All posts by Christian

Christian LeFer is a consultant to non-profit and business leaders, as well as an entrepreneur in online software and training products.

Nancy Duarte: The secret structure of great talks (from TEDTalks)

From Ted: “Nancy Duarte is an expert in presentation design and principal of Duarte Design, where she has served as CEO for 21 years. Nancy speaks around the world, seeking to improve the power of public presentations. She is the author of Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. Her most recent book, Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, was published in 2010.”



HELP! I’m Obsessed With the Four Learning Styles!

Understanding and Evaluating for Kolb’s Learning Styles

The Two Preference dimensions, or axes (Click images to enlarge)

This is a good representation of Kolb’s “Four Learning Styles”, with the axes and the types clearly organized. At the bottom of this post I reposted a brilliant hand-drawn interpretation of the concept.
Notice the popular “4 Spiritual Types” model is simply flipped upside down and backward. Same Axes, same idea. This concept is used in Christian ministry, other missions orientation assessment. Compatible with Briggs-Myers.










Perception Dimension

In the vertical “Perception” dimension, people will have a preference according to two main continuum running along the vertical axis above:

  • Concrete experience: Looking at things as they are, without any change, in raw detail.
  • Abstract conceptualization: Looking at things as concepts and ideas, after a degree of processing that turns the raw detail into an internal model.

People who prefer concrete experience will argue that thinking about something changes it, and that direct empirical data is essential. Those who prefer abstraction will argue that meaning is created only after internal processing and that idealism is a more real approach.

This spectrum is very similar to the Jungian scale of Sensing vs. Intuiting.

Processing dimension

In the horizontal “Processing” dimension, people will take the results of their Perception and process it in preferred ways along the continuum between:

  • Active experimentation: Taking what they have concluded and trying it out to prove that it works.
  • Reflective observation: Taking what they have concluded and watching to see if it works.

Four Learning Styles (a.k.a. Four Spiritual Types)

The experimenter, like the concrete experiencer, takes a hands-on route to see if their ideas will work, whilst the reflective observers prefer to watch and think to work things out.

1) Divergers (Concrete experiencer/Reflective observer) = NLP: “Why?”

  • Divergers take experiences and think deeply about them, thus diverging from a single experience to multiple possibilities in terms of what this might mean. They like to ask ‘why’, and will start from detail to constructively work up to the big picture.
  • They enjoy participating and working with others but they like a calm ship and fret over conflicts. They are generally influenced by other people and like to receive constructive feedback.
  • They like to learn via logical instruction or hands-one exploration with conversations that lead to discovery.

2) Convergers (Abstract conceptualization/Active experimenter) = NLP: “How?”

  • Convergers think about things and then try out their ideas to see if they work in practice. They like to ask ‘how’ about a situation, understanding how things work in practice. They like facts and will seek to make things efficient by making small and careful changes.
  • They prefer to work by themselves, thinking carefully and acting independently. They learn through interaction and computer-based learning is more effective with them than other methods.

3) Accommodators (Concrete experiencer/Active experimenter) = NLP: “What if (I do this)?”

  • Accommodators have the most hands-on approach, with a strong preference for doing rather than thinking. They like to ask ‘what if?’ and ‘why not?’ to support their action-first approach. They do not like routine and will take creative risks to see what happens.
  • They like to explore complexity by direct interaction and learn better by themselves than with other people. As might be expected, they like hands-on and practical learning rather than lectures. 

4) Assimilators (Abstract conceptualizer/Reflective observer) = NLP: “What (is this)?”  

  • Assimilators have the most cognitive approach, preferring to think than to act. The ask ‘What is there I can know?’ and like organized and structured understanding.
  • They prefer lectures for learning, with demonstrations where possible, and will respect the knowledge of experts. They will also learn through conversation that takes a logical and thoughtful approach.
  • They often have a strong control need and prefer the clean and simple predictability of internal models to external messiness.
  • The best way to teach an assimilator is with lectures that start from high-level concepts and work down to the detail. Give them reading material, especially academic stuff and they’ll gobble it down. Do not teach through play with them as they like to stay serious.

So what?

So design learning for the people you are working with. If you cannot customize the design for specific people, use varied styles of delivery to help everyone learn. It can also be useful to describe this model to people, both to help them understand how they learn and also so they can appreciate that some of your delivery will for others more than them (and vice versa).

See also: Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall

FINALLY, here’s an excellent post from which I grabbed the image below; it has a number of interpretations on this concept:


Here’s an excellent (and short!) video explaining this material:

Material adapted by Christian LeFer for Speaker’s Connection, Bozeman, MT, March 2, 2013

Most text borrowed from

Images, in order of appearance, from:

FAKEGRIMLOCK has key to AWESOME. You need!

I love FAKEGRIMLOCK. This accidental runaway hit character captures the essence of innovation and entrepreneurship. Being “AWESOME” is about making things that change people’s lives and make the world a better place. Not money. Not complicated theory.

No one can “do” FAKEGRIMLOCK like FAKEGRIMLOCK. SO I NOT TRY! Here are some links to his awesomeness:


Tides of Change, Shoals of Commitment

For some time I have been aware that change in my life was coming. While I believe that I have been pursuing what God put me on this Earth to do, I knew that as written in Ecclesiastes, there is a time and a season for every purpose under Heaven.

I know in my bones, the sun is setting on this season in my life.

Yet also I have long held a core belief that my life should be lived on my terms, not terms dictated by others. Living by those terms means taking action and responsibility. Commitments, relationships, expectations develop. Therein lies a natural dilemma.

What to do when the tides of change threaten to dash me against the shoals of commitment?

For weeks now, perhaps months, my ship has drifted. I do what I must to stay afloat, but fail to chart a course decisively. Questions plague me as I gaze toward the gray horizon, as I lie down and as I wake: How will I navigate? Will I founder on the rocks approaching beneath the water’s surface? Who will I leave behind on the shores, disappointed, angry, or in need? Yet, these worries are the sure way toward Death.

My ally, my love, my partner in all endeavors, has lost her eye for the compass and the sextant. She cannot help me in turning the craft about, in plotting by the map and according to the signs in the sky. We kiss away tears of our children, break bread in the galley, partake of love in the night as the moon dances atop the points of restless waves.

Yet for whatever reason, God has left this task to me, and me alone. This in itself is a sign, a test of anchor, of the sinews of my soul straining against the depths.

But chart a course, and set sail I must. My family are on board, trusting my hand is upon the rudder. The tide rolls. Danger lies in drifting.

Missions and dreams unfulfilled, vistas unseen, await.

Charting a course takes quiet hours in observation topside, in peaceful candlelight of the bowels of my quarters. Uninterrupted by the daily catch, the toil and bustle of the scrubbing and the rigging.

Perhaps today I can only take the first steps: Sounding the depths beneath me, gauging the distance to dangerous water, and selecting a new shore for which to set out. Without these, a new course cannot be charted. My soul cries out this prayer,

Heavenly Father, still the waters again with your mighty hand,
Calm the swells and the winds in my heart,
That I may envision a new land upon which to alight.
A promised land upon which your faithful servants will plant our feet,
To tame, to cultivate, to adventure, to lie beneath a verdant canopy upon velvet fronds
Squinting through cracks of sunlight falling gold and warm, a reflection
Of your glory as we rest in the shadow of your wings.

Amen and Amen.

Downsize Your Life and Stress Level – Sort, Sell, Simplify

by Christian LeFer – I recently did a Business Brainstorming video where I proposed a number of ideas for replacing or enhancing one’s income in our tough economy. Some workable, some less so.

One of the five ideas I cooked up was a business that helps people get rid of their unneeded stuff. That idea spurred this video. The subject is a bit ironic coming from me, an unabashed capitalist who is not opposed to people owning as many things as they want.

The reason I stumbled upon that idea is that my wife Allison and I are actually going through that exercise right now: Systematically getting rid of all non-essential stuff that occupies the crevices of junk drawers, closets and much of the garage I no longer have practical use of.

And make no mistake, it’s daunting. But just like the first time you hit the gym after a sedentary stretch, just imagining yourself thinner, more physically fit, or in possession of less junk makes one feel a little bit better and helps you pull through the work, and maybe even enjoy the sweat.

This idea, which I call “Sort, Sell, and Simplify” is not just an exercise program to help your household become more nimble and svelte, it has all the markings of a movement. Shows like Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, and even Antique Road Show in part appeal to people’s latent interest in the value in the junk buried in their basement, garrisoned in their garage.

For many decades, nearly early every gainfully employed family in America has stuff, and lots of it they don’t need. Now, nearly everyone is more carefully making the cut of what to collect, what to keep, and what to cut.

And here’s my caveat, a quote borrowed from uber-entrepreneur Tim Ferris’ book, The Four-Hour Workweek:

And mind you, this is not just for the cold hard cash, but it’s also gratifying for the soul – our “stuff” comes to own us, instead of the other way around.

Three questions my family is asking as we consider what to will make the cut:

  1. Do we need it?
    1. We often buy things because of the feeling we get from the purchase – because of what the thing says about us – not for rational reasons. From the pious Prius Hybrid driver to the Type-A Hummer road warrior, the psychology outweighs the ecology and the utility, hands-down. If you disagree, you are probably lying to yourself, even if only in part.
    2. A great example is the Carbon-Fiber Road bike sitting in my garage. It’s not the bike, it’s what it says about me. I picture myself tooling down the road, clippied into my pedals, on a smooth, straight road. The problem is, I live in Montana, which limits both the season and the suitable riding area. So I take my mountain bike. The featherlight Tour-de-France model is just not practical.
  2. Can it be replaced?
    1. Example: Luggage, tools. This market guarantees you can replace most commonly available things.
    2. Just as we have more avenues to sell things on the Internet today, we also have more avenues to re-acquire them later, if and when we really need them. This should help relieve the “separation anxiety” associated with giving up our prized (but unneeded) possessions.
  3. Should we sell, or give it away?
    1. It can be a fun family exercise to decide how you can bless other people you know specifically with things you are giving up.
    2. It’s easy and also personally rewarding to give items to Goodwill and other cause outlets. Not only does the outlet thrive due to your donation, but the person who buys that item for $5 is happy they found it.
    3. When it comes to selling, we have more avenues than ever to not only rid ourselves of this kind of stuff, eBay, craigslist, and numerous other outlets exist on a local and national level. And keep in mind, video sells, (not just for cars and motorcycles, but for less “sexy” items like tools) – it’s easier than ever to shoot a smartphone video, and its free.

The second irony? All of the things we buy, we really buy in pursuit of better quality of life. Yet, it is those very things that, as they fall into disuse or disrepair, become a weight on the timbers of our soul just as they strain the rafters in the attic.

So don’t wait for “spring cleaning” that might never happen. Take advantage of the winter months, take advantage of NOW. Go ahead, take the plunge.

Go minimalist.

You won’t regret it.

Bo Eason – A Master Storyteller and Presenter Reveals His Craft

One of the most amazing people I have encountered in my study of interpersonal communications and marketing is Bo Eason, former NFL star-turned-actor/playwright. This man defines heart, and teaches others how to capture, flesh out, and present one’s personal story in a manner that, as Bo says “no one can look away”.

The first time I met Bo and saw his one man play, Runt of the Litter, was the weekend I attended Brendon Burchard’s Experts Academy in 2011. Without announcing who this mystery “guest” was ahead of time or preparing the audience at all, Brendon unleashed Bo Eason on the crowd. The results were fascinating. My fellow experts, authors, and entrepreneurs in attendance reported a wide variety of responses ranging from outrage to elation to emotional exhaustion. I assure you, no one was unaffected!

Never before or since have I been so powerfully affectd by a play or presentation as I was by Runt of the Litter - Bo Eason’s dramatized life story grabs the viewer by the throat and makes him/her a participant, dragging the unwitting through the heights and depths of every human emotion right up until the play’s rending conclusion. As only the most masterful authors and playwrights can do, Eason uses the imagination of the audience to heighten the drama of the final outcome.

I am very blessed to have seen and met Bo at the Experts Academy, and later as member of Next Greatest Speaker training in mid-2012. I’m even more excited to be a part of the exclusive Personal Story Power program Bo is conducting in April 2012 in Southern California. Bo Eason will spend three days helping each of us in attendance to refine and present our own personal story in a transformative way so that we can go out and make an impact in the world.

If you haven’t seen the play, I highly recommend you buy it on DVD – and if presenting, speaking, or using the power of story to deliver an impactful message, attend Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power Event training. You won’t regret it!

Breakout Business Brainstorming

Hurricane Sandy, the economy, and the election results have got me thinking about all those without a job or who could be faced with unemployment or a business downturn.

Even if you are not out of work, it’s not a bad idea to get the mental workout so that your psyche will know you have options. Most stress results from not having options.

The question: What if you were faced with loss of income? The main part of this exercise is to close your eyes and imagine if you had to make a living starting from scratch, or at least supplement your existing funds.

It often helps to look at things from the perspective of helping others – what kinds of things can we do to help others survive and thrive in todays times?

Here are my 3 Criteria (yours may differ):

  • Low startup cost, preferably can be done from anywhere, home
  • High demand
  • Fits with peoples’ needs in this economy

Here’s my brainstorm:

  • Medical tourism facilitation
  • Barter facilitation in a hot niche
  • Financial planning for workers in the oil and gas boom. Mention inspiration from an athlete consultant.
  • Consultant to those who want to simplify, sell their stuff, and save $$.
  • Outsourcing manager (fiverr, elance, get a, etc.) in a niche you know.

I’ve already done some of these as part of my consulting practice. I suggest you sit down, use my 3 criteria, and just braistorm. Pause this video and do that now. Just write for 5 minutes.

What did you come up with? I encourage you to share it, as I’ve done here. I used to be afraid to share my ideas freely but I realized how much more we get when we are open and giving.

What I’ve also realized is that ideas are the easy part, and that we’re not really in danger of people stealing our ideas. Life is 80-90% implementation, and 10-20% inspiration when it comes to actually getting business ideas off the ground – and as an idea man, I’m biased!

What’s interesting about this that you could create an online training course to do any of the things I’ve mentioned here.

So again share your ideas, and I encourage everyone to reply on those  comments, a lot of good can come out of it!


Amy Cuddy on TED Talks – How Body Language Determines Your State of Mind

From “Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.”

From Christian: I’ve practiced this, and it works. Back in the mid-’90′s when I discovered Tony Robbins’ Unlimited Power, I learned about how to change my state by changing my posture and physical attitude. Amy’s powerful story of how she overcame challenges, and her mantra “fake it until you become it” – which isn’t really “faking it” at all –  is a great testimony to how much more in control we are of our prospects and quality of life than we might believe.

Yellowstone Boys and Girls Foundation Awards Christian and Allison LeFer “Foster Parents of the Year”

Reprinted from Spring 2012 Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch newsletter, “The Wrangler”.

To understand why Christian and Allie LeFer were chosen as Foster Parents of the Year for Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch in south central Montana, one must consider their “out of the box” approach to therapeutic foster parenting.

Within 10 days of receiving their first foster child placement, Josie, age two and a half, was removed by the state and reclassified to a less costly level of care. After several days of grief, Christian and Allie wiped away their tears over losing Josie and they chose to try again, welcoming into their home a Native American teenager named Peggy Sue. She came from a reservation community in Montana, and her history with her own family had been marked by alcoholism and drug use.

Peggy Sue had very little supervision before arriving at their home, and her behaviors were nearly unmanageable. She was angry and withdrawn. Christian and Allie set about the perilous expedition to break through to Peggy Sue’s hardened heart.

Very early in their relationship, Christian and Allie realized that Peggy Sue had never been outside the state of Montana and had very little familiarity with modern American history. So they packed up the whole family and took a 30-day road trip to New York City and zig-zagged down the East Coast to experience historical places, firsthand.

The LeFer family went from Times Square to Washington, DC to Colonial Williamsburg where Peggy Sue was fascinated by the re-enactment of Revolutionary War times. The trip she had said would be “boring” took on new life. Christian and Allie’s newly expanded family set off on an adventure to discover what the big world outside Montana had to offer. The new experiences helped bond the family and helped them all get to know one another as they drove more than 7,000 miles across the nation.

Christian and Allie have also worked hard to help their children create a new personal and positive history for themselves. Christian said, “We’ve had to help them rewrite the hard drive of their family memories. Not removing their culture or traditions, but replacing the painful memories from their home lives with new, happy ones.” They create photo albums showing the kids being held and cuddled by their parents. They took pictures of birthday parties and cakes that they never had before. “They can look at their albums and see themselves happy. Being valued,” Christian said. And the photos reinforce what Christian and Allie want them to believe about themselves.

Christian is also developing a website to provide support to foster parents worldwide. The website will offer a place for foster parents to share ideas and to support one another in the difficult but rewarding work of foster care.

Christian says, “Every one of our children is treated the same. Some foster parents don’t treat foster children like their own. Maybe it’s because they are protecting their own hearts because they fear that the foster children to eventually leave. We don’t do that. Whatever we sacrifice for the boys, we’ll sacrifice for Peggy Sue. We aren’t so different. We’re just defiant. We do it with our whole heart, and it’s on the line for each child. Even if they leave some day by their own choice, we are always ready and willing for them to return to open arms. They’re our kids for life.”

They have now adopted Josie, who is now five years old and has been with them for more than two years. They look back on how much she has grown and flourished in their home.

“To have her relax in your arms and trust you, that’s huge,” Allie said. “To see her giggle and laugh and let down her guard and act like a normal child, it’s the most amazing feeling in the world. We see the really bad behaviors and anxieties fading away and we marvel over those behaviors she doesn’t engage in anymore because she’s not afraid. It’s amazing!”

Christian encourages others to consider becoming a foster parent saying, “If you want to change the world, become a foster parent! You can add value to society through this child! Our generation may or may not cure cancer but we’ll be 100% better off with each child who is raised, loved and nurtured. Imagine taking a troubled child who is a ward of the state and turning them into a happy, problem-solving, freedom-loving person. It happens before your eyes! If you want to stretch yourself farther than you think you are capable, and grow and learn more about yourself than you ever have before, become a foster parent. You’ll be

rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.”

Christian and Allie’s kids are already suggesting adding more foster kids to their home. Older son Caleb recently exclaimed, “Dad! We have an 8-passenger Excursion! We can fit at least 2 more kids in it!

To download the original article in PDF, click here.

YBGR Article, “Josie Finds Her Way Home”

Originally published in the Spring 2012 edition of the Yellowstone Boys and Girls’ Ranch newsletter The Wrangler

Everything about the park was inviting. The trees were lush. The birds were singing. It was a pleasant, sunny summer day. The only thing out of place, had anyone noticed, was the toddler sitting in her stroller, behind a picnic table, not easily seen. There she sat alone, for hours. Her mother and father, 14 and 15 years old respectively, had little sense when it came to babies and even less attention span when it didn’t involve their own immediate impulses and interests.

Their baby Josie was “forgotten” while they left and went about their day. Maybe it was the marijuana they smoked regularly. Maybe it was too much beer. They didn’t remember leaving her at the park until they returned home later that afternoon and the grandparents asked where was Josie? When they rushed back to the park, there she was, still strapped in her stroller, wide awake, but not crying. She was chilled, hungry and wet, but she didn’t cry. What good would tears do when no one listened?

This incident and several others eventually led to the parents’ loss of custody of Josie. Since the grandparents were unable to take responsibility for their granddaughter, Josie was turned over to the state for foster care placement. Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch was soon given the task of placing her with one of its therapeutic foster families. Meanwhile, hearts were being prepared in another part of town: “My wife, Allie, came to me one day and suggested the idea of doing foster care,” Christian LeFer said. “Oh good, I thought to myself! More chaos!” he said with a chuckle. They decided to enroll in rigorous therapeutic foster care classes offered by Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch.

Christian and Allie knew a couple who was already doing foster care through Yellowstone and was preparing to formally adopt a foster son. Christian and Allie decided they wanted to follow their example. They had two extra bedrooms. So, why not? One of the first children they learned about was Josie. “We were told she would be placed with us by the state for at least a year,” Christian said. “Even getting into foster care was scary because we knew we’d eventually have to say goodbye. We knew it would be difficult, but we said ‘yes.’”

They began preparing for Josie’s arrival by creating her own bedroom. They called it her “princess bedroom” because of the pink curtains and matching bedding. They couldn’t wait to show it to Josie when she arrived. Once she arrived, they soon learned that she had some very special needs. First of all they noticed that Josie had a need to touch everything in a room when she’d come into it. She would carefully go around and touch the desk, the objects on the desk, the tables, the chairs, everything! And she’d ask questions about each item and who it belonged to.

Before being placed in their home, Josie had spent much of her first two and a half years in some sort of restraint, such as a car seat, a stroller, even a dog kennel. Her counselor explained to the LeFers that her severe

limitations on being able to connect with her world outside the restraints caused her to become hyper vigilant about wanting to touch and mentally connect with surroundings that for so long she had been unable to reach.

Josie had also developed a keen memory, and even to this day remembers minute details of her infancy before coming to Christian and Allie’s home. Usually people are unable to remember much, if anything from their early years. Christian and Allie soon learned that Josie vividly remembered events that happened to her, even though she was only two and a half years old.

Just as Allie and Christian were helping Josie settle into her new home and get comfortable with two older brothers (that were already Allie and Christian’s), they received a call from the state that after only 10 days at their home, Josie would be moved to a new placement the very next day. They learned that the new placement would be cheaper for the state – a non therapeutic foster family, which would save the state a couple of hundred dollars a month. Christian and Allie were crushed. Their sons were confused. Josie was inconsolable. Christian was on the road for work, so he didn’t even have the chance to say goodbye. The next day when the social worker picked up Josie and her things it felt like the saddest day of their lives. Allie said, “I cried and Brenda (Yellowstone’s Foster Care Director) cried with me.”

They said they left Josie’s room just as she left it. “We didn’t have to change it right away, so we just closed the door and left it alone,” Allie said. “We couldn’t bring ourselves to change it. It was too painful.” That was in April of 2010. By July, Allie and Christian received a miraculous call. It was YBGR calling – about Josie. Would they consider taking Josie back into their home? Unable to adjust, Josie had “bounced” from two foster homes she’d gone to since leaving their home. Allie and Christian didn’t need to discuss it. Of course the answer was yes!

When her social worker arrived at the LeFer home, Josie marched down the hall and right to her room, opened the door, and said, “This is my room! Those are my curtains! This is my bed!” The little girl, at only 3 years-old, displayed a sense of confidence and knowing, as if she had ALWAYS known, she’d eventually get back to the LeFers.

On February 6, 2012, Josie was officially adopted by Christian, Allie and their other three children. Josie’s life story has taken some dramatic turns, but she now has the confidence in knowing that her future with the LeFers is for keeps.