Thinking, Inspiration, & North of the Border
Issue 28 – May 2014
IN THIS ISSUE
by Ken McGloin
Did you ever stop to think,
and forget to start again?
~Winnie the Pooh
A few weeks ago, in middle of a meeting, as the last of the outside snow melted and the sounds of spring filled the room, one our colleagues excused themselves to use the bathroom and jokingly said, "That's where I do my best thinking". I got to thinking "that might be true for many of us," and it inspired me to look into it and write this article.
I polled our team and reached out to some of our readers with these questions:
1. "Where do you like to go to think?"
2. "Do you have a special place you go to get inspired?"
Quite a few years ago, I attended a songwriting workshop at Suffolk County Community College with a famous guest speaker. It was a rainy Tuesday afternoon around 4pm. The workshop was held a small classroom with very little natural light. A humming sound coming from one of the fluorescent bulbs was a bleak reminder of the barrenness of this institution. The speaker was late. As an impatient 19 year old with about 15 other students in the room, I wondered to myself, "Should I stay or should I go" (for all you Clash fans, that song hasn't been written yet). Just then Paul Simon sweeps through the door, greets our teacher
with a big "Hi, uncle Sy".
Paul Simon is casually dressed and opens the workshop with a genuine apology for his lateness, citing something about traffic on the Long Island Expressway. He speaks about many aspects of song writing, but none that made a bigger impression than this: He lived in New York City for a long time and needed space and quiet to write in. He often went into the bathroom, turned on the water faucet and let it run. The sound of the flowing water created a soothing environment, enabling him to write his songs free of outside noise. (In retrospect, that means some of the hits that I grew up on were written in the bathroom of a small apartment. Now "Bridge Over Troubled Water" takes on a whole new meaning.)
Many people talked about going to school to inspire or re-inspire themselves. Case in point:
Sy Shaffer, the aforementioned teacher, was an exceptionally successful musician/composer for most of his life, and became a college professor in later years. He was a major source of inspiration to many people. I recall him telling "life changing" anecdotes to all his students. Here's a quick one: At 10 years old he decided that by the age of 20 he would be the conductor of the CBS Symphony. (That was a great gig back in 1930's). Sy lived in a Brooklyn tenement and would get up every morning before school, go down to the basement and practice his trombone for an hour. He always said "you've got to want it so bad you can taste it." Despite his parents' objections, he became a musician. By the age of 22 he wasn't conducting the CBS Symphony, but was in it. He went on to play lead trombone with the Arthur Godfrey show for 13 years and in the 50s and 60's, to write some of the most recognizable jingles ever recorded for TV and radio. In the mid 1970's he devoted himself helping young people find direction. (If only I had listened to him!)
But getting back to the questions at hand, here's what some of our readers and colleagues had to share:
When it came to a place to do your best thinking, respondents like to:
• Be alone
• Take walks, bike rides, a shower, a bath.
• Sit in a chair, on a plane, in a car, on subway
with headphones in and no music playing
• Work things out in dreams and half a wake in bed
(night or morning)
Most of the reply's we got about question 2 were about creating: writing, music, a meal, art, a sewing project, etc. Our report out is on that aspect of the meaning.
"Do you have a special location you go to get inspired?"
• Shows: music, art, theater
• Nature: woods, mountains, beach
• The air: on a plane
• The road: on a bike
• The Internet, in a book, something educational
Face The Music is now 15 years old. It's these kinds of activities that keep it fun for us and as Paul Simon wrote (maybe in the bathroom) we're "Still Crazy After All These Years."
"Paul, you and your group were great and captured the goals of this event's purpose. The participants enjoyed the activity of writing lyrics and really became involved. We had excellent feedback from the participants. Everyone had a great time and we enjoyed your enthusiasm, music, and encouragement. You all did a great job. Thank you."
Federal Signal Corporation
"The program served to bring a higher sense of identity for us, and the passion and energy of it transferred to the work we did on the strategic elements the next day. You were an important element in a very successful offsite."
"Face the Music helped us identify the obstacles we encounter in our every day working world and gave us a creative approach to problem solving. The benefit to our leadership development efforts was our ability to assess some critical leadership competencies such as Creativity and Innovation, Adaptability, Teamwork, Tolerance for Stress and Problem Solving. The benefit to the EITs was that they walked away with an action plan with new approaches to old problems. They also left with a tremendous sense of accomplishment in demonstrating their abilities to "perform" (minus the usual PowerPoint presentation) in front of a live audience."
Jill Altana, Automatic
Data Processing, Inc.
"Face the Music is more than an event. It's a charismatic moment in which everyone speaks the same language. The session was incredible. Everyone went home bug-eyed."
Tony Coticelli, VP
Automated Data Processing
Last of a series of 3 interviews on
--in this one Paul's talking about tales from the road, war stories, you hear Dean Sharp play sinks, and from a couple of clients on how groovin' it can be...:
by Nigel E. Harris
Nigel E. Harris has recently taken on the role of Face The Music's representative in Canada. He is a musician and music facilitator based in Ottawa, Ontario.
I'm a person who strongly believes in maximizing the potential of people on a personal as well as on a business footing. So when I first heard about the work FTM was doing, I was immediately very interested - in fact, at first it seemed just 'too good to be true!'
FTM fits with my belief system that people really do want to totally give themselves to their work, and when guided to that place, they will gladly operate at 120%.
Since I took on representing FTM in Canada, and in particular, bringing their services to the Ottawa/Hull area where I live, I have been reconnecting with many of my former colleagues from the tech sector as well as approaching new potential clients that are undergoing rapid growth, mergers or reorganizations.
I feel I can make a difference by helping folks in the tech sector be better expressed in their positions at work and at the same time be more productive for the companies they work for.
In my present business, Musical Wellness, I specialise in using music as a catalyst to unify groups of people in local institutions who, because of their age or mental/ physical disability find themselves isolated and cut off from the mainstream of society.
My weekly visits unite them socially and show them what they are still able to accomplish - be it singing, dancing or just remembering the words to an old song. I see this as the art of uniting people through music and strengthening the bonds between them.
Prior to this, for my first 25 years of formal employment, I worked in the tech sector often finding myself working as part of a work team where egos and personalities and lack of interpersonal communications, created unproductive and slow moving teams.
Later on, as I moved into middle management, I found that my methods of motivating my staff didn't go over to well with upper management, who usually felt that employees should only bring their professional selves to work and check their personal selves at the door- the unspoken mantra was "do your job and go home." This was always a sticking place for me, as I have always believed that to be happy at work and for the company to spawn high performance teams, one needs to bring one's WHOLE integrated self to work!
I do believe that FTM is quite unique in its approach to corporate team building, using a unique combination of organizational expertise, musical excellence, and facilitation skill, putting them in the forefront of team building of any sort, taking people out of their 'comfort zone' and into a place of new possibility where outrageously big visions can become a reality quite rapidly.
I am really enjoying promoting FTM and look forward to producing many exciting programs in Canada this year. Give me a call to talk about your next event.
Nigel E. Harris
Face The Music
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
What event, initiative or challenge do you have coming up
that Face The Music can add value to?
To reach us: