Eminent Lack of Interview Reflection

To try and find someone to interview about Godtfred Kirk Christiansen for my eminent person project, I initially reached out to people who work for LEGO, starting with Godtfred’s grandson himself. As I didn’t know how to contact Chairman of the Board Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, I decided to try and send the email I had for him to his investment company (I added a disclaimer at the top saying I was trying to reach Thomas). After no response, I moved to the next best person, the Chief LEGO Historian for the LEGO Group, Kristian Hauge. When he didn’t respond, I reached out to the other Chief LEGO Historian Signe Weise. Finally, there was a response, which essentially asked me to stop emailing people associated with the LEGO group, as they don’t do interviews because they don’t have the time. They did provide me with some resources. While I had already researched these and knew about them, this showed me that these were the resources that LEGO considered accurate and up-to-date, which bolstered my confidence in them. They also provided me with someone else to email, an editor for Blocks magazine named Daniel Konstanski. They said that he had done many articles on the history of LEGO, but he did not reply either.

After I was told not to email anyone associated with LEGO anymore, I kind of reached a conundrum. Information on Godtfred Kirk Christiansen is quite sparse online, and it is easy to see almost all there is within a short amount of studying. Godtfred’s Grandson or employees dedicated to studying LEGO history were my best bet at gaining information in the interview that I could not find anywhere else. I felt like if I were to try and continue reaching out to people to interview, it would become futile because their knowledge would be from regular research just like mine. Knowing this, I decided to dedicate my time to researching and understanding Godtfred’s life, so that I was very familiar with it, which would in turn make all the eminent projects easier and better.

Before this realization, however, I put in a great amount of effort to secure an interview. I personalized each email to the person I was sending it to, saying why I believe their insight would be useful to me. I explained the project to them, explained why I chose Godtfred and explained why I needed to do an interview. I gave a short snapshot of when I was free to do the interview but didn’t add too much as it would be unnecessary and make for extra reading. I was sure to thank them a few times, but by far I think one of my best strategies came at the beginning of the email. I summarized my request, the offered them more context. That way, they would feel like they have an idea of what they were getting into before they read the entire email. Also, it is sort of an odd request out of context, so I hoped presenting it first would draw them into learning more.

Godtfred Kirk Christiansen Learning Center

My learning center for Night of the Notables this year is done in the form of a website like last year so that you can pick and choose to learn about the parts most interesting to you. Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, my eminent person this year, was the second owner of LEGO who developed the design of the LEGO brick and the vision for LEGO’s model of business.

You learn more about Godtfred by visiting my learning center with this link:

Godtfred Kirk Christiansen Learning Center

After looking at the learning center, feel free to leave comments or questions that you have in the comment section of this blog.

-Ben

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John C. Maxwell Nuggets of Wisdom

What I learned from John C. Maxwell

Click on the hyperlinks throughout to learn more about specific people who teach leadership.

Nugget 1.

Early on John C. Maxwell professed the “Leadership Challenge” he faces, that makes it hard to multiply and benefit from good leaders. The problem, is that leaders are hard to find, gather, unite, and keep. This is because they are rare, busy, individualistic, and ambitious. The first step, finding them, is made hard by the fact that there aren’t many of them around, though it is important to remember that leaders will often naturally stand out because of their characteristics when given time. Gathering leaders is hard, because they are always engrossed in a project, so it is important to remember this and contact them early so one can recruit them before plans fill their schedule. Next comes uniting them towards a common goal, which John C. Maxwell points out proves a challenge because leaders love to pursue their own ideas; If they didn’t they wouldn’t be leaders. Finally, leaders are hard to keep, because of their ambition, which might drive them away from an organization to take advantage of new opportunities. Observing these struggles, the strength of TALONS is put on full display. Leaders are all already gathered in one place because that’s what the program is about, which knocks out two of the challenges already. TALONS Leaders also come up with activity ideas together, allowing them to unite easier, and are always challenged to further their learning. This will all be useful in our spring projects, as it lets us focus on more pressing matters in our leadership.

Nugget 2.

John C. Maxwell moves on to give the first step in turning producers into reproducers, with the phrase “I Model.” He considers modelling good leadership behaviour to be one of the best ways of reproducing new leaders, because people do what people see. Even though this hypocritical style makes leadership challenging, it is still very addictive because it is so much easier to teach what is right than to model what is right. From this one can gather that practicing modelling every chance one receives is a goal of utmost importance, because it is a very hard habit to consistently keep up, but it will make or break your success when reproducing leaders. As Norman Vincent Peale says, “Nothing is more confusing than people who give good advice and set bad examples” (Maxwell, p. 15).This lack of clarity found in inconsistency will slow down the process of growing strong leaders, which is something that needs to be done right from the start. On our spring projects, practicing modelling would make for a fantastic goal for the grade tens to strive towards. By having grade tens focus especially hard on modelling good leadership behaviour during the most large and impactful trips of TALONS, we can create future grade tens with even better leadership skills. Focusing on modelling could also enhance the leadership skills of the current grade tens because it would make them conscientious of their leadership style and how they can improve it.

Nugget 3.

Next in becoming a reproducer is the mantra “I Mentor.” He lists the characteristics of an effective mentor to be maturity, compassion, genuine respect, confidentiality, self-disclosure, and the ability to evaluate a person’s potential. Maturity, compassion, genuine respect, and confidentiality are very important factors in building trust with mentees. Practicing these can mean the difference between a superficial relationship, and a strong one. A superficial relationship won’t make large enough steps to develop a leader, while a strong one will, as the participants will trust each other enough to grow. This is relevant to me because mentorship relationships of mine, (as either mentor or mentee), have sometimes felt superficial, and it really isn’t an enjoyable state to be in. Self-disclosure also builds trust, and can additionally serve to further relationships and education after trust has been built. All of this will be useless however, if a mentor cannot evaluate the potential of possible leaders, so as not to spend their efforts where they won’t be fruitful. In TALONS, a course on trust building using these strategies could be very useful. Even just a small lesson or two with a few good tips to keep in mind could make a substantial difference on our spring projects. In the second paragraph I said that these spring projects could be the best chance in TALONS for the tens to mentor the nines, so keeping these aspects in mind and striving to meet them is another very worthy goal.

What do you think is unique and interesting about John C. Maxwell’s leadership lesson? To watch the first session of the leadership lesson I watched for this assignment, click here.

Sources:

Maxwell, J. C. (2014). Developing Leaders Around You. The John Maxwell Company.

Eminent Practice Interview Refection

My main takeaway from the Eminent person practice interview is that I need to show my interviewee more excitement about and interest in what they are saying. The two pieces of feedback I received as stretches were that my voice was a bit monotone, and I needed to make more connections and conversation after each answer. By remedying both of these, I would be showing my interviewee that I value what they are saying and that it means something to me. This could lead the interviewee to be more encouraged to tell me more and contribute more, which would make the interview run smoother and be more worthwhile. I know I am already on my way to that goal because of the positive feedback I received. I did a good job of asking relevant follow-up questions, maintaining eye contact, and having well-prepared questions. I think that with just a little bit more practice and preparedness, I would reach my above goal. Being prepared is one way I can improve at asking follow-up questions and making conversation. This is because by knowing my questions well, being well researched on my eminent person, and asking questions that interest me and are relevant, follow-up questions and conversation will come more naturally. I know this because, during my interviewing of an animator for a career education project, I was able to follow up questions well and make conversation naturally because I was so interested and had prior knowledge of the topic.

Another aspect I noticed was that sometimes my questions didn’t provoke the answers I was looking for in the interviewee. While this wasn’t written on my feedback sheet, I think I should try and be very mindful of the questions I am asking, so that I learn what I want to learn and the interviewee understands what I mean by the question. I should pay close attention to the wording of the question, as well as how I ask it to best achieve this goal.

As I search for someone to interview and eventually conduct the interview, I will keep all of this in mind to make the most of the interview and what it can provide that research can’t.

Eminent Commenting Reflection

Through looking at other people’s blog posts, I have learned more about some of my classmates and their interests, hopes, and dreams. I was happy to learn that they were very much choosing their eminent people based on their interests, (like Bana choosing a singer, or Henry choosing a physicist), as I think that is the best way to do it because it ensures engagement and makes researching that person fun. It was neat to see the different ways in which students interpreted the prompts, like answering them as a list of questions, answering them in paragraphs, or writing paragraphs how they want, and just making sure they are answered at some point. I enjoyed reading the latter type most, as it made reading enjoyable and drew me in. I also liked it when people told a story, as it displayed their person’s eminence in an interesting way. Reading these posts and noticing what I liked and didn’t as a reader provides insight into how I should write blog posts and format my other eminent-related projects to engage and attract readers, rather than bore them. Finally, I also noticed that it made blog posts, especially long ones, much easier to read when the paragraph breaking came at the perfect time, right in between topics. This is a reminder for me to make sure my paragraphs have meaningful distinctions between them, and their topics are clear.

Eminent Introductory Post

Godtfred Kirk Christiansen

          “We know our idea is a good one. We want only the best … we must make better bricks from even better material on even better machinery. We must get the best people that money can buy for our company.”

My eminent person this year is Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, a danish toymaker and businessman who was the second owner of the Lego Group. This quote by Godtfred Kirk Christiansen illustrates his drive for quality and dedication to his work. 

Even though his father created the company and is more covered by media, Godtfred was the one to make drastic moves to create the Lego we know today. This can be seen in two important endeavors of his as the owner of Lego. Firstly, Godtfred played a crucial role in designing Lego bricks’ locking mechanism. He developed and patented the Lego brick with a tube on the underside to offer more clutch power, giving Lego creations improved stability. He was also responsible for bringing Lego bricks to the forefront of Lego’s focus with the Lego system in play. While visiting a British toy museum, Godtfred struck up a conversation with the British toymaker Troels Peterson. Peterson complained that there was no system, no rhyme or reason to unify the toy market. This captured Godtfred’s imagination, and he took up the challenge of bringing a system to the toy industry, doing so with his best candidate product, the Lego brick. He developed these six rules that defined the nature of the system in play. 

Besides these crucial aspects of his work, Godtfred was also responsible for creating the first Legoland, creating the Billund airport to bring visitors to the park, and making improvements to Lego such as wheels and hinges. The son of a single father who often struggled to make ends meet, Godtfred had to face and overcome the challenge of minimal formal education and support his father’s business. Over 20 years since he passed away, Godtfred is still recognized for his contributions to the toy industry, and the Lego Group will doubtless remember him and his work for the foreseeable future.

Godtfred’s life is itself the history of my favorite toy, so I think the reasoning behind my choice is clear. I have been obsessed with Lego since I was five and learning about how it was created and who created it is of great interest to me, given that it has had such a big influence on me. A common thread that Godtfred and I share is our interest and excitement about our Father’s work. Perhaps on a slightly less extreme level than Godtfred, I have always loved to visit my Dad’s work, asking many questions about what he does and how it works, and his career as a computer engineer is one I may pursue as a career. Like I am, Godtfred was passionate about creating and inventing in general, and both of us have felt a need for quality in our work. Godtfred’s life story also serves as a lesson in what can be achieved with a hard work ethic and proactive behavior, as he was involved in the Lego business since he was 12, and took actions to learn more on his own, like going on sales trips for his father Ole while he owned the company. The main barrier keeping me from researching and connecting with Godtfred is that there may not be enough content available to learn about him, which I hope to overcome by being more creative in how I research and learn about him, for example using books or videos rather than just internet articles. The creating, thinking, and innovating tendencies of Godtfred are something I see in myself, so this project can help drive and inspire me to foster them. Through his achievements and work Godtfred has secured eminence, and I hope to learn from and share his life’s story with my fellow TALONS.

As I continue to research Godtfred, I would like to learn from and learn about more details and nuances of his life. I would like to learn about the specifics of his endeavors like patenting the Lego brick, including how he did it, who helped him, and the impact it had on him and his business in the short term.

Citations

College, B. (2021). Godtfred Kirk Christiansen. Babson College. Retrieved October 21, 2021, from https://www.babson.edu/academics/centers-and-institutes/the-arthur-m-blank-center-for-entrepreneurship/awards/academy-of-distinguished-entrepreneurs/inductees/christiansen-godtfred/#. 

The LEGO Group. (2021). Godtfred Kirk Christiansen. Godtfred Kirk Christiansen – LEGO® History – LEGO.com ZA. Retrieved October 21, 2021, from https://www.lego.com/en-za/history/articles/a-godtfred-kirk-christiansen. 

The Lego Group. (2021). LEGO® system in play. LEGO® System in Play – LEGO® History – LEGO.com MY. Retrieved October 21, 2021, from https://www.lego.com/en-my/history/articles/lego-system-in-play/. 

The LEGO Group. (2021). Quality in every detail. Quality in every detail – LEGO® History – LEGO.com ZA. Retrieved October 21, 2021, from https://www.lego.com/en-za/history/articles/d-quality-in-every-detail. 

Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, September 12). Godtfred Kirk Christiansen. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 21, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godtfred_Kirk_Christiansen.