A Glorious Sight to See

The BAS Applied Management classes of 2020 and 2021.

53 fine people who make up the first two sets of participants in Skagit Valley College’s BAS in Applied Management and their first quarter faculty.

This morning I made a wish

It’s the morning of the first day of the 2019-20 year for the Skagit Valley College Bachelor in Applied Science program. Today, eight faculty members, including SVC President Dr. Tom Keegan who is teaching in the program, will launch 52 program members on Year 3 and 4 of their bachelor degree.

That 52 people have entrusted their quest for a bachelor degree with our program is humbling and an honor beyond words. It’s also a journey into the unknown, much like my hero Neil Armstrong made 50 years ago, when he and the crew of Apollo 11 set off for the moon.

So, I went outside at dawn o’clock and as I often do when facing a big moment, I gave a giant wave to the man on the moon (at least I waved in the approximate direction of the moon – it’s Western Washington, there’s cloud cover). I asked him to help with fine winds, smooth seas and smooth sailing for program participants, faculty and their families.

We’ve got this BASAM people – let’s get going on the adventure. Just 264 trips around the moon until our group graduates!


I’m an expert thinker, I’ve been told that often and in every imaginable context.

I think a lot, I think fast, I think often. I never stop thinking; my brain whirs at supersonic speed. It’s exhilarating and it’s exhausting. So, I was intrigued by this piece from Medium offering perspective on how to get a strength, that because it’s been carried to an extreme, is now a weakness. It sounds odd to think about your thinking, which is what the author says to do but I’m giving it a shot this week. Anyone else been told they think too much? Want to join me in this experiment? Check out the

How to Appear Brilliant in Meetings

Great piece from Medium on a number of tips to give the perception of engagement and brilliance in meetings, I’ll confess I do many of these things but never thought that they might add to the perception of an engaged presence!

Enjoy the read, tell me your stories and BASAM participants remember, I’ve read this

How Do You Learn?

Last week I was prepping for fall quarter with a faculty member new to the BAS-AM program. As we talked through Weeks 1-3 of the quarter, we were both struck by how preparation we were doing for what seems like very little “teaching”. By “teaching” I mean the traditional educational format where the instructor is the source of all knowledge and the classroom conversation is uni-directional.

The BAS-AM program by design is the exact opposite of this educational model. In our program, we use an active learning where there are no students but a roomful of learners. Every person is a participant in the instruction contributing their knowledge and experiences. The faculty are there to set up and guide the learning and to enable continually evolving life long learning, a critical feature to flourish in the ever-changing workplace. And active learning is exactly how the workplace operates – I’m hard pressed to think of a single place where 100% of the learning comes from teaching versus doing.

It was so gratifying to read this article discussing research on active learning conducted at Harvard University. The findings suggest that when we are actively engaged in the learning process, we end up having an impactful experience, which is more “sticky”.

As I reflect back on my formal and my informal education, I am quite sure that the more transformative experiences where those where I was able to engage and immerse myself in the process – a player in the match, not a spectator in the stands.

I can’t wait to see how the Class of 2021 rises to the challenge of being on court players – stay tuned for stories of great things from these people!

Introducing the Skagit BASAM class of 2021

September 13, 2019 was a historic event at Skagit Valley College. It was the day we held the program onboarding for the second cohort of the college’s Bachelor in Applied Management program.

We spent the morning getting to know each other and the program. We learned we have a number of people for whom sky diving is a bucket list item as is travel. We discovered that many of us graduated from Skagit Valley College and that we represent a host of different professional interests from diesel and medical to culinary and banking. Most of all, we uncovered a sense of determination and a sense of camaraderie that will make each of us successful in our goal of obtaining a bachelor degrees.

Stay tuned folks: great things are coming from this class and I can’t wait to share their journey with you

Skagit Valley College Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Management – Class of 2021

Pen & Paper vs Mouse & Keyboard

I’ve been reading more and more about the advantages of using pen and paper for note taking over a laptop. Sure, electronic notes are a blessing, particularly if you have illegible writing as I do. But what I’ve been discovering from work such as this from Inc (no pun intended) is that pen and paper helps us to form better connections between what we already know and what we are learning.

I ditched electronic note taking five years ago. I was told by colleagues in a past life that there was a perception that because I was always behind a computer (taking notes), it seemed I was never mentally present. It took me a while but I find myself now agreeing with this observation. Electronic note taking gave me a huge amount of efficiency in terms of capturing thoughts, follow ups and “to do’s”. However, this efficiency came at the expense of truly hearing what was being said and listening with my eyes and ears (it’s hard to listen with your eyes if you’re looking at a computer screen).

It’s now rare to see me in a conversation or a meeting with a laptop. I have even ditched my Apple Watch that always seemed to misbehave at the most unfortunate moments — right in the middle of a teaching observation as some of my program members will remember!   With this change, I find I’m building better relationships and paying attention to details I otherwise might have missed. Losing a smidgen of efficiency seems to be a small price to pay to gain the power of personal connection. I’m now also a huge Bujo fan, but I’ll save that one for another post.

I’m curious to hear other experiences with the two note-taking media. Does one work better than the other for you? Why?

Ready to start “N”th grade ?

This fantastic op-ed that appeared in a recent issue of the New York Times eloquently captures the opportunities for re-sets that a new year brings.

As we approach the start of a new academic year at the Skagit Valley College Bachelor in Applied Science program I’m full of fervent New Year resolutions for my “nth” grade in the learning journey that is life. I’m sharing the top three themes I’ve been mulling on over the summer, along with the ways I’ll be attempting to put my ideas

In all my interactions, I want to be as cool as a cucumber on a hot summer’s day – I’ll work on this by assuming good intent;

I want to live each day with the same enthusiasm and joy that my puppy Bandit shows – I’ll do this through the power of exercise endorphins (in other words, I’ll sustain the workout routine I’ve developed); and,

I want to give my best to my program participants. I’ll do this by prioritizing time to “reboot, recharge and refresh”- nothing can perform at its optimal level without downtime for maintenance.

Any of these thoughts resonate? I’d love to hear your ideas on the “nth” grade of your life

The Countdown Begins

Skagit Valley College BASAM Class of 2020 – 3/4 of the way through a bachelor degree

With Labor Day behind us, the countdown to the start of the Fall Quarter is on. We are now at T-24 days and many of us are in full back-to-school mode. We are excited to welcome back the Class of 2018-20, pictured above on the last day of the year, all attired in our BAS-AM finest. And, we are equally excited to welcome the Class of 2019-21, who will take part in program onboarding on September 13.

I’m excited about the year ahead. But, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ll miss the more relaxed pace of summer work, the long evenings, the chance to be outside golfing, gardening, grilling, reading, exploring, ambling in the countryside with my puppy, being on the water, eating ice cream, the list of summer adventures is long. I’m bottling up memories of an unforgettable summer and when things get hectic in the fall, I’ll uncork this bottle. I’m hoping that as these memories waft through my mind, it will make things seem just a little less frantic.

What about you? What will you be remembering to keep you grounded once memories of a leisurely summer become all too distant?

Only One Chance to Make a First Impression

Some years ago, I spent two years working in a Marketing role in in the company at which I worked. We were working on a new brand launch and reviewing the marketing campaign that were going to be used to introduce this innovative, cutting edge product to consumers.

Although he was silent through the material review, from his body language those who knew him well could sense that the President was not happy with the materials that were being considered. At the end of the discussion, he stood up to leave, and from the meeting room door, looked back at the group and said “remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression”.

Those words stay with me fifteen years later. They come to mind in all sorts of contexts – meetings, interviews, program briefing sessions, entering a doctor’s office, talking to a new cashier at the grocery store. When I read this article by Harvard University psychology researcher Amy Cuddy, it reminded me of the words of my former colleague. I wonder how many of us think about the impressions we make and take and how these might impact the effectiveness of our interactions, personal and professional. Thanks to my former colleague, this is a topic we’re always talking about in the Skagit Valley College BAS in Applied Management program.