Posted by: maryraab | February 17, 2014

The Art of Possibility

There are few books unread on my shelves – the following I have not yet read up to now:
“The art of possibility”. Here is an excerpt of the pages 1-3.

The objective of this book is to lift of from a world of struggling to sail into the universe of possibility. The authors – Benjamin Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Rosamund Stone Zander has a private practice in family therapy.

Rose listens for the desire of people for something new, for conditions that do not exist, and she helps them create a framework that would make these conditions possible. Their basic conviction is that much more is possible than people ordinarily think.

The design of the book is based on an approach that the arts can bring human consciousness on the flow of product and capital, energising interpersonal connections and opening new doors for invention and practice.

There is a call for new definitions of who we are and what we are here for. This book uses the metaphor of music, and relies on all arts – rearranging us, creating emotional openings and paths to the eternal…a promising journey. Let’s see what happens on the following pages.

Source: Zander, R.S. and B. The art of possibility. Penguin Books. London. 2000. 1-3

The art of possibility

Posted by: maryraab | April 15, 2013

Steal like an artist

Posted by: maryraab | February 19, 2013

Creating a Project Plan

Definition of project scope

The team members have to understand exactly what the deliverables of the project are. Therefore a project announcement meeting could be of aid. This meeting includes all members of the team as well as all departments affected.

The main issues of such a meeting could be

1. clarification of the project’s purpose
2. delivery of the same message to all stakeholders
3. secure management support

Setting project objectives

After launching the project this second meeting helps project team members identify with their job within the project.

The agenda could consist of the following topics:

1. List of problems the team will solve
2. offer solutions the team should achieve
3. describe information the team will need
4. propose task areas and assignments, define the role of the team members, draft their responsibilities
5. plan the entire project in advance – create a rough draft, finetuning will follow later.

Develop initial schedules

Begin with the start date (1st meeting) and the completion date. Identify logical phases in between. Set realistic deadlines. Flexibility is required.

Thomsett, Michael.C.: The little black book of project management. Third Edition. American Management Association. New York. 2010.

Posted by: maryraab | July 24, 2012

Great advice for start-ups

Like a Virgin

One of the most interesting books on management I read this year was “Like a Virgin” written by Richard Branson.

It was the subtitle “Secrets that they don’t teach you at Business Schools” that caught my attention.

In the first chapter of the book Branson offers five secrets to starting a business and making it work. These five secrets for improving the chances of a new business are:

1. If you don’t enjoy it don’t do it.

Branson compares a business with a blank canvas an entrepreneur has to fill. Business people are like artists – they have to get every single thing right.

2. Be innovative – create something different.

Here he means something radically different – at least in terms of service.

3. Pride of association works wonders.

People are the biggest assets, they are the product of the manager, the entrepreneur. People who are proud to be associated with their company make the difference.

4. Lead by listening.

Branson states rules every manager should know, but most of them don’t stick to it. Rules like “never openly critcize people, never lose your temper, be quick to applaud a job well done.”

5. Be visible.

Don’t get stuck behind the desk – walk around, collect concerns and ideas. Talk to your staff and customers at every opportunity. Listen to good and bad and act on it.

Branson warns that even the best can fail at the first attempt.

His advice taken from the old song: “Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.”


Branson, Richard (2012): Like a Virgin. Virgin Books. pp 9-13

Posted by: maryraab | January 4, 2012

Branding and Brand Identity

Designing Brand Identity

Alina Wheeler, author of this beautifully made and highly interesting book, aspires to

  • provide fundamentals and best practices
  • delight customers and attract prospects and
  • make it easy to build brand equity.

On an average day we are exposed to thousands of advertisments and even more new products. Brand helps us to make wise choices.

First of all this book describes and explains the basics. Makes aware of the numerous functions and affects brands offer.

“Image and perception help drive value;
without an image there is no perception.”

Scott M. Davis, Brand Asset Manager

There is a difference between brand and brand identiy.

“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company.”

Marly Neumeier, The Brand Gap

What is a brand?

“As competition creates infinite choices, companies look for ways to connect emotionally with customers, become irreplaceable, and create lifelong relationships. A strong brand stands out in a densely crowded marketplace. People fall in love with brands, trust them and believe in their superiority. How a brand is perceived affects its success, regardless of whether it’s a start-up, a nonprofit, or a product.”

“The best brands marry intelligence and insight with imagination and craft.”

Brand touchpoints

Each touchpoint is an opportunity to increase awareness and build customer loyalty. There are numerous touchpoints:

  • Advertising
  • Environments
  • Experiences
  • Websites
  • Newsletters
  • Business Forms
  • Signage
  • Packaging
  • Exhibits
  • Proposals
  • Voicemails
  • Web Banners
  • Letterheads
  • Business Cards
  • Billboards
  • Vehicles
  • Services
  • Products
  • Employees
  • Speeches
  • Presentations
  • Networking
  • Telephone
  • Words of Mouth
  • Trade Shows
  • Direct Mail
  • Public Relations
  • Blogs
  • Social Media
  • Sales Promotion

What is brand identy?

Brand identity is an asset relying on design.
“Design plays an essential role in creating and building brands. Design differentiates and embodies the intangibles – emotion, context, and essence – that matter most to consumers.”

Moira Cullen, The Hershey Company

Wheeler, Alina (2009). Designing Brand Identity. Third edition. John Wiley & Sons. New Jersey.

Posted by: maryraab | December 23, 2011

Instructional Studies

Improving School Achievements

Studies showed that students in the successful intelligence condition (analyst, operational and practical) outperformed the other students in the performance assessment – even in the multiple choice memory test.
“It allows children to capitalize on their strengths and to correct or compensate for their weaknesses, and it allows children to encode material in a variety of interesting ways”. (Sternberg, p 64)

Improving Abilities

Practical intelligence is also “an important antecendent ” of life success. (Sternberg, p 66)

The level of intelligence causes a social dilemma. Many able persons will be disenfranchised, because the kinds of abilities they have, although important for job performance, are not important for test performance – e.g. the kinds of creative and practical skills.

Posted by: maryraab | December 18, 2011

Successful Intelligence

Wisdom, Intelligence, and Creativity Synthesized is the title of Robert J. Sternberg’s book on a synthesized approach to intelligence and school-teaching.

Sternberg outlines the development of theories of intelligence, summarizing the findings of Galton, Binet, Spearman, Thurston, Guilford, etc.

His approach is to find a synthesis of intelligenc, creativity and wisdom, starting with his theory of Successful Intelligence.

Here is an excerpt taken from the pages 42 – 46.


  1. Intelligence is defined in terms of the ability to achieve success in life in terms of one’s personal standards, within one’s sociocultural context.
  2. One’s ability to achieve success depends on capitalizing on one’s strenths and correcting or compensating for one’s weaknesses.
  3. Balancing abilities is achieved in order to adapt to, shape and select environments.
  4. Success is attained through a balance of analytical, creative and practical abilities.

Information processing components underlying successful intelligence

The need to define problems and generate strategies to solve these problems exists in any culture.
Sternberg outlines the following components:

Plan, monitor and evaluate the solution.

Performance components
Comparison of stimuli, justification if a response is adequate – and making the response.

Knowledge acquistion components
Learn how to solve problems, decide which information is relevant in the context of one’s learning

Sternberg’s theory of successful intelligence is referred to as triarchic. It comprises three subtheories:

  • A componental subtheory dealing with the components of intelligence
  • An experimental subtheory dealing with the importance of coping with relatve novelty and of automation of information processing, and
  • A contextual subtheory dealing with processes of adaption, shaping and selection.

According to Sternberg people who score high in conventional intelligence but low in successful intelligence are committing four fallacies in their thinking:

  1. stable-trait fallacy: belief that once smart, always smart, neglect life-long learning, lose their edge
  2. general ability fallacy: smart in one thing – smart in everthing; high levels of performance in school domains don’t mean they are explerts in any domain
  3. life-success fallacy: success in tests – rest is guaranteed. IQ alone does not guarantee success in life
  4. moral-equivalence fallacy: smart does not eqate good

Source: Sternberg, Robert, J. (2003).Wisdom, Intelligence, and Creativity Synthesized. Cambridge University Press. US

I am looking forward to reading and studying the following pages on the application of successful intelligence theory to practical teaching as well as on creativity and the relations among intelligence, creativity and wisdom.

Posted by: maryraab | February 6, 2011

The Gifts of Imperfection

That’s the title of a book written by Brené Brown, a writer and research professor, as “a guide to a wholehearted life”.
“Let go off who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are” she recommends. A sentence that led me to make a journey throughout my life, remembering all the self-help books I had read.
That reading was based on my thinking that I should change a lot about me, that I’m not enough at the given moment.

There were lots of faults I accused myself

the structure of my body
eating habits
language knowledge
time management
self esteem
spending habits
house keeping
style etc.

I read all ‘How to do anything better’- guides that came into my way.
“When can I stop proving myself to everyone?” is the question I have to ask myself.
Why don’t embrace my imperfections, cultivate authenticity, and look the world in the eye and say ‘I am enough’?
That question makes me reflect and change my opinion about myself. “I am enough”.

PS.: That does not mean I’m not trying to give commitment and love to everything I do.

Brown, Brené (2010). The gifts of imperfection. Hazelden. Minnesota

Posted by: maryraab | January 22, 2011

Explain your grade

Barbara Gross Davis suggests the following procedure:
“A: Excellent in nearly all aspects. The interest of the reader is engaged by the ideas and presentation. Style and organization seem natural and easy. Paper marked by originality of ideas.

B: Technically competent, with a lapse here and there. The thesis is clear, properly limited, and reasonable, and the prose is generally effective without rising to sustained distinction.

C: A competent piece of work but not yet good. C papers are more or less adequately organized along obvious lines, and the thesis tends to be oversimple or imprudent without being wildly implausible.
Monotony of sentence structure is apparent, and errors are sprinkled throughout. In some C papers, excellent ideas are marred by poor presentation – either development, organization, or technical errors. In other C papers, the organization, structure and grammar are not flawed, but the ideas and how they are developed need work. In yet other C papers, there are only a few technical errors and the organization and ideas are adequate but not noteworthy.

D: A piece of work that demonstrates some effort on the author’s part but that is to marred by technical problems or flaws in thinking and development of ideas to be considered competence work.

E: This is a failing grade, usually reserved for pieces of work that demonstrate minimal effort on the author’s part. The writer has drastically misinterpreted the assignment and written half as many words as requested. Paragraph breaks are random; subjects and verbs, pronouns and antecedents turn against one another in wild discord.”
Gross Davis, Barbara: Tools for Teaching. Jossey-Basse. San Francisco. p. 224-225

Posted by: maryraab | January 19, 2011

Tools for Teaching

I want to introduce a very useful book for teachers: “Tools for Teaching” by Barbara Gross Davis

Though this book was written for university and college classes, some content may be useful for teaching high school classes too.

  • Explaining clearly
  • Give your students the
  • context
  • structure
  • terminology
  • they will need to understand the new concepts and to relate to what they already know.

General strategies

  • Place the concept in the larger context of the subject.
  • How does today’s topic relate do earlier material?
  • Give a brief summary of the new concept.
  • Give students a road map
  • At the beginning of class, put a brief outline on the board or provide a handout. Handout can also include new terms, formulas and PowerPoint slides shown in class.Give students a list of questions.

Avoid telling students everything you know. Students may become confused, anxious or bored when faced with an information overflow.Set an appropriate pace.
Speak more slowly when students are taking notes, when you are explaining new material, complex topics, and abstract issues. Pick up pace when telling stories, summarizing a previous lesson or presenting examples.

This article is based on

Gross Davis, Barbara: Tools for Teaching. Jossey-Basse. San Francisco. p 120

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