Your story: Does it provoke answers or state them?

In January, I spent a week with Genie Industries participating in a kaizen event. This week was special–Genie paid a lean manufacturing Sensei upwards of $30k to supervise.
(Shingijitsu’s website looks like crap… Yet my Genie contact told me, “We’re working hard to wine/dine them–otherwise they’ll fire us.” That’s abnormal.)

I’ll never forget asking the Sensei a question; he grabbed my arm, moved to the middle of the process, planted me there, and said “Watch. What do you see?” The more questions I asked, the more questions he asked me. I learned a lot that afternoon.

I was reminded of this quote:

After Seth’s keynote this morning, I reviewed the notes that I was taking… The notes had nothing to do with what he was saying and everything to do with a fistful of creative sparks that were inspired by what he was saying. – Mitch Joel


My non-traditional resume: Seth Godin’s Internship Application

Back in March, best-selling author and thought-leader Seth Godin announced a summer internship:

Send your application (you decide what’s on it, that’s part of the application) as a pdf of no longer than four pages…

So I created this PDF.

(Unfortunately, the text is only readable in full screen.)

There are no shortcuts to wall-able content–creating this took over fifty hours. During the brainstorming process, I filled an entire notebook. Occasionally, I became bored… even frustrated with my lack of direction.

It paid off though–I received nothing but rave reviews, and it’s rewarding to have others say they were inspired to be exceptional.

The (impending) death of XM Radio

Doing dishes in the kitchen listening to Pandora.

High-speed inexpensive internet access is here. Right now. (My parents pay $40 a month for Sprint EVDO service.)

With a laptop, an EVDO modem, and a cassette adapter, I can listen to whatever I want. Legally. I can search by author, genre, song title–you name it.

Why XM??

Definition: “Wall-able”–the goal of all creative content

Earlier this spring, I created an application for a super-exclusive internship. There was one catch–the application requirements consisted solely of the following: “Send in a 4-page PDF–you decide what’s on it, that’s part of the application process.”

After spending many hours thinking about the intersection of the internship and my goals, I decided to create a resume that anyone would find interesting to read, whether or not they hired me.

I want my creative content to be “wall-able.” Something you post on your fridge, e-mail your friend, and print for your son. Content worth the world’s time.

While I didn’t get the internship, I do have a 4-page PDF that many, many people have enjoyed. (It also landed me some internship opportunities that were even better than the original internship!)


Is your creative content wall-able?


Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham, Charlie Munger–Shareholder letters 1957-1970

Two years ago, Dan Grossman posted about the Warren Buffett shareholder letters on his (now defunct) blog.

Finally, I have copies of all of Buffett’’s annual reports from 1957-1970. They’’re spectacular; if you’’d like a copy, let me know and I’’ll send them to you. Unfortunately, I was asked not to post them publicly, though I’’m told that emailing is OK.

He’d received the letters from Brad Feld.

I commented on the post and Dan graciously shared the letters. I also checked the box to receive e-mail notifications of new comments on the thread. Today, two years later, I continue to receive notifications and direct e-mails from people looking for the letters. (Perfect example of the Long Tail at work.)

The letters clearly say it’s not okay to post them, but, like Dan, my understanding is it’s okay to e-mail them. Leave a comment on this post if you want a copy and I’ll email them to you… and thank-you comments are always appreciated. (If I’m in error posting them, just let me know.)

(Note: You can find PDF’s of the more recent letters (post 1977) here:, and the text of the 1969-1976 letters here:

I also have a copy of Charlie Munger’s speech entitled “Academic Economics: Strengths and Faults After Considering Interdisciplinary Needs” presented to the University of California, Santa Barbara Economics Department on October 3, 2003.

Update: These are the Warren Buffett partnership letters–not the Berkshire Hathaway letters form 1970 to 1979, or the Bluechip Stamps letters. I don’t have the Bluechip Stamps letters, and I’m not sure where to get them.

What is “twittering”?

Recently, my Facebook profile status started saying Jeff is twittering:…

No–I’m not a twit.

I’m using Twitter, the trendy service attempting to fill the void of personal, daily updates about a person. If you haven’t heard of it, this Commoncraft video provides an intuitive explanation.


Why have I started Twittering?

  1. To understand the medium–I’ve observed that those who don’t regularly use Facebook don’t understand how it can be useful to a busy person. Since I started using Facebook, I tell marketers they can’t afford to not use it–not for the social side, but to understand consumer mindsets. This is also true of Twitter: many bloggers and early adopters are jumping on the band wagon, so I hopped on too.
  2. It’s platform independent–Twitter has taken off because it’s so portable! I use Twitter Tools on my blog, and it allows visitors to see that I’m active online, despite posting irregularly to my blog. I use the Twitter Facebook widget to tie my Facebook status into my Twitter status.
  3. Build broader relationships–So often I know people online in a single dimension–business, hobbies, etc. Following them on Twitter allows me to see a broader slice of their life, and vice-versa.


Things to keep in mind for Twittering:

  • All public tweets are searchable–this is good/bad. Setup alerts to be notified whenever someone writes a tweet that includes specific words. (Like your name.)
  • It isn’t useful unless you post regularly–get a tool/widget that provides easy accessibility for Twittering.
  • Post too regularly and you’ll overwhelm your followers. This is why I stopped following Scoble.
  • Put your audience first. Post content useful to them–whether friends, business acquaintances, or online followers. Ben Casnocha does a great job of posting useful content for both his friends and his online followers.
  • Don’t forget the personal nature of Twitter. Even more than a blog, people expect (and want) a personal voice.
  • Many find Twitter addictive–control it, or it will control you. (It distracts more effectively than e-mail!)
  • The technology is easy; however, there’s a content learning curve–the what, why, and when you’ll post may take a little time. Commit to it for two weeks, and then re-evaluate.


Interested? Follow me on Twitter:

Want to learn more?

Check out Michael Hyatt’s take on Twittering. He’s the CEO of a Thomas Nelson, a major book publisher… if anyone is too busy to Twitter, it should be him.

Beatitudes for the Friend of the Aged

Blessed are they who understand
My faltering step and palsied hand.

Blessed are they who know that my ears today
Must strain to catch the things they say.

Blessed are they who seem to know
That my eyes are dim and my wits are slow.

Blessed are they that look away
When coffee spilled at table today.

Blessed are they with a cheery smile
Who stop and chat for a little while.

Blessed are they who never say,
“You’ve told that story twice today”

Blessed are they who know the ways
To bring back memories of yesterdays.

Blessed are they who make it known
That I’m loved, respected and not alone.

Blessed are they who know I’m at a loss
To find the strength to carry the cross.

Blessed are they who ease the days
On my journey Home in loving ways….

by Esther Mary Walker

The Guy in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.

For it isn’€™t your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.

He’€™s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’€™ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.

Some people might think you’€™re a straight shooting€™ chum
And call you a wonderful guy.
But the man in the glass says you’€™re only a bum
If you can’€™t look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’€™ve cheated the guy in the glass.

-Written in 1934 By Peter Dale€ Wimbrow Sr., 1895-1954. Passed onto me by Terry Smith

Thank You, Lord.

In the garden of splendor, now waiting above,
He’s preparing a place for us–filled with His love.
He is yearningly waiting as we tell of His plan,
To all of the lost ones His redemption for man.
Our hearts ever open to feast on His word
So graciously taught us by one who has heard.
God bless, too, our leaders who help us to share
God’s riches and blessing He brings to us there.
Thank You, Lord.

Earlier today, I was talking with a friend about death and reminiscing about the few close friends I’ve lost to death during my short lifetime. There is a sadness, but there is also a joy to have shared a few short years with them…

One of those was Grandma Vera…

Vera Glopen was an older lady from my church who my family and I got to know during middleschool and early highschool. She was a spunky woman from a different generation. She had this metal flashlight by her bedside, and repeatedly told me, “If any one ever tries to rob me, I’ll just bop them on the head!”

She and her neighbor, also a member of our church, had been neighbors for forty-plus years. There was this chemistry between them–they were so funny, so cute, and so spry…

Grandma Vera was a woman of prayer who daily spent time reading the Bible and praying for people. After she quit driving, she began letter-writing to encourage people. She was a prodigious writer, sending letters to missionaries around the globe, to friends, to the church leaders…

Eventually, Grandma Vera’s health started failing. The prescribed meds messed with her mind, and she started losing track of reality. Alternative meds were found, and she started getting better; however, this was only a temporary respite. Later that year, her health took a turn for the worse, and she had to enter a nursing home away from her beloved neighbor. We visited her relatively often during this period, but her health steadily deteriorated….

I remember visiting her one final time–we knew this would probably be the last time. By this time, Grandma Vera couldn’t talk, and she floated in and out of consciousness. I remember saying goodbye, holding her frail hand one last time, kissing her, looking into her eyes, and finally leaving…

  • I miss Grandma Vera.
  • I miss her poetry–she would always end it with “Thank You, Lord.”
  • I miss her twinkling eyes–they had such energy and bounce!
  • I miss her quick tongue–it was edgy, but never rude.

“Who needs computers?? Genealogy studies?? [her neighbor’s hobby] She’s just digging up the dead!”

Indeed, Thank You, Lord, for the blessing of Grandma Vera (She died on February 6th, 2002.)

Precious Jesus, My lamb
Why did you come, precious Jesus, my Lamb?
Could you not just have spoken to accomplish Thy plan?
My heart cries in sorrow-I can’t understand!
Oh, why did you come, precious Jesus, my Lamb?
Why did you come, precious Jesus, My Lamb?
Could You not just by love bring redemption to man?
My heart cries in sorrow-I can’t understand!
Oh, why did you come, precious Jesus, my Lamb?
Why did you come, precious Jesus, my Lamb?
Just to be our example of glory to man?
My heart cries in sorrow-I can’t understand!
Oh, why did you come, precious Jesus, my Lamb?
He looked down and saw me, in sin standing there,
My heart fully broken and torn in despair.
From the cross then He whispered, “I came, don’t you see,
To give you Myself, and from sin set you free.”
“I am the Redeemer, God’s lamb, only Son,
(I’ve) come to redeem you in My cleansing blood.
By My death you have died to the power of sin:
By My life you may live, forever with Him.”
So look up and see Him, My Jesus, My lamb,
Who is coming again to complete God’s full plan.
Let not your heart sorrow, you need not despair:
He came to redeem you-precious Jesus, my lamb.
Thank you, Lord.

-Vera Glopen 1985

Thoughts on planning a speech, sermon, or talk.txt

Here are my basic notes on writing a speech, sermon, or talk. This applies mostly to the planning and brainstorming section, not the actual organization and presentation. I’ve found it a useful checklist to review for any important verbal presentation.

This is a work in progress, so I welcome additional comments.


*Remember, the end goal of communication is to maximize the audience’s understanding and retention, as well as launch them into practical application, not how much you say.*

*Comfort the afflicted; afflict the comforted.*

Consider the environment:
1.) Audience
a.) Age
b.) Knowledge
c.) Intelligence level
d.) Energy level
e.) Interest level (less interest means more repetition and more stories–need to generate emotional buy-in)
f.) Will they agree with my foundational assumptions?
2.) Length of talk
3.) Time of day
4.) Physical location

Consider the subject matter:
No matter whether personal choice or assigned topic you have the ability to customize it and emphasize different parts.
Decide general type of talk: Instructive (merely adding to knowledge) or changing pre-existing beliefs, inspirational, or other…

Have a single end goal sentence that describes the successful outcome: “The audience will…”

Decide whether Deductive (SEIA) or Inductive (IESA):

Decide different elements to maximize communication.

Trust (show audience why they should trust you, both intellectually and emotionally)
Emotional tug (lines from songs, stories designed to maximize emotion)
Intellectual tug (poems, and other wordplay, careful explained arguments, derail oppositional arguments)
Experiential tug (stories)
Relational tug
Both love and truth need to be appealed to.

Look for some common threads to flow throughout your entire message. Mention something about your intro in your conclusion–perhaps have both intro and conclusion come from songlines, or something similar. Give the audience lots of hooks to hang onto.
Look for smooth transitions to guide the audience’s minds… don’t force them to leap before they look (intellectually)

Ways to communicate:
Verbal: Tone-words-pauses
Visual: Hands-other body movements-graphics… create & use
Touch: Audience participation by incorporating volunteer or hand raising, or having the audience repeat a statement (or especially slowly repeat more and more of a longer statement)
Time: more time, higher emphasis–remember, the medium is the message.

Tangible steps:
1.) Decide topic
2.) Write out speech goal sentence
2.) Decide elements you really want to incorporate
3.) Build an outline by simultaneously creating forward flow and looking to incorporate specific elements
4.) Create a time outline (At major points decide what time you want it to be)–this will allow you to cut out portions of individual points, rather than hit the first points really hard, and then run out of time. This will also give a better picture of emphasis points, and give more control over the lecture to enhance extemporaneous presentation.
5.) Create/smooth transitions and flow–review emotional flow as well
6.) Smooth for repetition and common threads
7.) Review to verify everything flows from the goal sentence and reinforces it.

Things to beware of:
Purposeless stories for just a laugh (even the intro, while maximizing attention, should flow into the single goal statement)
Over exaggerating arguments
Ad Hominem arguments against the opposition (even if the truth is weak, stick to it, don’t try and over do your arguments, as it will lead to a lack of trust by your audience)
Don’t forget tangible application suggestions!
Appeal to both N’s (abstract theoretical framework thinkers) and S’s(concrete practical doers.)
Emphasize original source and point people there so you can use the trust they have in the source–for example quoting scripture verbatim as well as restating it in your own words.