Archive for the ‘General’ category

Hang a lantern on it

February 26, 2017

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What’s holding you back from speaking?  I’ve been coaching people for years on how to speak without fear, and one common fear I hear from English as a Second Language speakers is that they will be judged too harshly on minor pronunciation and grammar mistakes.

I’ve found the opposite to be true. Most native English speakers enjoy your accent and find it charming that you make an occasional mistake.  What matters far more is that you have a message worth sharing and that you share it passionately. Connecting with the audience is way more important and will earn you forgiveness on minor language mistakes.

The key to relaxing is to “hang a lantern on it and move on.” I heard this phrase from a Hollywood scriptwriter. It means that you illuminate and call attention to an inconsistency in the story by having a character notice and mention it. It’s the writer’s way of telling the reader “I did this on purpose; it’s not a mistake.” It helps the audience suspend disbelief and enjoy themselves.

So how do you hang a lantern on your self-imposed speaking weakness?  Experiment with humor and illuminate it in a light-hearted way. In other words, let the audience know that YOU know and it clears the air.

  • “I’ve been working hard on my English but it’s not quite perfect yet. So please raise your hand if I accidentally insult you.”
  • “My Spanish is 100% perfect… but you pressed 1 for English, so you get 80% perfect.  I’ll give it my best shot.”
  • “I have a problem with P’s and F’s so Flease Porgive me. By the way, there is a blue Honda with its lights on in the Farking lot.”

On a similar note, a lady in one of my workshops asked how she could overcome her self-consciousness about being deaf in one ear. She was afraid someone would ask a question that she could not hear, and she didn’t want them to think she was ignoring them.

I suggested she hang a lantern on it, and instruct the audience “Before we begin I want you all to know that I am completely deaf in my left ear. So, if you like to ask questions you might want to move to the right side of the room now.” Then you smile and let them know you are joking… but you have also cleared the air to let go of your self-consciousness.

Most audiences are more forgiving than we think. They usually ARE pulling for you, and making mistakes simply makes you more human in their eyes. It makes you one of them. If you don’t take yourself too seriously, they will pay more attention to what you have to say than exactly how you say it.

The story you don’t know

December 10, 2016

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Much has been written about Jeff, Brad and I running marathons together. I even managed to finish a full Ironman. Jeff and wife Ramona climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. And we do all these things to raise money for a cure for Multiple Myeloma, because Jeff has been a survivor for over 6 years now.

The story you don’t know is that Jeff has been on chemo throughout every one of these challenges.  He has relapsed within the last few months and continues to experiment with the right blend of treatments that will fit with living a full life.

His full life also includes helping other patients. I’ve referred several friends over the years who asked me if they could talk to Jeff. They are not only looking for second opinions on doctor’s orders, but seeking encouragement from someone who has found the mental fortitude to keep fighting. He always makes time for them.

In short, Jeff gives hope. And he gives it freely.

When you ask him about his dream race, he will tell you without hesitation that it’s Boston. He narrowly missed qualifying in his twenties, and it’s been a goal ever since.  Thanks to MMRF Endurance Events, the Brothers Goad will be running the 2017 Boston Marathon this April!

To get Jeff across that legendary finish line, we have collectively committed to a minimum fundraising goal of $30,000 by April 1st.  This is where we need your help.

Sharing this post with your friends may bring hope to cancer patients who will see that anything is possible. Donating will help get us closer to a cure…and keep my big brother alive to make a difference. Our story is not finished, and we’d love for you to be a part of it!

Please donate at this link, thank you!

https://donate.themmrf.org/2017Boston/gojeffgo

NOTE:  If you still have 2016 company matching funds to use up, please consider using them for this cause before the end of December!

Off script

December 1, 2016

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In 1992, MTV’s “The Real World” launched the so-called reality show trend we love/hate today. But we later learned that even that first “reality” show wasn’t completely real. Show producers set up scenarios to create conflict between cast members and even asked them to “replay” scenes for the camera crew to capture.

The alluring promise of a reality show is that it is unscripted. The truth is that they are partially scripted. The setups may be staged but the dialogue is real. And people who crave uncertainty in an otherwise routine life just love it when they can’t guess what someone will say next.

Why am I going on about stuff you already know?  Because our lives are also partially scripted. We often tell ourselves stories about our identity and our weaknesses that keep us from achieving our best. We set up conflict as a way to blame someone else for what we are afraid or unwilling to do. We even broadcast our love, anger and frustration to our friends in the coffee shop or on social media…and everyone watches.

I have done all these things.

The authentic life I am trying my best to live now is partially scripted. I am wired by my DNA and the defining moments of my childhood to act and react in ways that are often beyond my conscious control. I’ve been set up, but I still control the dialogue. I can choose to get angry or remain calm in the face of an attack. I can be optimistic when surrounded by negativity.  I can even go completely off script and surprise everyone by taking on something no one ever thought I could achieve.

In other words, I run the show.  I still make mistakes, but I am defying the scriptwriters and defining my own moments now.

All of this is much easier said than done.  And honestly, it hard to do without an external coach, counselor or trusted friend who can help keep you honest with yourself.

No matter how difficult it may seem, this is my wish for you too my friend. I hope you have the courage to go off script. When you watch the reruns of your life 10 years from now, you will be most thankful for the moments when you made necessary decisions, disrupted damaging patterns and achieved amazing things after surrounding yourself with amazing kindred spirits.

It’s your show. And it’s worth the risk, isn’t it?

 

Oh that’s just perfect

October 20, 2016

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If sloppy is a 0 and perfect is a 10, most commercial software gets released at about a 7. Then customers beat on it, bugs are fixed and it eventually gets to a 9. Nothing ever reaches a perfect 10.

Whether you are writing a speech, creating a project plan or engineering something new… when do you usually show your work?  If you don’t really care about who consumes your content, follows your plan or uses your product, you can just release it at a 3 and move on to other things.  If you procrastinators and tinkerers care too much about perfecting it in your secret hidden bunker, you’ll be so late it may not matter anymore.

Following the software example, perhaps you should be risking judgment by showing it to other people at around a 5? Do an alpha test with colleagues you trust and then a beta test with customers you trust. Listen closely and make adjustments you had not even considered before.

The worst that can happen is that you are found out to be imperfect like the rest of us.  The best that can happen is that you release something amazing because the audience had a hand in creating it.

Nothing is delivered until it is received.

Act of Love

September 20, 2016

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I witnessed something amazing this weekend and I’m not using that word lightly. While the news reported cowardly acts of hate with NY and NJ bombings, there was a courageous act of love taking place in Central Park. Eric Gelber calmly and quietly ran 200 miles in two and half days to raise over $250,000 toward a cure for Multiple Myeloma.

I promised a year ago that I would be there to support him during the toughest miles, like when he broke last year’s record of 176. He not only cruised past that milestone, he added a 7:30-paced sprint for a couple hundred yards just to make sure we were paying attention. 

My brother Jeff, a myeloma survivor, was running with our group, along with Brad, Ramona, Julianna, David Hollingsworth and Larry Baker.  We all got to witness Eric’s focus and relentless consistency as he overcame pain and exhaustion and sleep deprivation.

An important point is that each of us ran much farther than we thought we could.  I had only trained to run thirteen but I pushed myself to run thirty-six over the two days. I just put my pain in the back seat and told it to shut up. I mean, come on. If Eric can do 200…

There will be many who write about the details of this legendary run, and you can watch several videos I posted in Facebook that were broadcast during the experience. I’d like to highlight a couple of things that stuck with me at the finish line. Jeff had told me earlier, “It’s amazing that someone would do something this selfless for me and so many other patients.” After it was done, I saw him take off his sunglasses and breathe in the celebration scene. With tears welling up he simply said, “It’s overwhelming… overwhelming.”

What happened in Central Park this weekend was not really about the run. Eric is not one to give speeches, but they forced him to say a few words at the finish line anyway. He broke into tears when he said “It’s really all about this right here… this community working together.”

For some, there is nothing bigger than finding a cure for cancer.  And for that to happen in our lifetime, we need to continue to work together as a community to raise money and hope. Share the story and donate a few dollars if you can.

I took this picture above before the race began, and the caption is “Love conquers all.” God bless you and your family, Eric Gelber. It was an honor to run by your side. 

Free corporate speak translation

September 5, 2016

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Just having some fun on Facebook, and I asked my friends to list their favorite “corporate speak” phrases. With all of my years working in large companies, I was able to provide an instant translation. Carin Kyle asked if I could publish a post for sharing.

Each submitted phrase is followed by the translation. I hope this helps you understand what’s really being communicated in your workplace:

We need to socialize that. =
Let’s see if anyone else agrees with your stupid idea.

We don’t have enough bandwidth to handle that request. =
You are not high enough on the food chain for me to have to care about you.

I’ll run that up the flagpole. =
…so it can be shot down from a higher altitude.

We hope everyone buys into the core competencies developed by our SWAT team. =
There is a red laser pointed at your forehead.

It is what it is. =
I revel in the status quo and aspire to mediocrity.

That’s the tactical solution, not the strategic one. =
I would like to slow down the project so we can charge more overtime on it.

Seize this moment and take advantage of the synergistic opportunities that will present themselves. =
I have no idea how I got this job as a manager. Please try to look busy.

We all need to pull together and work as a team. =
Stop doing so well… you’re making the rest of us look bad.

We’re going to have to let you go. =
You are about to make 20% more salary somewhere else.

Virtualize the process and move it to the cloud. =
We are about to completely remove human beings from our customer service.

Your raise is tied to your job importance, not how well you do it. =
We need to free up a head count for someone who can play on the company softball team.

I’ll look into that. =
I will look into that later but I’m sure I will find the same emptiness that I’m feeling right now. Please stop talking to me so I can pick up my son from soccer practice.

We have a firm grasp on our core competency. =
As a leader I have a loose grip on reality.

Creating cross functional teams to drive new use case driven solutions. =
We want to bring dysfunction to a whole new level.

Time to ramp up. =
You are about to experience a very steep incline.

Let’s take this offline. =
You are scaring the children.

Limited restructuring. =
Unlimited absurdity.

We’re going to have to consult with legal and get back to you. =
Our lawyers are about to make you very uncomfortable.

We have too many silos. =
How can we suppress innovation and spending if we can’t see and control everyone’s work?

Let’s set up a quick meeting and discuss strategy and next steps. =
Let’s take an hour out of your day that you can never get back.

Looking at my dashboard, we have some things in our pipeline. =
I am already sand bagging for next quarter.

Got it. =
Got it in the recycle bin.

We need to increase our collaboration with other departments and leverage their resources and experience and not lose focus of our priorities in order to exceed our goals. =
We need someone else to blame this on.

Let’s put the wood behind the arrow. =
Instead of embracing the new high tech tech aluminum arrows, we will continue to use our archaic legacy technology.

We haven’t released the budget. But let’s focus on hitting 110%. =
We will curb overspending by under resourcing you.

We want to be transparent with the changes being made. =
We are actually only capable of being translucent. It will be blurry on purpose.

Our company has never provided that exact service, so we may be short on experience, but I can guarantee we are long on potential. =
So it won’t be long before we come up short on customer service.

You’re fired. =
You are liberated from tyranny.

If you’ve got any more phrases that need instant translation, please post in the comments below. Customer service is my #1 priority.

Acting your age

September 1, 2016

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“So how is Davy doing in Kindergarten?” My mother was attending her first parent-teacher conference with Virginia Kessler. I remember her as a happy teacher with a brunette beehive and an ever-present smile. And how did Mrs. Kessler perceive me?

“Well, David has been doing extended 20-minute performances in Show and Tell.” My mom was concerned. She asked if this was unfairly taking time away from the other children. Mrs. Kessler smiled, “Oh no, they all LOVE it!”

I have a faint memory of bringing in metal trucks and puppets and acting out stories with them. Heck, I even pecked a few girls on the nose with my Roadrunner puppet. Meep meep!

I was rewarded at an early age for being an entertainer. And my teacher did nothing to stop it. She embraced who I was.

First grade was a different story. My mom recalls that I came home after the first day with a crushed spirit. She went to meet with the serious, silver-haired Mrs. Robinson and asked how I was doing. She replied, “David must have gotten WAY too much free reign in Kindergarten. He has a hard time being quiet during nap time.”

Who remembers this forced “nap time” in elementary school? We had to lie down on folding mats and be quiet for a full 20 minutes. In retrospect, I can see why the teachers needed this time to rest… but what’s the benefit to a bunch of hyperactive 6 year olds? Better to let them outside for an extra recess to burn off the energy.

I saw naptime as an opportunity to talk to my friends and entertain them. Mrs. Robinson saw it as an opportunity to teach me discipline, and gave me stern warnings. “This is not the time to be acting up. Be quiet and act your age!”

“Um… hello. I’m six.”

Fortunately my mom continued to support my outgoing personality throughout my childhood, but I learned that not everyone is going to embrace it… and that there is a time and place for everything.

So here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson AND Mrs. Kessler. You are both still with me. I try to lie down and be quiet in situations where someone else is running the show, but more and more I’m letting the real David rise to the surface. My personal mission is to inspire and entertain as many people as possible, and make their lives better in some way.

If you ever feel like the real you is being suppressed in school or at work, I encourage you to find an outlet to express who you really are. Your best friends are the ones who embrace who you are and love it, right?

You don’t have to act your age if you disagree with the script. Be you.