Playing around with P2PU and Open Badges.

P2PU Logo from P2PU.org

Gamification and Badgifacation

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows I am very interested in games and how they can be used to influence behaviour. So much so in fact, that a BIG part of my Doctorate in Education work has focused around gamification. A very closely related field is badgification. I originally became interested in it when I noticed how I would continue to play an Xbox game I did not particularly enjoy JUST to continue gathering achievement points. I’m fascinated by the power badges and points hold to keep you engaged in a process that is marginally entertaining just to gather more badges. So, one of the things that has been on my mind for a while is this. I need to work on increasing my coding skills and what better way to do that than to experiment with badgification at the same time! By blogging, I have learned some HTML and CSS and I have studied JavaScript over at Code Academy. However, I stumbled onto P2PU and just HAD to play with their badge system. It looks so cool and it is fully integrated with the Mozilla Open Badge Program. As soon as I figure out how to share my Open Badge Backpack I’ll post a link here.

Anyways, I am now enrolled in the Webmaking 101 Challenge at P2PU. Part of this challenge will have me writing posts over here about things related to webcraft, coding, etc.  This work will then be peer review and eventually, I’ll be rewarded with some cool badges to show off my newly acquired skills. As I progress I’ll also share some of my thoughts about the program, its strengths and weaknesses, and how I feel it is preparing me to eventually create some of my own interactive media.

For Further Study

If you are curious about gamification and how it can be used at home, school, or the workplace I recommend you take a look at Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. Jane is passionate about gaming and human behaviour and has written what is easily my favourite book on the topic. It’s entertaining, interesting and informative. Click here to get a copy.

For Discussion

Have you had any experience with P2PU, Code Academy, or any similar sites? What was your experience?

Do You REALLY Need Milk?

Is Milk good for you?Is Milk good for you?

Is Milk actually good for you? We are told it is. However, it’s worth considering the data available and remembering that the milk of years ago is not the same as what we drink now.

My friend Chris over at Stitches n’ Dishes shared a great info graphic about milk and I thought I should share it with all of you as well. Giving up milk is not easy, but I did that about 6 months ago and it has changed my life. Since I started eating paleo

I have lost about 30 pounds and I eat a richer fuller diet than I ever thought possible. I eat more fresh fruit and veggies than before. Moreover, I eat a lot of fabulous things like crab legs, shrimp, steak, etc… My initial concern was that my kids need milk, but the logic in The Paleo Solution gave me the confidence I needed to give it a go. My other concern was the cost. However,  I quickly discovered my grocery bill dropped about 10-15% when I stopped buying processed foods and focused my shopping on quality meat and produce.

Take a look at the infographic and let me know what you think. Paleo eating may not be for everyone, but it does accommodate vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and it would be hard to argue against fresh food over processed. If you are looking for a comprehensive system to get started or improve your Paleo eating you might also benefit from these Paleo Hacks.

Is Milk Dangerous?

For Further Study:

My two favorite books on this topic are The Paleo Revolution and Whole 30. Both of these books will help you transition to a clean eating whole foods lifestyle. Moreover, they are filled with wonderful recipes that will not leave you feeling like you are missing out on anything. If you need a comprehensive program to assist you in your transition this program of Paleo Hacks is awesome.

For Discussion:

So I’m curious where do you stand on the issue of milk? DO you consider it an essential part of your diet, a luxury, or have you given it up? If you gave it up how do you feel?

My 2013 Fitness Plan 14 Day Update!

A 5 pounds of fat11 Pounds of Fat Gone!

Well here we are officially 14 days into the new year, so I thought it was time I give everyone an update on where I am and where I am going with my goals so far. The GREAT news is I have lost 11 pounds already in 2013! It’s about 1/5 of what I’m looking for for the year.

Discipline is Key

I am VERY happy with myself so far because I have been disciplined about my eating and done an excellent job of sticking to my diet. Because of this, I’m making progress and the results are absolutely showing. My clothes fit better and some are even a little baggy now and I just feel 100% better. I have two of those five-pound blocks and one of the one pounders off my body for good and I am VERY excited! I’m a dad, and getting this weight off is VERY important to me. I need to be here to take care of my girls and everything else I do in the world is meaningless if I’m not here for them. I think when you start looking at it that way it gets a lot easier to stick to your game plan.

I Feel Good

My clothes fit better and some are even a little baggy now and I feel 100% better. I have two of those five-pound blocks and one of the one pounders off my body for good and I am VERY excited! I’m a dad, and getting this weight off is VERY important to me. I need to be here to take care of my girls. Honestly, everything else I do in the world is meaningless if I’m not here for them. I think when you start looking at it that way it gets a lot easier to stick to your game plan.

The Plan

I have started my push-up, sit-up, and squat challenge but have been taking it easy while on the restricted diet. I’ll be relaxing the diet for a few weeks in a couple days though and plan to increase that activity as soon as I do. It’s been cold, so I haven’t been getting out to run yet, but I am taking the stairs at work and trying to generally increase my activity. My birthday is coming up, so I am moving into a maintenance phase on the diet (I’m realistic and still want to have fun!) and upping the physical output till February 1st, then back onto the strict diet for February with the goal of dropping another 20 pounds or so before I get focused on my running.

I know everybody starts off very motivated in the beginning of the year. However, I know from experience that if you use this time to build momentum and see results I can follow through with my goals for the entire year. Blogging this here keeps me involved and focused on whats important.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll start building out my list of races for the year starting with a spring 5K or two leading into my summer and fall mud runs, with a possible BIG event later in the year. Who knows what that will be? Could be anything from a 10K to a 50-mile trail race… only time will tell!

For Discussion

How are you doing on your goals so far?

The White House Denies Petition to Build a Death Star

Let me start by saying I am very active in my government… I write my congressmen and senators about key issues and I follow the news closely. I try hard to keep most of my political bias out of this blog, but I thought this was a GREAT way to make sure people knew about the We the People a petition site started by the White House where any citizen can start a petition on any topic and if it reaches the target number of signatures will receive an official response from the White House.  I think it’s worth visiting this site regularly and taking a few minutes to look over what other people think is important and also put your support behind a few worthy causes. Now this being the internet you know this had to get trolled  It is moderated, but somehow the request to the White House to build a Death Star as a job creation plan and defense initiative slipped through so I HAD to sign it! Well here we are several months later… and as a signer I and received a response that made me literally laugh out loud. I hope you enjoy this half as much as I did!

email_petition_header_650x100

This Is Not the Petition Response You’re Looking For

By Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sizedInternational Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser— roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building aprobe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on buildingLuke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-everWhite House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

What’s likely to happen over the next 150 years? (infographic)

This is an interesting question and as a person who reads allot and is into sci-fi I find this topic very fascinating. In the following infographic shows  some predictions whats likely to happen and it’s odds over the next 150 years. Interesting topics in here about the singularity (possible in my lifetime!), space bases, genetic research, and cybernetic technology. Take a look and let me know in the comments what you think! I’m curious to see everyone’s thoughts!

A info-graphic covering what thinkers scientists and pundits think is likley to happen over the next 150 years!

My 2013 fitness plan!

survivormudrun
Kristi and I at Survivor Mud Run Seattle 2011

I have to admit over the last two years I have let myself go. The stress of corporate life and my doctorate along with some undiagnosed health issues really got the best of me and I ballooned up to nearly 280 pounds. I thought I carried it well until I had to buy a 3XL shirt! I nearly died! Last year I played a lot with food. I ate raw vegan, I ate vegetarian, and I ate a new way… Paleo.  For me this just works. I dropped about 30 pounds on the HCG diet with my doctor and have kept it off with the exception of a few holiday pounds. So here is the 2013 plan. As of right now I am on day 3 of a 21 day HCG cycle. I should lose another 18-25 pounds and I am REALLY excited about that! Then my birthday, a few weeks of paleo eating and another 21 day cycle. That should put me near 200 pounds and pretty close to where I was when I was married 13 years ago.

In the mean time I am also doing the 100 push-up, 200 sit-up, and 200 squat challenges and trying to get some good long walks in on the nice days. Starting in the spring when it warms up I’ll start my daily runs back up and I’m going to shoot for 250 burpees by the end of the summer. I’m also going to start doing some off-road running races, several mud runs and maybe an off-road sprint triathlon. I know it sounds like a lot of training, but it’s really not. I’m trying to keep it under 30 minutes a day and am only at about 15 minutes right now. as the weight comes down I’ll also pull out my pull up bar and kick off the 100 pull-up challenge plan.

I know that sounds like a lot of exercise, but the core of my health changes are really focused on quality paleo eating. In essence it’s the “cave man” diet. Ask yourself would a cave man eat this? and if the answer is no… skip it. I eat all the fresh vegetables, fruit, and organic grass fed meat I want. No counting calories no real rules to follow other than avoid grains and dairy. At first this sounds very restrictive, but I can assure you I enjoy eating this way better than the crap I used to eat. Tonight we had lemon garlic roasted chicken, raw carrots, fresh strawberries, and a spinach salad. For me there is a LOT to get excited about there! I’ll be writing more about paleo eating in the coming weeks and sharing some recipes. If you want one to get you started try out these awesome gluten free, high protein paleo pancakes! 

I’m only a few days into this, but I feel great and I will keep everyone posted on my progress.

Spoiler alert… I’m considering a late fall marathon. 🙂

What are your fitness goals for 2013?

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013!

happy new yearWell 2013 is officially here. To be honest, I’m pretty excited. I learned a lot about myself (both good and bad) in 2012 and I am 100% committed to bettering myself this year. So… what do I have in mind? I lost 30 pounds in 2012, but I think I can do better I’m shooting for 50 more pounds gone by year-end! I’m also really focused on finishing my Ed Doctorate… It NEEDS to get done. As for my career, I am committing to being a more focused coach and trainer. I have been active but not to the degree I feel I could be. If I want to move my career forward I need to not only finish school I need to take production to the next level. I’m also placing a big priority on my family this year. Not that it wasn’t a priority in the first place, but I want to make sure I spend the quality time with them that they deserve. So here is my bullet pointed list of priorities for 2013 in no particular order:

  • Eat Palio 90% of the time
  • Drop another 50 pounds
  • Complete the 100 push-up, 100 sit-up and 150 squat challenge.
  • Start racing again
  • Complete and defend my dissertation
  • Spend more quality time with my wife, children, and friends.
  • More games less TV
  • Read for 1 hour every day
  • Write for 1 hour every day
  • When I’m at work be 100% focused on work and when I’m home be 100% focused on home life.
  • Learn to relax!

So that’s it in a nut shell I have a loose plan to be healthier and more successful with both my career and family. The theme of this year is gong to be about balance and that’s tough for me because I tend to be a person who goes to extremes and I’m sure we will be talking about that in the next few weeks.

Whats YOUR plan for 2013 and why?

Google Maps is now available for iPhone!

Google Maps for iOS 6I am an iPhone junkie! I love my iPhone and I love iOS. That being said I am not Such an Apple fan boy that I am unwilling to call them out when they screw up. I have very high expectations from Apple when it comes to quality, service, and user experience. When I launched the Apple Maps app for the first time I was stunned by how awesome it looked. Downtown Bellevue Washington was beautifully rendered and I thought “This is going to be awesome!” Then I used it… and let’s just be honest here… They sucked. Now for all you Android fans out there. I had an Android phone and I liked it. I REALLY liked the maps on Android. However, the Google Maps I had on my phone was NOT The same maps Android users were getting, and that was what Apple was trying to fix. With that in mind, for me if ONE good thing came out of the whole Apple iOS Maps debacle; it was that I now have turn by turn directions on my Google Maps iPhone app! YAY! so head on over to the app store and download it!

From Google:

People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone. Starting today, we’re pleased to announce that Google Maps is here—rolling out across the world in the Apple App Store. It’s designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you’re looking for faster and easier.

via Google Maps is now available for iPhone | Official Google Blog.

Lego Galaxy Squad!

Pretty much anyone who knows me knows I LOVED the Lego Alien Conquest series and I was VERY sad to see it go. Luckily I got most of the cool sets before it was out of stores and even picked up a couple on clearance at deep discounts! What made me really sad about this particular discontinuation was that there was not good space series once Alien Conquest was gone (Besides the obvious Star Wars stuff I’m also in love with!) I know everyone says any piece is a space piece and I have done some cool things with Ninjago parts but I really like space Legos. It’s nostalgic for me because I grew up on Lego Classic Space.

The newest Lego space series is called Galaxy Squad, and I’m really excited about it! The creatures are cool because it’s a cool mix of insect looking aliens and more classic looking space ships similar to what you build in the Lego MBA set (That I have yet to finish due to some issues at work). I havent bought any of these sets yet, but I promise I will and as soon as I do there will be pictures!

So what do you think? Id Lego Galaxy Squad an epic win or epic fail?

Do you have a selling system?

Having a selling system helps you achieve your goals. Systems are Important

Sales managers… What are you doing for your staff? I know you hold training sessions, set goals, monitor performance, and keep people accountable. We all do those things. What separates great sales managers from the average is the ability to help salespeople build good habits, learn discipline and follow a consistent selling system.

We all want every sale to be form fit to the customer based on a relationship we have developed and leveraged over time. This helps us develop an ideal solution for each client. I also know that most salespeople will use this desire for appointment customization and relationship building to fight you on the development of any sort of sales system. I am here to tell you this is a huge mistake. Systematization is central to effective selling. It keeps us on track, it prevents us from forgetting key steps in the process, and it ensures we are efficient with our time.

So ask yourself: Have I helped my staff to develop a solid selling system that works? 

This does not have to be complicated, but it helps to have a strategy. Imagine a football team trying to play a game with no pre-set plays? Nobody knows what is going to happen next and while some plays will work, most will end in disaster. Are the players inflexible and unable to customize when running plays from the playbook? No, because they have a set of option strategies they can implement to adjust plays. My goal for my staff is to provide them a framework to follow and then give them a series of plays and options to run based on what they find. This leaves them free to do what they need to but they are never far from the known path.

Example: My Telemarketing Strategy

For an appointment setting call for my staff the framework looks like this:

Rapport

Motivation

Qualification

Payment

Start Date 

Referral

I have them write this on a piece of paper and make sure they have covered every point before asking for an appointment… The “Plays” are how we move from point to point depending on how things are going. It’s not a lock step script just a simple framework that lets them know where they are and when they have enough information to ask for an appointment.

For Further Study

I love Brian Tracy’s Advanced Selling Strategies. In this book, Brian will share with you strategies, tactics, and the mindset you need to develop your own system and close more deals. If you are looking for more of a cookbook approach I think you should consider Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling. Unquestionably the best-documented account of sales success ever collected and the result of the Huthwaite corporation’s massive 12-year, $1-million dollar research into effective sales performance. This groundbreaking resource details the revolutionary SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff) strategy.

 

For Discussion:

So let me ask you this: Does every member of your team have a well thought-out strategy or are you letting them shoot from the hip?

The Personal Blog of Brad Trnavsky

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