Monthly Archives: October 2012

I think, therefore I am. Not.

When French philosopher René Descartes announced “I think therefore I am” he launched the first widely accepted dualist philosophy. There is mind and there is body, he said.

Since that day, a great many people have talked about the power of the mind over the body. I myself once completed a marathon without running one single time in the 5 months prior, just to see if I could. The mind can do a lot. But unfortunately, this dualist view of the human state creates a few problems as well…


Often in Presentation Skills training, I meet people who say things like “I’m a perfectionist” and “I’m just not confident”. In Prezi training last week, a grandmother told me “I am too old for this kind of new technology”. We constantly put labels on ourselves. As you can see in the image above, we believe we are made of 2 things (ego/mind and body) and that one of them is the real me. We associate ourselves with that little voice in our heads and then accept everything it tells us: “I am no good” and “It’s because all my previous presentations went bad that I have no confidence.”

(Un)fortunately for all those big egos out there, I have (bad) news for you: You are not your ego. You are not that little voice. And you are not only mind and body. There is something else.

(Hold on, because this is where it gets tricky…)


In his book “The Power of Now” spiritual guru Eckhart Tolle says that the ego is a collection of all previous experiences, beliefs and perceptions wrapped up into one big kind of personality. That little voice you hear in your head (all the time) is the ego comparing current reality to previous experience and telling you all sorts of stories: “I can’t do this”, “I will never make it” etc etc..

According to Tolle, the ego is born out of the past and has only one mission: To exist in the future. To do this, it is constantly fighting for control in the present. Fighting who? The real you. That’s why it never shuts up. If it shuts up, the real you win and it dies. Suicide.

Tolle adds that in fact, the ego has no place in the present. The power of “now” (as he puts it) is that the “now” is fresh. It has never “been” before and it will never “be” again. In fact, there is only “now”. This puts the ego in danger. If the past doesn’t exist and the future neither, then what is its role now?


In fact, it has no role. All the ego does now is get in the way of “now”. The ego interrupts our true real experience of who we are, where we are and what we are doing. Example:

During a presentation, my computer stops working and I forget the content I wanted to present. In the middle of that situation, my ego jumps in saying things like “You should have thought of that” and “They are all looking at you, thinking you are stupid” and maybe even “You are stupid. You should not have made this mistake.” In reality, none of this is true. The truth (now) is simple: My computer stopped working and I forgot what I wanted to present. If I listen to my ego and let it control me (first image) I start feeling bad and make all sorts of silly mistakes and comments. I go red and wish the ground would swallow me up. But if I recognise the ego for what it is (second image) and put it aside and just look at the “now” (situation), it’s a whole different thing: Like an adult, I stop think and choose. I might tell the audience what has happened (in a factual way) and maybe even add how I feel. The real me is in control.


The trick to being able to recognise the ego for what it is and take back control of our real self lies simply in seeing the true position of the ego. It is not me and it does not control me. It’s just another part of me, like an arm, a leg or an ear. Tolle suggests a mind-blowing exercise to realise this:

  • Find a quiet place in a quiet moment and close your eyes. Listen to the little voice I your head. As you listen, ask yourself simply: Who is listening?

If you repeat this exercise enough (through meditation or whatever format you like) you will start to disassociate yourself from the ego. Take back control. You will realise that there is more to you than the little voice that makes up stories about who you are and what you are capable of. You may even realise that, in fact, the real you is a whole fresh new human being every second and everything is possible. The past is gone and you are in the drivers seat. Right now.


I think therefore I am?
Part of me thinks, but I always am.

Good luck!


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Prezi training with @dan_steer on 16th + 23rd January 2013 (9am to 1.30pm)

I have spent several months getting up-to-speed on the tool and am now offering that expertise via 2 half-days of hands-on training. If you are wondering how to use Prezi in a professional way, but didn’t take the time yet to figure it out for yourself, come to this training. If you are not so good self-learning and need some expert input, come to this training…


Next edition = 16th and 23rd January 2013 (9am to 1.30pm) , Brussels

  • Email me on mail @ dansteer . com for more information and to book a place



For many years, the business world has used one common solution for almost all presentations : Microsoft PowerPoint. If it wasn’t PPT, it was a contending version of the same linear slide-by-slide presentations.

In April 2009, architect and visual artist Adam Somlai-Fischer publically launched prezi , a different creative and visual presentation software. Using Prezi, you can make presentations that will stand out from the others, panning + zooming through content on one large beautiful presentation canvas.

Two examples of what you can do with Prezi:


Objectives of this training

  • Be able to create a Prezi presentation that respects the 4 pillars of an effective presentation: Message, Structure, Content, Style
  • Be able to navigate through the Prezi editing canvas, using all available functions to create an awesome presentation
  • Receive feedback on your own Prezi, including content, function and style
  • Understand what makes the difference between a sea-sick badly structured Prezi and a Prezi with good flow and readability
  • Be ready to present with Prezi


Training content

  • Advantages and disadvantages of using Prezi
  • Presentation design in 3D – getting the most out of the additional Prezi dimension and how to pan and zoom effectively
  • The editing canvas and all basic functions (templates, themes, text, image, film, other media…)
  • How to import and Prezi-fy an existing MS PPT document and make it really stand out
  • Making visually appealing Prezi presentations
  • How to use frames and pathways to tell your story well
  • Different possibilities for creating, collaborating, viewing and sharing your prezi
  • Tips for better usage of Prezi (using remote clickers, background music, merging into WordPress…)


Training approach

As with all my training, you can expect a dynamic and fun learning environment, with good sharing and plenty of real hands-on learning.

  • Prior to training, each participant will be invited to do some pre-reading on the fundaments of an effective presentation and watch a short video introduction to the tool and trainer. In addition, participants will be invited to connect via LinkedIn to avoid spending 30 minutes “getting to know each other” during paid class-time.
  • On day 1 of training (4 hours), each participant will create a first basic Prezi presentation step-by-step with the trainer. In this way, everyone leaves the room understanding how the tool works and all different functions.
  • Between day 1 and day 2, participants are expected to make/refine a Prezi, using whatever functions they want and implementing learning from the first session.
  • Day 2 begins with an evaluation of the homework, sharing ideas on what looks great and what doesn’t work. Participants are then invited to learn advanced Prezi-ficaction skills.
  • As per all my trainings, after each day an email is sent with additional references and learning points for the inspired and motivated learner.
  • Participants are invited to join the Dan Steer LinkedIn group on “Presentaiton Skills” to continue their learning with other presentation makers from my network.


By the end of this training, you will have a complete overview of the tool, have created your first Prezi, got feedback on what looks good and what needs improving and be ready to continue making your own presentations !


Practical details

Dates = 16th and 23rd January, 9am to 1.30pm

Location = Brussels

Price = 500 euros HTVA

Subscriptions via email to mail @ dansteer . com or by telephone +32 (0)472 346.226


Already using Prezi and need some help?

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Shit – I’ve got no cash! (8 other financials to measure)

Yesterday evening, I received an email from my wife (I know, modern times, eh ?) saying that she was miserable because despite working so hard , when she opened her account she was minus 500 euros. I replied (face-to-face, the loving husband that I am J ) that the problem was not her bank account, but her limited vision of financial success. If this intrigues you in the slightest, read on. If you’ve ever had the same feeling, read on. If you know nothing about financial measures, read on…


Cash is King?

That’s what they say right? But if you don’t need cash, then who cares? If cash in your pocket (cash situation) is all that counts, then yes, my wife has a bad financial situation because she doesn’t have any. But I proposed instead 8 other measures she could use to give another vision of things…


1 Total revenue earned in period

That’s a nice measure. Think about what you earned. And depending on the length of the period in question, you might see a really big number. Nice and inspiring if, like my wife, you are easily turned-on or put-off by superficial numbers. In my wife’s case, this would mean looking at her salary. But as a family, we can also include all other cash that comes into the household (family allowance, tax-return etc…)


2 Growth in revenue over time

For my wife, this was a really nice one, because 3 months ago she didn’t have a job and now she does. Depending on how you do business, you will need to choose the period well to give a good indication of real growth. In my business, there are seasonal peaks and dips, so I just look over a year. In the last 4 years, my revenue has grown by 46% (yr 2), 37% (yr3) and 24% (yr4). Like!


3 Money owed

…to you

If there is no prospect of money arriving in the future, then that is bad. But if people owe you money and you are confident it will come, this measure is interesting. I am currently owed 19600 euros and although there is a risk of non-payment, this has not caused any concern over the last 4 years.

…by you

Everyone has bills. But not all the time. If cash is low, but you are owed loads and don’t owe anything yourself, things are pretty good. Just collect what you are owed and smile again…


4 Profit (% vs. revenue won or net $)

Profit is what is left over when everything is paid (OK, it can be a bit more complicated than that, but let’s keep it simple). There are 2 ways to measure profit:

  • As a money figure, eg: 2000 euros
  • As a %

Personally, I prefer to measure the second one. Take your revenue, deduct all costs and then divide the final figure by the revenue won. The higher the %, the more profit you are making.


5 “Financial productivity”

I don’t know if it’s the right term, but I like this one: How time did you spend winning revenue vs. how much time was available for winning revenue. In my wife’s case, this is really motivating because she doesn’t work full-time. She can remind herself that she does other things with her life, rather than just work. As a “side-motivator”, she could take her revenue and max-it-up to 100% productivity to see what she would earn if working full-time.


6 “Financial efficiency” or “bill-rate”

Again, may not be the right term, but this is: Revenue per worked hour. If you believe Tim Ferriss, this is what really matters. If 2 people earn 100,000 euros, but one works 200 days and the other only works 50 days, it’s clear who is “richest”. This tends to depress my wife, as I am “richer”, but watch out for a future blog on “How to put a money-value the work of a house-wife”….


7 Assets, consumables and experiences acquired for money spent

This is simple/ I said to my wife: “So what, you are minus 500. Look at what you got for your money. A water-fountain, a nice holiday, kids going to scouts at the weekend, shoes, food…..” Money’s not worth anything is you’re not spending it, right?


8 Joy

OK, maybe this is not so financial. But who cares about all the money right? We’re not dying, we live well. We both love our jobs. Our kids our healty. Enjoy!!



Hope this was interesting.

If you are a business owner interested in other ways to measure success, read the book “Business Acumen” by Kevin Cope or get an overview here: “If you want to show value, you’ve gotta have Business Acumen”.


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How to Apologise

This morning I read a really nice inspiring article from Kate Nasser via Twitter. You can read it here: “Teamwork: Making Apologies Worthy of Acceptance”.

The article outlines the kinds of behaviours you see in good teams, in particular with regard to respect, appreciation, ownership and caring. I really liked the ideas behind the post and wanted to add here a simple formula for well-delivered apologies. You can include the pointers from Kate’s post and if you use this formula for delivery, you are bound to be authentic.


Good apologies are like good constructive feedback – the process is the same.

So, lets start by seeing how to give good feedback. It’s easy to do in 4 steps:

  1. Outline the behaviour/performance you are talking about. For example: “Your time management is not very good.”
  2. Give an example that explains (1). For example: You have been late by more than 30 minutes 3 times this week.”
  3. Outline the consequences of (1). For example: “As a result, your colleagues have been under pressure at the check-out during peak hours.”
  4. Think about the future and required performance/behaviour. For example, make a suggestion, discuss together or simply delegate the task future improvement.

( a side-note, the above process is the same for feedback about positive performance).


When you apologise, it is important to be precise about what you are apologising for and show that you understand the consequence of your actions.

That’s why the feedback process is so useful. Let’s see an example…

  1. Outline the behaviour/performance you are talking about. For example: “I realise that I was rude to you earlier…”
  2. Give an example that explains (1). For example: “…when I said you were stupid and childish.”
  3. Outline your understanding of the consequences of (1). For example: “I can imagine that you felt hurt or upset due to my unkindess.”
  4. Say something about the future. For example: “I am going to make an effort to be more respectful in the way I talk to people.”


…and then say the magic word: “Sorry”


If you do all this (including Kate’s pointers) you’ll be on the track to giving real authentic and valuable apologies.

Good luck!


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Speaking at Epsilon Forum Plus, 13th November

On the 13th November, I will be speaking at the Epsilon Forum + conference in Louvain La Neuve.

This event is open to all Learning + Development professionals who want to network and learn (from each other, as well as some experts). If you want a free entry to the conference, just email me, call me or Twitter DM me and I will arrange it. Otherwise, 150 euros entry fee.

I will be speaking on 2 topics: “Practical Usage of Social Media for Formal Learning” and “Gamification of Learning”.

Here is the short text I wrote to publicise these sessions…
See you there?


Comment intégrer les médias sociaux dans vos projets d’apprentissages et formations?
Les médias sociaux améliorent l’apprentissage. Mais comment? Que faire ? Quand ?Dan Steer propose des conseils 100% pratiques à mettre en place dans vos formations et/ou initiatives d’apprentissage intentionnelles.
Aucun «hype». Uniquement du concret applicable à votre réalité d’entreprise.
Vous partirez prêts à commencer ou vous améliorer.


« Gamification et Learning » : La ludification de l’apprentissage, comment peut-elle aider ?
La «ludification» nous oblige à n’être ni électronique ni coûteux. Elle a des possibilités énormes.
Des mécanismes du jeu apportent des vrais résultats d’apprentissages.
Dan Steer partagera ses expériences et des bons exemples.
Vous comprendrez les enjeux, les pièges et les processus à suivre.
De quoi s’inspirer !


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Commenting on “Performance Review Tips”

Just read an article from Entrepreneur via @TDMag on Twitter and tried to post a reply, but my iPhone seemed to disagree. Seemed easier to write here and post the link instead…

Read the article first by following this link

Now, my reply…

The phrase “giving performance reviews” worries me and although it may sound like a throwaway phrase, it may also hold the key to better success in retaining employees and their motivation.

Giving performance reviews” implies for me some kind of hierarchical power structure or top-down culture where “the boss lets me know how I’m doing, what I did well and where I should change”.

I agree of course that feedback is essential for correcting or maintaining performance issues and as the original article pointed out, dialogue is a major key to doing that well.

But (of course, there is a but!):

I regularly hear from corporate employees that these “discussions” often focus entirely on being given feedback on performance (and correcting it) and not enough on career, motivation etc..

They add also that despite being “allowed to speak”, any attempt to create real alignment between personal objectives, career aspirations, culture… and those of the company are often merely a case of “good form” (“he asks, but nothing ever comes of it”).

When I push my training participants for ideas on how to improve this approach, they regularly refer to how “they” don’t care about “us” and how all “they” are really concerned about is how to distribute amongst “us” the pot of available bonus money this year.

If these employees are lucky, they also get a moment (once a year) to discuss career aspirations. I hear that this is like “let’s write down what you’d really like to be doing…” But that’s it.

In conclusion, sitting in my car in Gent, waiting to go to work:

Let’s focus first on fixing the hierarchical “us and them” approach to collaboration. The real reason “21 million U.S. workers planned to change jobs this year” (as the article states) is because they are not getting what they need to find happiness, flow and motivation at work. If yearly performance reviews could be replaced by regular true collaborative working-togetherness, aligning culture, process, performance and motivations we probably wouldn’t need to teach people tips for “giving performance reviews”.

Until them, I’ll go back to my third day of teaching just that… 😉

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Consultancy competences

In a recent training delivered by one of my colleagues, new joiners in one of the world’s leading consultancy companies got together to create a list of competences required to be a good consultant. Here is what they said:


You have to know some things…

  • solutions
  • people work & listen
  • to work with different character types
  • .. know about the client and how the work benefits them
  • .. how to be FAB to be heard…how to create rapport
  • .. the situation, values and needs of a client


You have to be able to do some things…


..and of course, you have to have the right attitude

  • open to change (who is??)
  • …be pro-active
  • ..accept differences in opinion
  • ..being relaxed around new people
  • confident
  • ..dare to ask for something, things you don’t understand or want to know
  • …be prepared
  • open minded (and kill your sacred cows)


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Kluwer Learning Indicator 2012

5500 responses this year for the Kluwer Learning Indicator survey. But what do they all say? Let’s ask Johan De Meyer (the man who created and still runs Kluwer Training) and Nathalie Verbinnen

Some sample questions from the survey…

  • It’s HR, not the employees who decide how learning takes places
  • HR invests too often in short-term training solutions
  • HR must encourage knowledge and experience sharing via social media
  • Leadership skills can/cannot be learnt
  • Learning is a motor for innovation
  • Looking at these questions, I see the link with some other learning trends:

  • Self-learning and more self-control of employees may be important. It’s not HR that should drive everything. People need to be “learning proactive” themselves..
  • Training does not imply learning
  • …and learning does not imply training
  • Social learning, knowledge sharing and connected learning networks are still new issues for HR people to deal with
  • Johan De Meyer tells us:

  • 2 out of 3 companies have a real learning strategy, 7 out of 10 employees know it and 2 out of 3 employees are satisfied with it
  • A learning organisation must align learning activities with business priorities.
  • HR professionals are focussing more on “normal collaborators” than leaders
  • 3 out of 4 employees figure out how to lead people on the job
  • …but 43% say they need some training on this
  • Classical training remains the top choice for developing people at work
  • …then we learn from our colleagues, then from our managers
  • ..while Nathalie Verbinnen says:

  • 1 out of 3 employees say they spend time every week on self-development
  • …but 62% of employees take a day’s holiday to follow training!
  • Social Media might be trendy, but it’s not being used much yet for learning
  • …probably because HR professionals are not themselves active with these tools
  • Want to know more?
    Contact Isabel De Clercq or Heidi Didden from Kluwer…

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    Hubert De Neve from IMEC on “Learning at Work”

    IMECs chief learning man Hubert De Neve introduced the Kluwer Meet and Greet this afternoon with a look at Learning at Work. This post tells his story (in the first person)…

    What have I seen in 2 decades of learning?

    The changes seen are mostly related to the different ways in which organisations have changed over these last 2 decades:

  • “Scale” becomes “Functional Business Units”
  • “Standardisation” becomes “Customisation”
  • “Fixed job descriptions” becomes “Flexible workers”
  • “Financial capital” becomes “Human capital”
  • “Operational control” (by management) becomes “Competence Management”
  • …and what does this mean for the business world on a larger, global view?
    We are no longer in the Industrial Era, but in the Knowledge Era.

    What does this mean for Learning Professionals and HR people?

  • HR is moving away from controlling processes (payroll, benefits…) towards real learning consultancy. Learning people need to get better in touch with the core drivers of the business, learn how to consult and bring real value solutions to the organisation.
  • HR people need to change their vision of the employees they are serving. If employees are no longer industrial workers who do the same fixed function in the same fixed way, needing control and discipline, then how we serve them needs to evolve too: Creating opportunities to become truly flexible in their work, providing the same business results in less time.
  • We need to stop trying to fit people into boxes of “required competences” and train them to have those and move towards recognising the individual strengths of each employee and leverage those to create real value
  • What is coming next?

  • Generation Y wants it all now (including the fun) and we will need even more to find ways to accommodate that in what we provide at work
  • We need to incorporate differ technologies, media, devices and approaches to learning. Granularity that allows each person to serve himself.
  • We all know that social media is important for learning, but in the future apps on smartphones will be a major part of workplace learning
  • We will need to bring even more meaning to our people, in all it’s sense. As @danielpink says in his book “Drive” a sense of purpose is a major source of intrinsic motivation for people in the New World of World. Workers need to identify with the mission, vision and values of the organisation. That will bring passion and that will bring real great work!
  • …that’s where I stop. Hubert is speaking 3 languages and I have to save some brain power for my own speeches later 🙂

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