Monday, June 25, 2007

Do Something...Simple!

If you are trying to work on some complicated action it is a great idea to simplify. Even if you are working on something that really is complex you can break it down into simple actions.

Complicated wording, ideas, and processes get in the way of action. But people believe that such complication is somehow smarter.

It isn't.

According to Jeffery Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton in the Knowing Doing Gap complexity often substitutes talk for action.

Simpler wording makes communicating easier. (It even helps you understand what you are doing better.) Simpler ideas and processes makes getting things done easier. And just more LIKELY to happen. Faced with complicated tasks many people just give up.

All of this simplicity makes it much easier to get other people to help out, to get funding, to sell your project, your product, your service.

So do something different! Do something simple!

P.S. Speaking of simple...what could be simpler than Scott Ginsberg's idea of wearing a nametag 24/7? (See earlier post.) His idea built a career and last week he appeared on 20/20. Way to go Scott!

Check out his blog too.

That's the power of simplicity.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Opporproblemtunity (TM)

Oppor-problem-tunity (tm) seeing opportunity and problems as linked or as different aspects of the same situation.

Opportunity is often fused with a problem in one big mash-up. The problem may seem to be lack of money, lack of time, or even - well - lack of nerve.

Problems too are often just the backside of opportunity. If you are having a problem with something, hey, other people may be having that same problem. Can you solve the problem? Can you find the opportunity wrapped around or hidden inside the problem?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Best PowerPoint Presentation I Ever Saw

wasn't a Powerpoint presentation at all. It was an old fashioned slide show on a Kodak Carousel projecter. The presenter was George Plimpton and he was showing images about all the jobs he had done often as an amatuer competing in sporting events (or for example playing triangle with a symphony orchestra) then writing about his experiences.

The slides were photographs of Mr. Plimpton, and the real athletes he worked with, in action on the football field, the baseball diamond, the tennis court, or in a symphony hall.

As each image came up Mr. Plimpton would launch into a story in his distinctive, upper class, east coast, accent that somehow never seemed elitist and his stories always found their mark with grace and humor.

It was a great evening and the still best use of "PowerPoint" slides I've seen to date. Of course, not a single bullet point in the bunch.

By the way, I was the Theater Technician and so in charge of the slide projector that evening. I sat abou t 4 rows from the front and when Mr. Plimpton would indicate, I would advance the slide. I think I was 19 years old.

The inevitable glitch occured about half way through the presentation. The machine gave a little hic-cup and skipped ahead an extra slide. Mr. Plimpton (he will always be "Mr. Plimpton" in my mind) -well- Mr. Plimpton said, "That's alright just back up one slide."

Well, I tried that but when I hit the reverse button...the carousel more slide. I hit it again, and again it advanced, and again, and again. And...Mr. Plimpton held up a hand and said softly, "That's alright son," he looked at the screen then back at me, "I'll just tell them what they would have seen."

He looked at the screen a moment, turned back to the audience to begin but stopped, seeming to reconsider. He looked at the screen almost wistfully before turning back to me and asking, "Young man, (he paused) do you have a date tonight after my talk?"

Monday, June 18, 2007

30 ways to increase your creativity.

1.Travel to exotic lands. If you can’t go someplace exotic, treat your own home town as an “exotic” land and go places there that you usually never go. Maybe you’ll discover that home is a pretty exotic place.

2.Try a new type of exercise: Tai Chi, NIA, Yoga...the list goes on.

3.Start a journal. It could be a regular journal which is often like a diary, or it could be a focus journal. A focus journal focuses on a subject like creativity, or an organization like Toastmasters, or an activity like giving speeches, or a role like club officer. Use the journal to deepen your creativity on your focus.

4.Read! Read a lot. Read different stuff. Go to a magazine rack and pick up a magazine that you would never buy. Buy it. Read it. What did you learn?

5.Go to events that you would not normally attend. Our family went to a horse show. Not any show but a work horse show. There was a competition of show wagons and a horse pull. We spent the whole day there and loved it. There is a whole subculture we never knew existed. And, hey, we had a great time!



8.Go for a walk., draw, paint, act. (There, that’s four for one.)

13.Ask dumb questions.

14.When you are trying to come up with new ideas don’t just sit there, do something. Get some Play-Doh®, some crayons, some nerf balls, silly putty, canned string, catalogs, magazines, picture postcards, and so on. Use this stuff to stimulate your imagination.

15.Talk to yourself. Tape record your self talk. It opens up different channels in your brain than writing or just thinking. I write out portions of my speeches but, mostly, I just talk into my tape recorder. A lot of what I tape is drivel. Some of it is dynamite or sparks other dynamite ideas.

16.Read some children’s books. I’m partial to Dr. Seuss. Suit yourself.

17.Turn your problem around. If you are trying to attract new members ask, “How can we drive prospective members away?” Or “How can I make my speech as boring as possible?” Or “How can I make sure I accomplish nothing worthwhile this week?” You’ll run screaming in the direction of creativity.

18.Plan a vacation. You don’t have to take it, just plan it. Where will you go? Where will you stay? How will you get there? What will you do? How will you pay for it (or not)? If you can’t pay for it, how could you get to go anyway? What will you learn?

19.Watch something funny, then work on your problem.

20.Establish an Idea Preserve. Ideas are like rare and delicate plants or animals. You must find a save place for them if they are to survive. Write down your ideas. File them if you are so inclined. Even if you just put them in a box or an old coffee can, your creative ideas can be found, retrieved, and used.

21.Obtain and use a rhyming dictionary.

22.Find ways to recreate an innocent viewpoint. Try to remember when you didn’t know all the ways something can’t be done.

23.Learn to play a musical instrument.

24.Network with other people.

25.Take an Anthropology class.

26.Take a Photography class.

27.Take an Art class

39.Learn another language.

28.Spend time with children.

29.Go fly a kite! (Oh, oh, oh! Have you ever MADE A KITE? I mean from scratch, not a kit?)

30.Remember, nobody knows everything about anything. Even the best can (and will) be improved.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Do something...different...right now.

Analysis Paralysis!

We've all been there. (Well, many of us have been!) It is easy to get caught up in planning and research and then never DO anything.

I'm not saying don't plan but if you are thinking about a deep change, it really won't help you to do too much planning BEFORE you get out and actually DO something.


Well, in order to reflect on something you need to have something, well, to reflect. If you think, "Wow, I'd like to open a garden store", well, how do you know? Do you garden? Have you ever run a business? Well then, how can you plan?

But, if you take some action...maybe even, at first, just talking to someone who has a garden store, or trying to sell some garden related products. Maybe you could even sign up to be a "Designer" for Home & Garden Party (actually, I don't know if they sell anything that is actually for the garden) just to see if you like selling garden stuff!

Make a simple list, pick something, find a way to do it. So, for example, if you want to write...write! Don't plan to write, don't create a mission statement that proclaims how you want to write, don't tell people that you want to write. Just write. Then reflect. Today's computer and internet enviornment makes writing and getting your message out to the world incredibly easy.

I'm also an advocate of trying out a home-based business company (like Home & Garden Party, Pampered Chef, Avon, Tupperware) to get an idea if you like running a small business and selling. The initial costs are usually modest and you can learn business and marketing basics. I think they are better than any business classe because you must deal with "real world" business problems. Just don't go overboard buying products and becoming your own best, or only, customer!

If you don't want to run a business but want to change careers...volunteer. You can do this for your employer (as I did when I transisioned from computer technician to being a trainer and business area consultant) or for a community organization.

The opportunities are out there. So get "out there" and Do Something...Different...Right Now! Dream real dreams!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

World Champions of Public Speaking

David Brooks and Darren LaCroix are two of Toasmasters International's World Champions of Public Speaking.

David Brooks won in 1990 and Darren LaCroix in 2001. Both are part of a group of 5 World Champion speakers known as World Champions' Edge.

If you are interested in great products to help you become a better speaker check out their products by clicking in the links section of this blog. Those links will take you to David and Darren's resources pages.

Check out their Champ Camps (Great name!). Also, Darren's "The Path to Powerful Presentations" (AKA "How I Went from Chump to Champ") and David's "The Elements of Eloquence". Great products about public speaking and mentoring.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tell new stories

Tell new stories?

What's that about?

Well, we tend to tell the same old stories about ourselves all the time. And, all too often, they limit us. We tell them to others ("Ah, I'm just a computer technician") and we tell them to ourselves ("I could never do something like that")

That's why I advise people to get out and do something different. Meet new people. Then reflect on what you've done and who you have met, then tell new empoweing stories about yourself.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Meet new people

I've never been a fan of what you might call traditional networking. All the frantic card swapping and elevator speeches leave me cold. I know this isn't what the top gurus concerning networking, like Susan RoAne, actually advise anyone to do, but it is what I've seen all too often.

No, I'm talking about -well- just meeting new people. Maybe someone who is doing something that you want to try to do. Or getting into a community of practice. That might be a bluegrass jam if you play guitar or mandolin or banjo. Or Toastmasters or an NSA (National Speakers Association) chapter meeting if you want to try professional speaking.

Another idea is to give valuable service to people and organizations.

Get out there. Meet new people. They may lead you right where you want to go.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lance & Scott

Did you ever come across something you were just busting at the seams to tell people about?

Well, I’m in real danger because I’ve just found two items I can’t wait to share. Here’s number one.

If you’re a Toastmaster, (You ARE a Toastmaster aren’t you?) then by all means contact Lance Miller the 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking, and buy his CD "Building a Championship Club". It is Simply Amazing! It is geared for club officers but all Toastmasters will be inspired by Lance’s ideas in this CD.

Here’s one of those ideas: Colonel Sanders’ secret recipe. Hmm? Lance says the secret to Colonel Sanders is that the 13 herbs and spices aren’t the secret. The secret is to do the ordinary extraordinarily well. Wow!

I would add to that to do that consistently.

Find out more at

Speaking of doing something ordinary extraordinarily well, and extraordinarily consistently, what would you say about a guy who has worn a nametag all the time, everyday since November 2, 2000?

Well, Scott Ginsberg has done just that. He is now the world’s leading authority on…nametags. (Question…What are you the world’s leading authority on? That’s the question I started asking myself today.)

Nametags! But Scott’s expertise is not limited to nametags. His expertise is approachability. Scott Ginsberg now owns that word in my mind.

Scott posted his e-book, "234 things I’ve learned about creating, delivering and marketing speeches" at SpeakerNetNews (What? You’ve never heard of SNN? Go to ) in the compilations section. Again, Wow!

Here’s one: “190. Write everything down – stories, content, facts, quotes, jokes, one-liners, everything! If it goes unrecorded it becomes unmemorable.”

And here’s one from his special report: "Let Me Ask Ya This…55 GREAT Questions to Ask Someone You Just Met". “44. If you could hire any actor to portray you in a movie, who would you choose?”

You don’t want to be unmemorable!

Check out Scott's blog too at:

Oh, one more thing…My answer to number 44? Dustin Hoffman.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Do Something...Different!

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do Something…Different!

Meet New People! (Or find out something new about someone old!)

Tell New Stories! (To find new meaning and explain new identities!)

Hey, have you found TedTalks yet. Well go to and check it out. You will find talks on a wide array of subjects, from the def jam poetry of Rives, to David Deutsch on physics, from Tony Robbins riffing on NLP to Malcom Gladwell on…pasta sauce…yes pasta sauce. And it is fascinating. Talk about new stories!

Here are several new people to learn from (you don’t always have to actually meet new people…but it is best if you do).

Many of these people have done something different (very different), met new people, and here they are, telling their stories. This is the sort of mash-up that change comes from.

"Problems are solvable. Problems are inevitable."
David Deutsch