Thursday, June 28, 2007

Transparency and Reputation

Thom Friedman is one of my favorite columnists. In the column that appeared in The Santa Rosa Press Democrat (A NY Times newspaper), he writes about the transparency brought on by the blogosphere.

Reputations retained forever on the Web

THREE years ago, I was catching a plane at Boston's Logan airport and went to buy some magazines for the flight. As I approached the cash register, a woman coming from another direction got there just behind me - I thought. But when I put my money down to pay, the woman said in a very loud voice: "Excuse me, I was here first!" And then she fixed me with a piercing stare that said: "I know who you are." I said I was very sorry, but I was clearly there first.

If that happened today, I would have had a very different reaction. I would have said: "Miss, I'm so sorry. I am entirely in the wrong. Please, go ahead. And can I buy your magazines for you? May I buy your lunch? Can I shine your shoes?"

Why? Because I'd be thinking there is some chance this woman has a blog or a camera in her cell phone and could, if she so chose, tell the whole world about our encounter - entirely from her perspective - and my utterly rude, boorish, arrogant behavior. Yikes!

When everyone has a blog, a MySpace page or Facebook entry, everyone is a publisher. When everyone has a cell phone with a camera in it, everyone is a paparazzo. When everyone can upload video on YouTube, everyone is a filmmaker. When everyone is a publisher, paparazzo or filmmaker, everyone else is a public figure. We're all public figures now. The blogosphere has made the global discussion so much richer - and each of us so much more transparent.

This related to the idea of "radical transparency" that I wrote about in a previous post. I was thinking about this today.

In a YouTube world, political candidates can no longer control their message if they slip in an unguarded moment.

In the world of the blogosphere, companies can no longer count on a press release alone to reach their audience.

In the age of Digg and Yelp, Everyman becomes the taste maker, the reviewer, the critic rather than the traditional media.

It seems to me the solution is to identify one's core (most authentic) values, then work everyday to manifest those values. Only through consistent and diligent effort, can we build and protect our reputation.

I am reminded of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said:

"What you are thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Images and PowerPoint update

Check it out.

They license stock photos for $1 - 2 per image. The quality of images seems high and the selection appears to be good.

I'd like to hear about your experience using them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Urban Dictionary

OK, so, maybe you are a middle-aged white guy ... like me. You wish you could be all hip and urban and down with the latest street lingo. But, instead, you are a middle-aged white guy ... like me.

Here's the solution: The Urban Dictionary.

Finally, it's a level playing field. You can find out what "word" and "ese" actually mean without having to reveal what a unhip, dorky white guy you actually are. You can toss around hip, edgy slang like "That's how I roll" and "bling" with the best of them. You can watch "Boys n the Hood" and "Colors" without subtitles.

The Urban Word of the Day is hilarious.

So, now you have a resource. This internet things is pretty stinkin' cool especially for mawgs like me. Double true.

The Power of Stillness and Silence

I am becoming a big fan of Garr Reynold's blog, Presentation Zen. His most recent post is titled, "When there is no quiet, there can be no loud." He uses an interesting YouTube video called the "Loudness War" to demonstrate that "dynamic range" not only applies to the impact of good musical audio engineering but presentation style as well.

The Wikipedia entry on dynamic range states:

"... a good quality audio reproduction system should be able to reproduce accurately both the quiet sounds and the loud; and a good quality visual display system should be able to show both shadow details in nighttime scenes and the full brightness of sunny scenes."

The presentation analog is the dynamism of a presenters communication style. If the presenters range of dynamism is narrow, their presentations have a flat quality and our attention will drift. When the presenter has a more compelling quality. As Reynolds says:

"Great presentations too make us 'turn up the volume' ... There is immense power in the quiet bits and the silent spaces in music and in speech, just as the empty spaces (negative space/white space) in visual forms of expression can make or break the effectiveness of the design."

One of the first points I make in my workshops on presentation is that great communicators have developed a comfort with stillness and silence. Rookie presenters often speak constantly afraid that silence will betray their self-perceived lack of credibility. In addition, their constantly fidgeting, swaying or pacing (My wife Robin calls this the "Caged Lion") betray their lack of comfort and confidence. It's as though they feel compelled to speak and to move in order to mask their discomfort. In fact, it has the exact opposite effect.

Observe the presenters that you admire the most. You will see and hear them being still and silent.

They will take long pauses to give their words impact.

They will hold a gestured position while they speak to create a sense of movement even in stillness.

Notice statuary. My observation is that the subject is either in motion or in an interesting pose. Be willing to assume a dynamic pose and hold that in stillness.

Take pauses after key points to give those points impact, to think about what comes next or how to make your next point most effectively. Take in the audience's reaction in those silences as a form of non-verbal feedback and guidance.

As Thomas Carlyle, Scottish author, essayist, & historian, said:

"Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time."

As Indira Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India said,

"You must be still in the midst of activity, and be vibrantly alive in repose."