Monday, June 14, 2010

How to Read Body Language

Book Recommendation

I hope you’ve had a chance to read the book review for Delivering Happiness posted here recently.  We had the following winners of that book’s related giveaway:

I ask that Nicole email me with her address so that I may mail you copies of the the book.  I will send Natalia her copy.

For this month, I’m giving away copies of the book The Definitive Book of Body Language.  It’s not a new book, but one I read a few months back and enjoyed.  It has certainly helped me better understand my family, friends, and coworker’s deeper opinion and mood. 

What I enjoyed most about this book were the plethora of examples and citations.  The authors provide plenty of detail on very many body positions with their related meanings.  There’s even a final chapter where the authors put your comprehension of the signs to test by providing various scenarios and pictures that you’re required to interpret.  I especially liked the attention to detail where the authors describe cultural differences in body language.

What I wasn’t keen on were the few references to Neuro Linguistic Programming, as described in Wikipedia, this is:

A controversial approach to psychotherapy and organizational change based on "a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behaviour and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them" and "a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour".

This is the stuff that the likes of Tony Robbins purportedly use to influence those around them.  Thankfully, the authors refer to this, but don’t delve much into it.  Ignoring this, I highly recommend this book to any person interested in learning how to better read and communicate with his fellow man.

As to the book giveaway, I’ve revised and simplified the rules:

  • Make a comment on this specific posting anytime between now and the end of June 2010
  • The first five distinct comment authors will each win a separate copy of the book

I’ll announce the winners in next months book recommendation at the beginning of July.

What Do You Think?

Feel free to drop your comments below about this or any other book, with the added benefit of being entered to win a copy of this month’s recommended book, The Definitive Book of Body Language

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pursuing Your Passion is Bogus


2010.06.08_ConfusedDog Did I get your attention with the title? 

This is exactly the kind of manipulation a lot of writers and bloggers go through to get attention, and sometimes they’re arguing for arguments sake.  I recently saw a similar title on another blog…by a motivational speaker, no less!  I was astounded. 

She was was tired of people coming to her saying they had left their job, wife, husband, friend, hubby since they’d lost their passion.  She didn’t believe that passion was something that could be lost or found.  To this comment I say, it is ABSOLUTELY something that can lost or found.

To check my own understanding of the word, I looked up its definition.  Passion is defined on the site as, “a strong feeling or emotion.”  So, let’s ask the question, can you find or loose a feeling?  Have you ever found love, and lost it later?  Have you ever found happiness or sadness? If you have a family, did you feel strongly about your newborn child on his or her birthday?  Do you feel strongly about your artistic tendencies?  The answer to all of these is likely a resounding, “YES!”

So, why ignore that we have strong feelings about various events, people, acts in our lives?  Why would we feel annoyed when someone tells us they’ve lost their passion for a certain part of their life?  We shouldn’t.  We should instead embrace the feeling and encourage ourselves, family, friends and even complete strangers to pursue and find their passions, even if those passions change as our lives do. 

…And forget about all authors, orators, and otherwise attention-starved maniacs who tell you finding your passion is a bogus idea!

Pursue, find, and enjoy all your passions, all the time!

What Do You Think?

What do you feel passionate about?  Share them below.


Photo Credits: suephotos

Monday, June 7, 2010

Delivering Happiness Book Review

Book Recommendations

Tony Hsieh’s new book, Delivering Happiness, was released today.  You can purchase a copy on I was exposed to this book a couple of months back when I signed up to receive a free pre-release copy in exchange for writing an honest, unbiased review on this blog. 

After signing up for the review, I received two pre-release copies: one to read and one to give away.  Through various means, I came by some additional copies of the book and I’m giving away all NINE copies, six of the pre-release and three of the hard cover.  If you’re interested in getting a copy, please follow the posted guidelines here.

The book is an easy read that chronicles Tony Hsieh’s growth from a childhood entrepreneur through various businesses and eventual Amazon investment / buyout of, his latest venture. 

He stresses and exemplifies the idea of not only finding your passion, but using experimentation to find what your passion is.  In other words, he promotes living a life free of fear of the unknown, where you learn what you want to do through trial-and-error of your business ideas. 

I only wish he had more chapters on how to deliver happiness outside of the context of his business.  Unfortunately, he only devotes the last short chapter to this that leaves the reader wanting more.  May be that’s intentional.

Overall, I highly recommend reading this as an inspirational and down-to-earth book about following your dreams.

Tony explains at the start of the book that he used his everyday language to write this book, rather than highly correct grammar.  Having seen him speak recently, as well as viewed some of his video blogs, I see how true to form this is.  He maintains a very friendly tone throughout the book.  In fact, you almost feel like you’re sitting at a bar, having drinks, while he retells his success story. 

The book isn’t meant as an autobiography, though he retells parts of his childhood experimenting with various small business ideas, his college days selling pizza on campus, and years developing his three businesses.  These transitions are meant as a device to help the reader arrive at the conclusion he wants you to reach: the want to deliver happiness.  I enjoyed reaching this conclusion with him, though I think he fell short in delivering the message to the full extent he could have.  More on this in the Cons section.

Tony stresses the importance of having the right people in your business, as well as knowing the purpose of your venture.  He uses his missteps, the reasons for the demise of some of his ventures, as guiding posts why it’s important to know why you do what you do.  I found many of his conclusions in line with concepts put forth by others like Simon Sinek who advises us to know why we want to pursue a particular venture, and to stay true to that vision throughout in order to attract the people, business, and success we wish to have.

A take away lesson from this book is the value of experimenting with various ideas in our lives to determine our passions.  Tony tried many ventures, like developing websites before offering pay-per-click advertising services through his link exchange company. He also tried his hands at becoming an early stage investor for startup companies, only to realize he preferred to be involved directly with a company on a day-to-day basis, leading to his full investment and leadership role at  He espouses the idea of finding your calling through trial-and-error, rather than some cerebral exercise.

I mentioned earlier that I think Tony fell short in delivering the message of how we can deliver happiness.  The conclusion seems natural, but lacks any depth for implementation.  He stresses that what it means to deliver happiness will differ from company to company and person to person.  Nevertheless, the final chapter devoted to this seems short and abrupt. 

I would’ve hoped for a few more chapters devoted to examples of how this could be done.  One method may have been to share stories of others with whom he was privately involved and who took the message of delivering happiness to make it their own.  I would’ve liked to have read what challenges these others faced and how, by putting to practice a particular set of guidelines, they too reaped the rewards of their success. He almost achieves this by sharing stories of how his employees and coworkers put to practice the idea of over-delivering on customer service, even to complete strangers in supermarkets. Nevertheless, I was hungry for more. 

This apparent vacuum may be intentional.  After all, what would be the purpose of asking your readers to experiment if you give them step-by-step instruction on how to achieve success?  May be the true message of the last chapter was to tease us enough to start experimenting.  May be all he wants is to be the first domino in the great chain of people delivering happiness worldwide!

May be!

What Do You Think?

Feel free to share your thoughts below.  You can also add comments here in order to win a free copy of Tony Hsieh’s book,  per posted guidelines here.

Photo Credits:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Favorite Android Apps – Part 5: Games

Technology Recommendations

This is a continuation of the series on My Favorite Android Apps. I’m covering games in this post.


  • Backgammon: I’m not much of a chess player, but I love the other strategy board game, backgammon.  It brings back a lot of memories from childhood when I’d sit by the fireplace with my parents in cold winter nights as they played this age old game.  This particular rendition on the Android is pleasing to the eye. The paid version allows you to adjust your expertise level as well.  Some of the harder levels are somewhat devilish as the bot seems to get the best rolls.
  • FreeCell:  Among the card games, this is one of my favorite games, along with Klondike below.  They both provide a subtle break when you have just enough brain power to track card locations. 
  • iMobsters: This is a low-graphic multiplayer game that walks you through knocking off other bad guys, looting, stealing…you know, everything that a mobster would do!  Your interaction is pressing buttons, giving commands to completes tasks, or carry out attacks.  There’s no animation. 

    Surprisingly, this game is somewhat addictive, especially once you learn how to use the money you gain from each activity to invest in real estate or just the right amount of equipment to insure your success in other tasks or attacks. 
  • Klondike: Who doesn’t like a good game of Klondike Solitaire?  This is just that.  If you want to avoid the ads that appear in and disappear from the screen, get the paid version.
  • Magic 8-Ball: Just like it’s physical brethren, you can ask a closed-ended question (requires a yes/no response), shake your Android phone, and await the Magic 8-Ball’s response.  It’s a fun distraction to make you realize all those important questions in life can have some really funny responses.
  • Math Workout: This is a brain teaser game.  You take timed algebra quizzes to test your mental acuity. Don’t try this if you’re tired.  You wont’ do so well.  Alternately, try this as part of a drinking game.  You’ll get a barrel of laughs.
  • Real Blackjack: I’m not much of a gambler, but when I used to play in Las Vegas, this was my favorite game.  It’s one where I have fond family memories.  My father, brother and I used to have a system for sitting at the head, middle and end of a table to control some of the outcomes, as much as you can do that in Vegas.  We didn’t get comped, but won enough hands to enjoy the experience every time.  The Android version is a fun game to help me reminisce.  I only wish I could get my brother and dad playing simultaneously with me.
  • Red Poker Club’s Texas Holdem: Red Poker provides a very warm set of graphics and interface to play this fairly new (Texas Holdem) poker game.  You receive additional $1,000 in chips each time you login…and don’t worry, it’s not real money, though you’ll still feel a stab with every hand lost.
  • Soduku Free: A few years back I picked up a Soduku puzzle book at a local Barnes and Noble.  I was hooked, even though I despised word puzzles.  There’s something appealing about math-based games, and Soduku provides you with just that.  I like this free version for those occasions when I’m waiting at the airport or before falling sleep and need a distraction to relax.

What Do You Think?

Do You have any favorite apps, whether on Android, iPhone, Blackberry or Symbian devices?  Why don’t you share them with us below under the Comments section?

Related Articles

My Favorite Android Apps – Part 1
My Favorite Android Apps – Part 2
My Favorite Android Apps – Part 3
My Favorite Android Apps – Part 4

Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 1
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 2
How I almost Dumped the CLIQ: Review – Part 3
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 4
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 5

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

20 Steps for a Successful Presentation

Call to Action

I recently attended a technical presentation for one of my professional organizations where I noticed the speaker was somewhat uncomfortable, especially at the start of the presentation.  Certainly a lot of preparation had gone into gathering the information that was shared.  Nevertheless, the poorly timed pauses and numerous filler words and sounds created the equivalent of speed bumps and detracted from the main points.

Given my experience with Toastmasters and interest with insuring people’s success in making public presentations, I’ve decided to share a set of recommendations with you. 

I’ve made a few assumptions about the type of presentation you’ll make:

  • This’ll be a presentation not just a speech
  • You’ll have a slide-deck prepared in Prezi, PowerPoint, or Google Apps Presentation
  • You want to receive good feedback from the audience

Based on these assumptions, here are my recommendations:

Before the Meeting

  1. Skip on Writing Out Your Speech
    Forget about writing out your speech or presentation.  Create a bullet list of your main points or an outline.  You can do this on a slide deck or a set of note cards.  Remember, even if you’re using note cards, do NOT write out whole sentences.  Have a few words that remind you of the points you want to make, unless the information is a graph, facts, or figures.   For the latter, put them in your slide.
  2. Avoid Sentences in the Slides
    When creating your presentation, think of it as an outline or list of hint words.  So, do NOT put any full sentences.  You want one to three word reminders of the points you want to make.   You can also put any graphs, facts, figures, or references here. 
  3. Practice, practice, practice
    Do this at home in front of the mirror, on the road while you’re waiting at a stop sign, at the bus or train station, or anywhere else where you’re not engaged in doing something else.  The more you practice in difference areas and may be in front of different people, the more likely you’ll know how to shuffle information about without missing the main points during your presentation.
  4. Confirm Day and Date of Your Presentation
    This may seem obvious, but there are times that an event gets cancelled and not all of the presenters are notified on time.  So, call and check at least on the day of the presentation and, preferably, earlier, especially if you have a long commute or flight to the location.
  5. Confirm Your Facility’s Capabilities
    Confirm that all the equipment you need will be available, like a microphone, projector and notebook computer for your presentation.  If you need web access, ask about that as well.
  6. Make Sure You Have a Plan B
    Whether you’re using a notebook, projector, microphone, or any combination thereof, make sure you have a backup plan if any or none of them work or are unavailable.  How about taking some of your own hardware, or getting some hard copies of your slides or at least the key slides?

Before the Presentation

  1. Arrive Early
    Arrive at least 30 minutes before your presentation. You want to make sure you have ample time to setup and test all the equipment you’ll use.  This is where any preparation you did for Plan B may come in play. 
  2. Meet and Greet
    Be sure to meet some of the people attending.  This is a great way to insure you have some friends in the audience.  If you see someone you know, don’t forget to say hello, but also don’t spend all of your time with them.  You want to meet some new faces that you’ll focus on later as you’re making your presentation.

During the Presentation

  1. Avoid Reading Your Presentation
    When showing your presentations slides, don’t just read your bullets.  Provide details for each point.  Assume your audience can read what you’ve written, unless you’re presenting to a group of blind people, of course!
  2. Avoid Unnecessary Movements
    Unless your presentation calls for a lot of movement, don’t move around unnecessarily.  Mind you, I don’t condone becoming a statue.  You can move around the stage so long as it doesn’t distract or seem abrupt.  However, any nervous ticks or motions are distracting.  Examples of this include:
    1. Hands in pocket
    2. Playing with a pen
    3. Repeatedly touching your face or any other body part (don’t get any ideas!)
    4. Holding your reading glasses when you’re not using them
    5. Playing with your retractable pen or pen cap
    6. Repeatedly tapping the podium or table where you stand
  3. Use Pointer Sparingly
    Pointers are tough to use, but can be handy in getting your audience’s attention.  Avoid doing any kind of circular motion to highlight a section on the slide.  Keep the pointer still at the location where you want to draw attention and shut it off as soon as you’re done.  You may need to use both hands to steady the pointer.  Whatever you do, don’t point it at your audience to ferret out the noise makers!
  4. Make Eye Contact
    Remember all the people you met before the presentation?  Look at them as you’re making your points.  Stay on their eyes or right above the eyes on their foreheads for about one to two seconds.  This’ll give the impression that you’re making eye contact with everyone as you look for your newly found friends throughout the room.  It’ll also draw in your audience.  If you can, make the same type of eye contact with people you didn’t meet.
  5. Ask Questions
    Ask rhetorical and actual questions.  This too will get your audience involved and draw them in.  You’ll demonstrate your presentation is a conversation, not just a dictation.
  6. Repeat the Main Point Often
    You’ll want to repeat the main points of your presentation numerous times.  I suggest one at the beginning to let everyone know what you want them to remember, then one or more times throughout your presentation as a way of summarizing what you’ve already covered and what remains, then again at the end to summarize what you spoke about.
  7. Call for Action
    In almost every presentation, you’re asking people to do something.  You may want them to become more active in your field, ask for funding or donations, or to make better decisions.  In every one of these cases, you’re asking them to do something: contact their congressman, donate to your department, or choose your product or company.  So, say it.  Ask them to take those steps.  Don’t be shy.  Make it abundantly clear what you want your audience to do.
  8. Open for Questions
    Make sure you plan for some question and answer time at the end of your presentation, even if it’s just one or two questions. This allows you to address anything you didn’t cover or cover thoroughly.  Also, it gives you another opportunity to get your audience involved.

After the Presentation

  1. Ask for Input
    No presentation is complete unless you ask for input.  You want to make sure you hear what your audience liked and what they want you to improve, or what additional information they need.  You can do this by talking to your newly found friends or anyone else in the audience, or more formally through a questionnaire.  Don’t miss this chance to get some free input while the information is fresh on everyone’s mind.
  2. Thank Your Host
    Be sure to thank your host in-person, by phone, or through email.  If your host is present at the meeting, do it immediately then follow up with a thank you card.  Nothing shows gratitude like a personalized greeting card in the mail.
  3. Clean Up
    Be sure to clean up after yourself.  This may be just your cup of water and notes, or all of your equipment.  Make sure you return the presentation area back to the condition you found it…then add a personal touch and tidy up a bit more!
  4. Follow Up
    If you’ve collected names and business cards, be sure to follow up within the next 24 to 48 hours when you and your presentation are still fresh in everyone’s mind.

What Do You Think?

Have you any other pointers for making effective presentations?  Please feel free to share them below.


Photo Credits: dbking