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Is Your Student Getting Enough Sleep at Night?

Ryan Piraneo

By: John Birch, CEO



We have known for quite some time that your tweens and teens need a full 8.5 to 9 hours of 

sleep each night.  Many studies have been conducted showing that having less than the 

recommended amount of sleep can cause havoc on a teen’s body and mental processes.  Sleep 

deprivation can affect your student’s ability to stay focused in class and also become 

detrimental to their overall mood.  According to the latest National Sleep Foundation study, 

over 25% of students fall asleep during their classes due to a lack of sleep. However, this does 

not count those who often begin to nod off in class.  This study directly ties lost sleep to poorer 

grades.  Also, sleep loss is linked to emotional problems, such as sadness and often times, 

depression.  Lack of sleep can also play an important role in a student’s ability to perform at 

their highest level in sports, which take agility and significant focus that they do not have if 

suffering from sleep loss.


Signs that your student may not be getting enough sleep:

  • Difficulty waking in the morning.
  • Overall inability to concentrate.
  • Falling asleep during class.
  • Feelings of moodiness or depression.



The following will disrupt and negatively impact your students sleep patterns:

1. Bringing Technology to Bed – A recent study by The Bank of America found that 71% of 

all respondents sleep with their smartphones and 23% actually fall asleep with their 

phones in their hands.  Various tones indicating incoming calls, texts and emails disturb 

sound sleeping and can inhibit REM patterns.  Your student may go to bed at the 

appropriate time, but may not fall asleep quickly because they may be texting with their 

friends for hours after getting into bed.

Make every effort to have your teen turn off their technology devices at least 1 hour before 

going to bed to avoid the mental stimulation from those products.


2. Consuming Caffeinated Drinks at Night – Coffee boost beverages and sodas may give 

your student energy in the morning, but will certainly disrupt sleep patterns by blocking 

sleep-inducing brain chemicals and increasing adrenaline production.  Caffeine enters 

the blood stream through the stomach and small intestines and can overly stimulate 

your teen as quickly as 15 minutes after it has been consumed.  Those effects of caffeine 

will last for up to 6 hours after consumption. 

Have your students stop drinking products that may contain caffeine by no later than 

5:00pm.  This may be a struggle but the end results are well worth it.


3. Exercising Just Prior to Bedtime- Exercise provides the body with a strong adrenaline 

rush.  Although exercise is an important factor in developing a strong mind and body, 

rigorous exercise within two to three hours prior to bedtime can make it very difficult 

for many people to fall asleep.

Ensure that your student has completed their exercise and sports routines by no later than 

8:00pm so that the adrenaline rush from exercise has left their system.



As previously stated, there is a direct correlation between getting enough sleep and 

academic achievement.  The aforementioned tips will do much to ensure that your student 

does get enough sleep.  Also, please do your best to avoid any family arguments or 

discussions that could be stressful to your child.  Save these discussions for another time.  

Bedtime should be a time of security and warmth for your child.  Think about how you feel 

when you have been placed in a stressful situation just prior to bedtime.  Pleasant dreams 

to you and all your family.

Do I Know You?

Ryan Piraneo


By: Carl Messina

Dale Carnegie wrote a book entitled, “How To Win Friends and Influence People”.  At one point, this book was the second largest selling book of all time, second only to The Bible.  In writing that book, Carnegie developed an acute understanding of human nature and identified two key money making principles that have stood the test of time.  They are, “Everyone’s favorite subject is themselves” and “The sweetest sound to anyone’s ears, is the sound of their own name”.  We see these principles in action everyday of our life.  People genuinely enjoy talking about themselves and people love to hear their own name called out.


As a sales professional, consider the importance of remembering a person’s name. How many times has it happened to you where you were introduced to someone and no sooner does the handshake break, the name drops to the floor?  We find ourselves a few minutes into the conversation not listening to a word these people are telling us because we’re trying to remember there name!  Has that ever happened to you?  It’s happened to everyone at some point in time. 


Let’s examine what happened.  According to psychologists, the reason that happens is our minds are so amazingly fast we are usually thinking two or three steps ahead of ourselves.   When someone is telling you his or her name, your mind is thinking about the question your going to ask or how you may be able to filter into the conversation what you do for a living.  Reason being you may be looking at them as a potential prospect or eventual client.  So we are not really listening to them when they’re telling us their name.


Short Term Solution: 

                 Step 1.  Use the acronym CAR and say it to yourself for twenty-one days every time you’re about to meet someone.  It stands for “Care About Remembering”.  From a subliminal standpoint it will force you to concentrate and focus on remembering the individual’s name of whom you are being introduced to.

                 Step 2.  Repeat the person’s first and last name back to them like you didn’t hear it.  This will commonly force someone to say their name again which allows you to hear the name three times on an introduction, thus, helping you to remember it.

                 Step 3.  Use the name during conversation and upon leaving to help reinforce your short-term retention of that person’s name.


Remember, as sales professionals you’ll never get a second chance at making a good first impression.  This is where relationships are built, people don’t care how much you know, until they first know how much you care and remember about them.  It all starts with remembering someone’s name and your ability to use it during conversation.  Give yourself twenty-one days to develop this as a habit using these three memory amplifiers.   Along with the right attitude and belief in your newfound ability for remembering names, you will see a noticeable difference.      

Embracing the Multi-Generational Workforce

Ryan Piraneo

By: Ryan Piraneo

Today’s workforce is the most generationally diverse this country has ever seen; 97% of the American workforce is almost equally divided between three generations: Baby-Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Along with the very fresh Generation Z, who’s oldest members are beginning to enter the workforce. The youngest in Generation Z are just beginning kindergarten. The three primary generations are finding themselves working together yet finding it difficult to communicate and get along in the workplace.


For the first time in their history, the Baby-Boomer Generation – those born between 1945 and 1964 – are not the largest represented population in the American workforce. That honor now falls upon the Millennial Generation – those born between 1981 and 1994 – making up for 34% of the workforce per a 2015 Gallup poll. By 2025, that number is expected to climb up to 46% in the United States (the same report estimates that Millennials could represent 75% of the global workforce by 2025).


Organizations need to embrace the idea of these generations working together, allowing them to share their strengths and talents that will bring the best out of everybody. By having an inclusive and active multi-generational workforce, organizations will reap the benefits that each generation brings to the table. Multi-generational workforces serve many purposes including, preventing “Brain Drain”, two-way education, and knowledge share; all of which create win-win scenarios for those involved as well as the organization. Knowing what each generation brings to the table is vital for creating a workforce that is both high effective and engaged.


Baby Boomers

The Boomers’ mark on the current American workforce is evident to this day. Today, they are the leaders of their organizations or have begun new careers thanks in part to the “Great Recession” of 2008.


They bring with them an entire career of knowledge and experiences. They have seen the entrance of the personal computer, cell phones and the Internet into the workforce. Boomers will serve as the Yoda to any organization; they are very wise and always prepared to perform when they have to. They are very optimistic in their approach to work as well as loyal and good team players. The knowledge Boomers possess is their most vital attribute; the goal for organizations is to have them pass on this knowledge to younger team members as a way to prevent “Brain Drain”. Brain Drain occurs when members of the organization hold onto information that would best suit all members of the organization but does not get shared before they leave.


Create an environment where Boomers can coach or mentor members of Millennials or Generation Z. This interaction with younger team members creates a two-way learning flow where the Boomers can teach ways to best succeed in the working world and instill organizational values while the Millennials and Gen Zs can show how to best incorporate new technologies.


Generation X

Members of Gen X – born between 1965 and 1980 – are currently in the peak points of their careers and sit in positions higher up on the hierarchy of traditionally organized companies. They got there by being mercenaries, going in, getting the job done and getting out. “I’m here to chew bubble gum and kick butt. And I’m all out of bubble gum” can be used to describe them.


The tools that members of Generation X can bring to an organization include the ability to adapt to an ever-evolving workplace environment. In today’s tech-heavy world where new the name of the game is to be constantly evolving and ahead of the curve, those from Generation X have been in since the early stages of the Internet Boom. They can teach the younger generations how they should remain on their toes and look for opportunities to be an innovator and early adapter. Gen Xers can also help bridge the communications disconnect between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Due to the popularity of social media and virtual relationships, Millennials are increasingly lacking in personal communication skills that are still required in the workplace while Baby Boomers are lacking in the communication skills required on the virtual landscape.



Millennials and to a similar extent, Generation Z, are the fresh faces of the workforce. They come in with eyes wide open and with a plan that they’re going to immediately change not only the organization, but also the world. They don’t believe in the traditional hierarchy that Boomers and Gen Xers are accustomed to. Millennials believe in a matrix style workplace where the CEO and the newest intern should be working side-by-side sharing ideas. They were told “You’re special” and “Connect 24/7”, this truly is a generation that has learned to live in front of a computer screen and are the first true natives to the digital landscape. Highly motivated, inclusive and optimistic, the Millennial generation wants everyone to work together towards a common goal of achievement.


Millennials of course are the future for the success of any organization, so it is up to the older generations to coach them on how to be acclimated to organizational norms. Through coaching, Millennials will get the hands-on and involved learning that they have been experiencing their entire lives. This generation does not believe in just being told what to do, they have to see and feel it for themselves to better grasp a concept. In turn, they will be the early adapters of new technology that they can bring in to the organization and then in turn teach to members of the other generations that may not be as comfortable with using the most up to date technology. Millennials will get everyone working together and can act as the fresh burst of energy and new ideas.


The benefits of having different generations working together will help prevent Brain Drain, keep the organization moving forward on emerging technologies and most importantly, keep members involved in their jobs. Everyone wants to feel included in any organization and by getting everyone working together sharing ideas; we get what Michael Scott of “The Office” calls, a “…win-win-win, we all win”. 

Behavior Stlyles and Student Achievement

Ryan Piraneo

By: John Birch, CEO

“No one behavior style is better than another, they are just different” – Bill Bonnstetter


Is your child totally bored with school?  Is getting them to complete their homework assignments and studying for tests like pulling teeth?  The answer may lie in their behavior style.

What we have found from over 14 years in running weekend academic programs is that our entire educational system, especially since the “No Child Left Behind Act”, is geared primarily towards the more introverted students. It benefits those who are able to sit quietly for long periods of time listening intently to teachers lecturing about a given subject.  Your extroverted student’s problem may very well be boredom.  They typically have a great deal of difficulty to keep their attention focused on the task at hand often resulting in excessive talking with their classmates, looking out the window, speaking out of turn and other behaviors that are not conducive to learning and that the teacher may find disruptive.  The average extroverted student doesn’t mean to be disruptive; they are just bored and are trying to stay awake.  This scenario, combined with very little hands on activity, can lead to active disengagement.

The Behavior Model that we have been using with students in afterschool and weekend programs for over 14 years is called DISC.  The DISC Model was developed based on a book by Harvard Psychologist William Marston titled “The Emotions of Normal People”, published in 1928.  Marston identified 4 types of normal people: the Dominant, the Influencer, the Steady Relator and the Cautious/Concise.  Marston’s work is not based on Personality, but Observable Behavior that those around us can see.  DISC is now a leading behavioral model used in not only business and industry, but in educational settings as well.  There are two basic credo’s that I reinforce when instructing students in the use of the DISC model: “No one behavior style is better than another, they are just different” and “It’s not what style you are, it’s what you do with it.”  There is a considerable amount of information showing that there is a significant role for all of the behavior styles as each one brings some innate talents to the team that the other team members may not have.

Following are some tendencies for the different behavior styles that you may see in your student:

Dominant (Extroverted): 

Descriptors may include: directness, adventuresome, bold, results oriented, daring and competitive, talkative, and organized.  Your high “D” student typically likes to be the boss, talks before thinking, has little patience, may not listen well and will often take risks that others won’t. Famous examples are Steve Jobs, Hillary Clinton, Kanye West, LeBron James and most likely Donald Trump. Many famous business leaders are high “D’s”.

When communicating with your high “D” they appreciate you being brief, direct and to the point without a lot of small talk and they like to make their own decisions.  Power and control are very important to them.

 Influencer (Extroverted):

Descriptors may include: persuasiveness, trusting, sociable (often to the point of exasperation), charming, optimistic, and enthusiastic.  They love to talk on their cell phone to their 5,000 closest friends.  They may have trouble with time management, with task completion and may be totally disorganized. They much rather prefer the company of others as facts and figures can quickly bore them.   Famous examples are Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Fallon and Kelly Ripa. 

When communicating with your high “I” they appreciate socialization, having fun, having someone ask for their feelings and opinions.  It’s important to “show them the love” as being loved and liked is what they need the most.  Most top sales people and politicians are high “I’s”.

Steady Relator (Introverted):

Descriptors may include: patience, sincerity, relaxed, logical, steady, kind, gentle, and strong listening skills.  They appreciate harmony, security, structure, loyalty, teamwork and logic.  They may have trouble with possessiveness, may “tolerate” for too long, may hold a grudge and are usually very uncomfortable with change.  Trust is very important to them.  Famous examples are Mr. Rogers, Brad Pitt, Carrie Underwood and Scarlet Johannson.  A significant number of teachers and nurses are high “S’s”.

When communicating with your high “S”, take time and don’t interrupt. You should be patient, make sure you deliver what you promise, show an interest in them and don’t try to force them into a quick decision.  Be aware that they may hold all of their feelings inside.  What they need most is peace, stability and security.  We have found that over 45% of the population in the United States is Steady Relators.

Cautious/Concise (Introverted):

Descriptors may include: accurate, diplomatic, precise, high standards, courteous, and analytical.  Basically the high “C” student is looking for perfection and may get visibly upset if they don’t produce the perfection that they are looking for.  They are good with data and facts, critical discussions, complex problems, privacy, organizing and self-competition. They will typically not act until they have looked at data and have examined an argument from all sides.  They are also low risk takers and critical of themselves and others.  Many high “C’s” become doctors, scientists, mathematicians, chemists, engineers and computer programmers.

When communicating with your high “C” student, examine an argument from all sides (because they have), allow time for them to think and disagree on the facts, not the person.  You may have to work with them to let them know that it’s OK to make a mistake and that there is no such thing as perfection.  Criticizing them will drive them to despair.



Each of the core behavior styles that we’ve discussed typically have their own ways of learning that help them reach their untapped potential:

High “D”

Processes information and makes decisions based on their “gut” feelings.  They learn best through discovering things for themselves especially hands on activities.  Instead of telling them that they must get an education so that they don’t become a failure in life, try to find their passion and then work with them to develop activities that take into account what they need to learn coupled with related activities that they might find exciting and interesting.

High “I”

Processes information and makes decisions based through talking out loud and/or brainstorming with others.   They may come to conclusions after listening to themselves describe the problem with other people.  They learn best through discussions, audio/visual aids.  “Say it and see it works the best.”  Encourage your high “I” student to form a study group.  However, make sure that the group keeps on task of studying or it will turn into a gab session, especially if other “I’s” are in the group.

High “S”

Processes information and makes decisions by logical analysis and a step-by-step process.  Making pro and con lists can help them move through procrastination.  They learn best throughreading the material beforehand, observing the process and then doing the task while being monitored for accuracy.  They much prefer to have reference materials available to them should questions arise.  Flowcharts can also be a very valuable part of the learning process for them.  Make sure that your “S” student asks the instructor for help if they are having difficulty learning new material and encourage your High “S” student to participate in classroom discussions, as their shyness may inhibit them from seeking the help that they need.  Unfortunately as they are so quiet, the instructor may see them as non-participative or unfamiliar with the materials.

High “C”

Processes information and makes decisions by simultaneously taking in all kinds of data and then arriving at their decisions based in a systematic and intuitive way.  They learn best through visual examples and pictures.  Advise them to tutor others as they will not only reinforce their own learning experiences and understanding of the subject matter, but they will also be building vital social skills that they may otherwise miss out on. Chances are, you may not have to worry much about your high “C” students spending the time studying, as they are searching for perfection in whatever they do.  However, do encourage them to make friends and have a social life as they may tend to devote a significant amount of time studying at the expense of their personal life.


Whatever your student’s behavior style may be, trying to make them something that they are not will not only be stressful for you, but may be destructive for them.  They are what they are.  However, with patience, you can help them adapt for appropriate behavior for the appropriate situation.  Try to never compare your child with another child as most likely they couldn’t be that person if they had to be.  Instead, understand your child’s behavior style and provide them with understanding and guidance accordingly.

The Fear of Failure and the Effect on Student Achievement

Ryan Piraneo

By: John Birch, CEO

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford


 It has been said that the most prevalent emotion for human beings is Fear. The sense of fear was important for early humans to make critical life or death decisions that helped our species prosper and survive. Even though today, most of us are not constantly facing “life or death”, “fight or flight” situations, fear continues to be our emotional element.

Much of my experience with young people is from leading after-school and weekend programs funded by the National Science Foundation, targeted towards inner city and underrepresented high school students. What our team has realized is that fear plays an even more significant role in the emotional makeup of these students, where fear consists of both “fear of failure” as well as “fear of success”. Early on, I believed that this was evident primarily in inner city schools. After working with clients and associates from rural Central Maine, we came to realizing that this phenomenon is largely a reflection of poverty and not location. We have seen this to some degree even in suburban high schools and with college students.

Fear results from many issues relating to poverty: Fear of not having a home to live in; fear of not having enough food in the house; fear of losing a job and not being able to find another; the fear of becoming ill; and for parents, fear of not being able to educate their children so that they can break the cycle of poverty. As we all know, beginning at an early age, children begin to internalize and adapt to the emotional well-being of those around them. We can see this phenomenon even with our pets. If you have seen a person that is suffering from extreme depression, their pet adapts and becomes more sedated, loving and affectionate. Imagine the impact of fear and other emotions on our children.

Some students from poor economic families see failure all around them on a daily basis. Thus, failure becomes a way of life. Relative to schoolwork, some of these students perceive that it is easier to prematurely accept failure by not even making an attempt at excelling academically. The fear of failure is so dominant that they would rather avoid the possibility of success than to make an attempt at all.

Other students may exhibit the fear of success. Human beings are social animals and have the basic need of being accepted amongst their peers. In some instances, students have a fear of trying and becoming successful because they fear being rejected socially by friends and family. They may also fear that their parents will think that they may be attempting to leave the family circle.


What needs to be instilled by parents, mentors and teachers is that it is okay to fail. Without failure, there can never be success. Failure is a life lesson of learning; it is another way of understanding how something cannot be done. – Carl Messina

Step 1: Ask your children what are the three things in life that they fear the most. If you can remember, the teen and preteen years are extremely difficult emotionally and filled with fraught. You may find that the fear of failing and looking “stupid” falls within their top three fears as peer pressure significantly influences children at that age. Reinforce the knowledge that you will always love them and will always be there to support them.

Step 2: Teach your children that failure is nothing more than FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL. We can relate this to Thomas Edison. After the success of the light bulb, Edison was being interviewed. When Edison was asked by a reporter, “How does it feel to have failed 10,000 times?” Thomas Edison responded with a smile and said, “I have not failed 10,000 times, I have found 10,000 ways the incandescent light bulb will not work”.

Step 3: Do not over-protect your children from failure, as failure can be a strong character builder and can prepare them for the inevitable failures in life. Teach them that when they fail, a strong person knows how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again. Even Donald Trump has had many failures, filing bankruptcy on many occasions and then persevering towards success.

Step 4: Let your children know that failure is part of the maturing process and can be a critical factor in brain development. Humans learn predominantly through failure and success.

Step 5: Change the behavior of how teachers grade papers. Most teachers will use a process of highlighting the number of incorrect answers at the top of the page. The message that is being sent to students is to focus on the negatives in life and not the positives. Suggest that teachers implement a process of putting the number of correct answers at the top of the page, thus focusing student’s attention towards the positive.  When children fail, we should focus on the lesson of life learned, that the wrong answers can be corrected with more focus on their studies and experiences.

Step 6: Share this process with your child. Take your child to a location where there is a corridor at least 20 feet long. Tell them that in front of them is their future and their dreams; behind them is their past and failures. First, have them walk away from their past while looking over their shoulder. Second, have them walk forward, only facing the future. Then ask which way was easiest to walk, note that it is much easier to see where you are going by looking forward, not back on the past.

Step 7: Tell your child that the word “Can’t” is unacceptable when used in referring to themself. “Can’t” can very well mean a lack of experience or education, both of which can be overcome with focus and effort.


Over the years, our team has realized that a student’s self-esteem and their focus towards achieving and maintaining high grades have a direct correlation. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, one cannot reach Self-Actualization (being all you can be) unless the lower needs of Social Acceptance and Esteem have been met. Parents, teachers and mentors can play a significant role in the way a student thinks about themselves and the student’s desire to succeed. Remember, you as parents play the most significant role in your child’s sense of well-being. Parenting is the most important role that any of us can ever be in.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you fall. What really matters is how many times you get up and keep going.” – Rocky Balboa