Saturday, May 28, 2016

Did Woody Allen ever compare the fears of public speaking and death?

No, he did not. I just read a May18th post by Dr. Michael Thweatt titled The Fear of Death on his Psychosmology blog which bizarrely claimed that:

“Woody Allen once observed that the fear of public speaking was the number one reported phobia, even ranking above the fear of death. He concluded that people must be more afraid of delivering the eulogy than being in the coffin.”

A Google search did not reveal any source for that statement other than Dr. Thewatt’s blog post, so it just is his ipse dixit. Apparently he confused Woody Allen with Jerry Seinfeld. Jerry made that comparison on multiple occasions, as I discussed in March 2015.

Woody said some other things about life and death like that:

“Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon.”

“Why are our days numbered and not, say, lettered?”

“There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?”

“On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily lying down.”

“It is impossible to experience one’s death objectively and still carry a tune.”

“Eternal nothingness is fine if you happen to be dressed for it.

The caricature of Woody Allen by Harutyun Chalikyan came from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, May 27, 2016

PayScale survey found 39% of hiring managers felt that recent grads lacked public speaking skill

On May 17th PayScale issued a press release about their 2016 Workforce-Skills Preparedness Report.

A bar chart shows percentages for nine hard skills. (Click on it for a larger, clearer view).  44% of hiring managers felt that recent grads lacked writing proficiency. At 39% Public speaking was second. Over a third of hiring managers felt that recent grads lacked four hard skills: writing proficiency 44% public speaking 39%, data analysis 36%, and industry-specific software 34%.

Another bar chart shows percentages for eight soft skills. Over a third of hiring managers felt that recent grads lacked six soft skills: critical thinking problem solving 60%, attention to detail 56%, communication 46%, leadership 44%, ownership 44%, and interpersonal skills/teamwork 36%.

A third bar chart compares how prepared for a full time job both hiring managers and recent grads thought recent grads were. There were four levels: Extremely prepared, Mostly prepared, Minimally prepared, and Unprepared. As shown above, 25% of recent grads thought they were Extremely prepared, but only 8% of managers thought they were. 62% of recent grads thought they were Mostly prepared, but only 42% of managers thought they were. Just 11% of recent grads thought they were Minimally prepared, but 35% of managers thought they were. Finally, just 3% of recent grads thought they were Unprepared, but 15% of managers thought they were. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

How not to communicate on Twitter

On May 19th, shortly after of the loss of EgytptAir Flight 804,  Donald J. Trump tweeted:

“Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart, and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!”

What a pile of self-serving campaign crap from DumbOld Trump! He has been justifiably slammed over it.

But it has been almost fifteen years since the 9/11 attacks. Of course we are tough, smart and vigilant. For example, right now the Idaho Air National Guard has a deployment of their A10 Thunderbolt II ground attack airplanes over in the Middle East.

And, as of today, we still don’t know if the EgyptAir loss was a terrorist attack.

Friday, May 20, 2016

TODD Talks - a hilarious parody of TED Talks

On May 8th John Oliver’s HBO television show Last Week Tonight posted a twenty-minute YouTube video about how media present results from Scientific Studies that concludes (15:50) with a hilarious parody of TED Talks: 

“Do you love science and all its complexity, but wish it could be a little less complex and a lot less scientific? Introducing TODD Talks, where the format of TED talks meets the intellectual rigor of morning news shows.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spouting Nonsense: Brian Tracy on the “history” of the Pareto Principle

On May 10th Brian Tracy posted a six-minute YouTube video titled 80/20 Rule for Goal Setting. It begins as follows:

“Hello, I’m Brian Tracy, and today I’m going to talk to you about one of the most helpful concepts of time and life management. It’s called the 80/20 Rule. Now the 80/20 Rule is also called the Pareto Principle, named after its founder the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1895. He noticed that people in societies seemed to divide naturally into what he called the “vital few” or the top 20 percent in terms of money, property, and influence and the “trivial many” or the bottom 80 percent.

Later he discovered that virtually all economic activity was subject to this same principle  in that 80 percent of the wealth of Italy during that time was controlled by 20 percent of the population. We can take Pareto’s 80/20 rule and apply it to almost any situation. In particular, we can apply it to goal setting and productivity. According to this principle, 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. That means that if you have a list of ten items to accomplish, two of those items will turn out to be worth more than the other eight items put together.”

The heading for his first graphic calls it the “80/20 Rule or ‘Pareto Principal’ “ That is an amusing gaffe from someone who has posted another YouTube video preaching Everything Counts! How to make a good first impression.

How much of what Brian said in his first paragraph is right? None of it! The Pareto Principle was not stated by Pareto in 1895, and he never referred either to the “vital few” or the “trivial many.” Quality guru Joseph M. Juran stated the Principle about a half-century later. He discussed misnaming it in a 1994 article titled The Non-Pareto Principle; Mea Culpa. Also, Juran eventually shifted from saying “trivial many” to “useful many.” That latter phrase is mentioned in his 2008 obituary in the Los Angeles Times that is titled Management guru coined 80-20 rule.

In his books Brian Tracy repeated discussed the 80/20 rule as coming from Pareto in 1895. For example, a Google Books search shows it on page 13 in the 2008 2nd edition of Eat That Frog, and page 97 of his 2009 book, Reinvention: How to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life.

So, Brian Tracy is awarded a second Spoutly for spouting nonsense. I gave him my very first one in October 2013 for a mythical statistic on fear of public speaking.  

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Looking at flag design will change how you make PowerPoint slides

There is an interesting pamphlet titled GOOD Flag, BAD FLAG How to Design a Great Flag that was compiled by Ted Kaye for the North American Vexillological Association. It discusses the five principles shown above.

The flag of Milwaukee is so complicated that it is bad - it even contains a tiny civil war regimental flag inside the lower left quadrant of the gear.  Contrast that with the very simple  flag of Chicago.

A good flag (like the one for Amsterdam shown above) can convey its information in a space the size of a commemorative postage stamp. That is because a one-inch high rectangle seen from fifteen inches away looks about the same as a three-foot high flag seen from a hundred feet away.

There is an excellent TED Talk by Roman Mars on Why city flags may be the worst designed thing you’ve never noticed.

The civil war Confederate flags are an example of how it can take three tries to come up with aa acceptable flag. The first version (Stars and Bars) was not as well received as the Battle Flag (for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia). The second version (Stainless Banner) didn’t work when there was no or light wind - it almost looked like a white truce flag. Their third version (the Blood-Stained Banner) fixed that by adding a vertical red stripe. 

I found my way to this topic from a blog post on How a TED Talk and a public radio host shamed Pocatello into changing its city flag.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Homer Simpson’s speech gets shot down

The Simpsons “Simprovised” episode which airs on May 15th will have Homer try improv comedy in order to rebuild his confidence after he mangles a speech at work. (In 23 seasons Homer has tried and failed at many other things, so why not public speaking?)

The last three minutes will feature the voice of Dan Castellaneta answering questions from fans who call in.

The image of a Zeppelin came from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, May 6, 2016