HS-01_John_D_Smith

Portraits of the Fallen: Compassion on Canvas

February 7, 2011

Kaziah Hancock paints portraits of fallen soldiers free of charge for their families as part of Project Compassion. A modern-day heroine, Kaziah’s paintings soothe the wounded hearts of American families who have lost to war – their children. Those wounds, although soothed, never heal. What a wonderful, selfless woman. LOOK and SEE true compassion …

For the Fallen … We Will Remember You

January 27, 2010

A step ahead. A step behind. A blink of the eye at the wrong time. And … it’s over. A memory bouquet to the loved and lost who faced the unfathomable unknowable on the way to their “Last Post.”

So Now This is Christmas … What Have You Done?

December 18, 2009

So fast. Another year past. 2009 gone. 2010 soon upon. How did you do? What did you do? What did you do that really mattered? Have you even thought about it that way? Or …

Animotorized World Movie Premier of The World Wide Rave vs. The World Wide Knave

January 1, 2009

You saw it here first. Social Media’s version of Ali vs. Frazier. Jordan vs. Bugs Bunny. Luci vs. Dezi and Curly vs. Moe.

It’s the Thought Leader of the World Wide Rave vs. The Thoughtless Leader – AKA the World Wide Knave.

SPOILER. The Knave Rules!

SHOWTIME: The Animotorized Premiere of the movie trailer for the World Wide Rave vs.. The World Wide Knave.

The World’s First Social Media News Release by an Octogenarian!

December 2, 2008

Mark Miller, legendary writer, actor, producer and director, used a social media news release to announce a newly available, digitally remastered DVD of his classic movie, “Christmas Mountain: The Story of a Cowboy Angel,” was created from an original 16MM master film that had been lost for nearly twenty years. So what? Well Mark is 83 years old. So — it’s the world’s 1st social media news release by an Octogenarian!

The Power of STORY in the Complex Sale

November 25, 2008

Robert McKee, the best-selling author of “STORY” and legendary guru of Hollywood storytelling, explains in a down-to-earth, easy-to-understand interview, how STORY principles can be used in business presentations. Learn from the man that wrote the book on story (literally) – how to stun, dazzle and leave your audience craving for more.

But what does “Love” have to do with it?

Animoto: Customer Service 2.0 … The Way it Oughta Be

November 24, 2008

What’s the “Perfect Customer Experience?” When your service and product deliver such a 1-2 knockout punch that your customers become your biggest fans and advocates – and your business soars. Here’s how a company named Animoto turns their customers into Fanimotos … along with seven real-world Animoto examples you can check out.

New Widget Blidget for Riffs, Tiffs and What Ifs

November 12, 2008

Went to Widgetbox.com to test out creating a Blidget (Blog Widget). Pretty easy. Even for slow-techers like me. Took about 3 minutes. Good way to help syndicate your blog. It’s below.

Who Do I Follow on Twitter … and Why?

October 22, 2008

Below are a list of people on Twitter I follow. They’re exceptional, interesting, prolific, and professional. They share good ideas, information and insights. Some are well known. Some aren’t. Lotta talent on Twitter.

If I was starting with Twitter today … these would be the first people I’d check out. Wish I had this list when I started.

In Defense of PR Pros

October 20, 2008

I normally don’t do posts like these, but this one was forced on me. Yesterday a bunch of bloggers and journalists were blasting and trashing PR people because of a post by a BusinessWeek columnist and blogger named Sarah Lacy. The post started off like any good post would. Objective. Balanced. Clear. Specific. Professional…

“I don’t hate PR people. Really. When I say some of them are my best friends, I actually mean that. (Shout out to Miss Hammerling! Holla!) I just don’t understand why 90% of them lack total common sense.”

Hmmm, okay, maybe not. Hold on, you holier-than-thou Jurassic Journosaurists. Quit your whining.

Small Giants … Shoot the Donkey

October 20, 2008

Is there a new breed of entrepreneur rising? Building and leading companies large and small, foregoing revenue and geographical growth to focus on, of all things, being the best at what they do?

Is there really an emerging breed of entrepreneurs that don’t plan to build, or want to build the next Microsoft or Google, then “take the money and run”?

Four Step Twitter Quick-Start Guide for Business

October 20, 2008

This is a simple Quick-Start Twitter guide for non-cognoscenti, non-geeks and answers the following questions. How does it work? How do I get started? Why do it? What’s the value for businesses?

That’s all. Four simple steps to get you started. It covers some basic FAQ’s and a couple of arcane ones like, “What’s a Scoble? Who is this Guy named Guy? At the end of this article are some excellent in-depth resources from others that will help you further down the path. Check them out.

SCOBLE’S EXCREMENTAL VISION NEEDS AN OPTO-RECTOMY

October 19, 2008

This is a response to the “I’m not an American” blog post by Robert Scoble, a “tech-geek blogger” and Managing Director at Fast Company.TV. 

 

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Everyone has the right to express that opinion under the auspices of free speech protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. It’s a given … in America.

Robert Scoble is an influential, self-proclaimed “tech-geek blogger” and Managing Director at Fast Company.TV. Today, after exercising his right to free speech with the “I’m Not an American” blog post, Scoble did a snake-belly slinky over to his Twitter Synchophant Turfdom and complained about all the “HATERS” who uh -had the audacity to disagree with his low opinion of Americans and high opinion of socialism.

Free speech is cool – if it’s his.

Free speech is right – if it’s his.

Everyone else … not so much.

How dare they not agree with his opinions? BUNCHA HATERS! Here’s how we dare …

Dear Robert:

Nothing like blowing what credibility you had sky-high with this stupidity on steroids of a blog post called “I’m Not an American.” Nothing like alienating tons of readers and subscribers who expect information and news on the latest in tech from you and instead are blind-sided by this kind of self-important slag. No wonder FastCompany is winning the race to the bottom so quickly. You’re leading the dive.

NON-HATING HATER DISPUTES

You called people that oppose your views as “haters” on your Twitter post. Why would you do that? I’m not a hater. I’ve followed you for a long time – for tech reasons, but totally disagree with you on this. I wouldn’t even have bothered responding – in any way – until I saw your Twitter comment:

 

“My post just showed up on http://michellemalkin.com/ home page and it’s amazing how many haters are now showing up. Droves of them.”  

 

 

LACKS AN EVENT HORIZON

Are we haters because we disagree with your illogical, puerile, pedantic, solipsistic assertions or because of your black hole ego which lacks any semblance of an event horizon?

BEAT IT

If, as you proclaim, you’re NOT AN AMERICAN – then beat it, go to another country where you can be NOT AN AMERICAN. I’m sure we can, and will, raise money for your airfare, as long as you vow never to come back. My email address is at the bottom if you want to take me up on it.

WHEN IT REALLY MATTERS

I’m glad some real Muslims corrected your post. Funny how you screwed up something as simple and basic, yet so important as that. Actually – not so funny, my bad. When it really matters on a human-to-human level you probably might want to get those statements right. At least you corrected them quickly – to your credit.

EXCREMENTAL VISION NEEDS AN OPTO-RECTOMY

I’ve read your posts for a while and never before detected a need for an Opto-rectomy (disconnection of optic nerve from rectum, to repair a crappy outlook on life). But you’re “I’M NOT AN AMERICAN post displays a one-bit brain with a parity error. You should check to make sure all your BYTES aren’t clicking on the odd cylinders.

HAVE YOU EVER LIVED IN EUROPE?

I have. Go live in a socialist Europe. They’ll gladly take you as NOT AN AMERICAN. Wait in line for months or years to get your socialized health care. Check out the comments on your post from actual Europeans. Real humans who live there. They disagree with you. Of course, they actually live there – in the real world – so they might not not know, or could be, in your worldview, just another buncha haters.

You state:

 

I believe that SOME wealth should be redistributed from rich people to other places to improve our society. Like paying for schools, building roads, or even helping all people get access to health care.

I AGREE that you believe that.

Now prove it. Sell your house, your Bm’ers, cash in your stocks and give it to the government. Lead by example. Here’s your chance. Walk you words. Live like Gandhi.

WISDUMB

And the political views you espouse? They’re revolutionary? Full of WISDUM”? What the???

FAILS THE TURING TEST

Most “Americans” want the energy crisis solved, want health care for all, believe in separation of church and state. Believe in science, technology, equality and justice. You’re cloaking yourself in what most Americans believe — but then proclaim you’re NOT AN AMERICAN? That fails even the Turing Turd Smell Test.

CEREBRUM VACCUOSO

You’re “NOT AN AMERICAN.” I’ll agree you’re not thinking like one. Americans usually have some semblance of logic built on a foundation of facts and eventually try to come to right and reasonable conclusions. Your little rant is, at best, sophomoric on a 2nd grade level, full of PT Barnum-ese, absurdly illogical and reeks of pampered-punk pompousness.

SCOBLEOMETER

It is, however, quite a lot like a barometer. Big vacuum at the top.

Brave AMERICAN SOLDIERS throughout history have fought to protect the right to free speech. Now that you are loudly exercising that right why not be publicly brave and bright – leave the country? Grow a pair. Use’em. Leave.

7 Cans Short of A 6 Pack

America is a great country – with great people. Because of that you’ve flourished. More power to you. You get to spout your 7 cans short of a 6-pack, smoke don’t reach the top-of-your-chimney, parallel mind, serial world view with no fear of recourse. It’s your absolute right.

As an American.

But you say you’re NOT AN AMERICAN. So ….

Be Brave.

Be Proud.

Take a Stand.

If you’re not an American — cash out, move to another country and blog all about it.

Best

Steve Kayser

skbigm@gmail.com

Http://www.twitter.com/stevekayser

How’s Your Ass?

October 9, 2008

Donkey O’Tee and Me


I have a writing partner. Better than me. Smarter. Cuter. Real scene-stealer.

And he’s an ass.

A real bad burro.

His name is Donkey O’Tee.

People ask about him all the time.

I get tired of hearing …

“How’s your ass?”

So, I put together this puerile, solipsistic donkey montage. It was created on Picasa, uploaded to Animoto, saved as an mp.4 file. Then uploaded to Veoh and YouTube.

Same file. But, as you see below, displays different. Each has positive elements.

Me and Donkey O’Tee – Animoto



Donkey O’Tee and Me – Veoh


Online Videos by Veoh.com

Donkey O’Tee and Me – YouTube



Donkey O’Tee and Me – Picasa

The Best Kept Secret of Great Presentations

October 2, 2008

They Don’t Teach Moving Mountains in School

I was inundated with e-mails after digi-penning the article “Animotorize – Help Banish Boring Business Presentations.” Most agreed that the proliferation of really bad business presentations was an overbearing tax on the human mind and spirit, but more importantly, a massive waste of valuable time.

Giving Good Presentations

A few of the respondents challenged me. They asked me to give them examples of what I thought were really good presentations. They also asked for some resource materials that could help them learn what actually makes a good presentation and how to deliver one.

10 Great Presentation Examples

So … I will.

Not only will I provide ten examples of some great presentations (purely subjective) at the end of this article, but also a resource document and book that I bet you’ve never heard of, that’ll help you nail any presentation.

Sideways of Good

I have attended literally thousands of business presentations, most revolving around technology products, applications, business systems, methods, practices, etc. Almost all included PowerPoint. Some were god-awful, a few were great; most were in between but usually sideways of good.

The standard corporate gobbledygook PowerPoint vomitoria presentation is anywhere from 25-40 PowerPoint slides. Although I attended one that had 87 slides (for a 20-minute presentation). That type of presentation is usually referred to by those well-versed in business presentation malpractice as a “Gluteus-Maximus PowerPoint Vomitus Eruptus.”

We’re Great. You’re Stupid.

Most business presentations ( the standard corporate gobbledygook PowerPoint vomitoria) start off with an introduction to the company or service. It’s always the same. “We’ve been around.” “We’re great!” “Our customers love us. Industry analysts love us!” “Everybody loves us!” “We’re smart … and you’re stupid if you select anyone but us.” Somewhere along the line the prospective customer is lost in the PowerPoint shuffle. The solution to their problems or needs always seem to be near the end of the presentation. Therein lies the seeds of discontent. And failure.

Want to See it from Their Eyes?

Online Videos by Veoh.com
(Okay, I gussied it up a little, Animotorized and Veoh-ed it to reflect real-life)


My Fair Share of Stinkers

I have given a lot of presentations and polluted the business world with more than my fair share of business-presentation stinkers. Some were so foul I’m surprised Al Gore didn’t cite them as a cause for global warming in his “Inconvenient Truth.”


I’m terrible. No doubt about it. I’m the best of the worst.

When You’re Bad, You’re Good

But that’s good. When you’re bad, and know it, you’re always trying to improve. And I am. I’m also enamored (jealous) of those professionals who connect with and mesmerize the audience. They are rare, but not as rare as you might think.

I’ve written with and interviewed many best-selling authors, business presenters and storytellers. People like Steven Pressfield, author of ”The War of Art, Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae,” and “The Legend of Bagger Vance’; Al Ries, author of ”The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR”; Robert McKee, screenwriting guru and author of the best-seller ”STORY”; Dr. Paul Pearsall, international best-selling author of ”The Beethoven Factor”; Dave Stein, best-selling business author of “How Winners Sell”; Bo Burlingham, author of “Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big”; Sam Horn, author of ”POP! How to Stand Out in any Crowd”; Lynne McTaggert, author of “The Field” and “The Intention Experiment”; David Merman Scott, author of ”The New Rules of Marketing and PR”; Marc Seifer, author of ”Wizard; The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla”; Skip Press, author of more than 20 books including “How to Write What You Want and Sell What You Write”; and Jeff Thull, author of “Mastering the Complex Sale” and CEO of Prime Resource Group.

A very eclectic group with an incredible amount of knowledge and expertise. Storytellers all … but by necessity, business presenters as well.

All had one thing in common.

Nothing.

Well, almost nothing. All had different styles. Different methods. Different personalities. Different differents. But, all have successful histories of connecting emotionally with their readers.

Trial and Terror

One hundred percent of the business people I’ve questioned (very unscientific, I know) about how they learned to give business presentations said they taught themselves. Trial and error. Some were trial and terrors. That includes the good, the bad and the gluteus-maximus fugly presentations. They all had horror stories, even the great ones. All had flopped terribly at some point. Some had moments of high-exhilaration - spectacular moments of success when the visceral connection to the audience was almost spiritual.

Auto-Didacts

None of them were taught traditionally “in school.” Most had researched, read, listened, learned and questioned others. Some had invested thousands of dollars in attending forums, conferences and classes from self-professed business gurus.

What did they learn? Each class, teacher or guru said something that contradicted the other. Or .. worse, said exactly the same thing. Boring.


Sales Survival Skill

All agreed giving a good business presentation is a mandatory sales survival skill. It should be taught in high schools and colleges. Businesses should make it a priority to train all their people, not just their salespeople, on how to make a good business presentation. Why? It helps others in the company understand the business, be involved, be more knowledgeable of the problems and solutions that can be offered to customers. It also enables employees to better advocate and evangelize for the company.

They Don’t Teach “Moving Mountains” in School

So, while doing research for this article, I ran across a book by Henry M. Boettinger titled “Moving Mountains: Or the Art of Letting Others See Things Your Way.” I was referred to it by an old and trusted friend (well not really old, he is only 82 and has 50 years of experience in the film industry as a writer and actor.)

I had never heard of the book, or the author, and was, quite frankly, prepared to use it for fireplace fuel. It took me a couple weeks to get a copy – hard to find – which in my mind meant it was probably worthless.

But then I cracked it opened and read …

I have heard and watched practitioners in most areas of modern life in their attempts to persuade lawyers, natural and social scientists, soldiers, civil servants, executives, physicians, engineers, foremen, politicians, mechanics, labor union leaders, shop stewards, artists, musicians, architects, philosophers, film makers, advertising men, accountants, college students, clubwomen, men of the cloth, sundry teachers, and lesser breeds without the law, to name a few.

Some were eminent, most unknown. All were persons of intelligence, having something worthwhile to say, but the range of persuasive skill ran from embarrassing, painful failures (including cases of physical collapse) to skillful performers whose presentations were perfectly tuned to their audiences, and who made changing your mind an exhilarating experience.

What makes the difference? Neither schooling, material, nor rank of this I’m sure.

Whether the audience was one or a thousand, success invariably attended only those who both understood and presented their ideas from the viewpoint of the needs and characteristics of the persons in their audience.”

Henry M. Boettinger, “Moving Mountains: Or the Art of Letting Others See Things Your Way.”

Timeless – Timely

I read the book and was floored. ”Moving Mountains” was published in 1969 – but it is timeless and timely. It’s based upon observations and key concepts Mr. Boettinger identified over a long and successful career in business. None other than Peter Drucker hailed it as a “First-class and highly original, but also highly practical, treatise both on how one thinks and how one presents thinking.”

Two Presentation Checklist Tools

If you could read only one book on how to give an effective presentation (for any occasion) – read this one. At the end of this article, are two checklists from the book (Henry if you’re out there still, e-mail or call me, I want to thank you.) that will help you give the best presentation possible and evaluate presentations of others. You need to read the book to fully understand all of it, but it’s a great resource document to forever change the way you think of business presentations … and the way you deliver them.

Every presentation is a story.

Every story a presentation.

Below are some presentations I think are exceptional stories. They run the gamut of industries and topics. Some are about business. Some are about life. Some are funny. Some tragic. Some humorous. Some have no spoken words, just images. Some use PowerPoint. Some are PowerPoint-less. But they all have one thing in common. Do you see it? Send us an email with your answer.

YOU TOO CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS – WIN A COPY!

If you have suggestions or nominations of other great presentations, let me know. E-mail them to me, and if selected, they’ll be used in the follow-up article. The first ten presentations selected will win a copy of “MOVING MOUNTAINS: The Art of Letting Others See Your Way.”

___________________________________________________________________

Did You Know?

Shift Happens: Effects of Globalization


Created by Karl Fisch, and modified by Scott McLeod; Globalization and The Information Age

____________________________________________________

I’ve Been to The Mountaintop


Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

When it Comes to Tech, Simplicity Sells
(this is a humorous, realistic classic)


by New York Times technology columnist David Pogue

_____________________________________________________

Tribute to the Challenger Astronauts

- Ronald Reagan

“We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.”


____________________________________________________________________

Don’t Give Up. Don’t Ever Give Up.

- Jim Valvano


Arthur Ashe Courage Award Acceptance Speech – March 4, 1993

____________________________________________________________________


iPhone Introduction

Steve Jobs – 2007


______________________________________________


Introduction of the First Macintosh

Steve Jobs – 1984



Change Much?

______________________________________________________________


How NOT To Use Powerpoint


By Don McMillan

____________________________________________________________________________


_______________________________________

Single Biggest Rule in Sales


By Jeffrey Gitomer

____________________________________________________________________

Want to get really good at presentations? Try stand-up comedy. There is no harsher audience. No quicker road to feedback. This is a routine (presentation) by Ron White (caution … a few profanities, and alcohol, and laughs).

____________________________________________________________________

I Had The Right To Remain Silent
But I Didn’t Have the Ability

_____________________________________________________________


End With a Question


Question With an End


_____________________________________________________


What’s the Best Kept Secret

of Great Presentations?

It’s …


END:

_______________________________________________________________

Additional Resources:

Evaluation Checklist for Presentations of Others

1. Is the opening interesting?

2. Is a problem stated clearly?

3. Are the points developed to give a well-rounded view of all relevant aspects?

4. Is the action or belief desired stated clearly?

5. Does the presentor show that he has a vital and passionate interest in the idea presented?

* Is he dominant, submissive, or does he treat the audience as equals?

6. Is the style appropriate for the content?

* Brevity

* Clarity

* Variety

* Mystery or Suspense

* Recapitulation

7. Does the presentor explain or translate technical material well?

8. Are the visuals well designed and related to each other?

9. How well is cross-examination and discussion handled?

10. Is the layout of the room distracting, or does it inhibit discussion?

11. Are the examples, anecdotes, or humor relevant to points made and matched to the style selected?

12. Does the presentor’s idea appeal to Reason, Emotion, and Common Sense?

13. If a “project” type presentation, does the presentor take note of all relevant factors?

* Personnel

* Intelligence

* Operations

* Supply

* External Relations

14. Is the impression created by the presentor one which inspires the confidence of the audience?

* Are there any embarrassing points?

* Are there any nervous or irritating mannerisms?

* Is there a willingness to listen to the suggestions of the audience?

15. Did you learn anything new, or discover new ways to look at the old?

16. Did you see any new approaches which you can use in your own presentation in the future?
____________________________________________________________________

MOVING MOUNTAINS: HOW TO CREATE A GREAT PRESENTATION CHECKLIST

1. Problem-Statement

* What are the two clashing images?

* What exists?

* What do you want to exist?

* Which of the various forms of statement is best:

o Historical Narrative

o Blowing the Whistle

o Crisis

o Adventure

o Disappointment

o Response to an order

o Opportunity

o Revolution

o Crossroads

o Evolution

o Challenge

o The Great Dream Confession

2. Opening Sentence — Will it excite the interest of the audience?

3. What is the “plan” of development?

* Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis, etc.

4. Do you have examples or anecdotes?

5. What devices do you have to get and hold attention?

* Is there a balance between Reason, Emotion, and Common Sense?

* Can you use assertion, refutation, doubt, and affirmation?

6. Style

* Have you made it as brief as possible?

o Is it oversimplified?

o Is it overembellished?

o Are there any tortured passages?

o Are there any embarrassing ones?

* Is every point clearly expressed?

* What alternations in mood exist?

* Is there a mixture of the lofty and commonplace?

* Can you use suspense or mystery?

* Do you need a recapitulation?

* If a multiple presentation, is a leader appointed?

7. Is the tone one of equality, dominance, or submissiveness?

* Do you really believe in the idea itself?

8. Is the group small or large?

* If large, do you have some humor to “break the ice”?

9. What prejudices, fears, or constraints can you expect from this audience?

10. Have you checked the room for distractions? Have you neutralized them?

11. Is the room layout one that encourages discussion?

12. Are visual aids appropriate?

* Does each one carry a statement of its significance?

* Are the best graphical methods used for statistics?

o If technical, have they been checked for competence by experts?

* Is their size correct?

* Are they related to one another so that someone could extract your message from the set of visuals alone?

13. Have you identified the weak points?

14. What cross-examination questions would you ask if you were in the audience?

* Do you have an answer for each one?

* If challenged on your competence, can you reply appropriately?

* Have you identified those in your audience who may oppose, and who are neutral?

15. Do you state clearly: (1) What you want the audience to do when you are finished? (2) What you wish them to believe?

* Does every point made lead to your ending statement in some way?

* Does the audience need to make great leaps to get to you conclusion?

16. Does the presentation use any special vocabularies unfamiliar to your audience?

* Have these been translated into terms intelligible to them?

17. Are unfamiliar techniques employed?

* Have these been explained?

* Have you established why these are used instead of more familiar methods?

18. Have you considered alternative methods of presenting technical points?

19. If the presentation is a “project” type, have you touched the five areas common to all programs?

* Personnel

* Intelligence

* Operations

* Supply

* External Relations

20. Have you exposed the ideas involved to the original, inquiring, and skeptical minds among your acquaintances?

###

Contact: Steve Kayser


The Greatest Genius – Conquered the Energy Crisis But…

October 1, 2008

Blew the Business Battle
How often has one person affected humanity to such a degree that were the fruits of his labor withdrawn immediately from our day-to-day existence, the world as we know it … would essentially stop?


A True Story

This story is about one such real-life person. And, we will interview the pre-eminent world authority on this person, Marc J. Seifer, who wrote his biography. Marc’s book has been highly praised by such diverse sources as the New York Times, M.I.T and the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.

Timely Timeless Question … for You

At the end of this article, you’ll be asked a timely timeless question … email us your answer.

Not Since

Leonardo da Vinci has a person’s mind spawned such a plethora of humanity-elevating ideas. You could take away da Vinci, and the world would be lessened by the loss of art, brilliance of character and thought, and would go on – but not this person.

In Your Mind

For a moment, we’ll take this wizard, this real-life person’s contributions to humanity away and…

Everything Stops

Lights would go off around the world. Trains halt. Planes would fall from the sky.

Industries driven by motors?

Silence

Cell phones? Dead.

TV? Dark.

Cars? Unable to start.

Computers? Not without him.

Radio?

He was the “Father of Radio.” Ahh… you say, I know who that is.

Marconi!

Wrong.

But Marconi did use many of his patents, and historically speaking, was a much better businessman. So much so that history books credit Marconi with inventing radio.

Wrong History Righted

The United States Supreme Court righted the wrong in 1943. But it was too late for this person, this wizardly inventor … he had just died.

What about fluorescent lights, neon lights, fax machines? Gone too. He was mucking around with them in the early 1890’s.

STOP!

STEVE! You just screwed up. You made a typo. 1890’s?

No I didn’t.

This person was demonstrating wireless electricity and lights at the World’s Fair in 1893.

LIES!

Would a picture help?

X-Rays? You thought Roentgen? Not really. Not without him.

Wireless communications, wireless transmission of power?

Not without him.

HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT WHO THIS PERSON IS YET?

No? Hmm …

Well you could try the history books.

A Great Disservice

Sorry.

He’s not there. He’s been removed. A great disservice to humanity, history and truth.

I’ll give you a hint.

Once Upon a Time …

He was on the cover of Time Magazine on July 20,1931.

Still struggling?

Yes … I did too.

Let me give you some more of his inventions. Robotics? Particle-beam Weapons?

The original inventor of “STAR WARS” weapons?

NO WAY!

Not one person. Surely not one person could bring to this earth such a diverse array of inventions over a single life span … let alone history be silent about him.

Hard to believe, but true. There’s more.

More?

Remote control, e.g., garage-door opener, remote-control toys, ozone-producing machines, bladeless turbines and pumps, reactive jet dirigible (precursor to Harrier jet), Hovercraft Flivver plane (precursor to Osprey helicopter/aircraft).

Surely we have crossed the boundary from science fiction into fantasy, right?

Wrong.

We have crossed the boundary back from the systematic removal of the world’s greatest genius from the history books.

Good Business Sense Is Always Good Business Sense

And believe it or not, it was mainly because he wasn’t a good businessman.

He was altruistic – preferring to try to better humanity’s lot and improve living conditions for all human beings.

Oil Barons Be Gone!

He created a distribution system that could deliver wireless energy anywhere on the globe. Once his financial backers learned the inventors’ true intentions, and that there was no way to meter and charge for this energy, they withdrew financial support.

This crushed him.

It drove him out of town, and in time, history. To that end, he was destroyed, and all have suffered since. What I mention above are just some of the remains of his contributions. He failed to patent a lot of his ideas, and he wound up simply giving them away – like the telephone speaker.

That Person’s Name?

Whose 150th birthday is being celebrated this year? Who counted as friends and confidants such luminaries as Mark Twain, George Westinghouse, John Jacob Astor, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and J.P. Morgan,

INTRO: Marc Seifer, Author of …

Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla

“The story of one of the most prolific, independent and iconoclastic

inventors of this century is a fascinating one.”

- Scientific American

“Despite Tesla’s impact on electricity, history does not regard him as highly as many of his inventive contemporaries. … As Seifer shows in great detail … Tesla’s story is complicated and tests our definition of science. … Where does someone like Tesla fit in?”

- M.I.T. Technology Review

Steve: What are some of Tesla’s most notable inventions?

Marc Seifer (Marc): Where do I begin? How about …

1. The induction motor
2. The rotating magnetic field (precursor to gyroscope)
3. The AC polyphase system: electric power transmission
4. Inventor of efficient hydroelectric station – renewable clean energy
5. Arc lighting
6. Fluorescent and neon lights
7. Laser beams
8. X-rays
9. Dematerialization devices
10. Radio tube and precursor to TV tube, also precursor to fax machine
11. Tesla coil
12. Oscillators
13. Selective tuning
14. Encryption technology and scrambler
15. Electric railroad (subway)
16. Wireless communication
17. Wireless power transmission
18. Framework for sending voice and pictures by means of wireless
19. Stealth technology (radar jamming)
20. Radio guidance technology
21. Cell phone technology
22. Artificial intelligence
23. Remote control, e.g., garage-door opener, remote-control toys
24. Robotics
25. Telautomaton (incorporated above: remote control robotics)
26. Radar
27. Telegeodynamics (a way to search for metals and minerals)
28. Tachometer and speedometer
29. Earthquake machine
30. Weather modification (part of Wardenclyffe)
31. Harnessing solar power, geothermal and tides
32. Electrotherapeutics – use of high-frequency phenomena to promote healing
33. Electric bath
34. Machine that stimulates laxative effect*(remember this one)
35. Fertilizer machine abstracts nitrogen from the environment
36. Refrigeration machines
37. Ozone-producing machines
38. Bladeless turbines and pumps
39. Reactive jet dirigible – (precursor to Harrier jet)
40. Hovercraft
41. Flivver plane (precursor to Osprey helicopter/aircraft)
42. Particle-beam weapons (precursor to Starwars)

Steve: How many of his notable inventions are typically credited to others?

Marc: A number of these inventions are often wrongly credited to others. Tom Edison may have invented the first workable electric light, but without Tesla’s invention of AC electrical transmission, these lightbulbs and corresponding lighting systems would have remained highly inefficient.

So the concept of transmitting electricity for lighting and power for long distances is often wrongly credited to Tom Edison and Elihu Thomson of the Thomson Houston company, (later GE), when in fact the system was invented by Tesla and moved into the market by George Westinghouse.

Perfectly Imperfect

Steve: The perfect partnership of Westinghouse and Tesla later turned imperfect and financially devastated Tesla. He agreed to waive $2.50 per-watt royalties as contractually agreed to by Westinghouse in order to get his AC system to the market. He knew it would immeasurably and beneficially change the world forever. Tesla felt no one else could, or would, do it successfully. His good faith gesture eventually cost him $billions (with a “b”) of dollars.

Marc: Yes.

E=MC2 … Albert Who?

The idea of harnessing alternating current efficiently is Tesla’s creation, but it is sometimes wrongly attributed to Charles Steinmetz, a brilliant mathematician who worked for General Electric. Steinmetz wrote two key textbooks on the AC polyphase system but neglected to put Tesla’s name in these books. This would be equivalent to writing books on the Theory of Relativity and forgetting to mention the name of Einstein!

The radio is often wrongly attributed to Marconi.

Predates Predates

Marconi was the first inventor to send a Morse-coded signal across the Atlantic. This invention, however, is missing most of the key components to what later became the radio. Marconi was using Hertz’ spark gap method to create the impulses. To send complex forms of information such as voice, pictures and wireless power, (which led to the radio, TV and cell phone) one needs continuous frequencies. These are actually Tesla currents. Tesla’s work predates Marconi by about four years and makes very clear that one needs continuous waves, resonant frequencies, transmitting equipment, a ground connection and a receiver.

Wireless Circa 1901 (Patented Anyway)

Tesla was also the first to display a remote controlled robot, which he called the “teleautomaton,” which was a boat that responded to his wireless signals.

This was in 1898 in Madison Square Garden. The invention responded to a combination of frequencies and laid the groundwork for such devices as the garage-door opener, the TV remote, radio guidance systems and cell-phone technology. By creating, sending and receiving equipment that could respond to combined frequencies, Tesla was able to create an unlimited number of wireless channels, and that was as far back as 1901 when he got that patent.

Steve: When/where did Tesla first exhibit wireless/fluorescent lights etc. to the public?

Marc: Tesla first exhibited wireless devices at a major conference at Columbia University in May of 1891. Present were many engineers such as Professor Michael Pupin, physics professor at Columbia University; Elihu Thomson, later head of GE; Robert Millikan, a later-day Nobel prizewinner for his work on cosmic rays; and Elmer Sperry, the inventor of the gyroscope.

A Rotating Egg?

Tesla actually displayed his rotating egg at that time, which explained his rotating magnetic field. This device allowed alternating current to be harnessed efficiently for the first time.

Steve: And the practical implication of this was?

Marc: This system laid the basis for the great turbines at Niagara Falls.

Tesla’s lecture was such a success, that he repeated it in Philadelphia, St. Louis and the Chicago World’s Fair of 1891 (in America) and also at the Royal Societies in London and Paris. Present at these lectures were all of the great scientists of the day such as Lord Rayleigh, Ernst Rutherford (Nobel Prize for structure of the atom), JJ Thompson (Nobel prize for discovery of the electron), Lord Kelvin, Sir William Crookes (Crookes tubes), Sir Oliver Lodge (wireless), Dewar (flask), Fleming & Preece (who would later both work for Marconi), and in France, d’Arsenoval who invented electrotheropeutic machines based on Tesla’s work.

At these lectures, Tesla laid out all of the major principles to the radio and even the precursor to such devices as the TV tube and fax machine. Tesla displayed wireless cold lamps, which was the invention of fluorescent and neon lights as well as the principle of selective tuning, that is, how to create separate channels on the radio.

First, Do No Harm

Second, Send Hundreds of Thousands of Volts Through Your Body for Yucks

As a finale, Tesla would send hundreds of thousands of volts through his body to show the world that his AC system was safe. Tesla had experimented and realized that he could generate very high voltages (that is, high frequencies) but keep the amperage (power) very low. The electricity would essentially surround his body and do no harm.


When sitting on a Tesla coil this way, Tesla could hold up lamps that would illuminate, or he could transmit sparks from metal caps attached to his fingertips.

Noble Thinking Loses Nobel Prize

Further, Tesla also speculated that the atom may be set up like a solar system. Rutherford, working with Niels Bohr 10 years later would say the very same thing, and both men got a Nobel Prize for their discovery.

Hertz Volts Amps … and Teslas

Bohr spoke at Tesla’s 100th birthday, held in 1956 when the Institute Electrotechnical Committee designated the word “tesla” as the measure of magnetic flux density. MRIs are measured in teslas. After 1956, Tesla could stand beside such other great scientists as Ampere (amps), Volta (volts), Hertz and Watt.

Steve: What was “The War of the Currents?”

Marc: This refers to the battle to harness Niagara Falls between Thomas Edison, of Edison Electric, who was touting direct current (DC); Elihu Thomson of Thomson Houston, who was working with alternating current (AC) and George Westinghouse, who also had an AC system.

The difference was that Westinghouse had Tesla’s AC system, which was the only one to do away with the commutator, a device that greatly limited the distance that electricity could be transmitted. Both the Edison DC system and the Elihu Thomson AC systems could only transmit current about a mile.

The Tesla AC system under Westinghouse could transmit electrical power hundreds of miles. This meant that for the first time in history, major factories would not have to sit right beside waterfalls.

The Tesla/Westinghouse AC system was a clean, energy-renewable source of continuous power. From one plant at Niagara Falls, electric power could be sent hundreds of miles to light the homes of hundreds of thousands of customers and also run tens of thousand of factories.

It was a monumental achievement, which is basically unchanged today.

Steve: What was the biggest difference between Tesla and Edison, besides Tesla had a higher goal – helping humanity? Edison wanted to help humanity but make a buckaroo too.

“If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee

to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search … I was a sorry witness of such

doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 percent of his labor.”

- Nikola Tesla, New York Times, October 19, 1931

“I knew Tesla. He worked for me once and accomplished not a little.”

- Thomas Edison

Marc: There are a number of major differences between Tesla and Edison. In general, Edison was able to take the ideas of others and construct the first practical machines.

Edison – Not the First But …

In terms of originality, Edison may not have been the first to light a lightbulb, but he was definitely the first to make efficient lightbulbs.

Edison – Knew How to Bring Products to Market

I do think his invention of the phonograph was a great leap forward, which was essentially comparable to any one of Tesla’s great inventions. Edison built the first practical motion-picture camera. Edison also liked to work with many workers. He knew how to bring his inventions to market.

Tesla – Planter of Seeds

Tesla, on the other hand, was more of a planter of seeds. He let others raise the crops. From Tesla’s point of view, he said that he was a creator of new principles.

Edison Built Better Existing Mousetraps

Tesla’s original creations, many listed above, include the rotating magnetic field, wireless fluorescent tubes, the principles to the wireless communication of complex forms of information (e.g., voice and pictures), the idea of remote control, robotics, and also entirely different areas such as a unique bladeless steam turbine that he hoped would replace the gasoline engine. He also created two forms of aircraft: (1) the reactive jet dirigible, which led to the vectored thrust aircraft such as the Harrier and also the flying wing or stealth bomber, and (2) his “flivver” plane that took off like a helicopter and then rotated the propeller into the airplane position. This tilt-rotor aircraft evolved into the Osprey helicopter/airplane used by the military today.

He also invented particle-beam weapons.

Edison Built Better Mousetraps for a Market That Needed Mousetraps

Steve: Resonance – Tesla’s vision of the wireless transmission of energy using earth’s resonant capabilities. Was that really practicable? And if so, is it still?

Marc: Tesla had the ability to transmit great amounts of electrical power by means of wireless. Most wireless systems send a signal, and then a battery in the receiver (e.g., a cell phone) provides the additional power needed to run the machine.

Tesla – 100 Years Ahead of His Time

Tesla had that exact same idea at the turn of the century. He also said that he could jump large amounts of power by wireless means from, say, Niagara Falls to the Sahara Desert.

By knowing the earth’s resonant frequency, a sending tower could jump the energy to a receiving tower thousands of miles away. And then from the receiving tower, electrical energy could be distributed locally either by using wires and by wireless means.

Steve: He was testing this at Wardenclyffe?

Marc: Yes.

Steve: And what went wrong?

Marc: What else?

Steve: Money?

Marc: Yes. Financing was pulled when it was discovered that he intended to give the world free electricity – anywhere in the world – but forgot to invent a meter to charge for it.

Steve: Money, that’s all?

“A child of five could understand this -

someone fetch a child of five.”

- Groucho Marx

Marc: I think Tesla could probably have done this, but it is still unproven. In theory, Tesla hoped to transmit electrical power from one planet to another by similar means.

Steve: What future invention (since his death) will Tesla be most remembered for (if properly attributed)?

Marc: I think the one I just discussed.

Let’s say we set up a base on the moon. If we somehow set up an electrical tower tuned to the Earth’s resonant frequency and use that system to send energy to receiving stations on the moon, this invention will be attributed to Tesla.

Steve: Now … I have to ask. I asterisked* number 34 above on the list of Tesla’s inventions – “the machine that stimulates laxative effect.” I know it has something to do with Mark Twain – one of my favorite writers of all time. Tesla and Twain were friends? And what about this machine?

Marc: Yes, dear friends. And Tesla had a diabolical sense of humor as well. Twain used to love to come to his laboratory and witness Tesla’s fascinating experiments. But one day, for entertainment, Tesla convinced his good friend Mark Twain to test out a vibrating platform in his Manhattan lab.

Twain took him up on the offer and found it to his liking.

When Tesla commanded Twain to come down off the platform, Twain refused because he was having a good time.

A few minutes later Twain ran from the device.

It seems that Tesla had deliberately neglected to tell Twain that the vibration tended to cause diarrhea.

Steve: How does this story about this wizardly incandescent lightning-strike of genius, Tesla, end?

Marc: Sad. Tesla, the iconic genius, was left out of the history books. He should have been a billionaire, but died essentially penniless on January 7th, 1943, at the age of 87.

He was living in room 3327 on the 33rd floor of the Hotel New Yorker in Manhattan, with a flock of pigeons – whom he considered his only friends.

“Sie ruckt und weicht, der Tag ist uberlebt,

Dort eilt sie hin und fordert neues Leben.

Oh, dass kein Flugel mich vom Boden hebt

Ihr nach und immer nach zu streben!

Ein schoner Traum indessen sie entweicht,

Ach, zu des Geistes Flugeln wird so leicht

Kein korperlicher Flugel sich gesellen!”

[The glow retreats, done is the day of toil;

It yonder hastes, new fields of life exploring;

Ah, that no wing can lift me from the soil

Upon its track to follow, follow soaring!

A glorious dream! though now the glories fade.

Alas! the wings that lift the mind no aid.

Of wings to lift the body can bequeath me.]



Steve: Thanks Marc. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us.

Marc: You’re welcome. Your readers can also see an additional short movie on the Tesla movie at my website, http://www.marcseifer.com. This short is narrated by the great character actor JT Walsh.

Timely Timeless Question … for You

Where does one such as Nikola Tesla fit in our world?

SEEDS

Unquestionably society would be much further advanced today if 100 hundred years ago, philanthropists like Bill Gates or Bono would have stood behind and supported Tesla.

Every human being in this world would have benefited had Tesla’s seeds been adequately watered, nutured, cherished and harvested.

But it’s all about money.

Business.

Thomas Edison understood this.

He’s in the history books.

Marconi understood this.

He’s in the history books.

But wait a minute. Tesla – unlimited, free wireless energy …

How much does a gallon of gas cost right now?

Hmmm … nah.

Never fly.

It’s all about the money.

Where does one such as Nikola Tesla fit in our world?”

END:

About Marc J. Seifer, Ph.D., author “Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla.” Dr. Seifer’s latest book is the novel, “Staretz Encounter: A New Age Thriller,” available at Amazon.com and through his website. Marc also has a screenplay on Tesla’s life co-written with Visual FX Editor Tim Eaton. Tim has worked for George Lucas at ILM and Sony Imageworks on such movies as Back to the Future, Twister, Men in Black, The Mummy Returns, Deep Impact, Galaxy Quest, The Time Machine, Titanic, The Polar Express and Beowulf.

Marc J. Seifer was th Keynote Speaker on Tesla at the Professional Engineers of Ontario Symposium, April 2006 celebrating Tesla’s 150’s birthday. Marc has been featured in The Washington Post, Scientific American, Publisher’s Weekly, Rhode Island Monthly, MITs Technology Review and The New York Times. In Europe, he has appeared in The Economist, Nature and New Scientist. With publications in Wired, Cerebrum, Civilization, Extraordinary Science, Lawyer’s Weekly, Journal of Psychohistory and Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Dr. Seifer is internationally recognized as an expert on the inventor Nikola Tesla (the subject of his doctoral dissertation). Past editor of MetaScience, A New Age Journal on Consciousness and The Journal of the American Society of Professional Graphologists, his articles have been translated into Czech, Serbian,Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese, and German. He has lectured at the United Nations in New York; Federal Reserve Bank in Boston; Kings College; Cambridge University and Oxford University in England; the University of Vancouver in Canada; in Jerusalem, Israel; Zagreb, Yugoslavia; Bethesda, Maryland; City College of New York; Brandeis University; Colorado College; Wardenclyffe Long Island; Lucas Films Industrial Light & Magic; Cranbrook Retreat and West Point Military Academy.

Dr. Seifer has appeared on the History Channel for his work on the Howard Hughes Mormon Will, on AP International for his analysis of Bin Laden’s signature, on PBS and also web radio. His book “Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla” is “highly recommended” by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has a B.S. from the University of Rhode Island, five semesters of graphology from New School University, an M.A. from the University of Chicago and Ph.D. from Saybrook Institute. With over 30 years of experience as a handwriting expert, including a decade of work for the Fraud Unit of the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, he has testified in civil, criminal and federal court. Dr. Seifer is also a writer and visiting lecturer in Psychology at Roger Williams University.

Contact Marc: mseifer@cox.net

About Steve Kayser:

Steve Kayser is an award-winning business writer who is featured in the June 2008 Amazon best-selling book, “Tune In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs,”a marketing best practices case study by MarketingSherpa, A Marketer’s Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing, Credibility Branding, Innovation Quarterly, B2B Marketing Trends, PRWEEK, “The New Rules of PR and Marketing”(book by David Meerman Scott) and Faces of E-Content magazine. His writings have appeared in Corporate Finance Magazine, CEO Refresher, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business 2.0, and Fast Company Magazine, among others. And he’s won a few screenwriting awards that have earned him unconscionable amounts of money (ZERO is an unconscionable amount isn’t it?) and launched him to … uh … well – the launch is on hold. But he’s on the launchpad. In Cincinnati, Ohio.

A Model Too?

In his spare time, Steve professionally models kilts for Un-Vanity, Non-GQ and The Manly Kilt Wearing Man monthly magazines.

Steve also headlines fund-raising events for his run at an Olympic Gold Medal in the kilt-wearing mechanical bull-riding competition to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2050.


For more (or less) information contact (or don’t)

Steve Kayser at skbigm@gmail.com


MAD Men, MAD Donkeys and the Origins of the Kilt

September 6, 2008


I’m asked a lot about the Kilt I wear.

Do I really wear one? If so, why? And why don’t I shave my legs?

Good questions, all.

To be completely honest I started wearing the kilt after I lost a bet. One I was sure I would win. In fact, I stacked the odds so I would win. So much for my mathematical pretensions.

The “bet” started while writing an in-depth article with legendary creative impresario Ken Sutherland. It was about marketing and advertising stupidities, hilarities and some surprising successes encountered through the years in his career.

Ken has won numerous awards for marketing, advertising, and music, including: four Clios, more than 300 Gold Addys, two Gold Camera Awards, three Cine Golden Eagle Awards, two IBC Awards, and the London International Advertising Award. He’s also been voted to Ad Week Magazine’s All-Star Creative Team.

The article with Ken was fun. Educational, informative, lots of lessons learned from being burned. And some real scary, death-defying ( not TV death) moments of … danger, that made me fall over laughing.

The title of the article was “Marketing & Advertising Donkeys (MAD) … Shoot ‘Em If You Got ‘Em.” And, it has stood the test of time. But — a while after it was published some big-time media producers and execs in the TV industry cribbed the brilliant idea and concept of the MAD DONKEYS and turned it into hit TV drama “Mad Men.”*

I predated the story concept by 2 years. Even the “MAD” part of the title. But I’m not MAD. In fact, I’m GLAD when anyone makes it with a concept I didn’t flesh out and market properly. Actually, I took it like a man when I saw the title of first trailer and episode.

But – back to the bet. While doing the story with Ken, I made a bet with him on the naming of one of his projects – a huge mural in Dallas – largest actually in the state of Texas.

I asked him what he was going to call it.

He said “The Mural.”

I assumed he was kidding about naming it “The Mural.” I mean what kind of uncreative, linear, inane and completely boring name is that? Especially from a creative impresario?

Right? You do agree, don’t you?

I mean … a no-brainer. Right?

Okay. It’s a descriptive name. No doubt what it means. But c’mon. “The Mural?”

So, he said “Bet?”

I said “Bet!” (we’re both loquacious)

I bet it was named something else.

Then — he whipped out a newspaper article. Showed it to me – it was about “The Mural.”

I lost. That really was the damn name.

“The Mural.”

But

I propose that, in a way, I won and was correct. It’s technically called “The Mural,” with caps and italicized. However, after an intellectual discussion of the various nuances and technical implications with Ken (which included a scene very much similar to this link), I, in the spirit of magnanimity, agreed that, indeed, he had won the bet (although, as stated earlier, technically I think capitalized and italicized letters do change the context of the name, therefore the essence of the name).

The bet?


Me wearing a kilt. I took it like a man … if real men do wear kilts. I wore the revolting thing.

Interestingly enough, a size sixteen kilt fits me just dandy, the plaid design makes me look a little thinner … I’m keen on them now. They’re sweet.

But … that was only one part of the bet.

The second part entailed me … riding a mechanical bull. It was a stellar learning experience in marketing and advertising.

The sight touched the heart of the assembled masses at Billy Bob’s Bronco Bull Riding Bar and Grille so much so that I was motivated to move as quickly as I have ever done to assure my lifelong dream (and to live a long life), which was, at that point … getting out of Dallas alive.


So – that’s the Kilt answer.


Now, do you want to see where Mad Men really got their start? From the MAD Donkeys article?** Here’s the original story –-


Marketing & Advertising Donkeys (MAD) … Shoot ‘Em If You Got ‘Em



END:

* Creative speculation
** Super creative speculation.

The DaDonkey Code!

September 5, 2008

Dare You Try to Solve …

Decipher the Da Donkey Code and win a “Shoot the Donkey” ball cap!

High-Fashion Object of Desire

That’s right, you’ll be on the cutting-edge of the elite fashion vanguard, considered the eclectic gravitas of chic, the future rage of out-of-vogue, and … you’ll be able to proudly, pompously,

March to Your Own Donkey

in a radical reinterpretation of cool … your high-fashion object of desire …
the
ball cap.

Just fill in the blanks (if you can … it’s Byzantium tough though).

Enter: The Da Donkey Code

A S_ _ _ _ (5 letters) murder during b_ _ _ _ _ _ _ (8 letters) h_ _ _ _ (5 letters) at the L_ _ _ _ (5 letters) museum is discovered by the “Honorable First Donkey” of the complex sale, S_ _ _ (4 letters) P_ _ _ _ (5 letters). It reveals a sinister plot to hide b_ _ _ _ _ _ _ (8 letters) v_ _ _ _ (5 letters) behind a non-clandestine use of c_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (9 letters) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ k (12 letters). The victim is _ _ _, (3 letters) an immensely important, high-ranking VIP. At the scene, the Honorable First Donkey finds a cryptic clue that will solve c_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (9 letters) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ k (12 letters) forever.

Can you solve the Da Donkey Code?

T_ _ _ A _ _ _ _ _ R_ _ _ _ _ A _ _ O_ _ _ _ _ _ _ to Y_ _ _ S _ _ _ _ _. S_ _ _ _ t _ _ D_ _ _ _ _

If you figure it out? Contact me – You’ll win a DaDonkey Hat!

Shhhh! Listen to the Deaf Man’s Symphony

September 4, 2008

Listen and Find Your Way to Freedom

Mosha was once a dark-haired beauty. But now,
a black hollowness surrounded her eyes. And she was death-camp, stick-figure thin.

She was death-camp, stick-figure thin because that’s where she was.

Her face was swollen and bruised.

Beatings were her daily bread.

Mosha was a classical piano teacher. Loved Beethoven.

Mosha had been teaching a student Moonlight Sonata when they came for her. They shot and killed her student but kept her alive. One needs classical music such as Beethoven’s, to uplift the soul and keep spirits soaring when working in a death camp. So they kept her alive.

The Nazi officers asked her to play for them.

She refused.

They asked her.

She refused.

Music was not for a death camp.

And Beethoven was sacred.

So they placed both of her hands on a rock. Took turns, made a game out of gaily breaking her fingers, one by one, with their rifle butts.

She could have played.

She could have given in.

Instead she defied.

Music was so sacred to her.

She made her stand, sprawled on the ground in agony. But she didn’t give up her sacred gift. She held onto it. Tighter than to life itself.

And when, through the haze of a misery beyond comprehension, her fleeing life parting death’s lips, she would hear, or think she heard, Beethoven’s music being played in the officer’s club, she stirred … and would say in her teacher’s voice:

Shush! Be quiet now and listen to the deaf man’s symphony.

If you listen as he did, you will hear the way to freedom.” – Mosha

My Moby Dick is Bigger Than Yours …

September 2, 2008

After wrapping up an article titled “Saints, Scumbags, Storytellers … and Business,” with Dr. Elliot McGucken, I was about to finish with the typical “About the Author” section. Any “About” section is usually fluff and puffery. Full of taradiddle twittle twattle. Whether it’s for a company or person. Rarely memorable. Even more rarely read.

Boring-Boring Quotient

In the hopes of contributing something to the betterment of humanity ( maybe a little visionary meglomaniac stretch there) or at the very least, help back down the boring-boring quotient, I decided to personalize – to put little life into – the “About the Author” section. I’m committed to doing this for the forseeable future. And maybe the unforseeable future too, for any articles I do from this point forward.

Here’s what I used on Dr. E (thankfully Dr. E is lots of fun, not boring, and likes to yuck it up a bit too.)

About Dr. Elliot McGucken:

Dr. Elliot McGucken is an artistic entrepreneur. He founded jollyroger.com in 1995, a virtual portal for the world’s great literary classics. The New York Times called Dr. E’s work as “simply unprecedented.” The Los Angeles Times referred to the classical portal as “a lavish virtual community known as The Jolly Roger.”s. He presented Authena Open Source DRM/CMS at the Harvard Law School OSCOM, and 22surf was accepted to the Zurich OSCOM. Both Authena and 22surf are aimed at empowering indie artists/creators.

(Standard credibility establishing stuff — Now a little personalized improv)

NON-COMMERCIAL COMMERCIAL BREAK:

Cool Car!

Steve: But Dr. E … you named your car Moby Dick?

Dr. E: That’s right. What do you call your corvette?

Steve: I call mine a

JEEP.

Notice it’s bigger than yours?

Dr. E: And I thought I had issues. Can you at least finish my bio before you go off the deep-end?

Steve: Okay.

Dr E. received a B.A. in physics from Princeton and a Ph.D. in physics from UNC Chapel Hill where his dissertation on an artificial retina chip for the blind received a Merrill Lynch Innovations Award. He founded the Physics, Astronomy, Math, and Philosophy Forums, home for discussions of physical theories of reality alternative to the controversial, yet dominant String Theory. McGucken’s Moving Dimensions Theory posits that the fourth dimension is expanding relative to the three spatial dimensions, and with this simple postulate reflecting an underlying physical reality, the model attempts to unify and account for the physical phenomena found in quantum mechanics, relativity, and statistical mechanics.Known as Dr. E to his students, Elliot has won the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Contact Dr. Elliot McGucken:
mcgucken@jollyroger.com
919-406-7068

END:

Not a lot better – but a little less boring. And hey! ~ My Moby Dick is bigger than his.

What Does "Shoot the Donkey "Mean?

September 2, 2008


Latest “Shoot the Donkey” Coverage

The Hollywood Reporter
The New York Times

What Does “Shoot the Donkey” Mean?

The term “Shoot the Donkey” refers to a classic scene in the movie “Patton” (based upon a true life event) where the Third Army gets critically held up in battle on a bridge, by a cart-pulling donkey that had stopped and refused to budge, totally blocking the bridge. Life and death are at stake. An MP struggles with the donkey and the owner, trying to get them out of the way. But with no success.

The entire Third Army halts for this recalcitrant donkey.

General George Patton roars up, leaps out of his jeep, whips out his ivory-handled, shoots the donkey, and immediately has it hurled off the bridge, removing the obstacle.

The Great Leadership Principle

That classic scene not only revealed Patton’s character in a cinematic way, but also embodies the great leadership principle of taking decisive action to remove all obstacles to fulfill one’s mission.


DON’T WORRY

About the gun being pointed at Donkey O’Tee’s head. He addresses it in the New York Times excerpt below. Every since he published his new book. Pompously Obfuscate On Purpose” he’s been getting a lot of press.


Quote Attributable to Donkey O’Tee, Expert Access Corporate Spokes-Donkey

“That’s what Expert Access is all about. Taking decisive action to remove obstacles to help our readers in their life of business or business of life… and occasionally have a laugh along the way. And please, don’t contact me about having a gun pointed at my donkey head. It’s a cartoon gun — and I’m a cartoon metaphor.” – Donkey O’Tee

Hal Sherman Artwork Collection – Animotorized

August 7, 2008

Hal Sherman is a friend of mine. Was a banker. Passion was always painting.

So he quit banking. Started painting.

Here’s an Animotorized version of his artwork, including paintings of Blue Jacket, Simon Kenton, Daniel Boone, Cornstalk, Moluntha, Simon Girty, William Henry Harrison, Half King, William Crawford, Captain John Perry others. I uploaded the images to Animoto created an MP4 file then uploaed to Veoh.com. I like Veoh’s display better than YouTube.

“Blame me for the video. But the artwork is amazing.


Online Videos by Veoh.com

Charlie Rose Has BO … Wish I Did Too

July 1, 2008

BO – The Greatest of Achievements These Days


I saw Charlie Rose speak with PR legend Howard Rubenstein at a media relations conference hosted by the Bulldog Reporter in San Franciso.

Charlie was fascinating. Really connected. I’ve seen a plethora, a bevy, a melange (I meant to say “a whole bunch” but got carried away) of good presenters and speakers.

Good Is Not Hard

All it takes to be a good presenter is hard work and practice. If you’re not good – you have only one person to blame: yourself.

But to be great you have to be good – and connect. Connecting is pretty special; it’s an art. Maybe a gift. A heavenly endowment. You have to be an expert, wise, personable, dynamic, charismatic, likable. And … be able to tell your story with the ultimate in sophistication – simplicity.

Great Is

The only speaker I’ve seen anywhere near rivaling Charlie Rose was Steve Wynn.

He was unbelievable. Excellent. Saw him speak at an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year ceremony in Palm Springs.

Steve Wynn is dynamic, inspirational, charismatic. Best I ever saw (how’s that for good English?).

The Circles I Don’t Run In

And, up until I saw Steve Wynn speak, I had very little knowledge of who he was or what he’d done (shows you the circles I don’t run in).

He had that movie star kinda mystique.

But being a gazillionaire sorta lends itself to that.

And, this was funny – he had an incredible Dalai Lama impersonation.

Charlie Rose Was Not Like That

Two radically different styles. His talk was on “The Art of the Story: Finding the Heart of the Drama.” He spoke about what he looked for in stories and guests for his show (he’s done over 20,000 interviews). It essentially boiled down to this.

Interesting people actively engaged in the struggle of life. Coming in conflict with each other for love, for celebration, for tragedy, for death, for war, for all the possible range of emotions. Overcoming obstacles and adversity. Authentic. And … being able to tell their story – the story of the human spirit.


How Does Charlie Rose Find the Heart of the Drama?

Insatiable curiosity. Research. Preparation. He genuinely cares. Question arcs – a series of questions that, depending on the way the guest responds, he follows up on. Not a set, linear-based question, answer, question format.

Takes You Back To When …

Charlie takes guests back (through questions) to their moment of greatest emotion, challenge, victory, defeat, discovery. He wants them to recapture the emotion, the time, the life-altering experience. If he does that – they go to the heart of the drama. The essence of the story. The essence of life.

Who Were Some of His Favorite Interviews?

Charlie Rose has 17 years of recorded interviews. A lot to choose from. Barak Obama. John McCain. Bill Clinton. Henry Kissinger. Stephen Hawking. Nobel Laureates, Academicians, and on, and on.

I’ll list some of the ones he mentioned as favorites and include the video interviews at the bottom of this article. Check out the questions he asks to get to the heart of the drama. Also- try to guess who was his favorite (answer at the end of the article.)



Ted Turner - A dream for any interviewer. Opinionated. Thinks big. Wants to talk. You don’t have to engage him—just sits down and he’s off and running.

Warren Buffet – Best for long-form interview. Captivating. Charming.

Bill Gates – Enormously interesting. Good as it gets. Brilliant.

Bruce Springsteen – One of the most memorable, talked about interviews ever. Rarely does interviews, but people still mention and ask him about the Springsteen interview even though it took place 10 years ago.

Sophia Loren – Talented. Beautiful. Enchanting. Beloved. Enduring. Engaged. Charming. The Alpha and Omega (Okay … Charlie didn’t say that. But I might have.)

William Buckley – Cerebral. Smart and interesting; he had done everything. Television, wrote a column, he could talk politics, philosophy, music, and he’d written 100 books. Loved him.

What Made Charlie Rose So Special?

He was talking to a group of 600 PR professionals. Each one dreaming up ways to talk to him – pitch him, get his ear.

Almost holding up a sign saying, “LOOK AT ME!”

And what did Charlie Rose do when his talk was finished?

Get ushered out quickly behind the stage through some high-security, highfalutin steel curtain designed to protect him from the masses? (Some occasionally use the same word “masses,” minus the “M,” when referring to PR folks.)


DISCLAIMER:
Yes, I do own a gorilla suit – but that’s not me. I swear. An amazing coincidence. Two Steve’s owning a gorilla suit. What are the odds?

No – he did something totally unexpected. Staggeringly unexpected. He walked down from the stage and chatted with the sponsors, then slowly walked right out … through the masses.

“So what,” you say?

Charlie actually looked directly at each table as he passed. If someone made eye contact he stopped and spoke to them. He engaged. Engaged in the struggle of life. Okay. Maybe that’s a little jib jab, flim-flam flummery, a tad melodramatic. But you get my point.

Never in the History of Business …

Have so many PR professionals been rendered completely speechless.

Now – What About the Charlie Rose has BO Headline?

Oh, BO – that’s simple.

I mentioned I’ve been to way too many conferences and speeches? One thing I’ve noticed over the last year is the overwhelming proliferation of BlackBerry’s.

Procreating, propagating, multiplying sources of annoying digital noise and distraction. And … they’re always in use. Especially during presentations.

Sometimes surreptitiously. Sometimes not. Depends how bad the presentation or speaker is.

This conduct is rude. Reprehensible. Unprofessional. Bad business etiquette. Just plain disrespectful of the person presenting.

I try not to do it more than 5 times a week myself.

But – there are some really lame and boring presentations being foisted upon the business public in the perverse name of Thought Leadership, education and training.

So, in an altruistic act of thoughtless leadership, I created and developed, at much cost ($0), and time (11 beers worth), a guidepost —a barometer if you will— (patent not-pending, intellectual capital totally suspect) called the …

The BO Scale

It doesn’t mean what you think. An average presenter scores a BO rating of 5. Scale tops out at 10. Think golf here. Low score wins.

The Lazarus Phenomenon

The absolute worst presenter.

The bore-the-dead type presenter.

The ones capable of provoking a Lazarus type resur-insurrection (resurrection- insurrection) of peaceful souls, drifting on the rivers of the Lethe, to awake and beat you senseless with their own tombstones—rack up a BO-10 rating.

This BO scale was developed after reviewing and analyzing reams of evidence. But, it’s not just theoretical. I got out in the real world and tested it extensively. I engaged. Sorta like Charlie Rose. Well, maybe not exactly. But I found the bottom. The bottom of the scale is a BO-10.

How do I know that?

The Worst Presentation on Earth

I purposely created the most God-awful presentation ever.

Specifically designed to be horrible. (That means I tried my best to do a great job—but failed miserably. On second thought, I was a pretty successful failure. That might be a better way to spin it.)


A Real Stinker

It was terrible. (I thought, really thought, it was elevating, inspirational and my ticket to fame and $$$$$ as a writer).

BO-10

I got on stage.

Did it.

And it came in at a BO-10.

What does that mean?

BO-10 means you’re so bad, people throw their BlackBerrys at you to get you off the stage.

Do you know how expensive BlackBerrys are?


BO-5

Means you’re adequate.

Not bad.

Not good—but bearable.

Average.

Some people listen.

But about 50% of the people are shagging their BlackBerrys to do something else.

Anything but listen to you.


Having BO is the greatest of achievements these days.

BO means you have the audience enraptured.

Spellbound.

You’re great. You’re humble. Regal.

Dynamic. Charismatic. Likable.

You’re Real Real

Having BO means you’ve singularly conquered by thought, spirit and eloquent expression the mighty Mount Everest of human awareness and interest. KO’ed K-2. Toppled the Tower of Babel. Numbed the nattering Nimrods of negativity.

Because you’re so good, that when you talk? Every damn BlackBerry in the place remains off.

BO= ALL BLACKBERRY’S OFF

Then, and only then, have you reached … Charlie Rose status.

Faux End

Who was Charlie Rose’s favorite interview?

No-Brainer.

Sophia Loren of course.

And …

Charlie said he uses Google Alerts to monitor what people write about him.

Charlie, if you see this, I sure would like to get a peak at that list of questions you use as an arc for your interviews. You held them up on a hand-written page but never got around to talking about them.

On To… Favorite Interviews?

Ted Turner

Warren Buffet

Bill Gates

Bruce Springsteen

Sophia Loren


William Buckley

Rupert Murdoch

Steven Pressfield

Oh. Wait a minute. Hmm. Charlie Rose has never interviewed Steven Pressfield. Hey Charlie! He’d be a great guest for you – he’s found the heart of the drama more than once. Plus – you guys are homeys. Went to high school together. Bet you didn’t know that?

THE REAL END

About the Faux Author:

Steve Kayser is an award-winning business writer featured in the June 2008 Amazon best-selling business book, “Tune In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs,” a Marketing Best Practices case study by MarketingSherpa, A Marketer’s Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing, Credibility Branding, Innovation Quarterly, B2B Marketing Trends, PRWEEK, “The New Rules of PR and Marketing”(2007 book by David Meerman Scott) and Faces of E-Content magazine. His writings have appeared in Corporate Finance Magazine, CEO Refresher, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business 2.0, and Fast Company Magazine, among others.


And he’s won a few screenwriting awards including awards from; The Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting Competition of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Project Greenlight and Writer’s Digest.

A Model Too?


In his spare time, Steve professionally models kilts for Un-Vanity, Non-GQ, Maxim-less and The Manly Kilt Wearing Man magazines

And an Aspiring Olympian?

Steve also headlines fund-raising events for his run at an Olympic Gold Medal in the kilt-wearing mechanical bull-riding competition to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2050.


Finally

Steve is founder of Squareballs Enterainment, a non-leading edge, next-to-lost generation, un-scalable (but eminently sellable), not seamlessly integrated (although certainly unseemly), robusted (once or twice at most), rigidly inflexible, world class (minus the “cl”), geometrically challenged (totally true), inchoate “Thoughtless Leadership” prepubescent publishing empire dedicated to stories that challenge the shape of the mind. At least his – or anyone else that got through that sentence and thinks they know what they thought was said.

For more (or less) information contact (or don’t) Steve Kayser at skbigm@gmail.com

Hacks, Flacks, Hucksters and … Social Media News Release Resources

July 1, 2008

CONTINUED FROM: Social Media and Social-Media News Releases Are Absolutely Worthless!

Noteworthy Note First:

For an industry (PR) that’s supposedly full of a bunch of puerile, solipsistic,
flack-spinning imbecilic hucksters trying to infect the world with corporate gobbledygook, the people I’ve dealt with in this industry, and especially the people mentioned below, are exceptional. Courteous, honest, professional, gracious in the sharing of their time, expertise and information. They’re a lot of hard-working, well-intentioned people struggling with and trying to figure out how best to use social media and the SMNR. No Hacks, flacks or hucksters here.

Social Media News and Newsroom Resources Below Include:

SMNR Thought Leaders – Pro & Con

Im sure I missed some folks. Some accidentally on purpose. However, if you have any additions or suggestions, just let me know at skayser@cincom.com.

Todd Defren: The originator of the Social Media News Release. Exceptional at creating, engaging and wading through the buzz with courtesy and aplomb. Handles “Richard Craniums” well. Very rarely have I seen a reference to his SMNR, positive or negative, not being followed up with a comment by himself. Provides a lot of thought leadership articles and shares them freely. Check out his templates and articles below

Brian Solis:
No one, in my opinion, has been out in front more on this topic. Takes his shots. Brushes them off and keeps at it. Breaks through the clutter. Prolific writer – freely shares a lot of useful and unique information. Checkout his articles below.

Shannon Whitley: Shannon created PRX Builder. It’s a simple wizard that walks you through each step in creating an SMNR. Write your content, insert links, add images and video. PRXbuilder is an innovative and useful SMNR tool and service, depending on your distribution needs. Shannon is wonderful to work with. On top of it. Responds to customer questions all times of the night – always helpful.

Adam Parker: CEO of Webitpr.com, a UK company. Their offering is unique. An aggressive young company making waves.

Michael Pranikoff: PR Newswire, Director of Emerging Media. Michael is knowledgeable, helpful, courteous and exceptionally contagious about PR & Social Media. Deep source of knowledge and shares it graciously. A credit to PR Newswire.

Brian Pittman: Brian is the editor of the Journalists Speak Out e-newsletter and Director of Content for PR University. He’s the PR and Media Relations version of Charlie Rose. Always interesting and interested. Brian digs and delves into both sides of topics that help PR professionals do their jobs better – in many ways. Objective and skilled at boiling long-winded oratory’s into concise, compact and useful information. Check out his weekly column at the Bulldog Reporter.

The people below are a mixture of pro & con on the SMNR.

Good information and thinking on all sides of the SMNR concept.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Check them out.

Their posts might help you consider things that could save you time, money, embarrassment or your job.

SMNR Tools, Templates & Resources

Social Media News Release Examples

There aren’t a lot of SMNR’s out there. Cost, complexity, risk, usefulness? Some of the more recent ones have multimedia and social sharing capabilities – but no comments section. Why, if you did the work, bore the costs of distributing a SMNR, would you not use the comments section? Don’t understand it. Enabling the comments section is live PR. Live community building. Live customer service. Live product and marketing feedback. Live … good business sense.

GOOD EXAMPLE OF DOWNSTREAM DISTRIBUTION DISPLAY DIFFERENCES

SMNR Informational Video Resources

Go back to “Social Media News Releases Are Absolutely Worthless!”

Social Media News Releases (SMNR’s) Are Absolutely Worthless

June 18, 2008

This question came to me from an Expert Access reader.

Question: We’re a medium-size American company with limited resources. Because of that, we have to be economically creative to get our news and information out. Been hearing a lot about a new type of press release that uses social media to share news and information. Do you have any experiences, experts or resources that can help us learn more about it?

Answer: Yes, to all three. But it’s not exactly a “press release.” It’s a news release that incorporates social and multimedia elements to help a company communicate its story. It’s not a press release because it’s not strictly for the press. It’s also for prospective buyers, customers, investors, analysts and others that may have an interest in your company’s offerings or the topic being discussed. And, It’s absolutely worthless. I’ll tell you why…

Ask the Experimenter

Some context first. This is more of an “Ask the Experimenter” answer than an “Ask the Expert.”

It’s a fairly new, gradually changing concept. Anyone claiming to be an expert about this type of news release is probably stretching it a bit. Why? Most of the buzz about it is based on theory.

How it should be. How it could be. Not a lot lot of measurement or results yet of how it actually is… or works.

Our company has experimented with them and gotten results – good and bad. We’ll share some experiences plus point you to other people working with them. At the end of this article is a list of additional tools, templates, examples and research for you to also check out.

Social Media News Release

What you’re talking about is most widely known as a social media news release or SMNR. I’m not fond of that acronym because it sounds too close to an STD… which some journalists, marketing and PR professionals think it closely resembles.

Some think it’s absolutely worthless.

I agree. But only if you suffer from Idiopathic Obstupefacio Gluteus Maximus. I’ll explain…

What Is an SMNR?

The SMNR (M & M news release is probably a better term – A.K.A. multimedia new release) can be an exceptional way to create, communicate, distribute and make available valuable news and related information – in whatever delivery format that best fits the information needs of the reader. It includes text, video, audio, photos, social network sharing and feedback mechanisms that, if written correctly with key terms and phrases included, can increase your “findability,” on the web.

How’s it Different?

It’s dynamic. Interactive. People can comment, view video, photo galleries, listen to audio sound bites and download related documents.

NaaS – News as a Service

Making your news and information freely available to all, encouraging sharing via social bookmarks, image and video-sharing mechanisms, provides multiple options for meeting the information needs of readers. It’s your news “service.”

The SMNR concept is relatively new and evolving. Because of that there’s a lot of skepticism (some well-deserved) and reluctance to adapt it. Marty Feldman, the eloquent visionary in Mel Brook’s “Young Frankenstein” probably summed it up best.


“Master … it looks dangerous.

You go first.”


But… the SMNR can effectively communicate a company’s story – in ways and places that readers are increasingly looking (and expecting) to find answers to their problems.

No Panacea

The SMNR is not a panacea. Not an end-all be-all. Nor is it a silver bullet for PR, marketing or company communicators. Nothing like that. It’s simply an evolving communication tool that you can use to better tell your story.

STOP READING HERE!

Here’s the most important point if you don’t want to be bothered by the details of the SMNR.

The SMNR is Absolutely Worthless

The SMNR is absolutely worthless and could quickly cause damage to you or your company if you use the typical corporate gobbleydegook (A.K.A. BS) strategy and tactics.

An SMNR (as all news releases should be) has to be useful, accurate, honest, well-written and GOD FORBID – occasionally humorous if you can pull it off in context.

A Bad Word?

Some call this transparency. I don’t like that word. It’s a bad word.

Why?

Because you don’t want anyone to look through you.

You want them to look right at you. Dead in the eyes. And engage.

Warts and all.

But be prepared. If you do. They will.

I‘ve received a lot of skeptical (negative) inquiries, mostly from marketing and product managers in the U.S. (some from Europe) questioning the SMNR concept. Questions like:


“Is this what journalists and bloggers want – or need?”

My answer? I care – but not too much.

Why?

A couple reasons.

The first is the type of business environment you’re in. If you deal in a “complex sale” environment, like my company does, a high-dollar product or solution sale (usually over $150,000) requiring buyer evaluation committees, made up of 10-21 people of different functional business groups, it’s more important to make sure your news and content is “findable” for the people on the buying committees when they begin their search.

The people on these committees typically range from The “‘user”, the “IT person” the “business manager,” “the business decision-maker,” legal, human resources, and others. All have their own unique and specific information needs, which by default, includes specific language and terms they use to search (keywords, key phrases, etc.) to find information they need to solve their problem.

Sure we want journalists and bloggers to have whatever information they need from us to research and write their story. And, yes, we want to be a trusted and valued source of information to journalists, bloggers and analysts.

No Begging – No Buying

But … no begging or buying is going to happen by us for them to write about us. No time for that. The communication hierarchy has changed for us, and probably most small-to-medium sized businesses (that’s approximately 25 million businesses in the US). The focus now, in order, is:

1. Buyer information needs first – then the

2. Media

3. Industry analysts

4. Bloggers (Note: Numbers 2-3-4 are interchangeable.)

Why?

To stay competitive in the B2B industry, and some would argue in any business today, you have to be:

• Findable

Believable

• Accurate - then you have to make them care enough to take action and let your sales team

Prove Value - just to get into consideration for the complex sale buying process.

Once you’re findable, believable, accurate, then you have to prove value – quickly. The SMNR is a tool, and JUST A TOOL, to promote those goals.

What do you mean by …

Findable?

Most buying committees have their researchers start the search for solutions to their business problems on the web. Our research shows most of our prospective buyers do it that way.

According to Enquiro Research, the top three sites “Influencers” on these buyer committees visit when beginning their search are vendor websites, search engines, industry information websites.

But — “Steve, you sound like you’re in sales.”

I am.

So are you.

Everyone that’s effective and productive at your company probably is too – or should be. Without sales a serious ailment occurs and it’s first symptom is …

Idiopathic Obstupefacio Gluteus Maximus

For example, I attended a Media Relations conference several weeks ago with 600 PR professionals. Major event. One speaker asked ‘Should PR people be concerned about sales?’

About 30% of the audience thought not.

That’s right. The opinion was that PR professionals should not sully themselves with anything related to sales or marketing. They referred to themselves as ‘PR purists.’ PR should rise above things such as sales and marketing.

That’s a symptom of Idiopathic Obstupefacio Gluteus Maximus.

Stupid for short.

Sales is Not a Bad Word

Do I even have to say this?

Without sales, there is no PR. No company. No jobs. No pay. No health care. No future. Everyone at a company is in sales – whether they think it or not. From the B-level (basement) to the C-level.

Also, feeling deep empathy for the media, you need to understand what’s changed in their world. This web2.0 thingy is sucking the revenue and resources right out of their organizations. They’re under siege. Journalists are asked to do three times more with six times less.

They’re bombarded daily with PR pitches via phone and email. One journalist of a major news publication I met says she gets between 300-600 email pitches a day. She deletes 98% of them without ever reading them.

Why?

Either they’re not relevant to her or her publication, or she’s working on a different story at the time – it doesn’t fit her information needs.

How does she find info for stories? How do other journalists find background information for their stories? Just like the the buyer committees. they start with a web search, using key words or phrases about the topic.

Think about it.

They’re both looking for the same thing – information about a topic or problem they’re trying to solve.

EXAMPLE?

“As a contributing editor of E-Content Magazine and Pragmatic Marketing Magazine as well as being an author, I have received over 25,000 email story pitches over the last two years. Products. Solutions. Tech innovations, etc. How many resulted in stories? None. I go to the web and search for information on the topic I want to do a story on.” - David Meerman Scott, #1 Best-Selling author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR.”

The SMNR can help you be more findable. And, if you’re believable and accurate, good things might happen. If you’re not, good things won’t happen. Quickly.

Believable

The SMNR, as all news releases should, still needs to be well-written.

A finely crafted, easy-to-understand SMNR can help you be believable.

Sounds easy.

It’s not.

See –

It’s Complex to Write Simple – but Hemingway’s Four Rules of Writing Can Still Work


Without the Word-Fornification

I won’t go into the history and evolution of the SMNR, (it’s been katzenjammered enough) but I believe it was spawned out of utter disgust. Disdain at the ongoing daemon seed of word-fornification. Too many press releases pork-barrel full of superlative hyperbole, punctuated with Frankenquoted buffoon-a-puffery.

Frankenquoted Buffoon-a-Puffery?


Useless quotes from company officials that hardly anyone will ever read – except the Frankenquotee.

Example? — just insert your company or executive’s name with the text below.

We’re Great!

“We’re great.” “Our company is great.” “Our customers love us.” “The industry analysts love us.” “We’re SO EXCITED to be working with them.” Sound familiar?

Meanwhile — Back On The SMNR LOVE STORY RANCH

It finally got to be too much for one journalist, Tom Foremski, who penned a soft , heartfelt, ‘can’t we all just get along,’ blog post titled, “Die Press Release Die!”

His frustrated journalistic rebel yell for authenticity, simplicity, clarity, utility and believability led to a rethinking of the press release format.

One PR professional listened (yes one person listening can make a difference) and did something about it. Thus arrived the first Social Media News Release template created by Todd Defren at SHIFT Communications. Enough said on that topic. On to ...

Accurate

Accurate in this sense means honest. Mistakes happen. Errors of omission can happen – but just make sure they’re errors or accidental omissions. In this whirling dervish of social media communications people by and large are very forgiving of mistakes. But not so forgiving of boneheads trying to game the system.

SMNR Examples

We’ve been testing and experimenting with the SMNR at our company, trying to figure out how best to use them. Or, if to use them at all.

Little Background

We’re a software technology company. Been around 40 years. Issue approximately 100 news releases per year worldwide. Keep this in mind though, as you check the examples out. What is news to us, or what is news to you or your business, may be real sleep-inducers to the rest of world. However, a prospective buyer or customer might find a new product update or announcement scintillating, useful and buzzworthy – while the rest of us moan, groan and yawn before we fall over asleep and push aside the media and industry analysts who are already… snoring on the floor.

Newswires

Currently we use Marketwire for US distribution of company news, WebitPr.com for European distribution, and Business Wire for Greater Asia distribution. We have also used PRNewswire, PRWeb and PRX Builder.com.

So … we have done a fair bit of testing.

Below are some SMNR’s we experimented with. At the end of this article we’ll provide examples (23) from other companies – some much better than ours. If you’re going to try a SMNR it’s probably best to review multiple examples from companies that have actually done it.

We’re Not Great

None of the SMNR’s below are great. No literary masterpieces in any stretch of the imagination.

But they’re functional. And were good test projects. We especially pushed the SMNR envelope concept on the first two releases below as far as the multimedia components. Mainly because of the type event it happened to be.

It was an MBA business plan competition (similar to the NCAA Basketball tourney) called ‘The Spirit of Enterprise” with 16 colleges competing. Lots of images, video, people involved. More multi-media assets than we’d normally have available — or would probably ever really use. But, very interesting and useful for tests and experimenting around the edges.

Check out the examples below- you’ll see notable visual differences.

Why Do They Look So Different?

Good question. Downstream news distribution (to other news sites) display is archaic and mostly text-based.

You lose (or get garbled) formatting (Bold and bullet points for example).

It’s discussed more in-depth later in this article.

S
MNR Challenges?

Costs. My view (from the U.S.) is that costs for SMNR’s are relatively high. Especially for small-to-medium sized businesses (SMB’S). Enough to make you run for the hills.

I’ve had estimates from some wire services of between $500-$15,000 – per release of a fully loaded and produced SMNR. That’s a non-starter. Fiscally irresponsible to consider because of all the other options – including doing nothing. Even if you’re an employee of a billion dollar behemoth of a public company it’d be hard to see how you would cost-justify it.

Multimedia Assets:

Having video/audio assets available for SMNR’s could be a challenge for a lot organizations. Your marketing and product managers almost have to be evangelists/zealots and do a lot of the video and photos themselves. In my experience some are hip to it. Others resist it like the plague. And, the more video, images, multimedia you do use – the more the cost to distribute can go up.

Multimedia assets were an issue for us. Our videos were rudimentary. But we’re getting a handle on it now. A couple of different ways to do that.

1.) Hire a professional videographer. Or, there are some incredible companies popping up right now like Snippies, which taps a global network of video journalists that will come to your site and work with you. We’ve used them. They’re fast, professional, flexible and reasonable. Plus, they have the added benefit of thinking like journalists.

2.) Experiment with some of the new presentation applications out there and see what you can do yourself. You could take a series of pictures (think storyboard here), animate them and create a movie-like trailer (I use www.Animoto.com), create a media file, then upload it to YouTube, or embed directly in your SMNR. You can do that all for free. Here’s an example where it was created on Picasa, uploaded to Animoto, saved as an Mp.4 file, then uploaded to Veoh and YouTube. Don’t mind the title - “How’s Your Ass?” It doesn’t mean what you think.

Tracking

Tracking is an issue. Not because you can’t do it. But because you can. And it’s different from what you would normally track. Depending on the SMNR, we ranged from between 6,300-19,000 links as tracked in the Marketwire PRstats™ – which is described as “the current number of locations this press release listed in.”

Moving the Value Needle

Question is, what value do you attribute to that number of links? How do you get your arms around it to measure, analyze and make sense of? To help your company?

It’s impressive looking. No doubt. And it’s dynamic. Changes every hour. But eventually you need to translate that into some trackable action that moves the value needle for your company. Something that positively contributes to the bottom line in whatever way your company measures it. Calls, leads, media inquiries, immediate sales, whatever. In the B2B complex sales arena that means it needs to move the buyer committees, media and/or industry analysts to some type of measurable action.

Downstream Distribution Display

One of the major challenges of the SMNR is downstream distribution. That means how the SMNR’s are rendered and displayed (as shown above) in the different portals and venues after being distributed. Right now they’re ripped up and displayed in a gazillion different ways.

Almost every news site displays the SMNR differently. Each typically has text formatting limitations. Simple things like bold formatting or bullet points render incorrectly. The text doesn’t display well. This can distract from the original content of the story. Particularly if you use sluglines or a web chunk writing style.

Get it Right Where You Can

The best you can hope for right now is to get it right where you have control – on your own website. Or your news distribution vendor website. Though seemingly a small issue, I guarantee you the “display” of the SMNR will come up when cost-justifying to internal budget committees. “Why do it if it doesn’t display right? If all your multimedia assets are buried at the bottom? Isn’t that a waste of money?”

Get it right where you can. Your own website or blog news site. Hopefully the big news wires will eventually catch up.

Bullet Point Beginnings

The Shift SMNR template is constructed so that the news release starts with a list of bullet pointed facts. Most, if not all, of the established thought leaders and experts agree with that concept.

I don’t.

Don’t like it.

Reads like a boring-arse technical datasheet. But I understand why they advocate it.

I think the “core facts” bullet point structure at the start of an SMNR is the result of corporate gobbledygook writing. The readers were, and are, frustrated with having to wade through meaningless words and undecipherable acronyms. The bullet-point start is simply an effort to get to the meat of the story quickly but ….

Let Me Make My Bullet Point Clear

  • From what I’ve seen
  • It’s being abused and misused.
  • What’s happening now
  • Is that news releases are written
  • Like they’ve always been
  • Full of taradiddle-twaddle, jib-jab, flim-flam flummery
  • But now, each sentence
  • Or sentence fragment,
  • Is bullet pointed.

The challenge here?

Writing. Simple writing. Writing so people can read and understand without having to wrap duct tape around their heads to keep from exploding.

OPEN TO CRITICISM?

One thing I really like about SMNR is the comments section. It has a lot of value and can be eye-opening. Comments on a press release valuable?

Yes.

Several of the comments I received had in-depth insights and suggestions. Others related past experiences with the company and products. Had probably 20 emails questioning the SMNR format in itself, which which was an interesting aside. We had absolutely “0” negative comments or flames – but the SMNR has capabilities that allow you to moderate comments, which would enable you to handle any inappropriate comments.

And you will get negative comments. If you have thin skin the SMNR is probably not right for you or your company. But, if you’re open to criticism, can deal with honest, constructive feedback and the occasional uncivil ranting fool, you and your company will end up better for it.

Media Coverage?

Yes, we received coverage. Nothing overwhelming. But decent. Remember, these were tests for us to push the envelope, feel around the edges, work out the kinks. The SMNR’s raised many questions about usefulness, utility, display, distribution, results and overall value. But, the possibilities and promise are too great not to move forward with them.

Want to Try?

Anyone wanting to experiment with creating and distributing an SMNR should try PRX Builder. It keeps the original formatting (BOLD and Bullet points). It’s simple, easy-to-use and you can be up and running in a few minutes with it. Walks you step-by-step through the SMNR creation and distribution process.

SMNR Takeaways?
  • B2B Outreach: Makes it easier for buyers and buying committees to find and share the information they need – in the format that best fits their needs
  • Media Outreach: Makes it easier for the media, bloggers and analysts to find and write about you – multimedia elements should make it more useful and appealing
  • Direct to Consumers: Enable readers (whomever they are) to get a more in-depth understanding of your story – save it, share and communicate directly with you
  • Sales Outreach: Leverages yours brand, publicity and marketing efforts to help sales – if you keep it accurate and clean

The Social Media News Release is Absolutely Worthless

  • If you don’t provide accurate, objective and useful information to help people solve their business problems
  • If you’re thin-skinned and not open to criticism
  • If you spread the dreaded corporate gobbledygook (CG) disease – publishing content that is pork-barrel full of superlative hyperbole, punctuated with Frankenquoted buffoon-a-puffery
  • If you suffer from Idiopathic Obstupefacio Gluteus Maximus

End:

Below are additional resources if you want to further investigate the topic. They’re not exhaustive – but will give you a decent snapshot.

Noteworthy Note First

For an industry (PR) that is supposedly full of a bunch of puerile, solipsistic, flack-spinning imbecilic hucksters trying to infect the world with corporate gobbledygook, the people I’ve dealt with in this industry, and especially the people mentioned below, are exceptional. They are courteous, honest, professional, gracious in the sharing of their time, expertise and information. They’re a lot of hard-working, well-intentioned people struggling with and trying to figure out how best to use social media and the SMNR.

Additional resources below include:

SMNR Thought Leaders – Pro & Con

Im sure I missed some folks. Some accidentally on purpose. However, if you have any additions or suggestions, just let me know at skayser@cincom.com.

Todd Defren: The originator of the Social Media News Release. Exceptional at creating, engaging and wading through the buzz with courtesy and aplomb. Handles “Richard Craniums” well. Very rarely have I seen a reference to his SMNR, positive or negative, not being followed up with a comment by himself. Provides a lot of thought leadership articles and shares them freely. Check out his templates and articles below

Brian Solis:
No one, in my opinion, has been out in front more on this topic. Takes his shots. Brushes them off and keeps at it. Breaks through the clutter. Prolific writer – freely shares a lot of useful and unique information. Checkout his articles below.

Shannon Whitley: Shannon created PRX Builder. It’s a simple wizard that walks you through each step in creating an SMNR. Write your content, insert links, add images and video. PRXbuilder is an innovative and useful SMNR tool and service, depending on your distribution needs. Shannon is wonderful to work with. On top of it. Responds to customer questions all times of the night – always helpful.

Adam Parker: CEO of Webitpr.com, a UK company. Their offering is unique. An aggressive young company making waves.

Michael Pranikoff: PR Newswire, Director of Emerging Media. Michael is knowledgeable, helpful, courteous and exceptionally contagious about PR & Social Media. Deep source of knowledge and shares it graciously. A credit to PR Newswire.

Brian Pittman: Brian is the editor of the Journalists Speak Out e-newsletter and Director of Content for PR University. He’s the PR and Media Relations version of Charlie Rose. Always interesting and interested. Brian digs and delves into both sides of topics that help PR professionals do their jobs better – in many ways. Objective and skilled at boiling long-winded oratory’s into concise, compact and useful information. Check out his weekly column at the Bulldog Reporter.

The people below are a mixture of pro & con on the SMNR. Good information and thinking on all sides of the SMNR concept. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Check them out. Their posts might help you consider things that could save you time, money, embarrassment or your job.

Social Media News Release Articles

SMNR Tools, Templates & Resources

SMNR Informational Video Resources


Social Media News Room Examples

June 18, 2008

I visited a lot of social media newsrooms (SMN’s) for the “Social Media News Releases Are Absolutely Worthless” article.

Below are examples of real newsrooms engaged in real business, and just not some theoretical treatises on the joys and efficacies of a social media newsroom concept. The companies spread out among different industries – a fairly decent cross-section.

The Big Bang

I saw a lot of SMN’s that started out with a hot flash, big bang … then stopped. They haven’t been updated for months, if at all. Why? Novelty? Too much work? Risk? No results? Not enough digital assets? Part or all of those things? Don’t know. I’ll take a shot at it though. It’s related to “doing the work.” It’s a lot of hard work pulling all the content, multi-media and social news sharing capabilities together without making yourself “look a fool.”

The Hard Work is not the Hard Work

And the hard work part is not the hard work. Creating or re-designing a newsroom for today’s informational needs (buyers, customers, media, analysts) means you have to justify the costs to CFO.

Be prepared. They ask questions that have money attached to them – and the answers they’re looking for are not, impressions, views, comments, links, feeds.

You also have to work with a web and graphics design team to get your newsroom design right.

Important thing here. The product and marketing managers have to be tuned in to the value of social media and the social media newsroom, or your going to end up with something that might look great … but has no content. Which means no usefulness. Which means no value. Which means you have to re-read the CFO’s fortune cookie.

Last (but I swear, if my IT team is reading this, the greatest folks on earth, the backbone of any business, the reason any marketing and PR department exists – solely to serve them) comes the IT department.

BIG SCOOP HERE

Sometimes you’re not so important to them.

Typically the corporate IT department doesn’t consider the newsroom to be “top of mind.” And, if you’re like the company I work for, with tens of thousands of web pages, implementing a social media newsroom concept is a little more complicated, costly and risky than slapping a yuck-it-up video on YouTube, some Flickr photos with a non-delicious Del.icio.us page. We’re working on it at my company and should be rolling out a newsroom with social and multi-media capabilities in 4 weeks. Thanks to the greatest folks on earth, the IT department.

Having said all that – the people and companies listed below are already pulling it off. Hooking, jabbing, pushing, pulling, getting it done.

But first

What Exactly is a Social Media Newsroom?

SHIFT Communications provides a good answer.

EXAMPLES:

Ford Social Media Online Newsroom
Ford’s online newsroom that hosts their Social Media News Releases (SMNR).

Well done, easy to use and easy on the eyes.

Initial landing page is comprehensive but missing comment or conversation tools. However, click on any of their SMNRs and they’re there.

Cisco Newsroom

Tagline: News@Cisco⎯”Ideas. Insights. Information.”

Full of features, functionality, and content.

When you’re a high-tech company, simplifying the complex is hard to do. Very hard to do. Cisco does it well.

It even has a “Cisco Live” Twitter account. Talk to them in 140 characters or less.


Virgin Megastores Social Media Online Newsroom

A visual melange, pastiche, cornucopia.

The Virgin Mega Mashup Newsroom is graphically and functionally strong.

Their Virgin “Mega Friends” Map is an excellent way to engage directly with your audience. The “Mega Rant” page is a direct shout-out for conversation — “Come on in … talk to us!”

GM Europe Social Media Newsroom

Tagline: “Product News and Downloads for the online reporter”

Hmm … what about the online buyer doing his research? Based upon
their “latest comment” section in the newsroom, it appears they have some unwanted visitors … some buyers.

Flickr photostream is well utilized. Comprehensive. Check out their Youtube channel. 106 videos. Some pretty good ideas to crib from.

Optiem Social Media Newsroom

Like the look of this social media newsroom. It follows the SHIFT Communications Newsroom template closely. They switched the “media coverage” and the “news releases” headings. That’s understandable. Their content needs updating, but this is still a good example to get some thought bubbles started.

Wolfstar Social Media News Room

Tagline: “Resources for journalists and online reporters.”

Example from the U.K. They use Del.icio.us for their online coverage.

Electrolux

Tagline: “Electrolux has created this newsroom to provide bloggers, journalists and other interested parties with information about Electrolux and its products and services.”

Photos and videos are also made available through the site. Hmm … this newsroom is open for business.

Social Media Newsroom for Evacuation Plan: a Novel from the Hospice

Don’t evacuate this newsroom. It’s by author, Joe O’Connell, for his book, “Evacuation Plan.” It was developed by Social Media Power.

It’s beauty is it’s simplicity.

The very human touch. Easy accessibility. No videos—but big deal.

Is it perfect? No. Are you?

NeatReceipts Social Media Newsroom

Neat. Simple. Live chat enabled.


TopRank Online Marketing Newsroom

I like this one. Lee Odden is an exceptional writer and social media advocate. Balanced approach.

The newsroom navigation centered at the top is a nice ease-of-use touch

Fathom SEO Online Newsroom


Active newsroom. Talk the talk. Walk the walk.

Check out their Fathom links. Fairly deep. They offer a free media pressroom theme for WordPress. Miminalist. Simple. Good. Actually use their Twitter account. Their YouTube channel has 36 videos. That’s a lot of work.

Now … if you’ve noticed, a lot of the newsrooms above followed (loosely) the SHIFT Communications Social Media Newsroom Template. So what about SHIFT? Do they talk the talk and walk the walk?

SHIFT Communications Social Media Newsroom

Answer?

Yes.

If you have additional social media newsroom examples — let me know.

Go back to “Social-Media News Releases Are Absolutely Worthless!

End:

Social Media News Release Resource Articles

June 17, 2008

CONTINUED FROM: Social Media and Social-Media News Releases Are Absolutely Worthless!

Social Media News Release Articles

Return to Social Media and Social-Media News Releases Are Absolutely Worthless!

Social Media News Release Examples

June 17, 2008

CONTINUED FROM: Social Media News Releases Are Absolutely Worthless!

There aren’t a lot of SMNR’s out there. Cost, complexity, risk, usefulness? Some of the more recent ones have multimedia and social sharing capabilities – but no comments section. Why, if you did the work, bore the costs of distributing a SMNR, would you not use the comments section? Don’t understand it. Enabling the comments section is live PR. Live community building. Live customer service. Live product and marketing feedback. Live … good business sense.

GOOD EXAMPLE OF DOWNSTREAM DISTRIBUTION DISPLAY DIFFERENCES


Go back to “Social Media News Releases Are Absolutely Worthless!”

End:

Bad Bad Boring Blogger

May 27, 2008

Confession.

I’m a bad bad boring blogger. Any of you reading this blog irregularly already know that.

I don’t blog consistently. Just not that prolific of a pontificating pontificator. I’m not that interesting. Don’t have the urge to blog daily “sweet nothings.” (Emphasis on nothing.)

Only do it when I have something to say, or need to test some new whiz-shebang Web2.0 technology.

I’m just a bad bad boring blogger.

Odious & Odoriferous

I’m bad.

But at least I come by it honestly.

I find it odious (Smell-bad-ifferus) to simply post a blog comment like “Joe Know-It-All” had a great post on “click here to check it out.”

IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY … JUST SAY IT!

Plus – Ive been pretty busy writing and re-writing (and re-writing ad nauseum) a couple stories of my own (screenplays) as well as editing 1o-15 business articles a week for Expert Access, a B2B e-zine with 135, 000 subscribers.

I do have quite a few stories in the hopper I’ll post here shortly. Stories I think are interesting, useful and fun – not only for the reader, but for me too.

First Up

Steve Pressfield article/interview – about his new book “Killing Rommel.” Steven is one of my favorite writers. More importantly, to readers of all ages, he is a great sharer of life wisdom. Check out his book, “War of Art,” if you ever need inspiration to move your life forward or get out of a rut.

The last story I did with Steven, “How To Defeat Your Inner Deabeat,” still fuels my email inbox with questions, comments and thanks. Received over 250 email responses in the first couple days after it was first published it in 2007. One has to question why a classic like as “The War of Art,” similar in vein to Vicktor Frankl’s ‘Search for Meaning,” ( a best-seller for over 50 years now) wasn’t an international best-seller. Maybe someday.

Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop

Hmmm – I segued from the “War of Art” to the author of “The Art of the Start,” which I haven’t read yet. Why write about Alltop.com? Two reasons.

1. It’s Good

Alltop collects stories from “all the top” sites on the web – and groups them by topic. It aggregates on a single webpage stories from some of the best thinkers on the web. Alltop refers to it as a “digital magazine rack.” Pretty well describes it.

And yes , I could do it myself. Already know that. I could build my own glitzy whiz-bang content aggregator. In fact, I have many unfinished versions of it already.

Been there.

Done that.

Done it again.

It’s easier not to.

Trust me on this one.

2. It’s the Way Things Oughta Be.

Why? I sent an email to info@alltop.com because I wanted to get an RSS feed for the Social Media topic category — http://socialmedia.alltop.com.

I wanted to simplify my industry research and keep up with the biz. In my job you probably need to read 3-4 hours a day. I don’t. But wish I could.

The pace of the information explosion is dizzying.

I wonder how William James knew about it so many years ago.

“Wisdom is knowing what to overlook.”

James’ wisdom is my aspiration. But it’s a struggle right now.

Highly Successful Failure

I also wanted to see if they had figured out how to setup or run an RSS feed based on aggregated topics and writers.

Have tried to do it for years with Expert Access.

Been about as successful as a woodpecker with rubber lips.

Anyway, I said all that to say this, not only did I get a quick answer – it came from Guy Kawasaki himself.

Rare – and Highly Under-rated

The personal touch. Simple. Twitter Short. Direct. Concise. Rare – and highly under-rated. No autorespondering going on at Alltop.


Guy not only addressed and answered my question — but also, as the consummate entrepreneur would, “asked for my vote,” in- political parlance, so to speak.

“Please do write about us. It would be great. I would think that small businesses, marketing, and venturecapital.alltop.com would all be relevant to your audience.

Thanks! — Guy

So, in far too many words, that’s why I’m going to do a story on Alltop. Because it’s the way things oughta be.

Charlie Rose - working on a story about Charlie Rose. Saw him speak (or be interviewed on stage actually) at a major media relations conference hosted by the Bulldog Reporter in San Franciso a short time ago. It’s by far the best Media Relations conference around if you’re in the PR/Marketing biz. (Check out Brian Pittman’s interviews, he’s the Director of Content and moderator for the PR University. Brian Pittman’s a real up-and-coming Charlie Rose – if he doesn’t sell out and do the Hollywood writer gig first. )

Charlie Rose has BO!
(more on that later)

Charlie was fascinating. Really connected – with everyone there.

I’ve seen a plethora, a bevy, a melange (I meant to say “a whole bunch” there but got carried away) of good presenters and speakers. All it takes to be a good presenter is hard work and practice.

If you’re not good – you have only one person to blame, yourself.

But to be great you have to be good – and connect. Connecting is pretty special, it’s an art. Maybe a gift. A heavenly endowment. You have to be an expert, wise, personable, dynamic, charismatic – and likable.

The only speaker I’ve seen anywhere near rivaling Charlie Rose was Steve Wynn. He was unbelievable. Excellent. Saw him speak at an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year ceremony in Palm Springs. Steve Wynn is dynamic, inspirational, charismatic. Best I ever saw (how’s that for good English?). And, up until I saw him speak, I had very little knowledge of who he was or what he’d done (shows you the circles I don’t run in). He had the movie star kinda mystique. But being a gazillionaire sorta lends itself to that. And, this was funny – he had an incredible Dali Lami impersonation.

Charlie Rose was not like that.

Two radically different styles. His talk was on “The Art of the Story: Finding the Heart of the Drama.” He spoke about what he looked for in stories and guests for his show (he’s done over 20,000 interviews). It essentially boiled down to this.

Interesting people actively engaged in the struggle of life.
Overcoming obstacles and adversity. Authentic. Able to tell their story.

What made him Charlie Rose so special?

He was talking to a group of 600 PR professionals. Each one dreaming up ways to talk to him – pitch him, get his ear. Almost holding up a sign saying “LOOK AT ME!”

And what did Charlie Rose do when his talk was finished?

Get ushered out quickly behind the stage – through some high-security, highfalutin steel curtain designed to protect him from the masses? (Some occasionally use the same word “masses,” minus the “M,” when referring to PR folks.)

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I do own a gorilla suit – but that’s not me. I swear. An amazing coincidence. Two Steve’s owning a gorilla suit. What are the odds?

No – he did something totally unexpected. Staggeringly unexpected.

He walked down from the stage and chatted with the sponsors, then slowly walked right out, … through the masses.

‘So what,’ you say?

Charlie actually looked directly at each table as he passed. If someone made eye contact he stopped and spoke to them. He engaged. Engaged in the struggle of life. Okay. Maybe that’s a little flim-flam flummery, a little melodramatic. But you get my point.

Never – in the History of Business …

Have so many PR professionals been rendered completely speechless.

What about the Charlie Rose BO comment?


Oh, BO
– that’s simple.

I mentioned I’ve been to way too many conferences and speeches?

One thing I use as a guidepost now- a barometer if you will – is something I created (patent not-pending, intellectual capital totally suspect) called the … The BO Scale.

It doesn’t mean what you think. An average presenter scores a BO rating of 5. Top of the scale being 10. Think golf here. Low score wins.

The Lazarus Phenomenon

The absolute worst presenter.

The bore the dead type presenter.

The ones capable of provoking a Lazarus type resur-insurrection (resurrection- insurrection) of peaceful souls, drifting on the rivers of the Lethe, to awake and beat you senseless with their own tombstones, — score a BO-10 rating.

This BO scale was developed after reviewing and analyzing reams of evidence. But, it’s not just theoretical. I got out in the real-world and tested it extensively.

I engaged. Sorta like Charlie Rose. Well, maybe not exactly. But I found the bottom. The bottom of the scale is a BO-10.

How do I know that?

The Worst Presentation on Earth

I purposely created the most god-awful presentation ever.

Specifically designed to be horrible. (That means I tried my best to do a great job – but failed miserably. On second thought I was a pretty successful failure. That might be a better way to spin it.)

A Real Stinker

It was terrible. ( I thought, really thought, it was elevating, inspirational and my ticket to fame and $$$$$ as a writer).

BO-10

I got on stage.

Did it.

And it came in at a BO-10.

What does that mean?

BO-10 means you’re so bad people throw their BlackBerry’s at you to get you off the stage.

Do you know how expensive BlackBerry’s are?


BO-5

Means you’re adequate.

Not bad.

Not good – but bearable.

Average.

Some people listen.

But about 50% of the people are shagging their BlackBerry’s to do something else.

Anything but listen to you.

BO

Having BO is the greatest of achievements these days.

BO means you have the audience enraptured.

Spellbound.

You’re great. You’re humble.

Dynamic. Charismatic. Likable.

You’re real real.

And?

Every damn Blackberry in the place remains off.

BO= ALL BlackBerry’s off.

BO … means you have arrived.

You have reached … Charlie Rose status.

Faux End

P.S.

Charlie said he uses Google Alerts to monitor what people write about him. Charlie if you’re out there … Steven Pressfield would be a great guest for your show (and no, I’m not his rep – nor work for him in any way). Besides, you two are homey’s. You went to the same high school.

Steven has BO too.

P.S.S. – sure would like to get a peak at those list of questions you use as an arc for your interviews. You held them up on a hand-written page– but never got around to talking about them.

THE REAL END

Steve Kayser – skbigm@gmail.com

Matt Maupin: The Last Post

May 10, 2008

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.”

‘For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon


I Never Met Him

But I knew him.

Lived about 15 miles from where I live. Southwest Ohio. A mix of small town farms and businesses. He was like many other young men around here. Grew up playing soccer, football, hanging out, fishing, dreaming of a wonderful life to come – and working hard to achieve that dream.

Was enrolled in the University of Cincinnati Aerospace Engineering Program, using a scholarship he’d received from winning a writing competition. Worked at Sam’s Club to help pay for college. But anyone being within a continent (or planet) of the U.S. knows how expensive college is now. So, this young man joined the U.S. Army Reserves to further help with college costs.

He was stationed with the 705th Transportation Company based in Dayton, Ohio… until his unit was mobilized for Iraq.

I Never Met His Parents

But I know them.

They’re like so many other parents in this rural part of Ohio – or were, until their son’s convoy was ambushed on April 9, 2004 en route to Baghdad International Airport. Their son was taken prisoner. He was 20 years old. Born July 13, 1983.

His Name was Keith Matthew “Matt” Maupin

His parents last live image of him? A videotape broadcast on April 16, 2004, by the Arabic-language TV network Al Jazeera.

In the video, the soldier identified himself as “Private First Class Keith Matthew Maupin,” a standard procedure followed by prisoners of war. It’s supposed to help protect their rights under the Third Geneva Convention. Supposed to.

War is brutal. Vicious. Ugly. Mean.

Death or capture can happen at any minute. It’s a risk and fear all soldiers know. Matt Maupin knew it too. But bravery, courage, belief in yourself and your country help overcome this fear.

Vanished

Matt grew up in a quickly vanishing part of America – where serving your country is not a bad thing. It’s an honor. And honorable. Like that quickly vanishing part of America… Matt Maupin vanished too.

For four years his parents searched, prayed, galvanized the community, did everything they could to try to find their son. For four years they held out hope. I watched their struggles on local TV. They never, ever, gave up.

Medieval Evilجَبان

But the enemies of this war are not like Americans. Or most humans. The Geneva Convention? Right. It only applies if they’re captured. They are medieval cowardly pigs that slaughter prisoners in captivity. The worst kind of putrid satanic wretches. A special place in an eternal hell is reserved for them.

Matt Maupin’s body was found and identified last week. His bodily remains are being shipped home. There are no words that can really describe the pain and grief his family is going through. Abraham Lincoln came as close to it as anyone:

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

- Abraham Lincoln

Take a look at this young man. He could be your son, or mine. Your brother, or mine. Your friend, or mine.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I hope our military tracks down the cowardly pig-dogs that executed Matt Maupin, string them upside down from a bridge and slow roast them with flame-throwers.

But we won’t. We’re Americans.

They cherish death. We cherish life.

They strap bombs on children. We send our children to save theirs.

They kill for cartoons. We die to free them from hatred, oppression and tyranny.

They saw off our heads. We make sure they have air conditioned cells with better living conditions than they’ve ever experienced before.

They string us upside down from bridges, burn our corpses and dance with joy as they see planes fly into our buildings, killing thousands of innocent men, women and children.

Deja Mein Kampf Vu All Over Again

Recognize evil. That’s what this is. Unadulterated. Mocking. In your face.

Stop it, or be prepared to be consumed by Nazi-fied furnaces fired by their medieval excremental vision.

Where Have You Gone General George Patton?

The nation needs you more than you can know. But men like General Patton don’t, can’t exist anymore. They’ve been exterminated by cowardly political correctness.

They’ve vanished.

Like America is vanishing.

Like Matt vanished.

To this fine young man, Matt Maupin, working two jobs to help pay for college, who was the same age as my son, going to the same college as my son, I pay tribute and add to the eternal “Last Post” list of …

The Loved and Lost

Fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, wives, husbands, cousins, nephews, nieces, all.
They passed on not by accident, not by bodily deterioration brought on by the mean ravages of time, but because they had a special job.

A job that ended a too-brief sojourn on this blue-green magical wonder called earth.

A job they chose.

So Costly a Sacrifice

They were American soldiers.

A step ahead.

A step behind.

A look left, instead of right.

Right, instead of left.

Up instead of down.

Down instead of up.

A blink of the eye at the wrong time.

Then… life was over.


What is life?

It is the flash of a firefly in the night.

It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.

It is the little shadow that runs across the grass

and loses itself in the sunset.

Crowfoot, Native American Blackfoot warrior and orator

Life. Over. Gone.

So quick.

So quick.

Where did it go?

It was the fleeting flash of a firefly in the night … gone.

But not.


Their undiminishable light echoes eternally throughout the music of the spheres like heavenly bagpipes playing Amazing Grace across the unfathomable unknowable on their way to The Last Post.

Fireflies in the night, shadows that ran across the grass riding a Sonata of Moonlight on an

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- to living, giving and life.

End:

For more information, or to help in anyway you can, please visit the Keith Matthew “Matt” Maupin official website, hosted by Keith and Carolyn Maupin (Matt’s Mom and Dad), and the Yellow Ribbon Support Center.

The Complex Sale: 10 Hollywood Tips for Being "Good in a Room"

May 9, 2008

About a year ago, I had the pleasure to co-write an article titled “Ten Tips for Being Good in a Room,” with Stephanie Palmer, former Director of Creative Affairs at MGM Pictures. At the time, she had just started a new company called (you’re never going to guess …) “Good in a Room.”

The article, updated and included below, (with a surprise at the end) draws on Stephanie’s years of experience working with stories, writers, creative people and directors as they “pitched” their ideas and stories trying to get them to the big screen.


In Stephanie’s tenure as the Director of Creative Affairs at MGM Pictures she acquired screenplays, books, articles and pitches and supervised their development. Some of her projects include “
Mad Money,” “21,” “Be Cool,” “Legally Blonde,” “Sleepover,” “A Guy Thing,” “Good Boy,” “Agent Cody Banks” and “Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London.”

Pitch

The “pitching” of the idea, or the story, and the pitching of yourself can be applied to many different business and life situations. It’s particularly relevant and useful in the B2B “Complex Sale” environment.

That Crucial Moment

“Ten Hollywood Tips for Being Good in a Room” focuses on that crucial moment – after you’ve worked for months (or years!) on your project, and have the buyer interested. The meeting is set. There’s a lot at stake. You’ll have one chance to effectively communicate the value and uniqueness of your project. Now … you have to be, what they call in Hollywood, “Good in a Room.”

But first, an update.

Since that article was published, Stephanie Palmer has written a thoroughly fantastic and real-world informative book titled, “GOOD in a ROOM: How to Sell Yourself (and Your Ideas) and Win Over Any Audience.”

Stephanie recently appeared on MSNBC’s “Today Show” to talk about her new book in a segment called “How to Get What You Want,” along with Jim Cramer, Barbara Corcoran and Dr. Gail Saltz. They discussed the power of persuasion and how to be a master of the art.



She’s not only “Good in a Room,” she’s good on TV. If you want to perform better in high-stakes meetings, check out her book “Good in a Room.”

Now, on to …


The Complex Sale: Ten Hollywood Tips For Being “Good in a Room.”

Do You Know …

The one skill that’s considered to be an absolute “must have” in the complex sale?


The Definition

The complex sale typically refers to a high-value purchase, $150,000 and higher, involving a buyer’s committee consisting of anywhere from three to 21 people … or more.


Frustrating

The sales cycle is frustratingly long. Anywhere from 12-36 month. Worse still … it involves multiple decision-makers, all with different viewpoints, agendas and radically different personalities.

It’s a Science – It’s an Art

To win at the complex sale, one must be a storyteller, master tactician, strategist, cajoler, evaluator, philosopher, psychologist, bean counter and techno-geek. Yup. All rolled into one. But, even with all of that, there is one skill that is an absolute “must have” in the complex sale.

Without it, success is always a delayed sales cycle away – with a morbidly high improbability rate of closure ranging from 0 to 10 percent.

What is that one trait that’s an absolute “must have” to win the complex sale in today’s competitive sales environment?

I’m sure you’re thinking some highfalutin, corporate gobbledygook, acromoronic description is coming your way now.

You’d be wrong.

The skill is critical to your success – in business or life.

You must be …

Good in a Room.”

What does that mean … to be “Good in a Room?” To find out, I decided to ask someone that had sat on the other side of the fence. A buyer. But not just a buyer of any high-value product or service. A buyer of ideas. Concepts. Words. A buyer of screenplays and stories. Each one a high-value purchase triggering the complex and bewildering process that may eventually lead to the big screen. And, as you’ll see, no movie ever gets started without someone having mastered the “art of the schmooze” and being …

Enter Stephanie Palmer

Good in a Room founder Stephanie Palmer was named one of the “Next Generation: Top 35 Executives Under 35″ by The Hollywood Reporter. As the Director of Creative Affairs at MGM Pictures, she acquired screenplays, books and pitches and supervised their development. Some of her projects include “Be Cool,” “Legally Blonde,” “Sleepover,” “A Guy Thing,” “Agent Cody Banks,” and “Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London.” Prior to MGM, she worked in development at Jerry Bruckheimer Films on “Con Air,” Armageddon,” and “Enemy of the State.” Her first job in the business was as an intern on “Titanic.”


Ten Hollywood Tips for Being “Good in a Room” – Stephanie Palmer

You’ve worked for months (or years!) on your project, and a buyer is interested. The meeting is set, and there’s a lot at stake. You’re going to get one chance to effectively communicate the value and uniqueness of your project. Many people get nervous at this point.


The best of the best, I’ve learned from many years of experience, follow these 10 steps … or tips. If you learn them, you can join the ranks of those who know that they are “good in a room.”


1. Silence is the Strongest Start of All

Don’t start talking until the decision-maker is ready. If there have been a lot of people popping in, urgent phone calls or other interruptions, ask the executive if he or she is ready for you to begin.


Make eye contact. Then, start slowly and deliver your first line.

Make sure it is dynamite. Pause. Gauge the executive’s response. Then proceed with your presentation at a relaxed pace.

Remember, even though you’re intimately familiar with your project, the buyer will be hearing it for the very first time.


2. Understand the Buyer’s Secret Dream


Even though top-level buyers can seem cold and recalcitrant, this is the result of seeing a seemingly endless stream of poorly prepared and emotionally needy sellers deliver mediocre pitches.

I Can’t Wait to Say No


Decision-makers don’t wake up thinking, “I can’t wait to disappoint people and pass on 30 projects today.” Instead, they hope today will be the day they discover their career-making project.


Thus, you must position yourself and your project in a way that differentiates you from the masses and speaks directly to the buyer’s highest-priority needs.



3. Build Rapport. Then, Build Some More


People want to work with people they like. Think about what you have in common with the decision-maker you’re meeting. Be ready to share a few brief, personal stories that demonstrate the attributes you believe will be most attractive to the buyer. Be prepared to ask a few open-ended questions that will encourage the buyer to speak about a non-business interest in a positive light. All else being equal, you will have the edge if you can establish a personal connection.

4. Make Your Pitch Repeatable


Though you are selling your project to a decision-maker in the room, after the meeting, the buyer – if interested – becomes the seller and must pitch your idea to their colleagues or superiors. In Hollywood, this is known as the “logline.” If you can’t summarize your project in a brief, compelling statement, you haven’t thought about it enough.


Remember, the more you say, the less people hear. Choose your words carefully.


5. Acknowledge the Competition


Be prepared to answer questions such as, “What does my project have in common with other successful projects in the same industry? What were the last projects that the company purchased, and were they successful?


Which of their projects is most similar to my own?


What makes me the best person for this project?”


Answering these key questions early in your presentation demonstrates that you have done your homework. This will encourage them to listen to what follows more closely.


6. The Best Meetings Are Conversational and Interactive


Many professionals make the mistake of performing an over-rehearsed spiel that sounds like an infomercial for their idea.


Instead, pause frequently, especially when there is an opportunity for the buyer to give you a reaction or ask a question.


In an ideal world, you’d spend more time in a dialogue with the buyer, than performing a monologue.

7. Start from the Beginning – Always


Even if you had a long and productive conversation the day before, you’d be surprised how much can change in the buyer’s mind. After all, you’ve been thinking about the meeting and they have, too.


Assume that they’ve done more research, talked to some people and something has changed since the time you last spoke. It’s your job to figure out what that is. After some initial rapport building, do another information-gathering session. If appropriate, ask for a recap from their perspective.


8.Watch for Hidden Opportunities


The buyer’s goal for the meeting may not be the same as yours. In addition to hearing your idea, the executive may be evaluating you to see if you would be a good fit for another project.


Remember, when you are in the room, you are selling minimally two things: your project and yourself. Even if the meeting doesn’t result in a “yes,” making a favorable impression can be the beginning of a long-term professional relationship.



9. Don’t Claim Your Expertise – Demonstrate it


Don’t just talk about your experience, show your expertise by positioning your project as it relates to the competition. Don’t brag or boast about past wins. If you must mention a past success, do it off-handedly and with humility. This is similar to the common rule about storytelling, “Show, don’t tell.”


Remember a lot of people talk the talk. Those who are “good in a room” are focused on meeting the needs of the buyer and not on boosting their own ego.

10. Save a Surprise for the End


Plan multiple strategies to exit gracefully.


Some techniques are to have a callback to a personal topic that you discussed at the beginning of the meeting, thank them for a specific, useful contribution they made during the meeting, or leave them a polished piece of material that they haven’t seen previously.

Use a summary statement that you design specifically to be remembered and repeated.


Remember …


Last impressions last.

Surprise! – Bonus Tip


11. You Are Always in the Room


Develop your skills so that you can handle meetings that occur unexpectedly, like on a plane, at a party, or in a waiting room. More business starts from casual interactions than formal meetings across a conference room table.


The polished professional who is “good in a room” is ready for anything. But don’t feel the need to talk business in all situations, often the best move is to say, “Why don’t we just enjoy the party, and I’ll follow up with you on Monday.”


END:

We saved a surprise for the end.

Like the article?

Want to win a copy of the book?


Email me your feedback and mailing address at skayser@cincom.com. First 20 responses will win a copy of “Good in a Room” by Stephanie Palmer. Put ‘GOOD IN A ROOM” in the subject line.

About Stephanie Palmer:


Stephanie Palmer (http://stephaniepalmer.com) coaches business leaders, senior executives and established creative professionals from a wide variety of industries to help them get their ideas the attention and financing they deserve.

In her tenure as the Director of Creative Affairs at MGM Pictures, Palmer acquired screenplays, books, articles and pitches and supervised their development. Some of her projects include “Mad Money,” “21,” “Be Cool,” “Legally Blonde,” “Sleepover,” “A Guy Thing, “Good Boy,” “Agent Cody Banks” and “Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London.”

Prior to MGM, she worked in development at Jerry Bruckheimer Films on “Con Air,” “Armageddon” and “Enemy of the State.” Her first job in the film business was as an unpaid intern on the Academy Award-winning “Titanic.”

Palmer has presented workshops and seminars for many organizations, companies and universities, including Merrill Lynch Business Development Programs, University of Southern California, American Film Market, the Asia Media Festival, National Speaker’s Association Graduate School and the International Creativity Conference.

Additionally, she has been featured on NBC’s “Today,” “CBS’s Early Show,” “National Public Radio” and in the “Los Angeles Times.” She serves as an advisor for the American Screenwriting Association, Carnegie Mellon University’s Masters of Entertainment Industry Management Program, and the Producing Program at UCLA. She supports Habitat for Humanity and The Fulfillment Fund.

Stephanie Palmer

Good in a Room

10845 Lindbrook Drive, Suite 200,

Los Angeles, CA 90024

Phone: 310.481.3987

Fax: 310.388.0818

Email: info@goodinaroom.com

About Steve Kayser:


Steve Kayser is an award-winning business writer that has been featured in a marketing best practices case study by MarketingSherpa, “A Marketer’s Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing,” Innovation Quarterly, B2B Marketing Trends, and Faces of E-Content magazine. His writings have appeared in Corporate Finance Review Magazine, CEO Refresher, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business 2.0, and Fast Company Magazine, among others.


In his spare time, Steve professionally models kilts for Un-Vanity, Non-GQ and The Manly Kilt Wearing Man monthly magazines.


Steve also headlines fundraising events for his run at an Olympic Gold Medal in the kilt-wearing mechanical bull-riding competition to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2050.



_________________________________________________________________

Shooting the Donkey in the Complex Sales Process … Hollywood Style

April 7, 2008

What is this thing called the Complex Sale that makes seasoned salespeople tremble at the mere mention? That causes two-to-three-year sales pipeline nightmares?

What could it possibly have to do with a donkey and Hollywood?

The Complex Sale typically refers to a high-value purchase ($100,000 and up) involving a Buyer’s Committee, consisting of anywhere from three to twelve people or more.

Does a Complex Sale (product or service) to large, successful companies like Wells Fargo, Dell, UPS, Northwestern Mutual Insurance, or Boeing, have anything in common with a sale to — Hollywood?

Surprisingly, yes. And prolific Hollywood author, Skip Press, will put it in perspective for us.


But first …

Recently, at a technology trade show in Phoenix, I became embroiled in a discussion with sales folks from around the country about the dreaded Complex Sale. Within an hour, I was convinced it was a communicable disease.

Maybe incurable.

I finally asked the most vociferous negativist in the group what exactly it was he sold. His response? The finely tuned sales pitch?

A tornadic swirl of immeasurably long and undecipherable words lasting five minutes.

No pause.

Not one.

Not even for a breath, which was, in my opinion, his most singular accomplishment, as I had no idea what he was trying to say.

Most Impressive Array of Corporate Gobbledygook Ever

I will admit however, that he had the most impressive array of corporate gobbledygook I’d ever heard. He used every acronym known to humankind, and possibly most extraterrestrials. Now (and this is a frank admission to gain the reader’s trust) I pride myself on the ability to out-acronym virtually anyone, but he was the best I’d ever heard.

Yes. You guessed it. I had acronym envy.

“I was hoping,” I politely mentioned, “for the answer in English.”

“Steve,” he said, a bit miffed, “You don’t understand. A Complex Sale is a process that involves multiple people, disparate business units, disintermediation and commoditization strategies, and internal political hierarchies. I have to address our Strategic Vision to each constituency or risk disenfranchising potential decision-makers.”

The Marketing Brochure

He hands me his marketing brochure. I still haven’t quite grasped what he sells, but his brochure had pictures.

Very helpful.

I opened the 12-page brochure and flipped to the What We Do” section. It was only one sentence. Great!

Right? …

Wrong!

It was nine (9) lines long.

One sentence.

Let me repeat. Nine lines long. Twenty-six commas, I counted. Then. Eureka! More pictures on the brochure. I looked up and asked, “You sell Call Center stuff?”
“No. Strategic enterprise-wide, mission-critical, customer-focused communications.”

I lift my hand for a pause. Thankfully, he understands sign language and stops.

“Yes.” A deafening silence, which leads quickly to a whispered confession and punctilious correction, “Call Center solutions” (stressing the solutions, better than “stuff”).

He turned the tables on me, laid down the gauntlet.

“What do you sell?” I paused momentarily, but acronym envy had impaired my normally staid disposition.

Robust Platform-Neutral Portably (almost probably) Seamless Robuster LMNOP Robustest Interoperability

“I’m an R&D Analyst for hypothetical superluminal quantum particle applications with ERP, CRM, BPM, MRM and PLM functionality targeted at vertical market particularities with platform-neutral ‘LMNOP’ interoperability.” (I must point out, for clarity’s sake, that the LMNOP acronym means absolutely nothing except being easy to alphabetically remember.

He shakes his head, suitably impressed. “LMNOP” – cutting-edge stuff.”

Uh-oh. There actually may be an acronym “LMNOP” that means something, somewhere to someone. I try to divert his attention for fear he will challenge my “LMNOP” expertise.

“How are your sales?” I ask.

He points thumbs down.

“Steve, I told you, it’s a Complex Sales environment … nothing, zero, nada, for the last two years. But my pipeline is full. Most of its forecasted 30% probability certain to close.”

Impressive. Not often a 30% probability is equated to “certain to close.”

In an attempt to extricate myself from the conversation and lift his spirits, I suggested that perhaps there are far more Complex Sales environments that he was, luckily, not involved with.

“Complex Sale? You could be selling to Hollywood … now that’d be a Complex Sale.”

“No” he said with an over-confident smile, “It can’t be. You ever see the crap they put out?”

I counter, “That simply proves my point. Anyone who can sell a lame piece of crap for an exorbitant amount of money has obviously (at least once) mastered the Complex Sale process.” He disagreed.

Enough already!

It was time to take a totally different approach. Time to …


“Shoot the Donkey” refers to a classic scene in the movie “Patton” (based upon a true life event) where the Third Army gets critically held up in battle on a bridge, by a cart-pulling donkey that has stopped and refuses to budge, totally blocking the bridge. Life and death are at stake. An MP struggles with the donkey and the owner, trying to get them out of the way. But makes no headway.

The entire Third Army halts for this recalcitrant donkey.

General George Patton roars up, leaps out of his jeep, whips out his ivory-handled pistol, shoots the donkey, and immediately has it hurled off the bridge, removing the obstacle.

The Great Leadership Principle

That classic scene not only revealed Patton’s character in a cinematic way, but also embodies the great leadership principle of taking decisive action to remove all obstacles to fulfill one’s mission.

Convinced that selling a project to Hollywood had to be an incredibly Complex Sale, I decided to get the real scoop from a respected Hollywood veteran and well-known author. I found that a really Complex Sale, such as to Hollywood, may, at times, be difficult, painful, long-term, discouraging, and frustrating. But it could, at the same time, be … simple?

FADE IN:

click to enlarge

Skip Press is an award-winning writer for radio, television and film. Skip won a Silver Medal at the New York International Film Festival and is the author of over two dozen books including:

  • “The Ultimate Writer’s Guide to Hollywood”

  • “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Screenwriting” (two editions plus Russian)

  • “How to Write What You Want and Sell What You Write” (three editions)

Press also did three editions of “The Writer’s Guide to Hollywood Producers, Directors and Screenwriters’ Agents.” The first edition of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Screenwriting” was deemed best of its kind by the “Writers Guild of Canada.” The e-book of “How to Write What You Want and Sell What You Write” was a finalist in the Best Non-Fiction Book category in the first Eppie electronic book awards, and Barnes & Noble Books issued a new print edition in 2005. In addition, almost 1,000 colleges and universities on three continents offer Skip’s screenwriting course titled “Your Screenwriting Career.”

Skip can rattle off Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” scenarios to illustrate a business concept then seamlessly transition to Aristotle’s Poetics, lauding its timelessness for covering the principles of dynamic storytelling. But, and this is very, very, very important, his writing is clear, entertaining, convincing, motivating and easy to understand. And, as Gareth Wigan, Co-Vice Chairman, Columbia Tristar Motion Picture Group, points out, “His writing combines fearless opinions and invaluable hard facts both of which are hard to find in Hollywood.”

Pretty powerful stuff when you combine that with a rare blend of creative genius and business savvy that has enabled him to create, write, market, negotiate and close multiple Complex Sales, including book, film, radio and TV projects. And, as you’ll learn after reading Skip’s interview, in Hollywood – EVERY sale is a Complex Sale.

STEVE: Skip, is selling to Hollywood a Complex Sales process?

SKIP: I heard producer Mace Neufeld (“Hunt for Red October,” “Sum of all Fears”) talk once about putting a property into production that he had been trying to put onto film for 23 years.

Steve: That’s a long sales cycle for sure.

SKIP: Richard Attenborough took a quarter of a century in getting “Ghandi” on-screen. Wendy Finerman needed over a decade to get one particular film made, and when she began the process she was married to Marc Canton, who was the head of a studio. You have to be passionate about it, willing to do whatever it takes to get the project done. A co-writer and I recently had a screenplay “optioned” (picked up for possible production) that we first began writing 15 years ago.


Insight 1

Passion + Persistence + Doing Whatever It Takes =

Success in the Complex Sale

SKIP: Selling something to Hollywood can also be very simple if you arrive with an already popular property. Examples: a non-fiction book, a novel, a comic book or a well-known national true story. If you have an original, well-written screenplay it better be in a popular genre so that it’s readily evident that it will make money at the box office.


Insight 2

Concept Easy to Understand + Evident How It Will Make Money or Solve
Problems = Complex Sale Made Simple.

STEVE: Example of one of these properties?

SKIP: Reading “It’s Not Easy Being An Idiot” on the first page of Winston Groom’s novel hooked Wendy Finerman on a project that took 10 years to get financed.

STEVE: Now that’s a line I can relate to.

SKIP: Determination, unfailing spirit, and 10 years of tenacious hard work, even in the face of continued skepticism that the project would ever be made, eventually resulted in a little film called “Forrest Gump” with:

  • Over $1 billion in box office revenue

  • Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and 20 other awards.


Insight 3

Determination + Daring to Dare + Unfailing Spirit =

Anything You Can Dream.

“Few things are harder to put up with than

the annoyance of a good example.”

— Pudd’nhead Wilson -1894

SKIP: Unfortunately, most people don’t bring undying determination to Hollywood, and so they must find a champion for their project who won’t give up, like the filmmakers mentioned above. Stepwise, this can mean an agent who finds a producer. Stepping back one step, it might mean finding a manager (unregulated by the State of California, unlike agents), who works with an agent or goes straight to a producer. It might be an entity that acts both as manager and producer, like Bender-Spink.

Then a producer will have relationships with a funding apparatus, which may or may not be a studio. To get funding, the producer might attach a director, who will attract talent, which will hopefully impress funding entities. If not funded by a studio, the producer might need to line up distribution, and a distribution company will know how much the talents’ names are “worth” in various worldwide markets, so this will factor in how much they will be willing to spend. For all of these reasons, I advise people to try to write and sell in established genres and markets before trying to re-invent Hollywood.


Insight 4

Know the Business.

Know the Process.

Speak the Language.

STEVE: A crucial step in a Complex Sales process is an easy-to-understand value proposition. You encapsulated that in one of your books as “Hollywood Success in 25 words or less.” Can you explain what that means, and, how important is it in your business?

SKIP: Here’s a personal example. My own script that I mentioned above is called “Alien Creeps.” You can probably get an idea from the title that it’s about aliens and you might intuit without much trouble that it’s funny. I told a friend of mine, who had run all the TV series and TV movies at Viacom (the parent company of CBS, Paramount, etc.) the title. He smiled and told me it was a good title. The concept communicated to him immediately, before he even heard the logline (the 25 words or less). So it really starts with a title, and this applies to any business. “Mr. Johnson, I understand you live in a haunted house. Have you ever enlisted the services of a ghost buster?” That’s the concept — Ghostbusters — the profession doesn’t exist per se but you know pretty much what the movie is about just from the title.

Or, it can be an intriguing title that makes you want it explained, like “Men in Black”. So then, you have to tell someone on the phone, or via e-mail, or (worst choice) in a letter, what your script is about. You expand it further, which is sort of what studio marketing people do when they say things on the poster like “Next Summer: You Will Believe.” You call someone and you say my script is called Hitler: The Other Story. And so they’re intrigued, perhaps. “What do you mean The Other Story?” they ask. “Well, my script is an alternate history look at what would have happened if Hitler had become a successful artist the way he wanted.” And that might be enough to get them to at least read the script, and if your story was interesting, then you might get somewhere. (By the way, in case you think this made-up-on-the-fly script idea is far-fetched, that didn’t stop the Hitler mini-series from getting made by a U.S. network.)

STEVE: One of the most important keys in any Complex Sale is getting the right information, to the right person, at the right time. How do you accomplish this, finding the right person at the right time?

SKIP: You pay attention to what Hollywood is doing by a daily reading of “the trades” meaning the Hollywood newspapers like Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. If you live here, you also network with people, go to parties, go to screenings of films, and try to find out who is looking for what. And then you get lucky. I have a TV project being pitched at a high level at Paramount. I just happened to bring it to someone who has their ear at a time when they were considering a similar series but couldn’t get it right.


Insight 5

Attention to “The Trades,” Industry Mags + Research + Build Relationships =

Placing you in the Right Position to Win the Complex Sale, or Get Lucky.

(Yes, luck counts too.)

STEVE: “Pitching.” What is it, and how do you relate it to the Complex Sales scenario?

SKIP: It is explaining your entire movie, usually within 15 minutes. If your pitch is effective, the executive you are pitching to will bring in his/her boss and you pitch again, until you reach a person who can say yes or no. In some cases, they will then go pitch the story to their boss, the person who writes the “green light” checks at a production company, network or studio. In short, you have to keep making people happy all the way to the top. Not any different than any other business, is it?


Insight 6

Knowing Thy Pitch Frontward, Backward, Upside-Down = Making People

Happy (including yourself when you close the deal)

STEVE: You advocate, and have often exemplified, aggressive action, cold calling, never waiting or depending on someone else to get you through to the highest-level contact possible. Some people have an aversion to this, or, perhaps, are intimidated. But you also state that usually, in your experience, the higher-level point of contact (Producer-Director=CEO-CFO), the easier they are to talk with. How did you come to this conclusion?

SKIP: I’ve never had a problem with it. I said hello to Richard Donner (“Lethal Weapon,” “Conspiracy Theory,” “Superman”) in a parking lot and sent him scripts for years afterward. I ran into Michael York (“Austin Powers” trilogy, “The Omega Code”) in a copy shop and noticed he was copying something about Tennessee Williams, whom I’d interviewed – we struck up a conversation and have been friendly since. And speaking of Tennessee Williams, I knocked on his door in New York one day and asked to interview him for a magazine and he said yes. Very gracious man.


Insight 7

“Fortune favors the bold.”

— Virgil

There have been times when I have been intimidated by legends. Fred Astaire walked by me on the street in Beverly Hills one day and said hello and my jaw literally dropped and I managed to bungle out a return greeting. Burt Lancaster smiled and tipped his hat to my then wife and I one day in Century City. I covered the opening of a club Merle Haggard started in North Hollywood and every country legend within the western U.S. was there, and the only people I just couldn’t muster up the nerve to say howdy to were Roy Rogers & Dale Evans who were absolutely glowing and everything my cowboy pal childhood mentality told me they would be. Nevertheless, by and large, the nicest people are at the top in this business.


Insight 8

No one is unapproachable.

Open your eyes.

(I’m not sure about saying “howdy” though.)

But, even though they’re nice, approaching a “power player” may be dangerous if you don’t have your concept and/or script together. If you do have it together, though, you will not blow your first chance with a powerful and busy person. Even if they don’t have a particular liking or need for your particular project, if they are impressed by your conceptualization and presentation, they’ll listen to you again. In the instances above, the stars who said hello to me may have noticed me because I’m generally confident, or they could’ve just been nice guys. First impressions mean a lot. I got a phone call from Michael York’s assistant one day about something I wanted to interest Michael in (Michael was doing a movie in Croatia at time). I realized it had been almost 20 years since we’d first met. So good first impressions can start long-lasting relationships.


Insight 9

Be prepared.

Be confident.

Sell to power.

Don’t waste decision-makers’ time.

STEVE: But, there are instances, probably more often than not, when you have to work your way up the ladder to the decision-maker. How do you get past the gates in Hollywood?

SKIP: First of all, you mustn’t think of those “gates” as part of a castle where the gatekeeper will always be a lowly soldier or servant. In all the major agencies – and this has been true a long time — everyone starts out working in the mailroom, so they learn how the agency works. No matter what college degree they bring in, that’s the rule. In production companies, the person going for coffee today (called a “go-fer”) might be a staff writer the next day (this actually happened to a guy in my Yahoo! group “Skip’s Hollywood Hangout”). So it pays to be cordial with everyone and not condescend. You’re not in a hurry to get past someone but to get into communication with them and get to know them. More often than not that works well, and they remember your sincerity and interest when others have not paid them this respect. Over the years, I have seen person after person work with established producers like David Permut (“Dragnet,” “Blind Date,” “Face-Off”) and move on up to produce movies with David and then go off on their own highly successful careers. So gatekeeper today, hotshot producer tomorrow. Don’t give them a reason to remember to hate you.


Insight 10

Nice counts.

Sincerity counts.

Develop relationships from the go-fer to the CEO.

Don’t ever give them a reason to remember to hate you.

“A child of five would understand this. Someone fetch a child of five!”

— Groucho Marx

STEVE: How important is that first sale to a writer? That first reference or success story? How can it elevate marketability and economic reward?

SKIP: It’s just a sale, unless it is a big splash sale for a lot of money that gets mentioned in the trades. At that point, you’re suddenly on everyone’s “radar” and your old classmate from kindergarten calls you about a project they’d like you to help with. With references, you reflect up on the person who sent you, so if you don’t create a good impression, don’t expect a lot more references.

STEVE: In your opinion, what’s changed in the last few years in Hollywood?

SKIP: These days in Hollywood, escapist entertainment rules. When pretty people do exciting things onscreen, people watch, living vicariously through them. Some times it doesn’t matter about small things like rumors of breaking up a marriage while making “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” – audiences want to forget about their struggles via onscreen thrills of people like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

STEVE: For years you have been espousing a simple message. A message to writers, that if you want to win, and win big, you have to do one thing. Write for …

SKIP: “Family” entertainment. It triumphs overall, partly because of numbers. Kids will see a movie they like multiple times in a theater, while adults may not. And if the kids, the parents and the grandparents can all see and enjoy the same film, guess which one they pick? Most often, this means a comedy, and more likely than not a CGI-animated film voiced by top Hollywood actors.


Insight 11

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.

George Washington Carver

SKIP: Then there’s the great movie, the quirky independent that seems to come out of nowhere, speaks to the great underdog-loving North American audience, and thrill people to the consternation of formulaic-driven Hollywood executives. Like the main character in “Napoleon Dynamite” says in the first scene of the film, these movies seem to do “God! Whatever I want to!” The original budget of the Utah-made “Napoleon Dynamite” was $200,000 and it grossed $40,000,000 at the box office. Try to find a Hollywood studio movie with that kind of return – you won’t. Originality still rules, and usually comes from outside Hollywood.

STEVE: The great under-dog loving audience. Know it well. That defines the appeal of Forrest Gump to me. Simple. Honest. Ethical. True to heart. Most of all … honest.


Insight 12

Honest

Fat Man at the Bench : It was a bullet, wasn’t it?

Forrest Gump: A bullet?

Fat Man at Bench: That jumped up and bit you.

Forrest Gump: Oh, yes sir. Bit me right in the buttocks. They said it was a million dollar wound, but the army must keep that money ’cause I still haven’t seen a nickel of that million dollars.

STEVE: Rejection. It’s part of every sales process, more so I think in the Complex Sales process because of the multiple people and groups with differing agendas involved. A lot of potential Donkeys. How do you “Shoot the Rejection Donkey,” and what one word describes the best lesson learned in your career about it?

SKIP: Serenity. I used to get very angry over rejection and burned bridges. Sometimes, I had something to learn. Sometimes the rejecter was full of crap. Sometimes I was simply offering the right product to the wrong buyer. Anger generally doesn’t do you much good. It’s appropriate in some instances – some people need a good chewing out, and some people are just worthless creeps who need to think you will loose the hounds of hell on them so they’ll stop screwing with people. But generally, you need to just figure out if you erred with your work or in contacting that person in the first place (wrong market). If not, just find the right market and keep sending it out. And you must remember this – sometimes you’re just ahead of your time. Lastly but most important, there’s a principle I call “resonance.” If you’ve ever tuned a guitar or piano (or seen someone do it), then you’ve seen a point where a musical string vibrates in harmony with the tuning device. The same thing happens with people. You won’t hit it off with some people, no matter what you do. So if there isn’t resonance, don’t think twice about it. Just move on to someone with whom you will find a mutual resonance.


Insight 13

Re-read above paragraph.

Re-read above paragraph.

STEVE: What, in your opinion, matters the most in closing the Complex Hollywood sale?

SKIP: Talent without ego.


Insight 14

“A short saying often contains much wisdom.”

— Sophocles

STEVE: What’s the biggest obstacle you run into and how do you get around it?

SKIP: Getting the time to use all that I know to write scripts that I know will sell and other things that I’d love to leave as my legacy, whether I sell them in my lifetime or not.

STEVE: Final question. You’re a well-respected veteran journalist. What’s been your favorite interview so far, and why?

SKIP: My favorite interview? A tie between Tennessee Williams and Steven Spielberg. Tennessee because he was so gracious and so damn funny, invited me into his home. Spielberg because he’s in love with what he does and so upfront about it.

I was as intrigued by the answers of the author of “Chocolat” (who was thrilled with the movie of her book) as I was in hearing what John Williams (who made “Shrek” happen) had to say about how he developed the movie from a tiny children’s book his kid liked. I simply enjoy talking with people who love the creative process and don’t mind doing the sometimes very hard work (that latter part is the difference between them and dilettantes).


Insight 15

Love the work. Work the love.

FADE OUT:

About Skip Press

Skip Press is currently working on a book that applies his discoveries about the “Shaping Force” of great screen stories to life itself.

The “Shaping Force” was a unique story discovery and has been well received by students. It doesn’t bind creators to a set “formula” like some other gurus tout. Skip uses it in his own work and life with much success.

E-mail: skippress@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.skippress.com/


About Steve Kayser

Steve Kayser specializes in hypothetical superluminal PR within quantum particle applications with ERP, CRM, BPM, MRM, and PLM functionality targeted at vertical market particularities with platform-neutral LMNOP interoperability.

Right …

teve Kayser is an award-winning business writer who has been featured in a marketing best practices case study by MarketingSherpa, Purple Cows (by Seth Godin); A Marketer’s Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing, Credibility Branding, Innovation Quarterly, B2B Marketing Trends, PRWEEK, and Faces of E-Content magazine. His writings have appeared in Corporate Finance Magazine, CEO Refresher, Entrepreneur Magazine, MediaBullseye, Business 2.0, and Fast Company Magazine, among others.

In his spare time, Steve models kilts for Un-Vanity, Non-GQ and The Manly Kilt Wearing Man’s monthly magazines.


Steve also headlines fund-raising events for his run at an Olympic Gold Medal in the kilt-wearing mechanical bull riding competition to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2050.

For more information, you can contact Steve at skayser@gmail.com

Changing Mindsets … A Path to Success

March 14, 2008

An interview with Carol Dweck, Ph.D., author of the book “Mindsets: The New Psychology of Success.”

by Steve Kayser


* This is an abstracted version of the article “Have a Change of Mindset?

Change.

A great word for the 2008 presidential candidates to position around. It’s positive. And negative.

An Overwhelming Constant

But for us regular muck-a-mucks battling through the life of business, trying to stay competitive with marketable business skills, change is an overwhelming constant. It batters us with dizzying storms of unfathomable amounts of information. Howling hurricanes of digital rain. Just to stay even you have to run uphill.

I work in Public Relations for a software company called Cincom Systems. To do my job adequately (keep abreast of the new technologies, strategies and tactics) I need to read at least three to four hours per day. Let me repeat that. Just to keep up, I need to read at least three to four hours per day.

But I don’t. I can’t. Am I derelict in my duties? Not purposefully. My brain just can’t cope with the immense amount of information. Besides, (in my defense) I’m busy with 200-300 business e-mails (not counting junk mail) that need attention. Think I’m wrong?

Consider:

According to IDC ‘s 2008 “Expanding Digital Universe” (research paper), the amount of digital information created, captured and replicated in 2007 was 281 exabytes.

What’s an exabyte?

Simple,1000 petabytes.

What’s a petabyte?

Simpler, 1,000 terabytes.

Stop! Help Me Understand

Two hundred and eighty one exabytes is more than three million times the information in all the books ever written*.

Most of that went into my e-mail.

IDC also estimated the 281 exabytes would increase to 1,800 exabytes by 2011.

Help Me Understand … Again

988 exabytes, the number the previous IDC report indicated would be reached by 2010, is equivalent to 72 stacks of books, 93 million miles each.

How to Keep Up?

That’s a critical question for everyone in the business world. Are there strategies or tactics that can help free the mind and spirit from this tsunami of digital rain?

Gargantuan Glob-Beelzebub

Are there ways to breakthrough this garagtuan glob-beelzebub of info-clutter to decipher what’s important?

To help understand and learn things necessary for our business and personal development?

Yes.

Turns out there might be.

ENTER: Carol Dweck, Ph.D., author of the book “Mindsets: The New Psychology of Success.”

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation and is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Her research has focused on why people succeed and how to foster success. She has held professorships at Columbia and Harvard Universities, has lectured all over the world, and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Carol’s work has been featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and she has appeared on “Today “and “20/20.”

Steve: Mindsets for Success. Let me give you a scenario.

Scenario:

You’re a baby boomer. The thought of not being the best at what you do, or not being very good at what you do and learning a whole new set of skills is both intimidating yet intoxicatingly inspirational. The vast amount of information to consider, consume and absorb in possibly learning new skills is daunting. You’re having trouble just keeping up with your own job’s knowledge skillset. Your book talks about the two different type of mindsets, “fixed” and “growth.” How can those different types of mindsets apply in a situation like this?

Carol: Many people stay in less-than-fulfilling jobs because they need to support their families and pay their bills. This responsibility to others is no small thing. However, many people stay in a confining job for reasons of ego – they’ve achieved some status and don’t want to risk losing it. This can happen to people at any age. The thought of being a novice, making mistakes, and looking stupid is terrifying, and each day it’s easier to remain secure and bored than take the big step.

Fixed
In our research we find that people with a fixed mindset (those who believe their intelligence is fixed) prefer to do things that will make them look smart and that will shore up their image instead of things that can stretch them and help them increase their skills. This is true even when they might badly need those new skills.

Growth
People with a growth mindset (those who believe their abilities can be cultivated) are highly eager to learn, even if it means that they will make mistakes and expose their deficiencies.


Insight

1


Fixed Mindset = Likes to Look Smart … Not Be Smart

Growth Mindset = Leaps, Learns, Looks Forward


“If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”

– Tallulah Bankhead


The inventor of several big advances in technology recently came to see me, and told me how he picked his work teams for his important projects. He points out to all potential team-members that they are currently superstars in their units and might wish to stay that way. However, he continues, if they join his team, they will all struggle together and not feel special or superior, but they will accomplish things that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. Many say, “No thanks, I’d rather stay a superstar,” but many others say, “Sign me up; that really sounds exciting.” This is how he assembles his growth-mindset teams.


Insight

2


Fixed Mindset = No Thanks. I’m a Already a Star. Beat it.


Growth Mindset = Thanks. Sign Me Up. Sounds Exciting!


“Learning is not compulsory … neither is survival.”

- W. Edwards Deming

People with a growth mindset realize that effort (even struggling)—and not perpetual, know-it-all perfection is what makes life exciting and worthwhile. Do you want to look back at the end of it all and realize that you looked smart thousands of times but were bored and unfulfilled? Or do you want to look back and know that you stretched, struggled, grew, and became the person you were capable of becoming?


Insight

3


Fixed Mindset = Likes to Look Good – Bored and Unfulfilled

Growth Mindset = Stretches, Struggles, Grows


“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” – Anais Nin

If fear of learning is the only thing keeping you back, then take that step. If responsibility to others is also holding you back, then discuss the matter with your family. They may be willing to pitch in more or make some sacrifices to help you to take that step.

Steve: Aging. How are “mindsets” affected by aging?

Carol: As people head into retirement, those with a fixed mindset may see the possibilities as limited and shrinking. They may hold a stereotype of older people as experiencing inevitable decline and increasing uselessness. Yet, much research is documenting the great ability to learn new things and continue to grow well past one’s 60s and 70s. Those with a growth mindset, while not denying that some things may become more difficult with age, can look with excitement at the many skills they can develop and the many ways they can expand their lives. Retirement becomes a time of opportunity.


Insight

4


Fixed Mindset = Possibilities are Limited & Declining

Growth Mindset = Realistic, Sees Opportunities to Expand Life

“Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old.

All you have to do is live long enough.”

– Groucho Marx


Those with a fixed mindset may be afraid to try to learn new things, afraid that the attempt will confirm their ineptitude. Each time they forget something or become confused, they will see it as a sign that they are no longer capable of learning. People with a growth mindset understand that forgetting and confusion were always part of learning – and if they need to work a little harder at learning now than they did before, so be it.

Research shows that life transition seems to be harder for people with a fixed mindset, because they worry at each stage that their skills might not be up to the task and that they will be exposed as inadequate. We can see how this fear would be magnified as people enter a stage of life that is not commonly known for its growth opportunities. This is why a growth mindset is especially critical at this point in life.

Steve: Is this growth mindset an innate, predisposed genetic trait that one either has or doesn’t?

Carol: It may well be that inborn things, such as temperament, play a role in the mindset people develop. However, our research shows that environment can play a very strong role. For example, we have shown that when children are praised for their intelligence, they develop a fixed mindset along with the fear of mistakes that comes with that mindset. In contrast, when children are praised for the effort and strategies that went into their good performance, they develop a growth mindset and the love of learning that comes with it. We have also shown that the growth mindset can be directly taught – even to adults – and that when it is people take on more challenges and remain motivated and effective in the face of difficulty.


Insight

5


Praise the Effort. Not the Result.

Hard work spotlights the character of people.
Some turn up their sleeves.
Some turn up their noses. Some don’t turn up at all.”
- Sam Ewing


In a study with students making the transition to junior high, we taught the students that the brain is like a muscle and gets stronger with learning.

Steve: I must be a growth mindset. I’m called muscle-head all the time.

Carol: – - – We also taught them that every time they apply themselves and learn something new, their brain forms new connections. Students taught this message showed better motivation and higher grades than their peers. Similar studies have been conducted with college students, with business school students, and with business managers. In each case, learning a growth mindset resulted in enhanced motivation and performance.


Insight

6


Fixed Mindset = Stagnant, Disconnected

Growth Mindset = Learns, Connects (in more ways than one)

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
- Lou Holtz


Steve: Is there such a thing as too much growth mindset? Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla for example. I bring this up because your book cites Thomas Edison as a good growth mindset example. I struggle with Thomas Edison because of the huge differences between Edison and Nikola Tesla. Your book made me consider this issue from a different angle.

Wizardly Inventor

Tesla had a brilliant, wizardly-genius and unending growth mindset. Some might consider his drive and mindset pathological. But Tesla considered himself a “Planter of Seeds” for the betterment of humankind.

Inventive Genius – But With A Business Mindset

Edison created inventions and products that he could sell. That was his bottom line. Utility. Profitability. Business. He wasn’t about the betterment of mankind unless there was a buck in it. Tesla brought AC electricity to the world – but had to give away his royalties to Westinghouse and his investors to make it happen (worth billions of dollars) just so it could be made available to the masses. Edison would have never done that.

Thomas Edison is revered today – was rich and famous in his time. He’s in the history books.

Tesla is almost forgotten but by a very few, not mentioned in the history books, died penniless, alone, in a hotel room in New York. His only friends at the end were the pigeons he fed and cared for.

Where does one such as Nikola Tesla and his mindset fit in our world?

Carol: The love of learning that comes with a growth mindset often has to be combined with some sense of practicality. For example, a student might love to learn, but may also need to get good grades to go on to a good college or graduate school. A young professor may love to do research but also has to publish that research to get promoted. A young worker may love exploration and learning, but may also need to do things to stay competitive and keep the job. Sometimes we have to earn the privilege of continuing to do what we love to do. So although learning is often the most important thing to a person in a growth mindset, it is not the only thing.


Insight

7


Earn the Privilege To Do What You Love To Do

It’s a rare person who wants to hear
what he doesn’t want to hear.”
- Dick Cavett

This came through clearly in our study of pre-med students at Columbia taking their first organic chemistry course. These undergraduate students fervently wished to become doctors and, as we all know, needed good grades to do so. Students with a growth mindset put their greatest emphasis on learning in this course, but in the process of learning, they studied the material more deeply, managed their motivation better, and, in the end, earned higher grades than the students with a fixed mindset. In this case, they did not only immerse themselves in the joy of learning but used the learning process to master the material in a way that earned them high grades as well.

It’s a pity that the world is not pure and that the selfless contributors to society don’t always get the rewards they deserve. However, Tesla is not forgotten. The strength of MRI machines that are used so widely now to study the brain is expressed in Tesla units. Among other things, a monument to Tesla was recently established in Niagara Falls and a play about him (Brilliant! The Blinding Enlightenment of Nicola Tesla) has been produced and taken on tour.

Steve: Thank you, Carol.


Insight

8


Mindsets: Be Fixed On Growth

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
- Pierre de Coubertin

END:

Nigel Holmes has a great graphic explanation of the differences between the “fixed” and “growth” mindsets. Check it out. And visit “Mindsetonline if you want to learn how you can change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

About Carol S. Dweck:

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation and is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Her research has focused on why people succeed and how to foster success. She has held professorships at Columbia and Harvard Universities, has lectured all over the world, and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her scholarly book Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development was named Book of the Year by the World Education Federation. Her work has been featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and she has appeared on “Today” and “20/20.”

Contact info:

E-mail: Ms. Carol Dweck
Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology, Stanford University
Bldg 01-420, Jordan Hall
Stanford, CA 94305-2130

About Steve Kayser:

Steve is an award-winning business writer who has been featured in a marketing best practices case study by MarketingSherpa, A Marketer’s Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing, Innovation Quarterly, B2B Marketing Trends, PRWEEK, The New Rules of PR and Marketing ( by David Meerman Scott) and Faces of E-Content magazine.

Steve’s writings have appeared in Corporate Finance Magazine, CEO Refresher, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business 2.0, Ragan Report, Media Bullseye, and Fast Company Magazine, among others.

In his spare time, Steve professionally models kilts for Un-Vanity, Non-GQ and The Manly Kilt Wearing Man monthly magazines.

Steve also headlines fundraising events for his run at an Olympic Gold Medal in the commando kilt-wearing mechanical bull-riding competition to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2050.

You can contact Steve by email at skayser@cincom.com

Recent Articles:

The Best Kept Secret of Great Presentations

How to Defeat Your Inner Deadbeat

Loved and Lost on the Way to the Last Post – 2007

Can Thoughts Change Your Business, Your Life … the World?

It’s Complex to Write Simple These Days – But Hemingway’s Rules of Writing Can Still Work

When Ode to Misery Beckons … Find Your Ode to Joy

*From IDC ‘s “Expanding Digital Universe” research paper.

Animotorize – Help Banish Boring Business Presentations

March 2, 2008

This story, “Help Banish the Boring” was originally posted on 11/14/2007. Since then the guys at Animoto continue to make great strides… including this high-profile interview with the Fox Business Channel – “Bringing Photos to Life.” Nice job guys. Hard work. Skills. Great attitudes. Sense of humor. It does pay off. Congratulations … and keep it coming.

by Steve Kayser

Near-Death Experience

I was near death. Poisoned by an uber-ugly, overly long, boring PowerPoint presentation.

How Did This Come to Pass?
I had been asked to sit through another “no more than 20 minutes” business presentation. When it started, I discovered the presenter had 112 slides with an average of 9.97 bullet points per slide (do the math … try not to go mad). Three hours later, slide 21 appeared.

Near Death But Nowhere Near Done
I was nearly bored to death but the presentation was nowhere near done. I tried to leave. But my get up and go had got up and went.

I know PowerPoint isn’t to blame. It just facilitates overexposure to boring inanities, extreme vanities, useless information and words drained of meaning.

Wanted! Change!
Change is needed. Desperately. Something different. Please! Anything but the same old PowerPoint vomitoria. A nano-change … even some baby steps would be welcome.

Have You Ever Noticed?
Most business presentations start off with an introduction to the company or service and it’s always the same? “We’ve been around.” “We’re great!” “Our customers love us. Industry analysts love us!” “Everybody loves us!” “We’re smart … and you’re stupid if you select anyone but us.”

Boring
Have you also noticed during the start of most presentations that after the first or second slide, most people (peer around the room in your next meeting) look like this? Politely smiling … but inside their heads “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”(as performed by AC/DC) is playing.

Banish the Boring
On a quest to banish the boring from business presentations, I ventured out to try to find a new way to spruce up; to make presentations more interesting.

Use at Your Indiscretion
Big surprise! I found one. At the end of this article we’ll take a standard corporate gobbledygook presentation, rework it and throw a little video-creation “Wow” into it. In fact, it’ll be an open-sourced corporate presentation that you can use and re-use anytime, at your indiscretion.

I found a web application called Animoto. This application automatically generates professionally produced videos using patent-pending technology and high-end motion design. Each video is a fully customized orchestration of user-selected images and music. Produced on a widescreen format, Animoto videos have the visual energy of a music video and the emotional impact of a movie trailer.

Short, 30-second videos, using 12 to 15 photos, are free, while $30 a year allows you to create as many long-version 60-second videos, with an unlimited number of photos. The creators of Animoto probably never envisioned their application being used in a business environment (I asked – they hadn’t), but I saw it, tried it and liked it anyway.

Tries Something New
Animoto took me about five minutes (which equates to about 30 seconds for the normal person) to figure out. Easy to use. Easy to learn and understand.

I had a few questions, so I e-mailed the folks at Animoto. They responded almost instantly via email and instant message – even at 1:00 am. So, not only did I find a good, new tech application, better still I found polite, courteous and responsive folks that innately understand customer service. Especially noteworthy was Tom Clifton. His attention to detail, inquisitiveness and ability to figure out an inarticulately worded, undecipherable, obtuse question in seconds was nothing short of amazing.

Animoto has the potential of being a real icebreaker in business meetings. You may harrumph, perorate, harangue and bloviate – too goofy, too hip, too young, too in-your-face … but at least it’s not boring. And if you’re still doing the traditional PowerPoint presentation, YOU ARE BORING.

Can You Open with an Opening?
Opening a meeting with a humorous or poignant look at an issue with a quick 30-to 60-second video will differentiate your presentation from about 99% of all other presentations at any given time. I’ll give you a “briefy” (neologism for a “quick overview”) on how to use Animoto, then include some examples.

Animoto Makes it 1-2-3 Easy
Step 1 - Upload your images.

Step 2 - Select your music. (I like their selection; a good mix of styles) …

Step 3 – Then Animoto analyzes the images and music and creates a customized video.

The end- result is a 30-second or 60-second movie-like trailer.

Two Types of Edits
You can go back in and move images around any way you want, change the music, or do both.
Now here’s the really cool part. They have a one-step remix process so you can essentially make 10, 20, 30 different versions of the same presentation. You just press the automated remix and a new version of your video is mixed. No two videos are ever the same. Not boring.

The heart of Animoto is its patent-pending, newly developed, Cinematic Artificial Intelligence technology that thinks like an actual director and editor. It analyzes and combines user-selected images and music with the same sophisticated post-production skills and techniques that are used in television and film.

I struggled with the ability to add and edit text. It’s not there yet. But, I put on my thinking cap, filled it with the appropriate liquid nourishment, then solved the problem. Another issue – the full screen display works on my computer but was not particularly clear on a larger, full-screen overhead. I’ll figure that out eventually too … with a little more liquid nourishment.

What About the Company?
The founders of Animoto are veterans of the entertainment industry and have produced shows for MTV, Comedy Central, and ABC; studied music in London, and played in Indie rock bands in Seattle. They continue to innovate in the field of creative artificial intelligence. Wanting to find out a little bit more about the company and application, I got with Co-Founder and President of Animoto.com, Jason Hsiao.

Steve: What was the inspiration to create Animoto?

Jason: While working in the film and television industry, we found ourselves increasingly frustrated with the discrepancy between the quality of content on the web versus film and television. But it really doesn’t take someone from the entertainment industry to notice the disparity. Part of the inspiration behind Animoto is to simply bridge this gap in quality and production-value, and to build something that helps people easily create and share video content that feels closer to something you’d expect to see in a film or on television.

Another motivation for developing Animoto was to develop a compelling alternative to photo slideshows, which, as we all know, can too often be dreadfully, painfully boring. No one wants to spend 15 minutes watching a 182-photo slideshow of their friend’s trip to Maine.

Who has that kind of time? We set out to end the era of slideshows and take the experience of photo viewing to a whole new level.

The inspiration of Animoto also takes into account how people use cameras these days. With digital cameras increasingly accessible and having near unlimited storage, is very different from the days of film (or expensive storage). It’s no longer about taking the perfect shot. These days, it’s common for people to take dozens, if not hundreds of digital photographs at a single event. People are using their digital cameras much less like photographers of the past, who capture individual moments, and increasingly more like video producers and directors who capture an entire experience through a series of images.

Animoto makes it simple to convey experiences through a series of photographs by perfectly synchronizing the images to music. If we’re doing out jobs right, the resulting Animoto video should perfectly meld the imagery and music to create a video that evokes the intended emotional response from its’ creator and subsequent viewers.

Steve: What’s your target market for Animoto?

Jason: While we originally sought to target teens and twenty-somethings who use social network sites, we’ve been pleased to find that Animoto.com appeals to a much larger audience. We feel our potential market includes anyone with access to digital photos. At last count, this included about 109 million global users of photo-sharing websites and at current growth rates, is projected to grow 150% to 272 million users by 2010. While we originally thought most of our usage would be U.S.-based, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the strong adoption by international users in countries such as France, Italy and Japan. The fact that we haven’t yet localized Animoto.com for these countries is a testament to the simplicity of our website design and the universal appeal of Animoto videos.

We’ve also been thrilled to discover that the possibilities for the Animoto video creation service are far greater than we first assumed. We’ve had hundreds of inbound inquiries from fans of Animoto who want to use the service in K-12 classrooms, on residential real-estate websites, on professional photographers’ websites, on small-business-owners websites, and of course, on musician’s and band’s websites. From a business development perspective, we’ve had dozens of inbound inquiries from interested potential partners like video device manufactures, video game creators, and social network platform providers.

We are committed to staying focused on the teens and twenty-somethings market with Animoto.com, but with the release of our API we’ll have the ability to enter several additional large markets where there’s already a demand for Animoto. After creating a Facebook application, we’re going to create an Animoto Pro service for the commercial use of Animoto videos and then consider options for Animoto wedding videos, Animoto reunion videos, Animoto baby videos, etc.

Steve: Have you thought about the potential in business presentations? Sprucing up boring PowerPoints? Letting users …

Jason:
We have a business version of Animoto planned for 2008. But it will be more geared toward short video-like commercials … not text information based material. We won’t replace PPT. All I can say, is I’m actually more exciting about our business offering than I am with our current product.

Thanks Jason!

Takeaways and Example Videos

Animoto won’t make you a good presenter.

It won’t make you a good storyteller.

It won’t replace slide shows or PowerPoint.

It won’t generate leads.

It won’t close the sale. But it might help you banish the boring from your presentations. It’s a start.

REWORKED CORPORATE GOBBLEDYGOOK PRESENTATION


Some REALLY Valuable Additional Uses

You can use it to suck up to the Boss’s secretary. Alice Imfeld (Aimfeld@cincom.com), my boss’s Chief Executive Secretary, makes the world go round. She gets things done when all hope is lost. She’s the helping hand out of the quicksand, and on and on. Once, (a couple of weeks ago) when I realized I forgot to get her a birthday card, I was frantic. I quickly resulted to unplanned sophomoric cartoonializing that is a character flaw of the truly disorganized. I did the 1-2-3 step Animoto Boogie, and it morphed into the semblance of a well- thought-out personalized birthday card. I e-mailed it to her and waited for a digital pink slip to ping my e-mail inbox. But … she loved it. It has now gone down in corporate history books as the day “Steve won over Alice.”

See below.


A Great 60- Second Video Briefy on Animoto



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