My Kiteboarding Ah-Ha Moment

I had paid the big bucks, something like $600, for the 3 day long weekend of instruction, from one of the best kiteboarding schools, taught by a great group of guys, in one of the best places to learn, in the country.


We started off learning the basics of kiteboarding in the classroom in town – the equipment, some terminology, safety concerns, and key concepts like the “wind window.”  Oh, “And, please don’t forget to sign your release from liability waiver before we head out to the van.” 🙂

We drove out to Grand Traverse Bay situated to the north of Traverse City, Michigan.  The water is beautiful – clear and blue.  There is no current to contend with.  Along the eastern shore there’s an enormously long and wide sandy shallows.  And, the wind blows fairly consistently and constantly. All perfect conditions for the kiteboarding newb!

On the white, sandy beach we learned how to set up our equipment, and each got some time flying a trainer kite.  We put on our harnesses and ventured out into the water to practice flying a larger kite.  We pushed the board under the water and tucked our feet into the bindings while simultaneously maneuvering the kite.

My moment-of-terror came when I realized that it was time to do the unimaginable.  I was now expected to execute way-too-many complicated steps simultaneously and sequentially, in a very precise order, while also adjusting for conditions of wind and water,  none of which I had down, individually, with any level of competence, all while attempting a dangerous maneuver.

My mind couldn’t conceive, and my body had no muscle memory for it, but I was supposed to, in less-than-an-instant:

  • Float upright in the water, facing and maintaining a direction in the water in relationship to the kite in relationship to the hard-to-ascertain and ever-shifting wind window
  • Feel and fly the kite, some 75’ above my head while floating, in the correct direction, within the wind window (fly, float, wind window – yup, got it!!)
  • Time the start of my power stroke, to pull myself out of the water
  • Know how to and execute a precise power stroke within the wind window (between two certain points – no less, no more, or else…)
  • Keep various parts of my body in a particular position in the water, which I then had to uncurl and stand upright while simultaneously controlling the kite to adjust for the wind, and hit two different points than on the power stroke
  • Then I needed to know what to do upon emerging from the drag of my water my body in the water
  • Then I had to fly the kite for the conditions that then existed after exiting the water
  • And if I made it that far, I was then expected control the angle of board against the water in order to move through the water

What I did do was come back too far from my initial power stroke, launch myself 10 feet into the air in the opposite direction of the one I had intended to go, and did a superman pose as I hit the water.  I drug myself out of the water to see the horrified looks on the faces of my husband, 17 year old daughter, and just about every instructor and student in the class.

And my “Ah-Ha” moment??  That came when I realized what a perfect example all of this was for how poorly instruction and skill transfer is and has been done, how the practice of skill transfer hasn’t evolved in any significant way, from an art to a science, and how even those who are at the top of their game, are doing it so poorly, because of the lack of a precise, methodical approach to skill transfer.

I realized that there was absolutely no way for us students to have successfully learned how to kiteboard, through no fault of the student or instructors.  It was here that the early seeds of RSTP really began to grow in my mind (see “Rapid Skill Transfer Protocol™ (RSTP™) and Skillsopedia™ – The Quest Begins”).  Later I would uncover “The Problems with Traditional Skill Transference.”  All I knew at the time was….

  • The students and instructors were trying to accomplish far too much in too short a period of time.
  • There was not enough time to learn any single piece to the point of unconscious competence, much less successfully methodically aggregate the pieces to the point of unconscious competence at each aggregation point along the way – in order to aggregate the entire skill sequence into the student’s unconscious competence.
  • Multiple skill segments were expected to be executed in a complex pattern of simultaneous, sequential and complex movements – asking for the impossible!!

And now I know, RSTP is the solution for methodically laying down skill sets so that they can be reliably reproduced and acquired by the novice.

And the day I know I’ve proved that is the day that I find myself skimming across the shimmering waters, doing something most would consider to be very dangerous, but that has been taught in such a precise way as to eliminate most of the risks involved – for me kiteboarding is the ultimate validation test for RSTP (see “Kiteboarding as the Ultimate RSTP Validation Test”)

Kiteboarding, Coding, and the Epic Quest for the Holy Grail of Skill Transference

For a long time, one of my little personal mottos has been “Under, Over, Parachute in Behind.”  By this, I mean that whenever confronted with life’s inevitable challenges, there is always a way to get from where you’re at, to where you want to go, by countless, imaginative means – that you can go under or over the wall in front of you, or, if the situation requires drastic measures, you can even parachute yourself in behind.

Back in 2009, I failed miserably in my attempt to learn how to kiteboard – there were two particular times when David watched in horror as I launched, board strapped to my feet, 9m kite strapped to my waist, some 10 feet into the air off of Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan, before doing a super-man landing in the shallow waters.  Those moments cemented (for the time being!!!) my fear of the sport.  But, the whole experience also cemented in me the idea that the currently accepted methodology for learning a new skill is terribly flawed, and that there had to be a better way, a more precise, methodical approach to learning that would lead to greater success for both the instructor and student (see “My Kiteboarding Ah-Ha Moment”).

That's Jess

That’s Jess on the same trip

Since then, I’ve been researching and working on building out a language-based, fill-in-the-blanks, Mad-Libs-type skill transfer protocol that codifies the skill transfer process from an expert in any field to a novice who would like to possess that particular skill set.  And pursuing this project has required its fair amount of creative tactics to continue moving forward.

So, fear not, to all those brave souls who wish to pursue whatever great ends (for any pursuit worth pursuing is, indeed, great!!).  The road will, no doubt, be long and treacherous, full of obstacles, dead-ends, circling back and an endless number of heartbreaking setbacks.  It will be asking a million questions, and looking for the next answer and the next, over and over again.  But, if you employ all your creativity to surmount each and every one of those hurdles, you will be rewarded for your fearless efforts. Continue reading


Just yesterday, Michael, my masterminding partner of the past 10 years, and I discussed what great value we’ve both gotten from our association.  Every single week, when we talk, we start our call with a celebration of the progress and the wins each of us have made in the previous week. 

 In particular, we’ve noticed how this ritual of accountability has helped us remain aware of the progress each of us has made over time and helped us to keep plugging along towards our goals, despite the challenges and setbacks we’ve each navigated at different times over the past decade.

To pay homage to our tradition, I’m going to celebrate the progress I’ve made in testing out the RSTP theory….

  • In just 16.5 of hours, spread out over just 14 days of practice, usually at just over an hour of practice each of those days, I have not only SUCCESSFULLY tested out RSTP theory, but I’ve also learned how to snowboard!! 
  • I went from having built the basic theoretical tenants of transferring skill efficiently and effectively from novice to expert, to having built out an entire skill set based on those theories. I, then, used that rough version to teach myself how to snowboard. 
  •  I went from never having strapped a snowboard on my feet, to being able to know and use my equipment, get up off my back side, ride the carpet and chair lifts, skate and step, straight glide, make j-turns, work on both my toe- and heel-sides, stop, make S-turns, and ultimately, carve a line down the snowy slope! 
  • I saw theory played out in the playground of the real world – while I watched people half my age crash and burn, over and over again, beating themselves to death on the hard packed snow, I rarely fell, yet acquired the skill.

After Michael and I finish with our celebration, we then dig back in and figure out the next steps towards our greater visions and just how we think we might be able to execute them.  I have the basics down for both The Protocol, and for snowboarding – I can see a broader horizon now that I trust that there really is something to this theory.  So here’s a little prelude of what’s to come next…

Now that I have worked through all the basic building blocks for my test skillset, I need to:

  1. Lay out all of the language-based lesson building blocks
  2. Chuff all those building blocks through the software that my Ukrainian friend, Maksym, is building for me to use to split out the language parts of the lessons
  3. Test out his software for how well it assembles the lesson scripts for filming
  4. Lay out my plan and prep to film the entire snowboarding sequence next season in a standard format to ease the filming schedule (tag lessons by location, equipment, person in the scene, from what angle, etc)
  5. Prep Dave (lolol – he’s gonna’ luv this one!!!) to run through the entire sequence so I can clean it up, and test out how long it takes him to run through the lessons
  6. Finish up the blog posts regarding the snowboarding test sequence
  7. Finish up the blog posts regarding making distinctions
  8. Work with Maksym to get a working prototype of our software built and tested
  9. Get a polished version of my SkillsOpedia logo made
  10. And if I get bored, and get all this done, I’ll push the work I’ve already done for stick-shift driving, the first skill set I worked with, through the software, for a second test and refinement of the software

 That should do it for the next year!!  Praying for snow!!  😉


Cultivating My Inner Dude

A few years back, I heard myself saying to my favorite, but as-of-yet directionless, nephew (I love you, David K.!! 😉 ) that I’d give anything to be an 18 year old, single guy – I remember quoting my favorite Bob Segar song line to him, “I could go east, I could go west, it was all up me to decide.” I envisioned what it would be like to be in his position – to seemingly have any and all paths open to me in the same way I felt he had…

But, then, something kept eating at me for days after that conversation. And then the thoughts… (I apologize in advance…) … “WTF Renee?!??!?”

“What in the sweet name of blipity blip does some random chronological number and/or a Y-chromosome have to do WITH ANYTHING????” Continue reading

My “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal”

Jim Collins, of Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies , came up with the term “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal” or a “BHAG.”

Wikipedia describes a BHAG as “ a strategic business statement similar to a vision statement which is created to focus an organization on a single medium-long term organization-wide goal which is audacious, likely to be externally questionable, but not internally regarded as impossible.” (see “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” )

I love the words “AUDACIOUS,” “LIKELY TO BE EXTERNALLY QUESTIONABLE,” and, significantly, “BUT NOT INTERNALLY REGARDED AS IMPOSSIBLE” – these are the kinds of words that stir the imagination, thrill the soul, push one far, far out of their comfort zone, and cause one to strive relentlessly for the unimaginable.

In my case, there’s not much of an organization yet, but there is certainly at BHAG for me to rally around… I give you my BHAG…

To build the world’s largest, methodically and precisely formatted, evolving repository of the vast wealth of human skills for the purpose of unleashing the vast untapped human potential.

And, here’s the answers to the big “Why?” questions… Why does this blow my mind? Why does this thrill my soul? Why does this keep me coming back to work, year after year? Because of its potential…

  • To unleash the vast untapped human potential
  • To level the learning curve for individuals and communities across the planet through the user-friendly, effective and efficient transfer of individual skill sets
  • To democratize information and the acquisition of life-altering skills
  • To preserve the human heritage (see “The World Heritage Skills Conservation Project™” )
  • To be a catalyst for the evolution of skill to higher and higher levels of best practices

Finally, “How?” How do I see the realization of my Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal playing out?

  1. Build the Rapid Skill Transfer Protocol™ (RSTP™) – to allow for the rapid transfer of skills between individuals
  2. Build the SkillsOPedia™ wiki platform for the (RSTP™) – To allow the community of users to build upon best practices among individuals for any given skill set

Please stop back to follow the evolution of this incredible journey. And, may you find your very own, passion-filled, send-you-over-the-moon BHAG!!! Love and best wishes, Renee

Rapid Skill Transfer Protocol™ (RSTP™) and Skillsopedia™ – The Quest Begins

Late 2011 I had just finished reading The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How by Daniel Coyle.  He tells the story of a 13-year-old girl, Carissa, practicing the song, “Golden Wedding” on her clarinet who, in one 5:45 minute practice segment accelerates her learning by ten-fold in the midst of, what was otherwise, another ordinary music lesson.

In relaying this story, Coyle tosses out, “This is not ordinary practice.  This is something else:  a highly targeted, error-focused process.”  And then, the sentence that caught my attention AND my imagination:

“If somebody could bottle this, it’d be worth millions.”

That phrase spoke to me of the incalculable benefit that would accrue to humanity if a process could be built that would intentionally, precisely, with 100% replicability enable the transfer of any given skill from an expert to a novice.

Continue reading