Discover Yourself – Interacting With Our Opposite Types

Personality assessments are useful not only for participants to understand themselves better, but also to understand the other people around them. Interacting with people with very different views and priorities can be challenging, but Insights Discovery can suggest ways for people who are opposite types to work together more smoothly and effectively.

Fiery Red Interacting with Earth Green

Fiery reds are action driven, confident, and focused on their goals. Their opposite type are earth greens, who are calm, supportive, and ethical. A fiery red can see earth greens as docile, inactive, resistant, or stubborn. The methodical, careful progress of the earth green can feel frustrating and plodding to the active fiery red type.

To get the most from interactions with earth greens and to avoid losing their temper, fiery reds should practice patience and try to hold back from jumping in to every task head first. There can be great value in pausing to think an idea through before getting caught up in the action, and earth green can help to provide this balance.

A skill that earth greens can offer to fiery reds is the ability to see other’s points of view and to foster consensus. While a fiery red would likely try to resolve a dispute between members by imposing a rule or view onto the whole team, an earth green will try to find a compromise where everyone is happy and where every member of the team feels respected.

As fiery reds are often natural leaders, they motivate and push their team to achieve more. But they also benefit greatly from having an earth green as a fellow manager who can soothe team members and support them when they are stressed. Fiery reds should learn to see the value in this more caring, empathetic approach and learn when to deploy an earth green to smooth over difficult social situations.

Earth Green Interacting with Fiery Red

The patient and caring earth greens can find the forward and assertive fiery red type to be aggressive, controlling, and overbearing. The tendency of fiery reds to take charge and to push others towards goals can chafe the earth green who wants everyone to feel respected and understood. It will help earth greens to remember that democratic relationships are indeed important, but sometimes it is necessary for someone to lead decisively.

If an earth green feels like they or others are being steamrolled by the fiery red, then they can try raising these concerns outside of a high-pressure group meeting situation. A fiery red will be much more receptive if the earth green can voice their issues in terms of impediments to action as opposed to personal feelings.

An earth green can benefit from the push that a fiery red provides, as this can prevent them from overthinking and compel them to action. Also, there may be situations where it is not possible for everyone to be happy, and a fiery red will push for an acceptable solution where an earth green can be paralyzed by indecision.

Sunshine Yellow Interacting with Cool Blue

Sunshine yellows are sociable, creative, and love to dream about the future. Their opposite type is cool blues, who are methodical, analytical, and precise. Sunshine yellows can perceive cool blues to be cold and reserved, and find it strange that they are more focused on rules or data than on people. To a highly people-focused sunshine yellow, it may be almost inconceivable that anyone would not think primarily in terms of social interactions. Therefore, when interacting with cool blues, it can help sunshine yellows to remember that focusing on data over interpersonal relations does not mean a lack of care for other people – rather, cool blues want to be fair to all people, and they express that care in a data-driven way.

A cool blue can make a strong partnership with a sunshine yellow. The sunshine yellow person can imagine great concepts for the future and raise enthusiasm for the project among other people, while the cool blue can come up with the realistic ways to achieve those concepts in the real world. The pragmatism of a cool blue can be an essential reality check on the dreamy nature of a sunshine yellow, as long as the sunshine yellow doesn’t take this pragmatism personally. They should remember that when a cool blue expresses skepticism about an idea, they are not trying to be negative – they are searching for a way that the idea can realistically be achieved.

Cool Blue Interacting with Sunshine Yellow

Conversely, when analytical and logical cool blues have to interact with excitable and dynamic sunshine yellows, they can find them to be hasty and imprudent, or even disorganized and a “head in the clouds” type. It will help cool blues to remember that, unlike themselves who tend to think through an idea carefully before voicing it, other personality types like to think out loud in a discursive manner.

Just because someone says something that is not totally logical or they share an idea which is not fully thought through, it does not mean that the person is silly or vacuous. They should understand that people use discussion as part of their thinking process and try not to judge excited sunshine yellows when they take an idea and run with it.

A sunshine yellow can help a cool blue in tasks like drumming up support for a project. For example, if a cool blue finds a way to make a system more efficient, then they may push for their new system to be adopted and be surprised when they are met with a lukewarm reception. To the cool blue, if the new system is more logical then obviously everyone should support it. But a sunshine yellow knows that they need to sell people on the new system with enthusiasm and a sense of fun, which can be far more persuasive than logic. A cool blue who comes up with a concept and a sunshine yellow who gets everyone on board with the concept can make a great team.

To learn more about Insights Discovery and how it can help colleagues understand themselves and each other, visit www.discoveryourself.com.

Discover Yourself – Managing the Color Energies

Understanding the different personality types of a team is important for managers not only so that they can build an effective team, but also so that they can gain insights into how to manage each person. Today I’ll be discussing tips and techniques for managing each of the color energies in the Insights Discovery system.

Managing Cool Blues

People who are cool blue in temperament are thoughtful and like to plan out events and activities in advance. Typically, they will be organized and know their processes very well, following instructions exactly. But one challenge in managing them is they are not the most adaptable of people; they need to be given time to consider and process new information and ideas. If a new concept or model is introduced to a cool blue, they may not be particularly enthusiastic about the change straight away. This does not mean that they are rejecting the change or that they will be unable to cope with it, but they may require a few days to adapt to the new mindset required of them.

One practical tip on managing cool blues is to give them a heads up (wherever possible) of new issues that may arise in the future. A manager who can let their cool blue team members know in advance that changes will be forthcoming – for example, that this year an annual process will be changing, or that brainstorming sessions will be moving from regular small meetings to occasional large meetings – will find that the cool blue person has planned and anticipated the change and is more ready for it. This gives two advantages: firstly, the blue person will be able to contribute useful ideas as they have had time to consider and aren’t being forced to respond off the cuff, and secondly, they will be more positive about adapting to change when they know to expect it.

Managing Earth Greens

Earth green people are driven by their values, which often focus around sharing, harmony, and fairness. This means that in order for a manager to win the loyalty of an earth green person, they must explicitly demonstrate their even-handedness and explain their reasoning. For example, if a manger is planning to end a contract with a vendor and to move to another vendor, it would be wise to let the earth green members of their team know about why they are making this change. Even when it is not strictly required for the green person to know about the reasoning to perform their job, they will be more supportive and enthusiastic if they see that their manager has good reasons for making this choice.

This is because earth green people care deeply about personal relationships with co-workers. If the green person perceives their organization as being capricious or opaque about their motives, they will not trust them and will not perform well. And this interest is not self-centered: a green can perceive a colleague being treated badly by a manager to be as damaging as if it were happening to them. To build the best relationship with an earth green, a manager should be as fair as possible and be transparent about that fairness.

Managing Sunshine Yellows

The highly sociable sunshine yellow type is passionate, enthusiastic, and has a strong vision of the future. If a manager wants to sell their team on a new concept or process, then getting the sunshine yellow members of the team on board is key. These people will then cheerlead for the idea and get everyone else in the team to accept and embrace the new concept too. If a person who can drum up energy and get everyone involved is required, then the sunshine yellow is the type to turn to.

However, sunshine yellow types can be distractible and disorganized. When managing such a person, it is important to clearly lay out the essential requirements of a task and not let the person focus only on the “fun” parts of a job. Also, sunshine yellows can have a tendency to overwhelm other less outgoing team members, especially if there are a high proportion of yellows on a team and their visions are closely aligned. In this case, encourage sunshine yellows to pull back sometimes to allow space for others to express their ideas.

Managing Fiery Reds

Fiery reds are active and hands-on, and they like to find the most efficient way of performing their tasks. This means that they can be very adaptable and amenable to change, as long as their manager can demonstrate to them how the new system will create a better outcome than the old system. Unlike cool blues, fiery reds are not interested in considering every small change in depth – they would rather learn by doing and are focused on the present moment rather than ruminating about the past or future. If a fiery red needs to learn a new skill, it is best to hand them the tools and let them puzzle through the challenge for themselves rather than trying to teach them everything in advance.

One useful but occasionally frustrating aspect of managing a fiery red is their pragmatism. They are not the type to be swept up by great oratory or to embrace an idea because it sounds new and exciting. Instead, they want to see a clear and realistic vision with concrete steps outlined that will achieve that vision. When trying to motivate a fiery red, do not focus on abstract concepts or too much big picture talk – instead, give them grounded, actionable steps which they can follow to achieve the desired goal.

This is just scratching the surface of the ways that psychometric testing can help managers interact with and motivate their team. For more information on this topic, visit www.discoveryourself.com.

Discover Yourself – Self-aware leadership

Thinking of the most important skills for a leader to have, most people will suggest qualities such as vision, charisma, determination, or discipline. But there’s one quality which rarely gets acknowledged in discussions about leadership but that is absolutely crucial, and that is self-awareness.

The concept of self-awareness covers two related aspects of personality: internal self-awareness, meaning how accurately a person perceives their own values, strengths, passions, and so on, and external self-awareness, meaning the degree to which a person knows how they are perceived by others around them. Both of these aspects are essential for effective leadership.

The importance of self-awareness in business

A recent article in the MIT Sloan Management Review was written on the basis of interviews with more than 2000 international executives, and it found that self-awareness was crucial for leadership. In fact, the authors Ginka Toegel and Jean-Louis Barsoux argued that self-awareness is the single most important capability for a leader to develop. This is because to be successful, a leader needs to know about their own limitations and idiosyncrasies in order to allow for these factors when making decisions.

Self-aware leadership isn’t just important as an executive skill – it can affect a company’s bottom line too. A study by the Korn Ferry Institute found that in companies with employees who scored well on measures of self-awareness, there were significantly higher rates of return of stock when compared to companies with employees that had more blind spots about their own performance. Another study found that a high score in self-awareness was the strongest predictor of overall success. So self-awareness is more than just a useful add-on skill: it is an essential part of getting results in business.

Blind spots

The same Korn Ferry Institute study mentioned previously also found that 79% of the participants had at least one blind spot in their self-awareness – meaning that 79% of people had a skill that they considered to be a strength but that their co-workers considered to be a weakness of theirs. This shows just how hard it is to be truly self-aware at work.

As we’ve discussed before, people are generally pretty poor at assessing their own performance. The problem is that in order for a person to know if they are a skilled performer in, say, communication, they have to know a lot about the topic already and know enough about what makes a person a good communicator. If someone lacks this knowledge, they are likely to overvalue their own performance because they don’t know what they don’t know.

When trying to cultivate self-aware leadership, it is not enough for a leader to think about their own perceptions of their strengths and weaknesses. They need to gather feedback from co-workers too.

Perception is reality

These difficulties with self-assessment are why receiving feedback is so key for self-aware leadership. Often, feedback from co-workers can differ markedly from how managers perceive themselves. For example, managers want to be seen as open to new ideas and attentive to their employees, so they will often rate themselves highly in these skill areas. But employees might disagree – they might find that the manager is dismissive of issues they raise, or is overly rigid in their approach.

The important thing for leaders to realize is that when it comes to skills assessment, perception is reality. If underlings feel that their manager does not take them seriously, then this is the reality – no matter what the manager thinks about their own skills. Real world examples show how even a leader who believes that they are doing everything right, and who is getting good results for the company, can be perceived as a problem by co-workers.

Achieving self-awareness

Given how crucial self-awareness is for leadership, it is notable that it is rare for the topic to be covered in MBA courses or other forms of business education. Leaders can’t rely on their existing knowledge to achieve self-awareness – it requires active and ongoing examination and practice. Some of the ways that leaders can improve their self-awareness include gaining information by soliciting and listening to feedback, taking leadership coaching, and by taking personality assessments. To get the most from these information sources, leaders need to train themselves and promote the concept of effective listening: not just nodding along while others talk but actively engaging with them to understand their perspective. The more a leader listens, the more informed they will be about how they are perceived and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Other changes can help to encourage a self-aware leadership style too, such as adopting daily mindfulness practice to improve awareness of one’s own state and emotional responses, and taking regular breaks so that decisions are contemplated carefully instead of being made on autopilot.

The makings of a good leader

It’s worth remembering that self-awareness is a key skill for a leader, but that doesn’t mean that there is only one way to lead effectively. For example, a leader might be conflict averse and struggle with giving negative feedback – but as long as they are aware of this, they can get support from other members of their leadership team when they need to have a tough conversation. Conversely, if a leader has a very direct communication style and has a tendency to come across as harsh, then they can call on more diplomatic communicators from their team to help them make a good impression in meetings. In either case, the leader has some strengths and some weaknesses, but by being aware of these and surrounding themselves with people with complementary skill sets, a more effective team can be formed.

To learn more about how personality assessments can help to develop self-awareness, visit www.discoveryourself.com, and check back to our blog soon for more articles like this one.

Discover Yourself – Jungian Psychology for Teams

In the past I’ve talked about the basics of Jungian psychology and how psychometric testing can benefit businesses. Today I’ll dig more into this topic to show the practical ways that Jungian psychology can help to form, manage, and motivate a team at work.

Expressing Preferences

One of the most valuable ways that personality testing can benefit a team is by giving team members space to express their preferences on matters such as favored methods of communication, feedback style, motivation, and so on. In the typical workplace, there are processes that are followed and methods that are used across entire departments or companies. But it can help to tweak these processes in recognition of the fact that individual workers have different habits and styles which allow them to work mostly effectively. For instance, maybe one person prefers to always be kept in the loop about a project, even including the small details that don’t directly affect them, so that they can understand the overall project. Other people could find constant updates that they don’t need to be annoying or distracting.

In this way, both performing personality assessments and the process of discussing personality test results with a team are opportunities for team members to express their ideal working situation and setup. A manager might not necessarily be able to meet all of these preferences  for example, if a team member indicates that they prefer to communicate via email over communicating by phone, there might still be a weekly meeting with a client which needs to be done over the phone. But often, preferences can be taken into consideration with no loss of productivity or achievement. In fact, letting people choose the manner and style in which they work can be beneficial to both morale and results.

Different Strengths of Different Team Members

Some people think that in order to be successful, a team needs to be made up of members with similar personality types. It’s common, especially among new managers, to think that a team with similar temperaments will work together more efficiently. However, a team made up of a mixture of personality types is usually more effective. For example, it can help to have one team member who is outgoing and social, who can build bonds with other teams; one member who is detail oriented and will check all work for mistakes; one team member who takes a leadership role and corrals and motivates the others, and so on.

For this reason, it’s good to have a team that is diverse in terms of personality type. What a Jungian style personality assessment can describe is the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, so that tasks can be assigned accordingly. Of course, tasks can also be assigned to someone who is not specifically typed to be good at them. For example, if a team member has a role that requires communicating with customers then they will need to develop strong social skills, even if they are naturally more introverted. It is not impossible for an introverted person to perform this task well, but they may need more coaching and support in this area than a person who is naturally more outgoing and sociable.

Understanding Interpersonal Relations

Another useful way to apply personality data to teams is using it to understand interpersonal conflicts. Even on the most professional teams, there will still be times when the needs or priorities of team members conflict. When this happens, a work issue can quickly become personal and team members can feel bullied, undervalued, or unhappy.

Understanding personality types can help throw light onto these conflicts. For example, it might be that one person values direct, forthright discussions, but another person perceives this communication style as brusque or rude. By educating each person about the other’s perspective, these team members can identify the source of their conflict and adapt to the needs of the other. Or if someone is anxious because they feel they are being left out of the loop, it will help other team members to understand not only that they ought to update the person more often, but also the reason for this action (that the person is someone who likes to keep an eye on the big picture and therefore wants to stay informed).

Using Personality Data to Build a Team

There are many ways that psychology insights can be used to build a team. One of the most common uses of personality assessments is during recruitment, where candidates are given personality assessments as part of the hiring process. These assessments can be a great source of information, but they should be used carefully. Too often, a hiring manager has an idea of what type of person that they want on their team  for example, that they want a new hire to be of a similar age and background to other team members, with similar interests and experience. This can lead to an overly narrow focus in which excellent candidates are passed over because they do not fit the narrow scope of what the hiring manager is looking for.

Like the concept of “company culture,” personality assessments can be used in a way that is discriminatory if they are not approached with care. A personality assessment should give information about the potential strengths, weaknesses, and preferences of a candidate, but hiring managers should remember that a diversity of personality types on a team is a key to success. Managers should not be afraid to hire a great candidate with relevant experience just because they are not the “right” personality type.

More Ways to Use Personality Data

Other ways that learning about personality types can benefit a team include as part of team building exercises so that team members can learn more about each other and how to interact, in personal and professional development such as identifying current weaknesses, or mentoring and coaching to improve on those weaknesses. But perhaps the most valuable use of personality information is the creation of a space in which a team’s communications, processes and brainstorming can be improved.

In the next post I’ll discuss how to effectively lead a team with a post on self-aware leadership, so come back soon for that!

How Psychometric Testing Can Help You Build Stronger Teams


You may have heard about the use of personality tests, or psychometric testing, in business contexts in order to achieve a higher standard of management and team building. Today we’re going to look at what these tests measure and the ways that they can bring business benefits to your team.

Why study personality?
The theories of personality psychology may be interesting to read about, but more than this they can provide concrete advice on how to work more effectively. Psychometric testing can be used to give insights which enable people to gain self-understanding, letting them be more aware of their personality style and strengths and weaknesses. From this information, people can learn better strategies for interactions with others based on the specific needs of each personality type.

In a business context, psychometric testing can bring distinct benefits to your team. You can adapt your management style to bring out the best from each member of your team by finding the correct motivation and communication style for them. And by sharing the insights into personality that you gain with your team, they can interact with each other in a more effective and productive way as well.

Types of personality tests
As complicated as humans are, there are many different ways to measure and define personality. In academic contexts, personality is most frequently analyzed in terms of the degree to which a person displays the ‘big five’ personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Another style of psychometric testing which is popular among the public and in some business contexts is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) system, which is based on the theories of Carl Jung. The MBTI assigns personality to a pole from each of the dichotomies of sensing/intuition, feeling/thinking, introversion/extroversion, and perception/judging.

The Insights Discovery profile system that we use at Discover Yourself is also based on the work of Jung, but with greater detail than MBTI and with profiles that are optimized to provide information for management contexts. Each Insights profile will give concrete advice on communicating with, managing, and motivating the person, as well as information on how the person would manage others.

The benefits of personality testing
The advantage of personality testing is that it gives you a set of tools with which to think about yourself. Do you interact best working alone in a small team or do you thrive in a large group? Do you prefer a high level of organization with rigid structures, or are you more comfortable in a flexible situation where you can respond quickly to new information? Do you communicate most effectively in a written, visual, or oral form? These are the kinds of insights that you can clarify with personality testing.

When it comes to personality testing in business, the creation of a space in which people can express their preferences is a tremendous boon. Perhaps a team member finds phone calls stressful and would prefer to be emailed when possible. Or a manager likes to be looped in on all relevant emails by their staff, even if they are not directly involved in the discussion, so that they can maintain an overview of their team. In the work world there are rarely opportunities for members of teams to frankly discuss their personal preferences, and personality testing enables and supports these conversations to give your team confidence when interacting with each other.

Understanding personality test data
If you are considering using psychometric testing to gather information on your team, there are a few key issues to remember. Most important is the understanding that results from psychometric tests are descriptive, not prescriptive. This means that personality data can describe the ways in which a person will tend towards thinking and interacting with others, but does not provide strict rules about how a person will always behave. Each person is different, and while personality testing can be used for broad general information about personality types, individual differences will always be present. This means that personality tests should be used as guidelines and inspiration for experimentation with new communication styles, and not taken to represent a fundamental and unchangeable part of a person.

Further, psychometric tests like MBTI and Insights rely on people’s own judgment of themselves and their self-reporting of these judgments. Therefore the results will only be as accurate as a person’s honesty and self-insight. This is in some ways a strength of the format, as it stems from the belief that people know themselves best. But in some testing scenarios, there is also the opportunity for people to bring in the insights of their colleagues or friends to give them information on how they are perceived by others as well as how they perceive themselves, which can improve accuracy and the applicability of the test results.

Personality data and your team

Once you have personality data about your team, you can use this to optimize and improve your team interactions. Some people erroneously believe that there is one personality type that is best suited to business, or that a team needs to be made up of similar personalities in order to be successful. But this is not the case: a team benefits from a variety of personality types interacting. You can benefit from having both outgoing, social and communicative extroverts as well as thoughtful, interior-focused and introverted members for different tasks. As a manager you can assign roles based on differing strengths, such as assigning your extroverts to client management or networking tasks and assigning detail-oriented conceptual work that needs to be performed by one person to the more introverted members of your team.

Finally, consider the value of understanding not just personality types in isolation, but also knowing how these types will interact with other personality types. With detailed personality profiles like the Insight, you’ll see information on the opposite types of a given personality as well as advice on how that personality will interact with managers and with other colleagues. Being able to predict how your team members will interact with others will allow you to assign duties in a way that maximizes your team’s chances of success.

Find out more about psychometric testing and how personality data can help you to build a stronger team at Discover Yourself: http://discoveryourself.com/

Does wearing a mask in the workplace mean you are “fake”?

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When you are the supervisor or the manager at your workplace, you are being counted on (and paid too) by your employer to effectively teach, manage, and develop the employees they hire. With the uniqueness of humans, no two employees will respond the same way to getting trained, managed, developed, or even disciplined.

Some supervisors and managers just supervise and manage only one way. Sometimes they don’t care and have that “it’s my way or the highway” attitude. Those managers run the risk of burning out after a few years on the job. And some supervisors and managers just don’t know how to manage any other way. These managers won’t burn out, but will only get average work quality from the employees they supervise and manage. Does wearing a “mask” in the workplace make you fake? No. In fact, this is a great way to communicate with different personalities, and to get above and excellent work from your employees.

What does it mean to wear a Mask?

A lot of people wear a mask in the real world and in the workplace for many different reasons. Wearing a mask typically, means that when the person is aware someone is watching them, they tend to wear a different colored mask and not act like their normal selves.

However, wearing a masking mask in our example, is close to the above. But, we are specifically speaking about strategically wearing a different color mask to communicate more effectively with employees who not all may be wired the same.

Looking at this from the Insights Discovery® Color Energies’ point of view

For example, let’s say that you have four employees who lead with either, Fiery Red, Cool Blue, Earth Green, or Sunshine Yellow. An effective supervisor or manager who has the ability of “full and total awareness” would have four different ways of approaching, speaking and communicating with all four of these different personality types. This supervisor or manager is wearing a mask, especially if they normally lead with another color while at home and another color when at work. A not so effective supervisor or manager would address all four employees in one way and most likely, NEVER would truly make a connection with these employees or get their best work.

So as you can see, people wear masks for many different reasons in life, good and bad. With respects to trying to communicate effectively in the workplace with today’s highly diverse workforces, wearing a mask to be more effective, and getting your employees’ best effort, is the a mask worth wearing.

Every organization needs a good mix of color energies and a few people who know how to wear a mask properly. If you’d like help in identifying this person (s) on your team, schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, I will come to your group and address the difference of personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy to understand way.  Follow me on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!

How To Recognize Coordinators

idwheelEvery employer’s dream is to have an employee who is dependable, loyal, with high expectations of self.  The next of the eight Primary Insights Types I want to talk about is the Coordinator.  Coordinators explain the exact qualities of the employee listed above.  In this blog I’ll talk more about the qualities of Coordinators, how to recognize them within your organization, and how to capitalize on their inherent skills.

You may already have several Coordinators in your organization and have achieved this without even thinking about it.  They may be the employees who have been with you forever, always do exceptional work, yet they aren’t top of mind because it seems they’re never too anxious to take center stage.  As a mixture of Cool Blue and Earth Green, Coordinators have a high amount of introverted energy.  Coordinators do best with systematic tasks that require precise instruction to do the job right.  Because of their logical minds and a thirst for data, they know they have done the job right when the evidence is tangible.  Be sure you let your Coordinators know how valuable their skills are and and how much you appreciate their work.  Keep their strong and steady loyalty by showing regular support and be careful to not take advantage of their hard work and dedication.  Possessing a high amount of cognitive and sensing abilities, Coordinators expect the same of others.  Because of this, they are unlikely to voice their opinions and ideas, unless asked.  If you initiate conversation and ask for their opinion, you will ensure your Coordinators feel valued and respected, thus increasing their loyalty towards your organization. 

Coordinators are valuable assets to any team.  They are like the strong and gentle hand that guides coworkers to the right decision using facts, logic, and data.  To learn more about Coordinators, contact me, Scott Schwefel as your keynote speaker for your next team-building event.  There’s so much more to learn about Coordinators and how to tap into their brilliant ideas and opinions.  Connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter where I share my weekly blog!