An Outside Perspective

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A couple of miles from where I live is an intersection where a local panhandler has staked his claim. Day after day he’s there brandishing his sign, looking for donations. Most days I just drive by and wave; he always waves back. Occasionally I’ll give him a few bucks. Clearly the location is working for him, otherwise he would have moved on long ago. A few weeks ago, during a brief respite from the winter cold, I was driving along ...

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What’s Your Focus?

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I have a friend who is really struggling in his business right now. He works for himself, and when the phone was ringing life was good. But the phone hasn’t been ringing for a couple of years now, and he doesn’t know how to turn things around. He said to me the other day, “I’m doing everything I can think of, putting in ten hours a day trying to build the business, but nothing seems to be working.” And it’s ...

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Barack, the Beatles, and Change

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Along with the rest of the world, I just watched Barack Obama become the 44th president of the United States of America. No matter what your own personal political views may be, there can be no question that this represents a monumental and fundamental change in our nation’s history. And I’m reminded once again that change, in and of itself, is nothing to be feared. Rather, change is a necessary and natural part of progress, of growth.

Yes, change can be ...

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24 Hours and a Choice

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I’m getting a little sick and tired of people moaning about the bad times.

“I don’t have enough money.”

“I’ll never be able to retire.”

“Nobody will give me a job.”

Now don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying these aren’t serious issues. These are challenging times, and I truly feel for those who are struggling to get by. What I am saying, though, is that moaning about it may not be the most effective response.

Look, the Beatles went through some tough times too. Times ...

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Where the Great Ideas Come From

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How often do you come up with a brilliant, innovative idea that changes the shape of your industry? The Beatles did it all the time. How? Partly by being continuously open to new ideas, no matter where they may come from. Let’s take a look at the genesis of two landmark Beatles songs: John Lennon’s I Am the Walrus and Paul McCartney’s Penny Lane.

John Lennon was sitting at his home in Weybridge, England one day when he happened to hear ...

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The Beatles, Money, and the Richest Person in Washington

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I just finished listening to Breakfast with the Beatles, a weekly two-hour radio program here in Seattle. I listen to it every Sunday morning (unless I’m on the road for business); it’s a ritual for me. One of the songs they played today was the Beatles’ cover of Janie Bradford and Berry Gordy’s song, Money (That’s What I Want), which begins with the lyric:

“The best things in life are free, but you can keep them for the birds ...

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Give Your Career a Tune Up!

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My piano is being tuned as I’m writing this. Don’t get me wrong…it didn’t sound out of tune. But it’s a valuable instrument, and I care about it. So I get it tuned twice a year, without fail. Now, I have this friend who I’ll call “George” (although his real name is Alan). “George” also has a nice piano. Mine’s a Steinway, his is a Baldwin. “George,” however, only gets his piano tuned when he thinks it sounds out of ...

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Where To Find Personal Stories

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If you know anything at all about me and my speaking style, you know that I am a huge, huge fan of humorous personal stories! I think they are, hands down, the best way to add humor to your speech or presentation. I like them better than jokes, funny quotes, and cartoons. Why? Because they are unique, memorable, bombproof, and a small handful of stories will cover you in a surprisingly large number of situations!

In my coaching and consulting sessions ...

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3 Reasons NOT to Use Jokes in Your Presentation!

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We hear it all the time: if you want to get the big bucks, you’ve got to use humor in your presentations. Even if you’re not in it for the money—humor definitely helps you to get your point across.

There’s no question that if you give presentations in front of an audience, humor should be one of the big hammers in your speaking toolkit. For some people (the lucky ones!), this comes quickly and easily. The rest of us have to ...

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The Power of Personal Stories

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Most people who know me as a speaker, consultant, or coach know two things about me:

  1. I love humor!
  2. I hate jokes!

Don’t get me wrong: I like hearing a good joke; I’m just not a big fan of their use on the platform. I think there’s a much more powerful resource for humor available to the speaker, and it’s called the personal story.

In my experience, personal stories—or personal anecdotes, if you prefer—have several convincing advantages over jokes, and I’d like to explore ...

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