Saturday, January 31, 2009

Restroom Iconography VII: Hanauma Bay

While in Hawaii in January, Angie and I went snorkeling at Oahu's Hanauma Bay. The snorkeling was mediocre - the seas were rough and visibility suffered.

But - I found another cool restroom icon.

This man icon is roughed up around the edges, giving it a primitive feel, and then a tapa cloth was added around his groin.

I found it particularly interesting that they decided to distress the handicapped icon as well.
It really does look like an abstract petroglyph when that is done to it.

Just another example of how you can take a mundane object that we see every day and add a little character or culture to it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Warming Up with Images

I did some more work with metaphorical images today.

The group is starting some strategic planning, but they don't really know each other that well. They wanted a warm-up exercise that would allow them to get to know each other, but still apply to the topic.

With the images, it's easy.
We simply spread the images and the table and asked them to:

  1. Pick an image that serves as a metaphor for their personality. We then had each member share.
  2. Pick an image that serves as a metaphor for their career. We then shared.
  3. Pick an image that serves as a metaphor for what they hoped to accomplish in this 2-day session.

In 30 minutes, we were able to get some laughs, get to know each other, and hone into the important topic.
That's why I love these images!

Monday, January 26, 2009

What is ADKAR?

Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's just a cycle. I don't know.

What I do know is that Change Management is a really hot topic at work these days.
I've found myself involved (sucked into?) a number of change initiatives and  - reassuringly - most of the managers are actually concerned about how the employees view the change.

That's very cool...

Whenever I get involved in a change initiative, my favorite framework is the ADKAR model.
ADKAR comes from Prosci.
It's a simple model that stands for
  • Awareness - Is everyone aware of the change and it's benefits?
  • Desire - Does everyone want to be part of the change?
  • Knowledge - Does everyone have the knowledge necessary to be successful?
  • Ability - Does everyone have the ability to be successful?
  • Reinforcement - Will there be follow-up training? Will people stick with the change? Is this a fad? Can our culture support it?

I use this model every day. I use it for change management, obviously.
But everything is change, so I also use it to design training. I use it for presentation planning .
And I use it for one-on-one coaching.

So, do yourself a favor. If you have an initiative that failing, or a child or wife that won't do what you want them to do.... ask the 5 questions above. 
I bet you find the answer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Time is on my side...

It's a new day in America, that's for sure...

I don't comment much on the politics of the US or the world.
Why? Well, there are a bunch of reasons.

For one thing, we (Angie and me) have lived in 3 countries (Japan, Singapore, US). I've lived 1/4 of my life overseas, so I don't see the US as the center of everything (you could make a stronger argument that it's the center of nothing).

A couple of other reasons (which aren't terribly interesting and, furthermore, aren't really anyone's business - but they explain the above) include the fact that I watch less than an hour of television a week (I literally only see TV as my dvd player is warming up or as I'm watching sports) and that I don't own a cell phone. 
So, I only really notice things when they've lasted longer than a carton of milk (and most things don't). That means I haven't even heard of an issue until Anderson Cooper, Nancy Grace, and Bill O'Reilly have beaten the dead horse thirty-three times over and moved on to their latest hurricane or child kidnapping.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'll judge this new era after it happens. Just like I'll judge the last era after I get a little distance (I'm not sure I can actually get enough distance - but that's another story).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Restroom Iconography VI: Waikiki Beach Walk

Our recent trip to Honolulu proved to be a treasure trove for Restroom Iconography.

This one, which I found at Waikiki Beach Walk, looks like it could have been inspired by the classic surf film, "Endless Summer" (a film which had a profound effect on me, as a kid).

Anyway, this sign has classic lines, and the wood inlay is - I think - an excellent touch.
Another example of design that is effective and attractive!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Do you have a Fixed or Growth Mindset?

I've been reading "Mindset" by Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford.

The book explores the two mindsets that Dr. Dweck's research has identified - the Fixed Mindset and the Growth Mindset.

Given today's business environment, one could argue that it's mandatory that we all develop a Growth Mindset.

I recommend you read the book. In the meantime, download this excellent visual representation of the Mindset concept by Nigel Holmes (a god of visual communication or 'explanation graphics' as he calls it).

Friday, January 16, 2009

5 Steps to Presenting Like a Rock Star! Part V

The fifth step to presenting like a Rock Star is to provide pattern disruption.
Pattern disruption is exactly what it says it is... the disruption of a pattern.

How do Rock Stars do this?
There are a bunch of ways:

  • Inserting a 'bridge' in the song - When Bruce sings, "Beyond the palace, hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard..." the music changes dramatically. This is a one time change to add some variety to the song.
  • Putting a solo in the song - You'd be surprised how many great songs don't have guitar solos (Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit" jumps to mind, along with many early Beatles songs), but many other songs provide solos to break the verse/refrain/verse/refrain pattern. The saxophone solo by Clarence Clemons in "Jungleland" is a spectacular example.
  • Silence - Occasionally, you hear a song come to a complete stop, like "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac. A pause is great pattern disruption.
  • Change in Volume - Slow songs that suddenly get loud like "Stairway to Heaven" & loud songs that get quiet, like "Shout!" are demonstrations of pattern disruption.
  • A Change in Key - Probably the hokiest of the methods for music, this is often used by schlock-meisters like Barry Manilow, in "Mandy".
  • And more - changes in rhythm (the Police did this all the time, switching from 3/4 to 4/4), changes in instrumentation (the Beatles were masters, throwing every possible instrument into the mix), and shifting from singing to rapping (Faith No More) or talking (Kiss' "Christine Sixteen") are other ways.

So how can you do this in a speech?
It's pretty easy... just plan a change up.

  • If you're loud, do one section soft
  • If you're quite, do one section loud
  • Sit down (if you're standing) or stand up (if you're sitting) for part of your speech.
  • Turn off your slides (if you're using them) or use visuals (if you're not)
  • Plan an audience participation section into your speech
  • Pull out a prop (Steve Jobs is awesome at this)
  • If you're giving a data presentation, tell one story or example
  • Pause

There are many more ways.
Watch great presenters and see how they vary their patterns.

Just like Rock Stars, this pattern disruption is usually planned for 2/3's of the way through the speech.
The speech has to establish a pattern, before you can disrupt it.

There you go... 5 steps to presenting like a Rock Star.
Now, just get on a stage and rock that crowd!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

5 Steps to Presenting Like a Rock Star! Part IV

The fourth step to presenting like a rock star is to create images for your audience.

Why are images so important?
Because, without images, we might be using only half of our brain. 
Brain Rules, by John Medina, covers the science behind this brilliantly, so read his book if you need the data.

Images promote engagement and help us think better.

There are three ways you can be visual:

You can pretend I'm wrong. You can pretend these won't work for your situation.
All I'll say is watch. Watch Ted. Watch Steve Jobs. Watch the best speakers in your company.
They create images. I guarantee it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

5 Steps to Presenting Like a Rock Star! Part III

The third step to presenting like a Rock Star is to write a compelling introduction for your speech.

There are three reasons to have a strong introduction:
  1. To get attention: if a song doesn't have a strong introduction, people will go to the next song - same with a speech. Attention getting song introductions include "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne, "Wipe Out" by the Safaris, and "Love in an Elevator" by Aerosmith.
  2. To build rapport: getting an audience involved is a beautiful thing. Great examples include "We Will Rock You" by Queen - clapping along, "Anyway You Want It" by Journey - singing along, and any song that gets you dancing or tapping your foot. 
  3. To prepare the audience: the more unique a song is, the more it may need a 'buffer' to transition the audience or set a mood. "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen is a great example. The beginning of "Born to Run" gives us the main theme and conveys the urgency that the lyrics will soon explain.

Go to and watch some great presentations. For each one, ask yourself what the presenter is trying to accomplish with his/her introduction - attention, rapport, or preparation? Or is it a combination of the above?

Dick Hardt's "Identity 2.0" presentation is a spectacular example of doing all three.
  1. He gets our attention with humor and images, 
  2. He builds rapport through humor and examples that everyone can relate to, and 
  3. He prepares the audience by making an introduction that develops the 'riffs' that he will repeat throughout his presentation.

As a result, Dick Hardt presents like a Rock Star.
Watch it. Learn it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

5 Steps to Presenting Like a Rock Star! Part II

The second step to presenting like a Rock Star is to write the appropriate verses for your speech.

The verses are the proof of your refrain.
Think of it this way - at the end of a verse, you should be able to write, "And that's why I say..." and then say your core message or refrain.

So, if Bruce Springsteen wants us to sing "Tramps like us, baby we were born to run", he'd better convince us, right?
I mean, I don't run (at all) unless there's something worth running from (or to).
So, let's look at Bruce's proof:
In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through the mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected,and steppin' out over the line
Oh, Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run
Hmmm... I don't want the bones ripped from my back, so I'd agree, I'm born to run.

If your refrain is, "My project needs more money", then your verse one better say, "this project is important". Or, better yet, this project rips the bones from your back! Try that your next project review...
And verse two better say better say, "more money will make this project successful". 

But most presentations don't make this much logical (or emotional) sense. 
Because of that, your audience isn't singing along.
They're saying, "Why should I run?"

Nobody asks Bruce why they should run, because he tells them. In fact, he implores them.
That's rock and roll.
Look at this:
The highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody's out on the run tonight
but there's no place left to hide
Together Wendy we can live with the sadness
I'll love you with all the madness in my soul
Oh, Someday girl I don't know when
we're gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go
and we'll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
baby we were born to run
Damn... if you're not ready to run now, you're going to get run over...
Bruce provides the WIIFM or "what's in it for me" (in this case, Wendy).
So, we're ready to sing along, or even run.

Just in case you think I'm being esoteric, watch this great video by Lawrence Lessig, who uses - literally - the verse/refrain structure in a technical/business presentation.

So, your assignment today is to write your verses (try 2-3 of them) that prove your refrain. Tomorrow, we'll look at your introduction. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

5 Steps to Presenting Like a Rock Star! Part I

The first step to presenting like a Rock Star is to write the refrain for your speech.

A refrain (also known as chorus, core message, thesis, or main point) is the one thing you want your audience to remember.
It's the whole reason for your speech. It's what you're attempting to prove.
It's what you want them to sing along with.

Look at these examples from the work of music.
  • Tramps like us, baby we were Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
  • I still haven't found what I'm looking for - U2
  • It's just another Manic Monday - The Bangles / Prince
  • We can work it out - The Beatles
  • It's times like these... - Foo Fighters
  • All these things that I've done - The Killers

I know... you're thinking, "That's music! What does that have to do with a speech?"
Here are a few more examples:
  • I have a dream - Martin Luther King
  • Tear down the wall - Ronald Reagan
  • Where was George? - Ted Kennedy

Hmm... seemed to work pretty well for them, huh?

I know what you're thinking. Glenn, this is too obvious... too manipulative.
I'd feel uncomfortable using such a transparent mechanism.

Well, it's a mechanism because it works. It's cognitive candy.
Here's my argument:
Bob Dylan is a freakin' poet. You may hate his voice.
You may hate his music. But he's a poet.
And he uses refrains.
  • The answer my friend is blowing in the wind
  • Knock, knock, knocking on heaven's door
  • All along the watchtower
  • Like a rolling stone

Let me tell you. If it's good enough for Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Martin Luther King, and Ronald Reagan... it's good enough for you.

So, here's your homework: Write the refrain for a speech or presentation you're going to give in the next few weeks.
Tomorrow we'll cover the next step - writing your verses.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

5 Steps to Presenting Like a Rock Star!

Everyone wants to be a rock star, right?

Oh, you might shake your head and say "not me", but I think you're kidding yourself.

How do I know? 
Well, back in the days (nostalgia alert!) when I was in a band, many people came up to me and said, "I love singing, man", "I always wanted to be a guitarist", "It must be great up there", or "After being on stage, the other 22 hours of your day must suck". 

Even the founder of the company I work at - Ken Levy of KLA-Tencor - agreed. He once came up on stage to introduce our band at a company picnic and, looking out over the happy faces in the waiting audience, said, "Oh, you guys have definitely got the best spot at the picnic, up here on stage."

What's my point? Good question...
My point is that you probably have regular opportunities to be a Rock Star (like Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles, from a NY's Eve performace we attended in Waikiki).
But are you taking advantage of those opportunities? I doubt it...

This week I'll post a five part series on how you can use your presentation opportunties to be a rock star.
  1. Have a refrain that everyone can sing to...
  2. Make sure your verses lead the audience to your refrain.
  3. Have a compelling introduction to your song.
  4. Create images for your audience.
  5. Add a bridge or solo to provide pattern disruption.

Each day this week, I'll cover one of these: using example from the world of rock and roll.
In the world of music, a bad presentation doesn't sell.
It's the same in your world, so the sooner you learn from the masters, the better off you'll be.

See you tomorrow!!

Non-verbal Communications and Sigur Ros

You've probably seen this data before. It shows that only 7% of communication comes from words.

It's one of the most misused pieces of research in recent history (the research was conducted specifically on emotional content of communication - NOT understandability).

At the same time, we can quickly validate the general 'truthiness' (thank you Stephen Colbert) of the research with some examples:
  • parents can communicate effectively with babies, without verbal communications
  • children from different cultures can play together without a common language
  • the evolution of non-verbal signals in emails - emoticons, 'all-caps', underlines
  • the effectiveness of silent movies
  • the scariness of mimes
  • Sigur Ros

Okay, you might be wondering what a Sigur Ros is.
They are an Icelandic band that is quite successful globally.
Their song "Hoppipola" appears in the new trailer for "Slumdog Millionaire", at the 1:15 mark.
"Staralfur" provides the soundtrack to the climax of "The Life Aquatic". 

Despite the fact that Sigur Ros sings in a language that 97% of their audience doesn't understand, they have created an intense emotional experience with their listeners.

Here is an incredible video of "svefn-g-englar", with the Perlan Theater Group.
I'm convinced that even a single word added to this video would only detract from it the power.

How can you use non-verbal communication more powerfully?

Additional Links

Saturday, January 10, 2009

10 Images of Hawaii

Here are 10 of my favorite images from our recent trip to Hawaii.
I'm not including my NY's eve photo from the Bangles concert that is here.

Hawaii = Palm Trees and Resorts

Hawaii = Sand + Bikinis

Hawaii = A Mai Tai at the Halekulani + A Diamond Head View

Hawaii = An Alan Wong Bar Restaurant in Ala Moana Macy's?
(can we pass a law that every department store has a bar? please?)

Hawaii = Coconuts + Shaking Hips

Hawaii = Exotic Birds (Flamingo)

Hawaii = Luaus and Torches

Hawaii = More Exotic Birds (Black Crowned Night Heron)

Hawaii = Beaches and Poi Dogs

Hawaii = Ahi Poke

Friday, January 9, 2009

Answering Questions: A Key to Presentation Success

The ability to effectively answer questions is critical to presenting, teaching, and learning. 
One could argue that even the worst instructional or presentation design gets 'one more chance' to be effective when the audience starts asking questions in their search for clarity. 
The ability to effectively answer questions has a number of components:

  1. The presenter must invite and recognize questions. This involves building rapport, establishing a safe environment, allowing time and space for questions, actively asking for questions, recognizing non-verbal indications of a question that may or may not be asked out loud, and understanding cultural barriers to asking questions (then creating strategies to overcome the hesitation).
  2. The presenter must understand the question. This requires active listening, including paraphrasing and seeking confirmation of understanding.
  3. The presenter must answer the question clearly. It helps to learn and practice a model or framework for responding to questions - such as the PREP model. Answering clearly may seem straight-forward, but the presidential debates showed that even accomplished speakers struggle to provide clear responses. How many times did you listen to a candidates response and think, "Did he/she answer the question?".
  4. The presenter must employ multiple tools in answering questions. Each learner has different triggers for understanding. Merely quoting a textbook answer to a question will often not suffice - otherwise the learner would probably have understood from reading or hearing it the first time. The ability to draw models, flows, and diagrams can make all the difference for some learners. Other learners are looking for stories that put the 'textbook' answer into context and examples.
  5. The presenter must be willing to say "I don't know - but I'll get back to you". Enough said on that one!

I can often determine the quality of an presenter by the way they answer their first question.
Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 on each of the above items. 
If you score less than 17, you have some opportunities for growth.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Enabling Creativity through a Brain Dump

This is one of my favorite pre-brainstorming activities.

It's inspired by Doug Hall's 'Mind Dump' exercise, from "Jump Start Your Brain".

I use it a little differently than Doug does.
Doug uses it as a kick start to brainstorming.

I use it as a way to release all the negative energy around a challenge that's been tackled before.

Here's how I use it:
  1. Hand each participant a copy of the 'Brain Dump' sheet shown above.
  2. Name a challenge (for example, sell our product to Customer A) and write it in the center square.
  3. Set a timer for 8 minutes (that's 2 minutes for each side - you can allow 12, 16, or 20 minutes if you prefer).
  4. Have the group write all their 'stored' thoughts about the challenge or issue. These can include emotions they feel, images that come to mind, senses that are triggered, or memories.
  5. Watch the participants. You'll usually see and hear chuckling, head-shaking, smirking, groaning and more.
  6. We stop at the buzzer.
  7. In an optional step, you can discuss what's been captured (I usually don't, unless it's an extreme case where discussion is a prerequisite to letting go).
  8. Pause dramatically and then...
  9. Ask everyone to wad the paper into balls and throw them into the trash can.
  10. Start your brainstorming exercise.
This allows everyone to empty their brain of negative energy and thoughts so they can start fresh.
Sounds corny, but it has always worked for me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Restroom Iconography V: Hawaii

Hawaii must be a mecca of improvisational restroom icon design.

I found a number of interesting variations during this recent trip.
This sign is located at Honolulu International Airport.

Once again, we have a simple update of the traditional international icon.
The addition of an aloha shirt and the Hawaiian word for man tells us where we are, while maintaining the integrity of the original design.

How can you localize a standard offering with a splash of color or a pattern?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bringing in the New Year with The Bangles

Last night, we welcomed in the New Year with the Bangles (and 3000+ others) at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki.

While the crowd warmed up slowly, the band didn't.
The girls opened with "Hazy Shade of Winter" - my personal favorite Bangles song - and "Manic Monday".
They then rocked through a tight 75 minute set full of hits.

After a pause for the New Year's countdown, we got to "Walk Like an Egyptian". A little light prodding from the audience then brought Susanna (pictured in this shot I took last night), Vickie, and Debbie back out for "Eternal Flame" to end the show.

The Bangles were, I have to say, excellent. They had a lot of energy. The rhythm was tight. And the harmonies were, well, Bangle-esque. I mean, you can only compare the Bangles harmonies to the Bangles... right?
When I was putting together a band a few years ago, I made of list of the 'perfect parts' - sort of a Frankenband if you will. Near the top of the list was 'Bangle-esque Harmonies'.

Back to last night, though: We received two free bottles of champagne - which was probably one too many - but we walked them off with a journey to Waikiki Denny's.
A tropical downpour opened up while we were eating, making the walk look like a bad decision. Fortunately, it stopped just as we stepped out of the restaurant (with Denny's, I use that term loosely - the less said about the bacon and sausage there, the better).

We then had a nice walk up the beach and were back to our room at 3am.
It was a great night and a memorable way to kick off the new year.
Hope you all had a great night!

Restroom Iconography IV: Hawaii

In our continuing series of restroom iconography, we return to Hawaii.
This week, we find another creative interpretation of the familiar international icon.

Two nice features here:

  1. The use of petroglyph symbols for the icons. I'm a big petroglyph fan, so I appreciate the nod to ancient culture - even if they probably just used a bush back then.
  2. The use of Hawaiian language. The Hawaiian language is a beautiful one, so I'm pleased whenever I see it.

One minor criticism: The woman looks like an Amazon.
She's quite a bit bigger than the male icon. Too much poi?