Words of Wisdom for
Leadership, Learning, and Life in
Exactly 99 Words

NEW at 99-Word Stories

Talk Quick!
99-Word Stories to Spark Discussion about Common Management Issues
by Brian Remer

Talk Quick! is a collection of group discussion starters designed to inspire meaningful conversations about important management issues.
(12 Discussion Activities, 33 pages, Cross Referenced, $10)

Learn more HERE.

99's On the Go

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99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2014 Brian Remer
Updated July 2014

99's on the 9th

Ideas based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.

Look Ahead...

Plan to attend Boredom Busters: Boosting Engagement in Meetings and Training in the greater Boston area on September 25, 2014. Managers, team leaders, presenters, and sometime-trainers can discover how to make learning more action-focused.

Learn more and register HERE

July 2014

Read this story aloud or make copies for your group or team members.

Location, Location, Location
When we built our home under a stand of Vermont maple trees, we were determined to keep the property as wooded as possible. Instead of planting a lawn, we seeded the area close to the house with wildflowers and perennials. The rest we left natural.

Wild blackberries sprang up quickly: whip-like strands with thorns like claws and bitter, tiny fruit. Fortunately, they were shaded out by a dense growth of ferns. But in the lupine beds, those same ferns are crowding out the flowers we've planted.

What's a weed; what's not? Depends on where it grows!


You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.


There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis.

My family has a standing invitation to visit friends at their vacation home on Cape Cod every Fourth of July. Just a short walk down the street and over the dunes takes us to the beach. On the way, we pass expensive beach front homes. Every year we keep our eye on one particular home with a For Sale sign. We are not interested in buying it but we do want to know whether it has floated out to sea.

Over the past several years, the shore has been eroding into the bay. The harsh winter storms have siphoned tons of sand erasing more than fifty feet of protective dune in front of the house. Now the walls are weathered, the deck is drooping, and the tide is carving a cave under the foundation. The doors and windows have long been shuttered. It's too late to make the house livable, yet the owners still have it on the market for over $1.5 million!

It's said that the price of a house depends on its location. Move this house to a lot in rural Iowa and you might get $10,000 for it. But real estate value is also in the perspective of the seller - and the buyer. Yes, the property is on the waterfront but whether the water will wash it all away in the next ten years is a gamble.

Consider how much our individual perspective influences the value we assign to property, policies, and people. A deal that's gold for the sales department might be a headache for customer service. The health plan that covers pre-existing conditions for employees might be too expensive for an employer. A child with learning disabilities who can't sit still in class is labeled a problem in school but beloved by parents and siblings at home. Obviously, our perspective influences what we value as well as what our values are.

Most of us probably have an easy time identifying the invasives, weeds, and flowers around us. But, because of our perspective, which is largely self-serving, we have a more difficult time determining our own impact in the garden. So at what point do we acknowledge that what smells as lovely as a rose to us might be a stinky, poisonous weed to the other guy? How do we know whether our actions are seen as benevolent and protective or harmful and invasive?

This is what feedback is all about - and it's probably most valuable when we make a point of seeking it from others. If we are in the habit of checking in with those we work and live with, we can constantly monitor the effect of our actions. We can learn whether the good we meant to do actually was good!

The truth is, when things are going well, we don't think to ask for feedback. And when there's a problem, we simply don't want to know about it! However, if we acknowledge that at any point others may see us as both flower and weed, we can, perhaps, learn where to plant ourselves for successful growth.


Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.

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