We are drawn into this cosy fireside chat (the worked examples in the book’s appendix include old barns and wood burning stoves to add to this feeling), as we begin to join Bastian in his story and journey.

With references to the works of Daniel Kahneman, Joseph Campbell and Yuval Noah Harari, the author provides evidence that he has read widely, dived deep, and, is up to date with his sources and research. The authors are sited in footnotes at the bottom of each relevant page. A bibliography at the end would have been a nice addition.

He deconstructs their models to form his own philosophy around identity, learning, motivation and change, and, does so in a clear, rational and appealing manner.

The Hero’s Journey – We start with the 17 common elements of all stories as collected, analysed and explained by the great Joseph Campbell. With liberal reference to George Lucas who famously used Campbell’s schema to produce the most successful film franchise in the history of cinema – Star Wars, we understand why Bastian adapted the title of Campbell’s most famous work and named the book – The Learner’s Journey.

We then move to Dan Harmon’s updated and truncated model with 8 phases of the voyage.

1. Protagonist

2. Need

3. Go

4. Search

5. Find

6. Take

7. Return, &,

8. Change

The supposition is that this universal structure, found all over the world, in all cultures and throughout time, provides a robust template for training design.

To prove this point, the author spends the rest of the book matching Harmon’s stages to the student’s learning journey and suggests activities, criteria and pitfalls for each step along the way. This unique approach aims to help the classroom pupil to change, transfer and re-integrate into their workplace.

There are some fun moments – The holding of a “Fuck-up” night during an off-site multi-day training – A sort of improv, open mic session where story telling on the theme of how it all went wrong leads to bonding, positive vulnerability and the parking of egos for the duration of the course.

Criticism – Whilst the book is a light, informative and a well-intentioned effort – the model does not always fit the facts, the training purpose, or, the audience. The 3 examples at the end mostly fit but do not 100% conform to the stages of Harmon.

Audience – This book will appeal to those trainers, facilitators, teachers and coaches, that have enough experience to be able to put together a course for themselves – A beginner may be overwhelmed by having to adapt to the various stages and resign, disheartened.

Personally, I identified with the stages and found myself beginning to brainstorm activities and exercises that would fit the 8 parts and found plenty of ideas to insert into each stage.

Conclusion – This is a clean, simple and useful book that will help the passionate trainer, looking to improve or perfect their design craft to take their classroom delegate’s experience to the next level.

There are enough warnings and sorry tales contained within the pages too to act as a vicarious instruction manual for the newer designer.

All in all, The Learner’s Journey is a recommended read for the progressive and open-minded trainer who wishes to gain entry to the hearts and minds of their audience, move them emotionally, and, achieve a learning transformation that is worth reading about.

The book is accompanied by a resource centre – www.learners-journey.com and is available in Kindle and paper form.

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The 7 Benefits of Developing A Killer Keynote Speech. A presentation skills post by Matthew Hill

Or, how to construct a speech that will work for you, pay back handsomely, and, improve your life, and, the lives of others.

1. Know your subject to own your topic – For many mild-mannered experts, their very depth and breadth of knowledge can make them hesitate when answering an intelligent audience question. They scour their vast mental library, struggle to gather all the points together, and, construct a punchy response.

The outsider, failing to appreciate this process, can easily conclude that they are less an expert and more a ditherer – Tragic.

Do they understand you?

The discipline of preparing a speech involves writing down and presenting your key points is an ordered way. You, the keynote speaker, have the opportunity to simplify your “mind palace” and craft an appealing “starter”. You would not attempt to serve a vast main course before your guests are ready to enjoy it. Working on constructing a meaningful presentation will reacquaint you with your material, and so, allow you to chunk down complexity to bite-sized and understandable units of entertaining and informative communication. These will intrigue your audience, warm them up and prompt them to…ask for more.

Benefit – The ability to package vast quantities of data, research and experience into digestible blocks, frees the expert to enjoy audience encounters, with the boosted confidence of a great communicator – And, this makes them irresistible to their audience.

2. Clarify your thoughts – Most experts form their professional opinions and conclusions early in their careers. A problem then arises, if the field moves on. They slip behind current thought and look old fashioned.

Preparing and researching to construct a new and up-to-date keynote speech, offers the opportunity to make sure you are ahead of the curve, on top of latest developments, and are thus, preparing something that is bullet-proof to critics. There is nothing worse than an old soldier grinding out stories that are no longer relevant or peddling models that have been disproved and dismantled long ago. It is embarrassing and unnecessary.

Benefit – The structured thinking and “audit” of your work, that is required when forming a new core presentation, keeps you abreast of wider developments and will save you that red-faced moment, “Have you taken new theory X into account?”

With due diligence and thorough preparation, you will now answer, “Yes. And here is how theory X will impact you.”

3. Broadcast to the word – Every month I meet intellectual giants who are private heroes and heroines – They have the answers but they are not spreading their wisdom widely. A keynote speech is the perfect vehicle to build and expand a tribe of fans and followers, share your key messages with a wider group, and, generate momentum and action.

It is no use being silently right. To be consequent is better. And, to have followers adopt, act and start the revolution for you, is best.

Benefit – When structured correctly (See me for further details), a great keynote speech, gets your vital message out into the world, changes perceptions, alters behaviours and provokes improvement that saves lives.

Hello – I’m spreading a message

4. A starting point, helping you develop your collateral – Not many people would start building their “library” of Intellectual property and informational product assets with a keynote speech.

But, why not?

When you have a gem and take it on the road, the audience, their questions, and, the input they provide after the “show”, can spark 100 ideas for you to solidify in further posts and pieces. If you listen to your listeners, they will help you create a battery of products that can become a resource for everybody. Remember, publishing 100 new written posts is just another way of saying, “Here is my new book.”

Benefit – Your presentation becomes the catalyst for other IA – Informational Assets – Stand-alone products and properties that work to start making you famous and spreading your credo. They do this via social media, even when you are sleeping.

May I present…

5. Positioning yourself – Do you want to be (Daniel Priestley’s concept) A KPI – Key Person of Influence? The authority granted to keynote speakers is extraordinary. My speeches have generated income, invitations and infamy, and, in a short timeframe too.

In fact, a good presentation to an invited and relevant audience is the single quickest way to demonstrate your worth, qualify out the timewasters and qualify in interested parties. It generates the number of emotional and intellectual touches (see elsewhere) necessary to have decision makers rush the stage and beg you to do the same thing for their audience. The gravitas and marketing power of great public speaking cannot be understated.

Benefit – Some of the credibility of the event, the sponsors and the other speakers at a conference will rub off on you. If you are new to the game and work hard to become competent in your presentation skills (See elsewhere on the site), you will become equal in status to the best people in your field. And that is exciting.

6. Spread the word – We have covered some of the ways that message multiplication happens. Audience members ask you for a repeat performance. Conversations lead to further written and published posts. And, there are other ways to reach more people too. The obvious one is video.

When you have reached a competent level in your presentation skills, you will be ready to record and edit your efforts, and, put them in a “show reel” to generate more speeches, or, start a YouTube channel to showcase your message.

Benefit – When you capture your keynote speech in digital form, you can insert highlights and clips in your posts, newsletters or E Mails, to wow your growing crowd of followers. This will help you win the competition against all the noise and distraction out there, and, will vastly expand your reach and appeal.

7. Maximise your day job – There is nothing as attractive as a great public speaker. You will rarely get more attention than when saying something pertinent to your audience. You will experience a peak of appreciation when taking in the long and loud standing ovation generated by your amazing keynote speech. A memory that will not fade.

Benefit – If you want to feel alive, make a difference and generate more excitement in your life – You know what you have to do next…

Conclusion – The process of preparing your keynote speech can be as profound for you as that speech is impactful for your audience.

Building your speech presents you with the opportunity to refine your message, refresh your research and to craft your pitch to be optimally appealing and moving to your audience. Because, in the end, it is all about your audience.

Great speeches are a time-effective way to interrupt for attention, demonstrate your depth and value, and, move a wider audience. Your tribe will get to know you, like you, trust you, and, reach out to get in contact. Speaking in public leads to invitations, sales, friendships, and, the amplification of important messages, that make a difference in the world. It is only in this way that anything changes.

Action Time – How do you feel now? Are you ready to do the work and put your own keynote speech together? Do give me a call and tell me what topic you are passionate about. I would love to hear from you.

And, do you want the stars in your team to structure their thoughts and knowledge to help your company expand and reap the financial rewards of their expertise via great public speaking?

***Either way – Do take action and get in touch today***

About the Author – Matthew Hill is an author, keynote speaker and presentation skills facilitator. He works with corporate executives to uncover their hidden presentation talents, and, develop their speaking and writing competence, to make them maximally effective in converting cold but qualified audience members into followers, raving fans and customers.

He can be contacted on 07540 65 9995. International +44 7540 65 9995.

Mind Your Language – Don’t Say That! – An Exploration Of Frustration Within International Teams. by Matthew Hill #language #understanding #peace

That is completely outstanding, wonderful and awesome.

Do the utterances of your colleagues radiate a grey pessimistic gloom that makes you want to shake them? Or, do some of your overseas team members chuck out so much insincere whooping enthusiasm, that you feel as though you may be presiding over a 5 year-old’s birthday party with jelly and ice cream?

Language

Before we leap to judgement about the passive or active language of our fellow executives and how angry this makes us feel, let’s take a breath and put this into context.

What gives us our language?

If your country had a history of keeping people down via serfdom, feudal oversight and soviet communism’s secret police – If a little war, starvation and religious persecution were thrown in for good measure, what discourse would be heard in your market square!

Too much?

Optimism – Before we totally condemn the US for their crass and trivial sounding, “Everything is awesome.” Let us pay tribute to the language that facilitated the actions of 5% of the population (USA) to produce 23% of the turn over OF THE WORLD. We may criticise a lack of depth but you cannot argue with the result.

Pessimism – Conversely, from my 5 years in Central Europe, working with a generation that followed the Soviet regime, I came to understand the cynical, dark and cautious language of the region in a new way. This different perspective freed both them and me from the energy draining depression that many expats complained about, (when they thought no locals were listening.)

“We tried that last time and it did not work”

History – When you have control and agency ripped from your arms by aristocratic overlords, then Communist apperachnics, and finally, Western corporate bosses, your language will morph into something pragmatic and functional. The Czech, “We tried that last time and it did not work” or, “There is a problem” seem to signify a reluctance or unwillingness to cooperate.

This is to misunderstand them.

When we dig deeper, we uncover a more profound truth. View this class of communication as an enquiry about your intentions. Then, relax a little, and, respect the input, regarding it as relevant and sharp. We are really hearing, “Can we trust you?” “Are you for real?” “Will you change your mind next week and so render this urgent request for action, pointless?”

The Slavic slaves will be servants no longer. Their words symbolise the overthrowing of oppression. Depth, connection and respect are required. 

Meanwhile, in the middle…

Geographically and energetically, the UK and much of Continental Western Europe fits somewhere in the middle. Our modest phrases give us away too. In response to an enquiry into our mental and physical wellbeing, the Brit may say, “Mustn’t grumble” “It could always be worse” or the anodyne and meaningless, “Fiiiiine”.

We see ourselves as free, democratic action takers, steering our ship on our own terms and yet, this passive language is manifestly pessimistic, fatalistic and, to an outsider’s ear, almost tragic.

The core cultural value that drives this avoidance of hubris and enthusiasm, is modesty – Cultural modesty. I have written a lot on this subject. The history of the British people, pre Empire, was similar to that of Russia. The surfs of the UK were a miserable, Baldrick like lot, (though he was much more optimistic!)

Here, we are signalling the tall poppy syndrome, though it is God who will smite us down for standing up and standing out, not a secret policeman in the middle of the night.

The Brit must avoid displays of ostentation and be ready for the next disaster to arrive at any time.

I spend a little time in Southern Germany these days and notice a related style. On entering a restaurant with pleasing décor, positive staff service and quality food and drink, the first comment by a local may well be a critical or negative one. Again, a self-flagellating form of avoidance – Dodging the wrath of God.

Optimism

Britain’s new Emperor (We will see if he is wearing clothes, shortly), has spoken of the need for optimism by Brits after enduring the 1000 day water torture that is Brexit.

***I feel the average Brit will roll their eyes at this, fearing a whooping American-like, forced enthusiasm with an implied command to display compulsory happiness***

We have just come out of a decade of austerity – Flogging will continue until morale improves.

Now, we are being instructed to drive the UK’s economic car over a Sovereign and “self-determining” cliff with a smile on our face. – See? I am doing it myself!!!

Go USA!

The context of US language is fascinating. Disparate exiled European groups landed on the East coast and headed out West to stake a land claim and work unbelievably hard, to try to build a cabin, plant, tend, harvest and preserve crops, and gather enough fuel for winter. 62% failed. I guess the ones that made it were using more positive and action based language than the ones that froze or returned. “Just do it” “Make it happen” “Outstanding” “I won”.

Conclusion

Language divides us.

The language of the “other” can be irritating.

We can mitigate our bitterness and animosity when listening to the message of our overseas counterpart by taking a peak at the fascinating history that helped establish their idioms, punch lines and social fillers that we hear today. And, it is by respecting the past and their past, that we can ensure a tolerant and healthier approach to the “other”, and, enjoy their language and energy today.

Now, wouldn’t that be awesome, problem-free and totally fine!

Your Voice Can Be A Valuable Asset – The Benefits of Developing and Deploying Your Voice As A CAREER Building Weapon. Talking the beautiful talk – Warbling your way to wealth – A Presentation Post by Presentation Skills Trainer and Coach, Matthew Hill #presentation #skills #voice

Voice – The Benefits
Put simply – There will be a positive earnings dividend for those who work on their voice and develop its melodic capabilities to the max. And, I am not talking about winning a TV talent show. Customers and clients would rather listen to a pleasant, sonorous voice that a scratchy, squeaky weaker one. They will stay longer, learn more from you, and, even AGREE with what you are saying! Continue reading

Do You Need To Feel More Power and Confidence Before Going Into Your Next Meeting, Starting In 15 Minutes? – A Top Resilience and Confidence Tip – Recording Your Own Bespoke Affirmation Resource – Enjoy The Process & Love The Result. – A “How To” Post by Assertiveness and Presentation Skills Trainer, Matthew Hill #confidence #affirmation #resilience #power #success #feelgood

Incoming praise – Why do all the heavy lifting yourself? Take a moment to record all the kind, true and positive things others have said about you over the years. Your LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements are an easy place to start – Pick out and note key power phrases that someone else has said about you and that make you feel good. References for jobs, if you have access to them are a gold mine. Positive appraisal comments that stick in your mind are worth their weight. Even, kind words said at a birthday, anniversary or leaving do speech can be canabalised for this exercise. Any memory of someone you respect, saying something both true and positive will be just the right phrase to note down for this affirmation compilation list. Continue reading

Do You Want To Sell Just 10 Copies Of Your New Book? No? Because, You Cannot Rely On Your Publisher To Market The Book For You! – An Author’s Guide To Selling More Books by Matthew Hill #book #author #marketing #copies #promotion #success #publishing #bestseller

How to get out from behind the desk and shake your marketing booty to create a minor book marketing sensation (and justify all the pain and suffering of writing the book in the first place.) The Numbers Over 97% of … Continue reading

Gary Thomas of International HR Offers 2 Freelearning Webinars In July #unconsciousbias #marketing

To give you the opportunity to get to know some of our topics and to give you an impression of how we work, Gary offers regular free webinars on contemporary topics. All you need to participate in our freelearning webinars is a computer with internet access. The link to register is at the bottom of this post.

The freelearning webinars are limited to a maximum of 14 participants and registration is on a first come first served basis.

Unconscious Bias – 23rd July 2019, 9AM German time / 8AM UK.

In this interactive free-learning webinar you will learn how implicit, unconscious bias influences your daily business. You will discover how your brain often tends to make wrong decisions.

Marketing for Trainers – 23rd July 2019, 11AM German time, 10 AM UK.

Many freelance trainers rely heavily on word-of-mouth without focusing on their own market position. In this webinar we will examine the components of a practical marketing and sales concept.

Action – Simply fill in the contact / Kontact form’ https://www.international-hr.de/en/kontakt/

It’s Not All About YOU! – The Art of Successful Networking. A Networking Post by Matthew Hill

“Listen out for the quietly whispered truth and the mighty doors will open before you and reveal your gift.” Quote from US President, Donald J. Trump, 5th of Never Happened 2019. Face to face networking is, simultaneously, a feared sweaty … Continue reading

“I Want To Write A Book But I Feel Completely Overwhelmed!” – Where Do I Start? – A Beginner’s Guide To Authoring Your First Book – By Matthew Hill #writing #author #bookwriting #action

Give birth to a book this summer Whilst everybody has a book inside them, having a tome-birth can end up being traumatic! – This post is written to get you moving and to start you off, writing your first book. … Continue reading

Matthew’s SIETAR Europa Congress Leuven Report! #SIETAR #Congress #Leuven

Or, We are a normal family…aren’t we??

What a Week

A week at the SIETAR Europa Congress 2019 in Leuven has fed our collective brains, hearts, stomachs and livers (if a liver can be fed.)

Overall, the event was a great success lead by Outgoing President, Joyce Jenkins. Joyce is the definition of an inclusive leader – combining leadership with latitude to develop purpose in an enthusiastic tribe of followers, ready to sweat a little, get creative, make decisions and get stuck in. There were many many dramas along the way (town, venue, gala, menus, rooms, people, tickets, buses, etc, etc.) And the lunches – we will get to that later. The end result was the transfer of much wisdom to a large group of intercultural enthusiasts in an effective manner in a beautiful town that was fit for purpose (Muntstraat had end-to-end restaurants and easily contained the learning hordes.)

The Leuven Town Hall Reception

Diversity and Inclusion

The inspired suggestion for this year’s Congress theme gave the amorphous and sometimes stagnant essentialist version of culture something substantial to work with and the results were impressive. Inclusion is where the rubber meets the road and the presenters with practitioner experience brought their experiences to life in a unique and memorable way for many of us. The topics of colour, racism, LGBTQ, as well as the prejudiced brain, polarisation and ethics got traction and the attention of this, sometimes, critical SIETARian crowd.

Quality – Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk

When I drew attention to the frequent lack of original content and questionable quality of some presenting seen in the Dublin sessions and keynotes of 2017, I was unfriended by some pretty big names – Sometimes the truth is painful to hear.

I am happy to report (not just so that you stay friends!) that both content and presentation quality seem to have bounced back to the Valencia standard of 2015.

Working hard to find the PURPOSE of SIETAR!

The selection of papers for inclusion in the programme was BLIND – If ever an event was aligned with its topic, this has to be proof positive of that healthy intent. – A bi-product of this meritocratic process was that some big names where not on the programme.

Whilst there are still issues – Keynote speakers reading from their papers in “monotone”, some under rehearsed sessions with avoidable errors and the like – Speaking personally, I only had one sub-par experience during the whole event.

Super Stars

It was a very broad programme with up to 9 simultaneous choices at any one time, so I can only talk about the ones that I witnessed first hand.

***Shannon Murphy Robinson – An easily accessible introduction to the neuroscience of bias, culture and behaviour. Educational.

***Seyda Kutsal – Buurman – Giving regular folk (outside the police force) a chance to experience the strong feelings generated by the Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes experiment for themselves. Profound.

***Christoph Bader – Bringing something NEW to Brexit / Trump / Popularism! That is rare these days – Using the vehicle of collective memory, we were asked to apply its cult-like methods to the “other side” and come up with some pithy slogans to balance out fake news – Therapeutic.

***Christine Wirths and Lies Wouters – Digital learning – Giving us the chance, with a real case, to come up with our own attempts at constructing a digital learning programme – Inspiring and encouraging.

***Jackie van der Kroft – Reliably excellent, Jackie took us beyond conflict to the anatomy and mitigation of polarisation and asked us to apply some suggested methods in our own world. Outstanding.

***Monika de Waal, Natasha Aruliah & Henning Zorn – Sharing their life stories as 3 “outsiders”, trialogues around difference and discussions of feelings and implications – A richly experiential event.

***Alan Richter – Using ethical dilemmas and dramas and asking us to unpick them and choose a response – our results were then compared with global data and analysed. – The slickest show in town! And, finally,

***Sue Shinomiya – Ikigai – Finding one’s life’s purpose – The perfect post Gala session – Engaging enough to keep everyone zoned in, beautiful enough not to over challenge our fragile state. Elegant.

Sue Shimoniya – Ikigai

***Films – A reduced film track curated by a knowledgeable team and with the chance to see the most popular ones again on day 3. Moving.

Confession

I am sorry to say I missed the “Obama-like” opener with Leuven Mayor, Mohamed Ridouani. My loss.

Challenges – The vast voluntary team had much to cope with, not least their own size – Steering committee – 10, Congress team – 21 and Assistants – 12 (You probably need another committee to handle all of the 43+ volunteers!!!)

Great minds, and me…

The venue – The concrete medical school was funky though not always fit for purpose – Arriving at the hospital entrance (never trust a taxi driver who says, “Ah, yes, I know exactly where that is…”) we went past real medical patients, walked along many corridors only to be finally denied by a double set of locked doors – Signalling with my mobile phone light attracted the attention of the people in the registration hall but they could not blow the locks on the doors (a competence beyond university professors it seems.)

The Lunches – Yes we are finally here. Let us reframe this moment to get most benefit from our collective experience – The lunches were a bonding disaster that unified a diverse crowd in a common complaint. I am put in mind of an old Jewish joke about Catskills catering – “The food is horrible here –  And, such small portions.” And it did not matter – It lead to some hilarious survivor behaviour with charismatic SIETARian explorers attempting to bribe, influence and persuade KU Leuven medical students to buy canteen lunches for them – with mixed results.

Gala – In the end we all survived, ate and laughed. Apparently, the first choice venue went bankrupt before our event so a few brave souls found the substitute venue and persuaded them to host the do. The last minute instruction to select our food choices meant that, inevitably, many did not see the e mail and respond in time with their input. For them it was a fixed menu. But no more moaning – IT WAS A FREE OPEN BAR WITH BELGIUM BEER! – Come on.

With Natasha Aruliah and Kelli McLoud – Shingen and me.

In Conclusion

Where else can you guarantee bonfemmie and bonhomie like that? (New Word – bonfemmie!!) Is there anywhere like a SIETAR Europa Congress as a place where you can tell your story and be respected, included and truly heard? – I don’t think so. We have something precious here that is safe, user friendly and staffed entirely (with two exceptions) by volunteers. Wow.

matthew hill sietar leuven
Paul Westlake, Steve Crawford and George Simons

Thanks

Thanks to the steering committee of 10, the 21 strong congress team and, especially, to the 12 hard-working assistants.

Next

See you in Malta, May 2021.

P.S. – I promised to set up a Collaboration workspace after my interactive Collaboration session on day 2 at the Congress – Watch this space on Culture99 and do feel free to join in the exchange, ask questions, contribute and continue the dialogue about getting to collaboration within your organisation and spreading it to other work and community spaces too. Thanks, Matthew