Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Bunch of Stuff

Freddie Hubbard:  Last Monday night I attended a Memorial Concert for jazz trumpet legend Freddie Hubbard.  I don’t know much about jazz but I did know his name and it was held at Cathedral Church St. John the Divine (home of one of my favorite pipe organs).  It was a moving event which featured performances by many jazz greats (or so my family jazz consultant tells me).  But what came out of it is my introduction to the Jazz Foundation of America.  It helps jazz and blues musicians through difficult financial times.  Even Freddie Hubbard needed their help during one health challenged period in his life.  The number of working musicians (those able to earn a living just from music and music related activity (i.e. teaching/lessons) are few and going forward, given all the alternative music sources that are cutting into live performance venues, there will be fewer.  I donated $25.  I’ve also donated $25 to a few other causes recently.  I’m mentioning the amount because if enough people donated $25 to something it would make a difference. Each $25 does.  So if you’re a music lover please consider this. 

Ann Oliveri, Consultant:  In a recent blog made these comments which I find very convincing and I wanted to share them with  you:  "So here's the thing.  Control is an illusion.  Get over it!  Everyone attached to your mission needs to make 10,000 decisions every day, confronting challenges unimagined by you this morning.  Do you really think there is any competitive advantage in commanding an army of corporate droids, clones with one way of thinking and acting and looking?   Isn't it more feasible to have hundreds of different life forms, points of view and intelligences looking at the same problem or managing the same dilemma??  Problem definition is the challenge and focused creativity is the response.  You need to engage your team, your evangelists, your members in real-time inquiries to grow confidence and skills, to test assumptions and challenge conventional wisdom.  You need a shared set of principles to guide action.  You need clarity around your shared values and agreement around your goals. Sure, you need efficient processes, but more than that you need transparency.  The decisions you make are not as important as HOW YOU MAKE THE DECISIONS.The black box is empty, and we know it.  Keep your eyes on the prize.  HOW you mobilize others to achieve your mission IS your BRAND of experiencing the world.  Who are you taking along for the ride?"

Presentation Suggestions:  Use of Cartoons 
1.  The cartoon must be in context. It can't just be this funny, unrelated thing that you throw in there. It actually has to have something to do with the topic at hand. The best cartoons connect your audience to your content...emotionally and positively.

2.  The cartoon must be independent of explanation. Good presenters don't read slides to their audiences: and they certainly don't read cartoons to them! If your audience didn't connect with your cartoon, don't even try to explain it to them. If you have to explain why something is funny: it is not funny. Move on.

3.  The cartoon must pack ONE hard visual punch. One-panel cartoons tend to work better in business presentations than multiple-panel cartoons. As a presenter, you don't want to be speaking while your audience is reading. Either they'll ignore you while they're reading (bad) or get annoyed at you for yapping while they are reading (worse). 

Pitfall: certain audience members will always read faster than others. The speed-readers will laugh first, which annoys or insults the slower readers. The slow readers will then pretend that they read the joke, but to protect their egos, they won't laugh.

Write Your Own Obituary:  In the landmark book “Type A Behavior and Your Heart”, it’s recommended that one write their own obituary as a way of gaining some perspective on themselves.  This particularly relates to the idea that ‘things worth being’ are more important than ‘things worth having.’  It’s an exercise to get us to look objectively at our lives and when we’re written it decide if that is how we want to be remembered or if, perhaps, something is wrong.  Of course, in many cases, it depends who writes our obituary.  Some people who know us a certain way from a certain perspective would write, “A kind and generous person.” Where someone who had a different relationship might say instead, “That S.O.B. was just out for himself.”  It’s really all a matter of whether we’re consistent in who we are or are a Jekyll & Hyde character whether we want to be or not. But in doing some independent research, I’ve learned that this is more common than one might think-the way we are with business colleagues, in business situations, may not be exactly like we are at home.  Why is this?  Well, some of the answers I’ve gotten during my research include “ work is easier than home”; “home is more complex”; “the dynamics of a marriage (and adding in the child factor) are not easy”; “I actually feel more pressure at home than on the job”.  Whatever it is, and especially at a time like this in the world when the way things were for many years have been turned upside down and many of us are feeling financial pressure that we had not, psychologists and counselors say it’s normal for that pressure to manifest itself in changes in behavior brought on by stress.  The $64 question is: “How do we manage stress?”  Well, some do it better than others and sometimes circumstances make it even harder to recognize that one needs to address their behavior towards loved ones.  But one self-help exercise I’ve learned that’s helped me from time to time is to look at myself in the mirror after getting up.  Notwithstanding that my hair looks very funny I think about this:  “Do I like how I behaved yesterday?” and “Do I like who I am?”  These are important questions to ask ourselves every day as one day turns into the next and time simply speeds by like a Japanese bullet train.  Sometimes I don’t like the answers to those difficult early morning questions and even though I try to remember something I read a while back, I don’t always catch myself and that is:  “Would I rather be right or happy?”  And I think so many situations in life can be put into perspective by measuring what we say or what we do by that.

Taking things for granted.  We all do it.  Mostly it’s in the place that we live, wherever that might be, we overlook something beautiful or special or just something.  It’s sort of like becoming a tourist in your own town or city.  Granted, some cities have more to see than others but I think it’s a matter of degree.  How many times have you had someone who’s just visiting tell you about something you had either never seen, gone to visit or meant to but hadn’t gotten to it yet?  Maybe it’s time to take a look around, open your eyes and appreciate what you have close at hand remembering that it may be something very small like a child bending down to talk to a squirrel, or a kite flying overhead or a model sailboat being steered around a man-made pond by a pre-teen who spent hours putting it together before risking the ‘high seas.’  But it can be as simple as truly smelling the flowers, appreciating that spring has come again to give us a new start like the polar bear who pokes it’s head out of the icy tundra after months of hibernation and looks around to see if anything has changed.  It’s the simple things in life that can bring us the most joy; we just have to remember not to take things for granted.

On the road:  A number of you have asked me why I’m  not posting my travel schedule.  The fact is that I’m going to be doing some heavy duty traveling soon but it will be the kind that is not planned in advance (you and I both know what that's like) although I will be attending the Homer Hoyt Institute event in North Palm Beach, FL this coming Thur and Fri.

P.S.  Is there anything in the real estate world really worth talking about these days?

Photo Top Left:  Athens: Retail on the wall
Photo Top Right:  Shower/Toilet in my hotel in Athens...yes, the shower is 'that' small!

These are my personal views and not that of my employer. 

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