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X-Culture Stories

Confession: I am an audio book addict.

I listen to books all the time: when I bike, drive, in the gym, mow grass, clean my house, do laundry, repairs my house, jog, cook, take shower, and even swim.

In fact, I can’t do some things without an audio book. E.g., my bike won’t move until I hit play.

Moreover, the addiction is so strong that when my neighbor gave me “The Fine Print” for birthday, and after the first 20 pages I realized the book is good, I could not force myself to do nothing but sit and read. I went to Audible and bought an audio version.

6 advantages of audio books:

1. You can finish two full size books (15 hours/400 pages) a week WITHOUT wasting a single extra minute on reading. You just read (listen) when you do physical tasks.
I audio-read 2 hours a day on work days and 4-5 hours a day weekends. About 30 min on my bike from home to work, door to door, that’s 1 hour. Gym, chores around the house, brushing teeth, dressing – another hour. Weekends, house renovations, cleaning, mowing, or a road trip – another 4-5 hours, or even sometimes 8-9.

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As we are getting ready for the X-Culture Symposium in Miami in July, one issue we have to deal with is the U.S. visa.

Out of hundreds of applicants, we eventually narrowed our roster to 150 top-notch students from 54 countries. Most either did not need a U.S. visa or easily obtained one. However, some students received a rejection.

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Following up on my earlier post on X-Culture’s experiences with Facebook (10 Things I’ve Learned About Facebook), here is another lesson we learned through trial and error.

As noted earlier, some of our posts turned out to be widely popular. The first major hit was a series of Entrepreneurfail.com cartoons posted on December 12, 2015. In a matter of days, the post has been seen by a million people, liked and shared thousands of times.

The post statistics as of today is provided below:

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The Navy SEAL “Hell Week” is the third week of the famously grueling BUD/S training. The official description reads, “Hell Week tests physical endurance, mental toughness, teamwork, attitude, and your ability to perform work under high physical and mental stress, and sleep deprivation.”

It is a perfect description of the last week of each X-Culture round. We are now in the “Hell Week” of the 2017-1 season.

Here is simplified list of tasks that need to completed during this week by my assistants and me (add to that the final exams that we all have to deal with in addition to X-Culture):

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Just saw J.T. Hinson, one of our former X-Culture participants. He participated in the competition last year.

His story is very inspiring.

His team still stays in touch and communicates on a regular basis. After his team won the X-Culture Competition, his employer was so impressed with J.T.’s work that he offered to pay J.T.’s tuition for the remainder of his studies at UNCG. And he was so impressed by work of one of J.T.’s team members that he offered her a job.

Here is a brief note J.T. sent me after the meeting

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Recorded video presentations and live webinars are an indispensable tool in a project like X-Culture.

Over these years, we’ve experimental with about a dozen platforms, such as WebEx, Zoom, BlackBoard Elluminate, Skype Pro, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar,  Adobe Connect, and more.

After much testing, we settled for

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Wow! It was great! We’ll do it every semester from now on.

But let me start from the beginning.

So, for a long time, I wanted to provide my students with an opportunity to present their reports at the end of the X-Culture project. Unfortunately, I have 150+ every semester, each on a different team. So it’s 150 presentations. Even at 5 min per presentation, it will take two several days of non-stop presenting. That won’t work.

But then I thought

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   More X-Culture blog posts

A company Facebook page could be a great tool for promoting your business, building a community, and getting useful input from your followers. But managing it could be quite challenging, and frustrating at times.

Yesterday was exactly two years since I’ve created the X-Culture page. We now have 87,000 followers and add about 30 new followers a day.

Here is our experience so far, what I have learned over these 2 years, and what is still a mystery to me.

 

  1. NOT ALL YOUR FOLLOWERS SEE YOUR POSTS

First, we used X-Culture’s FB page for updates, reminders, and newsletters.

However, soon enough we learned that FB doesn’t show your posts to all your followers. Bummer!

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What a pleasant surprise.
I have just received a letter from a student who participated in X-Culture in 2010. Our very first cohort.

She writes,

“Dear Dr. Taras,

I’m contacting you because of the great experienced I had in X-Culture as a student. I’m now a professor at Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara. I would like to know how my students can participate in the X-Cultural project.

I hope we can participate on this excellent project.”

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One of the issues we’ve been struggling with for some time is regional representatives.

It has become especially salient since we launched X-Culture Kids – and we seek your advice.

At the first glance, X-Culture does not need regional representatives. Our very simple recruitment strategy has worked very well. The number of applications has been almost doubling annually since X-Culture was launched in 2010.

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