What’s Your Walk Up Song?

July 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

I noticed this concept for the first time at a recent conference.  It was so “in your face” that I began commenting on it…then thinking more deeply about the technique.  When I returned back to the office, I began discussing the use of this concept in the workplace as an “Identity Tool”.

What if we created a way to not only uniquely personalize “YOU” with music but more importantly an easy way for others to remember “YOU”?   Music has always been a way our sensing brain connects with our emotional brain.   Music is a remarkable imprinting device.

Some of the ideas I bantered about with people at Mozilla were to give everyone a “RingID” in our online phone book.  This would allow people to easily create a 10-15 second music clip to say as much about you as any Bio or stale “who I am” or “my hobbies” could ever do.

I never realized, or rather, never connected that Major League Baseball has been doing this “Walk Up Song” for years.  This brilliant article describes this “connection concept” perfectly.    We all understand personalized ring tones for our cell phones and we all have our favorite playlists. Is it time for  our personalized RingID?

SO, what’s your “Walk Up Song”?   What is the musical fingerprint that defines “YOU” in the 10-15 second period between the time you are introduced by someone or you want people to remember you by?    My current one?  = Don’t Stop Believing



How To Give A Killer Presentation

June 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

How to Give a Killer Presentation

Source: Harvard Business Review

I’m convinced that giving a good talk is highly coachable. In a matter of hours, a speaker’s content and delivery can be transformed from muddled to mesmerizing……..the lessons we’ve learned are surely useful to other presenters—whether it’s a CEO doing an IPO road show, a brand manager unveiling a new product, or a start-up pitching to VCs.
For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED’s curator, shares five keys to great presentations:

1) Frame your story (figure out where to start and where to end).

We all know that humans are wired to listen to stories, and metaphors abound for the narrative structures that work best to engage people. When I think about compelling presentations, I think about taking an audience on a journey. A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.

2) Plan your delivery (decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it–over and over).

Remember that the people in the audience are intelligent. Let them figure some things out for themselves. Let them draw their own conclusions.

Many of the best talks have a narrative structure that loosely follows a detective story. The speaker starts out by presenting a problem and then describes the search for a solution. There’s an “aha” moment, and the audience’s perspective shifts in a meaningful way.

3)  Work on stage presence (but remember that your story matters more than how you stand or whether you’re visibly nervous)

the physical act of being onstage can be the most difficult part of giving a presentation—but people tend to overestimate its importance…..the biggest mistake we see in early rehearsals is that people move their bodies too much…..the single best advice is simply to breathe deeply before you go onstage.

Acknowledging nervousness can also create engagement. Showing your vulnerability, whether through nerves or tone of voice, is one of the most powerful ways to win over an audience, provided it is authentic

4)   Plan the multimedia (whatever you do, don’t read from PowerPoint slides)

Many of the best TED speakers don’t use slides at all, and many talks don’t require them. If you have photographs or illustrations that make the topic come alive, then yes, show them. If not, consider doing without, at least for some parts of the presentation. And if you’re going to use slides, it’s worth exploring alternatives to PowerPoint. For instance, TED has invested in the company Prezi, which makes presentation software that offers a camera’s-eye view of a two-dimensional landscape.

5)  Put it together (play to your strengths and be authentic)

Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance–not style. In fact, it’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story–the presenter has to have the raw material.

The single most important thing to remember is that there is no one good way to do a talk. The most memorable talks offer something fresh, something no one has seen before. The worst ones are those that feel formulaic. So do not on any account try to emulate every piece of advice I’ve offered here. Take the bulk of it on board, sure. But make the talk your own. You know what’s distinctive about you and your idea. Play to your strengths and give a talk that is truly authentic to you.

The full article here:


ACTing in the Open Age

February 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Connecting My Head With My Heart:

Last summer I attended a week-long course from Stanford’s GSB executive education program that has become an inflection point in my approach to life.  The course was called Interpersonal Dynamics for High Performance Executives.  It’s name didn’t do the class justice.  What transpired for me during the week was a reawakening helping me to begin reestablishing internal pathways connecting my head with my heart in a powerful combination.

I’ve known I’d been living “in my head” for quite some time.  It was convenient.  It was comfortable.  Being a CFO and a finance and operations professional for 20 years has made it too easy to over-rotate to a left brain, analytical approach to the world.  Driven by data, requirements, metrics, and complex models – I was in my element.   It was easy for me in Silicon Valley’s fast-paced competitive arena to get out of balance in the intellectual sport of economic king making.

In recent years, however, I found myself wanting more and deeply missing something both in business and in my personal life.  I had forgotten to, or rather gotten out of practice with, truly connecting with others on an authentic level and simply “keeping it real”.

From a historical perspective, I’ve always been a people person and knew nothing other than being real and keeping it real.  I grew up in small towns of Northern California (Tiburon until I was 11) and then the heartland of Ohio (Tiffin; 11-18) where families and friends always came first.  I received an engineering scholarship and attended USC,  joined a fraternity (Phi Delt), and easily connected with many friends.   My first job was in Silicon Valley and when I left Intuit in 1996, my close colleagues gave me a very expensive pen/pencil set inscribed with “It’s the People” – a motto I helped contribute to when we compiled and published Intuit’s now famous operating values.

At some point thereafter, I gradually became unbalanced in my approach to my business life which also began impacting my personal life and “connecting habits”.  Over the last several years, I’ve been finding my way back to a more balanced center thanks primarily to a renewed focus on friends and family as well as finding an amazing culture in Mozilla.  Mozilla has proven to be an amazing breeding ground for my personal learning with a primary focus on operating openly, leading with communities, and how transparency and trust are are required for influence and impact.

Since my powerful week at Stanford, I’ve been playing with many concepts and “trying them on”.

  1. Life (both personal and business) is based on RELATIONSHIPS
  2. Relationships are built on TRUST
  3. Trust requires being VULNERABLE (Open)

I’ve begun connecting some very important dots such as

  • Sensing (the five senses) = The Data Input
  • Thinking = the Head/Brain interpreting and trying to understand the data
  • Feeling = the Heart;  the Output; the true value of why we sense and think.

Most importantly, feelings and emotions are an “Importance Dashboard”.  The higher the emotions, the more important the subject must be.  Therefore, I’m learning to lean into and explore the highest emotional discomfort.  Data and Dashboards are things I’m naturally good at and now I have other tools to help me begin to connect.

Other learning from my Stanford week included an understandable and ever-present dynamic when two people attempt to communicate.

  • Intent (a person’s needs; motives; situation)
  • Behavior (verbal and non-verbal)
  • Impact (feelings, reactions, internal responses)

Two of these dynamics are mostly invisible and feeling based while Behavior is the only visible reality of any communication.   Interestingly, I learned that if I didn’t share what I was thinking and feeling concerning how I was being impacted by others behaviors, that these “others” would naturally fill in the blanks for me.  Worse, I realized I probably wasn’t being truly “seen” and/or I was losing control over how I was seen.   In this world of non-sharing, my best outcome would be that others assumptions would only be directionally accurate and in the worst outcomes completely wrong.  Ouch.

So, I’m course correcting and learning how to ACT better by being more Authentic, Connected, and Transparent.  I learned about Vulnerability (an extremely powerful concept – quite the opposite of showing weakness).  Ultimately I’m learning how to begin to establish better Trust and by doing so to be a better leader with much greater Influence.

I’m on a mission to re-connect my heart with my head in a powerful bridge and I hope to share this learning with others…starting with this post.

If any of this connects with you and you are interested in more, one of my favorite Ted Talks on authentically connecting is Brene Brown

Deep thanks go out to Stanford’s David Bradford, Carole Robin, and Tony Levitan, as well as my fellow group.   In addition, I thank Deb Cohen who pushed me to take this class and finally many deep friends at Mozilla who have helped be understand “open”, “transparent”, and the power of being “connected”.

Serendipity: As I was putting the finishing touches on this post,  @StanfordBiz Tweets to Ask:  “In 5 words or fewer, what does “power” mean to you?

I replied by  Tweeting:   ACTing OPENly; Authentic, Connected, Transparent.    And so my sharing journey begins….

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