Tag Archives: This
Warren Buffett is like that old E.F. Hutton commercial (and I’m dating myself here)–when he talks, people listen. And they listen because he talks and writes, quite well. Which brings us to his latest gem of advice.
“Invest in yourself. One easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now at least is to hone your communication skills. If you can’t communicate, it’s like winking at a girl in the dark, nothing happens. You can have all the brain power in the world but you’ve got to be able to transmit it.”
It’s almost like Buffett consulted me first before answering (which I can assure you he did not). In my over 25 years of corporate experience, without question, the most common trait I saw among those leaders who performed the best and rose the fastest through the ranks was that they had superior communication skills.
Buffett has even said that he doesn’t hang his college or graduate school diplomas on his office walls, but he hangs his certificate from when he completed the Dale Carnegie communication course– because it changed his life. Before overtly working on his communication skills, Buffett said, “I was terrified of public speaking when I was in high school and college. I couldn’t do it. I mean I would throw up and everything.”
So how can you be included in the group of fast-rising, non-vomitous leaders?
In case you’re not ready to sign up for a full-on course, here are two powerful ways you can get started immediately:
Make “clear and concise” your mantra.
When I was doing research for my first book, Make It Matter, a survey of over 1,000 executives revealed the No. 1 problem in communication is a lack of clarity and precision. I offer an acronym to help you cut to the chase and keep your communications SHARP:
- Start by thinking, not talking. “I think out loud” is the enemy of clear and concise.
- Hone in on the main idea quickly. Don’t wander, or they’ll wonder what your point is.
- Add details sparingly. Don’t over-explain. Give just as much context as is necessary.
- Relate to the audience. Think through who you are talking to and why, and tailor your approach accordingly.
- Prepare. “Winging it” and clarity are like the snake and the mongoose (mortal enemies).
Be a non-verbal ninja.
So much of our communication is unspoken. It’s critical to be tuned into non-verbal communication–which you can practice. I use this reminder to keep non-verbal cues top of mind and avoid letting poor non-verbal skills FESTER:
- Facial expressions–watch for them.
- Eye contact–maintain it (without being creepy).
- Space–keep the appropriate amount between you and others.
- Tones–listen carefully for the tone in someone’s voice.
- Expressive motions–be alert for cues like fist pounding or fingers excitedly wagging.
- Real frame of mind–as seen in their posture.
So whether your goal is to raise your net worth or just your relatability, make 2019 the year you brought your communication skills to the next level. Maybe eye level. Like the diplomas on my office wall.
Published on: Dec 11, 2018
A new video from the European Space Agency shows the spectacular launch of the Soyuz rocket.
The video was captured by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and shows the Russian Progress MS-10 cargo spacecraft taking off from the Soyuz rocket on Nov. 16. The spacecraft was carrying food and supplies for astronauts aboard the International Space Station and fuel to resupply the ISS. The spacecraft was carrying 5,653 lbs of supplies and fuel.
The time-lapsed footage condenses the 15-minute launch into a video of just a minute and a half. It shows the Soyuz-FG rocket booster separation, the core stage separation, the core beginning to burn in the atmosphere and go back to Earth after using up its fuel, and finally the Progress spacecraft separating from the rocket and entering orbit to catch up with the ISS.
The rocket flies at 17,900 miles per hour at 249 miles above Earth before it docked two days later.
With the new app, Spotify users can use an Apple Watch to control music, favorite songs playing on a connected iPhone, and choose which device to play songs on. Some features are still missing, however, such as downloading songs to play offline. And Apple Watches with built-in 4G LTE can’t stream music to wireless headphones, a feature that would appeal to music-loving runners.
Part of the appeal Apple imagined the Watch having was to avoid having to pull a smartphone out of a pocket to control an app’s functions. Streaming music is tailor-made for such a device, as listeners frequently want to change volume, switch tracks, or move around playlists.
“With this new app, users can enjoy an improved experience with better control and the ability to seamlessly connect to your speakers or devices,” Spotify said in a statement announcing the app. “The new integration with Apple Watch makes accessing your recently played songs simple, even with your phone in your pocket.”
Spotify is the most popular music app, with more than 190 million users. Apple Music has been growing quickly, however, having a user base of more than 50 million users. Releasing a Spotify app for the Apple Watch may strengthen the music service’s appeal among Apple’s loyal customers.
Spotify said it will be rolling out the new app to Apple Watch owners during the coming week. Spotify users will need to install the latest iPhone version of Spotify from the App Store.
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
That time when we give each other gifts, sometimes reluctantly, and hope to get better gifts in return.
That’s somewhat the logic of companies that release warm, emotional Christmas ads.
They hope that, on giving you such a gift, you’ll immediately rush over to their store to buy lots of things you don’t need.
Still, the UK’s Iceland supermarket chain thought it would raise the tone a little.
What was the baby orangutan doing in her room? Running away from the nasty humans who are destroying its forest, in search of palm oil to put in foods.
Naturally, the little girl takes up the orangutan’s cause.
She’ll fight for its survival.
She’ll presumably make a plea to Santa that he should fly his reindeer over the nasty humans and drop coal all over their rapacious heads.
You might be wondering what all this has to do with Iceland.
Well, the chain is taking this opportunity to say it’s removing palm oil from all its own-label products.
A very Christmassy gesture, you might think.
Not according to the UK authorities who approve ads, it isn’t.
You see this ad was originally a Greenpeace film. Iceland merely asked if it could use it and change the ending a little.
Which the UK ad authorities deemed political. So they banned it from UK screens.
One can’t let British children hear political messages, you know. They might grow up wanting to be part of Europe again.
Iceland insists it’s not anti-palm oil, merely anti-deforestation.
You can imagine, though, that it knew what the rules were and that the ad might be banned.
Which would then create huge publicity. Which would perfectly serve Iceland’s purposes and perhaps even save it a little money along the way.
Indeed, as Richard Walker, son of chain’s founder Malcolm, told the Guardian: “We always knew there was a risk [the clip would not be cleared for TV] but we gave it our best shot.”
Oh, I think you gave it a very fine, cost-effective shot indeed, Richard.
As I write, the ad has already enjoyed around 1.5 million views on YouTube.
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Brad Settlemyer had a supercomputing solution in search of a problem. Los Alamos National Lab, where Settlemyer works as a research scientist, hosts the Trinity supercomputer—a machine that regularly makes the internet’s (ever-evolving) Top 10 Fastest lists. As large as a Midwestern McMansion, Trinity’s main job is to ensure that the cache of US nuclear weapons works when it’s supposed to, and doesn’t when it’s not.
The supercomputer doesn’t dedicate all its digital resources to stockpile stewardship, though. During its nuclear downtime, it also does fundamental research.
Settlemyer wanted to expand the machine’s scientific envelope. So he set out in search of a problem that even Trinity couldn’t currently solve. What he found was a physicist who wanted to follow only the most energetic particles through a trillion-particle simulation—a problem whose technological solutions have surprising implications for the bomb babysitters at Los Alamos.
Settlemyer and his team—a collaboration with Carnegie Mellon’s Parallel Data Lab—had been working for a while on a way to create huge numbers of files very fast. But they didn’t know how far could they push that capability. How many files, and how fast? “We were working on this tech, and we needed a use case,” he says. “What we really wanted to was find something over the top.”
So they started asking around Los Alamos, and found a lab scientist studying “Fermi acceleration,” a speed-up that happens to the particles in supernovae and solar flares. As particles oscillate back and forth, they gain speed along the way—acting kind of like pinballs bouncing between bumpers. The scientist wanted to simulate a plasma, the fourth state of matter that’s just a stew of dismembered nuclei and electrons, and see if its pinballs accelerated this way.
To do so, however, he needed to find out which few thousand particles—out of a trillion or so—accelerated to the highest speeds. “The problem,” according to Settlemyer, “is you don’t know until the end.” That made the particles essentially untrackable under the existing computing limits.
But maybe he and his team could fix that, if they could gin up files fast enough. They’d use a kind of program called a “vector particle-in-cell,” or VPIC code, invented at Los Alamos back [in 1955(http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.470.2911&rep=rep1&type=pdf). This program essentially allows scientists to keep track of individual particles, to see where they go and what they do in a certain situation. In nuclear research, scientists often use particle-in-cell code to understand how plasma mixes with plasma.
That mixing matters for Los Alamos because nuclear bombs produce plasma. Scientists don’t explode bombs with abandon anymore to understand them—as they did in the early days, turning islands into holes. Instead, they simulate bombs’ statuses, and look back at old videos to try to simulate what they see. To date, they haven’t been able to get at all the nuance in the footage. But with slick new simulations, Settlemyer says maybe they can.
But first, they had to test their file-creation speed limits using the physicist’s Fermi acceleration problem.
Here’s how such a simulation would classically work: The supercomputer would essentially take snapshots of all trillion particles at once, throughout the process. To find the most energetic characters in the final picture, and then rewind through their trajectories, the supercomputer would need to dig through each snapshot (each a couple of terabytes) to pull out the path of the relevant particles. “That was a huge cost,” says Settlemyer. Too huge: It would have crashed Trinity.
Settlemyer’s solution was, instead, to create more files with less information: one file for every particle, tracing each one through the entirety of the simulation. If Settlemyer put those files into a searchable index, the scientist could simply ask the computer, “Which of those particles’ lives ends with the biggest bang?”
The scientist can then just pull and parse those personal dossiers. “We’re able to retrieve the data between 1,000 and 5,000 times faster,” adds Settlemyer. Fast enough to make the scientist’s Fermi acceleration research doable. Trinity created a trillion files in two minutes—a world record.
It’s not just an academic achievement. That speed could allow scientists to follow the trajectory of a particle (or 10,000 particles) in a trillion-particle warhead simulation. The warheads whose integrity, remember, Los Alamos is tasked with maintaining.
The US hasn’t added new warheads to its stockpile in decades. But based on the nation’s first Nuclear Posture Review since 2010, that may be changing—and bringing more work to places like Los Alamos. “Many hoped conditions had been set for deep reductions in global nuclear arsenals, and perhaps for their elimination,” read a draft of the review. “These aspirations have not been realized. … We must look reality in the eye and see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.”
More Great WIRED Stories
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Executive Speakers Bureau is one of the most successful speakers bureaus in the U.S. and one of the only speakers bureaus to ever hit the Inc. 5000. Founded by Angela Schelp in Memphis in 1993 (husband and partner Richard Schelp joined as president and co-owner in 2001), Executive Speakers Bureaus offers and books hundreds of keynote speakers nationally and internationally and continues to grow at a pace rarely approached in this competitive industry, nearly doubling its overall revenue and number of bookings in just the last four years, while maintaining a reputation for customer service and community involvement that is widely viewed as second to none.
Micah Solomon, Inc.com: You’ve spoken in passing about the importance of your vision of success. Can you explain what this means specifically as it relates to commercial success?
Richard Schelp, President and Co-Owner, Executive Speakers Bureau: In order to succeed in a competitive marketplace, you need a true plan or strategy. Our ability to anticipate some of the challenges we have had to face in the industry and our understanding of how to address those challenges has kept us ahead of our competitors and driven our success in revenue and profitability.
Solomon: I’ve heard you and Angela speak about the power of your company’s culture and the pride you take in your employees. Can you speak a bit about this?
Schelp: From the beginning the culture of Executive Speakers Bureau has been built around respect for each other, a true sense of team, and the fact that both what we do within our business and in our community affects many people’s lives. Very few work environments can promise its employees this kind of value.
Our employees are some of the best you will see in any industry, and certainly in ours. It is not just a job to them. They are proud of where they work, and they truly feel responsible for the success of Executive Speakers Bureau. This is the reason why they want to stay. They want to see this thing through to the end.
Solomon: What in your and Angela’s prior background led you to be able to take this approach and succeed with the culture of your company and your relationship to your employees?
Schelp: Both Angela and I have a wealth of corporate experience (IBM, AT&T, and other big firms) in which we have both managed and worked for a number of people. When you have seen a lot of examples of great and terrible management, you start to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. All of the previous managers that I respected established environments in which I felt comfortable going to them, and they were the primary reason for me enjoying my job.
Solomon: Your bureau has grown quite quickly. How is life different now that you are an agency of significant size and pull?
Schelp: Life at Executive Speakers Bureau is definitely a little bit different now that we are much bigger. With that does come a level of responsibility and respect. Because of our increased size, we now have a larger role within our industry association. As a matter of fact, I will become the president of the association next Spring.
Also, in the early years of our bureau we used to base our decisions about processes, documents, fee recommendations, etc. on what the larger bureaus were doing. Now we don’t check with others. We make our decisions based on what we know and what we think makes the most sense. Surprisingly many bureaus are following our lead, and they are calling us to ask how we do things.
Solomon: Many of my readers are entrepreneurs and business leaders themselves. It’s very helpful and enjoyable (!) for them to hear about mistakes you’ve made or tricky situations you’ve endured in the past, what went sideways and how you either dealt with it or learned from it.
Schelp: A few years ago I faced an extremely tricky situation that taught me so many lessons as a business owner in our industry. A high-profile sports figure was supposed to speak for me at a large convention in New York. He decided to fly in on his private plane the morning of the event. However, there was a terrible electrical storm that morning, and his plane was grounded, leaving me without a speaker. I received the call at 6:30AM and the speaker’s presentation was at 10:30AM. I had four hours to find a replacement for a great speaker and get him to the event on time. Immediately I went to work by calling all of the speakers and agents who were high quality and could get there-and, ultimately, I was fortunate enough to find a speaker who my client absolutely loved.
The lessons from this incident were numerous, but most importantly I realized just how crucial it is to have access to many resources, so that an emergency situation becomes doable, otherwise it is impossible. Also, I learned that as long as you are determined and efficient any task can be accomplished.
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
In today’s America, we tend to feel gray areas are a touch passé.
You’re either right or you’re wrong. And if you can’t see which you are, then you’re two slices short of a sandwich.
How, though, can you even begin to persuade someone who’s mistaken — or even worse, vehemently disagrees with you?
A new study makes a curious suggestion, one that won’t please everyone.
The study, conducted by Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College and Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter, is entitled The roles of information deficits and identity threat in the prevalence of misperceptions.
They’re very polite about the fountains of knowledge pouring into today’s humans.
“Why do so many Americans hold misperceptions?” the researchers ask.
To which I reply: “Why do many Americans now put mis in front of pleasant words, instead of calling them that they really are? Lying has become misspeaking? Oh, I don’t think it has.”
Nyhan and Reifler come to a startling, even painful conclusion: “In three experiments, we find that providing information in graphical form reduces misperceptions. A third study shows that this effect is greater than for equivalent textual information.”
Yes, if you want to persuade your half-cut, halfwitted neighbor or colleague about the parlous state of the world and the dangers of fascism/socialism/democracy/self-help books, your best bet is to show them a chart.
Worse, it seems that a chart is better than even text. Goodness, is that where I’ve been going wrong all my life?
I can, though, already see Jeff Bezos’s eyes rolling into the back of his head and emerging with a very red hue.
As the Amazon CEO explained in his latest letter to shareowners: “We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos. We silently read one at the beginning of each meeting in a kind of ‘study hall.'”
So no slides or charts and graphics for Bezos. All he wants is a short story. Could he, perhaps, misperceive the benefits of charts?
Still, charts surely can’t be so effective, otherwise everyone would have tried them.
Moreover, it’s not as if you can create a chart to describe every false belief. How, for example, do you create a chart for a CEO who simply thinks his touch and feel is always right?
Nyhan and Reifler explain that a considerable reason why people hold on to false information is purely psychological. It confirms their world view.
“On high-profile issues, many of the misinformed are likely to have already encountered and rejected correct information that was discomforting to their self-concept or worldview,” they say.
Yes, but it’s not as if that nice man on CNN with his Election Night charts has ever persuaded many people, is it?
Expect, though, the rising stars in many companies now rushing to create charts in order to show that they’re right and their brain-manacled bosses are wrong.
Expect, too, that American politics will now be revolutionized with the presentation of definitive charts of right and wrong.
You think I’m wrong about that?
Send me a chart to show me why.