Monthly Archives: November 2012

Anchoring learning

I just walked into a cloakroom at one of my clients and was struck by a smell of deodorant I have not smelt years. Immediately I was transported back in time to 13 years old, in front of my class at the beginning of a school day. I had just finished a sneaky cigarette before class (SO glad I don’t smoke anymore!). To avoid any trouble from the teacher, I had doused myself in Lynx spray-on deodorant (I think they call it “Axe” in Belgium). Even now, thinking about this moment, I can literally see the place of was standing in: Downstairs, just in the door, next to the office of the “head of lower school” surrounded by little uniformed people like myself. The same smell as today…

Proust would perhaps call this my “Madeleine” and the NLP folk would say I had “anchored” that moment in my memory via the smell. Whenever I smell that precise thing, I will remember that time, that place, those feelings. How powerful that sense of smell is!?!!


Can we use this for learning? Could we use anchoring to help people remember things they learnt?

In NLP, the idea of anchoring is well established and used in multiple applications. For example, if I were helping someone who gets stressed when presenting, I could use an anchoring technique to help them create a link between a calm successful good moment and a specific image (or holding two specific fingers together, or whatever….). Then, when they are preparing to present and getting stressed, they can just think of that image, or hold those two fingers together and they will get back that sense of calm and success.


How else can we apply this idea for learning?

Could we introduce specific images or key sounds (or smells?) or words during training, so that people can later remember what they learnt on cue? Or help reinforce all those good promises made at 4.30pm at the end of a training day? (Promises that are normally forgotten the minute they walk out of the door…). Would this work? How? Would it be ethical or would it be brainwashing?

For example, at 4.30pm on the last day of Presentation Skills training, I would ask participants to tel me what 1 key thing they will do differently next time they create or deliver a presentation. Perhaps someone answers: “I will be sure to repeat my money message at least 3 times during the next presentation” and another replies “I will use the diamond structure when I develop my presentation.” I might then ask them to spend a moment drawing a little image (whatever) which they might then even spray with a specific perfume. I ask them to spend time thinking about what they learnt and what they want to do next time, whilst smelling or looking at this image. The anchor is made.

Maybe the next day, they will go to the office and create a PowerPoint template with a first slide with their image on it. That way, the next time they open PowerPoint to make a presentation, they will see the Inge and remember all they promised themselves. In the other example (repeating message) just before they go to present, they might smell and look their image in order to remember to repeat at least 3 times the key message. Or maybe a colleague sits in the back of the room occasionally flashing a picture of the image to stimulate them.


As I’m sitting in the cafe having a quick lunch, I can’t take the time to think of other applications in, for example, communication training or leadership. I’ll let you do that…

What do you think? Worth pursuing?



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Talent, competence and the need for vision, simplicity and action

In a difficult economic context, it is even more important to focus on competence development and even more important to identify the right people to retain. But how? During the HR Day of SD Worx, Jief Van Humbeeck offered a few ideas…


First things first: What do we mean by “competence”? My own definition is “the knowledge, skills and attitude required to deliver the required business results”. Secondly: What is “talent”? A simple definition is “a human asset we have today that can be transformed into future business results”. Now, what should we be doing to develop them…?

Many companies have a dictionary of competences: A list of what the worker needs to know, be able to do and be in order to create real business value. Listening to JF, I have the idea that the first rule of any effective talent or competence system is to keep things simple. If things are simple, people will be able to work with them. Too many companies have complicated competence system management systems that look good and complete on paper, but when it’s time to put them into practice people are lost and the system doesn’t perform.


The second rule for competence or talent management is that you have to actually do something with the system! Despite all good intentions and the wonderful processes we have for recognising talent and developing business competence, many companies focus short-sightedly on assuring business results today. HR cannot afford to forget to measure and develop competences and talent for the future. When reviewing people’s performance results, it is important to think about which competences led to those results and which competences need developing in the future. When working day-to-day, we need to look for talent. We need to think more about the future.


Ok, nice intro. Simple. I agree. But why are we talking about developing competences and talent today?

According to JF, today’s work market can be seen as a “war of talent”: Organisations are changing, downsizing and restructuring; employees are looking for new ways of working, real development and opportunities to grow; we live in a VUCA world. In this talent war, the questions of who has talent, who to keep and who to grow are key to success.


In our workshop, 24 HR professionals were asked: What do you think of all this? Does this talk to you? What are you doing to retain and develop talent?

What was surprising to me was the amount of cynicism toward organised and structured talent or competence management systems. I myself shared the story of my last employer’s over-defined and carefully controlled competence management system, complete with a competence grid, online meritocratic performance evaluation system and yearly benefits/bonus adjustments. Others talked about how HR professionals spend months creating a system only to abandon it as soon as a real question comes up about how to develop someone. Someone else added that many managers are not themselves competent for managing the competences of others.

…and we are certainly not missing a choice of tools! MBTI, 9 boxes, yearly evaluations, competence frameworks, succession management, 360-degree evaluations, assessment centres…


What struck me as important during the workshop conversation was the need for a clear business vision, the need to keep things simple and the need for HR professionals to “sell the system well” internally:

  • Having all these tools, whatever they may be, isn’t worth anything if they are not clearly linked to a clear business vision. What are we trying to achieve, what do we value, what do we want and who are we? Without a good idea of our answers to these questions, there is no point thinking about the measurement and development of talent or competence.
  • As things change, people move and different elements of the NWoW like flexibility, mobility, consumerisation, etc take root, we will need to keep things simple. This will allow us to really move, change and grow rather than get lost in details and time, ultimately doing nothing and going nowhere.
  • And HR professionals will need more-and-more to show the value of the system, the need to focus on other things than only today’s performance, the vision we have of development. If they can’t do this, managers will not be interested in helping. They will not see the value and won’t get involved, HR needs to learn marketing skills and how to brand their work.


In closing the workshop, we discussed the question: What are competences of the future that are always required? Even when tomorrow looks different to today, what knowledge, skills, attitude and behaviour will always come back? My own answer was the competence of open-mindedness, which I argue is not only an attitude, but the foundation competence for many many others, including some on this list. (More on this when my book on the topic is published…) But, hey, who am I? Here’s what the other participants had to say about core competences that will always be in demand:


Whatever is on your list, be clear on this: We cannot afford to put aside the identification of talent and competence development for a quick buck and focus only on short-term results. Certainly not in today’s economic climate and not in tomorrow’s either. Have a vision, keep it simple and make it happen.


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Happiness and Gamification according to Michel Schwarz

Over the last few years, I have occasionally bumped into a very happy looking man during French-speaking learning conferences like the Epsilon Forum+ 2012. I also saw him once at a well-being conference I attended with my wife in Namur. His name: Michel Schwarz. His mission: Help make people happy. His company: Happiness (Inside Me). His tools: Neuro-science, open-mindedness and a little bit of gamification…


Michel. Thanks for taking the time to do this blog-interview with me. You are interested in happiness and you help people in companies to find their own inner happiness. How does that work?

According to many studies and some basic common sense, every human being wants to be happy. But outside of religious instruction and science of brainwaves there hasn’t been any solid training on how to get happy. As a result, for centuries people have been pushing a whole load of different products, services, movies, jobs etc.. as the source of happiness. But that always leads to a circle of deception and frustration: We feel we deserve happiness but don’t have it, then we have it and lose it again…. back to the next frustration!


So my trainings are based on neurosciences and giving each individual a simple understanding of how our brain, spirit and body create this feeling of happiness. Starting from that new awareness, participants start to better manage their own energy and motivation, understanding that the real sources of happiness are internal. They can make the difference between primitive and successful behaviour, discover what makes themselves work most efficiently, collaborate better… And this leads to better mental and physical health, cooperation, creativity, adaptability, leadership…



You mention this frustration people have and I think it is possibly a result of the fact that, living in 2012, we feel almost obliged to be happy. In my mind, it’s not as if life is particularly difficult. Certainly not compared to, for example, my Nan’s life during the second world war. Not being happy is like a “luxury problem”. So what can we do about it?

To get happier is certainly neither compulsory, nor easy. It has never been a priority for human beings to be happy in the past, because for centuries our entire (short) life was dedicated to survival. But in the new world of 2012, for those who have food, drink and warmth it’s important to understand the next step to reach a better life. We have many chances in 2012 that are new to humans: We can look inside heads and see how a brain works! We can see what’s in our blood and which behaviour and lifestyles make people happier. And we can compare this things with others, all around the world.


The main conclusion of all this is that happiness can be reached by all kinds of people: rich or poor, healthy or not, single or married.. We can all learn how to get happier, change our habits and even our brain, to feel more positive emotions and serenity! So I think the first important advice I can give is to encourage people to get involved in the pursuit of happiness themselves. Try to see, feel and understand what “turns you on” and seek out more of it.



You followed my Epsilon 2012 session on the gamification of learning and afterwards told me that you think the approach could be useful for learning how to be happy. How is that?

By its own nature, gaming creates happiness (unless you forget the pleasure of playing by only focusing on winning). Games are fundamentaly fun, even around serious topics. Fun creates open-mindedness. And open-mindedness allows for the creation and integration of new ideas. As you play, you feel secure. You are totally focused, in the present moment, so you stop brooding. Games are natural (ask your kids!). They help create pleasant emotions.


But in addition to these immediate gains, game-playing can help to create to anchor behaviour via positive emotions. If we can learn what makes us happy through game-playing and the play itself creates all these positive feelings, it is more likely that we will anchor that learning, remember and come back to it later.



Graduate in economic sciences and “neuro-comportementalisme” and passionate about psychology, Michel Schwarz is an entrepreneur renowned for his application of new technologies and his ability to share his knowledge. In his career spanning so far over 20 years, he has directed and inspired teams of 4 to 100 people without ever having the impression of working. Since 2010, Michel Schwarz has been sharing his experience via training and consultancy.



HR and The New Way of Working, according to SD Worx

Sitting in a greenhouse without wifi in Gesves, it’s difficult to remember its 2012 and this is the New World of Work. Having driven up, down and through the winding countryside under sunny skies on my Virago, this is far from the corporate village of learning + development and presentation skills training of last night.. …but what a great place to take time out with colleagues and talk about the future. Animated by SD Worx.


By way of introduction to this afternoon with SD, a little look back…

2011 was all about leadership, engagement, retention and integrating ICT. But in 2012 the economic situation has had a big impact on HR. Focus on cost has become more important, along with the reorganisation and fusion of companies in order to reduce size. But according to SD Worx, the future will nonetheless bring us back to the good old business of talent management and development. It is the real talent will get us through this recession. And to make this happen, we need to create a sustainable innovative workplace.. Keynote speaker Laurent Taskin from the University of Louvain La Neuve told us more…

We are in a New World of Work. Work is more global – people work in international teams on international projects that are not bound by temporal or geographic frontiers. Time and distance are still issues, but not necessarily considered as negative or obstacles to collaboration. The focus is on individualisation within the collective environment and with this there is a need for granularisation of learning, consumerisation of tools/processes and integration of teams and cultures. Add a little VUCA to the NWoW and organisations will need to be really flexible. This is the knowledge era, with new ways of working.

What does this mean for HR professionals?

  • People want to focus more on work-life balance
  • Working possibilities need to be even more flexible.. Home working, truly flexible time, consumerisation of IT…
  • Companies need to be more transparent, collaborative and democratic
  • More effort is required to streamline global collaboration, making work more effective
  • Learning and development will remain in the driver seat for innovation and organisational, development


According to Laurent Taskin, to achieve these new ways of working requires a flexible and collaborative “logic” or culture. The approaches themselves (home-working, hot-desking, consumerisation…) have existed for years. But to truly adopt them, companies will need to have the right mindset. Management will need to trust workers to work at home (without being able to see and control their activities). Workers will need to have a sense of purpose and engagement to the company (so they can stay in their pyjamas and actually work, instead of just watching TV ;-).

As a side-note, I remember the day my last employer sent a doctor to my house when I called in sick, just to be sure I really was. (Just in case I was lying to get paid for nothing, taking advantage of my employer. How insulted did I feel?). In the NWoW, if I am to feel connected and collaborative, my employer is going to have to trust me. And I’m going to have to be even more interested in doing the work!


The New World of Work will therefore be less hierarchical, at least in terms of “power” and “control”. The employee will take more control over how she works, when and where. And HR will be there to support by offering tools and development opportunities.

What are YOU doing in your company to embrace the New World of Work?


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Watch this space for 2 more posts from the SD Worx HR Day



Re-engineering training

Reading the Wired “World in 2013” magazine, the opening article by inventor and businessman James Dyson got me thinking. He explains that real improvement (in this case, regarding “green innovations”) doesn’t come from obliging people to scrape the bottom of the usual barrel to save a few pennies. Real improvement comes from entirely rethinking our methods and tools to do things in ways that have not so far been done.


How can we apply this to training?

We hear a lot about how learning does not imply training (and how training does not even imply learning). We also hear about how social and informal learning is on the rise. But reading Dyson (with the assumption that training for the right reasons is still good) I’m wondering:

  • How do we currently deliver training?
  • Where have we been scraping the bottom of the usual barrel in vain attempts to get some improvement?
  • What are the main structural assumptions of how training is given and how can we re-engineer them?


My first thoughts…

  • Some of my clients try to add more people to training all the time or reduce costs by driving prices down.. barrel-scraping or actually trying to improve training ROI?
  • Most of the trainers I know pretty much do things in the same way, although some better than others and with varying degrees of interactivity, exercises, discussion etc…
  • There are definitely some kind of “rules” about what “good training” looks like and I suppose this view is quite consistent around the profession


Dyson gives the example of how we try to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging people to just do less of the same things they always do. His example is of how we ask people to use less plastic shopping bags. With all the effort we put into doing less of the same thing, we can save a little bit of cost or increase a little bit of efficiency. In the plastic bag example, if everyone reuses his bags, we can save the “bad emissions equivalent” of 300 flights from London to New York.

BUT if we reengineer other more important things and radically change the way we do them, we can have much more impact. Dyson gives several examples, including one from the world of aviation… check it out!


How can we re-engineer training to provide innovative change and major impact?

I don’t have the answer yet, but I’m going to be working on it on 2013. The first thing I will do is list all my assumptions about training and make an intellectual attempt to kill my sacred cows.

What follows is the beginning of the list of fundamental elements of my training sessions that are in principle open to reengineering:

  • The trainer is the one who comes with the majority of expertise (even if his style does not imply directly sharing this)
  • The trainer architects the learning solution, often without the participants
  • Training happens from 9 to 5 (more or less)
  • Participants are provided with training materials by the trainer
  • Group sizes are restricted based on some reasons
  • Within one group, all participants follow the same basic training contents and agenda
  • There tends to be 1 or 2 trainers for a “normal sized” group
  • Typical day plans include 4 sessions of +/- 90 to 100 minutes


What other assumptions are in play? How do you give your trainings? What seems to have always been done in the same way? What fundamental truths are open to re-engineering?

Please leave a comment and share your ideas. Maybe you already re-engineered the basics and have good ideas to share…?



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Community Management Training (French)

A short overview of the “community management” training programme I created for French speaking government organisation….


Objectif de la formation = « Savoir comment gérer efficacement une communauté afin de la faire vivre »

  • Une prise de conscience de temps, ressources, enjeux et « best practices »


Une offre de formation créée sur mesure et focalisée sur vos besoins

Les participants ont besoin de conseils d’un expert et attendent une formation « classique ». Cette offre propose une expertise externe sur le sujet, tout en prenant conscience de vos besoins réels, ainsi que la situation de chaque participant. Pour cette raison, la formation est un mélange de théorie, discussions et exercices dans le cadre d’un « strategic training workshop ».

Avant la formation

  • Les participants seront invités à compléter un questionnaire via . Cette démarche a pour but de connaître leurs propres perceptions sur la situation existante (ce qu’ils trouvent facile, difficile..), ainsi que de rassembler d’autres informations supplémentaires (quelle communauté, quels utilisateurs…)
  • Chaque participant est invité à étudier à l’avance deux ou trois courtes références sur le sujet, afin de pouvoir profiter au maximum du temps « en classe »
  • Le formateur se présente et explique en quelques mots le contenu et l’approche de formation via vidéo (YouTube)
  • Les participants sont invités à compléter une étude évaluative du succès de différentes communautés et à partager les résultats avec DAN STEER

Pendant la formation

Approche = workshop « stratégique »

Après leur formation, les participants doivent bien agir pour bien gérer leurs propres communautés. Etant donné leurs différents objectifs ainsi que leurs situations existantes, il sera important d’adopter une approche stratégique. Pour cette raison, la formation même suivra l’ordre nécessaire pour créer de la stratégie, en 4 parties :

  1. Définition de l’objectif des participants / communautés
  2. Définition de la situation existante en comparaison avec l’objectif en prenant compte des différentes possibilités d’une communauté «online »
  3. Recherches des opportunités et actions prioritaires à mettre en place afin d’attendre l’objectif
  4. Création d’un plan d’action

Ceci n’est en aucun sens un coaching de groupe. Pendant chaque étape de la formation, le formateur offre son expertise, des conseils et les connaissances requises afin de savoir comment gérer efficacement une communauté pour la faire vivre. La discussion est néanmoins utilisée comme un outil pédagogique afin de partager les attitudes et stimuler de la motivation.

En suivant cet ordre, chaque participant partira avec un plan individuel à mettre en place.

Ce qui suit donne une idée à titre indicatif de différents sujets abordés lors de la formation. Les idées sont présentées dans l’ordre du workshop stratégique décrit ci-dessus.


Première partie = Définition de l’objectif

Théorie :

  • Que veut dire « communauté ?
  • Les objectifs « SMART »
  • La marque d’une communauté (« community branding »)
  • Le rôle du gestionnaire de la communauté
  • Les clés générales du succès

A définir / discuter :

  • Quel est le sens général de votre communauté ? Que voulez-vous pour les membres de votre communauté ?
  • Quels sont vos objectifs?


Deuxième partie = Définition de la situation existante

Théorie :

  • Quels sont les indicateurs d’une communauté « réussie » ? Quels sont les 3 points-clés à mesurer ?
  • Exemples des communautés réussies (et non réussies)
  • Le « chiffre de Dunbar » et ses utilisations
  • La « pyramide d’engagement » et les différents rôles dans une communauté
  • Votre audience, ses besoins, son comportement et ses habitudes

A définir / discuter :

  • Les résultats actuels de votre communauté
  • Votre situation actuelle en tant que gestionnaire de communauté : temps disponible, attitude…


Troisième partie = Recherches des opportunités et actions prioritaires

Théorie :

  • Comment motiver de l’activité et le triangle d’or d’une communauté
  • Création de trafic et « cross-pollination » sur différentes plateformes (on + offline)
  • Techniques de modération
  • Création et gestion de contenu on-line en fonction des besoins et des envies de différents profils/membres
  • Création et gestion d’évènements (on + offline)
  • Votre propre niveau d’activité
  • Les différents défis et comment les surmonter
  • Actions régulières à prendre

A définir / discuter :

  • Choix d’options à implémenter
  • Quelles fonctions utiliser dans votre propre outil


Dernière partie = Création d’un plan d’action

Pendant cette partie de la formation, chaque participant est invité à décider formellement ce qu’il va faire, comment et quand. Ces promesses pour « aujourd’hui », le court et long terme sont documentés afin de former la base d’une évaluation concrète de la réaction, de l’apprentissage, de l’activité et des résultats des participants.

Après la formation

L’apprentissage ne se termine pas à la fin de la formation.

Après la formation, un email est envoyé à chaque participant avec des références et ressources liées au contenu discuté.

Pendant les semaines qui suivent la formation, les participants sont invités à :

  • Evaluer la formation en termes de leurs propres réactions et le contenu fourni – ceci est fait via
  • Partager :
    • .. leurs propres réactions via un groupe fermé LinkedIn ou sur le site *
    • .. des exemples d’actions prises ainsi que leurs résultats.

* un exemple d’un « mur » de ce site peut être trouvé ici :

Sur base des réactions des participants, les actions prises et les résultats obtenus après la formation, DAN STEER reste ouvert à la possibilité de faciliter un coaching de groupe plus ou moins 3 à 6 mois plus tard.



If you are already managing a community, think about how you feel about all the above topics. Are you comfortable? What works? What doesn’t work? Where do you need help?


Good luck!

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MED – today’s most important effectiveness principle

I went to the doctor the other month with a headache and he hit over the head with a plank of wood. Wrong solution. Made things worse.

I went to another and he gave me 500mg of Ibuprofen. Right solution, but not enough to calm the symptoms.

I went to third doctor and he prescribed 1kilogram of Ibuprofen. I spent 1 month in hospital getting over it.

A final doctor told me that what I needed was the minimum effective dose: The right amount of the right stuff to get the desired results. Not less, not more and not something else.


In all things effectiveness, leadership and communication, its the same story. I’ll take a presentation as an example:

  • Don’t use a table when a graph would be better. Don’t give technical facts when a story would be easier to understand.
  • Make sure you give enough content to make your point
  • ..but not so much as to send them to sleep (or the hospital if it’s really bad!)


Minimum Effective Dose, introduced to me by Tim Ferriss in his great book “The Four Hour Body”, is THE guiding principle for personal effectiveness, leadership and communication.

Ask yourself (always):

  • What MUST I have/say/do/be to get what I want?
  • What is “just a bit more” with no real impact, or worse still: negative impact?
  • What is the RIGHT WAY to get what I want?
  • What approach would not be appropriate?


Are you doing the MED right now?

How can you apply the MED principle to your own work?



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Merci d’avoir assisté à mes conférénces #Epsilon2012

Si vous venez de cliquer sur le lien ou code QR lots du conférence Forum Plus #Epsilon2012, merci.

Cette page à pour but de vous donner 4 choses:

  • Un lien vers toutes les références liées à mes deux sujets du conférence
  • Les informations relatives à mes formation “ouvertes” de 2013
  • Un peu plus d’informations à mon sujet
  • Quelques autres liens intéressants

Je vous remercier d’avance pour toute réponses, commentaires et partage de ce site. A bientôt! DAN


Pour toutes les références mentionnées pendants mes deux discours + les présentations Prezi, suivez ces liens…


Pour suivre les 2 formations mentionnées, lisez ici ou me contacter directement sur mail @


Pour plus d’information me concernant


D’autres liens intéressant de mon blog


Please leave comment

Speak soon!




Presentation Skills training with @dan_steer 21st and 28th March 2013

If you want to learn how to architect and deliver awesome presentations, join me in Brussels for the this training. Read on for more information…

..but if you just want to keep self learning, skip to the references at the end of this blog. There’s a lot of great content!


Training, 21st and 28th March 2013 – What’s In It For Me?

  • Improve your presentation messages in order to better inform and convince your audience
  • Be able to efficiently build a presentation that creates maximum attention, understanding and recall
  • Learn about the 4 pillars of an effective presentation: Message, Structure, Content and Style
  • Boost confidence and fluidity …even when facing audiences of different types
  • Be able to confidently deal with whatever comes your way during your presentation… (Questions ? “Difficult people”, experts in the room.. “Blank faces staring back at me”)


Practical information

  • To book a place, contact me by email mail @ or call 0472-36226
  • Dates = March 21st and 28th 2013, from 9am to 5pm each day
  • Location = Brussels
  • Language = English
  • Small group – max. 5 participants
  • Everyone will present several times
  • ½ day trainer-led start = assess current approach vs. best practice with specific exercises
  • 1½ days participant led learning = starting from your presentation(s), you receive complete constructive feedback and relevant techniques to improve your performance regarding the 4 pillars of an effective presentation
  • Participant pack includes: USB with filmed presentations, workbook, copy of “Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” by Carmine Gallo, after-training email with all specific learning points + additional references
  • Pre-work includes:
    • Survey of current competence, experience + expectations
    • Share thoughts on keys to effective presentation via
    • Invitation to join LinkedIn group to meet other participants prior to day1
  • Investment = 1100euros HTVA per participant

If you know someone who can profit from this training, please feel free to share the link.

Thanks in advance..

D, for those of you who wanted references to keep on self-learning:

Have fun!



Epsilon2012 – Gamification for Learning

This page delivers all references from my Epsilon2012 Forum+ session on practical examples of how to use social media for formal learning. Have a look at the Prezi, or scroll down for more references. Thanks for reading! D

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References noted within the Prezi


Thanks again for reading – and be sure to share!