Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chris Hadfield’s amazing TED talk on What I learned from going blind in space

Today is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. So, it’s a good time to look at one effect. Up in Ontario it inspired a nine year old boy to dream of becoming an astronaut, which seemed impossible. Chris told that story in his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. (Back in January I blogged about his advice to Visualize failure and then plan for success).

In this TED talk he describes getting over fear, what going up, being in space, and coming back down feels like, and his sense of wonder. (In the book he mentions an ironic detail - that before launch of a Soyuz rocket Russians toast to Miakoi posadki [soft landings]).

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Spam comments from folks who don’t know which end is up

When I checked the spam folder on my blog yesterday, I found a comment on a post from September 29, 2009 about Teleprompters and public speaking that said:

“Wow, supoerb blog layout! How ldnghty have you been blogging for? You make blogging glance easy. The overall look of your site is magnificent, let alone the content! My site...”

Now, the gray Blog Archive list on the right side of my posts shows that this blog has been around since 2008, so asking me how long I’ve been blogging is rather silly. 

Even sillier was the totally unrelated topic of his web site - a review for a nonprescription remedy meant to treat hemorrhoids. That remedy combines a dietary supplement (capsules) and a homeopathic spray (containing about 25% alcohol, and purified water), When I looked at two web sites about the product, I found rather confusing instructions.

The manufacturer’s web site says that the spray is applied under the tongue, but one paragraph says twice a day, while another says three times a day.   

Another web site selling the product says that that spray is applied twice a day - either directly to external hemorrhoids, or under the tongue. I’m not sure they know which end is up. 

A third web site says that the remedy originally just was the capsules, and then the spray was added later by new management.

The cartoon of a handstand was derived from this old WPA poster.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

National Speakers Association fell off their new PLATFORM, and will try another brand name

On July 7th I blogged about Will the National Speakers Association fall off its new platform? At their annual meeting they had announced that they were going to switch to a single-word name of PLATFORM.

But, Michael Hyatt already had a best-selling book published in 2012 with the title Platform: get noticed in a noisy world. I said that name change by NSA looked like a hilariously poor choice, and expected that it would not happen.

On July 14th NSA released a YouTube video titled Update on NSA’s Proposed Brand/Name Change - National Speakers Association in which they said they were going to drop PLATFORM and do something else.   

NSA has a code of ethics for members which includes:

“Article 4 - Intellectual Property

The NSA Member shall avoid using - either orally or in writing - materials, titles or thematic creations originated by others unless approved in writing by the originator.”

The text accompanying the YouTube video contained this reply (separation into paragraphs added by me for clarity):

“2. Why did NSA not adhere its own ethics and values related to intellectual property when others were using the Platform name?

An extensive search was conducted through the US Patent and Trademark Office during the development process. While there were 40 separate trademarks held by various companies throughout the US, only one of those was trademarked in the speaker marketplace and it had not been actively used in the last 15 years.

As soon as NSA became aware that someone else was actively using this brand in a similar marketplace to what we proposed, we reached out to that individual immediately to discuss the issue. While it took some time, we have communicated with all parties (including Michael Hyatt and his organization) and have worked out all issues to the satisfaction of everyone involved.

NSA takes very seriously any infractions of intellectual property and holds its ethics process and the values of the organization in high esteem and would never intentionally violate either of them.”

Michael Hyatt’s gracious reply to the announcement included this statement:

“The real test of leadership is not in whether you make mistakes. They are inevitable. I’ve certainly made my share. The real test is in what you do about them once they happen.

This is a good example of an organization that stumbled but then had the integrity to reverse their decision once they processed all the relevant input. This is extremely rare among individuals, let alone organizations. I salute them for their leadership.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The ultimate presentation nightmare cartoon

Wow! Today’s Savage Chickens cartoon by Doug Savage has it all - a presentation nightmare where you didn’t know what you are talking about, are naked, and are surrounded by critical angry bears (that shoot lava out of their paws). 

The only thing I’ve heard of that approaches it is a somewhat obscene comedy routine by Patton Oswalt about how taking Ambien creates crazy dream mashups that include several nightmares. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Is the advice you’re getting about public speaking almost as ancient as a fossilized trilobite?

And, how about the advice you’re giving out? Things change. Trilobites are extinct marine arthropods that showed up about half a billion years ago and flourished through the lower Paleozoic era. But, they have  been gone for a quarter billion years.  

On his Great Public Speaking blog for March 30, 2014 Tom Antion had a post titled 11 Public Speaking Quotes (that was reposted from August 11, 2013) which began by claiming:

“Public speaking is the number one fear in America.”

Every time I see that, I want to ask if the claimant has ever seen the results from 1998 and 2001 Gallup Polls reported on March 19, 2001 with the title Snakes Top List of Americans’ Fears.

Evidently Tom has not. I looked in the 2010 edition of his book Wake ‘Em Up! Business Presentations. Chapter 8, on Delivery begins with a section on Stage Fright Strategies that still refers to a  (1977) Book of Lists fears Top Ten with speaking to dogs humorously added as #11. 

The Book of Lists got their fears from a 1973 Bruskin survey. There was another 1993 Bruskin-Goldring survey that had public speaking at number one, but most surveys don’t. For Halloween 2012 I blogged about how Either way you look at it, public speaking really is not our greatest fear.  

What’s the latest? On March 27, 2014 YouGov reported results from a survey of about 1000 U. S. adults. I blogged about the details on April 2nd in a post titled YouGov survey of U.S. adults found they  most commonly were very afraid of snakes, heights, public speaking, spiders, and being closed in a small space. Public speaking only came in first when people were asked what they were A Little Afraid of. Both for Very Afraid and a total combining it with A Little Afraid, public speaking came third.    

Remember that sometimes the phrase “thought leader” means:

“I just thought I’m a leader, but now I’m really not.”

The image shows a trilobite fossil replica in an exhibit at The Herrett Center in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

If laughter is the best medicine, are there harmful side effects?

An article by R. E. Fermer and J. K. Aronson titled Laughter and MIRTH (Methodical Investigation of Risibility, Therapeutic and Harmful): Narrative Synthesis appeared in the Christmas 2013 issue of the British Medical Journal. You can read it in full here at PubMed Central. Their objective was to review both the beneficial and harmful effects of laughter.

Benefits of laughter included:

A] Reduced anger, anxiety, depression, and stress
B] reduced tension (psychological and cardiovascular)
C] increased pain threshold
D] reduced risk of myocardial infarction (presumably requiring hearty laughter)
E] improved lung function
F} increased energy expenditure
G] reduced blood glucose concentration

Harmful effects were:
A] Syncope (fainting)
B] cardiac and esophageal rupture
C] protrusion of abdominal hernias (from side splitting laughter or laughing fit to burst)
D] asthma attacks
E] interlobular emphysema
F] cataplexy
G] headaches
H] jaw dislocation
I] stress incontinence (from laughing like a drain)

Their conclusion was that:

Laughter is not purely beneficial. The harms it can cause are immediate and dose related, the risks being highest for Homeric (uncontrollable) laughter. The benefit-harm balance is probably favourable. It remains to be seen whether sick jokes make you ill or jokes in bad taste cause dysgeusia, and whether our views on comedians stand up to further scrutiny.

Increased energy expenditure sounded promising, but an article from 2007 on the Energy Expenditure of Genuine Laughter said that the effect is relatively small. It will not replace exercising or going on a diet.

The same image that appeared in Fermer and Aronson’s article is at Wikimedia Commons.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Will the National Speakers Association fall off its new Platform?

Last week the National Speakers Association (NSA) announced that they were going to start switching to a single-word name of PLATFORM (with an image of a stylized letter O shaped like a balloon) and using the motto:

 “Inform. Influence. Inspire.”

It already looks like a hilariously poor choice, and I expect that it will NOT happen. Why?

There already is a best-selling 2012 book by Michael Hyatt titled Platform: get noticed in a noisy world. Hyatt has been a speaker for over 25 years, and is in a business called Dynamic Communicators International which  already runs a conference called PLATFORM. So, he is rather well positioned to oppose NSA trying to trademark the name PLATFORM.   

Hyatt has a large tribe of followers, some of whom have been quite vocal:

Connie Bennett
Did NSA leaders forget to Google ”Platform” before stomping on Michael Hyatt’s Brand?

Daniel Decker
Do your research first- lessons from the National Speakers Association PLATFORM rebrand and Michael Hyatt

James Hahn
Why the NSA highjacked Michael Hyatt’s Brand part 1

Mike Kim
Michael Hyatt “Owns” Platform ... And 4 More Reasons the NSA Blew It on Rebranding

I understand that NSA felt they needed a change because they were no longer just national. But, I belong to two organizations that renamed just by adding the word International to their former national acronyms. American Society for Metals became ASM International, and National Association of Corrosion Engineers became NACE International.

Maybe NSA also felt that their acronym was tainted by the recent revelations about the other NSA, the U.S. National Security Agency. Perhaps they just should have run an ad explaining the difference:

The falling image was inspired by this warning sign.