There are three hardcover business books that debuted on today’s Wall Street Journal best-selling list (May 28-29, p. C 16).
# 4 – NEVER SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE by Christopher Voss (Harper Business)
# 5 – YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A SHARK by Robert Herjavec (St. Martin’s Press)
#10 – MAKERS AND TAKERS by Rana Foroohar (Crown Business)
We will watch to see which of these, if any, make the New York Times business best-seller list. That is our primary source for selecting books for the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. Click here for information about our monthly event.
Of interest, our August selection at the FFBS, The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass) climbed from # 7 to # 3 this week. The Chris Anderson book, TED: A Guide to Public Speaking (Houghton-Mifflin) dropped from # 3 to # 9 this week.
The new book by Chris Anderson, TED: Guide to Public Speaking (Houghton Mifflin, 2016), rocketed to the #3 position in its debut week on the Wall Street Journal best-selling hardcover business list, published on May 21-22 (p. C14).
We rely on the New York Times business best-seller list as our primary source for selecting books for the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. We will consider this book, as well as others, as soon as we see its listing there.
Other new books include The Ideal Team Player (Jossey-Bass, 2016) by Patrick Lencioni at #7. It debuted at #8 last week.
I wish I were as optimistic as Chris Anderson, who wrote today, “Anyone Can Give a Memorable TED Talk,” in the Wall Street Journal (April 30-May 1, C3).
You can read the entire article by clicking HERE.
Anderson, who is the President of TED, has a new book that hits the market next week entitled TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016).
He gives these tips:
- ask yourself if you have something worth saying
- slash the scope of your talk so that you unpack the idea properly
- give people a reason to care
- build your case piece by piece, using familiar words and concepts
- tell stories
His premise is that anyone, with the right approach, and enough practice, can be a greater presenter. In the article, he tells the improbable story of Richard Turere, a 12-year old Maasai boy, who gave a talk at a TED conference, in front of an audience of 1,400 seasoned professionals.
I don’t think so. I have provided instruction and critiqued thousands of speakers in Business Communication courses over the past 39 years, and have coached individuals one-on-one countless times. In fact, even today, I am meeting a speaker for individual coaching who gives a talk next week. I can start naming people right now who you would never see on the TED Talks site, no matter how much time I would spend coaching them, and I would still be listing names hours from now. And, I don’t think it’s because I’m a lousy coach. Sorry – everyone can’t do it.
His assumption is that there is something within an individual, that if unlocked properly, will propel a person to greatness. He would say that if you stay with it long enough, and apply the correct instruction and techniques, success is simply a matter of time.
I will admit that for many people, presenting is more a matter of “will” than “skill.” There are people who simply don’t want to get any better, and therefore, even intense training and coaching will not get them there. They could be great, but they don’t want to be. Fortunately, there are enough people who do respond to training and coaching, and who do become great speakers, that keeps me going as a professional resource.
But, what about people who can’t? What if fantastic presenting is not a will or skill issue? There are plenty of people who fall short of any or all of the six behaviors listed as tips above. They just can’t do it. It’s not their strength. It never will be. Do we beat them up and put them through the misery of intense scrutiny toward an end that will never happen? I would far rather build on something else that they are good at – one of their strengths – to work around their presentation weakness, than to consistently badger them to speak well.
I also think that the title of Anderson’s article today insults the great TED speakers. I am well aware that writers rarely get to construct titles to their articles. They usually see the title the same time all the readers do, so I am not bashing Anderson. But the title is there for all to see. TED Talks are premium presentations. Great content with great delivery. And, it is a very competitive product. These are not like “uploads to YouTube” from your web cam. Even many really great speakers are not to the level of TED presenters that you watch on that site.
To suggest that everyone can be like TED, is about the same as saying everyone can be like Mike. No way.
Last Saturday, I had the privilege of attending TEDxSMU (thanks to a generous, unexpected gift from a First Friday Book Synopsis regular. Thanks, Dan). It was our “local” version of the TED conference, held each spring, and now viewed by millions (literally! millions!) of people online. Click here – (a good place to start – with the “most viewed”). But, trust me, there are so many great presentations.
This year, for the first time, they are awarding the TED Prize not to a person, but to an idea — the City 2.0. From their announcement:
About the TED Prize
The TED Prize is designed to leverage the TED community’s exceptional array of talent and resources. It is awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and, much more important, “One Wish to Change the World.” After several months of preparation, s/he unveils his/her wish at an award ceremony held during the TED Conference. These wishes have led to collaborative initiatives with far-reaching impact.
We work closely with the TED community, off- and online, to obtain pledges of support for the TED Prize winners. These pledges can take the form of business services, hardware and software, publicity, infrastructure, advice, connections, feet on the ground and more. This is in addition to the funding and support from the Sapling Foundation and TED staff.
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.
The TED Conference, held annually in the spring, is the heart of TED. More than a thousand people now attend, the event sells out a year in advance, and the content has expanded to include science, business, the arts and the global issues facing our world. Over four days, 50 speakers each take an 18-minute slot, and there are many shorter pieces of content, including music, performance and comedy. There are no breakout groups. Everyone shares the same experience. It shouldn’t work, but it does. It works because all of knowledge is connected. Every so often it makes sense to emerge from the trenches we dig for a living, and ascend to a 30,000-foot view, where we see, to our astonishment, an intricately interconnected whole.
Notice this phrase:
It shouldn’t work, but it does. It works because all of knowledge is connected.
Yes, all knowledge is connected, and there are people who are champions of connecting people to that knowledge. Here in Dallas, we can point to Carole and Jim Young. Regulars at, and cheerleaders for, our First Friday Book Synopsis, they sat on the floor at lunch with their “Carole and Jim Young Fellows” at the TEDxSMU conference. I sat with them, and was immersed in stimulating conversation with two very sharp young minds. (Read about this, and the remarkable group, here). What an impressive, solid group of young adults. (And there are rumors that Jim and Carole hosted a few of these folks, and shared their well-stocked freezer full of ice cream. I’ve also heard rumors that the ice cream is Graeter’s. Now this is how people get spoiled!)
But TED is all about the learning, and the networking, and you will find few lifelong learners, or few connectors, to rival Carole and Jim Young. Their commitment to this life long quest, to keep learning, is clearly what drives them to be involved in such efforts as TED. (By the way, their daughter, Kelly Stoetzel, served as host, and serves as the TED Content Director).
As for the conference itself, well, it was a wonder. Wonderful presentations, great music, terrific networking.
Yes, TED is a place for you, and me, to learn so much. I am still amazed when I run into people who have not yet discovered the videos from the TED site. So, if you are one of those, head on over. There are many I could recommend as your “first’ video, but at this moment it is this one, by Chris Anderson, the curator of TED:
Chris Anderson: How web video powers global innovation
There is so much to learn, and the resources are waiting for us all.
Here’s the latest in my occasional lament: so many books, so little time. I simply blog about books that sound important, that I wish I had time to read… Will this move up in my “must read” list? Time will tell.
First, here’s what Chris Anderson (The Long Tail, Wired) says about this one: “An explosive history that makes it clear how the information business became what it is today. Important reading.”
The book is The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu (Knopf — November 2, 2010). I read about it in the article The Master Switch by Tim Wu — a Masterful Guide to Our Internet World by Art Brodsky, Communications Director, Public Knowledge on The Huffington Post. Here’s an excerpt:
Wu’s eminently readable book is a history of the telephone network, the movie industry and broadcasting, all of them leading up to the history of today’s combination of all of them — the Internet. Those industries had innovative, entrepreneurial beginnings, promising great things for society. There is a rocky growth and development period as the technology becomes better, may encroach on other businesses and finally reaches critical mass. Into the chaos comes a “great mogul” to impose order — to control the Master Switch to information and technology: “Markets are born free, yet no sooner are they born than some would-be emperor is forging chains.” As Wu notes, the federal government is usually recruited to help out the mogul and his plans to gain control over the technology and product.
Wu’s cycle has a backside also, in which another disruptive technology, or a public-spirited government, breaks up the mogul-driven business model, and the Cycle starts anew.
Wu has done his homework. The stories of the industries Wu tracks are fascinating. In today’s corporate-driven movie business, we forget that there was a generation of outcasts who started movie studios, invented new technologies, took over theaters and made the industry their own, at least until other forces broke it up and new models took over. One industry leader could dictate that the time was not right for full-length movies, until a rebel arose to show longer films, and that rebel became part of the industry firmament. One of the early movie moguls was one Wilhelm Fuchs, a Jewish immigrant who later changed his name to Fox. Yes, that Fox.
The article ends with this closing quote from the book:
Let us, then, not fail to protect ourselves from the will of those who might seek domination of those resources we cannot do without. If we do not take this moment to secure our sovereignty over the choices that our information age has allowed us to enjoy, we cannot reasonably blame its loss on those who are free to enrich themselves by taking it from us in a manner history has foretold.
(These thoughts were partly prompted by the video of Chris Anderson’s presentation How web video powers global innovation at TED, and this interview with him at beet.tv about the power of the spoken word: Video is a “Reinvention of the Spoken Word”).
Communication is not words, or images, or ideas – it is the sharing of such words and ideas and images from one person to another, shared in a “total communication package.” There is something inherently different. “better” about the quality of a communication encounter between two human beings conducted in each other’s presence, face-to-face.
A phone call, a blog post, an e-mail, a set of PowerPoint slides on a screen – none of these have the power, the impact, of a face-to-face encounter. Such an encounter allows for facial expressions, emotional connection, evaluation of motives, in a way that all other forms can keep hidden.
The spoken word, spoken to one other human being, with little to “hide behind” in any part of the moment, is the most powerful and the most honest communication.
Think about some really powerful examples of this in movies. I could list many – I will just list one. In the crucial scene between the characters played by Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men (the one in the court room, the famous “You can’t handle the truth” scene), it is as though they are the only two people in the room, or even on the planet. The close-ups, the eyeball-to-eyeball nature of the coversation, the unwavering, undistracted focus on the “other,”… it is the most powerful of moments. Watch it again: notice the absolute focus of the two participants on each other. Notice their “presence” to each other in the conversation.
Now I love the convenience and the possibilities raised by modern communication methods, the technology of the modern era. But here is a simple question: are you comfortable with, and good at, face-to-face communication? Are you good at giving undivided attention in a conversation to another human being? If not, this is something to work on. It will help you at work, in your community, in your most important relationships.
The world really does move forward in the midst of focused conversations. We even have books describing the importance of such moments; Crucial Conversations, Fierce Conversations. And, to state the obvious, to have a crucial, a fierce, conversation, you first have to know how to have a conversation.
(and, yes, “I’m talking to myself”,” also).
update: right after I posted this, my blogging colleague Bob Morris posted Jenny Ming (President and CEO, Charlotte Russe) in “The Corner Office”. It completely reinforced the underlying premise of these reflections. Here’s how it ends:
Bryant: And what was the lesson?
Ming: I learned very early on to communicate, to set expectations and not be afraid to tell the truth.