Travel Tips

Okay so this is not so much a why we do it, but ‘how to do it’.

I certainly don’t feel I live an extravagant lifestyle, but nobody would call me conservative either…not even close, but when it comes to travel on an airline I fall hard towards conservative.

I travel a lot!  In fact in the past ten days I have been to Cincy, St. Louis, Toronto, NYC, LaPorte and Culver, IN and Monday I am flying to Melbourne for a 48 hour stay.  I always fly Coach and never pay to upgrade seating, and here is why. To upgrade my flight to Australia it would cost and ADDITIONAL $9,000. Heck for $9,000 I would give up my aisle seat and stand-up to and from Melbourne.

So it is always Coach, and on long flights the key secrets is sleep.  You gotta sleep at the right times, so you don’t get blasted with layover-hangovers.  You fall asleep at the right time so that you wake up on their time. Which means Monday night I need to fall asleep at 3:00am (Tuesday morning) my time to get a good nights sleep and wake up at 6:30am their time.  Besides fighting to stay up until 3:00am, there are a few keys, with the most important being the water bottle.

  1. Isle seat.  Gotta have at least stretching room in one vertical direction
  2. Pull the bag from under the seat in front of you so you can extend legs
  3. Give up worrying about the person behind you and lean the seat back
  4. Water bottle behind the neck.  Yep a water bottle.Slide1

This little bottle is made for comfort.  Leave it between 1/2 and 2/3 full of water, and place it behind your neck, cold or warm.  It keeps you from dropping your head on top of the person’s head who is already on your shoulder, drooling on your shirt.  I personally like the mold of Poland Springs.  Fits my neck perfectly.  And bonus, when you wake up you don’t have to ask for a glass of water.  Kinda warm, but hey, it’s your warm.

Give it a shot on your next flight.  Really.

Quote about who is responsible?


Lots going on this week with Arne Duncan and Purdue President Mitch Daniels meeting with CEOs at the Business Roundtables the last few days.  Secretary Duncan wants more chief executives to throw themselves into advocating for more preschool funding, more STEM programs and, of course, the Common Core academic standards.  Putting education back into the political agenda is a good thing, and often seems to rise up during election time, so it is nice to see it during the middle of a Presidency.

The approach by Mr. Duncan bring me to a quote by Henry Ford II.

1987- Henry Ford II Dies

We can’t take a slipshod and easygoing attitude toward education in this country.  And by “we” I don’t mean”somebody else,” but I mean me and I mean you.  It is the future of our country-yours and mine-which is at stake.

We have to change the attitude of decision makers in government, in business leaders, in  social services and in the general public’s eye.  As Solution Tree President Ed Ackerman often reminds us,

“Some Guy doesn’t work here, so all of us better focus on how to fix this issue.”

Educating our youth is everyone’s role, and that is why we do it here at Solution Tree.

AP Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School

Last week I was invited to AP Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, NC.  A phenomenal school run by a team of educators whose passion would be tough to surpass, lead by Dr. Muriel Summers.


My first contact with Combs was when I met Kendra Fisher on a flight to Indianapolis. When we were leaving the plane she recognized me from one of our events, a conversation about education broke out, and a friendship formed.  An extremely impressive young woman who invited me to visit Combs on my next trip to NC.  When I found an opportunity and told her I would love to meet the staff, little did I know that I was going to be ‘Leader Of The Week’ for a 5th Grade Assembly. 


Combs is implementing PLCs and has a culture that is built around Steven Covey’s 7 Habits in a extrodinary way.  This is shirt they gave me, and I saw at least four staff wearing the same shirt that day.


The students at the Assembly were a diverse population, extremely polite, well briefed on the event, and prepared for the occasion.  The panel of 7 students, professionally dressed, GRILLED me on each of the 7 Habits and they related to my life and Solution Tree.  This group was as impressive as a PLC Institute Panel of Educators at the PLC Summit.  I then fielded questions from the remaining students, had pictures taken, and was even invited by one young man to his house the next day for a pancake breakfast.


AP Combs is a model school of efficiency and professionalism.  They are a true Professional Learning Community, living out the 7 Habits each and every day, and know what it takes to develop young educators. 


It was an honor to be a ‘Leader Of The Week’ and my new e-pen pal and I are planning my next visit…with pancakes on the agenda.

Classic quote


I returned home late last night after being on the road for a solid 7 days, and I am off to a breakfast meeting this morning.  So, I am using an old classic quote from Dr. Robert Marzano.  This was pulled from a blog cast Bob did four years ago, and shows us how the mind of a great educational researcher works.  No additional explanation is required.

 Meta analysis is just a fancy way of saying quantitative synthesis.

Thanks Bob.  I got it now.



Yesterday was the first working day of September, and we’ve started implementing our new internal structure and planning process at Solution Tree.  We have a hefty BHAG (Big Harry Audacious Goal) for the next three years but definitely have the right team in place to pull it off.

But with a hefty BHAG there is always the rumbling of “What in the world is he thinking, and how in the world are we going to do that?”


The answer to how, is yes.

The hardest thing to work through in goal setting is doubt.  If you doubt you will make it, then you won’t.  If you think you can’t, then you are right.  So start with YES and work your way backwards.  I’m like the guy from Men’s Warehouse (forget that he just got fired)  I guarantee it!