Byron's Babbles

Building Memories

Friends At Old Ebbitt Grill

Those that know me know that my son and I are very close. You also know that he is in college six hours away. Furthermore, you know that any time I get to spend time with him is precious and I always leave in a funk for a few days (okay, sometimes weeks) after spending time with him. Now, all of that said, I am super proud of him and this is the way it is supposed to be. He is supposed to be creating his own life. Still, our time with him is precious and I love when we get to do things and go new and old places with him.

It is so awesome to get the call, “Hey, do you and mom want to come down to the conference basketball championship game? We’re all going and thought you might want to come.” My answer: “Yes!!!” Your son invites you to anything, the answer better be yes. I have always valued the time spent with Heath. We have always called it building memories. Ever since he was born he has gone everywhere with me. And, every time we all go places together more memories are built and the more I miss him when Hope and I have to leave him.

This morning I read a tweet (see photo) from Paul Stanley that was super insightful and put it all into perspective. After referencing the family vacation he had been on he said, “So lucky to have new things to miss. You can’t until you know they exist!” Wow, this is part of building memories! You can’t miss something you never knew existed. I’m so blessed to be able to build those memories and things to miss, with my family. It is a privilege that I do not take lightly.

It is true, travel is a great disruptor and place to find new things to miss, but some of the biggest things don’t involve travel. I love when Heath is home and we all eat together. Or, my all time favorite: going to the barn together.

Think about how you might find new things to miss with those you serve outside of family. For example, last week I was invited to dinner (thanks Megan) at Old Ebbitt Grill while at a conference in Washington D.C. I was so excited to be invited, but my first thought was that I was kind of tired from the day’s events. Then, I thought, “No, I love Old Ebbitt and haven’t been there in a few years and most importantly I want to spend time with these friends and new acquaintances.” Needless to say, I went and had an incredible time reconnecting and making new friends. In fact, no surprise, but myself and three others were the last to leave from our big group. New things to miss! New friends to miss! Old friends that I hadn’t spent time with side by side (literally) at a restaurant laughing and sharing with since before the Pandemic. I am now missing all those friends but am so glad we built those memories.

Relationships are the key to everything. Let’s all be “looking for new things to miss.” Let’s all be “building memories” with our families and those we serve.


The Best Advice

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, KISS, Leadership, Leadership Development, Paul Stanley by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on June 13, 2021

I am so blessed to still be getting inspiration from Paul Stanley. Yesterday he tweeted “Any advice that starts with ‘If I were you’ should be disregarded” in response to the question “What’s the best advice you can give anyone?” asked by Eric Alper. I’ve always hated the “If I were you” advice starter. If someone giving advice starts a sentence with “If I were you…” the result is often the other person shutting down. Think about it, that person isn’t you, right?

A Psychology Today study explained there are four different types of advice; they are advice for, advice against, information, and decision support. The study found that information advice was the most effective. Information advice provides additional knowledge that the advice seeker may not know, that can shed light on other options for the present, and later down the line.

Before even giving advice I believe in taking a position of humble inquiry. Sometimes when someone is seeking advice I like to take a position of inquiry. This allows understanding the context, nuances, and entire situation. This position of inquiry also allows for empathy. Giving advice to someone is an emotional, intimate thing. I try to live by the quote of an unknown person that says, “To argue with someone else’s experience of reality is futile. To add their experience to your own is possibly useful.” The best advice I’ve gotten over the years has felt selfless from the other person.

Learning From KISStory

As they have since the band began it’s journey when I was 10 years old, the greatest rock band ever, KISS, continues to influence my life. I attended the KISS 2020 Goodbye New Year’s Eve concert held in the United Arab Emirates last week at Atlantis, The Palm and have been processing it in my mind ever since. Live music was silent and as of the the day of the show, on New Year’s Eve, KISS had not been on stage in 296 days. I even used it as the theme/throughline for a professional development program I did yesterday for teachers entitled “Student-Student Interaction.” KISS, in conjunction with Landmarks Live, is the ultimate example of fan-fan and band-fan interaction. I took three pages of notes during the three hour event put together by KISS. There were leadership lessons from KISS on how to deal with COVID-19 lessons; how to engage a huge global audience virtually; how to engage in person and virtual fans individually; how to bring together an international team; how to change what working as a team looks like during a pandemic; how to keep over 400 team members safe (they had no COVID cases) and have them working in-sync; and, triple the physical size of the show.

Director of the show, Daniel E. Catullo, put it this way: “We are attempting to pull off the biggest show of 2020 at the height of the pandemic.” Let me tell you what, they did! I remember when I saw the first announcement of this back in November, I said, “Leave it to KISS to figure out how to make big things happen during a pandemic, and do it safely.” They spent extensive time explaining how they dealt with COVID protocols during the first part of the three hour event. Everyone should watch that introduction documentary – they did it right, they did it well, and are a model as to how, in my opinion, we should be doing it. I said out loud during the event, “why are we not doing it this way in our schools. This is the right way to do it!” They had contact tracing protocols using colored bands identifying work groups, bracelets that kept track of every person coming within two meters of each other, daily testing, strict mask wearing, et cetera, et cetera. And, let me repeat what I said earlier, the day of the concert they were reporting no COVID cases. Well done!

“It’s KISS! Anything worth doing is worth overdoing as far as they’re concerned. I hope this inspires other’s to want to do shows.” ~ Robert Long, Production Designer

The shows Production Designer, Robert Long said it best, “It’s KISS! Anything worth doing is worth overdoing as far as they’re concerned. I hope this inspires others to want to do shows.” With all the gimmicks, stunts, and theatrics that we are used to with KISS times 1000, they lived up to Long’s expectations of overdoing it. Setting world records for things like tallest flame thrown in a concert to over 1.5 million dollars in pyrotechnics, the show was over the top. After opening with “Detroit Rock City” and “Shout It Out Loud” we heard from Paul Stanley for the first time when he said, “Hello Dubai! Hello World!” He was drawing all of us at home in. Then after “Deuce” he drew all of us at home in the rest of the way saying, “If you’re here that’s cool. If you’re at home, we’re talking to ya. You count!…This is your show!” And, let me tell you it felt like they were singing every song, shooting off every firework, and making every gesture just for me. I reminded teachers yesterday how important it was whether teaching students in person or virtually that we make each one feel like we are speaking to them personally. I appreciated how Gene Simmons would point to and look right into one of the more that 50 cameras being used for the show and speak just to me. In fact we had a little fun yesterday during my professional development with Gene’s best practice. Every time someone spoke, reported out from small group discussions, or addressed someone virtually (we had a group in person with me, a group that was virtual, and some individuals who were virtual), we would point and look directly into the camera or Owl to draw everyone in.

“If you’re here that’s cool. If you’re at home, we’re talking to ya. You count!…This is your show!” ~ Paul Stanley

Using best practices, that we in education need to emulate, KISS did a phenomenal job of acknowledging those fortunate enough to be on the individual room balconies of the hotel while intentionally involving and engaging all of us around the world at home screaming, yelling, playing air guitar, and singing along. This was one of the most spectacular rock shows in history. What they achieved is what we need to work hard to achieve in anything we have to do virtually or in a blend of virtual and in person right now: recreate the visceral energy of being live. KISS pulled this off brilliantly and, as Paul Stanley described it: “Bombastically!” with the KISS 2020 Goodbye New Year’s Eve concert. As KISS’ music manager, Doc McGee said, “Why, because people need it.” We’ll bring it to the people. We have to have a tipping point, and I think this is the tipping point.” Let’s all strive to be like KISS and be a tipping point for all great things as we continue to do all the things we need to do to keep life going during the rest of the pandemic. Happy New Year!

A World Without Heroes Is No Place For Me

Posted in A World Without Heroes, Courage, Gene Simmons, Heroes, Heroines, KISS, Leadership, Paul Stanley by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 24, 2019

I continue to find inspiration from Gene Simmons. As a fan of KISS from the beginning I still keep up with Gene and Paul Stanley on Twitter. This morning I was reading a Tweet thread from Gene about the song “A World Without Heroes.” This song was on the 1981 KISS album The Elder. I’d actually forgotten about the song, but went and watched the video. Some on the thread liked the song, others not so much. It’s KISS and Gene Simmons singing, so of course I love the song. I was intrigued by the words and proceeded to think about what they were thinking when they wrote the song. Check it out for yourself:

There are a few parts of the lyrics that stand out to me. Here is my take on this great song:

  • “You can’t look up to anyone | Without heroes” ~ Think about those you consider to be heroes. Without them we wouldn’t have anyone to look up to. Our heroes and heroines also understand their core values and walk the walk no matter what. Outstanding leadership often inspires heroic acts. We need heroes as role models. I’m sure glad I’ve had heroes and heroines to look up to and model after.
  • “Where you don’t know what your after | Or if something’s after you | And you don’t know why you don’t know” The hero steps in when exceptional circumstances dictate. Heroes show us how to transform our lives. Every hero story tells of a journey toward vast personal transformation.
  • “In a world without heroes | There’s nothing to be | It’s no place for me” I just can’t even imagine a world without heroes. Many of my heroes and heroines didn’t run into a burning building, go to war with an angry enemy, or win multiple Super Bowls. But they did do great things – many times just compassionate and caring things. They showed me what I wanted to be and who I wanted to be. As the last lines is the song say, “without heroes there’s nothing to be.”

Heroes and heroines can be everyday people doing extraordinary things, or just being extraordinary. They don’t always do it for publicity, money, or because the score is being kept. They simply are the human being we aspire to be, and can be. What do you want to be? Are you a hero to anyone? A world without heroes is no place for me!