Is it possible to be completely objective and non-judgmental about others? If you see co-workers with dreadlocks, tattoos or a yarmulke, do you automatically make certain assumptions? What races through your mind when a disabled person navigates a supermarket aisle? How about the elderly lady who slowly and carefully backs out of a parking space … very, very slowly and very, very carefully?
Don’t worry – it’s perfectly normal to have a whole range of feelings about your fellows. You’re not prejudiced, intolerant or ignorant – you’re just human.
Americans have always been proud of their work ethic. Millions of immigrants arrive here with little more than a suitcase and a dream. Through sheer determination and maybe a break or two along the way, they overcome long odds and make something of themselves.
How many of us have been conditioned to believe in a direct correlation between success and the amount of time we spend at the office? Eight-hour workdays? Please. The other guy is putting in 12 or 14. Feeling guilty punching out at 5 with work still piled on your desk? Feeling a bit coerced when your boss asks you to volunteer to work overtime?
If you’ve just had your car’s brakes repaired, you’re confident that you’ll stop before the locomotive comes rumbling through the railroad crossing. If you pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, you assume the medicine will treat a specific ailment. If your girlfriend accepts your marriage proposal, you believe that you can proceed with wedding plans.
In what profession can you fail most of the time yet still be considered a success – and have employers chasing after you with multi-million dollar offers?!
In major league baseball, a .300 batting average is considered the gold standard – even though that means the player fails to get a base hit seven out of 10 times at bat. Granted, professional baseball is an anomaly; a comparable performance in the workplace likely will earn you a big, fat pink slip. But failure is not necessarily a dirty word. In fact, many of the greatest leaders in history celebrated failure, believing it is life’s most effective and empowering teacher.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm,” said Winston Churchill, the former British prime minister.
As you know, getAbstract summarizes not only written content such as books, articles or reports but also choice video talks. Our two-page summaries are based exclusively on TED Talks, where eminent thinkers, entrepreneurs and innovators – including Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, Seth Godin and Sheryl Sandberg – inspire a global audience with daring thoughts and enlightening insights.
But TED Talk summaries were just the beginning! getAbstract has widened its scope to include other video talks as well. We screen a vast array of diverse content, looking for cutting-edge material that will pique your intellectual curiosity. Then our authors expertly turn it into concise summaries.
In honor of a new school year, let’s take a quick tour of the Museum of the Obsolete. Just look at all the prehistoric remnants – typewriters, floppy discs, slide rules, three-ring binders and Palm Pilots. Oh, and here is a colorful assortment of ballpoint pens high school and college students actually used to take notes before smartphones and laptops became so popular.
Talk about profound changes. Not only are the physical tools different in the field of education, but also traditional practices and theories are being challenged and transformed. For decades, students sat in neat rows, obediently scribbling notes as teachers lectured from the front of a classroom. Passive learning – most educational professionals now agree – is the least effective way of disseminating information, particularly as attention spans grow shorter and shorter. Memorization still has its place, but the general consensus is that young people must develop critical thinking and analytical skills.
The wife spent her afternoon at the mall and is excited to show off her purchases. She announces that she’s coming out of the bedroom. The slinky, black number is impressive at first, but soon you realize that a size 6 dress on a size 8 frame comes up a tad short in the flattery department.
“No, sweetheart, I don’t think this outfit makes you look fat,” you reply.
TED, founded in 1984 as a one-off event, in Monterey, California, has grown into a global set of conferences sharing “Ideas Worth Spreading” in the technology, entertainment and design industries (hence, TED). The no-longer-than 18-minute talks are live-streamed over the Internet, for optimal “spread,” and are meant to be both innovative and engaging. Few disappoint. And, especially in recent years, TED Talks have gone on to achieve notoriety for their medium and their messaging; not to mention, the messengers, who have included notorious voices of the 21st-century zeitgeist, such as Bill Clinton, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Bill Gates, Bono, Larry Page and Sergey Brin… Just to name a few.
Recently, PR Newswire released their list of the six best TED Talks for communicators and PR professionals, which we felt was well-worth sharing with you.
1. Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, Amy Cuddy
Who: Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, is a researcher and professor at Harvard Business School. She’s known for her work on stereotyping and discrimination, emotions, power, nonverbal behavior, and the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels.
What: Cuddy explains how our body language influences other people’s perceptions of us, how our mind affects our hormones, and how “power posing” can help you “fake it ‘til you make it.”
Why: Her TED Talk, originally delivered at TED Global 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and posted in October 2012, has been viewed more than 19 million times and ranks among the top 2 most-viewed TED Talks.
2. The Clues to a Great Story, Andrew Stanton
Who: The Pixar alum is a film director, screenwriter, producer and voice actor who has worked on favorite family movies, including A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Toy Story (1, 2 and 3), and Monsters, Inc. (In other word’s, his name being listed, had us at “hello.”)
What: Starting at the end, and working back to the beginning, Stanton—one of our generation’s greatest storytellers—shares his top tips for spinning a great yarn, with terrific takeaways, like the “unifying theory of 2+2,” invoking wonder is a story’s “secret sauce,” and “use what you know then draw from it.”
Why: See “Who” (above). Need we say more?
Facebook, Google, Yelp, AirBNB, Square, Twitter and Dropbox were all started with angel investment money. In the book “What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know,” authors Brian S. Cohen and John Kador provide this staggering statistic: “The US has 250,000 active angel investors who invest $20 billion in 50,000 start-ups every year.” Considering those numbers, you might assume that, since you have a great idea, securing seed capital from an angel investor is easy. But you would be wrong. Based on About.com founder and active angel investor Scott Kurni’s experience, every year “bad presentations kill great companies.” So, if you are an entrepreneur, how do you avoid making this mistake? Simply learn how to pitch an angel.
Generally speaking, angels are specialized in seed funding and early start-up stages where the average investment size ranges between $0.4mn to $1mn. On the other hand, VCs tend to be typically involved with growth capital and expansion deals which average between 12 mn and 28mn. However, it is not unusual for VCs in sectors with high business valuations like the tech industry to also get involved in seed funding and early stage, as well.
Guy Kawasaki – a prominent Silicon Valley VC and author of “The Art of the Start”- often reminds start-up entrepreneurs that the VC isn’t their friend and that they are in it only for the money. Therefore, the relationship isn’t based on buying into a vision and a belief in a technology or a product; it’s more about investing in the ability to deliver and execute the exit strategy. By comparison, an angel investor might be more patient, allowing additional time for nurturing and product development.
Derek Sivers is the quintessential serial entrepreneur and TED speaker who time and time again has successfully challenged the status quo. Sivers has given three short and concise Ted Talks including, “How to Start a Movement,” “Weird or Just Different” and “Keep your Goals to Yourself.” He’s let us know that the way we think about leadership, motivation and goals or the notion of weird is all wrong. This is a recurring theme in his career which started with the creation of CD Baby – a start-up that changed the way independent musicians distribute their music. In “Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur” Derek described his motivation for selling CD Baby for $22 million and donating the proceeds to charity.
Sivers grew up in the United States but moved to Asia in 2010. In 2013, he launched his new company Wood Egg, which publishes guides for entrepreneurs interested in starting a business in Asia. He now resides in New Zealand where he focuses on his latest project MuckWork, a business designed to help musicians with the “mundane, boring work that wasn’t (about) making music.” He recently talked to us about changing his “operating system” and his experience preparing his TED Talks.
For the first time in 10 years, I had free time. So I thought of what seemed to be most needed next. In all my conversations with musicians for 10 years, the main thing people said they wanted was someone to help them with all the mundane, boring work that wasn’t making music. So I got inspired to try to solve that problem.
That said, I got halfway to completion before pausing it, and deciding to go explore the world instead. I felt that if I started another company immediately after selling my previous company, I’d just go right back to my workaholic ways, without making a real change in my life.
So that’s why I started travelling the world, going to TED, speaking at TED, moving to Singapore, learning about Asia, and basically changing my operating system.
We all hit a time in our life when we feel we need to make a major change. Maybe it’s a breakup, a graduation, or quitting drinking. For me, it was when I sold my company. Literally the day after I sold my company of 10 years, I started the next one. I incorporated it, registered the domain, started programming it, and even hired a manager. A few months into it, I realized that if I stayed on this track, I was in for another 10 years of the same thing I’d been doing for the previous 10 years. That’s when I decided I needed to make a major change, instead.
I call it “changing my operating system” because it’s about looking at the way you do things and make choices, and replacing your previous habits with new ones. For years I had been very head-down in my work, so I decided to go head-up and take in all kinds of new experiences. Say yes where I used to say no, and say no where I used to say yes.
Moving to a very different place is a great way to make a big change. That’s why I moved to Singapore. For three years there, I immersed myself in every new experience I could.
Then, after three years, I found I wasn’t getting any real work done, because I was so busy immersing myself in new experiences, and meeting with everyone who wanted to meet. (Singapore is a very small and very social place.)
I felt it was time to go “head-down” again, and focus on my work. So I moved all the way to New Zealand, where I don’t know anyone, and nobody comes to visit. It’s a wonderful place to work without distractions, and also a great little country I’m really proud to be a part of.
Today’s business climate revolves around innovation and new product development, so entrepreneurs increasingly need support from venture capitalists. The individual entrepreneur’s problem is determining how to stand out in a sea of other impassioned visionaries.
The flipside of the growth in entrepreneurship is an unprecedented increase in the competition for funding. So, to catch a VC’s attention you need more than just a good idea. But how do you hook and reel in bankers and other investors, and convince them in to fund your venture when the competition is so steep? Your edge may simply come down to your pitch. Its content and its delivery may matter even more than your product or service itself.
Of course, a strong “advanced elevator pitch” requires a working prototype and a strong presentation,” but what else do you need?
First, make sure your PowerPoint presentation follows author Guy Kawasaki’s oft-quoted 10/20/30 rule? (that is, 10 slides, lasting no more than 20 minutes, and containing no font smaller than 30 points.)
To get the scoop on pitching to VC’s, we turned to two well-regarded speakers, both leading authorities on gaining start-up funding. Kawasaki himself and David S. Rose, who offer their top tips on pitching a VC:
BusinessWeek calls David S. Rose a “world conquering entrepreneur;” he calls himself the “pitch coach.” He’s an investor who has raised millions in venture capital and invested millions in more than 75 pioneering tech start-ups. His top tips on how to pitch venture capitalists successfully include:
Top Tip # 1: Entrepreneurs themselves are the most important aspect of any business investment. They must display as many of the following characteristics as possible: integrity, enthusiasm, experience, expertise, skillfulness, leadership, commitment, vision, realism, and willingness to learn.
How many meetings leave you feeling as if nothing was achieved? The meeting did not achieve its purpose; the people who attended did not meet their goals. In essence, it was just a time-wasting conversation and you would have rather been at your desk, answering the pile-up of emails and tending to your work.
If you find yourself trapped in the hamster wheel of hapless meetings, you’ll empathize with Jason Fried’s TED talk, Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work. He discusses the time wasted at meetings that don’t move projects along and that serve only to prevent people from working.
Given that such meetings are the traditional course of business, how do you get out of the rut and find a more effective vehicle for communication and project development? Turn to Martin Murphy’s book No More Pointless Meetings.
Murphy proposes a technique called Workflow Management. First, managers assign a facilitator to run meetings. Facilitators choreograph workflow sessions to assure that the group is collaborative, productive and efficient. The impartial facilitators assume responsibility only for process – not the meeting’s content. They do not join in the discussion, instead, they use separate content (the focus and purpose of the meeting) from process (the logistics of the meeting: place, seating layout, tone, energy level, numbers and types of attendees). Surprisingly, Murphy suggests that meetings are more effective when a junior ranking member officiates.
Clay Shirky author of the business book “Cognitive Surplus: creativity and generosity in a connected age” and of the Ted Talk “How Cognitive Surplus will change the world” coined the term “Cognitive Surplus” to “describe the free time that people have…to engage in collaborative activities” particularly online. People worldwide are allocating their free time to connecting with each other instead of passively watching TV alone. Fueled by enthusiasm and passion, they are using their creative energy outside of work to fulfill social goals, not economic ones.
Shirky, a social media theorist and technology optimist, sees Cognitive Surplus as part of a positive evolution. “Now, we have technology that allows us to create, not just consume,” he says, urging former couch potatoes to take advantage of new opportunities to make a difference. “The wiring of humanity lets us treat free time as a shared global resource, and lets us design new kinds of participation and sharing that take advantage of that resource.” This new resource means that “every year there are a trillion hours of participatory value up for grabs.”
The trend toward online collaboration is emerging as the Internet shifts from “old technology“ to “new technology.” Old technology locked users within specific systems, while new technology embraces openness and chaos. As it matures, it lets its users develop their own rules and protocols. New technology is very effective at coordinating people with different skill sets and competencies in many different places. The Internet now lets individuals pool their Cognitive Surplus to accomplish major goals at minimal cost in a variety of areas, including software development, content creation, art, design, entertainment, crisis management, and much more.
Even though Cognitive Surplus has social ramifications, it doesn’t always focus on making the world a better place. Even the LOL Cats Shirky says represents a joint effort. “Even the stupidest collaboration still shows that they’ve tried something.” It’s all part of a selection and learning process, wherein “the gap between doing nothing and doing something often provides the freedom to experiment with the creation of junk.” Individual motives don’t always have to be noble. LOL Cats are just a stepping stone to better things. He likens LOL Cats to the events that followed the invention of the printing press, when erotic novels got published before scientific journals. So, don’t worry if your kids are addicted to LOL cats; in the grand scheme of things, it is for the greater good.
If you are looking for a solution to a problem, chances are that someone has already found it and might already be sharing it with the rest of the world. You might even be able to access an online tutorial detailing the steps to follow to implement that solution. And, if no one has looked for a solution yet, a community of experts awaits on line to research your problem for you. People online constantly ask, “How do I do this?” or “Is this possible?” Those who freely share their solutions are fueling a virtuous circle of improvements and building in an accumulation of knowledge.
You have already started a blog with the intent of making it your job. You provide relevant information and views on important topics. You blog frequently and people are returning to your site for information or entertainment. Your blog entries now rank in Search Engines and drive new visitors to your website. You can measure the results of your efforts with your blog’s PageRank and Domain Authority. Personally, you are well on your way to establishing yourself as a thought leader in your “community” or industry. In short, you have found your niche. You have successfully launched your own blog. So what’s the problem? Well, you can’t make a living with it, at least, not yet.
So, how do you monetize your blog, the traffic it draws and your blogging skills? How do earn money from your blog without compromising its content or your integrity? Charlie White and John Biggs, authors of “Blogger Boot Camp: Learning How to Build, Write, and Run a Successful Blog” – offer some valuable insights that inspired the following tips:
The donate button is popular among bloggers whose site’s traffic volume is not sufficient to be monetized any other ways. PayPal, the most commonly utilized service for this purpose, may have been overused. Donations work only if your blog is connected to a charity or a worthy cause. Without that strong connection, asking for donations does not work. The online audience has gotten tired of seeing buttons that say “buy me a beer” or coffee, and that killed the random personal donation button.
What if the key to individual success was making the world a better place and helping others? What if the secret to success is “givers prosper?”
As Zig Ziglar wrote, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Adam Grant also sees a connection between success and being a Giver. His book, “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success,” divides the world into Givers, Takers and Matchers. He shows that Takers and Matchers end up in the middle of the income ladder, while Givers hold the top and bottom ranks. So, what are the attributes of Givers, Takers and Matchers? What separates top-ranked Givers from unsuccessful, bottom-ranked Givers?
Givers, Takers and Matchers share certain characteristics, as Grant shows. They differ most in their communication style and how they interact with others. Givers encourage creativity and excellence, and offer help with no strings attached. However, they are not completely selfless dreamers. Successful Givers protect themselves from burnout and help others while still pursuing their own goals. They are prudent with their time and energy.
Givers’ unselfish ways earns respect and admiration. Their method of communication is “powerless.” They don’t assert their power or dominate others, but instead they gain influence by their behavior, which includes demonstrating vulnerability, sharing, listening, and showing interest and curiosity in others. A Giver validates other people so they open up without feeling manipulated or coerced.