First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Do You Play Well With Others? – Interpersonal Skills Seem to be in Short Supply These Days

Have you ever made “the wrong hire?” Have you ever had to work with someone who was clearly “the wrong hire?” (Have you ever been “the wrong hire?”).

There is so much work to be done – in every job. And that work needs to be done well, as quickly as possible, because the next project or task or project or collaboration always awaits. Always! “Get to it” is the order of the day, every day.

So, what “skills” are employers finding hard to find in the workers they hire? Here’s the latest results from two annual surveys (I read about this on Business Insider: Businesses Say They’re Having Trouble Finding People Who Will Show Up For Work):

Every month, the New York Fed conducts two surveys: the Empire State Manufacturing Survey and its services-sector counterpart, the Business Leaders Survey. And each April it asks respondents of both surveys questions related to the difficulty of finding potential hires with certain skills.
This year’s pair of April surveys confirmed that, like in previous years, employers are having trouble finding people with advanced computer skills, interpersonal skills, and general punctuality and reliability.

Advanced computer skills falls under the “hard skills” category.  Get the right education, go to classes/training, and you can learn these.  Well, maybe you can — I’m not sure I’ve got the propensity to learn these…  (Clearly, not enough people are learning these skills – thus the difficulty in finding such workers).

General punctuality and reliability have to do with work ethic. And, after reading a lot of books touching on this, I think work ethic is tough to develop if it is not developed early – maybe very early – in life.

But those interpersonal skills – those fall under the oh-so-difficult-to-train “soft skills” category.

As I tell my students, assuming that a person is competent, and trustworthy (reliable), “do you play well with others?” is the big issue in keeping a job and being valuable to a team.

Again, there may be some propensity/’personality involved in this, but I am convinced that anyone, everyone, can get better at interpersonal skills. Learning how to interact, get along, collaborate well, is so very valuable for any and every job in every organization. And if folks are having difficulty finding/hiring people who are good at this, well,  –  that provides an agenda for training, coaching, and mentoring, doesn’t it?

(The article has tables and percentages — worth a look)..




Wednesday, April 16, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

The Foolishness of Prejudging – Thoughts about Doug Glanville and his Snow-Covered Driveway (with a Reminder from Gladwell’s Blink)

We make snap judgments. Sometimes, they are good snap judgments. Sometimes, not so good…

Doug Glanville from his playing days

Doug Glanville from his playing days

Doug Glanville is a retired Major League Ballplayer, now works for ESPN, and a homeowner. And, he is African American.

He was shoveling snow off his driveway when a police officer walked up. It is important to note that other folks were also shoveling their driveways. But the police officer walked up only to him, and basically challenged him for “shoveling while black.” Mr. Glanville kept his cool, but wrote quite an article about the incident on The Atlantic: I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway. Really, do yourself a favor, and read it (click here). It might help you understand why Black Americans feel like racism is still a thing…

It reminded me of a passage in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. He calls these snap judgments “blink” thin-slicing judgments. In the book, he tells about this remarkable car salesman, Bob Golomb from New Jersey. What made him so much better than others? His ability to never “disqualify” a customer by “judging” them because of the way they looked. From the book:Blink

He follows a very simple rule. He may make a million snap judgments about a customer’s needs and state of mind, but he tries never to judge anyone on the basis of his or her appearance. He assumes that everyone who walks in the door has the exact same chance of buying a car. “You cannot prejudge people in this business. Prejudging is the kiss of death. You have to give everyone your best shot. A green salesperson looks at a customer and says, ‘This person looks like he can’t afford a car,’ which is the worst thing you can do, because sometimes the most unlikely person is flush.”

And then Gladwell makes this observation:

Most salespeople are prone to a classic Warren Harding error. They see someone, and somehow they let the first impression they have about that person’s appearance drown out every other piece of information they manage to gather in that first instant.

It was foolish of that police officer to “prejudge” Mr. Glanville. His actions must have followed from a thought process that went like this: “No way that man should be in front of that house shoveling snow. He’ s bound to be up to no good.” (Again, read Mr. Glanville’s account. It is remarkable!).

And, it is foolish to disqualify a person so quickly; from a sale, from a job, from any circle of involvement – from a neighborhood.

If we believe that everyone has an equal chance to prove his or her worth based on skills and capabilities and merit, then it is time to develop a much better ability to stop all our prejudging. We are probably all guilty of it to some extent. And, such prejudging narrows our possibilities, and ends up hurting real people.

It’s time to overcome this tendency. It’s time to learn not to practice such prejudging.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Priorities; Majoring on the Majors, the Right Things – Get this Wrong, and You’re in Trouble

a thing that is regarded as more important than another


(Consider this something of a “personal reflection” post…)

I’ve learned how to read a book, prepare a comprehensive handout, and deliver a synopsis/briefing presentation on the key content from the book. But, no matter who well I do my job, if I choose the wrong title, the wrong book…I’ve blown it. Choosing the right book is so very critical to what I do.  It starts here for me.

What is so very critical to what you do?  Where does it all start with you?

I speak to different audiences, about different issues. Among other audiences, I present Current Events presentations to residents of retirement communities. These are wonderful people; smart, wanting to stay engaged as long as they can to the larger world around them.

This is a frequent opening line: “we never really know what the most important news is.” Oh, it’s easy to know what the “most talked about” news is. But the most important – that can be far more elusive.

Take this week/month, for instance: is the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 really the most important news of the day/week/month/year? If you simply add up the hours of coverage, it wins hands down. (My favorite line so far, from a recent pundit round-up post: Has CNN covered the theory that CNN took the plane in order to give CNN something to talk about?).

I have a hunch that this story is not in fact the most important news of the hour. I could give you my opinion on what is more important … but, in reality, only the passage of time will reveal what news was most important, what news had the most significant, lasting impact.

(You want an example? What happened on Friday, September 28, 1928 qualifies as a genuinely important news event. Can’t quite remember what happened on that date? It was the day that Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. I wonder what the headlines in the morning paper on the next day highlighted as the most important news of the day…).

So, time will tell – time does tell — what is most important. If only we had a genuine crystal ball…

Now, this process, this challenge translates into nearly every business planning and strategy discussion. What are the issues facing business today – your business — that are the truly important issues? What really matters?

I can give you a sense of what is written about quite often, in the best business books.  Themes such as these:

• coping with the accelerating pace of change
• finding the right people to hire; putting together the best team
• making sure that you have a product or service that folks will want, and will pay money for
• being the first choice among your competitors
     • the first choice for price
     • the first choice for customer experience/customer service

Here’s the challenge. You will work on things; you will meet about issues. Working on the right things; meeting about the right issues – this is what leads to business success. Making the wrong call about what to meet about, and what to work on… can lead to genuine business failure. Putting in the time is a given. Putting in the time on the right things can make the difference between success and failure.

Call this process the process of setting the right “priorities.” Call it the challenge of majoring on the majors, not majoring on the minors.

But, getting it right… this is the constant challenge, isn’t it?

Monday, April 14, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Here is the April, 2014 New York Times Business Books Best Sellers List — Yes, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is Still #1

Here is the April, 2014 New York Times Business Books Best Sellers list.

Lean InA couple of observations. Yes, Lean In is still at number one. I have written pretty much this exact sentence every month for a lot of months now! And, if you will keep your radar attuned, you will see and hear the phrase “Lean In” everywhere you turn. Some agree with Sheryl Sandberg, others disagree. But, her idea has definitely become part of the modern-day conversation – I think the most important part of the conversation; (Lean In is a great phrase, and great concept) – about women in business, women and their careers.

Next observation: Flash Boys by Michael Lewis is not on this list. Maybe the New York Times is not going to categorize this book as a business book. But it does sit at the number one position on the nonfiction best sellers list.

There are ten books on the New York Times list each month. We have presented four from this month’s list at the First Friday Book Synopsis, our monthly event in Dallas – Lean In; The Power of Habit; Thinking, Fast and Slow; and Outliers. And Karl Krayer will present The Promise of a Pencil at the June First Friday Book Synopsis, which will put us at one half of the books on this month’s list. (A couple of the titles don’t quite fit what we choose to present at our event).

And I am considering The Hard Things About Hard Things for a later month.

And, Michael Lewis’ Flash Boys is my selection for our May event.flashboys

If you have not read Lean In, or these others that we have presented, you might be “behind the curve” during those break room and dinner party conversations. You might want to consider checking out our synopses, available at our companion site: 15minutebusinessbookscom. Each synopsis comes with the audio of our presentations, plus our comprehensive, multi-page handouts with the key concepts from the books, (and in the case of my more recent presentations, my takeaways from the books).

Here is the April New York Times list.

1 LEAN IN, by Sheryl Sandberg
2 THRIVE, by Arianna Huffington.
3 THINKING, FAST AND SLOW, by Daniel Kahneman
5 THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, by Jordan Belfort
6 THE POWER OF HABIT, by Charles Duhigg
7 OUTLIERS, by Malcolm Gladwell
9 THE PROMISE OF A PENCIL, by Adam Braun with Carlye Adler
10 OVERWHELMED, by Brigid Schulte


Sunday, April 13, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | 2 Comments

Flash Boys, a First Look – (A Short, Quick Comment about Michael Lewis, the Great Story Discoverer)

flashboysI’m about a third of the way through Flash Boys by Michael Lewis.  (I will be presenting my synopsis of this book at the May 2 First Friday Book Synopsis).

I will write more about it later, and after our event, will post the main lessons and my takeaways from my reading of the book.  But here is s quick, short comment.

What Michael Lewis does is identify a development, a practice, an issue, a problem — and then, he finds and tells a story (really, a few stories) that shine light on this larger, bigger issue.  He has always done this.

Oh, there are already plenty of critic of his premise, his concussions.  But…

There are two authors that, when they have a new book coming out, I can’t wait to read it — Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis.    Partly, just out of the sheer joy of reading great stories from master story discoverers and story tellers.

A good story teller has to first be a story discoverer.  And to do both well — to discover a great story, and then to tell it well — this is great writing!  The better writers find, and tell good stories.  The best writers are the exemplars of the practice.  Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis — they are the exemplars.

I am really enjoying my reading of Flash Boys (as I knew I would).

So, criticize the conclusions made my Michael Lewis if you want.  But, if you read the book, I suspect you will realize that you are reading the work of a superior story discoverer, and then story teller.

Sunday, April 13, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft: An interview by Bob Morris


Scott Doorley is the Creative Director at the Stanford His design work centers on using media and environments to enhance interactions, gently guide behavior, and bolster learning. At Stanford, he teaches classes in communication design including storytelling & visual communication, improvisation, and digital media design. His large scale digital installations with the Dacha Art Collective have been exhibited in the San Jose Museum of Art and the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts San Francisco. Scott has degrees in Film from UCLA (BA ’96) and Learning, Design, & Technology from Stanford University (MA ’06).


Scott Witthoft is a former Fellow and current Lecturer at the Stanford University His professional work as an engineer and a designer has focused on understanding and manipulating interactions among systems. This has included forensic structural engineering, furniture design, and curriculum design. As a Lecturer at Stanford University, he teaches classes in human-centered design and storytelling & visual communication. Scott has degrees in Civil Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis (BS, ’99) and The University of Texas at Austin (MS, ’00), and Product Design from Stanford University (MSE ’08).

Scott and Scott are co-authors of the recent book, Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration, published by John Wiley & Sons (2012). It is a tool box for everyone interested in designing and creating environments to support creative collaboration. The work is based on years of classes and programs at the

Here is an excerpt from my interview of them. To read the complete interview, please click here.

* * *

Morris: Before discussing Make Space, a few general questions. To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?

Witthoft: Formal education makes me think of classroom education. Fortunately even a lot of my classroom education led me outside the classroom. I offer eternal credit to a lot of subversive teachers for that. In thinking of key attributes of the people in all of my learning environments—home & school—one that stands out is being around people who are actively interested in learning and applying what they learn, geeks and hoodlums alike. The best situations have been those in which students and teachers have been equivalently interested in learning.

I’m not sure if it is my own inability to make disconnections or if it is a result of many people who illuminated interconnectivity of stuff, but in any event, the ability to make connections among things has been really helpful to me in all aspects of life. Setting up a canvas can have a process in the same way that designing a beam or a foundation can have a process. Never in my education has it been necessary to dissociate the two. In fact, more often than not, being able to translate frames has been an aid to others I’ve worked with.

Doorley: I love to learn, formally or informally. Finding learning opportunities is a primary consideration for me in making decisions about everything from career paths to travel plans.

Formal education brings people together in the midst of vulnerabilities which connected me tightly to the people I met in those times. It also offered me time out to focus exclusively on learning above other habits. In addition, formal education provided me with permission to be a novice and allowed me to ask broad questions.

That said, I the biggest thing I’ve learned through formal education is that those postures (learning, being a novice, questioning, and vulnerability) are valuable to hold onto beyond the walls of a university. They are useful in any and every moment of life.

Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”

Witthoft: The framing of “begin with what they have” is really intriguing, not as a disclaimer but as a banner, in fact: We *can* do it because we have the tools. Often the most successful work (in terms of spaces and design concepts) are those in which people see & feel that they have direct agency to build & change things. This is sometimes antithetical to a more conventional notion in the workplace that a facilities crew could and should be in charge of everything else chaos will reign. It seems like a good bit of order or at least convention is helpful in setting a default—ground rules—but I’m very often inspired by the activities and creations emerge when people feel individual agency to respond with options rather than limit based on what’s allowed.

Morris: Next, from Voltaire: “Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”

Doorley: I doubt Voltaire intended it, but this quote perfectly describes a particular approach to prototyping. Every new solution brings a new context, and thus a new truth. Learning and honing can be the goal of prototyping. Getting better at getting better becomes the higher goal rather than getting to the “best of all possible solutions.”

Morris: And then, from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Doorley: There’s an adage in some theatrical improv circles: “be obvious.” Sharing your gut instinct provides fertile fodder for an improvisation to grow and continue. If you hold back, other players have nothing to build on. Through this lens, it is critical to share your full self in creative work. That said, we’re not idle objects. We’re constantly evolving and are shaped by what we’re exposed to. If you believe that expressing your full and true self is valuable, then it follows that you have to take care of yourself and expose yourself to challenging and positive experiences to be able to share your best.

Morris: From Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Doorley: Yes––except that all our thinking is built atop previous thinking. I think this operates at the micro-level in particular: small changes in thinking (or process or behavior or action) can be all that is needed to solve the next problem (which will then spawn it’s own set of new problems to be solved with slightly new ways of thinking and so on).

Witthoft: I’m curious if Einstein thought of this in the midst of a pattern or routine in his daily life? It nudges me to think about how patterns can be viewed from afar and then maybe shifted ever so slightly for different outcomes.

Morris: Finally, from Peter Drucker: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

Witthoft: This seems like the perfect caption for Alec Guinness’ facial expression at the end of, The Bridge on the River Kwai. There can be a lot of fun in applying efficiency to a creative process while recognizing that time & energy savings might allow more experimentation. I’m pretty enthusiastic about following guitar luthiers and this conundrum of efficiency versus creativity or automation versus authenticity is ever-present in that field. Even then, neither of those considerations really addresses the “correctness”—whether that be moral, practical, or contextual correctness—of actually doing what you are doing. Making a delicious meal for people is a beautiful thing, but sequentially serving up seven piping-hot courses of pork to a table full of vegetarians misses the mark. Connecting to a goal by talking with & listening to people always feels like a good step in answering the question, “Should I be doing this?”

Morris: Most change initiatives either fail or fall far short of original (perhaps unrealistic) expectations. More often than not, resistance is cultural in nature, the result of what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.”

Here’s my question: How best to avoid or overcome such resistance?

Doorley: I think it is quite difficult to build consensus with a large group around the unknown. The most success we’ve had has been to allow people to experience the change––through large scale prototypes or pilots––and put weight behind the people who have the most energy for change––by resourcing those who are actively making change for themselves. Both strategies have the benefit of making the future state tangible so people can compare it to the present tense. Discussion about the future is a valuable exercise in understanding emotional needs, but is not helpful in taming resistance to potential changes.

Morris: Now please shift your attention to Make Space. When and why did you decide to write it?

Witthoft: In 2010 or early 2011, several of us in The Environments Collaborative (then called “The Space Team”) were working on capturing some situations & patterns that had proven repeatedly successful in practice both in spaces and behaviors among the various build-outs. Many people who had participated in classes and programs as well as visitors who had come by to explore asked about how things were built and why. This interest led to some early categorization of information—it became evident that we weren’t just turning out furniture. With several members of The Environments Collaborative—Dave Baggeroer, Adam Royalty, Natalie Woyzbun, and Joel Sadler—we began to create “Space Studies” that were short text and graphic pieces to capture and share this content. This concept set an early structure for the later content in Make Space.

Scott and I began writing the book in early 2011, prototyping the design and content many times over the course of the year.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Witthoft: In very specific regard to the written text, Scott and I worked through what we guessed was a conventional process of grouping everything in categories and assembling all of the content in sequential order. After doing that, we both read it and thought, “this is terrible.” No one, including us, could take in the material this way. The questions that prompted us capturing written “answers” never arrived in such a linear way, and we never talk about it this way. That realization led to a redesign of how the information in the book could respond to the ways in which we knew people asked questions.

On another note, we realized that we could not separate the written content from the visual design of the book. (This is also a very conventional sequence in writing books: text then pictures.) Writing out dimensions is laborious and it is often a terrible way to communicate them, versus showing how they apply in a graphical way. We were very fortunate to work with the book designers — Scott Stowell and his designers at Open — who are experts at not only understanding communication but designing it for the reader’s experience rather than convention alone.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?

Doorley: We knew early on that we wanted it to be more tool / instruction manual than treatise / research. The idea of short sections with information that can be put into action is something we envisioned from the start. Early on we used instructions as a metaphor: from Lego’s to Chilton’s manuals. The biggest shift was the shuffled order of these bits of content to provide more of a magazine style layout. As mentioned, Scott Stowell and the designers at Open, as well as our book “producer” Grace Hawthorne were extremely helpful in making that vision come to life. By laying the book out in these sorted chunks, we we’re able to fulfill a goal that the book can be engaged quickly then set aside just as quickly so you can get to work. Thus our goal was to create a book that people put down (because it inspires action). Anecdotally, we’ve found that this has panned out.

* * *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Scott and Scott cordially invite you to check out the resources at these websites:

Doorley’s Amazon page link

His faculty page link

Witthoft’s Amazon page link

His faculty page link

Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford ( link

Sunday, April 13, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The More We Practice, The Better our Judgments – insight from Obliquity

Here’s a question. Have you ever used bad judgment? Have you ever mis-judged a person, a situation, a circumstance?

I have… And it is a painful realization when I realize that my judgment was not better.

obliquity-paperback-196x300-1Here’s an excerpt from Obliquity (a book I am really enjoying reading):

what we are describing as intuition is based on evidence and evaluation and is repeatedly successful when practiced by a Beckham, an experienced art curator or a Picasso—and not successful at the feet, or in the hands or minds, of amateur footballers, casual gallery visitors or weekend artists. The more we practice the better our judgments.

The book is filled with reminders about this important truth: first you learn the “rules,” the “basics,” then you develop judgment re. when to follow such rules precisely, and when to adjust and tweak and shift and change.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment

Maybe Women Simply are More Ethical than Men

This is really interesting.

From a recent Morning Edition segment, Why Men Outnumber Women Attending Business Schools, comes this provocative subheading:

New research explores gender disparities in business school enrollment by the different ways men and women appear to process ethical compromise.

Here are the “players” (the names/people in the segment):

David Greene: Host of the Program
Shankar Vedantam: the reporter for this segment, a social science researcher
Laura Cray: a researcher at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley

Some excerpts (please read carefully) from the segment:

LAURA CRAY: What I found is firstly that men tend to have more lenient ethical standards than women, and secondly, that negotiators are more likely to tell a blatant lie to a female counterpart than a male counterpart.

VEDANTAM: So both men and women, when they’re asked to represent the buyer (in an imaginary real estate negotiation), they seem to come to different conclusions. Men are more willing to lie on behalf of the buyer and say they are not planning to turn this project into a commercial project. Women are more likely to be upfront and tell the truth.

GREENE: So let me stop you there. She’s basically saying that men are morally inferior to women.?

GREENE: That men are more willing to just lie on behalf of who they representing?

VEDANTAM: You know, psychologically, David, that is one way to put it. But there’s something else going on. In a study that Kray conducted with Michael Haselhuhn, she found that men tend to apply ethical principles egocentrically. And what that means is that when an ethical decision affects them negatively, they’re likely to perceive the situation as being unethical. But when the situation benefits them, they’re likely to say: Well, it’s a gray area – it’s not such a big deal.

GREENE: So let me just make sure I understand that. If a man is representing the person who is selling the house, they’re going to say: Hey, the buyer should be honest here, they should be ethical, they should admit that their intention is to turn this into a big condo unit. But if they’re actually representing the buyer they might say: Oh, it’s fine, this is business, I don’t need to tell you I’m going to turn this into a condo.

GREENE: So these differences in sort of ethical thinking, do these researchers think that they say a lot about women and their comfort or discomfort with the world of business?

VEDANTAM: I think that’s exactly what they’re saying. They are saying at in every step of the process, right from business school on to the actual corporate world, women are confronting a triple hurdle. The first hurdle is that men are more willing to accept jobs that involve ethical compromise. Men seem to be less plagued by ethical doubt. And women are not only plagued by ethical doubt, they’re actually targeted for deception.

And some observations.

First, maybe men really are not as ethical as women. (Have you ever suspected this?  I think I have…)

Second, this may mean that… men are simply not very ethical. What does this say about ethics, corruption, “blind spots” in our society — a society where men make up far more positions of power and authority than women?

Third (an issue the segment raises), maybe this is part of what leads to lower numbers of women entering business. But,

It’s her hope (Ms. Cray) that if women actually understand the way they’re thinking about business, that they actually understand that process, they will find a way to stay in the game and also stay ethical.

I think men have some ethical (make that unethical) facing up to do…

And, let’s remember — there is a difference between what one can get away with  “legally,” and what is right, ethical, “noble.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | 1 Comment

Talk Like TED: A book review by Bob Morris

Talk Like TEDTalk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds
Carmine Gallo
St. Martin’s Press (2014)

How and why a TED presentation resembles “a Cirque Du Soleil for the mind”

As Carmine Gallo explains, Richard Saul Wurman created the TED conference in 1984 as a onetime event. (TED refers to Technology, Education, and Design.) It became a four-day conference six years later. Chris Anderson purchased TED in 2001. Until 2005, it remained a once-a-year conference: four days of programs, 50 speakers, and 18-minute presentations. Anderson added TEDGlobal to reach an international audience. was launched in 2006. Thus far, the website has attracted more than one [begin] billion [end] views, averaging about two million day.

The video programs have been translated into more than 90 languages. There are no charges to access any of the TED programs. After attending the 2006 conference, documentary filmmaker Daphne Zuniga described it as “Cirque Du Soleil for the mind.” Oprah Winfrey later observed, “TED is where brilliant people go to hear other brilliant people.”

Those who have already read Carmine Gallo’s previously published works, notably The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience, will be especially interested in what he shares in his latest book because the “secrets” to which its subtitle refers are provided by a remarkably diverse group of thought leaders. They include Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche, Brené Brown, David Christian, Amy Cuddy, David Gallo, Bjarke Ingels, Sarah Kay, Johnny Lee, Sir Ken Robinson, Hans Rosling, and Bryan Stevenson. All of them have made one or more presentations under the TED auspices.

Those invited to make a TED presentation receive a copy of a Guide and of these “Commandments”:

1. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick.
2. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before.
3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and thy Passion.
4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story.
5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy.
6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt Thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desperate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them.

The dozens of videos available at no cost bring the stated and implied advice on this list to life and can also be of substantial value to anyone else who is preparing a presentation, whatever its nature and extent may be. Gallo is thoroughly qualified to explain HOW to do it, based on vast experience that includes but is by no means limited to Steve Jobs and others who have made TED presentations.

In fact, one of his book’s greatest strengths is that it creates a context, a frame of reference, for each of the nine “secrets” that are actually guidelines. My strong recommendation is to proceed from one chapter to the next, pausing to visit the TED website and check out the speakers to whom Gallo refers, then re-read the relevant portion in the book’s narrative. With rare exception, body language and tone of voice have much greater impact than what is actually said. It is therefore important to experience first-hand what Gallo explains so adroitly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Deliver Your Message, that Flows from Your “True Voice,” in Your Best Speaking Voice

We hear a lot about “finding your voice.” It’s a wonderful theme, and a genuine challenge – to find your authentic, inner, true-to-yourself voice. (I got an e-mail about this today).

I always think of Diane Rehm’s book, Finding My Voice, when I read anything on this theme.

I’m a fan, a big believer, in the value of this pursuit.

But, for speakers, there is another simple reminder – after you find your voice, you need to use your best speaking voice to speak effectively in that “genuine” voice you have found.

In other words, after you learn and cultivate your inner core, your true north, your one true message that you want to launch out into the universe, you have to make sure that you are saying it clearly enough that everyone in the audience can hear you, understand you – can “get” that true message you are communicating.

So, the old rules apply, no matter how recently you have found your true voice.

When you are speaking to an audience gathered to hear your true message:

Pronounce each and every word clearly.
Learn to use vocal variety and verbal punch – never, never! speak in a monotone.
Be loud enough to be heard easily – by the person sitting in the very back row.

These three reminders are just the basics.  There are many more voice “skills;’ to develop, like — effective use of pauses; learn to speak in phrases, not words…  But, these three basics are always critical to effective speaking.

In other words, if the true voice is about the content of your heart, your mind, your life… (deciding what to say — what Aristotle called “Invention”), your best voice is all about delivery. Always deliver your message – the message that flows from your true voice — in your very best voice.

(And, by the way – back to Diane Rehm. If you listen to her, she always speaks in her true voice. And, with her physiological voice problems, she works extra hard to speak in her best speaking voice. What a lesson for us all).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | Leave a comment


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