Thursday, July 10, 2008

seasons change

hi and thanks for visiting my new blog. i've always been a fan of 'less is more' when it comes to presentations and playing the blues. at some conferences i've counted the number of PowerPoint slides that are shown and created a PP slide per minute index which is way too high. but it's just too easy for us to use this tool and put as much information as we can on the slides. perhaps we should be thinking more about how much the audience, any audience, can absorb and more importantly take away (more on take-away's later). but this week i found the following in a great periodic email sent out by ann wylie, a consultant on communications that i wanted to share with you:

"Everything's better when it's short. Even PowerPoint

I recently spent a great evening in a bar watching PowerPoint presentations.

Yep, you read that right. PowerPoint.

It was actually an evening of Pecha Kucha. Pronounced peh-cha ku-cha, the name comes from a Japanese term meaning "chit-chat."

Two architects in Japan created this approach to help them keep their presentations short and interesting. Their rule: You can show only 20 slides for just 20 seconds each. That's 400 seconds to get your message across.

What works to keep an audience's attention in PowerPoint also works in other media.

Try it. Give yourself a tight length limit, stick to it, and watch every piece you write get sharper and more interesting."

now about takeaways: my definition is something that a person you're presenting to, either in an audience or in a private meeting, remembers and more better goes back to their office, walks down the hall to one of their colleagues, plops in a chair and says, "i heard a very interesting thing yesterday." bingo! you have succeeded. but a communication consultant friend of mine has taught me that to get someone to remember just one thing from a presentation you have choose that one thing and then have three supporting statements about it. think of that, experts who think that getting someone to remember (think take-away) one thing is success. it may be worth a try, don't you think?

Some of you may remember in the summer of 2003 I was involved in the planning of a reunion of a summer camp that I attended as both a camper and a counselor. Camp Walden is on Trout Lake, just up the hill from Bolton Landing, New York, which sits on Lake George. The camp has been open continuously for 75 years. The reunion was a wonderful experience and included the getting back together of a camp rock band called “The Arcade Love Machine” (don’t forget, this was 1968!). We hadn’t played together in 35 years but we managed to pull off a one-night stand at a real club in Montreal. The rest of the weekend was also perfect with more than 80 people attending. But the ‘high’ of that weekend turned to sadness just a few months later when our lead singer, Dave Florendo (a senior corporate attorney for Altria (formerly Phillip Morris) died quickly of some type of cancer. It was devastating, especially as Dave and I were the lead guys organizing that event. For a couple of years after Dave’s death, we raised money to provide a scholarship for a camper from Dave’s old neighborhood in Inwood, New York to attend the camp for a summer. Dave had originally attended camp on a similar type scholarship deal. But time took its toll and the interest in the scholarship program waned. One of our group came up with a great idea: raise money one more time and dedicate a bench at the camp. And that is just what we’re doing next weekend. A very small but representative group of us will visit the camp on Friday and Saturday and dedicate the bench which will have a plaque installed on it with these words:

Dedicated to the spirits of Walden past, present and future
Donated with love by
The David Florendo Memorial Fund
July 2008

I think that now, five years after the reunion and 40 years after “The Arcade Love Machine’s” first performance, it’ll bring some closure to this episode. But it also gets you thinking, again, about how unpredictable life is and how fleeting our time is. It’s hard sometimes, living our normal lives day to day to remember how lucky we are and to think about what is really important in our lives. I know I’ve written about this subject quite a bit but I must tell you that writing it helps me remember too (just like a number of you have told me that it gets you thinking as well). As my friend and member of the band that recorded my CD, Ernie Hendrickson ( says beautifully in one of his songs, “Seasons Change.” And as the seasons change, whether it be the weather or the seasons of our lives, we must not, we cannot forget that we get only one go around in this life and that we all are the masters of our selves. I lived for many years on autopilot; doing what I thought I should do instead of what I wanted to do and what I needed to do. In the past number of years I have done a lot of what I needed to do and some of what I wanted to do. At each crossroads, we have choices and, especially when others are counting on us, they’re not easy to make. But then again, who said it would be easy? Anyway, I’ll let you know how the bench dedication goes and hope you are dedicating enough time to yourself.

The CRE (Counselors of Real Estate) interviewed 12 well-known (although all American) and respected members of the commercial real estate industry asking them about what career advice they’d give to a young person interested in real estate as a career. I think they’re great and will give you some examples each week for the next few weeks:

1."It is very important to develop a résumé that distinguishes you from everyone else. The number one question that always ran through my head is 'Why should someone choose you?'"
2. "You have to be in the right place at the right time.”
3. "There is nothing more important than just showing up and meeting people, because when you show up, you establish relationships, build rapport, and you learn how to satisfy your clients' needs." (Hospitality Industry).
4. "You should always look at your next opportunity and challenge yourself---it makes working fun each and everyday."

I didn’t listen much when I was growing up; actually I didn’t start listening until relatively recently in my life when I think about it. But I have learned that there are some things that are just ‘spot on’ when it comes to listening about careers, relationships and life. I’ve read a lot of books about careers, self-improvement and other things and while I don’t buy into everything that everyone says, I’ve gotten a tremendous amount out of these things, some of which I’ve shared with you over the years. And, while good sayings are important, it’s the execution of something we believe in that makes the difference. Actions speak louder than words and no matter what someone says to you, the way they act is really what it’s all about. Think about your actions before you act. You don’t want to go through your life apologizing for things you’ve said or done or equally as bad for things you were supposed to do but didn’t. It’s much easier to do things right and to tell the truth. Remember this and you’ll ‘simplicate’ your life every day.

No one likes surprises. In any part of our lives. We learned that a long time ago. In business, being on top of things, or to use that overused word, proactive, allows us in many cases to anticipate problems that may be occurring or about to occur and take some preventative action. When someone comes in to a meeting with a you and says, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news.” Most will say, ‘tell me the bad news first.’ It’s human nature. But, holding stuff in probably comes from our childhood when we accidentally did something and didn’t want to tell our parents about it for fear of punishment. It was only after a few experiences like that that we learned that the punishment would be worse if our parents found out about something than if we had just gone and told them. So does that mean that honesty is a complicated thing? Hmmmm. Part of me wants to say that honesty is simple; you either are or you’re not. I’ve always wondered about the honesty of people who start out a sentence with, “To tell you the truth….” Does it mean that anything else, not prefaced with that introduction, isn’t the truth? Of course, a lot of what this is about also relates to who is saying something and the tone in their voice and the expression on their face, which is why face2face meetings are so, so very important. Have you ever been called into a meeting, whether it is business or personal and been totally blindsided? Maybe we’ve heard more about this regarding inter-personal relationships when, seemingly out of nowhere, one of the parties informs the other, “I’m outta here. This relationship/marriage is over.” And the other party is completely stunned because they didn’t have any idea that anything was wrong or at least that things had deteriorated enough for their partner to be ending the relationship just like that. In business, one would think it should be different and in many companies it is. Just one word to the wise here is that your employees know what happens. so, my suggestion here is: don’t take anything for granted and be prepared, as you never know what tomorrow may bring.

As many of you who have been following my exploits for a while know, the summer is usually a time when I cut down on my travel, recharge my batteries and plan for the fall when the global institutional real estate community gets going again, at least with regard to conferences, etc. It’s sort of like ‘Back to School’. so, that's just what i'm doing again this summer. but, you never know where situations and opportunities may take me and I’ll keep you posted as things evolve.

finally, thank you very much for all the kind emails and phone calls following the announcement of the suspension of my OTR column. some of the messages brought tears to my eyes. i hope to continue to hear from you at (

p.s. all the best to my good friend peter slatin who has joined another good friend, bob white at real capital analytics (RCA). they will be announcing some very cool new things over the next few months.

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