November 24, 2015

Is Failure Good?

Here is a refreshing take on failure, from an article by James Altucher. I like his approach, it appears unconventional at first but makes perfect sense by the end.


Failure is the worst possible thing. There is nothing good about it, and there's nothing you can pretend to learn from it. However, failure has many cousins - better things to learn from:
  1. Curiosity. When Something happens and you don't understand why, ask questions. Keep asking until you find answers.
  2. Experiment. It is normal in a lab to experiment with many materials before coming up with the right one. Didn't work? Change something and try a new experiment.
  3. Persistence. The best way to get better (and more well-known) is to simply do it again.
  4. Forgiveness. "Failure" is a word used to label a past event. When you label a past event as a failure, it prevents you from moving beyond the past. Learn to forgive, and move back to the present.
  5. Study. A good student doesn't call it a failure when he gets a question wrong on a test. It's just a wrong answer. Understand and study and remember the correct answers.
  6. Hard Problems. The key to success is to solve hard problems. Failure is not a hard problem - it is a label. Failure is in the past, hard problems can be solved now.
  7. Don't Care. When you fail, are you truly just worried that others will think you a failure? Don't worry about what others think. Don't care. Good things will happen.

November 17, 2015

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

I haven't posted a good "definition" in a while now. Every now and again I run across some interesting idea or concept - usually something to help me recognize issues within myself and take corrective action. Today, I have a new definition to present:
Dunning-Kruger Effect
The less competent an individual is at a specific task, the more likely they are to inflate their self-appraised competence in relationship to that task.
I have noticed this in my own life, on occasion. Have you? Just because we think we are good at something does not necessarily mean we are. Watch the opening rounds of American Idol some time. You will see many would-be contestants trot out on stage as if they are God's gift to music, and yet they are absolutely atrocious performers. That's the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action!

November 10, 2015

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

November 3, 2015

Getting to Yes With Yourself and Other Worthy Opponents by William Ury

One of the very first things I posted about was "Getting Past NO" by William Ury. It is an invaluable resource for anyone who needs to negotiate, or at the very least, try to understand the intentions of others.

On the flipside is "Getting To Yes With Yourself...", which teaches us how to overcome our biggest obstacle in negotiating our lives - our own natural tendency to poorly react to people and situations.

Here is my summary!
  1. Put yourself in your shoes.
    • Before negotiating with anyone else, identify your own needs. This will help you stay focused on options that work for everyone.
      • See yourself from the "balcony" - Look at yourself and the situation from a distance.
      • Listen with empathy - Accept yourself as you are and try to understand any negative feelings you have about yourself.
      • Uncover your needs - We tend to know what we want, but forget why.
  2. Develop your inner BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement).
    • Assign accountability where it belongs.
    • You can't always control what happens to you, but you cant control your reaction.
    • Don't look to others to give you what you need - this only gives them power and makes you dependent.
  3. Reframe your picture.
    • You can either see negotiations as a battle or an opportunity to collaboratively solve a problem.
    • Remember the big picture, and make your interactions positive.
  4. Stay in the zone
    • Paying heightened attention to the present makes you more likely to spot potential openings and tap into your natural creativity.
    • Staying in this "zone" optimizes performance and heightens inner satisfaction.
  5. Respect them, even if they reject you.
    • Even if they don't treat you respectfully, your attempts at respect can transform a negotiation.
    • Stay cool, courteous, and patient in the face of attacks.
  6. Give for mutual gain.
    • When you and your opponent seek mutual win-win solutions, you positively affect each other and the world around you. You move from "taking" to "giving" and create value for others.

October 27, 2015

October 20, 2015

What Would MacGyver Do? by Josh Linker

I don't normally flip through the local paper, The Detroit Free Press, but happily I did so on this particular day as I found a really good little article called "What Would MacGyver Do?" It was from an old paper lying around (March 23rd, 2014) and only the quickly aging would today know who Angus MacGyver was. But it may be that the principles below are even more useful today than in yesteryear.


Entrepreneurs today are being delivered more obstacles and setback than ever before. The difference between those who flourish and those who wilt is raw, gritty determination. The phrase, "What would MacGyver do?" serves as a guidepost for decision making. The next time you're facing an overwhelming obstacle, MacGyver it:

  • Each of us has the ability to inject the same creative problem solving into our lives as MacGyver.
  • Instead of panicking, figure out how to use the resources at hand.
  • Worry less about what you don't have, and focus on the tools you do have.
  • Lack of resources often leads to fresh, powerful solutions.

October 13, 2015

"A wise man can learn more from a foolish question, than a fool can learn from a wise answer."

September 30, 2015

"Lead from the back - and let others believe they are in front."

September 22, 2015

Memory Loss: 7 Tips to Improve Your Memory

Memory loss - this is a biggie for me. I'm constantly forgetting people, places, things; sometimes even my own birthday! So when I ran across this article at the Mayo Clinic website, I just had to have it in my notebook...
  1. Stay Mentally Active
    • Mentally stimulating activities help keep your brain in shape.
  2. Socialize Regularly
    • It helps ward off depression and stress - both of which can contribute to memory loss.
  3. Get Organized
    • Jot down tasks, appointments, etc., and repeat each entry out loud to help "cement" it in your memory.
    • Set aside certain places for your wallet, keys, etc.
  4. Sleep Well
    • It plays an important role in memory consolidation for later recall.
  5. Eat a Healthy Diet
    • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat protein sources like fish, lean meats, and skinless poultry.
  6. Include Physical Activity in Your Routine
    • It increases blood flow to the brain.
  7. Manage Chronic Conditions
    • Follow your doctor's recommendations.
    • The better you care for yourself, the better your memory is likely to be.

September 15, 2015


On January 7th, 2013 I was given a Moleskine notebook by my then supervisor, Rodney. He told me to write within it things which would help me learn and grow. Inside the front cover he beautifully drew:

And thus I have tried to abide by that idea. During the course of 2013 and 2014 I filled the notebook at a rate of one page per week, with content which has helped me grow immensely. At the end of 2014 I finished filling up 104 pages and began a new notebook.

Today is the day I officially retire the original notebook. As of today, I have written 141 posts and exhausted its content. A day of celebration! Next week I will begin my posts from the new notebook.

This final post is a quote, and I think it is perfect to close out the book (which is why I chose it), as it defines exactly what I have had to do throughout the course of keeping this notebook.

"First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end."

September 8, 2015

"Good or Bad: I've Learned From All of My Bosses" by Dr. Marla Gottschalk

Time for managers and executives to take notice: want to be well respected by your minions? Here are a few points of advice from Dr. Marla Gottschalk's article "Good or Bad: I've Learned From All of My Bosses."
  1. Great bosses are transparent.
    • They don't hesitate to share what you've done right, and the situations you may need to improve.
    • There is no hidden agenda - they simply want you to develop and succeed.
  2. They don't hover.
    • They guide, not micromanage.
  3. They never leave anyone high-and-dry.
    • Instead, they sit down with their employees to discuss strategy, prepare them, and offer best-practice advice.
  4. They see you - but, beyond today.
    • They see what you have to offer, even if you may not.
    • They help drive you forward, even when you stumble or fall.

September 1, 2015

"Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."

August 25, 2015

What I Learned About Life After Interviewing 80 Highly-Successful People

If you've ever read one of James Altucher's articles, you will find them to often be frantic and full of completely useful information. Excellent writing but hard to summarize. The last Altucher post I summarized took me several weeks to so do. This one, "What I Learned..." was slightly easier, but still full of amazing information.
  1. A life is measured in decades. Too many people want everything now. But a good life is like a bonfire - it builds slowly, and because it's slow and warm it caresses the heart instead of destroying it.
  2. A life is measured by what you did today. You get success in decades by having success now. Are you doing your best today?
  3. Focus is not important, "push" is. Focus is like saying, "I'm just going to learn about only one thing forever." But "push" is the ability to get up every day and push through all the things that make you want to go back to sleep.
  4. Give without thinking about what you will receive.
  5. Solving hard problems is more important that overcoming failure.
  6. Art, success, and love are about connecting all the dots. Everything is a dot: things you learn, things you read about, things you love. Connect them and create a legacy that will continue beyond you.
  7. It's not business, it's personal. Nobody succeeds with a great idea - they succeed because they build personal networks within networks of connections, friends, colleagues; all striving for personal goals, trusting each other, and working together.
  8. You can't predict the outcome, you can only do your best.
  9. The same philosophy of life should work for an emperor and a slave. You can't predict pleasure or pain. You can only strive for knowledge, giving, and fairness.
  10. The only correct path is the path correct for you. Don't think you have to fight your way to the top.
  11. Taking care of yourself comes first.
  12. The final answer: People do end up loving what they succeed at, or they succeed at what they love.
  13. Anybody, at any age. Age and status don't determine anything.

August 18, 2015

10 Irritating Behaviors that will Ruin Your Career

How many of these are you guilty of, from Jeff Haden's brilliant article? I used to be guilty of quite a few (and some of these I wasn't even aware of being bad, so I've since started to correct)...

  1. They thoughtlessly waste other people's time.
    • People who don't notice the small ways they inconvenience others tend to be oblivious when they do it in major ways.
    • Instead, behave as if the people around you have more urgent needs than yours.
  2. They ignore people outside their "level."
    • Sometimes we ignore others because they don't "fit in."
    • Instead, nod when making eye contact, or say, "Hi." Or just act like people exist.
  3. They ask for way too much.
    • Sometimes we forget that our needs are our problems. The world doesn't owe us anything - we aren't entitled to advice, mentoring, or success.
    • Instead, look out for yourself first. People tend to help those who help themselves or them first.
  4. They ignore people in genuine need.
    • Some people aren't in a position to help themselves. Give them a hand.
  5. They ask a question so they can talk.
    • Don't shoehorn in your own opinions under false pretenses.
    • Only ask questions if you genuinely want answers, and ask follow-up question to better understand.
  6. They pull a "Do you know who I am?"
    • Sometimes we pull out some form of the "I'm too important for this" card.
    • Instead, don't act like you know you're "somebody" or that you're entitled.
  7. They don't know when to dial it back.
    • Some people just can't stop "expressing their individuality" - even when its not appropriate.
    • Learn to know when a situation requires you to stop justifying words or actions with an unspoken, "Hey, that's just me being me."
  8. They mistake self-deprecation for permission.
    • Sometimes self-deprecation is genuine, but it's often a mask for insecurity. Never assume it is permission for you to poke the same fun at him.
  9. They humblebrag.
    • This is a form of braggin that tries to cover the brag with a veneer of humility, so it doesn't appear as bragging.
    • Instead, don't brag at all. Just be proud of your accomplishments and let others brag for you.
  10. They push their opinions.
    • Instead, share your opinions only in the appropriate setting.
    • What you think is right for you may not be right for others - it may not even be right for you.

August 11, 2015

"Develop your eccentricities while you are young. That way, when you get old, people won't think you're going gaga."
David Ogilvy

"Inspiration exists, but it must find you working."

August 4, 2015

10 Ways to Develop Your Exceptional Charisma by Jeff Haden

Of late, I have focused a lot on lists, which is great because in many cases the points are already summarized. Lists are often useful, as in the case of this one by Jeff Haden, "10 Ways to Develop Your Exceptional Charisma." I wonder when he'll figure out I keep "borrowing" his wonderful material? :)

  1. Listen way more than you talk.
    • Ask questions. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Respond, just non-verbally.
    • Don't offer advice unless asked.
    • Only speak when you have something important - to the other person - to say.
  2. Don't practice selective hearing.
    • Listen closely to everyone. Make everyone feel on the level, like you have something in common with them.
  3. Always put your stuff away.
    • Don't focus on phones, monitors, etc. You can't connect with others if you're busy connecting with your stuff.
  4. Always give before you receive - knowing you may never receive.
    • Never think about what you can get, focus on what you can provide.
  5. Don't act self-important...
    • The only people impressed by pretentiousness are pretentious people.
  6. ...since you know other people are important.
    • You already know what you know - you can't learn new stuff from yourself.
    • You don't know what others know - they are people you can learn from.
  7. Shine the spotlight on others
    • Make sure you know when others do well, and be sure to tell them they did well.
  8. Choose your attitude and your words
    • Your words affect others' attitudes, as well as your own.
    • You don't "have to" do something - you "get to" do it.
  9. Don't discuss the failings of others...
    • Don't laugh at other people. When you do, the people around you wonder if you sometimes laugh at them too.
    • Everyone may like gossip, but no one respects a gossiper.
  10. ...but readily admit your own failings.
    • You have to be genuine to be charismatic.
    • Be humble. Share your screw-ups. Admit your mistakes and be the lesson learned.
    • Laugh at yourself, and others will laugh with you, not at you.

July 28, 2015

"The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing."

July 21, 2015

Use the Theory of Seven to Get Your Point Across by Bruce Kasanoff

From the LinkedIn article by Bruce Kasanoff, I provide a summary of his Theory of Seven.


Any time you have to communicate with a large group of people, communicate as though they are 7-year-olds. Don't talk down to them, rather be interesting, clear, and simple.
  • Simplify your priorities - The larger your audience, the more vital it is to be clear.
  • Be clear about what's next - If you want people to act, be 100% clear on what will happen next.
  • Don't be intellectual - The larger your audience, the less room there is to be intellectual.
  • Don't assume that others are idiots - Speaking simply does not mean disrespecting your audience; be interesting, not idiotic.
  • Keep things moving - Use a a pace whereby something interesting and useful is always happening.
  • Be creative, unpredictable, passionate, supportive, kind, and interested - Make every moment so interesting no one wants to go to the bathroom, in case they miss something.

July 14, 2015

Seven Discipline-Mastering Practices

In my personal and professional lives, there are many things I want to be good at - but only a few that I actually want to master. I enjoy operating as "Jack of all trades, master of none" simply because of the diversity it affords; but every so often I discover something which I can hold to my breast and attempt to own.

Happily, I stumbled across this post by Leo Babuta on his blog, He gives seven sage points to help one get in the mindset to master whatever discipline he or she may choose. Be sure to read the whole post, but here is my summary:

  1. Do the task, even if you're not in the mood - You'll never master life if you wait until you're, "in the mood."
  2. Exercise, even when you really don't want to - Ignore the lazy feelings and distractedness, and suck it up - you'll find that you'll feel great for having done it.
  3. Sit with a little hunger - We tend to panic when we get hungry. Instead of running to junk food, listen to the hunger and realize that a little discomfort won't ruin your life.
  4. Talk to someone about something uncomfortable - Pushing through an uncomfortable situation will resolve a lot of difficult problems.
  5. Stick to a habit - It i hart to stick with a (good) habit after your initial enthusiasm dies down. Commit to it for a few months for only a few minutes per day, and you'll start to master the formation of new habits.
  6. Turn toward the problem - Instead of avoiding, ignoring, or going around problems, acknowledge them and try to figure out exactly what's going on.
  7. See the good in the activity - No matter what the activity is, find the good in doing it, and the activity itself will become the reward.

July 8, 2015

How NOT To Introduce Yourself by Bernard Marr

I ran across a little article on LinkedIn by Bernard Marr, covering the topic of networking and introductions. A lot of good pointers for what not to say when meeting someone for the first time.

Don't be this guy when introducing yourself:
  • Mr. Name Dropper (bragging about who he knows, who he has worked with)
  • Mr. Drive-by Business Carder (giving business cards without any introduction and then moving on)
  • Mr. Double Business Carder (giving an additional business card in the hopes that his new contact will give it to a colleague)
  • The Rambler (talks excessively, often neglecting to introduce hisself)
  • Mr. TMI (giving out far too much personal information)
  • Mr. Limp Fish (a weak handshake)
  • The Cannonball (too overconfident, barrels himself into uninvited conversation)
  • The Digital Zombie (too absorbed in his tech to interact with others around him)

Instead, try being this guy:
"Hi, may name is {so-and-so}, and I do {this-and-that}."

June 30, 2015

Small Move, Big Change by Caroline L. Arnold

One of the things I am interested in is actively changing my bad behaviors, poor ways of thinking, do better at work, etc. That's where "Small Move, Big Change" has been a fantastic resource. Caroline Arnold shows how making small steps over time can yield bigger and better (and more permanent) results than if we try to set huge goals right out of the gate.


If you want to make changes (and keep them going), specifically define how you plan to accomplish each change and start that plan by promising that you will take just one small step: a "microresolution."

Rather than attacking the whole problem, pick one or two small, realistic changes; and then follow these seven microresolution precepts:
  1. A Microresolution is Easy
    The more challenging your resolution, the less likely you are to accomplish it. Even slight changes to your routine require sustained focus, but achieving a small goal is easier and will give you confidence.
  2. A Microresolution is an Explicit and Measurable Action
    Specific cues trigger specific habits. If your cue and your behavior share a strong link, the resulting habit endures. Therefore, create explicit habits based on explicit cues.
  3. A Microresolution Pays Off Up-Front
    Accomplishing a microresolution provides and immediate positive effect.
  4. A Microresolution is Personal
    Create microresolutions based on observation of your own habits, attitude, and situation. Your success hinges on heeding your personal reactions.
  5. A Microresolution Resonates
    Some tasks are better suited to being done in small doses, so play around with the frequency of your microresolutions. Fram them positively, except when taking an action which could lead to (or keep you from) harm - then use zero-tolerance language.
  6. A Microresolution Fires on Cue
    The cue that will trigger your microresolution is already part of your behavior. All you have to do is figure out what it is. Don't be afraid to tweak your microresolution if the cue isn't working.
  7. Make Microresolutions Just Two at a Time
    Resist the temptation to make many at once. They won't seem natural until they become habit, and that takes time.

June 23, 2015

"It must not stop me."
Hank Rearden, Atlas Shrugged

I just want to take a minute to explain why this quote is so important to me. This is the first time I have done this (posted on a quote) and will most likely be the last, as I like the quotes to speak for themselves. But this particular quote is, to me, one of the most important in my life.

It occurs about 1/4 of the way through Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Hank, one of the novel's protagonists, has been suffering setback after setback by a failed government, infested with rampant socialism and cronyism. And yet he keeps on, in the face of overwhelming odds against him.

It is important to point out that the word is must, not will or can. This is on purpose - using will or can imparts a certain level of haughtiness that invites destruction. They are not "action" words, they are words of resolution. But must - that is an action word; it is active, it is Hank on his guard, it invites a fight, it dares the universe to stop him.

This line appears only once in the novel, but to me sums up Hank's character, drive, and resolve. Being a character who I strongly identify with, I try to keep the same approach. I may not like what life is throwing at me, but "it must not stop me" or I will never be all that I can be.

June 16, 2015

Two Minutes to Make You Happier at Work, in Life, and Over the Holidays

Laszlo Bock (the SVP of People Operations at Google), wrote this short article on LinkedIn just before Thanksgiving 2014, which I saw pop up in my LinkedIn feed. For so short an article, it really does give some pointed and relevant advice and information on what to do to bring happiness into your life, which I here summarize:
  • Expressing gratitude makes you happier.
  • Research shows that, when things happen, it makes us either sad or happy. That effect tends to attenuate over time and reverts to a baseline level of happiness or sadness.
  • Research also shows that those who identify as more grateful stay happier longer.
  • Take two minutes each day to write down three things for which you are grateful; or to thank or praise a person you know.

June 9, 2015

"There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all."

June 2, 2015

Practical Genius by Gina Amaro Rudan

This is a super small (but very helpful) summary of Practical Genius by Gina Amaro Rudan. I really recommend reading the whole book, but here is what I learned:


Your genius resides inside - bring it out! Many people wonder what happened to their potential as they get older.

Life "de-geniuses" people, and many adults live lives of compromise, sacrificing their passions to meet expectations. They have capability for genius but never realize it. Most people are capable of breath-taking accomplishments, if they connect to their Practical Genius - the "sweet spot" where your intellect and passion meet.

To reach your full potential, take the following 5 steps:
  1. Identify Your Genius
    • Think about the legacy you want to leave behind, focus on what truly moves you: on your skills, strengths, expertise, passion, creativity, and values.
    • Don't keep repeating the same routine: try something new. Study yourself, explore, experiment, and play!
  2. Express Your Genius
    • Tell everyone your personal story. You only get 2 minutes, so make every word count: say what matters most to you and explain how that shapes you.
    • Be sure to tell your story every time you introduce yourself to someone new.
  3. Surround Yourself With Genius
    • Become a "people collector" - a curator of new relationships.
    • Find people who are:
      • Yodas - Mentors and coaches.
      • Ambassadors - Those who believe in, and promote, you.
      • Tribesmen - The new and old faces who come and go.
  4. Sustain Your Genius
    • Take proper care to sustain your:
      • Mind - Use your time wisely, find time for things that matter.
      • Body - Sleep, eat, and play well.
      • Spirit - Attend a house of worship or use other non-traditional forms of spirituality.
  5. Market Your Genius
    • Proudly exhibit your own special contradictions.
    • Present yourself as the special genius you are.

May 26, 2015

"It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
Abraham Lincoln

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."

May 19, 2015

4 Ways to Fire Up Your Idea Engine by Arnie McKinnis

Searching for ideas? Trying to figure out what to do next? I know I am. And these four ideas have actually come in handy! This small article by Arnie McKinnis packs in some big ideas:
  1. Do a random internet search
    Figure out a few keywords that make sense and see what's out there.
  2. Look at different (non-competitive) products, industries, or regions
    Find out what makes them innovative, and think about how that can be used for your company or product.
  3. Look at trends
    Check out "trend sites" like Springwise or Trendwatching.
  4. Look at where the money is going
    People are cautious with money, but venture capitalists are smart and usually right.

May 12, 2015

"Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't."

May 5, 2015

9 Habits of Remarkably Persuasive People by Jeff Haden

Yet another great little information-packed article by Jeff Haden. These nine points are good to keep in mind, be it casual conversation or a presentation to a packed auditorium. Here are the 9 Habits of Remarkably Persuasive People:
  1. They Take Bold Stands
    • Humans prefer cockiness to expertise. We naturally equate confidence with skill.
    • Be bold. Stop saying 'I think' and 'I believe' - instead just say 'It will.'
  2. They Adjust Their Rate of Speech
    • If the audience is likely to disagree, talk faster - it gives less time to formulate counter-arguments.
    • If they are likely to agree, speak slower - it gives more time to evaluate and factor into their own thoughts.
  3. They Start with Small 'Wins'
    • Gaining agreement has an enduring effect.
    • Start with statements or premises you know they will agree with to build a foundation of further agreement.
  4. They Occasionally Swear
    • Tossing in an occasional and heart-felt curse word can show urgency and concern.
    • Authenticity is more persuasive.
  5. They Know Their Audience
    • Don't push for instant agreement if their personality style requires thinking time; likewise, don't hesitate if they don't require thinking time.
  6. They Share Positives and Negatives
    • Sharing an opposing viewpoint or two is more persuasive.
    • Very few ideas are perfect; sharing negatives shows understanding of potential misgivings.
  7. They Draw Positive Conclusions
    • Positive-outcome statements are more persuasive than scare tactics.
  8. They Choose the Right Medium
    • For example: men tend to feel competitive in person while women, the opposite.
  9. Most of All, They Make Sure They're Right
    • Be clear, concise, and to the point.
    • Make sure your data, reasoning, and conclusions are beyond reproach.

April 29, 2015

Body Language

One of the many things that interest me is learning how to interpret body language. I realize it is more of an art than a science, but hey - if it can help me better understand how someone is communicating, then so much the better! So here are a few hints I picked up:
  1. Pupils
    When people are interested or in favor of something, their pupils involuntarily dilate. When not interested or "closed off" their pupils constrict.
  2. Hand Steeple
    (Placing the fingers together, forming a steeple.) People use this to denote strength or confidence. Used too much, however, it comes across as arrogance.
  3. Deceptive Touch
    Quick gesturing to facial features (such as touching the nose or ear) may denote deception or lack of surety. If the touch lingers or the whole hand is used (a la rubbing a beard or chin), they are pondering trust in what or who they hear.

April 21, 2015

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo

In my never-ending quest to pick up every tip and trick to good public presentations, I ran across this book. It is, by far, not the best book I've read, though it has very high ratings and accolades. Well, to each his own, I guess. Below is a summary of the main points.


Setting the Stage
Successful presentations closely resemble the structure of a three-act play.

Act 1: Creating the Story
You must have a gripping narrative that engages your listeners.
  1. Scene 1: Plan in Analog
    • Think out exactly what you want to say.
    • Write a presentation plan and create a storyboard.
    • Carefully sketch your ideas and script your speech as completely as possible.
    • Spend 90 hours preparing a 1-hour presentation, mostly in research and planning.
  2. Scene 2: Answer the One Question that Matters Most
    • Why should your listener care about your idea?
    • Deliver the answer early to engage quickly and make therm eager to hear more.
  3. Scene 3: Develop a Messianic Sense of Purpose
    • "We're here to put a dent in the universe."
  4. Scene 4: Create Twitter-like Headlines
    • People remember short, to-the-point headlines.
  5. Scene 5: Draw a Roadmap
    • Create a verbal roadmap that shows exactly where you plan to take them.
  6. Scene 6: Introduce the Antagonist
    • Include villains in your presentation.
    • Communicate how your product or service will eliminate them.
  7. Scene 7: Reveal the Conquering Hero
    • Detail the problems of your industry.
    • Lay out your vision of how your new offering will vastly improve the landscape.

Act 2: Delivering the Experience
You must create visually appealing and "must-have" experiences.
  1. Scene 1: Channel Their Inner Zen
    • Keep things simple and elegant.
  2. Scene 2: Dress Up your Numbers
    • They have little meaning unless placed in context.
  3. Scene 3: Use "Amazingly Zippy" Words
    • Don't bog down your presentation with jargon. Instead use words which convey the emotion of your offering.
  4. Scene 4: Share the Stage
    • Don't be afraid to share the limelight.
  5. Scene 5: Use Props
    • Involve as many of your audience as possible.
  6. Scene 6: Share a Startling Moment
    • During your presentation, plan special and startling moments to wow.

Act 3: Redefining and Rehearsing
Even the greatest presentation will fall flat if you don't practice it to perfection.
  1. Scene 1: Master Stage Presence
    • Maintain eye contact with the audience at all times.
    • Don't hide behind a lectern.
    • Keep open posture.
    • Constantly gesture and change the tone, inflection, volume, and tempo of your words.
  2. Scene 2: Make it Look Effortless
    • Each presentation should be the result of weeks of prep.
  3. Scene 3: Wear the Appropriate "Costume"
    • Always dress appropriately for the crowd.
  4. Scene 4: Toss the Script
    • Reading from scripts distances you from your audience.
    • Practice so that eventually only one or two main words from your script will allow you to recall sentences.
  5. Scene 5: Have Fun
    • Don't just educate: entertain.
    • If a problem occurs, acknowledge, smile, and continue.
    • Enjoy yourself!

April 14, 2015

10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job in 2014 by James Altucher

I want to preface this post with a few things. Firstly, I realize it is no longer 2014, but the year is ultimately not the point of the article, which is posted here. The point is to make you aware of your place in the scheme of things.

Secondly, I was so blown away with the concepts and delivery of Mr. Altucher (and continue to be, when I read his articles) that it actually took several months and many re-readings to figure out how to accurately capture what he was saying in summary.

I consider this to be, hands down, one of the most influential articles I read in all of 2014; it played a huge role in how I re-positioned myself last year to start working for my own goals.

You need to quit your job and build a foundation for your life soon, or you will have no roof.
  1. The Middle-Class is Dead
    • They are being hollowed out.
    • More people have become upper-class, but there are more lower-class than ever.
    • The 'American Dream' was a marketing scam.
  2. You've Been Replaced
    • Technology, outsourcing, contract positions are replacing the middle-class.
    • Most jobs from 20 years ago are no longer needed.
  3. Corporations Don't Like You
    • They destroy the career aspirations of their most talented people.
  4. Money is not Happiness
    • Studies show that salary increase only offers marginal (to zero, even) increase in happiness above a certain point.
    • People spend what they make, and so extra money leads only to extra spending.
    • Don't stay at a job for safe salary increases over time - you'll never get where you want: financial freedom.
  5. Count How Many People Can Make a Major Decision that Can Ruin Your Life
    • Diversify what you work on, so that no one person can make a decision that could make you rich or destroy you.
    • Start planning now how to create your own destiny instead of allowing people don't like you to control it.
  6. Is Your Job Satisfying Your Needs?
    • Modify your lifestyle and work to satisfy more of your needs.
  7. Your Retirement Plan is for Shit
    • Inflation will carve out the bulk of your 401k.
    • Start a business or platform or lifestyle where you can save large chunks of money.
    • Everyone is an entrepreneur. The only skills you need are the ability to fail, the ability to have ideas, sell the ideas, execute the ideas, and the ability to be persistent so that even as you fail you're learning from it.
    • Be an 'Entremployee' - take control of who you report to, what you do, what you create.
  8. Excuses
    • Stop making them.
  9. It's Ok to Take Baby Steps
    • Make a list of dreams. These are not goals, they are themes. Every day ask yourself what you need to do to practice those themes.
    • No one is saying quit your job today.
  10. Abundance Will Never Come from Your Job
    • Abundance only comes when you move along your themes, and from enhancing the lives of those around you.

April 7, 2015

How Do You Know You've Become a True Leader?

Three simple checks to see if you've reached that point of true leadership. I can't find the original source, but here they are:
  1. You don't try to be right, you try to be clear.
  2. You try not to have the last word.
  3. You no longer try to show that it was your idea. You empower other people to own the idea.

March 31, 2015

The Core Beliefs of The Delightfully Successful by Dharmesh Shah

Being successful is right at the top of my list of things to do with my life! When I saw this article by Dharmesh Shah on LinkedIn,  I just couldn't pass it up. And I'm glad I didn't! Here are 10 core beliefs, principles to live by to help you be successful.

  1. They believe they don't have to wait to be "selected." They can simply select themselves.
    You can do almost anything you have the desire and skills to do; you don't need to wait for someone else to discover your talents. You get to discover yourself.
  2. They believe being first matters less than being best.
    Focus on being the best one still in the game.
  3. They believe success seems predictable only in hindsight.
    "You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dost will somehow connect in the future." - Steve Jobs
  4. They believe personal success comes from service, not selfishness.
    When you in it only for yourself, initial success is always finite and fleeting. When you're in it for others, they succeed - and so do you.
  5. They believe in doing a few things no one else is willing to do.
    Every time you do something, think of a few extra things you can do that others aren't willing to do.
  6. They believe that the depth of their network is more important than the breadth.
    Forget amassing a huge network, reach out to the people who really want to be a part of your professional life for a long time.
  7. They believe that ideas are important, but execution is everything.
    Craft a strategy. Set up a basic plan to implement it.
  8. They believe leadership is earned, not given.
    Real leaders are the kind of people their employees follow not because they have to, but because they want to.
  9. They believe in paying it forward.
    It is common for people to expect to be compensated more before they will consider doing more. Successful people see compensation as a reward fore exceptional effort, not the driver.
  10. They believe they will make their own history.
    When we're willing to try something new, someday we will look back with pride on the part we played in history.

March 24, 2015

March 18, 2015

10 Times You're Better Off Keeping Your Mouth Shut by Bill Murphy Jr.

Sometimes we talk too much. Sometimes we talk enough, but say completely the wrong thing. As the saying goes, there's a reason why we have two ears and two eyes but only one mouth. Sometimes we need to just be aware of when not to speak. And so this aptly-named article by Bill Murphy Jr. admonishes us to shut up...
  1. When the other side in a negotiation starts debating against itself. Keep your mouth shut and just stay out of the way.
  2. When you've asked a question. You can observe a lot just by watching, and learn a lot just by listening.
  3. When the other side misunderstands (and you don't have a duty to talk). Remember, you're not always obligated to correct others' mistakes.
  4. When you don't have any idea what you're talking about.
  5. When you need someone else to get the credit.
  6. When you are bragging, as opposed to sharing.
  7. When your comment is more about you than the other person.
  8. When you want someone else to grow. Instead of leaping forward to answer a thoughtful question, sometimes it makes sense to hold back and let others figure it out.
  9. When you are clearly boring people.
  10. When you begin a speech. A long pause often creates a level of discomfort, and then gets the audience rooting for you.

March 11, 2015

"Sometimes you have to be willing to just let things go."
- Me

March 3, 2015

"Charisma" by Tony Alessandra

In my never-ending quest to be able to give speeches, presentations, and interact in social situations, I ran across "Charisma: Seven Keys to Developing the Magnetism that Leads to Success" by Tony Alessandra. It really does a decent job presenting seven elements that charismatic people exhibit, and gives pointers to help apply those elements to you. Here I present a simple outline; I really do recommend reading the book for the full effect.


What is charisma? It is the quality that creates leaders. If people like you, even though they don't know much about you, you have charisma. Assess your amount of charisma by examining its seven elements:
  1. Your Silent Message - This is how you carry yourself. It can be broken down into five categories:
    • Your Emotional Self
    • Your Psychological Self
    • Your Intellectual Self
    • Your Spiritual Self
    • Your Physical Self
  2. Speaking With Authority - Know your material backwards and forwards. Follow these steps for preparation:
    • Identify Your Purpose
    • Know Your Audience
    • Know Your Material
    • Focus on the Big Idea
    • Get Your Audience's Attention and Keep It
    • Practice and Visualize
  3. Listening Skills - People listen at four basic levels of awareness:
    • Non-Listener (No effort to hear)
    • Marginal (Hears, but misses the meaning)
    • Technical (Makes and effort to hear, but not understand)
    • Active (Focuses on understanding)
    To become an active listener, focus on:
    • Concentrating
    • Acknowledging
    • Researching
    • Controlling Emotions
    • Sensing Non-Verbal Messages
    • Structuring
  4. Power of Persuasion - Understanding the "need gap" - the difference between the current situation and the desired one:
    • Discover Needs and Goals
    • Create a Solution
    • Commit to an Action Plan
    • Identify, Monitor, and Measure Results
  5. Use of Time and Space
    • In casual conversation, sit at right angles to facilitate gesturing and eye contact
    • In formal conversation, use a desk or table as a safety barrier to monitor non-verbals
    • Someone who is distracted by your behavior doesn't hear your message
    • Be aware of others' needs for personal space
    • Showing up late sends the message that you don't think their time is valuable; showing up early sends the message that yours isn't.
  6. Adapability - If you can identify someone's personality style, you can improve communication and build rapport:
    • Directors (dominant, take charge)
    • Socializers (fast paced, fun loving)
    • Relaters (people-oriented)
    • Thinkers (result-oriented, problem solvers)
  7. Vision - A visionary idea appeals to the values and needs of the people you seek to lead.
    • A mission will give purpose, context, and stamina to your vision
    • Setting and accomplishing goals is necessary to achieve your vision

February 24, 2015

"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing."

February 17, 2015

13 Damn Good Ideas from 13 Dead Copyrighters by Demian Farnsworth

One of the disciplines that interest me, and actually have come within reach in my current career, is advertising. There are two main branches: Art Director, who composes the graphical layout, and Copywriter, who creates the text on the ad (I like to dabble in both). In my internet searches for information I ran across a good article outlining several trend-setting ideas from bigwigs of advertising's past; below I present a simple summary list:
  1. Decide the effect you want to produce in your reader. (Robert Collier)
    • What emotion do you want to produce in your reader? Write in such a way to bring that feeling to the surface.
  2. Show your product in use. (Victor Schwab)
    • When displaying your product, you will get more attention by showing it in use.
  3. Open like a Reader's Digest article. (John Caples)
    • Fact-packed
    • Telegraphic
    • Specific
    • Few Adjectives
    • Arouse Curiousity
  4. Tap into one overwhelming desire. (Eugene Schwartz)
    • Look for a single, overwhelming desire that thousands are actively trying to satisfy at the moment.
  5. Make the advertiser the character. (Maxwell Sackheim)
    • Use the CEO, President, etc. in advertising or communications.
  6. Develop a unique selling position. (Rosser Reeves)
    • Identify a unique and meaningful attribute or benefit and constantly use it. Don't repeat: instead, restate.
  7. Find the inherent drama in your product. (Leo Burnett)
    • Steep yourself in the subject. Tell a great story.
    • Create a hero, goal, conflict, mentor, and moral.
  8. Write to one person, not a million. (Fairfax M. Cone)
    • Good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions, it rarely moves anyone.
  9. 'Reason Why' copy. (Albert Lasker)
    • Explain:
      1. Why your product is the best
      2. Why the customer should believe you, and
      3. Why the customer should buy right now.
  10. Go after points of maximum anxiety. (Mel Martin)
    • Figure out what is keeping your reader awake at 3am, and then paint a scenario that makes his skin crawl.
  11. Transubstantiate your product into something else. (Bill Jayme)
    • This is the idea that a product must be transformed into something magical.
    • Don't sell features or facts. Sell a new life.
  12. Everybody in the world divides his mail into two piles. (Gary Halbert)
    • They divide into the 'A-pile' (personal letters, etc.) and the 'B-pile' (bills, catalogs, brochures, etc.)
    • Make sure your letter gets into the 'A-pile': everyone always opens the 'A-pile' but only some of the 'B-pile.'
  13. Do not worship at the altar of creativity. (David Ogilvy)
    • Successful advertising sells without drawing attention to itself.
    • Don't change a working ad for the sake of change or creativity.

February 10, 2015

"Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, 'What's in it for me?'"
- Brian Tracy

"Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs."

February 3, 2015

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work."

January 27, 2015

A How-To List for Dysfunctional Living by Richard Paul and Linda Elder

Today's entry, taken from an article called "Becoming a Critic of Your Thinking," really struck a chord with me (note that I referenced this article a few months back for some other great points). It is certainly a good reminder of how one should approach life. How many of the things on this list have I been guilty of? Too many, I'm afraid. How about you?
  1. Surround yourself with people who think like you.
  2. Don't question your relationships.
  3. If critiqued by a friend, look dejected and say, "I thought you liked me."
  4. When you do something unreasonable, always be ready with an excuse so you don't have to accept responsibility.
  5. Focus on the negative side of life.
  6. Blame others for your mistakes.
  7. Verbally attack those who criticize you.
  8. Go along with the groups you belong to.
  9. Act out if you don't get what you want.
  10. Focus on getting what you want.

January 14, 2015

Goals vs. Systems

Happy Wednesday!

Sorry I missed my usual Tuesday schedule, but I am in the process of moving residences. Very hectic. Not an excuse, just an explanation.

Today's post is based on "An Almost Foolproof Way to Achieve Every Goal You Set" by... you guessed it... Jeff Haden. I can't help it - the man always has something interesting to say!

A goal is what you wish to achieve. But a system is the process you use to achieve it. Ignoring goals and focusing only on the systems will yield better results. This is because:

  1. Goals reduce happiness
    • Goals require us to put off gratification until a milestone is reached.
    • Instead of committing to the goal, commit to the process.
  2. Goals are at odds with progress
    • When you finally achieve a goal, what is left to push you forward?
    • Goals are short-term oriented, whereas systems are long-term processes.
    • Instead of focusing on the need for results, focus on the process.
  3. Goals suggest you can control the uncontrollable
    • Setting goals is like trying to predict the future.
    • Instead, build a system that is more flexible and allows you to make adjustments.

January 6, 2015