The Review: How To Be A Presentation God

How To Be A Presen­ta­tion God by Scott Schwertly sells itself as a book that will teach you how to “build, design, and deliver presen­ta­tions that dominate! But does it deliver? My answer is…below. (I’m not giving my secrets away that easily!) But first I want to say this: I won How To Be A Presen­ta­tion God from Michael Hyatt. I was never asked to review it or to give it a positive review.

1000-Foot View

At 253 pages this isn’t a massive book. Scott has broken it down into 5 sections:

  • the new era of presentations
  • content
  • design
  • deliver
  • engage

Each section deals with a different part of presenting. Continue Reading…

Highlights (04.30)

Not much to talk about today. Been settling in at home. There are still lots of boxes to unpack and plenty of things to buy. I have a to do list about a mile long.

These are the kinds of weekends I like after a long trip. Checking lots of stuff off my list makes me feel more accomplished.

Hilarious Prank — These girls turn into old men after you take their picture…people are speechless!

But Why? — Seth Godin always says it best, “There will always be someone telling you that you’re not hip enough, famous enough, edgy enough or whatever enough. That’s their agenda. What’s yours?”

Hyundai 3D — Yes, we’re all getting sick of 3D…that is until Hyundai changed the game with this amazing ad! Watch it in full screen.

The Highlights of Writing

Sometimes the words flow smoothly from my finger tips. The stars align and every­thing comes together into a beautiful post or story.

Other times writing is like pulling teeth.

Tonight writing is hard. I have a lot to say and I want to say it. I want to tell you about the things I have been reading about, the things I observed in Jamaica, and the sweeping changes that have been intro­duced into my life. Instead I’m sitting here strug­gling to find words.

So today you get a high­lights. Over the past few days I’ve come across some things I think you’d enjoy more than the rubbish I would hammer out tonight.

Onto the links!

Lessons in Funem­ploy­ment — If you missed it, Mike of The Bleacher Seats guest posted for me last week. The three part series had some great insights into unem­ploy­ment and over­coming the emotions of being unemployeed.

Play Dead — This is what you get when you mix Dawn of the Dead with Homeward Bound. Yes, you heard that right.

C40X — Brandon has just started “C40x” where he will read the entire new testament in 40 days. It’s ambitious but worth doing once! Check out what he’s already learned from day 1 and 2 and join him if you’ve got a few spare minutes over the next 40 days.

Parents, Dress Your Daughters — This article by LZ Granderson really hits the nail on the head. I could not agree with it more. “That is the purpose of a push-up bra, right? To enhance sex appeal by lifting up, pushing together and basically show­casing the wearer’s breasts. Now, thanks to AF Kids, girls don’t have to wait until high school to feel self-conscious about their, uhm, girls.” (there’s a great follow up video at the top of the page that is worth a quick viewing)

Every Life Has A Story — This amazing video was produced by Chick-Fil-A to “remind us that everyone we interact with is a chance to create a remark­able expe­ri­ence.” It’s worth watching a few times.

Regular posts are back on Tuesday.

It’s Good To Be Home

Coming back from the honeymoon is like waking up from a dream. Every­thing is exactly as I left it, but it’s taking me a bit to adjust to the change.

The changes are crazy, but wonderful!

  • Sleeping in a bed with someone else takes some getting use to. Sometime we fight for the middle.
  • The pantry and fridge are full of food. My stomach is happy just thinking about it.
  • There are more than two kinds of shampoo and I can’t count all the make-up. It’s a world I though having a sister would prepare me for, but alas I am still constantly surprised by it.

There’s so much more. I have only been back a few days so the apartment is still a mess: boxes are every­where (but I can still find every­thing!), nothing but the kitchen is set up (but it’s a great set up), and getting all our finan­cials in order was harder than I thought it would be (no internet for a week put me a bit behind).

But none of those are really issues. Every­thing is great in my world. There’s plenty to do and lots of new stuff to adjust to, but there is also the rest of my life to figure it out.

I’ve learned a lot during my short marriage, and I’ll be sharing some of that shortly, but until then thank you for your support on facebook, twitter, and right here on the blog. I appre­ciate it more than I could every say!

Lessons in Funemployment: Quitting is for Quitters

I’m on my honeymoon this week and my good friend (and best man) Mike has agreed to step in and do some guest posts. He blogs regularly at The Bleacher Seats (a blog about Ranger’s baseball) and has some great insights into life, work, and unem­ploy­ment. This is part three of a three part series. Click here for part 1 and here for part 2

…and now for the exciting conclu­sion of my weeklong series, Lessons in Funem­ploy­ment. (If you’re sick of me and my constant whining, don’t worry. Alex will be back next week.)

I left college in December of 2008 with my Bachelor’s Degree, but I didn’t start looking for produc­tion jobs imme­di­ately, because most of my drive had been lost at that point.

Instead, I came up with a new plan, which was to get any other job that I could find and do that for a year or so. (This could have been retail or working for a restau­rant or whatever as long as it wasn’t in production.)

After working for Mr. Schmitt for another summer, I started looking for real world jobs in the fall of 2009. Nothing much came of that and I sort of meandered about for a while until I was struck suddenly by an epiphany.

It was one morning, just as I was waking up, that I had an idea, the very first thought that popped into my brain. It was something like “I want to make movies.”

My real­iza­tion was that I had had a dream once and that I had let other people like Patrick, Dave, and Mr. Schmitt (those fiends!) talk me out of it. Those people had managed to deaden my spirit, but I wasn’t going to allow that anymore.

From there, I decided that I was going to give it a real go. Not sure how exactly I was going to do it, I set out looking for produc­tion jobs. (That obviously hasn’t worked out because I already told you that I’m unem­ployed. Can this story possibly have a happy ending?! Buckle up, because it’s about to get really real.)

I did get a few gigs early on, but it wasn’t long before they dried up and I was left exactly where I had started.

The weeks and then the months rolled on and there was nothing to show for it. Finding crew calls on Craigslist, I would send my resume out into the universe and never hear anything back. The few leads I had didn’t turn up anything either.

It got harder.

The constant rejection was eating away at me because I was being told almost daily that I wasn’t good enough.

Even­tu­ally I had no spirit left and I slipped into a depres­sion. I still ate and bathed and stuff, but I did little else. You can only get knocked down so many times before you don’t have the strength to get back up. (Is there anyone out there that still wants to call this funemployment?)

There were mornings where I would open my eyes and my very first thought would be “If I lay in bed all day, never even bothering to move to my computer chair, nobody on this planet will even notice.”

That went on for months, I guess. My birthday came and reminded me that I had wasted another year of my life. (This is the first time I can remember not wanting to celebrate my own birthday.) Before long it was Christmas and then New Year’s.

2010 was gone and my life was no better.

Sometime early in 2011 I had another epiphany. This one didn’t slap me across the face like the one before. This one was quieter and more subtle, like someone whis­pering from a different room.

It was something like “Are you just going to quit?”

Truth be told, that sounded pretty good at first. There may not have been anything to salvage anyway, assuming I even wanted to try.

But then there was a spark. I realized that I had let people like Patrick and Dave and Mr. Schmitt take all of the fight out of me and I started to get mad.

At them. At myself. At everybody.

I decided that it was time for me to get up off of the canvas. Not only that, but it was time to start swinging. If it’s hard to find a job, then I’m trying harder and doing it with a chip on my shoulder. Other people aren’t going to tell me what I’m good at or who I am anymore.

You can rest assured that things are going to be different from here on out.

Not just different, but better.

For those of you who know me, you haven’t heard this story before, but it is true. As I went through all of this, it was never something I wanted to talk about. You probably know that I’m not a sad sack and that I don’t like being down on myself all the time. So, I never felt the need to say anything about it.

For those of you who don’t know me, thank you for reading. I’m not sure if you’ve learned anything because it was never my intent to provide content exactly the way Alex does. I just wanted to share my story with you and, if you got something out of it, all the better.

At the very least, I hope I haven’t driven all of Alex’s readers away.

Feel free to tell Alex that he has lost you as a reader in the comments.

While I still stand by my 2nd epiphany, it has not been entirely easy. A few months ago I inter­viewed for a full-time job that was exactly what I’d been looking for. Coming out of the interview, it felt like the best I’d ever had and I waited for a call that never came. So I took another hit and got knocked down, like so many times before…

…but I got back up. I’m not done quite yet.

Lessons in Funemployment: Those Who Say Nay

I’m on my honeymoon this week and my good friend (and best man) Mike has agreed to step in and do some guest posts. He blogs regularly at The Bleacher Seats (a blog about Ranger’s baseball) and has some great insights into life, work, and unem­ploy­ment. This is part 2 of a three part series. For click here for part 1. Come back Saturday for part 3!

It’s Mike again and I’m back for Part 2 of my 3 part series, Lessons in Funem­ploy­ment. (Please hold your applause until the end.)

Since leaving high school, I’ve met a lot of people. Some of those people were positive influ­ences, like friends and college profes­sors. Those people may have chal­lenged me or forced me to look at the world in a different way.

If I did change because of them, it was to become a more mature and well-rounded human person. Someone with a greater under­standing of who he is and what he believes in.

But there were others that I met that weren’t as inter­ested in making my life better. These people were often too wrapped up in them­selves, using other people or trying to keep them down.

Briefly, I want to describe 3 such people that I’ve run across in recent years. We will call them Patrick, Dave, and Mr. Schmitt.

“You’re not good enough.”

Patrick was an instructor of mine in college. He was respon­sible for grading various projects for a film class that I was taking. Patrick wasn’t a bad guy, but he also wasn’t a great commu­ni­cator and his method of grading was based more on the gut than the cerebral. (He gave someone else’s project a poor grade because it ‘felt’ too much like the movie Signs. This is not construc­tive criticism and in no way would have made the film­makers better at their craft.)

As that partic­ular class wore on, a lot of people took issue with Patrick. He seemed to be looking for Hollywood caliber from a group of people in their early 20s. There was, essen­tially, no learning curve and no consid­er­a­tion for the need to grow as a storyteller.

I got a B in the class, but my expe­ri­ence with Patrick took away a lot of my enthu­siasm for film­making. (Mind you, that was the whole reason I went to school in the first place.)

Patrick spent a lot of time teaching me that I wasn’t good enough, instead of teaching me how to get better.

“My ideas are better.”

Dave was a guy that I worked with in my very last semester at univer­sity. We were tech­ni­cally colleagues, but Dave never saw it that way.

He was one of those creative types that is too wrapped up in his own “genius” to consider those around him. He put the rest of the crew he was working with through Hell because he couldn’t get past his own ego.

He also completely failed to under­stand that film­making, like a lot of things, is a collab­o­ra­tive effort and rarely has anything to do with the vision of one man. (Unless you’re George Lucas, which Dave had a lot in common with if you take away George’s money and success).

To Dave’s credit, I did learn one very important lesson from him. Don’t be like Dave.

“Remember that you work for me.”

Mr. Schmitt was my boss at a summer camp that I worked at for 3 noncon­sec­u­tive summers. (Unlike Dave, I actually worked for Mr. Schmitt and not with Mr. Schmitt.)

Mr. Schmitt’s strengths were in marketing and PR, with a lot less emphasis on inter­per­sonal skills. His manage­ment style was like that of a carpenter trying to implement the appro­priate tool to get a job done. (When you’re using a hammer, you don’t have to ask it nicely first. People are not like hammers in this way.)

Aside from poor commu­ni­ca­tion, Mr. Schmitt spent a lot of time inad­ver­tently talking about what I wasn’t doing well. The position that I took over in 2006 had been occupied by another guy for 5 summers.

On days when there wasn’t a lot going on, Mr. Schmitt might pop into my workspace and talk to other employees about how great the guy was that I had replaced.

On and on he would go as I listened to all of the reasons why someone else was better at my job than me.

Of course, there was a lot that I loved about that job and it was far from thankless. But a lot of frus­tra­tion could have been spared if Mr. Schmitt had treated his employees like people and not poseable action figures (with Kung-Fu Action Grip).

All 3 of these men had a profound effect on me. By the time I left college people like Patrick, Dave, and Mr. Schmitt had worn me down. That thing that I had wanted to do for a long time wasn’t all that appealing for a while.

I was burnt out on people who fancied them­selves creative and decided to take a break from all of it. My dream was the last thing on my mind.

Feel free to tell me what a talent­less loser I am in the comments.

If things seem grim now, don’t worry.

My story isn’t over and, like most stories, the hero (that’s me!) can only overcome after a period in which all hope seems lost. Act 3 is coming up shortly and you can tune back in on Saturday to see whatever became of me and my dream.

(You may now applaud.)

Lessons in Funemployment: The Myth of Fun Unemployment

I’m on my honeymoon this week and my good friend (and best man) Mike has agreed to step in and do some guest posts. He blogs regularly at The Bleacher Seats (a blog about Ranger’s baseball) and has some great insights into life, work, and unem­ploy­ment. Show him lots of love, he’s good people. This is part 1 of a three part series. Check out part 2 on Thursday

I can’t predict the future. I want to be upfront about that.

The closest I can get to clair­voy­ance is to tell you what I think probably happened sometime after I wrote this

First, Alex got married to a beautiful girl named Rachel. I was probably at the wedding acting as the greatest Best Man the world has ever known. It’s also probable that I tried to eat my weight in delicious wedding cake, because there is almost no food better than wedding cake.

Then Alex flew off (and hopefully he took Rachel with him) to somewhere sunny and left me to provide a week’s worth of content in his absence.

No doubt Alex wrote a nice little intro for me at the top of the page, but there are a few things I’d like to make sure you know about me before I really get rolling.

My name is Mike (and it’s nice to meet you). I am 25 years old, a college graduate, and have been unem­ployed for almost 2 years. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Radio, TV, & Film, with an emphasis on production.

(I’m also single, in case any of you ladies were looking for a guy who lives with his parents and might occa­sion­ally try to eat an entire wedding cake by himself.)

When I orig­i­nally went to school, I wanted to be in “the biz” as a writer/director. As college wore on, I did very little writing and even less directing. What I did realize is that it isn’t just those two facets of produc­tion that excite me, but produc­tion as a whole. It’s being on set that I enjoy, even if I’m just pulling cables or setting up lights for someone else.

Coming out of college I had a plan to look for that kind of work, but it hasn’t been easy to find it in these economic times. Thus I remain unem­ployed. Continue Reading…

Highlights (04.16)

Today is the day: At 1pm Rachel and I become one.

Yeah, she’s gorgeous

I have been thinking long and hard about what I wanted to write today.

At first I thought I would write about my fear. There is a lot of fear in my heart about this new adventure. Not that I am second guessing it in any way, more so part of me thinks I will fail as a husband. But I decided not to write about that.

Then I thought I would write about dealing with stress while planning a wedding. I may still write that someday, but not today.

I also thought about telling the story of Rachel and me. There may come a day when I do that and pieces of that story will inevitably show up on the blog; But in the end, I do not think I should write about that.

Today there is only one thing to write about: love. Continue Reading…

3 Reasons Student Loans Are Bad Debt

Millions of people think student loans are good debt. They are wrong. There is no such thing as good debt.

There are two types of debt most people think are good:

  1. Mortgages
  2. Student Loans

I think was all under­stand why a mortgage is bad debt. If you forget, go back to 2008 and look at the mortgage crisis. Then look at what banks are doing differ­ently and ask yourself if they learned anything. (Spoiler alert: they didn’t).

Student loans are trickier.

Few people would say college is a bad thing. In fact, college can be a really good thing! Most higher paying jobs expect a bachelor’s degree. And there is no denying a “club” exists that you join when your resume has “Bachelor’s of…” on it. But that does not make going into debt for college a good thing. Continue Reading…

Managers Vs Creators

Paul Graham rocked my world with the essay Manager’s Schedule, Maker’s Schedule . In it he walks through the differ­ence between how managers and creators think about time.

I have been studying creativity for about six months now and one of the issues that keeps coming up is this differ­ence between how creators and managers think about time.

Managers vs. Creators Continue Reading…

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