Convergence of the Outdoors and Business

Over the last 30 years, the trend of expedition or adventure trips has exploded. The notion that we of the late 20th and early 21st century are the first ones to develop a way in which the outdoors and business converge is a misnomer. Check out the following interesting facts about the world of outdoors. With that said, the one thing that has not changed is that whatever type of trip that meets your liking the results are always the same; the feeling of accomplishment, a better understanding of yourself and your colleques, and a readiness to tackle the next challenge. Here are a few highlights from from that last 150 years or so.

From the Smithsonian, we hear about the inventor of the modern day concept called “vacation”


Vanderbuilt Cabin in the Adirondacks built in the late 1800’s.

“One of the little-known turning points in the history of American travel occurred in the spring of 1869, when a handsome young preacher from Boston named William H.H. Murray published one of the first guidebooks to a wilderness area. In describing the Adirondack Mountains—a 9,000-square-mile expanse of lakes, forests and rivers in upstate New York—Murray broached the then-outrageous idea that an excursion into raw nature could actually be pleasurable. Before that date, most Americans considered the country’s primeval landscapes only as obstacles to be conquered. But Murray’s self-help opus, Adventures in the Wilderness; or, Camp-Life in the Adirondacks, suggested that hiking, canoeing and fishing in unsullied nature were the ultimate health tonic for harried city dwellers whose constitutions were weakened by the demands of civilized life.


The Camping Trips by Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John Burroghs, and Harry Firestone.

This radical notion had gained currency among Europeans since the Romantic age, but America was still building its leisured classes and the idea had not yet caught on with the general public. In 1869, after the horrors of the Civil War and amid the country’s rapid industrialization, Murray’s book became a surprise best seller. Readers were enthralled by his vision of a pure, Edenic world in the Adirondacks, where hundreds of forest-swathed lakes were gleaming “like gems…amid the folds of emerald-colored velvet.” Murray argued that American cities were disease-ridden and filled with pressures that created “an intense, unnatural and often fatal tension” in their unhappy denizens. The wilderness, by contrast, restored both the spirit and body. “No axe has sounded along its mountainsides, or echoed across its peaceful waters,” Murray enthused, so “the spruce, hemlock, balsam and pine…yield upon the air, and especially at night, all their curative qualities.” What’s more, Murray pointed out, a new train line that had opened the year before meant this magical world was only 36 hours’ travel from New York City or Boston. The vision struck a deep chord, and his book ran into ten editions within four months.”  Full article

And while some trips are made to be luxury getaways or vacations in the country, not all meet this belief.  The Vegabond Camping Trips circa 1020’s by some of the titans of industry where basic outdoor camping with tents. Full article on


Photo of 1963 American Mt. Everest Expedition at Seattle World’s Fair

Lastly, the advent of the adrenaline or the expedition trip.  One of the most documented is Mt. Everest.  From the first documented attempt in the early 1900’s to the first successful climb by a United States Expedition in 1963, the concept of the outdoors can be used to find self-mastery or personal development was firmly planted in the culture of American business.   More information




Leadership Development within Existing Organizations

(The following story is excerpted from “Communication: The Key To Effective Leadership.}

Fred LeFranc is a turnaround specialist who has 30 years experience working in the restaurant chain business. He took over as CEO of a restaurant chain that was in trouble. He turned it around using the concepts of Process Communication. He was so successful that Inc. magazine did an article on him. He believes that understanding the concepts of Process Communication gives leaders a spotlight on someone’s brain. This enables the leaders to understand where their team members are coming from, to be more tolerant of their positions, and to understand how to deal with them. Therefore, he used the concepts in his strategic planning meetings and found that these concepts took all of the noise out of meetings. It reduced the in-fighting and distress reactions and allowed his staff and restaurant managers to focus on improving the profitability of their restaurants. He believes that to be successful in turning a business around, CEO’s have to change the language and the culture of the business. The concepts of Process Communication enabled him to do this very successfully.

Prior to this he was president of another company. He introduced the concepts of Process Communication to the company and had a 35% increase in same store sales in 3 years. This was unheard of in the restaurant business. He also had double digit growth in transaction average and in head count.

A More Efficient Talent Selection Process

The following is an excerpt from essay, “The Story of PCM” by Taibi Kahler.

“I had been hired by Dr. Terry McGuire, NASA’s Lead Psychiatrist for Manned Spaceflight [1959-1996] in charge of selection and crew management, to work with him in choosing astronauts.

As Terry would kindly state in the foreword to the reference manual of Insight (Three- Sixty Pacific, 1992), “Dr. Kahler was invited to participate with me as a consultant in a selection cycle. As I conversed with the individual applicants, Dr, Kahler sat quietly and listened, only rarely asking a pertinent question. Ten to fifteen minutes into each two hour interview, he would make a few notes on a piece of paper and place it on the floor. When each interview was concluded, we would share our findings. To my amazement, he had been able to extract and commit to paper at least an equal amount of meaningful data about the applicant’s personality structure in a fraction of the time it had taken me. My response was, ‘I must learn how he does that.’ Thus began a long and very satisfying personal and professional relationship that continues to grow and be enriched with the passage of time.”

Hundreds of the best of the best were being interviewed, but we needed a more efficient selection process. … It was to be the birth of the Personality Pattern Inventory (PPI) (Kahler, 1982b).”

For the complete essay, click here.

Connecting with Students for Academic Success

Different Strokes for Different Folks: Connecting with Students for Academic Success, By Michael Gilbert

Schools are challenged to provide meaningful learning experiences to prepare students for immediate and long-term success. The controversial Common Core is an attempt to institute a national curriculum in the United States to align with other countries.

Regardless of the approach, academic content is an important starting point for schools. Varying delivery methods are the companions to connecting with students for successful learning experiences. This article addresses how teachers might consider personality aspects in delivering curricula effectively. The methodology of doing so is explained by examining the Process Education Model, its components and implications. Also included are outcomes of several research and application projects.

The issues of how to prepare students to compete in a global economy are primary in education today. The “Common Core” is one possible approach for education in the United States. It was the adopted curriculum in 45 states. It is the closest the U. S. has come to a national curriculum, unlike most countries the world, where there is a national educational policy. However, issues regarding how to measure the results have spawned some crucial questions (Altman, 2014). While the “jury is still out” on the Common Core, the focus on delivering a meaningful curriculum remains. A formula to consider for academic success might be:

Content + Process = Academic Success

Traditional approaches to instructional delivery may no longer be effective.

“OK! Today, you are going to be working by yourselves. If you have any questions, raise your hands, and I will come to you.”

This scenario has been seen in classrooms all over the U. S. It demands that students conform to the way that the teacher wants them to behave. However, not every student is comfortable with static or limited delivery methods or constraining rules. We have learned that students have differing learning styles and ways of processing information (Gregorc, 1982; Kolb; 1984; McCarthy, 1980). Preference of intake modes (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic) (Barbe & Swassing, 1979) and access to different abilities (analytical, creative, and practical) (Sternberg, et al., 1999) are other considerations for looking at student learning. Also, students may be more adept with some learning styles or focal areas, or “intelligences” (Gardner, 1983).

Classroom structure and limited instructional delivery may be problems in dealing with students who bring home-life baggage to school. They see their “success” as their ability to “shut up and listen to the teacher” (Knaus, 2013, p. 16).

Personality characteristics (Myers & Briggs, 1943, 1976, 1985; Noland, 1978) may also factor into classroom interactions. Most of these models attempt to depict an individual with regard to one or several aspects of personality and suggest that the individual functions in life and in learning situations with the manifestations of those characterizations. Complete Study

Thomas Jefferson on Why Study The Classics

Letter to John Brazer 24 Aug 1819

jefferson Thomas Jefferson on Why Study Classics
Thomas Jefferson

You ask my opinion on the extent to which classical learning should be carried in our country. A sickly condition permits me to think and a rheumatic hand to write too briefly on this litigated question. The utilities we derive from the remains of the Greek and Latin languages are, first, as models of pure taste in writing. To these we are certainly indebted for the national and chaste style of modern composition which so much distinguishes the nations to whom these languages are familiar. Without these models we should probably have continued the inflated style of our northern ancestors, or the hyperbolical and vague one of the east. Second, among the values of classical learning, I estimate the luxury of reading the Greek and Roman authors in all the beauties of their originals. And why should not this innocent and elegant luxury take its preeminent stand ahead of all those addressed merely to the senses? I think myself more indebted to my father for this than for all the other luxuries his cares and affections have placed within my reach; and more now than when younger, and more susceptible of delights from other sources. When the decays of age have enfeebled the useful energies of the mind, the classic pages fill up the vacuum of ennui, and become sweet composers to that rest of the grave into which we are all sooner or later to descend. A third value is in the stores of real science deposited and transmitted us in these languages, to-wit: in history, ethics, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and natural history.

But to whom are these things useful? Certainly not to all men. There are conditions of life to which they must be forever estranged, and there are epochs of life too, after which the endeavor to attain them would be a great misemployment of time. Their acquisition should be the occupation of our early years only, when the memory is susceptible of deep and lasting impressions, and reason and judgment not yet strong enough for abstract speculations. To the moralist they are valuable, because they furnish ethical writings highly and justly esteemed: although in my own opinion, the moderns are far advanced beyond them in this line of science, the divine finds in the Greek language a translation of his primary code, of more importance to him than the original because better understood; and, in the same language, the newer code, with the doctrines of the earliest fathers, who lived and wrote before the simple precepts of the founder of this most benign and pure of all systems of morality became frittered into subtleties and mysteries, and hidden under jargons incomprehensible to the human mind. To these original sources he must now, therefore, return, to recover the virgin purity of his religion. The lawyer finds in the Latin language the system of civil law most conformable with the principles of justice of any which has ever yet been established among men, and from which much has been incorporated into our own. The physician as good a code of his art as has been given us to this day. Theories and systems of medicine, indeed, have been in perpetual change from the days of the good Hippocrates to the days of the good Rush, but which of them is the true one? The present, to be sure, as long as it is the present, but to yield its place in turn to the next novelty, which is then to become the true system, and is to mark the vast advance of medicine since the days of Hippocrates. Our situation is certainly benefited by the discovery of some new and very valuable medicines; and substituting those for some of his with the treasure of facts, and of sound observations recorded by him (mixed to be sure with anilities of his day) and we shall have nearly the present sum of the healing art. The statesman will find in these languages history, politics, mathematics, ethics, eloquence, love of country, to which he must add the sciences of his own day, for which of them should be unknown to him? And all the sciences must recur to the classical languages for the etymon, and sound understanding of their fundamental terms. For the merchant I should not say that the languages are a necessary. Ethics, mathematics, geography, political economy, history, seem to constitute the immediate foundations of his calling. The agriculturist needs ethics, mathematics, chemistry and natural philosophy. The mechanic the same. To them the languages are but ornament and comfort. I know it is often said there have been shining examples of men of great abilities in all the businesses of life, without any other science than what they had gathered from conversations and intercourse with the world. But who can say what these men would not have been had they started in the science on the shoulders of a Demosthenes or Cicero, of a Locke or Bacon, or a Newton? To sum the whole, therefore, it may truly be said that the classical languages are a solid basis for most, and an ornament to all the sciences.

Gestalt Theory Defined

… It supports scientific research and applied practice from which the human being has not been removed. Well-known authors publish in Gestalt Theory – authors who come from a diverse range of disciplines and who understand the human being and its environment as something that is more than and different from the sum of its parts. The holistic concept is not erroneously used as a pretentious buzzword that denotes simply alleged, but misunderstood, interrelations, but instead holism is seen as a challenge to do thorough research. Gestalt Theory goes against the trend towards more and more specialization and dissection that would lead only to an incoherent knowledge of every nut, bolt and screw, by offering a multi-disciplinary and critical synoptic approach. The journal publishes articles in German or English that present a holistic system-theoretical, phenomenological or experimental analysis in areas like general psychology, psychotherapy, pedagogy, philosophy, sociology, economics, art, musicology, speech science and the physical sciences.

Gestalt Theory Online Journal Mission Statement. For more information on the journal, click here.

The Necessary Art of Persuasion

by Jay A. Conger, Harvard Business Review

Effective persuasion is a difficult and time-consuming proposition, but it may also be more powerful than the command-and-control managerial model it succeeds. As AlliedSignal’s CEO Lawrence Bossidy said recently, “The day when you could yell and scream and beat people into good performance is over. Today you have to appeal to them by helping them see how they can get from here to there, by establishing some credibility, and by giving them some reason and help to get there. Do all those things, and they’ll knock down doors.” In essence, he is describing persuasion—now more than ever, the language of business leadership.

Think for a moment of your definition of persuasion. If you are like most businesspeople I have encountered (see the insert “Twelve Years of Watching and Listening”), you see persuasion as a relatively straightforward process. First, you strongly state your position. Second, you outline the supporting arguments, followed by a highly assertive, data-based exposition. Finally, you enter the deal-making stage and work toward a “close.” In other words, you use logic, persistence, and personal enthusiasm to get others to buy a good idea. The reality is that following this process is one surefire way to fail at persuasion. (See the insert “Four Ways Not to Persuade.”) Full Essay

A Brief History of Decision Making

By by Leigh Buchanan and Andrew O’Connell, Harvard Business Review

And while a good decision does not guarantee a good outcome, such pragmatism has paid off. A growing sophistication with managing risk, a nuanced understanding of human behavior, and advances in technology that support and mimic cognitive processes have improved decision making in many situations.

Even so, the history of decision-making strategies is not one of unalloyed progress toward perfect rationalism. In fact, over the years we have steadily been coming to terms with constraints—both contextual and psychological—on our ability to make optimal choices. Complex circumstances, limited time, and inadequate mental computational power reduce decision makers to a state of “bounded rationality,” argues Simon. While Simon suggests that people would make economically rational decisions if only they could gather enough information, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky identify factors that cause people to decide against their economic interest even when they know better. Antonio Damasio draws on work with brain-damaged patients to demonstrate that in the absence of emotion it is impossible to make any decisions at all. Erroneous framing, bounded awareness, excessive optimism: the debunking of Descartes’s rational man threatens to swamp our confidence in our choices, with only improved technology acting as a kind of empirical breakwater. Full Essay

The Secular Religions of Progress

By Robert H Nelson, The New Atlantis

Economics has never been, nor could it ever be, free of value judgments. The economy is not isolated from the rest of society, cordoned off from the lively world of competing beliefs. Rather, questions of the organization of the economy, and of the economic policies to be pursued, are interwoven with other social concerns and public policy in general. Economists often lose sight of the altogether interconnected nature of the economic and the non-economic. The illusion of neutrality is reinforced by the radical simplification that often characterizes economic methods; in striving to make economic problems tractable for mathematical representation, inherent ethical considerations are obscured.

Some of the greatest economists of earlier eras, like Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, regarded themselves as moral philosophers, as analysts of the moral foundations of society. Few contemporary economists see themselves in such a light. If they do take moral considerations into account, it is typically as parameters for subsequent economic analysis.

As a result, the powerful normative elements of economics tend to be driven underground. Economists today become implicit moral philosophers, a point the University of Illinois economist Deirdre McCloskey often emphasizes. Most economists, for example, regard economic growth as a main goal of the economic system, and seek to assess the desirability of public policies by the extent to which they are efficient or inefficient toward that end. Whether growth should itself be a paramount objective, and whether efficiency should therefore play such a critical role in distinguishing between good and bad policy, typically receives little sustained attention among mainstream economists, with few exceptions (such as Herman Daly in his 1996 book Beyond Growth). Full essay