Well, I made it! Twenty-one days away from my wonderful family. I do want to thank my family for being patient with me for being gone and my awesome wife for holding the fort down at home by herself with two boys and Tucker (Coon Hound). Don’t worry for those reading, I am going home with presents for everyone, including my wife! Although I am ready to go home and see my family, I will miss this view from the 29th floor of my apartment.
As the trip is winding down, things for Assessment Systems are heating up (no pun intended) here in the Middle East. I had a meeting today about some very interesting opportunities elsewhere in the region. This was the icing on top of the cake in terms of all of the things we accomplished on the trip.
I hope you enjoyed taking this ‘virtual trip’ with me! Don’t worry, there will be more trips, and who knows where Assessments Systems will end up in the search for Smarter, Faster, and Fairer assessments!
Sometimes the best things come to those who wait! This trip is almost over, but seems to just keep getting better. Yesterday, we assisted a partner in the Middle East roll out, for the first time, a CAT (computerized adaptive test) on a national level. I hope Dr. David Weiss and Dr. Nathan Thompson are smiling from Minnesota right now as everything went flawlessly!
Today, I attended the BETT Middle East conference and was able to talk with innovative companies about what is next in EdTech. It was very clear that after 30 minutes at the conference that the United States is not the only ones who innovate. It is always important to look everywhere for innovation, as it can come from anywhere in the world.
Well, we are in the home stretch and this has been an amazing trip. I am looking forward to getting back to the US to see my family and to talk with you colleagues at Assessment Systems about everything I have learned and seen on this trip.
I am going into my second weekend in the Middle East now – time to take a little time for me! But, work and improvement (personal and professional) is never too far away. Have you ever wondered how we can get better as people or professionals without data? Well funny you say that, I did in the most peculiar of places. I rescheduled my drag racing experience at the Yas Marina Circuit from last weekend due to rain! When I finish my first of 10 runs, I could have been satisfied that I took a 500hp Camaro down the quarter mile in just over 13 seconds at 112 MPH. But once I looked at the data, the car is a 13 second car and I went 13.25 seconds on my first run, I was not too thrilled. Using data is key to who I am and who we are at Assessment Systems. Armed with that data, I went to work. I started to analyze my reaction time, RPMs at launch, and shift points. Suddenly, runs 2-7 started get faster. On run 8, I went 12.60 at 114.3 MPH. On run 9, I went 12.63 at 114.1 MPH. Now, I have found something to create and sustain my performance. This all occurred due to data. I could have easily been satisfied with making it down the track in one piece and going over 100 MPH, but the data showed me (as it did not lie) that there was more performance to be had. After I was finished, I found out that in ‘perfect’ conditions with a ‘professional’ driver, the car can do 12.55. Without the data, I would never have come close. I think I’ve found a new hobby!

 

All fun aside, data is key to everything we do at Assessment Systems. It is so ingrained into us, that it is a part of our everyday lives. I D.R.E.A.M. every day! (Data Rules Everything Around Me).

 

This trip is starting to wind down, but there is still more fun to be had!
This trip is going by quickly! I had a great week; I’ve been spending quality time with our key partner here in the Middle East. One of our core beliefs at Assessment Systems is that we don’t want bad tests to hurt good people. This week I assisted our key partner in running technical trials on their local test sites and on our system in order to make sure all candidates receive a world-class experience. I wish more testing organizations would take cues from our friends here in the Middle East; their attention to detail and process for rolling out their assessments is nothing short of world class!
As Thursday is the end of the work week here, I am getting ready to go into the weekend.  But the work does not stop! We have so many positive and exciting assessment updates coming up that I must power through and keep helping people create and deliver Smarter, Faster, and Fairer assessments!
Well, it has been an amazing trip so far. I have been able to get a lot of work done and look forward to continuing to work towards accomplishing all of the goals I set out on this adventure. Yesterday, I went to the Yas Marina Circuit (Formula 1) and drag race a 500 hp Camaro. Now I know there are a few of you out there thinking, they are letting him do what!? He can hardly drive a rental car without incident. Well, those of you who think that got lucky. We got some light rain showers in the drag strip that shut that down. So, they decided to fix that by giving me an even faster car for the F1 circuit (Mercedes AMG GT C), since I can do that safer with a damp track. Then it started pouring rain in Abu Dhabi! Really!  Just when they were going to give me a $140k car and an open race track. I think they was a conspiracy theory concocted by my co-workers to keep me out of fast cars! The good thing is I rescheduled, so you will get to know how this story ends.
All fun aside, this is an amazing place! It reminds me that life is about more than just things. It is about doing the right thing everyday alongside ‘ride or die’ friends and colleagues and having the opportunity to have amazing experiences.
Hello everyone!  I am almost halfway through my trip.  So far, my trip has been very productive.  The last couple of days, I have been in Dubai, as opposed to Abu Dhabi.  If you have not been to this part of the world, even though the cities are in the same country and only about 100 miles apart, they are very much different from each other. On top of that, if you get a chance to drive between the two cities, hold on to your hat – it is definitely an experience. I had to channel my inner Cole Trickle (Days Of Thunder reference) just to make it in one piece!
All kidding aside, my meetings in Dubai were very productive. I love working with individuals who are intelligent and are willing and able to innovate. The status quo is boring. Our universe is expanding and improving at a staggering rate. Unlike our competitors, I want to be able to provide the Smartest, Fastest, and Fairest assessment we can to our partners. Just because an outdated business model has created billions of dollars of profits for some in the industry by staying in the past just to make money and not advance assessment, does not mean we need to do things that way. One of our core values is to Do The Right Thing by our people, planet, and our partners. I take that seriously. To do right by our partners, we should be assisting them in developing and delivering the smartest, fastest, and fairest assessment possible. And that is why I am in the Middle East for these three weeks; the amazing people here have an incredible appetite to do just that.
As I am writing this in 80+ degree Fahrenheit weather, my family back in Minnesota is getting pounded with snow. I am definitely not going to tell my wife how awesome the weather is here in Abu Dhabi right now. I think I will use Celsius to describe the weather as opposed to Fahrenheit!
When I went into the office of one of our partners here in the UAE, I found out some incredible news. They had just won a prestigious international award for the work they are doing in the assessment of speaking and learning Arabic. Like I said the other day, this is why I work. Knowing Assessment Systems had a small part in this partner doing the great work that they are performing is very satisfying.
I have been in the Abu Dhabi for almost a week.  Now it is time to have a little fun. On Saturday, I am going to go to the Yas Marina Circuit (Formula 1) and go drag race a 500hp Camaro! If you know me, doing this makes perfect sense. There is nothing like the smell of burnt rubber after smoking the tires in preparation for going fast! Look for some awesome pictures soon (as long as I don’t put the Camaro into the wall!)

On Sunday and Monday, I had the opportunity to attend the Assessment in Middle East conference hosted at the prestigious Abu Dhabi University. The conference brought together higher education professionals across the Middle East to discuss how the assessment of students and faculty can contribute to quality improvement through the use of data. It was fascinating to see talk with these professionals on how they use data to make themselves better.

Within our own business, we like to D.R.E.A.M. (insert Wu Tang Clan reference here… RIP ODB). D.R.E.A.M stands for Data rules everything around me, and at Assessment Systems it really does. It is refreshing to have been surrounded by professionals for two days who thrive off of continual improvement using data as opposed to doing things like they always had because ‘than is just how we do it here’. These are the types of professionals I love working with.

I have a lot of great takeaways from my time at the conference and look forward to sharing them with my team when I return.

Until next time!

I have have traveled quite a bit around the world in my 44 years on this planet, but I am definitely ready form the airlines to bring back the Concorde!  Somebody needs to innovate this flight from Dulles to Abu Dhabi.

Speaking of innovation, I am honored to be working for a company and a CEO that embody the spirit of innovation each and every day. To truly be innovative, you must be brave and fearless. It is easy for an organization to talk about ‘being innovative’ or even take all of the money they have fleeced from State assessments and innovate in a manner that keeps the benefits behind walls and continue to swindle the States. That’s not how we roll and I am very proud of that.

Picture in your mind: a day where psychometrics is automated, accessible and affordable to all that wish to make sure bad tests don’t hurt good people. That is the exciting working I get to participate in each and every day. To that end, I will be attending the Assessment in Middle East conference the next couple of days with like minded innovators.  Definitely excited!

Until we talk again.

PS:. Somebody call Elon Musk for me to get this flight shortened!

Why do we work? This is an interesting question. Some work purely for money. Some work to belong to something bigger than themselves. If I look back on my career, I have always worked to help people. During my Sports medicine days, I helped student athletes gain access to optimal health care. When I worked at a certification body, we helped protect the public by making sure health care providers had a minimum level of competency. Right now, I am embarking on a 21 day journey to work with organizations to create and deliver valid and precise assessments using modern testing theory – this makes me happy.  

Happy to know that the sacrifices I am making are going to making this world a better place. In the end, we don’t want bad tests to hurt good people.

At Assessment Systems, we believe one of us isn’t as smart as all of us. My first stop on this journey: Washington, DC, where I will spend a day collaborating with my colleague Kat Stanley. After that, off the to Middle East in search of assessments that need to be Smarter, Faster, and Fairer!

I hope you continue to follow me on this journey. Until we talk again!