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Facilitating at ARM

We were in Pittsburgh last week working with ARM - Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing. We had the opportunity to facilitate ARM's first Solutions Summit centered on regional training resources as they relate to robotics in manufacturing.  The Mill 19 facility is a great place to convene and get excited about the future of robotics for manufacturing. ARM's membership really engaged during the Solutions Summit and provided expertise, out-of-the-box thinking, and a vision for the future. Thank you to the participants for bringing your passion and creativity to this initiative. We are excited to see what happens next!

Day 1 of the ARM Solutions Summit in Pittsburgh!

Day 2

Mill 19

Leadership, Excellence, and Philosophy

Good leaders need to strive for excellence, but how? Is philosophy the answer? Well, maybe...Many philosophers have written about how to live a good life, how to be a good person, how to behave excellently? As a business leader, there are many expectations placed upon you each day, so how do you act rightly, lead well, maintain your cool, and support your team? We think that you do this by studying philosophy and applying these principles to today's problems. Let's dig in...
Plato wrote a great deal about living a good life and making proper decisions.. His student, Aristotle, also followed suit in attempting to define what it means to live a good life and it can be argued that Aristotle went a bit further in his investigation of what it means to achieve happiness. 
Both Plato and Aristotle agree that achieving a good life requires virtuous behavior and thought. Do you believe that being a good leader requires virtuous behavior and thought? We think so too! By reading some of the ancient philosophers' theories, you will discover that Aristotle thought great habits lead to virtuosity. It is the establishment of correct habits performed again and again that makes us ethically fit. If you choose rightly the first time, then another time, and so on, once you get to the 100th time making the same kind of decision, it is a no brainer! You will make the right choice and in so doing, Aristotle would proclaim that your good habit is helping you to achieve a good life. What do you think of this discussion so far? Tomorrow, we will delve a bit more deeply into Plato's thoughts, but for now, we would love to hear what you have to say. Is philosophy the answer to right thinking?

What Kind of Leader Are You?

We really like the principles of transformational leaders...however there are so many different types of leaders that we think it is probably best to assimilate characteristics of a few and create your own leadership style that best fits your authentic self. 

We recommend reading a few different books and culling together some common-sense ideas about what makes a good leader. Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia is a great read. Not only will you become more eco-conscious, but you will also learn about making ethical choices and helping people progress both economically and with greater social conscious. 

Check out our blog post on Leading with Compassion

Personal Worth Above Self Worth

At Erudite Ingenuity staying current and relevant takes a great deal of time. We try to read a lot, ask questions, watch TED Talks, attend conferences, and just generally stay 'in-the-know'. To that end, we are starting a series on some of our favorite reads over the years. I am going to begin with a book that is fairly dense and not for the meek and mild. Awareness by Anthony De Mello is one of my top picks and has become sort of a reference book for me, meaning that I find myself rereading passages, grabbing it when I want to relax with a book, and just keeping it on my nightstand for comfort. It is written in the first person in short chapters with very simple points, which sounds pretty basic, but the book is pretty life-changing. I know, kind of dramatic, but it is...Somehow the author knows that we are all sleeping through life and he wants us to wake up! 

When reading Awareness, you will feel like you are getting help with daily life in a bigger way than a self-help book might help you. The author attempts to deal with the bigger picture issues in life. The author commands that you are honest when delving into this read, and then he explores happiness and our desire for happiness. One of the best things that he recommends is that you stop worrying about what others think and simply spend time observing yourself. It sounds so simple, but it truly is not. 

We are so taken up with what everyone thinks, what everyone recommends, how everyone else lives his/her life, that we miss the point of living and observing our own selves. Take the time to explore your own mind and don't let anyone else's mind interfere with that exploration. This book is one of Tim Ferris' favorites as well and he discusses it in his podcast. I recommend a listen. (Awareness by Anthony De Mello)

Are you busy?

“Some identify happiness with virtue, some with practical wisdom, others with a kind of philosophical wisdom, others add or exclude pleasure and yet others include prosperity. We agree with those who identify happiness with virtue, for virtue belongs with virtuous behavior and virtue is only known by its acts.” - Aristotle

I haven't posted on the blog in a while...I have been busy or have I been engaged in a business?  Well, who knew that both of these words have the same etymology? Did you know that the word 'business' is actually from the archaic word, 'busyness'? 

 I am a bit surprised. The word 'busyness' clearly means to be active or in the words of Merriam-Webster, "purposeful activity". So, how did the word 'business' come to mean "a usually commercial or mercantile activity engaged in as a means of livelihood". I am quite familiar with this definition, I mean, this is how we speak about our business; it is an activity that we pursue daily in order to make a living, but it is so much more.  

At Erudite Ingenuity, our business means:

1. Coaching

 We coach our clients and we coach each other to improve, try new things and focus on the right activities each day, every day, all the days.

2. Family

 Our family is the primary reason that we want our business to succeed, so it is a vital and daily consideration in all of our activities. 

3. Meetings

Since we both hail from corporate America, we are extremely cautious about meetings. Is the topic important enough to require a conversation or will an email suffice? Is a phone meeting required or should we schedule a face to face call? How should we present the agenda to garner the most benefit to our clients?


4. Discussions

Discussions might be 'on the fly' in the car or at a coffee shop..we may pause a TV show to discuss a topic we forgot to bring up earlier in the day.  No matter the place or time, discussions are an important part of the everyday and we take the time to touch base every single morning.

5. Debates

Debates is the kind word for arguments...sometimes we disagree about an approach or a writing style or a new product design. Whatever the reason, we debate very well! 

6. Writing

We have our expert writers and then we have our ideas...sometimes those ideas are way ahead of our written expression and when that happens #7 comes into play.

7. 'Heads Down' Work

I often use this expression to help my children understand that putting one's head down and simply 'doing the work' is one of the most important skills to learn. We must know how to create a deliverable, whether it is finishing a manual, writing a blog post, producing a new coaching document, creating a business process improvement map or working on billing...'Heads Down' is important!

8. Collaborating

Sometimes, we need to get out of our own heads and sit down for a collaborative session. When we take the time to collaborate, we always produce something noteworthy. 

9. Thinking

Do you ever just sit and think?  We have read all the self-help books about meditating and thinking...but putting that into practice is very difficult and requires a great deal of discipline.  Our background is in philosophy and yet, we still have trouble with this one. The notion of simply thinking is not a revered quality in our country.  Just think if your boss stumbled upon you sitting at your desk 'thinking'!

10. Blogging

I love blogging and it is hailed as one of the most effective (and free) means of earning business, so I try to stay on top of my blog posts, but sometimes I push it to the back of the list of things to do and then, I find myself a little lost, because blogging makes me smile.

 11. Making

To me, 'Making' means that we are producing new things to sell and new documentation for clients...we 'make' a lot!

12. Word Talk

Sometimes, we debate (read argue) about what word is right on a document or how we should say something on a product. Words are important and conveying the right meaning with the right word is something we take very seriously. 

13. Travel

Our business requires 'Travel', so figuring out how to navigate our way is very important as we cross the globe for our clients. 

14. Coffee

Well, doesn't 'Coffee' always belong on every list!

15. Freedom

I know that entrepreneurship is exhausting and requires endless hours of time outside of the workday, but it is also incredibly freeing.

 16. Family Dinners

 'Family Dinners' are definitely part of our business...we talk about erudite ingenuity at the dinner table..we give kudos to anyone at the table with a new idea, we engage in debates (read argue) about the direction of products, but most of all, we rely on our family to keep us grounded.

 17. Money

I put money at the bottom of the list because even though it is vitally important for survival, we have discovered that placing too much importance on the pursuit of money leads us in the wrong direction.

 18. Flexibility

Flexibility is difficult to attain and even more difficult to remember to practice day in and day out...we are always looking for new ways to do things, faster, better, more reliably, you get the idea, but the single most important factor of flexibility is to not grip things too tightly, to understand that clients change, needs change and so we must change.  
At Erudite Ingenuity, our business might just mean busyness after all..I mean, we are certainly engaged in "purposeful activities". I can't help but wonder if Aristotle would like my list, perhaps he would adopt a few of these as virtues? Remember, virtue is only known by its acts. 🙂

Is Excellence An Act or a Habit…

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"Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."


Aristotle 

The original quote is much longer, but sometimes I think it is helpful to break things down a bit. Can the word excellence really not denote an act, but actually be understood as a habit?  What does this mean?  The idea here is that by acting appropriately each and every day, we will achieve excellence. So, if excellence is ‘won’ by acting rightly again and again, then it follows that excellence is actually a habit, not one act, but a habit. 
 I can’t resist circling back to business here…in business; one stellar moral action does not create morality. In the same way, one great phone call with a client doesn’t mean that you have given the client excellent service, it only means that you had one great phone call and it should be followed by another and another and another.  
Repeated excellent phone calls, thereby creating a habit, will then make your service worthy of being called excellent. Even one charitable contribution does not make you a charitable human being, it simply means that you have committed one action that is good and repeated good actions may lead to an achievement of the virtue of being charitable. Do you see where we are going here? Excellence is only achieved if you choose the right action again and again, each and every time. Check back soon...We are going to stay on this topic!

Do Good Habits Really Lead to a Good Life?

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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle

Aristotle 

Personally, this is my favorite quote by Aristotle, I just love the emphasis on consistency.  Again and again, all that we read points to the notion that in order to be successful; one must stay the course, follow a routine, be consistent, etc. I hearken back to one of my original blogs, Aristotle had it right all along, no self-help books needed, the secret to the good life is to read philosophy! Seriously though, the secret achieving excellence in work and life is to do the right thing, make the right choice, again and again.  So, are you ready for this exploration, here we go!

“Moreover, we take the human function to be a certain kind of life, and take this life to be activity and actions of the soul that involve reason; hence the function of the excellent man is to do this well and finely.” Aristotle


Everyone is purporting the secrets to a good life, but I always shake my head and think, Aristotle had it right all along.  We give credit to self help books, entrepreneurs that made it big, celebrities that give back and all sorts of other folks along the way, but the real credit belongs to philosophers. Aristotle identified the idea that happiness is what we all seek at the onset of his examination of man. If we move from this premise that we all desire happiness for happiness sake alone, we are better able to ascertain how we should live.  If happiness is the goal, it should follow that all of our activities should be in the pursuit of happiness.  
Now, wait a minute, don’t run in the direction of hedonism believing that you are now living Aristotle’s definition of a good life, you are not. It is a bit more complicated than that…Aristotle believes that you must first define what it means to be happy, and a little hint here, it doesn’t mean that you should pursue pleasure at every turn. Happiness is defined as the "best good” according to Aristotle. So, what would make you happy may not make me happy, does that follow then?  Well, perhaps, but the real crux here is that if you pursue your life rightly, you will behave properly each and every day, thereby becoming consistent and excellent.  How did he make that leap? A minute ago we were talking about happiness and perhaps you were thinking that you should forego work and relax on the beach each day, not so, says Aristotle. You need to identify what makes us human, or more succinctly put, what is the function of being human? Aristotle believes it is "the activity of the soul in accord with reason or requiring reason.” Okay, back to our beginning quote, read it again and this time, think about each word in the quote, are you able to summarize the meaning? Aristotle wants us to understand that we are here for a purpose, that we all share the same goal, happiness…however the path to truly achieving happiness begins with an understanding of our function as humans.  He identifies reason as our uniquely human function, and to achieve excellence, we must learn to reason well. So, let’s go with this pursuit of knowledge and see where it leads.

How will we ever learn to reason well and what does this have to do with business anyways?

I like the exploration of what makes us uniquely human because it provides a framework for our behavior. If we learn to reason well, we will do well in our personal and professional pursuits. But achieving excellence, doesn’t that seem a bit daunting?  Aristotle understood that the pursuit of excellence was a lifelong activity and he put it eloquently when he stated, “For one swallow does not make a spring, nor does one day; nor, similarly, does one day or a short time make us blessed and happy.” (Nichomachean Ethics) 


The point is that it takes a complete life to measure one’s excellence and proper behavior must be exhibited again and again. So, back to business for a moment; if we behave virtuously again and again, what might happen in our business relationships?  How might this consistent application of virtuous behavior affect our professional associations?  What sort of a world would we be living in if reliance on receiving the most virtuous and excellent dealings in business is expected? A satisfactory and pleasant business life would surely ensue.  Aristotle purported that happiness requires an excellent pursuit of our function, namely reason, so it follows that happiness is derived from proper reasoning, which leads to the pursuit of excellence and by proxy, virtuous actions. We haven’t quite answered the leading question yet, it takes a while to dig through this philosophy stuff, stay with us!

5 Ways To Increase Contract Training Sales

Top 5 Ways To Increase Your Contract Training Revenue

1. Find Your Top 50

Strategic selling requires knowing your geographical area, so spend time researching the top 50 businesses that you should contact. Focusing on your top 50 helps to narrow your message and better understand your audience. For example, perhaps you are surrounded by manufacturing facilities...Well, then it might be a good idea to understand the deficiencies that exist in the manufacturing industry today in terms of employee skills. Use this information to customize a program that focuses on upskilling manufacturing employees. 


2. Make Phone Calls

Many people are afraid to make phone calls to potential clients or they have convinced themselves that phone calls are not a productive use of their time.  This isn’t true! Phone calls are a great way to connect with your prospects. Phone calls are personal and 

effective. Your approach and preparation prior to making phone calls is key to making this work. You need to have an idea of what you are going to say, you need to rehearse a bit before diving into a phone call blitz, and you need to smile.  That’s right, it has been said again and again, but people are able to tell if you mean what you say by your tone, so smile, and relax!

3. Being Part of a College Matters, Use The Advantage!

It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities and forget that we are part of something bigger. Our college or university has prestige and knowledgeable people on campus, share this knowledge with your community. Send an email to all of the department chairs inquiring about who has published recently, check out their books and articles, and apply that newfound information to one of your programs. Sharing information is key to creating value. 

4. Campaign Strategically Via Email

You probably have a marketing department to help you with this step, but it is critical that you generate content ideas. Part of being able to get meetings with top businesses in your area relies on your knowledge of the trends in business...You need to know what is happening and you need to let area businesses know that your department can help with training needs.

5. Host Your Own Events

One great way to generate opportunity and create buzz around your department is by hosting your own event. Colleges are a hub for exceptional talent. Consider asking faculty and other subject matter experts to speak at your event. Many of these individuals have tremendous experience, knowledge of best practices, innovative ideas, and groundbreaking technologies regarding our marketplace. 


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Fostering a sense of empowerment…

As we continue our exploration into the importance of empowerment in the workplace, I wanted to share one of my favorite TED Talks. Amy Cuddy researches how our body language shapes who we are, she purports that one can actually "Fake it till you become it." In her research, Cuddy discovered that "Our bodies can change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, which will ultimately lead to our behavior changing our outcomes." Her suggestion that we all practice power posing in an effort to change how we interact with others, how confident we feel, and to empower us to be our best selves is backed by her scientific experiments. Take a listen...