Lessons In Leadership

Posted in Business, Motivational

Lessons in Leadership dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI was watching the news this morning and they were interviewing a Chef named Ford Fry.  Gotta love the name, right? I had never heard of him till today, but in culinary circles he is the man.  He is originally from Houston and has opened some of the top rated restaurants in America: The Optimist, King and Duke, and he recently opened State of Grace. He is opening 5 more restaurants within the coming year.

These are five star restaurants with a twist. The food of course, is outstanding, but the culture he has established is unlike anything I have seen in years. Perhaps there are others like this, but I have not heard of them if they exist.  Here is what sets his restaurant chain apart:

  • He is doing what he truly loves.  He loves cooking, creating, serving, and leading. This may not be the most unique thing in the list, but it is foundational to the rest that follows. It helps if the guy at the top loves his job. His passion becomes believable and something that people are going to follow. They want to be a part of it.
  • He loves setting the vision for his company. He truly loves and empowers his people. In his words: “When they own it and love it, it is great!” Many companies give lip service to empowering their people, but Chef Fry gets it. He practices what he preaches. He understands the difference between managing people and leading them. He also realizes that his vision is what people will rise or fall on.
  • Treat people like people, not tools. This one hit me between the eyes. Treat people like people…like family. Get to know them personally. Wow. How simple this would be to do in companies, and yet how few realize the power of building a family culture. Show you care about your employees and you will have no problem attracting the top talent in the country to work with you. He cares about all of his employees from the busboy up to the manager of the restaurant.

Leadership is really not as complicated as some people make it to be. Love what you do. Love, serve, and empower your people, and cast the vision for them to follow. You can add other things to this list but these are the basics that every transformational leader embraces.

I hope that if you lead a company or a team of people you will do these simple things. People will respond favorably to a leader who understands and practices servant leadership.  The culture he will build will be hard to compete against and will withstand the ups and downs of the economy.

P.S. Chef Fry, if you happen to read this, I want to invite you to open a restaurant in the Dallas area.  I know you would be well received here.


Dan Skognes

Living Without Purpose

Posted in Business, Motivational

Living Without Purpose dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachLiving without purpose is a slow and painful death. Look around you and see the millions of people who are going to work each day, dreading the thought of it and counting the minutes till quitting time.

Look at the people who are stuck in jobs they hate and won’t quit even though they are miserable. Why would they do that?  Fear.  Fear of losing benefits. Fear of not having enough retirement money to live on. Fear that they won’t be able to find something else to do. There are numerous reasons people make this decision, but few of them have any real merit.

The real question here seems to be, why do people stay in jobs they hate doing?  Is money their god? Do they really not have any faith in God above or in themselves? Why would people do this to themselves, to their families, and to their companies?

Stress is a killer. Everyone knows that, yet millions of people stress themselves out every day going to jobs they hate. No wonder we have a problem with road rage and employee disengagement. We have a ton of people just itching to punch someone over the circumstances they have found themselves in.

Is it hopeless? Only if you give in to that thought does it become hopeless. If you have the faith the size of a mustard seed you can move a mountain.  I think any of us could muster that amount of faith, don’t you?

Here are few tips to finding your “dream job:”

  • If you are in a job you hate, before you just quit and move on, determine if this job has the potential for you to use your gifts at some point. You may be busing tables or stacking boxes right now but if management sees potential in you to move up the ranks and you have the gift of leadership, who knows where this job can take you? Be patient and stay the course if there is potential for your gifts to be used.
  • Don’t expect to graduate from school and start at the top of the company. Too many students get caught up with this entitlement mentality just because they have a degree.  Be humble, be a team player, be dependable, stay positive, and work hard. Those things will get you noticed by the people above.
  • Be willing to do jobs that are “beneath you.”  Why? You never know who is watching…and someone is ALWAYS watching. If there is trash on the floor, pick it up.  If the lights were left on, turn them off. If nobody is volunteering for the late shift, take it. Little things do matter.
  • Find out what you are gifted at and focus on using those gifts sooner than later.  If you are gifted artist, for instance, you will be much happier drawing and painting that sitting behind a desk crunching numbers. Right? Everyone has gifts, but it is up to you to find out what yours are. For me, I know I have the gift of encouragement, the gift of writing, and the gift of connecting people. When I do these things I come alive and people respond favorably. Even when people disagree with my blogs, I know I have sparked something in them and in myself to think deeper. That is a good thing.

I hope you will not allow yourself to stay in a job you hate. For your own sake and the sanity of all those in your circle of influence, find your passion and pursue it. It only too late if you give up.


Dan Skognes

Is Education Broken?

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Is Education Broken dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach

I realize that this discussion may open a can of worms, but you know what?  I think it needs to be opened. Too many things are going on in education that are very disturbing and it began many years ago.First, prayer was taken out of school. I remember learning scripture in elementary school.  Now if you pray out loud you can lose your job. If you talk about your faith you are labeled narrow minded and a bigot.Second, they took discipline out of school.  No longer can a child be spanked. If fact, spanking is frowned upon even at home (even though the Bible endorses it). I realize there are exceptions at some schools and some homes, but let’s admit that the majority seems to have bought into Spocking instead of spanking.

So, how is that working for us?  Not so good. Teachers are burning out and frustrated. Educators are looking for a magic wand to get control of their classes, but it seems to have settled for controlled chaos, and our kids are paying the price. We are graduating kids who have no direction and a sense of entitlement. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many good kids who are grounded and don’t feel like the world owes them everything, but I think they are the minority.

Add to this the fact that school systems seem focused on testing vs. the student, and we are on the proverbial cliff. Educators have to prepare kids for “the test.” Everything hinges on this, and it starts in 3rd grade! Guys, this is freaking out the little kids and nobody seems to care or notice.  It is what it is, I guess. By the way, as an observation: when anyone says, “It is what it is” it is generally not a good thing.

I have heard that in California they have now allowed kids who are confused about their gender to go to the bathroom and locker room of the opposite sex. Really? What parent in their right mind would allow their daughter to be in a school where boys were allowed in their rest rooms and locker rooms??? Do you really want your young girls changing clothes in front of young boys? What are they thinking out there?

Just this week I was in a pep rally at a middle school here in Texas. It has been a long time since I have been to a pep rally, and I had forgot how loud they were. What really disturbed me was the dance routine that the cheerleaders did.  These are 7th and 8th grade girls.  It started out innocently enough, but then they started some hip movements that were sensual. We are talking about kids here…young kids! There were about a hundred boys on the football team sitting in front of me. You should have heard some of the comments coming from them. It was not good.

Then there was a comedy skit done by some of the kids and one of the boys started twerking. Good grief. I was watching the faces of the teachers and they were staring in disbelief just like me.

I pray that we wake up as a country. Kids are not better off without God. They are not better off without discipline.  They are not better off being allowed into the rest rooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex, nor are they are better off being taught to dance provocative dance moves.

Will somebody in authority wake up and smell the coffee here? I pray that Christians who are grounded in their faith will step up and take key roles in education.  We need them to be teachers, principals, administrators, and superintendents. I pray it is not too late for our kids.  They are our future, and frankly, that concerns me.


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


Posted in Relationships, Spiritual

Thrive dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coachWe all have to choose at some point if we are going to just survive or if we are going to thrive. You may be thinking that we don’t really have a choice, but we do.

Thriving is centered in your mind. I have met many people who had very little when it came to the luxuries of life, yet they were content. They had learned the secret of thriving. Contrary to what you see on the TV ads, thriving is not about things.

Life is not about what you have or don’t have.  Thriving is not about how many cars you own, where you went to college, what job you have attained, or how big your house it. It is not about any of these things.

So if thriving is not about things, what is it about? What is the secret? It is about relationship.  It is about relationship to God first and foremost, then it is about your relationship to other people. It is realizing that the world does not revolve around you.

The greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. The second was like the first…to love your neighbor as yourself. THAT is the secret to thriving. Love God. Put Him first in ALL you do, then love other people. Put their needs ahead of your own. When you do those two things without expecting anything in return, you will thrive. God will bless you and you will find favor with people.

We were not created to just go through life surviving. We were created to thrive! The Scriptures says we are more than conquerors.  The problem is, too many of us don’t believe it. We have allowed the circumstances of life to define who we are.  If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are a child of the King…not just any King…but the King of Kings. Your Daddy owns it ALL and you are part of the family. That should give you not just hope…but courage.

If you have a survivor’s mentality, let me encourage you to do this:

  • If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior that is the first thing you have to do. Accept the fact that you are a sinner and you need a Savior.
  • If you have accepted Christ but are living a defeated life, change the way you think. Quit the “woe is me” mentality. Quit griping about your circumstances. The apostle Paul said he learned to be content in whatever state he found himself in. Whether he had a little or whether he had a lot…he was grateful! Give thanks for whatever you have on a daily basis. Start writing down all the times that God has come through for you. It will be a good reminder when you wonder if things are ever going to change for the better.

Thriving or surviving is truly just a state of mind. It is not about the material things, even though we tend to think that because that is what the world teaches. If you want to thrive, change your mind. Put God and others first and see God do a miracle in you and through you.


Dan Skognes


Your Tomorrow Begins Today

Posted in Motivational

Your Tomorrow Begins Today dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher coach trainer educatorRecently I was listening to a guidance counselor in a school tell kids about setting goals.  She discussed the value of short term and long term goals, then had the kids write them down and asked them to share them with their parents. It was a good exercise to get them thinking about the future and what they wanted it to look like, but there were some problems.  She did not tell them HOW to reach their goals. She did not discuss setting deadlines for reaching the goals.

To be fair, she only had an hour and she was covering a lot of ground in a short period. She was trying to drive home how making bad choices can keep us from reaching our goals; but, if you are going to discuss goal setting, should you not talk about “HOW” to reach them and the necessity of setting deadlines?

If we merely talk about goals without having an action plan and a deadline, then we are just daydreaming. Writing down your goals is critical to success, but it is just the first step. If that is all you do you might as well roll over and go back to sleep because nothing is going to come of it.

I know of an educator who was talking to a group of High School students about setting goals. One of the boys appeared disinterested in the discussion. When confronted about it, tears welled up in his eyes and he blurted out, “The problem is, nobody will show me HOW.” It was an emotional moment for the student and the teacher.  Then the teacher said, “What if I show you HOW?”

For the next few minutes the class brainstormed on the goal the boy had set.  They talked about what he needed to do to reach his goals and the various things that might trip him up. Then they talked about the timing. They discussed when he wanted to accomplish the goal and how would he measure the progress. It was a valuable lesson in education because he now for the first time had hope that he could reach his goals.

A few things I have learned about goal setting that might help you, your kids, and anyone you might be teaching:

  • Goals definitely need to be written down. There is something about putting it in writing that gives it birth.
  • Make sure the goal is realistic. You might want to play in the NFL but if you don’t have the skills then that will never happen.
  • A goal should be measurable. If you can’t determine whether you are making progress or not, you need to redefine the goal.
  • Have a deadline for when you want to reach the goal. No deadline, no value.

We are churning out too many graduates that have not defined their goals. They got a degree and now are wondering, “What do I do now?” The missing link is this: we need to help kids identify their gifts in their early years and give them opportunity to explore them. What can you do to help them identify their gifts?

  • Observe what your kids gravitate to. If they are gifted athletes, let them try sports. If they love music, let them play an instrument. If they are avid readers, give them books they like to read.
  • Identifying someone’s gifts is not as difficult as you might think. You will see that some kids have natural leadership skills and others tend to follow them. Just make sure they use their gift for good.
  • Other kids will show great mechanical ability. They can take a set of blocks and create a monument. Introduce them to engineers so they can see what that lifestyle looks like.
  • Some will show the ability to cook, write, hunt, fish, sew, or do public speaking. There are a million gifts and each of us is wired uniquely with different gifts.

One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to help them identify their gifts. Once they know what they are good at, they can create a goal and a path to get there. You may be the one to set them on the road to fulfilling their destiny.


Dan Skognes