Category: Training and Development

Man Swimming in Pool
SportsTraining and Development

Olympic Swimmer? I will never know

swimmerYep, I could have been.

The problem is that I will never really know.

This year the pool opened over Memorial Day Weekend. It was a bit cold and rainy and so I wasn’t able to swim on my designated start date. But, by May 30th I was ready to take the annual walk of shame – from the locker room to the pool edge. It’s a shame because I actually accomplish about 80% of my resolutions each year, but never quite get to the physical state I desire.

So, as I’ve started my summer lap swimming, my mind remembers a time long ago when I missed my chance to succeed in doing something with my swimming skills.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can’t do the butterfly. I never had to learn it and so I didn’t. But, in 7th grade swim class I was the person who always had to demonstrate the stroke for the rest of the class. It was a bit traumatic for a shy girl, but did give me a sense of accomplishment.

In the 8th grade I had a friend try out for the swim team and make it. I delayed trying out until the last day. Apparently there was only one other person who had delayed as well – a boy named Scott. He wasn’t a particular “cool” guy and so I thought I would beat him. Realize, my 8th grade brain was at work, not taking in the obvious clue that he was over 6 feet tall in the 8th grade and …had feet that could self-propel him into infinity.

So, the coach told us to get into the water and she blew the start whistle. We were off and running, er swimming.

After a few laps I realized that Scott was ahead of me. How could this be? I am (was) a pretty fast swimmer. How could “un-cool” Scott be ahead of me?

At the end of the race, I couldn’t even hear my time and can’t even remember if I made the team. I was so deflated that I had lost to Scott of all people.

So, much to the dismay of my friend, and I’m sure the coach, I didn’t join the team.


Well, later that year I was surprised to find out that Scott won all kinds of STATE championships in swimming. Yes, not school championships, but state. The person I had been comparing myself to was the best of the best. What if I had known that when I was racing him? I might have been proud of my attempt to compete against him and perhaps would have continued to improve my game.

Or, would I?

It is easy to make comparing a way of life. There will always be those that are far worse and far better than us in any given area. We all know this, but how we use this knowledge creates drastically different results.

I can write this blogspost because I’ve chosen the right way to respond and ….the wrong approach.

Here are a few tips that may be helpful to keep in mind when you are tempted to compare yourself too much to the “Olympic champions” around us:

  • Change YOUR surroundings – It’s time to take a break from whatever is diverting you. Is it comparing yourself to neighbors? Take a little roadtrip to some small towns or just a different city. Noticing all the great accomplishments of people on Facebook? Log off the system for a few days.
  • Serve Others – Admit it, you get self-doubt and a tinge of depression when you spend too much time comparing your life, business, successes, and failures to others. Turn it around. Serve, serve, serve. Write a thank you note to a friend or customer. Offer to do and errand or task for someone. Volunteer. This gets you out there realizing you’ve got something to offer. Plus, it might give you that big idea you’ve been looking for and can’t seem to find since you are so busy comparing!
  • Personal Affirmations – No, this isn’t a joke. Sometimes you need to make a list of things that you do well or would like to do well. Perhaps repeat them during your morning exercise or while you are driving to work or business. Our brains take action on what we tell them. Our brain doesn’t know if what we are telling them is positive or negative. Why not express daily what we do well.
  • Turn to your inspirational sources – This may be scripture, coaches, favorite authors, etc. There’s always something embedded in these resources that help us press on, remind us that we are unique and just need to focus on improving ourselves.
  • Focus – Select just 1-2 areas to work on at a time. I’m BAD at this area. I love creating dozens of projects, goals, and ….expectations for myself. I need to stop it! When we do this, it is as if we are taking the best we see in dozens of people and trying to become the best at all those things even though they aren’t even all that! Better to select 1-2 areas to go focus on learning, growing and creating in than trying to scratch the surface of everything.

I just got back from my swim. I swam slower than usual, but it was a beautiful day and the next few days are going to be rainy. I just wanted to be out in the sunshine and fresh air.  I beat an older woman without trying (really?), but quickly reminded myself that it didn’t matter and ….I slowed down and worried about improving my stroke instead of how the pool crowd perceived my progress.

Perhaps my daily efforts will avail me a spot on some kind of mid-life Olympic wanna be swim team someday. So be it. I’m fine with it. I’m doing what I can with what I have right now at this point….and there is progress!

But, every once in a while I kick myself for not taking this step in the 8th grade. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, right?


MotivationTeachingTraining and Development

Villager Mike – Motivational Speaker & Author



About Mike:

We are excited to highlight Mike! We met Mike at a recent conference where he was giving the keynote. He’s done what we all hope to do – make a difference.

He was teaching children with special needs and found a way, amidst great obstacles, to give his students a chance to go to the prestigious NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

He wrote about the experience in his book A Smile as Big as the Moon and it was made into a wonderful Hallmark movie (Hall of Fame and Emmy Nominee!) in 2012. Mike was the technical advisor for the movie.

Mike is looking forward to sharing more of this experience through public speaking opportunities!

Welcome to Nudge Village Mike!

A picture of Brian teaching
DesignTraining and Development

Villager Brian – Training Solutions


Brian started Strategic Learning Solutions in 1994. He’s shared some of his background below. Very interesting to see how little opportunities crop up and lead us in new directions. Brian’s shared some great advice in his comments below. A picture of Brian teaching

Why did I start my business?

I’d always thought about being an independent consultant, after years of consulting for other companies.

My big break came when I resigned my position as a consultant to the Department of Energy (DOE). I had been developing a training program on “Conduct of Operations” for senior DOE managers, and had just started teaching a series of workshops on the subject. My replacement was hired and for two weeks I coached him on the program and how to teach the lesson plan.

On my last day, the replacement was supposed to teach his first class, when out of the blue, he quit. This threw the contract into a state of panic, my manager, the two of the clients managers and I went to lunch to discuss the situation; at Spago’s in Caesars Palace no less. They tried to get me to withdraw my resignation, but I’d already rented a house in Florida, the moving van was packed and gone. The next suggestion was for me to take the project as an independent consultant to complete the remainder of the scheduled workshops.

I accepted their offer; this was the beginning of Strategic Learning Solutions.

For the next six months, I alternated between three weeks in Las Vegas, and then three weeks at home. After that I picked up a six-month contract auditing the Alaska Pipeline Corporation. Since then I’ve had four large contracts with Lockheed Martin, a second contract with the Alaska Pipeline Corporation, three contracts with a GPS Duratek, a waste management company, a year long contract to write procedures for the Trojan Nuclear Plant decommissioning, and IT companies like CSC and ActioNet and more recently to design/develop training programs for guards and staff at the GEO Group, a private prison system.

How do I market my services?

  • Networking – Every contract I’ve signed has come about through networking. You live and die by who you know and how well you stay connected. I can’t emphasize this enough, you’ve got to stay connected and speak or write to everyone on your contact list at least every six months; if nothing more than to say hello and find out what they are doing. I’d also remind everyone that this relationship is a two way street, your contacts will help you if you help them. I keep notes about what everyone is doing and if they ask for something, I try to deliver.
  • Deliver what you promise – Make sure you deliver on your projects. Most of my contracts come through people I’ve worked with before. They remember that I delivered projects that met or exceeded expectation, and were on time and within budget. One word of caution here is to avoid “Scope Creep” on your project (or at least document it well). Clear, honest, and frequent communication with your customer is essential to making a project successful.
  • Relationships – Get along with everyone you work with, especially in the clients organization. You are not the star of the show, your customer is. Do anything you can do to make your customer look good. Go out of your way to be friendly to everyone, especially those that are difficult to like, you’ll be surprised how often this effort is rewarded.

Was it worth the effort?

In a word, Yes. Being able to set your own schedule is my personal favorite, but there are other perks like having lots of new adventures. I’ve worked on contracts from Portland Maine, to Portland Oregon; contracts in Alaska and contracts in Jamaica; contracts as diverse as the Lockheed F-16 and F-22 programs, decommissioning the Trojan and Maine Yankee Nuclear Plants, conducting cause investigations for defects in chemical and nuclear weapons storage containers, designing training for prison guards and lots of other interesting projects. I like change and love travel, so this has been the best of all careers for me.

There have been challenges and some periods when I would have liked a steady job. Fortunately, the challenges were overcome and the periods of uncertainty were short.

Welcome to Nudge Village Brian!

You’ve offered excellent advice to our village!

DesignTeachingTraining and Development

Villager Danalyn – E-learning and Performance Solutions

Website: Danalyn


What motivated you to start Breakthru Learning Solutions, LLC? I started Breakthru Learning Solutions, LLC because I desired more flexibility and greater control over my finances. I was determine to start my own business after realizing an employer was billing me out at 5 times my compensation. A few years after that decision, the business was established.


When did you start your business? 1996

Break Thru Learning

When did you realize you had a talent/interest in your particular area? In 2003, I found out about, and eventually enrolled in, a graduate program for instructional technology. Although I had a technical background, I was always drawn to education. I was very excited to find a program that combined education and technology.

Do you do this full-time or part-time? I’m currently working PT. With additional assignments, I plan to work FT.

What lessons have you learned along the way? Building your business takes constant effort. Don’t become complacent with your present clientele.

How do you market your business? Any particular ideas that worked best for you? Networking works. I would like to step up efforts in Marketing.

DesignPaintingTraining and Development

Villager Kim – Design on and off the web

Illustration of kids playing on the back of a truck

Summer on the truck

Primary Website: professional elearning development, communication graphics, presentations, web design/dev)

Additional Website: (for decorative painting – murals and faux finishing)

Notes from Kim

 I’ve started and stopped multiple businesses over the past 10 years.  Why did I keep stopping? Two primary, but related, reasons:

  • Kids – I have kids…no time for work, building my skills, attending industry events (and no money to attend for that matter)
  •  Time and Money – As an entrepreneur, unless you have some sort of stockpile of money that you can pull from, it’s very difficult to start/maintain the business unless you have a full-time job.  But there-in lies the “catch”…because you have a full-time job, you have little to no time to invest in your businesses.

For now (since I have a full-time job), I take on projects that I know I can handle in a weekend or in the evenings from home. For now, it will have to do…

What motivated you to start your own business? Being my own boss/setting my own schedule/flexibility between work and family… outlet for my creativity (keeps me more “grounded”)

When did you first start your own business? My first business was in fashion design (in 1997)…didn’t make enough money; too much time and overhead.  My second business was in web design/development (2002), called “OKAYwebs”.  Third business was in decorative painting  (2004).  Last, with Kim Jolly (2009)..


What motivated you to start your own business, or in your case, multiple businesses? When I realized how quickly I was able to learn and then execute a finished product…coupled with all the positive feedback and encouragement I received…not just from friends and family, but from those in the actual profession(s).  Seemed “natural” (corny, I know)

Do you do this full or part-time? Part-time for now…would love to do any of my businesses full time.  Timing seems to be everything

Any lessons learned that you’d like to share? Practice, learn as much as you can, network, don’t underestimate word-of-mouth…don’t let you baby crawl around your computer while you’re working (mine just pushed the Power button and I had to restart this email…HA!).  When you’re first starting out…you may want to consider doing some things for “free” to build your portfolio quickly and get the “word-of-mouth” going.  Also, in the beginning, have “Promotions” as incentives to potential customers.  Get your website up and business cards done as quickly as possible…keep your cards ON HAND AT ALL TIMES…you may never know who you’ll run into in the grocery store.

How do you market your business?  Through my website (utilizing SEO), business cards (hand-in-hand), portfolio, networking, word of mouth. I used to do some direct mail pieces…too costly and old-school – email marketing is better.  If your work isn’t conducive to a “portfolio” have some sort of Customer/Client package that you can give to the customer – brochure(s), fliers, info about your business, testimonials, etc…

Can we talk to you in a few months to find out where you are at? Progress? I’m open for interviewing…I don’t know what I can share as I seriously doubt I will have done much work within my businesses anytime soon.

 Thanks for this opportunity!!

See some of the murals Kim has designed and painted here.

RWL Tech logo
DesignNudge BlogTeachingTechnologyTraining and Development

Villager Cheryl – Learning Solutions

Web Address:

RWL logoWhat motivated you to start your own business? I started my business with virtually no experience or knowledge of training.  I started working with people who have disabilities and wanted to use assistive technology to access computer technology.

There were no user friendly manuals or instructions for the products so I started creating my own.  I found that I had to address quite a few different people, their needs and their learning styles. Through trial and error I learned a lot about what makes people learn and what motivates them to transfer that learning in meaningful ways in their lives.  I ended up going back to school to validate what I already learned through hands on activities and real life experience.  I came to realize how learning can transform people’s lives.  It proved to be a rewarding experience that I wanted to continue developing in my life.
When did you start your business?  1994

When did you realize you had a talent/interest in your particular area? I started to realize that I had a talent for creating meaningful learning experiences when I became a premiere partner with a voice recognition technology provider and they started seeking out my services for the majority of their big clients.

Check out Cheryl’s portfolio
Do you do this full-time or part-time? I currently work full time but am working my way toward early retirement in the next five years.
What lessons have you learned along the way? What would you tell someone just starting out?I would encourage people to learn to work hard to change the paradigms that currently exist around learning.  We are in a transitional period and those who really understand what motivates, inspires and helps people learn will be rewarded with transformational experiences that make a difference in the world we live in.

How do you market your business? Networking

Can we come back and interview you again in a few months to find out what “next steps” you’ve taken in your business adventures?  Sure