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Monday, March 30, 2015

Reflecting on Our ‘Artistry of Practice’

This week’s columnist: Mary Marczak.

A recent conversation with my mother made me laugh. A devout Catholic who attends church twice a week, she told me rather derisively about “Catholic CEO’s.” She didn’t mean the ones who run major companies — she was talking about the “Christmas and Easter Only” churchgoers! Easter, which is this coming Sunday, April 5, is considered the holiest day on the Christian calendar — explaining the 30 percent or so increase in church attendance that day.

The arrival of Easter also marks the end of Lent — the 40 days leading up to Easter when Christians reflect on past actions and ways of being. This act of reflection prepares them to renew their covenant (a contract or promise) at Easter to act in ways that brings them closer to God.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On Internships and Learning

As I was reflecting on FD's new internship initiative, I looked up Webster's definition of "intern" and found three definitions:
  1. Internal (archaic)
  2. To confine
  3. A student or recent graduate who works for a period of time at a job in order to get experience.
These three definitions are an excellent foundation to share with you our reasons for and commitment to expanding our reach through partnering with interns.

Contrary to the archaic meaning of the word, the first reason is to be "less internal." One great way for Family Development to grow and learn is through expanding our partnership with interns. Interns will come to us with new ideas, new ways of doing things, and new knowledge to challenge us and stretch us. I use the word "partnership" boldly — while interns learn from us through work opportunities, we also learn from them. Otherwise, the internship program would not be successful.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Virtues of ‘Thrashing Early’

This week’s guest columnist: Renee Obrecht-Como.

“Thrash early!” This was the advice from author, public speaker, entrepreneur, and marketer Seth Godin in response to a question at a 99u conference about how he “finishes stuff” (skip to 10:00 of this video: Keep Making a Ruckus).

Godin uses the term thrashing in the sense of thrashing out: “To talk over thoroughly and vigorously in order to reach a decision, conclusion, or understanding; discuss exhaustively” (see definition #12 at thrashing). Godin proposes that this stage is necessary, but that it often occurs at the wrong point in a project, thereby sabotaging timelines, productivity, and deliverables. All too often, people begin by running with an idea and then thrashing, with delays or eventual abandonment the frequent result. A more efficient and effective process, according to Godin, is to thrash out an idea first, then decide whether to commit to it or abandon it, with further thrashing shunted to the side in order to finish the project or move on.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Remembering Selma in Minnesota

I heard on the news that approximately 70,000 people crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge near Selma, AL this weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. On March 7, 1965, state troopers and county sheriffs’ deputies attacked civil rights marchers using tear gas and billy clubs rather than let them cross the bridge. This week, I would like us to take time to remember a 1931 incident in Minneapolis that reminds Minnesotans of our own struggles with racism.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Word Matters: Energize Your Writing

Temperatures are climbing, birds are chirping, spring is coming! You can feel the energy in the air. So how about energizing your writing? Here are three techniques to do that.


Decluttering is an essential way to add energy to your writing. As one of my favorite writers on writing, William Zinsser says, “Writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things we can keep out of it that shouldn’t be there.” How do you recognize clutter? Look for needless words and needless “big” words.
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