10 Things That Make You Go Huh?

Posted in Funny, Motivational

10 Things That Make You Go Huh dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer coach teacher educator

  • A young man I knew was having an argument with his Dad and he stormed out of the house declaring, “Nobody is going to tell ME what to do! I’m joining the ARMY!”
  • Johnny’s dad had rather salty language. When he let a bad word slip, he would say, “Pardon my French.” You can imagine the look on the face of the foreign language teacher when he asked the class if anyone spoke French and Johnny raised his hand.
  • Bruce Jenner was named Woman of the Year?
  • Hillary???
  • When I was teaching a class of 4th graders and told them I was Superman, one of the boys in the back of the class yelled out, “Superman does NOT have a double chin!” I shouted back, “That is not a double chin…that is a TRIPLE chin!!!” (And I am on a diet…OK?)
  • Hillary??? (Did I say that already?)
  • In public schools you can talk about Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Day of the Dead celebration, but you can’t talk about Jesus??? Isn’t that what Christmas is really about?
  • Televangelists that have jets.  Jesus rode a donkey….just sayin.
  • The Dallas Cowboys can’t seem to have a consistent winning season. There is always next year, right?
  • A Powerball winner that won over $300 million and was $1.5 million in debt in 4 years!!! Whether we win $500 million or $1 million, about 70 percent of us lose or spend all our money in five years or less.


Dan Skognes

10 Commandments Of Elementary Education

Posted in Funny, Motivational

10 Commandments of Elementary Education danskognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorAs I have taught in a variety of schools, it has become evident that there are certain rules which are common to each campus.  I thought it would be not just beneficial but necessary to expound upon them:

  1. Thou shall expect the unexpected. I was teaching a first grade class and a little boy came up to my desk, looked me over head to toe, then poked me in the belly and asked, “Are you pregnant?”  My head was spinning on how to answer him when another boy came to my rescue and declared to him and the class, “Boys don’t have babies!” Note to self: I either need to lose some weight or sit up straighter. Maybe both! Be ready for kids to say the craziest things. They have no filters.
  2. Thou shall learn the children’s names as soon as possible. Everyone wants to be known by their name (including kids).  Make that a priority. Kids will ask you, “Do you know my name?”
  3. Thou shall never use the “S” word.  I was teaching in a class and said, “I don’t know why they did that. That was a stupid decision.” Simultaneously you could hear in unison: “Ohhhhhh….you said the ‘S’ word!”  I tried to explain that I was not calling someone stupid, just the decision….but the disapproving looks told me I had broken one of the 10 commandments and there was no redemption. So, I did what any teacher would do: I pretended it never happened and got them refocused on the task at hand. Note to self: Don’t say the “S” word again.
  4. Thou shall let kids be kids and not expect them to act like adults. Make learning fun, creative, and interactive. It should not be a chore or boring. Teach collectively, but always with the individual in mind.
  5. Thou shall not allow running inside the school.  The reason is: kids would run to their desk, run to the pencil sharpener, run to lunch, run to the bathroom, run to their next class, and yes, run over you. If one runs they all want to run, so it is apparently contagious. I wish I could bottle that energy! I would be rich!
  6. Thou shall have a secret word, phrase, or clap.  I ask them what their teacher does to get their attention.  I might try it if I like it, but often I just tell them that I do this: then I clap clap   clap clap clap, and tell them to repeat it.  We practice that a couple of times and make sure they get it. Sometimes I throw in some funny clapping just to make them giggle. This is a necessity to be able to get them to focus as a class. Whatever works for you: a bell, a series of claps, a train whistle, a funny phrase, or a duck call…you have to have something to help them refocus.
  7. Thou shall learn to not speak when others are speaking. Kids have a tendency to get in your face to get your attention, regardless of what you are doing or who you are speaking to. This is a hard habit to break since it goes to the core of everyone in wanting to be heard, but it has to be enforced if you expect to get anything accomplished. It makes perfect sense to them when you explain they will have your full attention when you are talking to them. Till then, they have to wait their turn.
  8. Thou shall learn to share. When kids won’t share something with one another, I have found this to be effective: I tell them, “Either you two figure out how to share this and work together quietly, or I will take it away from both of you.”  The look on their faces is like, “What just happened?”  LOL. It does get their attention and order is normally restored pretty quickly. Funny how kids learn to share at that point.
  9. Thou shall cure boo-boos. Band-aids and hugs cure about 99% of the boo-boos you encounter.  Give them both freely.
  10. Thou shall not fear. Little kids are very susceptible to letting fear devastate them.  Help them put things in perspective. I had two kids recently that showed me how powerful fear is in children. One boy was telling this little girl about the storm that was approaching the area and how flooding was expected. He was very good at painting a doom and gloom picture verbally.  Perhaps he has a future in being a weather forecaster. The next thing I know this little girl is boo-hooing.  When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “It is going to FLOOD!”  I assured her that was not going to happen here and she was perfectly safe. It took some effort, but she finally calmed down. Don’t let fear get a foothold in the kids’ hearts and minds. Fear is one of the greatest giants we each have to face. Show kids how to deal with it. Give them the courage they lack and they will never forget you.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Funny, Motivational, Relationships

Opposites dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer coach teacherRecently I was substitute teaching in a local high school. Guess what subject? Latin!  LOL. It was OK because the lesson plan was all laid out for me. What happened in the class was pretty funny.  At the end of the class as they were wrapping up, the talk around the tables turned to general things that were going on in their lives.

I happened to be sitting next to a table and could not help but overhear as a senior boy was confiding in two girls that his girlfriend had decided to “take a break in the relationship due to her heavy involvement in school activities.”  He went on to say that he found it odd that she had immediately gone onto Instagram and “Liked” some photos of some cute guys.  He was asking the two girls if they thought she had dumped him.

I felt like becoming Jeff Foxworthy and going over to the poor guy and saying, “Here’s your sign.” I also felt compelled to ask him if she had said the dreaded line, “We can still be friends.” That is like the kiss of death in a relationship and means you will never ever ever take her out again….unless, of course, she changes her mind.  LOL.

Life is full of irony like that. It is like words. You can say volumes by not saying anything, and you can say too much and mess up what you meant to say. Learning the language of other people is an art since each of us speaks a unique dialect.  Add to that the differences that occur because of gender and you can see why men and women have difficulty understanding one another.

If you are a woman trying to figure out men, here are some tips:

  • Don’t try to change us. We don’t like it and we may change for the moment but the first chance we get we will revert to being ourselves. If you don’t like the way we are now, do us both a favor and move on.
  • Try telling us what you REALLY mean. We don’t understand intuition. You have to dumb it down for us. We need to be spoken to like a child if you are serious about something. Not that we are children, but our brains don’t naturally connect the dots that your brain does…so help us. Be patient and we WILL eventually get it.
  • Praise us for the little things we do. We eat up praise…kind of like a dog…except we are a dog that does not like to be “trained.” So, don’t say, “Good boy.”  Say, “Atta boy!” We might just put the toilet lid down by ourselves every time if you do.
  • Respect is very important to a man, so make him think it is HIS idea even if it is yours. That way you both win. And don’t forget to praise him for HIS great idea!

If you are a man trying to figure out women, sorry, but you are on your own. Remember, I am a guy. What do I know?


Dan Skognes

The Blind Spot

Posted in Funny, Motivational, Relationships

Blind Spot dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachI was teaching in an elementary school recently and having a discussion with a young boy about his homework assignment.  I noticed he was looking intently at my face.  He suddenly blurted out, “Ewwwww….you have HAIR in your nose!”  LOL.  It is a good thing I was not drinking my coffee because we both would have been drenched at that point. I said, “Buddy, you do too. Everyone has hair in their nose.” He shook his head in disbelief.  I am sure he was going to have a chat with Mom about that one when he got home. Hope she was not drinking coffee when he told her.

Isn’t that just human nature?  We tend to see flaws in others and never think it might apply to ourselves. I know for me because I am a writer it is very easy to pick out grammatical errors in the writing of others.  However, I know for a fact that I often don’t see the same mistakes in my own writing. I can’t explain it, but I guess that is why most writers require an editor before publishing. We know what we are saying and somehow overlook the structure or grammar problems in our own work.

I think it must be a defense mechanism that is built in naturally, but it is not necessarily a good thing. We can’t seem to see ourselves as others see us. That explains how people can struggle with things like anorexia. They see themselves as overweight and yet they are thin as rails.

To really “see” yourself clearly, there are a few things you can do to clear your vision:

  • First and foremost, you have to admit you have blind spots. If you can’t admit that, then don’t read any further. If you don’t think you have any, ask someone who loves you to tell you the truth. I have a feeling you will be surprised.
  • Ask people who know and love you to let you know when you are getting off the right path. It does not matter what it is, you just need someone who will speak the truth to you in love, not just tell you what you want to hear.
  • When you find yourself focusing on the faults of others, it is time to rewind and look in the mirror. Find the beam in your own eye before you start removing the spec from your brother’s eye. It is a lot less hypocritical if a huge beam is not sticking out of your own eye. Right?

Clearly seeing yourself can be both enlightening and disheartening at the same time. Sometimes we have faults that are toxic to ourselves as well as to others. You have probably known people who struggle with addictions. If they can’t break the addiction on their own, they need professional help. If you have a friend or a loved-one who is an addict, the worst thing you can do is ignore the problem. The second worst thing that hurts is when you enable them.

If you have a tender heart, I know how hard it is hard to confront and how easy it is to enable, but I guess that is what is needed: “tough love.” True love is willing to say no. It is willing to intervene. It makes the difficult decision that goes against your heart’s cry and the cries of those you are enabling. Really loving someone is making a decision for them that they can’t make for themselves.

P.S. Now that I am painfully aware of my nose hair, I have purchased a trim kit. It is the least thing I can do to minimize the trauma on the kids I encounter.


Dan Skognes

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Posted in Funny, Motivational, Relationships

Superman Badge dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach

The other day I had the opportunity to teach in an elementary school, and it was my job to fill in for a variety of classes throughout the day. The first class I went in to was pretty rowdy.  I think they had several bowlfuls of Captain Crunch before school started. One of the little boys came and showed me a paperback book on The Adventures of Indiana Jones.  He asked me if I had ever read it.  I said, “I AM Indiana Jones.”  LOL.  His eyes got wide and he asked, “Really?”  Then he declared to the class that I was Indiana Jones!  From that moment on, I had their attention.

One little boy asked me if he could have my whip.  I said, “No, how would I fight the bad guys if I ran out of bullets?” Then he asked for my hat.  I said, “No, how would I keep my head warm? And besides…it makes me look cool.”  LOL.

They asked me who was my favorite superhero.  I told them Superman.  I always wanted to be him when I was growing up.  The next thing I know this kid hands me a Superman badge to wear that he had made for me. I proudly wore it over my name badge the rest of the day. I got to be my superhero all day long. How cool was that?

Another class had this girl who was celebrating her birthday. In this class the birthday person wore a tiara (like what you see in beauty pageants). I asked her if I could see it. Immediately a chorus went up from the kids, “Put it ON! Put it ON!”  I asked them, “You want to make your teacher look ridiculous?” “Yes!” they shouted. So…I put it on.  I forgot they all had IPads with cameras! It sounded like a bunch of paparazzi rushing to get a photo of a star. They were hooting and hollering over that silly photo.  Then their regular teacher came back.  LOL. She asked me if they had behaved, and I said yes because they really had been good kids. Then they showed her the photo and she laughed too.  They got a good photo of her laughing at my picture.

One of the girls I taught that day came to me immediately as the class began and informed me in a whiney voice, “I have a headache.”  I looked at her sympathetically and asked back in a whiney voice, “Does it help when you whine?” Her eyes widened, she smiled back at me, laughed, and shook her head no. I asked her if she wanted to go to the Doctor, but she was ok.  I suspect she did not get enough sleep or had too much Captain Crunch and was crashing from the Crunch. By the end of the period she was not 100%, but she was at least talking with some of the other kids and feeling better.

Here is what I learned that day:

  • To speak with kids, if you want to capture their imagination, talk their language. Whatever it is THEY are interested in, you have to be able to talk about it with them. You don’t have to KNOW about it, just be willing to TALK about it. Of course, if you KNOW about it you have a lot more credibility.
  • It is OK to pretend. Kids get that. Adults seem to have lost that gift for the most part.
  • Never forget that whatever you do or say is likely to be captured on camera. We live in a digital age, so think before you decide to do something stupid, like wear a tiara.
  • If you are sick, don’t whine. In fact, if you are feeling good, don’t whine. Nobody wants to hear it and it does not make others feel sorry for you, so stop it. When a whiner hears someone whine back to them, it IS pretty funny.
  • Kids are a lot like old people, they just say what is on their mind. I think that is why I get them.


Dan Skognes

Pick Your Poison

Posted in Funny

Pick Your Poison dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachOur grandson was over today and asked why the only soft drinks we had were diet.  I said, “Because, I don’t want all that sugar…and it allow me to eat some Oreo cookies.”  LOL.  I know. I know.  It only makes sense when you don’t say it out loud. Don’t tell me you never do this.  Do you go to the all you can eat buffet but use Sweet N Low in your tea? Um hummm.  Fess up!

It is hard to eat healthy.  I tried fasting recently and gave up meats, sweets, and bread for three days.  I thought I was dying after day one. It gave me a severe headache.  I was so glad when it ended! All I could think about during the fast was getting a big sandwich, fries, and diet drink, and visions of Twinkies danced in my head.

I tried giving up coffee once.  Never again.  I was so cranky nobody wanted to be around me.  I felt like I needed a direct IV of caffeine!  Not that I am addicted to it or anything.

I have successfully reduced the amount of coffee I drink daily.  Someone said that a pot of coffee a day was to be shared.  Who knew? I just figured this is the only vice I have left at my age.  If they want my coffee they will have to pry it from my cold dead hands.  :o )

Everything in moderation, right? I admit I do like the supersized drinks at McDonalds (they are a bargain at a buck), but I like the small fries. I do have a sweet tooth.  There is not much sweet that I do not like and occasionally crave…especially chocolate! I trust that there will be chocolate in Heaven.  There has to be…right? But why do they call chocolate cake Devil’s food?  That bothers me!

To be fair, you do not have to pick a poison.  You could forego eating chocolate. Give up coffee, sugar, bread, ice cream, cookies, cake, candy, tea, chips, potatoes…and everything that is fried. You go right ahead.

I hear Popeye’s calling my name as we speak.  “Throw some cookies in there for me, will ya?”  After all…I did get the Diet Coke.


Dan Skognes

Say What?

Posted in Funny, Relationships

Say What- dan skognes motivation blogger speaker leadership training development coach

Have you ever had someone say something to you that just made you scratch your head and go, “Huh???”  If you are married or ever have been, you know that you and your spouse speak a different language.

My wife is from Arkansas, so she has a dialect that very unique.  I tell her that the only person that can REALLY communicate with her is her friend Ludy, and I call her “Fruity Ludy.”  LOL.

I was talking with my wife the other day about the need to get better sleep.  I told her that since I had started traveling, it messed up my sleep pattern since much of the travel was at night, and I was used to going to bed by 9 PM.  The reason that I retire so early is that I get up early.  I typically wake up anywhere from 3 AM to 6 AM.  So you can see that getting to a hotel at 10 PM or later and then trying to wind down to go to sleep just messes up my sleep.

My wife got a brilliant idea.  She said, “Why don’t you go down to the local health food store and buy you some Melanoma?”  I looked at her sideways and said, “Melanoma?  That is a cancer.  Don’t think I want or need that.  Did you mean Melatonin?”  She said, “I knew it was Mella something.”  We both got a good laugh at that one!  The weird thing is, I knew what she meant!  I have learned to speak Arkansas apparently.

A similar thing happened to me a few months ago.  I lead a Chamber of Commerce meeting and after the meeting, I was just sending a personal text to each person that was there.  To one lady I texted, “It is always good to see your smiling face.”  At least, that is what I thought I texted.  You know how cell phones auto-correct your spelling?  A few minutes later I got a text back from her that simply said, “Did you mean SMILING face?”  Uh-oh.  I went back to see what I had texted.  I had texted “It is always good to see your SMOKING face.”  LOL.  That is wrong on so many levels. Thank God she had a sense of humor.  And thank God she knew it was an innocent mistake.  I was totally mortified!  The good news is, she knew what I meant even though what I said was wrong.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could communicate like that with everyone?  They say there are thousands of languages in the world, but the truth is, there are billions.  In fact, every one of us speaks a unique language based on our culture, our past, our circumstances, our personality, and our natural behavior.  That explains why you can have two people that speak perfectly good English (or any other known language) that don’t seem to be able to understand one another.

We can learn to speak the language of those that come into our spheres of influence by doing a few simple things:

  • Learn to listen without interrupting, and summarize what you heard for clarification.
  • Learn to give people the benefit of the doubt and anticipate that they meant something good.  I am not sure why, but we have a tendency to think the worst in others, not the best. Remember the rule of law, innocent until proven guilty.  Apply that.
  • Learn to not insist on being right all the time.  You can be right or you can have relationship, you just can’t have both at the same time. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  • Learn to love one another.  That takes humility and putting others ahead of yourself and your own desires.  Here again, it is easier said than done, but the payoff is worth it….peace.


Dan Skognes

Fat or Fit

Posted in Funny, Motivational

Fat or Fit dan skognes insurance investments finance motivational blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x212)

Back at the first part of the year, I decided to drop some weight.  I had allowed myself to get overweight.  It didn’t happened overnight.  It was a process. I was tired of having to buy bigger pants, bigger belts, and not feeling very energetic.

What did I do?  I cut the carbs.  I cut out everything I loved for 30 days.  No bread, no pasta, no potatoes, and no candy.  Did it work?  I lost 20 lbs in 30 days.  I have to admit I have put some of it back on as I have eased up on the no carb diet…but all in all, it does work.

Here we are approaching Thanksgiving, the day of feasting and football.  I can already smell the turkey in the oven….the dressing, sweet potatoes, and don’t forget the pumpkin pie!  Good Lord, I think I put on five pounds just thinking about it!

Fat or fit is a mindset.  It is also a mind game.  We manage to tell ourselves things that sometimes just don’t make any sense.  We see that candy bar at the checkout counter (funny how the checkout counter is LOADED with candy bars).  The Butter Finger is calling your name….”Dan…buy me.”  Sometimes I can block that message with reality, and sometimes I just give in.  I am human, after all.

You know what I like, though?  When I see someone that I have not seen in some time and they say, “You lost some weight.  You are looking good!”  That reinforces what I know to be true.  Being fit may not gratify my desire for chocolate, but it does have long term ramifications that are positive.

A few of the downsides of being overweight:

  • Poor self-image.
  • Potential for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Overweight people are discriminated against

Self-discipline with food is a huge battle for most Americans (no pun intended).  Fast food is a big contributor to our poor diet.  Even the “healthy” meals in the stores are often mislabeled.  Who knew that wheat was evil?  Concentrated OJ is bad for you?  Really?  Good grief!

Maybe it is time to go vegetarian.  I do like vegetables…at least most of them.  Brussel Sprouts are the vegetable from Hell…but other than that, I like most of them.  But what about meat?  I don’t think I can give that up. I love steak, roast beef, chicken, and fish.

Do McDonald’s french fries have to be so darn tasty?  Does Blue Bell ice cream have to be so addictive? Does chocolate have to be so satisfying?  There is a reason they call it comfort food.  It does give comfort…but at quite a cost.  OK, I am going to start acting like an adult.

It starts with smaller portions, limited carbs, and just reminding myself of those comments that I love to hear…”Dan, you have lost weight.  You look GOOD!”  What is this?  A coupon for Papa Johns?  We are trying to save money.  The battle continues.


Dan Skognes