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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Interview with Dr. Kozhi Makai, Understanding Culture's Influence on Leadership Styles

Bringing people together in a rapidly changing environment is just one of the challenges of leadership in a world characterized by disruptive technologies, rapid economic reconfiguration, and shifting notions of how we should relate to each other. Dr. Kozhi Makai has studied leadership from many vantage points and today is here to share his unique insights.

1.  What is your name and your educational background?
Kozhi Sidney Sakangende Saulongo Sikoongo Mwachawoka Namundondo Hamudulu Mweetwa Hangambwa Hanene Chingangauka Hanyimbo Makai. You asked...
I seem to have a name for each of the original American colonies.
But my driver's license simply reads: Kozhi Sidney Makai.
My BA is in Speech Communication, with a minor in Psychology.
My MA is in Business Communication, with a specialization in Leadership & Influence.
My PhD is in Applied Management and Decision Sciences, with a specialization in Leadership and Organizational Change (my research is in understanding culture's influence on leadership style).

Life Edge 036: Kozhi Makai had a dream... from RELATECASTS on Vimeo.

 2.  How did your childhood help you become interested in leadership?
Both my parents were leaders in Zambia.
My mother was a business leader as an entrepreneur who ran a produce company, restaurant, and farm with a poultry, dairy, and rotation of cabbage and potato harvests. She was a very hands-on leader who modeled what she expected and, while we had staff to tend the farm, my siblings and I were expected to work along the staff.
My father worked for the government and was the number two man at the Special Investigation Team for Economy and Trade (SITET) as Deputy Director of Administration and Research. This team is the equivalent of the American Secret Service or FBI Dickson that handles White Collar Crime. Watching him interact with his subordinates showed me an example of influence (something that John Maxwell feels leadership is) without a hard hand.
Both my parents encouraged me to be a leader among my friends and stand out - ethically, honestly, and sincerely.
Once I got into athletics, I was able to use these skills I learned from watching my parents and, literally, sitting at their feet and learning from them.

3.  What was it like to grow up in Zambia? How did you feel when you first arrived in Houston? What were some of the cultural differences that you did not expect?
Interestingly, I didn't grow up in a hut or without shoes, running water, or electricity (I know, I just ruined it for you). I grew up like many children here in the U.S. in the 80s and 90s...playing Nintendo Gameboy, riding my bike in the neighborhood, terrorizing neighbors with my crew of 6 friends, and hoping to get a glance at the new girl(s) in the neighborhood. I went to fantastic schools (the best in the country, actually) in Primary School (1st to 7th) and Secondary School (8th to 12th), and spent time with some of the brightest minds of my time. At one point, I went to school with the President's children; never a dull moment, really.
Houston was BIG. That was probably the great change for me - the vastness of the roads, the volume of vehicles, and the consistent busyness. And, would you believe, I thought people in Houston spoke too fast!

I didn't expect to find a culture that was unlike my own - specifically my Latino/Latina friends. Very much driven by strong family values, music, and food, I found myself connected to people who had a similar outlook and passion for family and staying close to them.

Yet, I also found some of the most generous people I've ever met. Just like my parents in Zambia took in strangers and family members alike, two families took me in and raised me as their own - my youth pastor and his family, the Brantleys, and my education benefactors, the Eberlys. To this day, the Eberlys remain my American family; Michael Oher and "The Blind Side" came long after me and the Eberlys lived out that life. My parents (American and Zambian) have met, and I'm fortunate to have had two sets of parents doting over me and encouraging me to be the best man I can possible be.

4.  What are the themes of your books?
Relationships. Communication. Personal Development. Leadership. All of them are driven by a desire improve the human condition. So I wrote them to ensure that my readers could connect to the concepts through my own experience; I want my readers to always know that I've experienced what they have and I want them to learn from my mistakes. Rather than be a simple "how-to" book, I want the reader to see me as a helpful coach and guide.

 5.  What is the name of your forthcoming book, and how did you choose the name? What is the theme?
I chose this title because it's what I want everyone to be: unapologetic. Completely themselves. Warts and all. This does not preclude us from improvement, but it's hard to improve what we don't understand. So, unapologetic is about self-discovery and loving/appreciating what we discover - our humanity.
We live in a world that tends to shun anything that isn't perfect - basically, our humanity. Perfect hair (I know, I don't have that problem). Perfect families. Perfect homes. All done to create a ruse about our lives when we often hurt and are nowhere near as put-together as we portray. This book is about ripping the mask off and being exactly who we are and what we were meant to be.
I believe we all have lines to sing in the musical of life; when we don't, the show loses its value and luster. Life is supposed to be a blockbuster, not a box office flop; only those who sing their lines by living authentic lives can ever hope to see their life become that blockbuster.

6.  Who are some of the thinkers / writers / leaders who have most influenced you?
The late Zig Ziglar is atop my list. Great speaker, writer and thinker.
The late Og Mandino is among my favorites. I read his book, The Choice, at least twice a year.
The Apostle Paul. His doctrinal thoughts truly have a touch of the Divine. Along with the Book of Proverbs. I read that anthology of wisdom monthly.
Dr. John Maxwell influenced my development, long before he became prolific. As the head of Injoy, his tapes (yes, cassettes) were amazing!
Dr. Dennis Kimbro of Clark Atlanta University mentored me from afar without knowing me in my early years in the U.S. This year, I get to meet him face-to-face after getting acquainted with him via email over the last two years.
Dr. Steven Beebe, the premier mind in communication. Another mentor from afar, until a few years ago when we met and became solid friends. I consider him a confidant, and continued mentor.
There are many more, but these come to mind first. My personal library is over 700 books strong (and that's the trimmed version), and I continue to read and accumulate more.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Video-Assisted Mobile Learning: Free e-Book & Repository

What is the best way to incorporate videos in your mobile learning? A free download of the 289-page comprehensive guide to video-assisted e-learning, Video-Assisted Mobile Learning, is now available. 

This book contains free resources to incorporate into your online courses – they are snippets primarily focused around the writing process, but also include many prompts for writing having to do with leadership, literature, and travel/discovery. All are in available for free via YouTube, and are designed to be easily embedded or linked to. They also contain notes and suggestions for use.

Effective Mobile Learning: The three cornerstones of effective mobile learning are authenticity, collaboration, and personalization. 

One great way to build in the authenticity is to include video snippets that trigger thoughts and give guidance. Snippets that have to do with writing can nicely tie to the learner’s individual needs, and encourage collaboration, or at least a conversation.

The video snippets are actually learning objects, and they are sufficiently granular to be used in many places in a single course. They are also ideal for micro-learning (or chunked learning).

Advantages of video content:
Here is a brief list of some of the advantages of video snippets:

•    Snippets that are brief capture and keep the learner's attention
•    A video with a person in a natural setting is engaging, humanizing
•    Video appeals to audio as well as visual learners
•    The personal delivery of the presenter triggers thought and internal “conversation”
•    The format builds in a call for action by encouraging "check your knowledge" kinds of reflection
•    The informality creates a relatable experience
•    The snippets, when stored in the cloud and downloadable to one's smartphone, tablet, or laptop, are highly accessible 
•    Perfect for smartphone or tablet access

Mobile learning can be extremely effective, but all too often, it’s just a series of monotonous narrated PowerPoints, with multiple choice quizzes along the way and at the end.

This collection, with all its spontaneity and unusual venues, can be incorporated directly, or inspire instructors and students to create their own snippets and use them within their m-learning courses.

For those wishing a printed copy, a paper copy of Video-Assisted Mobile Learning is available on demand.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Interview with Darlene Beaubien, Energy Economist: Micro-Learning Module

Many people wonder why the price of oil fluctuates so dramatically, and what factors affect both supply and demand for petroleum. Welcome to an interview Darlene Beaubien, an economist who has specialized in energy economics. In addition to the written interview, Darlene was featured on LifeEdge.

1.  What is your name and your connection to economics and the oil industry?
My name is Darlene Beaubien.  I have worked as a corporate planner and economist for  major oil and gas companies for more than 20 years.  Also, I’m former president of the Houston Chapter of the International Association for Energy Economics.
Following are some short and simple explanations of common issues in the current environment.

2.  Why does the oil industry seem to have boom and bust cycles?
Boom and bust cycles are caused by imbalances between worldwide oil supply and demand.  
During periods of high oil prices producers make investments in the oil and gas industry that create jobs, increase the number of operating oil rigs and encourage investments in new technologies.  These oil investments lead to discoveries that produce oil for several decades. 

However, consumers respond to high oil prices by reducing their demand for oil products such as gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel. The result is lower consumption and the potential for an oil surplus. Periods of significant surplus and shortage of oil result in dramatic changes in prices and create boom and bust cycles in the oil industry.

It should be noted that movements in supply and demand are influenced by factors including international economic performance, government actions, technology, and geopolitical factors.

 Link to a conversation on oil price fluctuations and global economics with Darlene Beaubien on LifeEdge.

3.  What causes companies and countries to produce too much, even though they know that by producing too much, they'll cause the price to collapse?

Oil companies and countries may produce during periods of surplus for various reasons including:
•    The dependence of some countries on oil exports to fund their governments.
•    The decision of some energy oil countries  to maintain their share of the worldwide market or even to suppress prices to the point that higher cost producers can’t maintain operations
•    Contract commitments for services, rigs and products that prevent producers from making immediate reductions in production operations 
•    The need to continue producing in order to meet cash requirements or to maintain leases. 
•    Time lags between reduction in rigs and production due to the physical characteristics of the producing properties

 4.  How has political uncertainty and war affected the price of oil in the past?
Geopolitical events and war are a major risk factor in oil and gas markets.  Supply disruptions in major producing countries can cause dramatic price increases.  On the other hand, the restoration of production by a previously war torn countries increase supply and could suppress prices.  Following are a couple of examples.

•    The Iraq war and ongoing violent during the past decade, caused dramatic supply disruptions due the destruction of physical assets (ie. Fields, pipelines) and threats to personnel.
•    The restoration of production in Libya in 2015 added to world production and exacerbated the already existing supply surplus.
Changes in political regimes are another geopolitical factor in oil markets.  New regimes may attempt to change the terms of existing profit sharing agreements or even nationalize oil producing assets contracted to foreign oil companies.

5.  What is the "ideal" price of oil that's high enough to allow producers to cover costs and have a profit, but is low enough for the transportation industry other consumers to not suffer?
The price of oil is set on the global market based on worldwide supply and demand.  The ideal price is difficult to determine because exploration and production costs vary widely by location, production source (ie onshore vs onshore), technology, regulations and other factors.

6.  What do you think will be the final outcome of this down cycle?  Winners? Losers?
In general, the winners in today’s down cycle are the major consumers of oil and gas.  Winners include major oil and gas consuming industries including chemical, refining, transportation and electric generation.

Winning countries are net oil importers including Japan, India and non producing European countries.

Losers are those entities that are major producers of oil and gas.  Analysts estimate that 70 small U.S. producers went bankrupt in 2015.  Many more are likely to go bankrupt these years.  Losing countries include those for whom oil and gas make up large a share of government revenues such as Nigeria, Venezuela and Russia. 

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