Tag Archives: Improving Communication

Act Natural

I hope this isn’t getting complicated. Two days ago I wrote that we should all be using more video in our lives – both personally and professionally. Yesterday I showed a video where inhibition went out the window and I said, “Yes. We should all be more like that.” Now here’s one more video fresh out today from a source (Apple) that usually really gets how to communicate honest enthusiasm, but this time (I think) missed the mark. In fact, this video gives us the best of both worlds.

The first guy in the video is fine (at first). Love the accent. The second guy is great. He sounds like a normal person. I trust him. He sounds like he’s giving his honest assessment of the product. Then we go back to the first guy and he gives us this:

There’s no up. There’s no down. There’s no right or wrong way of holding it. I don’t have to change myself to fit the product. It fits me.

Now I know this is a promotional video, but have you ever been frustrated that your computer or smart phone or Kindle had an up? Have you then cried out in frustration that you must change yourself to fit this aggravating up only orientation?

The rotating screen is cool. So talk about it like it’s cool. Instead Apple is trying too hard to express the wonderfulness of their new product. It gets worse. Guy number 3 tells us:

If you see something, you just reach out and tap it. It’s completely natural. You don’t even think about it. You just . . . DO.

I hope you can actually see the video, because this guy truly seems like he would fit in an 80’s SNL spoof commercial telling us about the wonders of a bank that just makes change. His enthusiasm seems either fake or unhealthy, like he’s the guy you slowly edge yourself away from at the cocktail party.

Thankfully, guy number 4 brings us back to a way of speaking that feels honest. The word to describe him – natural.

We all sell – whether product or ideas, whether to customers, colleagues, kids, or spouses. And we all buy. As for me, I’d rather buy my iPad from guy 2 or 4.

SIDE NOTE: The one place Apple could have been unnatural in a good way they also failed. Four speakers in the video. Four white guys. Surprising.


It’s a Video World

Erin and Jeff are getting married. As most couples do, they wanted to make sure that people saved their wedding date on their calendars. So they sent out a save the date . . . video. And not just any video – an awesome, movie trailer, mashup video with clips from tons of your favorite movies along with sub-titles that I assume are meant for the Wong side of the family. Here’s the video.

[Sorry, Erin and Jeff pulled the video. You can try this one instead. Not amazing the way Erin and Jeff were, but it makes the point.]

So other than being pretty cool, what does this matter for the likes of you and me? More and more this is a video world. And the technology is breaking down any excuse you may have for not using video. My guess is most people reading this blog own a digital video camera. If not you can buy a flip video cam for under $200 or a webcam for under $50. So video is cheap, but where should you use it?
* Resumes
* Business Proposals
* Thank You Notes
* Holiday Cards
* Electronic Introductions
* Pitching a New Idea to the Boss
You name it. Video makes a presentation stand out. You don’t need Erin and Jeff’s editing talent. With almost no experience I put this video together for the launch of Be the Hero. The editing process probably took about 90 minutes.

I welcome you to write a comment on this post. Even better, post a video. Which one will we all take more notice of?

Jury Duty Lesson #3: Make a Great Case

I didn’t get to watch the lawyers make their cases. That doesn’t happen during jury selection. But I did get to watch numerous potential jurors make a case for being let out of jury duty. I was not impressed. They were alternately huffy and squeamish. Had they been on the witness stand the jury deliberation would have unanimously determined that they were lying under oath. Plus, even with the obvious falsehoods, they utterly failed to make their case.

The lawyers asked straight out, “Can you set aside your past experiences and be objective in this case?”

If you want out of jury duty and you are asked this question, sit straight up. Look the lawyer directly in the eyes and say clearly and in a strong voice, “No.” You might even add a flourish. “No. My experiences have left me with feelings far too strong for me to remain objective.” There. You’re done with it.

Instead, these potential jurors scowled and made great displays of how annoyed they were to answer these questions, and said things like, “I don’t know.” “I’ll do my best, but . . .” “I can’t absolutely promise you.” Of course, then the lawyers had to ask each one of them a dozen more questions. It wasted all of our time and these individuals who so clearly wanted to get out of jury duty had utterly failed to make their case to do so.

BROADER LESSON: If there is something you really want, make your case clearly. Don’t waffle. Don’t be huffy about it. State your desire or belief as directly as you can.

In my case, I told the lawyers I had a speech to give that would require me to be out of state. I thought my speech was pretty important and a great case for not serving. Little did I know at the time how much better that same case could be made.

Beyond the Lyrics

Do you speak French? Creole? Hmm. Me neither. Still, this is beautiful.
Once I got past the sheer enjoyment of watching and listening to that video it sparked thoughts about how we communicate? Did you understand what they were saying? Did you feel it?
We communicate in so many ways. All day long you are telling people things with your face, your body, your tone. The way you dress and walk carries a message.
What are you communicating outside of your words? When you get beyond the lyrics of your life, is the background music you are playing to people really what you want it to be?

South Bend

Newest edition of . . . 3 things you should know about this place. Where was I last week? See if you can guess. 

  1. It holds the College Football Hall of Fame.
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  1. It was the birthplace of the Studebacher.
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  1. It is the home of one of the holiest shrines in all of sports – the football stadium for a university that shares its name with a famous landmark in Paris.


Where was I? 


Mark your calendar for 8/4. My new book is fun and profound. You can be a hero – http://bit.ly/4bgdvi

El Sistema

“The most miserable and tragic thing about poverty is not the lack of bread or roof, but the feeling of being no one.”

That quote was from Jose Antonio Abreu, a musician and composer and the founder of El Sistema, a music education program that has created over 150 youth orchestras in Venezuela and is now building a global reach.

Abreu’s quote has defined a characteristic not just of poverty, but of humanity – that it is far less important to have what we want than it is to feel that we are important.

So when our resources run low –  budgets slashed, promotions unavailable, luxuries put on hold –  it is a perfect time to focus our attention on helping people feel important. Here are a few ideas for what to do.

  1. Tell. How do others affect you? How does their work help you or other colleagues, or customers? Point this out and thank them for the important role they play in an important process.
  2. Ask. Find an important project that could use help. Then ask someone to support it. This isn’t just a matter of giving someone work to do. This is about inviting someone to engage in something that matters. It is the purpose, not the task that is important here.
  3. Act. Find something important for yourself. When you are engaged in an important task you bring energy and life to your own work and to people around you.

Abreu pointed out that El Sistema created effects on three levels – individual, family, and community. When people feel important in their organizations, the same levels apply – individual, team, and organization. I applaud Abreu and the youth he serves and am thrilled to learn from such an inspired and inspiring man.

To learn more about El Sistema:

17-minute TED video

4-minute youtube video

El Sistema USA website

Be the Hero Testimonial

“This book is quick, easy and life-changing, showing how it is within your power to choose how you perceive and respond to the events in your life.” 

Sid Chapon, Senior Vice President/Director, Leadership and Organizational Development, Leo Burnett Worldwide



For more testimonials join the Be the Hero Fan Page on Facebook