How to: Be a Better Leader

To a certain extent, we are all leaders in some way. Whether it be knowingly or unknowingly, intentional or not, big or small. We are all leaders to at least someone in some way. So when we were presented with this project, really, we could have interviewed anyone. We could have interviewed our mom, our elderly neighbor, or Uncle Larry, because no matter who you talk to, they are guaranteed to be a leader for someone in their community. But what I think we were all looking for, were those exceptional leaders. Those who go above and beyond the general criteria for being a good community leader. People who are leaders, but perhaps in bigger ways than you and I. Those people whose impact is imminent and respected. And ultimately learning from these great leaders makes you, who might be a slightly less-great leader, to be better. Even if you feel you’re doing pretty good at being a leader, there is still always room to improve.

In this post, my goal is to show you how to become a better leader. And even the first paragraph had some tips.

Another thing about our leaders in the community, is that sometimes they don’t want to be acknowledged. Often, our leaders are not looking for a reward or for special recognition. They just do it because it feels right to them, and because it makes them feel good about themselves. Or as many of us define it as, humility. Some, even self-recognized leaders, wish not to be acknowledged for whatever reasons. And just like everything else, this needs to be respected and understood. That not all leaders want to have all the fame and glory and everything that goes with it. In fact, many of the leaders I talk to in everyday circumstance wish to not have the recognition.

To be a good leader, there are several simple things you can do. First you have to have a vision. A brighter and better vision for the future to achieve the goals you set for: A) yourself, and B) your group, or C) your community. You need also have good communication skills. Talking between members of B or C, resolving conflicts and getting things going. You need to be a good speaker with a big voice (because sometimes the loudest voice in the room is the one that’s heard. But as a leader, you make sure even the quietest voices are as loud as the ones that are screaming their opinions) and confidence in your stride. Your sentences make sense and even if you’re wrong, the way you said it makes it sound like you could be right. However, if you are wrong, admit it. You are going to make mistakes, and all we can do is learn from them. People by definition, aren’t perfect so when we make wrongs, learn from them so you can make more rights. As well, people trust you if you are honest.

But at the same time, you also have to be a really good listener. Like your mothers might have said, “God gave you one mouth to speak with, and two ears to listen with”. Basically saying “STOP TALKING TIMMY AND LISTEN TO ME”. Or in our case, listen more, talk less. This listening skill will also help you become a better leader over time because when you are listening, you are hearing what people have to say and therefore getting multiple different views on a certain subject. As well, if you are listening to other leaders, you are learning from them and can take their wisdom and apply it to you and your situations. Just like the old saying, “Bad artists borrow. Great artists steal.” Another thing about listening, better leaders are proven to be good listeners. Because again, sometimes the loudest voice in the room, isn’t the one that should be heard (looking at you Donald Trump). See this article, showing the importance of listening.

To the left is a “bible” on leadership. It is a great resource on becoming a better leader. Reading books, watching films or videos, and especially being in the presence of, or watching other great leaders are some of the best ways to help yourself be better in this.  Even some things we wouldn’t necessarily expect, such as commercials, can give us tips on becoming a better leader.

Even though this commercial is about being a better athlete, many of the qualities needed for this are also similar or the same to the qualities in a leader. It’s also inspirational in the way that we can all be the next (in this case) Steven Stamkos, the next Nelson Mandela, the next [insert great leader’s name here].

So this is great and all, but how will I know if I’ve been a leader? Well there are a bunch of ways. One of the most obvious would be people straight-up telling you. When you are doing something well and people look up to you in the field of what you are doing, they will usually tell you how great you are at such-and-such. The same applies for being a leader. Another way you will know, is by seeing your affect on others. Especially if that affect is long-lasting. When you see your ideas and your work being respected by your peers and even people you don’t know, you will also see your leadership skills having influenced others in a good way.

Seeing this is very encouraging to anyone. Knowing that what you do makes a difference and seeing it in action would make anyone feel good. This leads to inspiration which repeats this whole great cycle again.

And where? Where can I be a leader? The answer to this question is simple. Everywhere! You can be a leader everywhere you go, even by simply just doing things that everyone should follow.

Now, to just sum it up, how can you be a better leader?

Start by talking to leaders. Learn from them. And learn also from books and any other resource you can find.  Watch the leaders you admire and respect. See what they do and try to follow in their footsteps. And remember, you are not perfect. You are going to make mistakes. That is for sure. So learn from them. If you fall, find out why and decrease the chances of that happening again. Next time, you’ll tie your shoes. Learn as you go. You also have to learn a bit by osmosis. Finally, you can always get better. But that doesn’t mean you are bad.


The Last Batch of Biscuits

Any event with the word ‘Terror’ in the title is generally not a good thing. In fact, the event might even be terrifying. Needless to say, during the reign of terror, I experienced a little bit of terror, in the way that I saw heads literally roll at the sight of my bread prices. But then again, I’m don’t know what the word literal means because I’m too poor to even know proper words. I’m not even sure how yeast works! And I’m a baker! Well anyways, those people deserved it, ruining the French revolution for us, making fun of all my bread puns…

The point is, bread prices are still bad, no matter what the government tells us, because guess where the taxes go? It also doesn’t help that farmers are being killed and I can’t make bread without, y’know, wheat. The revolution changed nothing for me. Life still sucks. However, only one good thing happened. One fantastic thing. The king is dead! You butt!


My life as the primary breadwinner (or in my case, breadloser) of my family.

A ZIP Trip

I have no idea what I’m doing. Something we’ve all said more times than we can count. Those were also the words I said when I first began this project. I have no idea what slam poetry is, and how to go about doing it. But this was all in the beginning. This is going to be good. My poetry skills will be enhanced, my understanding of more writing styles will be greater, and I’ll finally know what everyone means when they say the words “slam poetry”. Yes, for ZIP, I was going to do slam poetry. And not only was I going to do this, this thing I have no idea about, I was also going to do it with a partner, Madison. To sum it up, we were writing a slam poem together for ZIP

Poetry is definitely difficult to write. Good poetry is even harder. Don’t even get me started on great poetry. I had done some poetry before, but the key word is some. However, I do enjoy poetry and writing so I thought I would give this a shot. During this, I learned how to write slam poetry, and even more interestingly with a partner. The way you write this kind of poetry is very interesting, in the way that there is really no real way to do it. And when you are doing it with two people, the way you can incorporate both people’s speaking parts in the writing can be quite something, as I learned from the dozens of slam poems I watched in an attempt to get a better hold on this.

So after 3 different drafts of 3 different stories, we finally settled on an idea and a theme, and then the writing began, finally giving birth to this. Our slam poem.

The poem.

And now, the theatrics. As many of us know, a large part of slam poetry is the presentation. Now, I am not the most animated human being just in day to day life (or at least I don’t think I am) and I especially don’t like performing things in front of people. Even more so if it involves my voice and/or body movement. And to finish off, if it’s something I made. Well let’s see what the performing of a slam poem requires. Yep. ALL OF IT. So I put a large amount of effort into making my half of the presentation as good as I could. We worked on our presentation for a while and went to trying to memorizing it.

All in all, this ZIP project was good for me. It forced me to do something I haven’t done before. Conquer some uncharted territory in my landscape of English. It also forced me outside of my comfort zone, into those uncharted lands. It was incredibly intriguing and was a great challenge whose lessons transcend all aspects of school and life. Thanks to Madison for helping me out through my learning process and helping me present. And everything else.

A New Level of Pain

because bread in french in Pain hah i laugh (rolls on the ground laughing)


After a while, bread becomes tasteless. And I know. I have eaten bread for a long time. Some days, even the word yeast brings an unsettlement to the stomach. This is not how the population of France feels however. The word yeast does bring an unsettlement to the people, but an unsettlement of hunger, not disgust. I must admit, though water and flour can be boring, it keeps you going. It keeps you alive. Food keeps people going. More than hope, I think. And for better or for worse, bread is the currency of the time. Not loyalty, not friendship. However, bread prices have become too high and I regret having  to raise my prices. But I can only buy so much grain. And with only so much bread, I have to charge more so I can pay my BAGUETTEY TAXES (baker swear word. Sorry). You would think, that being a grain farmer, they might have a bit more than two bags of grain for me to buy. Ah well. Not really my place to say anything. It’s good buisness, I guess. Keeping the supply low and demand high. But then again, I NEED THE GRAINS TO BAKE THE BREADS YOU SILLY FARMER. (kidding farmer I know your life is hard and same)

You know what else has become tasteless? The people of Viva la France, that’s who. Even our own beloved National Assembly, the pride and joy of the 3rd Estate, has goofed up a bit. As in, paying people who killed some of our own. Even fellow bakers died in the bloodshed at Champ De Mars. Do you know how hard it is to have a stable bread economy without people to bake the bread? Very, that’s the answer. The outcome of today’s events (to put it in the least) made people very croiss(ant).

What has become of our once glorious France? Why has the quality of life crumbled faster than a stale slice of sourdough? I believe I have an answer. MADdamoiselle Antoinette and her cracker-brained husband, Louis. People have been calling me as mad as they, but they don’t know that. i’m perfectly fine.

Ever since I started listening to that Robspierre guy, my life has taken a turn for boththe worse and to greener pastures. My taxes have gone up and now I have resorted to paying with bagels. Bagels!! But at the same time, I now am aware and understand I can do something about my life and not be a brainless cheesecake, waiting for it’s fate to be decided for it. But then again, life for the farmer and I is now becoming increasingly difficult, thus forcing us to raise our prices to feed our poor souls. It’s incredibly difficult and tantalizing. Living in a shack with bread, none of which you can eat becacuse you need money to buy the wheat to make the bread and you get money from people who buy it and people cant buy it if there’s no bread or if its too expensive and it has to be expensive because TAXES and if no one buys it then I have to pay taxes with literally the crumbs off the ground cause tax collectors are hungry too and then I’m poor and then I will not be a baker and then I’ll live on the streets and I shall never find love and will die alone and hungry because I couldn’t buy wheat to bake my bread and even so it’s still too expensive and basically all that money goes like directly to taxes and AUGH life as a French-Bread Man (sstruggles). AND with the recent news of the bloodbath at Champs De Mars, I really think I’m just about done with the tyranny of the people on the top of the bread pile. It’s time for the 98% percent to rise up to the 2% and bake them pay for thier mistakes.

At dawn, we ride in from the yeast. I will twist those royals into pretzels.

I mean, if someone else is doing it. And, like, it doesn’t have to be me to do the actual pretzeling. And if I don’t get blamed. And if I don’t have to do it. Actually, someone else do it. I’ll just be… here. But Someone had better do it!

The Bottom of the Bread Pile

I have no name. They don’t call me by anything. But of course, why would they? Why would they know my name is Lavalle DeLaBaguette? They wouldn’t and take pride in not knowing.

Ah but it is life. C’est la vie. I’m but a baker. But I’m the best baker to ever have baked. Or so I thought. My wallet is as empty as the inside of the bagels I bake, back when I could afford the ingredients to bake such things. I have to raise my prices to keep myself alive. People call me a rip-off but they don’t really know. I barely get along with what I am forced to charge now. Everything is more expensive. Taxes take literally everything I have. Have you ever tried paying off debts with croissants?

Keep on keeping on. That’s just the way life has been and has to be like. I have no say. They statisticians say I am of the 99%. But what am I in that 99%? I’m one baker in the grand scheme of bakery, let alone peasantry. I don’t even know if they count the women. Even if I wanted to do something, it’s not my place, nor could I do anything about it. I’m at the bottom of the heap. Just trying to stay alive. And the only way that can happen in this capitalist dog-eat-dog world, my bread means almost nothing. I only keep myself going with what little pride left I have, and put it into my work. As well as making the occasional joke at my own expense.

I don’t participate in much anymore. Back in the day, I was revolutionary. If you consider being the head of Baker Conventions and winning the occasional Toasty (the Baker’s choice awards) revolutionary. I had a spark once. That was crushed with the arrival of the nimrod eating cake, who is sitting in her play-farm up, right on the top of the pile. She, and her gold-gilded glockenspiel (or as they call it, a carillon) have forced me to make my bread over-expensive, causing people to search for cheaper bread elsewhere. And even the ones who still buy from me, buy with a look of hate in their eye, either for me, the queen, or both.

Do I hate it? Absolutely. Do I think it should change? Definitely. Will I do anything about it? Positively not. I am an uneducated peasant without a name and with a dead reputation chained to my leg. Even if I wanted to do something, one person is nothing against a king.  I am at the bottom of the pile and that’s how it will be. I’ve got to keep on keeping on.

C’est la vie.

What’s the Big Idea?

(title to be said in the voice of an angry New Yorker whom you just bumped into on the subway, spilling his Snapple and dropping his pizza. The words “fo get about it” and “yo Adrian” would be good to get you in the mood for talking in a New Yorkian accent.)

Well, we’re halfway there. We got through Socials thus far. We got through Eminent, ZAP, and INS all in one. As well as successfully “taking care of” James  King Charles I. Of course, all this is great, but what’s the point if we didn’t learn from it? Which begs the question: what DID we learn?

I’m sure at comes at little shock to us that emerging ideas and ideologies profoundly influence societies and events. When humans realized America was a thing, we all jumped aboard that boat and slaughtered as many natives as we could. When Christianity came out, a whole bunch of stuff happened and still is happening today. Heck, even the snapchats is influencing our youth and our media. Steve Jobs, Beethoven, and Gandhi all had one thing in common. Their emerging ideas, whether it be on technology, music, or otherwise influenced many people in both good ways and bad. For example who doesn’t have a smartphone now? And what classical pianist hasn’t studied the works of Beethoven? And the good works and teachings of Gandhi is world renowned.

In the socials curriculum however, this [emerging ideas and ideologies profoundly influence societies and events] has come up several times. Christopher Columbus, and eminent just to name two. Focusing on eminent, there are several areas of content in which this has shown up. One of them being Revolutions.

Each of our eminent people were part of a revolution, whether it be social, political or otherwise. My eminent person, Bill Evans, was part of a revolution that is perhaps not necessarily political or really that social, but it really huge impact on the music industry and music listeners. As can be seen in my Bill Evans posts (use eminent link above to see), his playing influenced generations of pianists (not limited to jazz) by what he played and how he played it. So in a way, he revolutionized the genre of jazz. And by revolutionizing something that’s so social, he in a way had a social revolution. During his life, Bill Evans also dealt with racism, because he was white. This is an interesting thing; that racism transcends color. Because jazz at the time, was nearly an entirely black dominated department of music, and a lot of blacks felt that since Bill Evans was white, he shouldn’t be allowed the opportunity to play jazz with other black, or even play jazz at all. It was, after all, music belonging to the black people of America. At least that was what they were convinced was the case.

Within this big idea and content, there are a few curricular competencies that I accomplished well. One of them being the Social Studies inquiry process The entire eminent study was very much inquiry based. I had to learn what I had to, and then learned much more than I anticipated. Another competency is Significance. Again tied in with eminent, we had to figure out whether our eminent person was eminent, therefore significance. This also ties in with my inquiry process. I had to sort my information into what was important and what isn’t. Sure its great that so-and-so could touch his ears with his feet, but isn’t the fact that he built the first (insert notable thing here) a bit more important? A final competency that I feel I am competent at would be perspective. For the trial of the king, I had to see other viewpoints to make my character  more accurate. For me, I had to see how the laypeople of the time felt about their king. Not only that, but I had to find what specific people thought about the king (in my case, a lower-class woman). I also did a bit of research on how more upper-class people felt about the king so I could have comebacks/roasts/and anything of that sort to say to anyone who thought my character was wrong.

One of three curricular competencies that I could work on would be ethical judgments. How ethics work and how different people distinguish right and wrong really intrigues me. We didn’t get too much time in class to really talk about it to length, but its something I could have done on my own. Which is one way I could improve my level of competence on this curricular competency. Another way would be to take what we learn in class even farther. Basically, learning more at home. Another competency that I wish I could improve is continuity & change. There is a certain level of both continuity and change that needs to exist for a society to move forward. For example, if a country changed its name every other weekend and had a random lottery to decide who its president of the hour would be, no one would get anywhere. However, if a civilization stayed working with wood and stones to make a fire and dinner was decided by whatever dad killed earlier, when other places are instead playing as a dad killing squirrels in a video game, they haven’t gone anywhere. So it’s a level of both continuity and change societies and even people in general have to have. This topic also interests me and its something I wish we could have spent more class time discussing. Again, I could look into it more on my own time if something really intrigues me. A final competency that I could improve on is Cause & Consequence. We did work on this one in class more than the previous two, but I didn’t find it as interesting. To improve this, I will find something about it that interests me and learn more about that, and see what connections in class I can make to that. For all of these competencies, I can always learn more about them at home.

IMG_0962Here is a mind-mappy kind of thing that might help explain my thinking.

So now, when that angry New Yorker begins to ask you what the big idea is, you tell ’em its emerging ideas and ideologies profoundly influence societies and events and this is why.