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

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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)

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99's On the Go

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99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2016 Brian Remer
Updated June 2016

99's on the 9th

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

June 2016 -
Life Lessons: Actions speak loudest

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

Life Lessons
For 3 years I taught English in Egypt. Once a week, I volunteered to tutor a group of disadvantaged teens. But that had been 10 years ago and now I was back for a visit, touring a new school.

Entering the computer classroom, the professor introduced himself. "I'm Emad, one of the kids you tutored. You know, I didn't learn any English from you." I was crushed, until he added, "But I did learn how to be a good teacher!"

I never realized I'd given that lesson!

We seldom know the real lessons we may be teaching.


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.

Teaching and coaching, these are two professions where you might learn the long-term impact of your efforts. If you are lucky, you could run into a former student or athlete who makes the effort to give you specific feedback about what you did for them. To receive these comments is both gratifying and humbling.

But the ability to teach a life lesson is not limited to these professions. Doctors, counselors, religious and spiritual leaders, child care providers, and managers or team leaders also have opportunities to influence the attitudes, decisions, values, ethics, and mental models that shape who we are.

All these professionals know they are role models. On some level they recognize that how they do their work is more important than what work they actually do. It wasn't what Mr. Slater taught in my tenth grade Humanities class but how he taught it that I remember. And it wasn't what Mitchell did as owner of the shoe store where I worked as a teen that taught me about customer service. It was how he interacted with each person who entered the shop.

Actions really do speak loudest.

This is significant because it means profession, title, or education doesn't matter. All of us take actions every day; all of us make choices about how we do those actions. Every quotidian encounter is an opportunity to build people up or put them in their place; to enhance relationships or build walls; to be fun-filled and joyful or sour and negative; to promote creative expression or sow fear and doubt.

We see this demonstrated in the tone of our political election process. What standards of public discourse are we altering and how will those standards devolve in the future? We see it in our social media and wonder about the long-term effect of tethering "likes" to self-esteem. And there are positive examples too: peaceful demonstrations that change the conversation about race; voter registration campaigns that empower the grass roots; socially responsible businesses that divert profits to charity.

Yes, certain work must be done, a profit must be made, and specific information must be learned. But there is incredible latitude in how we work, earn, and learn. The tenor of our actions has the power to either normalize the negative or promote the positive. The exciting thing is that we have so many daily opportunities to be a role model - even if we never discover the exact life lessons we are teaching.


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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