Thursday, October 27, 2011


I design games; I teach game design. I spend a lot of time dissecting motivation, examining what drives behavior. I create competition and scoring structures to reinforce and reward success.

Today's announcement is all about winning.

I started Tandem Learning in February 2008 and started this blog at the same time to document my adventures as an entrepreneur. Some of my posts have been work-related, some personal, but everything I've written has represented my journey, up, down, and sideways over the past three and a half years.

Today's announcement is all about the next phase in that journey.

Last Friday, we signed the paperwork: Ayogo Games has acquired Tandem Learning.

Can I get a Hell Yeah?!?! Woohoo!!!!!
And an OMG. Seriously.

There will be lots of information coming soon about all of the awesome things that will be happening with the merging of Ayogo and Tandem, how our skills and expertise compliment and enhance each other's and the cool work we're already doing together.

But this post is my celebration. My "in your face" to the haters. My happy dance, my victory lap, my WE DID IT!!!

I started a company, I built it up, and I sold it. I set a big scary crazy goal and I achieved it. I didn't give up, I didn't give in and I didn't listen to everyone who told me I couldn't have it all. I've learned so much, about so much...this was an awesome prelude to the next phase.

This is also a thank you, to more people than I can possibly name (except can I not thank Jedd?). I can't begin to express my gratitude, in different ways to different people. For now, for this blog...thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for following along.

This, my friends, is what it looks like to level up. Game on!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


You've been conditioned for complacency and its preventing you from being awesome.

From when we are little, we learn to listen to what authority figures tell us and to do what we're told. Not only are we taught to obey, we are also taught not to question:

"Because I said so"
"You get what you get and you don't get upset"
"Settle down"

We're taught that fitting in, behaving ourselves, and following directions are desired states. We're taught to color in the lines, line up and stay in line. We're taught that compliance is good and conflict is bad. All of this is reinforced through the systems we put in place in schools, including standardized tests. Different is singled out, normative is reinforced and rewarded.

Print by VladStudio
Yet we revere those who break the mold, those who realize dreams, take risks, and make the world better. We celebrate creativity and "the new." We spend our time and our money to surround ourselves with the elegant, the beautiful, the joyous, the inspirational.

Instead of teaching people caution, fear of being different, and tempering their uniqueness, shouldn't we be encouraging courage, creativity, and risk-taking?

Can we reconcile wanting to be unique snowflakes and our desire for the comfort of belonging, being just one indistinguishable snowflake in a snowstorm? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shameless learning promotion

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I've been promoting (read: pimping) my pre-conference workshop for DevLearn 2011, titled How to Promote Learning Engagement Across the Enterprise.

I am really excited about this workshop.

Over the past several years, I've worked with organizations on adopting new learning programs and technologies, including organizational adoption consulting of emerging tech like virtual worlds. Time after time, in organization after organization, new learning technologies are introduced with the attitude "if we have it, they will use it." These initiatives aren't JUST a technology introduction...often they represent a cultural change. In the triad of organizational adoption (people, process, technology), most organizations focus on the technology first, sometimes on the process, and often the people are an afterthought.

For learning professionals, people are your customers. How can you make your customers happy? How can you gain new customers?

I'm excited about this workshop because I'm going to be talking about the part of what I do that most people don't usually get to see. Most of my speaking engagements focus on leveraging new technologies for learning and design strategies, but this session is going to focus on what happens after an organization says yes to innovation. Dare I say, great design is not enough?

I hope you'll join me in Vegas and practice some of the critical competencies that go beyond design: marketing, sales, first experience strategies, and data collection and analysis.

Its time to make like Don Draper and channel your inner sales lizard. Fedoras welcome.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Legends are people too

There has been much written this week about the loss of Steve Jobs and his life's (and death's) impact...he truly changed the world, not only through the products he created, but also through the inspiration he provided and his challenge for us to "Think Different."

The thing that has struck me as I deal with my own very real emotional response to his death is this: he was just a man. He left behind a wife and four children who are grieving for the loss of their husband, father. He put his pants on one leg at a time. Although I didn't know him, I'm guessing Steve Jobs experienced the same range of human emotions we all do: fear, love, sadness, frustration, anger, joy, essence and in many ways, Steve Jobs was no different than any of us.

Sure, Steve Jobs was in many ways very different than us. But what was it that made him so different? What is it that differentiates "us" from those we consider legends, if all of us are, at our core, the same? I'm sure there are many potential answers to this question, but here are mine:

  • Passion: Loving what you do, believing in it, not letting anyone dissuade you from accomplishing your vision
  • Intelligence: An intuitive understanding of people, processes, systems...being able to solve problems that incorporate all three
  • The ability to see "bigger": Legends focus big. Big problems, big solutions. They see things that don't exist yet
  • Marketing: The ability to get other people to see and believe in your vision to help you realize it
  • Knowing you can do it: There's an arrogance in people who truly believe they can change the world. I'm not saying the people are arrogant...they are confident, driven, and have an unwaivering optimism that they can make things better
  • Doing it: Legends do more walking than talking
Lots of people want to be see them everywhere. They call themselves thought leaders, gurus, innovators, futurists, visionaries...they do a lot of talking about what should be and spend a lot of time promoting who they are. 

What did Steve Jobs call himself? How about Mother Theresa? Ghandi? Point being...its not what people say that changes the world, its what they do. Big, focused, passionate action is what changes the world, its what makes someone legendary, and its not a secret. Steve Jobs was a man, not a superhero or a god. It was what he did that made him special.  

Can you change the world? Yes.
Can we prepare our children to change the world? Yes.
Now, will you?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Your prince isn't coming

Every night as I tuck my 5 year old in to bed, I tell her
Good night, Princess
And she giggles, and sometimes she answers back, Good night, Queen

She is my princess but not a caricature
I want to tell her, warn her
Your prince isn't coming

There is no knight in shining armor who will rescue you and with whom you'll live happily ever after
All the princes have mommy issues, daddy issues, insecurities and paralyzing fears
Princes these days are
Don Draper
Womanizers, addicts, liars, psychos, killers

Even the princes manufactured in the Disney machine
Prince Eric the dreamer, so easily manipulated
Prince Naveen, the modern day Good Time Charlie
Aladdin and Flynn, thieves
The Beast, so emotionally distant he was barely human
Prince Charming who would bore my sweet princess to death

You should not settle for a prince, I want to tell her
Knowing that one day, her prince WILL come
And he will be flawed and awkward and nothing like the man she dreamed he would be

So for now, my princess
Be a warrior like Mulan
Be a scholar like Belle
Be an entrepreneur like Tiara
Find your voice like Ariel

Your prince isn't coming
But you are a princess