Category Archives: Writing & Reading

What I’m up to lately…. February 2015

Read Time: 4-5 minutes What I’What

If we haven’t chatted in a while, feel free to pick-up the phone and call me. If there’s anything I can do to help you with anything, please please please let me know…

Work Stuff:

  • Blend is the focus of my work life. Lots of travel to and from Dallas, with occasional travel to NYC and Washington DC. It’s been more than a year since I joined the team full-time, and we’ve grown the team about 3x since last January – 30+ people now.
  • The work is challenging, mostly because of the complexity of the projects and our target clients. We sell software to banks and lenders in the residential mortgage market, which in today’s world of regulation and compliance, plus the path dependency of existing systems and models, makes the decision and implementation process highly complex. In one implementation, I’ve counted more than 75 people on the customer side that have been involved with the process. That’s just one project at one customer.
  • It’s not particularly difficult work, just challenging from the standpoint of balancing the self-interest of everyone involved with each specific sale, plus the extenuating affects on other systems and people not directly involved.

Daily Practice:

  • Morning Pages: I wake up every morning and journal three pages – a practice I learned from Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way.” I’ve been doing this for more than a year now. Very effective to figure out what’s going on in my head before the day gets going, and writing out three full pages is enough to talk myself through whatever is bugging me.
  • Meditation: This started with 15 minutes of simply sitting still and focusing on my breathing. After about a month, I’m now able to go 30 minutes and about 25% of days, I do a guided mediation. Tara Brach has been my go-to on this so far. I download the podcasts so I can have little session even on a train or plane.
  • Evening Journal: The evening journal is a quick sketch of the day – what I accomplished. This is a very short exercise – 5-10 minutes. It’s been super useful to bookend the day, and offers some closure so that I’m not waking up and writing my morning pages about stuff that happened yesterday. I learned this from a Tim Ferriss podcast with Josh Waitzkin.

Helping Others:

  • I’ve made it a sort of personal challenge to seek and find people to help in achieving their professional goals.
  • Just before Christmas, I downloaded my LinkedIn contacts and I’ve started pinging 2-3 people every couple of days that I haven’t spoken with in a while. I send them a personal message to the effect: “It’s a been a while. Looks like you’re doing great. Need help with anything?” Pretty interesting to see the types of responses. A few (just a few…) haven’t responded. A couple people respond back with – “Great to hear from you. Hope all is well.” And then a good chunk of people send back specific requests, most of which are things for which I can actually help – connecting them with people I know, sending them articles and ideas, etc. Check out this James Altucher blog post on how to be a “super connector.”
  • Coaching, Workshops, etc. – I’ve gotten involved with lots of different groups over the past six months, mostly around entrepreneurship and startups. Meeting really great people from all over the world, literally. A few groups with which I’ve worked recently – The Nordic Innovation Group, BelCham, Startup Weekend, Social Venture Partners, SAGEGlobal, Women’s Startup Lab, Hult International Business School, and UC-Berkeley Extension.

Life Tips:

  • Free days – I almost always take a “free day” on the weekends – one day when I don’t check email, or even think about work, an idea I learned from Strategic Coach, a coaching program I tried out about a year ago. It takes some real discipline to avoid checking my phone during idle moments – whether short moments in line at the store or longer stretches like my son’s nap time over the weekend.
  • Naps – Yes to these. I try to nap every Sat and Sun when my son goes down.
  • Decluttering – Been tackling areas of the house to get rid of stuff I don’t need or use. Worked through laundry room, living room, and kitchen so far. Started on my closet. Found receipts and documents going all the way back to the mid-1990s. WTF… Liberating to throw stuff away, and give away that which might be useful to others – clothes, office supplies, etc.

Training & Racing:

  • Coming off knee surgery back in September. Took me much longer to recover than I expected (which is why professional athletes retire at 40…) I’m finally back to 5-6 mile runs and nearly 20 miles a week.
  • Planning on a half-marathon this Spring, a short triathlon or two this summer, then a marathon and ultra-marathon in the Fall.
  • Ironman? I get asked if I’m doing another. I usually tell people that I have another 1-2 in me, just not this year. But soonish…
  • Learned lots of cross-fit exercises over the past year – has really helped me with balance and running with more of my body, not just legs. Here’s an example workout from New Year’s Day.

What I’m feeding my brain:

  • Podcasts: Tim Ferris, Tara Brach
  • Blogs: James Altucher, Jason Lemkin
  • Books (recent & current):
    • “The Art of Asking,” Amanda Palmer – Indie punk musician that figured out how to ask people for help. Great lessons in here that you don’t have to do everything on your own. Here TED talk is a good summary, and thought I do recommend the book for the full story and context.
    • “Annals of a Former World,” John McPhee – A book about the geologic history of the US. It’s a tome that I don’t plan to finish. It’s really five books consolidated into one, and the book that’s most interesting is “Book 4 – Assembling California.” Big focus on Northern California and researchers based at UC-Davis. It’s good bed-time reading. Three pages and I’m ready to snooze. I’m amazed at the amount of research and learning that went into this book.
    • “Influence,” Robert Cialdini – Re-reading. Good airplane/business read on exactly what you’d think from the title. Research based – not a “manipulate people” book.
    • “Principles,” Ray Dalio – Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater, a huge hedge fund. Super interesting read on how he approaches learning and communication.

And a huge thank you to Matt Slater, a friend and former student for the inspiration for this post.

All’s quiet in San Francisco this morning

I gave myself a new dose of reading this weekend. Yesterday I finished The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh, then I bought:

The first two new reads are longer, intellectual reads. Johnson’s book is a quick read and much like a dose of Vitamin C when you have a cold, I’m note really sure of the effect. It just feels like it makes a difference when you do. The Code Book was really, really instructive and interesting. An excellent mix of history, non-technical explanations, and cryptography applications.

I’ve purposely slept a lot since New Year’s Day when I went to bed at 7:15. Every night since January 1, I’ve been in bed by 8:00 or 8:15, and I worked in very solid naps on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I’m feeling very refreshed today and ready to restart after a long, appreciated Christmas break.

San Francisco seems quiet this morning. It’s never loud or unnerving when I pop out of my BART stop at 6:30am – today just feels quieter than normal. Is that a reflection of my subdued mental state? There are homeless and hipsters, timed traffic lights and construction workers. It’s all the same as I left it three weeks ago. It just seems quiet today.

The first distinctive noise I noticed was a conversation between two twenty-something women at a bus stop. In passing, I heard – “Oh my gosh, she’s dating like three guys right now.” The statement wasn’t stated judgmentally or perniciously or outrageously, and I can’t decide if it was said jealously. It was a statement I didn’t expect at 6:30 on Monday morning.

I stubbed my foot crossing the street just then, probably because my shoes are new. I remembered the first day of school after Christmas, when I proudly wore my new sneakers. In fourth grade, leather Nike sneakers were the rage. I felt very proud to wear those because they made me cool. Despite the shoes, like everyone else, I was still the insecure 10-year old – worried about what everyone else thought of me, worried about my haircut and blue jeans, and worried that my winter hat was to big and fluffy. But in fourth grade, it was kind of cool to be smart so I had this path to experience some level of coolness. That all feels pretty similar to who I am today.

Not so much in middle school. Pubescence magnified the importance of shoes, haircut, and general appearance, and with my slight build, super straight hair, and propensity for awkwardness, middle school became my personal Dark Ages. In seventh grade, I used my sister’s curling iron and blow dryer every morning to feather my hair like John Stamos. It never worked. I had a straight part down the middle of my head, with my hair failing straight down to each side. Back to the Future was the big movie in seventh grade, and so pop culture timing and my really bad haircut earned me the nickname of “McFly” for the year thanks to the class bully. I wonder what happened to that guy. I just tried a Google search and got nothing…

I stopped at Walgreens for a pocket notebook to jot notes about my thoughts and ideas. I generally do this in Evernote already, and having a couple of pocket notebooks for insurance seems like a good idea.

In Walgreens, I watched a guy skip the main register by walking over to the cosmetics register. He was very pleased with the discovery that the register was open, and was buying a couple boxes of Nicorette and two packs of dried salami. Searching for a notebook, I thought about going to CVS with my mom when I was a kid. I’d usually go with her grocery shopping, which included a trip to the drugstore for drugstore things. She let me hang out in the toy section while she shopped. Now I wonder who goes to CVS or Walgreens or Rite Aid to buy toys.

Time to go to work.

Improv. Find my flow. In the moment.

Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show up.

I do much better in most tasks starting in the middle. When I’m writing, I generally bang out the main points and the write the introduction last, usually pulling statements from the last paragraph and moving them up to the front.

We’ve discovered the same in filming the video lectures for our online course. I have the ideas that I want to share and articulate them perfectly as I’m sketching out what I want to say, then I stammer and stumble on the first sentence. I need to figure out some type of verbal queue that helps me overcome this hump. Maybe I should just start with “Welcome back.” or “Okay…” I do this when I’m teaching in the classroom and it seems to get me started. Weird huh?

I like to work in a “flow” environment. This is both physical and mental. Yesterday I had trouble starting my sales research and sales calls. I got to the office and followed my typical procrastinating list – grab a plated of salted almonds and trail mix, look for a drink that’s not coffee or filled with aspartame, go to the bathroom, notice that the room temperature isn’t perfect, run through my three email addresses then do the same on my phone. It took me a good 45 minutes to find a flow, and finally I picked a task that emerged – review the speakers on an upcoming industry conference website.

That jumpstarted my research process because I had to dive into LinkedIn, see if and how I was connected to people. From there, I started jotting down a simple list of people I wanted to contact that day. Nothing magical about the list – it was really sloppy and mostly disorganized. My first call was to confirm a final question on an evaluation agreement. This was an “easy” call – a familiar person with a short, specific outcome. That got the flow going.

By the end of the day, I’d set up an appointment with the CIO of a major lender (think Top 5 in the country), was introduced to the president of a primary software provider in our industry, and hammered out the final specifications for a new customer. At 10:00am, I was quite sure none of this was going to happen. I felt mechanical and stoic. All of that melted away once I found my flow, which simply started by rowing the boat.

I was told yesterday that “sales is exertion.” This person used the term “shoe leather” – referring to the door-to-door, deal-with-reaction aspect to sales. Yes and no. I would say that sales is focused effort. The first call in the AM to complete the evaluation agreement? I knew I had to pick up the phone and call – NOT send an email or wait for a reply. Earlier in the week when pushing through an NDA with this prospective client, she told me – “I’m glad you called to remind me to do this. I really wanted to get this in today.” This project is a top priority to her with a evaluation deadline for 2014 planning in early December. I’ve known this person for five years and have worked with her throughout this time as a vendor and a colleague. And yet, I still needed to pick up the phone to create motion in the sales opportunity.

The same with the appointment I set with the CIO. I took more than two hours of time over the past week researching this person, finding their email addressing, leaving a voicemail for his assistant, calling back a week later, then crafting an email that I thought would show the opportunity for both of us to benefit from a conversation. Once I sent the email, his assistant emailed back less than ten minutes – “[His name] would like to set up a time to talk with you and see a demo of your product. Here are a few open times in his calendar…”

I didn’t exert myself to set that appointment through 75 cold calls per day. I didn’t prepare a mass email blast to 1000 executives to see who would respond; There was no exertion. Just focused effort to communicate a clear value proposition that I thought had the highest probability of being received.

So for me, sales is finding a flow and working an intelligent plan to introduce people to new ideas. People love ideas, and they love people that share ideas. They don’t even need to be your ideas. Some of the best sales conversations I’ve had started with my sending an article or white paper I found to someone else – “thought you might like this – it reminded me of our conversation last month…” So many times that type of email receives a reply like – “Thanks for sending this over. This is really timely, and I know I owe you a call. How about this week?…” And away we go from there.

From this Improv book:

“To improvise, it is essential that we use the present moment efficiently. An instant of distraction – searching for a witty line, for example – robs us of our investment in what is actually happening. We need to know everything about this moment.”

Maybe that’s the reason flow works for me in sales.

[My son just woke up. Time to be in that moment.]

I woke up at 4:22am to hammer out final details for a couple of projects with hard deadlines. Coffee made, ready to go. Internet didn’t work. What to do… what to do… One of my favorite things – go for a run in the morning darkness. Through the olive groves and along Hutchinson where the only lights are far down the road and the constellations light up the sky. Then home to write this post, greet my son when he woke up, stand outside in the cold morning to watch birds fly above, breakfast, prepare his lunch, clean the kitchen, and dress. Out the door and all the while I’m in my flow.

And I’m not even going to edit this post. Copy. Paste. Post. Improv.

Readings

Of late, my reading has focused on three areas:

1. Novels – Mostly audio books because they are the most entertaining to me in the car. Recent books include The Maltese Falcon, Fahrenheit 451,  Main StreetCannery RowThe Remembrance of Things Past,  and Within a Budding Grove. Proust is the most difficult on audio, so I reserve him for morning times when my mind is most active and attentive.

2. Business books – These are usually pretty quick reads that I can drop in a for a chapter of two to see if there’s anything I can learn. Current books I’m reading here include A Year Without Pants, Million Dollar Consulting, and Startup CEO.

3. Other Non-fiction – How Will Your Measure Your Life, This Will Make You Smarter, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Soul Dust, inGenius, and other books about consciousness, creativity, and decision-making.

4. Philosophy – Myths to Live By (Campbell), Studies in Pessimism (Schopenhauer), The Construction of Social Reality (Serle), Meditations (Aurelius), Emile (Rousseau), and The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Kuhn).

William Blake’s tips for writing

“To sum up–if you want to write:

  1. Know that you have talent, are original and have something important to say.
  2. Know that it is good to work. Work with love and think of liking it when you do it. It is easy and interesting. It is a privilege. There is nothing hard about it but your anxious vanity and fear of failure.
  3. Write freely, recklessly, in first drafts.
  4. Tackle anything you want to–novels, plays, anything. Only remember Blake’s admonition: “Better to strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.”
  5. Don’t be afraid of writing bad stories. To discover what is wrong with a story write two new ones and then go back to it.
  6. Don’t fret or be ashamed of what you have written in the past. How I always suffered from this! How I would regurgitate out of my memory (and still do) some nauseous little lumps of things I had written! But don’t do this. Go on to the next. And fight against this tendency, which is much of it due not to splendid modesty, but a lack of self-respect. We are too ready (women especially) not to stand by what we have said or done. Often it is a way of forestalling criticism, saying hurriedly: “I know it is awful!” before anyone else does. Very bad and cowardly. It is so conceited and timid to be ashamed of one’s mistakes. Of course they are mistakes. Go on to the next.
  7. Try to discover your true, honest, untheoretical self.
  8. Don’t think of yourself as an intestinal tract and tangle of nerves in the skull, that will not work unless you drink coffee. Think of yourself as incandescent power, illuminated perhaps and forever talked to by God and his messengers. Remember how wonderful you are, what a miracle! Think if Tiffany’s made a mosquito, how wonderful we would think it was!
  9. If you are never satisfied with what you write, that is a good sign. It means your vision can see so far that it is hard to come up to it. Again I say, the only unfortunate people are the glib ones, immediately satisfied with their work. To them the ocean is only knee-deep.
  10. 10. When discouraged, remember what van Gogh said: “If you hear a voice within you saying: you are no painter, then paint by all means, lad, and that voice will be silenced, but only by working.”
  11. Don’t be afraid of yourself when you write. Don’t check-rein yourself. If you are afraid of being sentimental, say, for heaven’s sake be as sentimental as you can or feel like being! Then you will probably pass through to the other side and slough off sentimentality because you understand it at last and really don’t care about it.
  12. Don’t always be appraising yourself, wondering if you are better or worse than other writers.”I will not Reason & Compare,” said Blake; “my business is to Create.” Besides, since you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of Time, you are incomparable.”

From: Ueland, Brenda (2010-04-21). If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit. Bottom of the Hill Publishing. Kindle Edition.

My 10 ideas to start your writing, including Easter eggs, $25 & Laying on your Belly

1. Read.  Read anything you can find. It’s similar to the advice of copying a phone book when one has writer’s block. The related action fires the kiln of your brain. I prefer essays and works on how people think and make decisions. Or ideas on creativity or novels. When reading novels, I enjoy the Easter egg hunt for great sentences and identifying their construction. Look up words for which you don’t know the meaning, especially words with which you are familiar but could not yourself use in a sentence. This morning I learned unctuous, aggrieved, and erudition.

2. Read and write simultaneously.  As you are reading and thoughts, ideas, and concepts develop, write them down. You may begin reading mostly and jotting an occasionaly note. Eventually the writing will take over and the book is placed quietly aside. Stand on the shoulders of giants.

 

3. Arise early. Starting the day while it’s still night motivates by this simple sense of accomplishment.

Sunrise

4. Think about your writing the evening prior.  It’s best t consider the topic about which you’d like to write, but most any topic will do. Last night, I thought about the best way to spend $25 after the responses received from a Craig’s List ad posted for part-time nanny help. A second idea was to hand out 25 $1 bills on a public corner to watch people’s reaction. It’s about pushing the brain into motion.

5. Use paper and pen to start. They allow you to draw associations between ideas you’ve written. Imagine you are Mozart and your pen is a quill as you scratch out a sonata or concerto.  Listen for the music in your mind. Find a rhythm in your writing. Write quickly and legibly. Once you become exhausted, ready what you’ve written to add ideas and small corrections. Then later, type your writings into notes. Do your editing then.

Candlelight

6. Travel by train. Planes are acceptable but they are considerably more stressful and include many more variables such as seat mates, space, time, and the exhaustion of energy required to board. Trains maintain a connection to reality, yet transport you from the before to the after in a predictable, soothing way. Using paper and pen may be exceedingly more difficult by train. Be prepared for this.

Train

7. Find your writing music.  I do well with piano like Ludovico Einaudi, Will Ackerman, and Brian Crane. Sometimes I can work with new age like Enya and Enigma, but the music must be familiar to me and only if I listen to the beat and mostly ignore the lyrics. Find what works and reserve that genre for your writing.

Music

8. Stand in a familiar room from an odd vantage point, then be still for a few minutes.

It shakes you from your routine. Maybe it’s sitting on the kitchen counter, or standing in a closet, or laying on your belly in the hallway or on your back with your head tilted sideways. New perspectives breed new thoughts. I think this is why trains work so well. The view is constantly changing, yet in a familiar environment.

 

9. Stop trying. You can introduce writing, but you can’t force it. If you’re not swimming in creative juices, take a moment to recognize it. Then reach for a book and begin reading.

 

10. Ask yourself questions. This creates a conversation.

 

11. Know your routine. Find inefficiencies and correct them. I arise early, take a shower, make coffee and breakfast, then sit to write. Thus, I must remember to start the coffee before the shower, have my desk clear and computer closed, pens and note cards ready, and listen to music via my phone instead of a web browser. This flow allows me to dive immediately into writing. If I am traveling, I look excitedly ahead to the early train so I arise enthusiastically with the alarm, as it frees me from my sleep instead of awakening me from my slumber.

Morning-routine

More on creativity and ideas from people much smarter than me:

John Cleese on Creativity

James Altucher: Brain Storming – Everything is Allowed and How to have great ideas

Five Manifestos for the Creative Life

 

Magic Hours: Tom Bissell on the Secrets of Creators and Creation

Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit (and the inspiration for today’s post)

11 Lessons I learned from my TEDx talk

Onstage_-_glengarry_slideTedx_name_badgeTedx_organizersTedx_sign

1. It takes me several weeks to develop an intelligent presentation.  A remarkable presentation takes weeks because I need to give the idea time to self-develop.  NY Times columnist David Brooks refers to this as “letting an idea marinate.” John Cleese of Monty Python fame advises using all of the time possible to develop your creative ideas.

My process:

a. Identify the original topic (that I eventually trashed) during a jog. My best ideas usually peek out around mile 3 or 4. That I trashed the topic is inconsequential. That I had a topic was a starting point.

b. Iterate on the topic over the next few days and talk it out with my wife.

c. Map a concepts into a slide presentation.

d. Research to see what content and data is available (For example, I thought I’d find time series data on the number of salespeople employed but this data wasn’t available after hours of searching)

e. Build out slides.

f. Delete slides.  I built more than 35 slides and had only 17 in the final presentation including a blank first slide and the title slide.

2. Presentations require data. This means factual information synthesized from several sources that creates an “A-ha!” moment for the audience.  It’s not about generating new content – it’s about presenting existing information in a new framework.

 

Hans Rosling’s 2009 TED presentation is a wonderful example.

 

In 20 minutes, it is impossible to teach a new idea from the beginning, so structure the presentation around existing knowledge. The audience will engage because they’re starting from familiar territory.  You hook them at the end when the thought path leads them to a place they never considered.

 

In my case, I used cultural perceptions about salespeople using Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and recent movies about the sales profession – Glengarry Glen Ross and Boiler Room as the starting point then broke the mold with data as I progressed.

 

3. There’s a performance curve.  Even when carefully selected, some speakers will disappoint.  They’ll fail to invest the preparation required to deliver a memorable presentation and this is your opening.  This is where placing best practices into action differentiated me from everyone else.  It’s a combination of:

a. Topic

b. Preparation

c. Content
(See #1 above for arriving at a, b, & c)

d. Presentation slides/visual quality – I met with Jim Prost who volunteered his time to the speakers in preparation and read “Presentation Zen” on Jim’s suggestion.  (I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve had this book on my shelf for three years and never read it.)

e. Passion/enthusiasm – A willingness to be emotionally naked.  If you believe it, share it.

f. Presentation (verbal & physical) – Be well-rehearsed and comfortable.  Know your slides.   I prepared my verbal presentation by typing out my words in Evernote, then timing the delivery. I learned that I needed to be at minute 9 when I got to my key slide (see #2). By knowing this outcome, I worked backwards to cut down the first section of the presentation by 40%.  Then I wrote out notecards twice and rehearsed live in front of my wife, then twice more by myself.  By the time of the presentation, I didn’t need the notecards and knew my slides by memory and where I would be in my presentation at each moment.

4. Prepare for the stage. I was expecting a grand stage like you see on the TED.com videos where I’d be free to saunter about the stage, glance at slides, and use movement as a way to emphasize key points of the presentation. Our stage was small and restrictive. The back-lighting was red and generally dark. I work dark pants (okay, jeans, but I swear it’s okay. It was Saturday in San Francisco!) a white shirt and a navy suede sport coat. With the dark background and lighting, I worried that the video would not show well.

There was no visible timer or slide viewer in front of me as expected and I didn’t want to turn around to glance at slides to assure I was on course.  This caused some trepidation for me, but see 3e – once onstage, I knew my stuff and rolled along.

 

5. Know your audience. This audience was mostly MBA students and most were international students.  But… the presentation was recorded for the TEDx YouTube channel for a mass audience to view later. So which was my audience?  To feel connected and share my enthusiasm, I chose the students with whom I could play along the way by generating smiles and nods. That engagement was far more important to keep me cruising than presenting for the camera thinking about a YouTube viewer three months from now.

 

Plan how you are going to engage the audience before and after the talk.  I should have engaged more with the audience instead of sitting backstage for final edits and preparation.  That said, given that I needed these final edits, it was worth the cost in my case.  Next time, I will be sure to set a goal of talking to at least 10 audience members before and after.

 

6. Write your own introduction and rehearse it with the person introducing you.  Jim Prost recommended this and I simply let it fall off my plate.  It wasn’t until 30 minutes before I was introduced that I knew who was introducing me, yet she had developed an introduction and had been rehearsing to say it from memory the entire afternoon. Yikes! In the introduction, she mispronounced “SalesQualia” and didn’t mention my book. The introduction is your teaser – help the introducer set the right state of mind for the audience.

 

7. Prepare notecards and know your slides blind, then put them away.  If you follow #3, the presentation will flow naturally.

 

8. Bring food.  Prepare for the external environment.  We were in No Man’s Land in San Francisco for a Saturday (near the corner of Samsome and Broadway). NOTHING is open on the weekends, not even the Starbucks across from our building. The event organizers had a wonderful green room with dried fruit, energy bars, Odwallas, and coffee.  Speakers were asked to arrive at 12:00noon and I was scheduled for 4:20. I’m an eater plus I can be particular about what I eat because of my race training, and there weren’t enough of the right calories to keep me from hunger. I should have packed my own food just in case.

 

9. Ask for help.  Everyone wants you to be successful.  Jim Prost donated his time to review presentations the Tuesday before the event and only two or three speakers took advantage.  Dirk, Laura, and Alex (the primary event organizers) had every detail of the day planned and launched immediately into action for any unforeseen requests.  Remember – the organizers are at risk too – they want you to impress the crowd because they sold the attendees on the event in the first place.

 

10. Ask to help.  There are always details that need filling. Offer to help. Caution when offering suggestions – you may think your suggestions are good but it’s likely that the organizers already considered that idea and now you’re making them feel bad that they couldn’t or didn’t execute on it. Carry boxes, serve food, run errands. Contribute to the event.

 

11. Thank everyone several times.  Do this in person and follow with a personal note.  Praise, praise, praise everyone from the organizers to the minimum-wage caterer. Everyone matters and they’re all there to make you look good and promote yourself.

 

[View the presentation slides on Slideshare.]

[View the event Flickr stream.]