Tag Archives: Amazon

If You Must Give a Presentation, Please Make it Worthwhile

Few things in life are as annoying as a poorly prepared presentation. Twenty years ago, many folks relied on things like Toastmasters (do people still do that?) to help make them better speakers. Based on the presentations I’ve had to sit through in the last ten years, my guess is that Toastmasters numbers are probably declining. Of course, there’s probably a sampling bias here, but let’s look past it.

What’s happened in the last twenty years that may have worsened presentations? Note: In 1993, I wasn’t listening to many presentations, so it’s possible that the presentations haven’t gotten worse just that I’m seeing more of them. Computers. These convenient devices are far more ubiquitous than they used to be. More than that though, powerpoint (or some sort of presentation software) is even more readily available.

“I’ll just plug my notes into a PPT and I’ll be all set to give this presentation.”

No.

Or, let’s have a guest better express my feelings to just plugging your notes into a presentation:

Simply plugging your notes into a presentation is not the answer for a presentation. No. If you’re going to simply plug your notes into a PPT, then why don’t you just send me a paper? Most people can read something faster than if a person tries to tell it to them. So, make your case in ink and I’ll read it — it’ll save us both time. In fact, this is something that is done at one of the biggest companies in the world: Amazon.

Last year in an interview with Charlie Rose, Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, revealed that there are no PPTs when he and the other senior executives meet. Instead of a presentation, the “presenter” has to write a 6-page memo. Upon beginning the meeting, everyone sits around the table and spends the first little while reading the paper. Then (and only then), do they begin discussing the issues raised in the “presentation.”

I realize that this method probably won’t work for everyone, so I thought I’d include a wonderful presentation (ha!) on giving presentations. There’s a lot of great information in there and while I’m not crazy about the “death imagery” at the beginning, the points contained within are important.

~

To be fair, I should say that not all of the presentations I’ve given are ‘stellar’ nor do they follow some of these simple rules. Just like you, my first excuse would be, “I’m too busy to properly prepare, etc.” The question that follows that line should be something to the effect of, “then why am I giving this presentation?” If you don’t have the time to properly prepare, then maybe the presentation isn’t as important to you as it should be. Maybe you should pitch your boss (or your team) Bezos’ idea of sending a 6-page memo instead. Regardless, if we’re going to be presenting to each other, then I think we should do each other the courtesy of delivering an effective presentation.

Note: Why do I get the feeling that someone — at some point — is going to dig up this post I wrote and make me want to eat my words? I guess I’ll have to send them to the disclaimer.

Women in Movies: Why Can’t Men Be The Weak Characters?

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to see a lovely coming of age story in The Way, Way BackI rather enjoyed it and so did my movie companion. In fact, I even thought Steve Carrell was convincing as a ‘villain.’ The one thing that did bother me about the movie, though, was the weakness of Toni Collette‘s character.

I won’t spoil the plot because I think you can imagine what I’m talking about from the title of this post and my reference to a weak character. Why does the female always have to be the weak character? Why aren’t there more movies where the male character is weak or the female character is strong?

I realize that some folks may think that I’m quibbling over something small, but this subtle norm is pervasive in the culture and it perpetuates itself by people considering it something small. By not kicking up dust about this issue, the issue is allowed to continue on with the perception that it’s not worth discussing. Well — it is worth discussing.

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about a Kickstarter campaign that is the Yang to the issue we’re talking about. Have you heard of Miss Representation? It’s a powerful documentary from 2011 that dissects the portrayal of women in the media. The Yin. The Yang version is due to come out in February. It’s called: The Mask You Live In. The Kickstarter campaign closed yesterday and they finished with more than 2400 backers and more than $100,000 pledged (125% of their goal).

If you don’t think the portrayal of gender in the media is important, then you simply must see Miss Representation and, when it comes out in February, The Mask You Live In. If you do think that the portrayal of gender in the media is important, then tell your friends! NOW!

In The End, Everything Will Be OK – If It’s Not OK, It’s Not Yet The End

It’s no secret that I like quotes. Since converting my Facebook profile to a Facebook page, I’ve gotten into the habit of sharing a “quote of the day.” If my calculations are correct, I’ve been sharing quotes of the day for over 80 days now. As you’ll notice that I also have a quotes category, I’ve shared a number of quotes here on this site, too. And if I think back to the days of AIM (AOL Instant Manager), I often had quotes as my “away” message. And even before then, I remember really liking quotes in high school and in elementary (or grade) school. So, like I said, it’s no secret that I like quotes.

As you may have noticed, the title of this post is a quote. I’ve seen this quote in many places — most recently, on a Harvard Business Review comment:

Failure is seldom fatal or final. I loved the line in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movie. “It will be alright in the end and if it is not alright, it is not the end.”

Some may quibble over the word “alright” vs. the word “OK,” but the essence of the quote is the same. After seeing it there, I felt motivated to find the original author. Not that I was planning on digging through reams of archives at an historic library, but just that I thought with some Google-sleuthing, I’d be able to figure it out. It’s a quote that I often see unattributed and I thought to myself that someone had to have said that at some point, right? I did something like this about 18 months ago, when I wrote a post about a great quote being often incorrectly attributed to Howard Whitman — when in fact it was spoken by Howard Thurman.

So, after some Google-sleuthing, I came to a Wikipedia page for Fernando Sabino, who was a Brazilian writer. On that page were a few quotes, one of which read:

“No fim, tudo dá certo. Se não deu, ainda não chegou ao fim.”

The translation follows:

“In the end, everything will be ok. If it’s not ok, it’s not yet the end.”

Having seen how incorrect Wikipedia can be sometimes (pranksters, of course), I thought I’d wait for a while before being sure that this was correct. [Note: I originally wanted to include a link to an image I uploaded to Twitter that showed “Buddha” as the author of The Hunger Games, but apparently old images on Twitter are deleted — or something like that. So, you’ll just have to imagine that there was a screengrab showing “Buddha” as the author on The Hunger Games Wikipedia page.] And then I thought, this Wikipedia page probably isn’t visited nearly as often as The Hunger Games page, so I thought I could trust it. So, I plugged the same Portuguese from the page into Google Translate (just to see if it was the same), and I got a similar quote to the English that appears on the page.

My next step was to see if I could find this quote attributed to him somewhere else on the Internet. Since this quote is often unattributed, this took a bit more time. When I noticed I was hitting a bit of a roadblock, I thought I’d see if I could find other pages on the web of Sabino — and I did! I found a Facebook page for him. While it doesn’t take “too” much effort to create a Facebook page, I noticed that there were almost 2000 likes and that the page has been around for 3+ years. I noticed that the quote was also on the Facebook page. And next to the quote was  this:

– Fonte: “No fim dá certo”

When I plugged this into Google Translate, it said, “- Source: “In the end it works.” So, now I had a source! In looking for that source in English, I didn’t have much luck, so I used the Portuguese. One of the first Google results was a book! The book was also available on Google Books, (but I couldn’t see very much of it, so searching the book for the quote was difficult). Not to mention that I don’t speak Portuguese and sometimes, when you look for words on Google Books, they don’t always show as being there (even though they are there).

It’s still quite possible that I fell victim to some sort of hoax (not as elaborate as Lance Armstrong or Manti T’eo, though). I am fairly confident (at least 90%) that Fernando Sabino is the original author of this quote.