Prison Break

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Prison Break dan skognes movtivation blogger speaker trainer coach author educatorThere used to be a show on TV called Prison Break.  It was a fictional account of people in prison who were planning to break out.  I recently had the opportunity to work with a bunch of people who had been to prison, served their time, and now they just needed a break.

Can you imagine coming out of prison knowing you had served your time, but you had no job (who is going to hire you….a felon?), you had no place to stay, no car, no money, and in some cases, no family to help you? How in the world do you get a break with those odds?  Is it any wonder that the rate of repeat offenders is so high? It was an eye opener to me.

The difference between them and us is they got caught. Think about the dumb things you have done in your life. Could any of them landed you in jail?  Perhaps you did not do the stupid things yourself, but you were probably with the people that did. Be honest. Very few of us are angels and have a perfect past.

So, what is the right thing to do for these folks? I think we need to do the following:

  • Give people a break that have made mistakes. If they have paid their price to society, don’t they deserve a second chance?
  • We need to help these folks get on their feet again.  Help them find work, places to live, encourage them spiritually.
  • Realize that everyone needs to feel that they are needed and have a purpose in life.  Help them identify their purpose. Help them think about what they are naturally good at (that is legal, of course).
  • Just love them. When I looked in the eyes of these people I saw people who were hopeful that someone would see value in them and give them a chance. When they got their certificates for completing the Market Place Training course that I coached in, we told each one we were proud of them.  You should have seen the pride and gratitude in their faces. That little certificate and those words had great meaning to them.  It was like giving water to someone who had been wandering in the desert heat.

I know that some will be thinking, well, what about those who are dangerous and being released into society?  What about repeat offenders? Good questions. In my opinion, if they are dangerous and being released into society, we need to change the laws to keep them isolated from hurting others or themselves.  If they are repeat offenders, they should not get the privilege of seeing this side of the bars. Shame on our society for allowing someone to have 7 DWIs only to put them away again when they finally have killed someone.

So, it is a dilemma. We either can help these people find their way back into society and become healthy citizens, or we can deal with the continual rotating door of having people go in and out of the penal system.  A lot of that is up to us. We have a problem.  We can bury our heads, but the problem is not going to go away. Let’s do our part to love these people instead of judge them.  Let’s help them instead of ignore them. We will all live in a more peaceful world if we do. All we can do is do our part.  What do you say? Will you do yours?


Dan Skognes

I’m Old School

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Im Old School danskognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorIf you think that means I am boring, you would be wrong.  Let me give you a couple of examples of what I am talking about.  I have been substitute teaching in the public schools recently.  I was shocked to see a class of 30 high school students standing bored as the pledge of allegiance to our flag was recited by someone over the loudspeaker. It was me saying the pledge aloud along with the kid on the intercom. Wow.  I was so shocked I did not know what to say.  I was literally at a loss for words…until now.

Later I spoke to a few kids at the school in the lunchroom and asked them what was going on. How can kids show such disrespect to our flag, to our country, and for our freedom?  None of them could give me a good answer.  I asked them what they would do if someone in their family who served in the military were present.  They all agreed they would speak up and say the pledge out loud. I told them, “Guys, you need to speak up whether someone is present or not. Many lives have been sacrificed for you to have the freedoms we have today. Please don’t disrespect them.  Speak up.”  I can only hope that they do. One thing is for sure, even if they don’t, I will…and I won’t let another class stand by in a bored fashion and be silent.  I can’t make them speak up, but I will let them know how disrespectful that is.  I guess I am just old school.

At another school I had lunch duty for a bunch of 6th graders. Lunch duty is like controlled chaos.  It is so loud you can’t hear a thing, and everyone is talking at the same time…kind of like a ladies book club.  LOL.  Everything was going smoothly until one little boy decided he wanted the seat that a girl was saving for one of her girlfriends. He jumped in and sat down before she could. I saw it and watched the girl stand there in amazement at his rudeness. I went over to him and said, “How about being a gentleman and letting her sit down?”  He stuck his chin out, looked at me defiantly and said, “I am not a gentleman.” I just smiled at him and said, “Well, today you WILL be, or would you rather me get that policeman to come over here and help you stand?”  LOL.  He stood up.  I came back to him in a few minutes and told him, “You will get a lot further in life being a gentleman than being rude.”  Then I have him a fist bump and everything was cool between us. I am old school.  I still believe in saying please and thank you. I believe in giving a lady my seat.  I believe in holding the door open for others.  Like I said, I am old school.

If parents don’t teach their kids to be respectful of authority, to be grateful for our freedom, and to be respectful of other people, what is the world going to be like for our grandchildren and their children? It can’t be good if everyone does their own thing without regard for rules, regulations, authority, morals, and just common courtesy. If you are a parent, please teach your children well.  Set an example you would be proud for them to follow. Say the pledge of allegiance out loud.  Sing the national anthem like you mean it! If you are a teacher, please set the example in and out of the classroom.  The kids are watching.  They are waiting for someone to be the adult.  It might as well be us.

For the sake of our children, for the sake of our future…speak up for what is right. Let’s be people who love one another and stand up for what is right. Like Dionne Warwick sang, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.  It’s the only that there’s just too little of.” If we learn to truly love one another, it may not be a cure-all, but it does cure a lot of the problems we face.


Dan Skognes

The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer coachFailure and success have a few things in common. Both are contagious, you can learn them, and it seems that at some point we choose which one we will follow. Some people settle for a life a failure and never realize their purpose or destiny.  Pretty sad when you think about the loss not just to them, but to the world all around them.

I believe that everyone is created with elements of greatness within them.  It is part of our DNA.  Why is it then that some folks go sideways and eventually crash and burn?  Why do some people seem to have the Midas touch and everything they do blooms?

Let’s examine the 7 habits of highly ineffective people:

  1. They have a negative attitude towards life.  Their glass is always half empty, so don’t waste their time trying to fill it up. They will find a way to empty it if you do.
  2. They have an attitude of what is in it for ME? The world revolves around them and you are only good to them if they can get something from you…especially if it is for free.
  3. They are ungrateful. Don’t expect thanks for what you do.  Don’t expect them to show gratitude for anything you might have done.  Remember that you OWE them.
  4. They don’t care about how other people feel, so they can come across as brash, abrasive, obnoxious, and down-right nasty. Don’t take it personal. They are like this to everyone, even those they “love.”
  5. They have a critical attitude. It is always someone else’s fault. They are never to blame…ever.
  6. They are highly creative in finding ways to beat the system. They will lie, cheat, steal, and do things unethical to get what they want.  The end justifies the means. If you get in their way, you can expect all of the above.
  7. They don’t listen, they tell. Don’t expect them to hear what you say. Remember that for them to take time to listen, they would have to care, and they don’t.

Life does not have to be this way, and yet many people have just grown accustomed to the smell.  A healthy person realizes that they are in a world full of other people, and it behooves us all to get along with one another.  That is just common sense, and yet common sense as we all know is not so common. How can you explain people that do stupid things over and over?  You have heard the saying, “You can’t fix stupid.”  Well, there is an element of truth there, but I do think that it is a curable disease.  Stupidity does not have to be fatal.

If people are willing to just grow up….that is the secret to success.  You have to GROW UP.  Wow.  What a revelation.  Learn to say thanks.  Learn to say I am sorry.  Learn to say, I love you…and not just say it…but show it. Like Louie Armstrong said, “I think to myself….what a wonderful world.”

How about I start with me and you start with you?  If we each do our part and agree to GROW UP, maybe….just maybe we can stamp out the dreaded stupid virus.  I may just set up a foundation to help put stupidity out of its misery. I wonder how many stupid people will contribute to it?  LOL


Dan Skognes

If You’re Not Learning, You’re Not Growing

Posted in Business, Motivational

If Youre Not Learning Youre Not Growing dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacherThere seems to be a lot of hype these days about being a “learning organization.”  Millions and millions of dollars are spent in pursuit of the magic potion that will transform a company from a frog into a prince.  And yet, how many of the programs really work and do what they promise to do? The sad truth is that most can’t deliver on the promises of transformation.

Where is the disconnect?  Is it a problem with the content, the trainer, the coach, or the client?  The simple answer is yes.  It is a problem all around. Here are just a few of the problems I have observed in a company functioning as a learning organization:

  • If content has not been updated in the past twelve months, it is very likely missing the opportunity to hit the target. The target is always moving and the content has to reflect the current needs of the client.
  • If the trainer is trying to be a jack of all trades and deliver everything that the customer needs, it is likely that he will misfire at some point in trying to deliver something that he is not fully versed in. In my opinion, it is better to be a specialist vs a generalist when training.  Obviously some topics can be taught by anyone, but wouldn’t you rather be taught by an expert in the subject if possible?  Of course you would.
  • If the coach has extended himself or herself to too many clients, he may find himself in a situation where he is not delivering quality time.
  • If the customer has unrealistic expectations of what the outcomes will be, or if the customer is unwilling to fully support the training program, it is ultimately doomed to failure.  Lip service does no good if there is no follow-through and accountability. May great programs have folded because there was not buy-in throughout the organization.

Getting on track is not impossible; it just takes a collaborative effort where all the players are in the game.  You can’t have someone sitting on the sidelines or disengaged totally and expect to have positive results.  There is an old saying worth remembering: If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

If a company is going to invest the time and energy and resources to train the company staff, make sure the curriculum is relevant to you.  Make sure the trainers you have are capable. Make sure the coaches are not spread too thin. And last but not least…make sure you and your company are fully engaged in the process. If any of these factors don’t hold up under inspection, do everyone a favor and keep looking.  Taking on a training project is critical to growth, but it only makes sense if the pieces of the puzzle fit together to make a clear picture of desired outcomes.

No single training program is a cure-all, and yet the right program can help point your organization in a positive direction. Think long term in regards to training. Think lifetime. If you are not learning, you are not growing.


Dan Skognes