'The Creative Whack Pack' by Roger von Oech

"Innovation is a process. It requires discipline as well as creativity."

Guaranteed to make you question everything.

Barry Kayton
CEO (USA)

As an instructional designer, Barry found the secret to great learning: make it meaningful. Make it learner-centered. Make personalized, practical, powerful questions the key tools. And always make the mental model stand out. Barry co-founded Cognician with Patrick to make this kind of great learning possible at scale.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Intellection
  2. Relator
  3. Maximizer
  4. Strategic
  5. Learner

Alfred Hitchcock's 'North by Northwest'

Alan Kay said that a change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points. I think it's also worth 80 EQ points. Understanding someone else's perspective means you're halfway to resolving any conflict between you.

Occasionally defaults to communicating through song lyrics and movie quotes.

Patrick Kayton
CEO (UK)

Patrick has a lifelong passion for understanding what makes people tick. He co-founded Cognician with Barry to create a platform and a company with the mission of making learning and behavior change more effective by changing the way people think.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Strategic
  2. Futuristic
  3. Learner
  4. Individualization
  5. Achiever

San Diego

"Do or do not. There is no try." – Yoda

The solutions to most corporate challenges can be found in the 'Star Wars' script.

Michael Leeman
Director

Michael is a serial entrepreneur, politics enthusiast, and lapsed actuary. After 15 years in investment banking, he found the prospect of improving learning for all irresistible and joined Cognician.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Achiever
  2. Analytical
  3. Context
  4. Strategic
  5. Learner

Anything Brandon Sanderson writes.
Any classical music Eugene Yiga recommends.
Functional programming with Clojure!

The most powerful questions are also the simplest – “What is this?”, “Is this useful?”, and “How does it matter?” – if you genuinely put aside your existing assumptions.

Don’t ask about how we build our software unless you have a couple of hours and a comfortable place to sit :-)

Robert Stuttaford
CTO

Robert has been writing code for 15 years and is still not dead. He is as passionate about the craft of software development as he is about learning about the mind and how to operate one effectively.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Intellection
  2. Learner
  3. Relator
  4. Consistency
  5. Harmony

'Antonia's Line,' an irreverent Dutch movie about the true meaning of life, love, and acceptance.

"People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it's the other way around."
– Terry Pratchett

If I didn't say your name or look at you, I was, in fact, talking to myself.

Maritza van den Heuvel
Account Manager

Maritza has been a translator, interpreter, linguistics researcher, technical writer, product manager, and most recently ran a small software team that built digital learning products. She epitomizes the very concept of lifelong learning.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Learner
  2. Activator
  3. Strategic
  4. Futuristic
  5. Achiever

The fragrance of fresh rainfall and allowing an elegant piece of prose to spill over your morning coffee!

"Sometimes the simplest of things hold the most beauty ... like toast. Yes, sometimes toast for dinner is an absolutely wonderful thing!"

Dangerously competitive champagne de-corker – currently holds the distance title!

Cali Coetzee
General Manager

Cali loves the purpose that work brings and is insatiable for the challenge of new, better, right, and beautiful. She loves to write and develop reading materials and learning experiences that make a difference. Although, she probably uses far more exclamation marks than would make a grammarian comfortable!

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Input
  2. Learner
  3. Empathy
  4. Strategic
  5. Achiever

David Rock's work, especially his work on NeuroLeadership.

“Neurons that fire together, wire together.” – Donald Hebb

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

Maryke Snyman
Account Manager

Maryke's mission is to help people to turn learning into performance. She started her career as a CBT (computer-based training) designer and since then has systematically worked in every conceivable role within the learning production cycle. Her current passion is performance consulting. If she can identify the performance gap, she can design a solution to close it.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Intellection
  2. Ideation
  3. Relator
  4. Strategic
  5. Learner

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." – George R.R. Martin

Dangerous around cheese.

Hayley Slater
Account Manager

The calling to live in beautiful Cape Town brought Hayley back from London and her career in financial services and onto developing local start-ups. Her belief is that by empowering your people, you create market winning value. She is a lover of books and craft beer.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Learner
  2. Analytical
  3. Communication
  4. Arranger
  5. Input

‘The Goon Show’ – Theatre of the Absurd to set your mind free.

"Remember that extraordinary transformations are possible. Everything changes. Nothing is forever." – J.K. Rowling

I was born weird.

Jann Acutt
Learning Projects Manager

Jann has a chequered work history, starting as a social sciences researcher. Realizing she wasn’t cut out for an ivory tower, she traveled the world. Since returning, Jann worked in media in various incarnations before joining Cognician. She cares deeply about empowering people.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Input
  2. Intellection
  3. Strategic
  4. Restorative
  5. Individualization

Laughter. Lots of it. Everyday.

"May the space between where you are and where you want to be forever inspire you."

Feeling things deeply is my superpower. I'm an empathetic badass.

Nicole Petersen
Account & Product Executive

Nicole got her Bachelor's degree as well as a taste for 'The Bachelor' and other ridiculous reality television in 2014. She started as an intern at Cognician in the same year and has grown to love (and live by) standard project documentation.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Harmony
  2. Empathy
  3. Input
  4. Analytical
  5. Developer

Makai Creative.

"If you can't see the bright side of life, polish the dull side."

Doesn't function until fed.

Rebecca Weiss
Account Manager

After studying Industrial Psychology, Rebecca found herself fascinated by what motivates people's behaviour. Starting as an intern at Cognician in 2016, she is now an Account and Project Manager and gets a little bit further to understanding the weird and wonderful aspects of human behaviour each day.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Positivity
  2. Learner
  3. Individualization
  4. Includer
  5. Developer

Published in 1993, this is still the best book to describe our present future: 'Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine' by Donald A. Norman.

"The world simply no longer cares how much you know, because Google knows everything. What the world cares about – what matters for learning, work, and citizenship – is what you can do with what you know." – Tony Wagner

Tends to talk a lot and very loudly and with way too much enthusiasm. #bubblelikeEno

Rhodé Odendaal
Account Manager

There is nothing more thrilling than seeing a team or an individual recognize the value of digital and how it can transform lives and businesses for the greater good. Rhodé is an ardent supporter of the digital technology that helps us to live, work, and learn better as citizens.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Learner
  2. Achiever
  3. Input
  4. Responsibility
  5. Strategic

Chocolate fixes everything ... and hugs! Hugs work well too.

"Look after yourself. You can't pour from an empty cup."

May contain traces of nuts.

Lou Mardon
Account Manager

Lou is interested in change management and leadership development. She loves to challenge herself and learn new skills. She's passionate about living with purpose and enjoys talking to people about theirs.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Strategic
  2. Relator
  3. Belief
  4. Achiever
  5. Positivity

'Zaireeka' by The Flaming Lips

"Admitting you don't know is often the more truthful answer. Then you can try to find out."

This side up.

Francois du Toit
Developer

I would prefer writing a description-generating program over writing a description of myself. Wait, I just wrote one didn't I ...

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Empathy
  2. Adaptability
  3. Relator
  4. Learner
  5. Connectedness

The movie 'Citizenfour'

"Stay humble."

Mouth may contain traces of foot sometimes.

Geoff Kruss
Developer

Geoff is a long-standing member of the EFF (no, not that one) with a passion for mastering his two lifelong careers: blowing up Internet spaceships in 'EVE Online' and software automation.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Ideation
  2. Restorative
  3. Intellection
  4. Connectedness
  5. Relator

Manchester United

"If fate doesn't make you laugh, you just don't get the joke." – Gregory David Roberts

Feed coffee to operate.

Mark McFadyen
Developer

Mark studied software development at CTU Stellenbosch, where he completed his MCSD. Mark has an undying thirst for knowledge and believes that there's nothing in the world one cannot learn and master, as long as the will to learn exists. He has a love for all things Internet- and software-related.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Restorative
  2. Learner
  3. Ideation
  4. Strategic
  5. Futuristic

Putting an egg in your coffee.

"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently." – Friedrich Nietzsche

Do not disturb, unless I've had coffee.

Chris Etheridge
Developer

Chris is a nerd at heart. He loves everything about technology and the Internet. He has a huge interest in software development and is thus studying software development at Varsity College while interning as a software developer. He's beyond addicted to coffee.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Futuristic
  2. Empathy
  3. Positivity
  4. Input
  5. Restorative

Walks on the beach. Every day. Even in the wind and the rain.

"Never stop learning! If you don't use it, you lose it."

Has been known to be sarcastic on occasion.

Mike Hewitson
Developer

Mike has been captured by IT since the late 1970s and hasn't managed to escape since. He is a maker in all aspects of his life – from computer systems to food, furniture, charcuterie, and tonic ... he really struggles to do things in half measures.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Strategic
  2. Learner
  3. Achiever
  4. Responsibility
  5. Input

Doing absolutely nothing but sitting dead still, concentrating on your breathing, and experiencing how the universe reveals its secrets to you.

"Man's life is like lightning; now here, now gone
Green in spring, leaves turn red in autumn,
Heed not glory nor disgrace
Grandeur or decay but dew on grass." – Van Hanh

Experiences scatterbrains at random times.

Jacques du Preez
Developer

Jacques is a software developer, crazy adventurer, stock trader, and explorer of the mystic nature of the universe.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Strategic
  2. Learner
  3. Command
  4. Intellection
  5. Relator

Right now, Japanese woodblock-style prints and printmaking. Watching and doing are meditative. Go visit: https://www.youtube.com/user/seseragistudio to see what I'm on about.

"Curiosity. Curiosity always. And optimism."

A bit weird. Not always filtered.

Ryan White
Developer

Ryan makes things. He thought Mechanical Engineering would be a good course of study. Then he discovered the Internet and now, when undoing mistakes, uses cmd+z instead of a blowtorch or an angle grinder.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Achiever
  2. Positivity
  3. Learner
  4. Individualization
  5. Responsibility

Diving the SS Thistlegorm, the Ras Muhammad, and the Red Sea.

"Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak." – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Have your people call my people, and we'll do lunch.

Gerrit Ellis
Compliance Officer

Gerrit has over 14 years' experience in Information Technology, of which 10 years were spent within global financial institutions. He is passionate about all things cybersecurity with a keen interest in global politics and international relations.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Relator
  2. Learner
  3. Individualization
  4. Responsibility
  5. Focus

Simon Sinek’s TED Talk: ‘How great leaders inspire action’

"UX is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it isn’t that good."

Can ramble when storytelling.

Roxanne Williams
Designer

Roxanne has a big passion for designing and improving user experiences by understanding the 'why' rather than the 'what.' If she is not designing beautiful user interfaces, you'll find her exploring new restaurants as she's a bit of a foodie.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Relator
  2. Strategic
  3. Developer
  4. Positivity
  5. Activator

Mark Manson's blog

"Certainty is the enemy of growth. Nothing is for certain until it has already happened – and even then, it’s still debatable." – Mark Manson

May shout "Bad UX!" when encountering obvious UI mistakes.

Maryna Smit
Designer

Maryna specializes in creating intuitive user journeys and designing pixel-perfect interfaces. When she's not busy applying design thinking (which she does to everything), she likes to read about how the human mind works and how that impacts people's behavior.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Individualization
  2. Input
  3. Learner
  4. Connectedness
  5. Intellection

Only Connect
(A quiz show that makes you feel smart if you get anything right.)

"Happiness = Reality – Expectations"

May contain traces of nuts.

Careena Koch
Editor

Careena is a molecular biologist turned editor, and a fancier of apostrophes, en-dashes and bacteria. She also likes tea.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Harmony
  2. Consistency
  3. Context
  4. Learner
  5. Analytical

The podcast 'No Such Thing as a Fish'

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple." – Dr Seuss

Feed every three to four hours for optimum functionality.

Alexandra Findlay
Editor

Alexandra – known as Ali by most – studied Journalism and Media. After graduating, she freelanced for 18 months before settling at Cognician. A lover of words, cake, traveling, and dogs, she is a people-person who enjoys working in a team and learning from others.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Communication
  2. Empathy
  3. Arranger
  4. Positivity
  5. Maximizer

The Forest of Rhetoric

"Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life."
– Terry Pratchett, Jingo

Give me an hour and I'll make your brain explode.

Justin Germishuys
Learning Experience Designer

In an attempt to remedy his life-long struggle with confusion and uncertainty, Justin studied Psychology and Philosophy at Stellenbosch University. It made his condition much worse. He also enjoys reading PG Wodehouse while eating chocolate biscuits.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Ideation
  2. Strategic
  3. Learner
  4. Restorative
  5. Individualization

Watch ‘Astronaut: The Last Push’ – a film directed by Eric Hayden.

"Be the change you want to see in the world." – Mahatma Gandhi

A mine of useless and trivial information.

Chris Hill
Learning Experience Designer

Chris has over ten years’ experience in technical writing and eLearning and has worked in the education and finance sectors. He has a Social Science Honours degree and qualifications in management, marketing, and accounting under his belt.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Learner
  2. Intellection
  3. Ideation
  4. Analytical
  5. Strategic

"The writer is the engineer of the human soul." – Joseph Stalin

I sometimes involuntarily tap my foot while I am working. I am sorry.

Ivan Sadler
Learning Experience Designer

Ivan studied Fine Arts at UCT and runs a microscopic T-shirt printing concern in his spare time. He has previously worked as a technical writer, instructional designer, graphic designer, illustrator, and freelance film critic. He also plays guitar, loves beer, heavy metal, and keeps a pet rabbit that lives inside a couch.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Context
  2. Ideation
  3. Empathy
  4. Input
  5. Intellection

Go climb a mountain.

"Find everything you do fascinating and curious."

Can't resist a great metaphor or an adventure.

Gabriella Garnett
Learning Experience Designer

Gabriella is passionate about potential and growth as well as integrating Applied Neuroscience into learning and development. Having studied Organisational Psychology, she remains an autodidact and works to apply what she learns into all spheres of life.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Strategic
  2. Learner
  3. Ideation
  4. Responsibility
  5. Connectedness

‘Oryx and Crake’ by Margaret Atwood

“They say that university is the best four years of your life, but I say: ‘Why make it four if you can make it six?’”

If anyone ever tells you that you have too much peanut butter on your bread, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.

Robyn Ford
Learning Experience Designer

During her studies in Psychology, Robyn was disappointed to learn that they would not teach her telepathy. Her other skills and talents include shrinking heads, tattooing, and reading and writing real good like. She has a passion for learning, life coaching, and community and individual development. Her Staffordshire Terrier, Poebie, is the master of her universe.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Strategic
  2. Individualization
  3. Intellection
  4. Ideation
  5. Context

Walking and exploring. Getting lost!

"When in doubt, surrender."

Prone to distraction.

Christopher Garratt
Learning Experience Designer

When he's not daydreaming or people watching over a good cappuccino, Chris dabbles in just about everything. Languages, tennis, writing, meditating, motorsports, theatre, birdwatching ... you name it, he'll try it! (Well, just about. He's not too keen on extreme sports.)

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Input
  2. Intellection
  3. Ideation
  4. Empathy
  5. Adaptability

Ray Bradbury said it best: "Live in the library."

"A few deep breaths in the morning are like rocket fuel for the brain."

Ignore the smoke coming out of my ears – I'm thinking.

Mlungisi Mthembu
Learning Experience Designer

Mlungisi has a background in music, science, and journalism. The common thread joining these seemingly disparate disciplines is his insatiable need to learn and grow. The journey continues at Cognician, where he plans to unleash his superpowers!

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Intellection
  2. Restorative
  3. Learner
  4. Input
  5. Responsibility

A cup of tea and 'Tribe of Mentors' by Tim Ferriss.

"Accept what you can, change what you can't."

Dangerous if deprived of tea.

Laura Germishuys
Learning Experience Designer

Hoping to save the world, Laura did a Master's in Sociology, only to realize that knowledge isn't a magic wand. She didn't lose her belief in education though. In her free time, perfection is a cat, a fire, and a good book.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Learner
  2. Intellection
  3. Input
  4. Achiever
  5. Ideation

Be all the space monkey you can be.

"Memento mori."

Contains no warning label.

Matthew Alves
Learning Experience Designer

Matthew shelved books professionally, twice, split his lip in 'Romeo and Juliet,' sold pierogies in South London, and almost became an art auctioneer. He also forgot that his family dog died, once. He's currently busy with his undergraduate degree in Psychology.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Results:

  1. Input
  2. Learner
  3. Intellection
  4. Responsibility
  5. Restorative

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