Category Archives: Randy’s blog entries

Entries by Randy Mayeux

You Can Be a Better Speaker! – Executive Public Speaking Workshop; Friday, August 23, 2019

Executive Public Speaking 2019Every failed presentation fails in one of two ways:  the presentation had little or nothing worthwhile to say; or, even if the content was worthwhile, then it was delivered very, very poorly.
Would you like to deliver successful presentations?  It is simple (not easy – just simple) – just have something really worthwhile and useful to say, and then say it very, very well.
Randy Mayeux, 2 Ways to Guarantee a Failed Presentation (click her to read the full article)


Come join us for our
Executive Public Speaking
Friday, August 23, 2019 – Click here to Register

Picture yourself up in front of a group to speak.  Maybe a small group at work; maybe a much larger group, in a sales presentation; at a conference. Do you know how to fully prepare?  Do you know how to deliver your message in a way that captures the audience fully; in a way that brings agreement with your message, and results in deeper trust in you as a speaker?

I can help.

On August 23, I will lead a fast-paced workshop on Executive Public Speaking.  You will learn some basics, and beyond.

My graduate work was in Communication:  Rhetoric and Public Address.  I have taught Speech at the college level for nearly two decades.  And I have taught this workshop within companies and organizations.  The reason is simple:

Bad speakers make for inattentive people, and unproductive meetings and gatherings.

But good speakers help people pay much better attention to the speaker’s important message, to learn from the speaker, and then to better execute their next steps.

If it has been a while – maybe a long while – since you have taken a speech class, this could bring a valuable skill boost into your professional life.

Come join us. Click here to register.

(Note:  bring a group of 5, or more, and you receive a substantial discount per person.  Send me a direct e-mail to inquire about the group price).

What: Executive Public Speaking
When:  August 23, 8:30-4:30
Cost: $299.00
Where: Richardson Civic Center
(box lunch included)

Click here to register.

Click on image for full, printable view

Click on image for full, printable view

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein – here are my five lessons and takeaways – (This is one of the year’s best books)

Range (verb) — to roam at large or freely
Generalist — a person whose knowledge, aptitudes, and skills are applied to a field as a whole or to a variety of different fields (opposed to specialist).


epstein-5-19I presented my synopsis of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David J. Epstein at the July First Friday Book Synopsis.  It is quite a book!

Let me give you the big insight right away.  If you function in a “kind” learning and functioning environment, then deep expertise, the 10,000 hour rule, and grit will serve you well. This is an environment where, if you learn how to do this, and then that, and then this, it will definitely lead to success.  Become a world-class specialist for success in such an environment.

But, if you function in a “wicked” learning and functioning environment, learn much more widely, sample a lot (try a bunch of different things; pursue different possible paths) before you take your deeper dive.  This is an environment where the issues are more complex, the targets are moving targets, and you’re not sure what to learn next to succeed at this moment.  You’ve got some experimenting, and learning, and trial-and-erroring to do.  Become a world-class generalist for success in such an environment.

To be honest, reading this book made me glad that my business card reads:  “Randy Mayeux, Broad-based knowledge consultant.”  (Now…to fully live up to that claim).

In my synopsis, I ask: What is the point? Narrow expertise is great – until it isn’t. The breakthroughs may come from a group with greater diversity – a generalists group.And, people who are generalists may be a little bit happier.

• And I ask, Why is this book worth our time? Here are my three reasons:

#1 – This book gives quite a counterpoint to the grit/10,000 hour rule viewpoint.  It is a counterpoint worth pondering.
#2 – This book is filled with great history and insight.  You will learn from this book.
#3 – This book is about business and personal success and effectiveness. It is a broad book – useful for budding and accomplished generalists.

Here are a number of my highlighted passages from the book:

Elite athletes at the peak of their abilities do spend more time on focused, deliberate practice than their near-elite peers. But when scientists examine the entire developmental path of athletes, from early childhood, it looks like this:
Eventual elites typically devote less time early on to deliberate practice in the activity in which they will eventually become experts. Instead, they undergo what researchers call a “sampling period.” They play a variety of sports, usually in an unstructured or lightly structured environment; they gain a range of physical proficiencies from which they can draw; they learn about their own abilities and proclivities; and only later do they focus in and ramp up technical practice in one area.
The research pertains to every stage of life, from the development of children in math, music, and sports, to students fresh out of college trying to find their way, to midcareer professionals in need of a change and would-be retirees looking for a new vocation after moving on from their previous one.
The challenge we all face is how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience, interdisciplinary thinking, and delayed concentration in a world that increasingly incentivizes, even demands, hyperspecialization.
Do specialists get better with experience, or not?
Whether or not experience inevitably led to expertise, they agreed, depended entirely on the domain in question. Narrow experience made for better chess and poker players and firefighters, but not for better predictors of financial or political trends, or of how employees or patients would perform.
Our greatest strength is the exact opposite of narrow specialization. It is the ability to integrate broadly.
But it is certainly true that modern life requires range, making connections across far-flung domains and ideas.
One good tool is rarely enough in a complex, interconnected, rapidly changing world.
That is, the more contexts in which something is learned, the more the learner creates abstract models, and the less they rely on any particular example. Learners become better at applying their knowledge to a situation they’ve never seen before, which is the essence of creativity.
“What you want is to make it easy to make it hard.” Kornell was explaining the concept of “desirable difficulties,” obstacles that make learning more challenging, slower, and more frustrating in the short term, but better in the long term.
One of those desirable difficulties is known as the “generation effect.” Struggling to generate an answer on your own, even a wrong one, enhances subsequent learning.
“Knowledge is a double-edged sword. It allows you to do some things, but it also makes you blind to other things that you could do.”
“In product development,” Taylor and Greve concluded, “specialization can be costly.”
Facing uncertain environments and wicked problems, breadth of experience is invaluable. Facing kind problems, narrow specialization can be remarkably efficient.
The problem is that we often expect the hyperspecialist, because of their expertise in a narrow area, to magically be able to extend their skill to wicked problems. The results can be disastrous.
The most science-curious folk always chose to look at new evidence, whether or not it agreed with their current beliefs. Their foxy hunt for information was like a literal fox’s hunt for prey: roam freely, listen carefully, and consume omnivorously. — They are extremely curious, and don’t merely consider contrary ideas, they proactively cross disciplines looking for them. “Depth can be inadequate without breadth,” wrote Jonathan Baron, the psychologist who developed measurements of active open-mindedness.
“I always advise my people to read outside your field, everyday something.”
So, about that one sentence of advice: Don’t feel behind. Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren’t you. Don’t let anyone else make you feel behind.

The following were included in my synopsis handout:

  • What is this book?
  • This is a career path book
  • This is a parenting book
  • This is a book about educating children (and adults) – note: slow learning is the best learning
  • This is a book on how to get better at decision-making
  • This is a book about how to get better at coming up with breakthrough innovations
  • This is a book about how to get better at problem-identification and problem-solving
  • This is a book about the pluses of narrow expertise; AND… the minuses of narrow expertise
  • That “big” observation:
  • kind-learning environments need experts with narrow expertise
  • “kind” learning environments. Patterns repeat over and over, and feedback is extremely accurate and usually very rapid. — That is the very definition of deliberate practice,
  • wicked-learning environments need much broader input; narrow expertise actually hurts the outcomes…
  • Here are a number of my observations from the book:
  • Do not treat the wicked world as kind; it is not kind!Chris Argyris, who helped create the Yale School of Management, noted the danger of treating the wicked world as if it is kind.
  • you won’t know what you want to do until you discover what you want to do – and then, your deliberate practice and building of expertise kicks in, and matters…  Prominent sports scientist Ross Tucker summed up research in the field simply: “We know that early sampling is key, as is diversity.”
  • in other words, work ethic matters; but only after you finish your sampling
  • savants are great – but they do not CREATE “breakthroughs”
  • train broadlyThe ability to apply knowledge broadly comes from broad training.
  • learn slowly – “The slowest growth,” the researchers wrote, occurs “for the most complex skills.”
  • analogies matter;they really help people learn…
  • diversity in groups really matters– different experiences; different expertise
  • outsiders have an advantage
  • beware of the “missed data” – But it’s often the case in group meetings where the person who made the PowerPoint slides puts data in front of you, and we often just use the data people put in front of us. I would argue we don’t do a good job of saying, ‘Is this the data that we want to make the decision we need to make?’”

And here are my five lesson and takeaways:

#1 – Read broadly – and read very widely; many things. — Frances Hasselbein devoured management books. (Ed Catmull of Pixar did the same).
#2 – Maybe do more testing and learning(rather than just planning and implementing).
#3 – Identify whether or not you are in a “kind” arena or a “wicked” arena.  Then, act accordingly.
#4 – Surround yourself with a more diverse group of people.
#5 – In other words, get serious about becoming an accomplished generalist.

When the great film critic Roger Ebert would review a movie that was the best of the best in his view, he would end his review with this line:  This is one of the year’s best films.”

I read a fair number of books.  I present synopses of close to 40 books a year.  About 26-28 of those synopses are business books.  I’m ready to say this about RangeThis is one of the year’s best books.


I do highly recommend that you read this book. My synopsis, with my multi-page, comprehensive handout, and the audio recording of my presentation, will be available soon at the buy synopses tab at the top of this page.  Click here for the newest additions.

In Transition?; Working on the Next Chapter of your Life? – Read these three very good books to help you on your journey

Life is lived best when it is lived in chapters
D. Elton Trueblood


Even in this thriving economy, I seem to meet a lot of people “in transition.”  Sometimes, their status is due to changes in an organization. Other times, they really are trying to figure out their answer to the age-old challenge:

What shall I do with the next chapter of my life?

RangeI have a recommendation for such folks.  If you are in the midst of such a search, reading some good books is worth the time and effort.  So, I have three books to recommend; to very strongly recommend.  Three very good books.  Read these, and you will be better equipped to answer your question of what to do in the next chapter of your life.

My recommendation is that you read them in this order:

#1 – Start with Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein. Riverhead Books (2019).  This book makes the case that it is good to learn broadly (and, by the way, to learn slowly).  The more, different kinds of things you know, the better able you will be to discover what you would most like to do.  This is a very good book.

(I presented this at the July First Friday Book Synopsis.  My synopsis will be available soon – see below — and I will post, probably by the end of this week, my lessons and takeaways from this book on this blog).You Can Do Anything

#2 – Then read You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education by George Anders. Little, Brown and Company (2017).  This book reminds us all that the Liberal Arts are worth knowing; whether from our school days, or “catching up” now.

Part of the reason: soft skills are needed in every kind of work situation.  The liberal arts will better help you understand, and master, such skills.

Here is the link to my blog post about this book, with my lessons and takeaways: You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education by George Anders – My six lessons and takeaways.


#3 — Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Knopf (2016).  This book is based on the very popular class taught at Stanford University, taught by the authors.  This book provides an actual game plan to follow: “Do this to find your next life chapter.” Terrific book.

And, here is the link to my blog post for this book, also with my lessons and takeaways: Design! – Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans; my lessons and takeaways.

Designing Your LifeAll three of these books agree that in this modern, more complex era, you might end up doing more than one thing in your life (you will end up doing more than one thing in your life).  And the books will help you as you make your way on that journey.

Click on the “buy synopses” tab at the top of this page to purchase my synopses of these books.  (Reminder: my synopsis of Range will be available by the end of July). Each synopsis comes with my multi-page, comprehensive handout, along with the audio recording of my presentation (just over 20 minutes), recorded at our Dallas event, the First Friday Book Synopsis.


Here’s the direct link to my synopsis of You Can Do Anything.

Here’s the direct link to my synopsis of Designing Your Life.

There are many, many more synopses available on our site; of many good books.


Never Split the Difference & Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders – coming for the August 2 First Friday Book Synopsis

We had a wonderful session this morning at the July First Friday Book Synopsis (on the 2nd Friday of July , because of the July 4 holiday).

For next month’s session on August 2, I have again selected two books which provide valuable insight and actionable lessons.

One is a book dealing with negotiation and communication.  Never Split the Difference was written by a former international hostage negotiator for the FBI.  (This book was published in 2016, but slipped by us.  So, I’m catching up…).

The other book, Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?: (And How to Fix It) deals with a really hot topic – issues of gender equality and equity, especially in positions of leadership.

(And, we will have a useful bonus session on Artificial Intelligence; Intro to AI, led by Andrew Louder — from 8:30-9:30, immediately following our regular session).

Here is the flier with al the details for the August First Friday Book Synopsis.  Please mark your calendar for August 2.  You will be able to register soon from the home page of this website.

Click on image for full printable view

Click on image for full printable view


Here is the New York Times list of Best Selling Business Books for July, 2019 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown at #1; Range by Epstein at #2

The New York Times has published its list of Best Selling Business Books for July.

RangeI follow this list closely.  And of the ten books on this month’s list, after this Friday’s session, we will have presented synopses of 8 of the 10 at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  After Friday, I will have presented synopses of 7 of the 10, and my former colleague, Karl Krayer, presented one other.

This Friday, I am presenting #2, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein.  I think this may be the most important book I have read this year.

And I am also presenting #9, WOLFPACK by Abby Wambach.  This is a great week to present this book.  Abby is the former superstar of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (now retired).  And, of course, the U.S. team won the World Cup yesterday.

In addition, I have presented Dare to Lead by Brené Brown (#1), Atomic Habits, Outliers, Extreme Ownership, and Principles.  And my former colleague Karl Krayer presented Grit.

{Our synopses are available for purchase at the “buy synopses” tab at the top of this page.  Each synopsis comes with our multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of our presentation, recorded at our monthly event.  Click here for our newest additions.}

Here is the New York Times list of Best Selling Business Books for July, 2019. Click over to the New York Times site for more information on these books, along with links to NY Times reviews of four of the books.Dare to Lead

#1 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
#2 – Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
#3 – Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
#4 – I Will Teach You to be Rich, Second Edition by Ramit Sethi
#5 – Atomic Habits by James Clear
#6 – Outliers by Malcolm Galdwell
#7 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#8 – Grit by Angela Duckworth
#9 – WOLFPACK by Abby Wanbach
#10 – Principles by Ray Dalio

Customer Service Basics – Get These Right, Every Time, or…

This was prompted by two recent dining out experiences.

One was at the Park City Club in Dallas.  This is the club where we hold our First Friday Book Synopsis.  This club is wonderful in every way.  A great place; breathtaking view of the city; great food; and truly terrific service.

My wife and I went there for a rare dinner out at the club.  One tends to forget what truly exceptional service is like until they receive it. In other words, it is pretty rare.  Try describing it this way; in addition to pleasant interactions, what they provided was full attentiveness, with no lapse of time in meeting every need and request, whether requested, or just observed by the servers.

In other words, glasses were kept full, and there was no delay on any request; nor any delay in getting the attention of a server.

The other recent experience was at a slightly upscale chain restaurant.  We have eaten there before.  But this time, the service was…well…nothing like the Park City Club.  Never a refill on our water glasses.  Utter disregard for a specific request.  It was a disappointing enough experience that I talked to the manager as I left.  He was embarrassed, but did not fully respond well either.

So, here are the lessons. Whatever your business, trust me – you are in the customer service business. If you don’t sense what your customer wants and needs, and respond to that customer in a timely way, while being pleasant in the process, then you have left a bad impression.  Too many of those bad impressions equals a customer lost – with, even worse, bad word of mouth.


Pay attention.
Sense what is needed before it is requested.
Deliver what is needed, and requested – as soon as you possibly can.
And never let up. Not ever!

We really should eat dinner more often at the Park City Club.