Monday, March 29, 2010

Great Presentation!

I attended a presentation from which I walked away very impressed. I witnessed a stellar presentation.

What the presenter did to be successful:

  • well-versed presenter - their presentation style was calm and collected. Delivered information in a non-threatening way which quickly put the audience at ease. Added humor which also helped
  • knowledgeable and prepared - presenter knew their stuff and their extensive experience on the subject matter became clear early on. This earned them trust and made the audience listen
  • Tools - the presenter had brought some very simple yet very effective software to illustrate the points being made. The software was rudimentary but yet it served the purpose by quickly calculating results which helped put things in perspective. The simplicity of the tool helped everyone understand by focusing on the things that mattered without being distracted with the bells and whistles that sometimes come along with more advanced technology
  • Flexibility - the presenter let the audience set the pace of the presentation and control the agenda. Needless to say this can be risky as the audience can go off on a tangent. However, as the presenter acted as a host/subject matter expert during certain parts of the presentation, much valuable discussion (and learning) took place

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Nano-MBA date change

I can't believe that Seth Godin has changed the interview date to better accommodate the common-folk like myself (that is if I am fortunate enough to get selected for an interview). Instead of conducting interviews on April 17th, he has decided to re-schedule them on May 14th. This change will allow potential candidates to only take one trip to NYC vs. two trips. Mr. Godin also added that for those people that who get selected for interviews but have"their heart set" on the original date he would accommodate that too.

How incredible would it be if all organizations/corporations/entrepreneurs/not-for-profit thought like that: What can I do to make things better for my customer even if it costs me time, money, extra effort?

I am still in awe because things like this rarely happen. Disagree? Think about the last time something was offered to enrich you as a person, for FREE, and on top of that you are notified that to make things easier/better/more convenient for you an adjustment has been made? In addition if you prefer the previous conditions that can be accommodated too!

That's what i thought.

Why travel?

Today, I was talking to a dear friend and it prompted me to write about one of my favourite things in the world: travel. I don’t consider myself an avid traveler; People who take years to wander around the world explore places, different cultures as they search for themselves. I am more the selective, yet generous traveler who lives for the experience and falls in love with the process. I feel the same way about traveling as Carrie Bradshaw felt about shoes: Love them passionately, cherish them till death do us part and consider for what they are - a lifetime investment. Each trip creates its own story, brings along its own special memories invokes emotions and feelings same way the aroma of your grandma’s favourite soup will always bring you back to childhood memories of spending summers by the lake, doing your own laundry (yup, no washing machine) and suntanning as if you had never heard of skin cancer. Love to travel! Reminds me of a specific phase in life and has carved me into the person I am today.

Frances Mayes states the following in her book A Year in the World:

"When traveling you have the delectable possibility of not understanding a word of what is said to you. Language becomes simply a musical background for watching bicycles zoom alongside a canal, calling for nothing from you. You open, as in childhood, and -for a time- receive this world [with fresh perspective, distinct ideas and better understanding]."

When you travel the world begins to shrink and overtime you do not notice limits but rather possibilities; the world becomes your backyard where its your for taking and exploring and enjoying.

Because my family emigrated to Canada when I was thirteen, I learned early on that in essence all people the same. Regardless of economical conditions, culture, religion we all want the same things. We yearn and work and love and complain and then we wake up to do it all over again. But you’ll never realize the core of that unless you wander the world for a little while and talk to a few people that at first glance seem very different from you. Travel gifts you that perspective.

My sister and I were in Prishtina,Kosova looking to catch a cab. It was a hot humid day, there was plenty of people in the streets and we had way too much luggage. A clear sign that we were foreign, spoiled and had money to spend. As we approached the parking lot where much taxi drivers wait in the scorching sun for customers we were the perfect prey. Just for a moment let me define the taxi driver for the Albanian standards: Men of all ages, looking to support their families by driving strangers in their private cars. You see the unemployment rate is 40% in Kosova and when it comes to a minority groups its even higher. People resort to desperate means to earn a bare minimum living and provide for their families. So needless to say when my sister and I approached the area, we had barely set foot in the designated parking area where they had all parked 7-8 men flocked around us with questions and bombarding us with their best rates. This is not uncommon: Something very similar occurred in Barbados. As my Canadian friends and I stepped out of the "Serenade of the seas" looking for a fun-filled-day in the city of Bridgetown we were greeted by the local men and women, carrying posters advertising their own tours, various flyers and a some strong vocal cords yelling the different "Best spots to see in Barbados". The screaming, self-promoting and the determination reminded me of the vendors of St. Jacob’s Farmers market in Waterloo, Ontario early on a Saturday morning.

Coming home and going back to work is always hard to do after a vacation. In fact, I wont lie; Monday morning consists of a few tears as I try to adjust to the drudgeries of the day to day demands. But as the days go by and I soak up my the experience of another wonderful trip I am once again reminded that I am exactly the same as Murat, the taxi driver, and a proud father of two, the young lady who provided us with a beautiful day of sailing and Dalia who sells me fresh fuit every Saturday morning. I wake up to go to work earn a living but I can do it less determination, less effort and perform "ok" yet still get a paycheck by the end of the week. Most importantly I am compensated enough not only to earn a good living but save up for travel. It is good dose of reality and a bittersweet reminder that I am one of the very fortunte people living in an overcrowded world who has the privilege to live the life I want to, make any choices I please and live the life I was meant to. That thought alone is certainly worth trying my harderst each day and doing my very best.

Photographer: Paul Idasz

Friday, March 26, 2010

asking the right questions

I cannot help but notice that people have asked numerous questions regarding the nano-MBA program. What is really interesting is that the same question has been asked several times. Worded differently but the same question. Then there are those questions that ask about re-defining the rules. I know you said this but... I have special circumstances.

SO before I continue any further I will include the rules as they are laid out on Mr. Godin's website.

Here's a checklist. You should only apply if all of these apply to you:
1. You can spend five days and nights in New York from May 17 through 21, 2010.
2. You currently work for a great boss who is willing to write you a recommendation after you make it through the initial screen.
3. The organization you work for makes the world a better place (it doesn't have to be a non-profit).
4. You speak English perfectly and have no trouble doing a lot of reading and writing.
5. You've read at least four of my books--so we can have a running start.

So I will not discuss the questions that directly contradict the rules (i.e. I can't be there in person during some of the dates above....). In this case you do not qualify and asking the obvious question is only wasting time. If you choose to apply then go for it and present your case, but I am not sure asking questions adds any value.

I will focus instead on rule number 3 because it allows some flexibility and hence the one that seems to have spurred lots of questions. If I had to guess I would say that rule number 3 was purposely built in with flexibility because it's supposed to asses how you feel about the work you do. Like most things in life, perception is reality and if you believe your company makes a difference and you are passionate and believe in what you do then that's reality. And as long as you can convey that in your application I would think you fulfill rule #3.
Now when people ask questions like can I still apply if I work for a bank, insurance company, high tech company etc. it sounds like an excuse to not give it your best shot; to save yourself time, effort, to not give it 100%.
So then what is the point of trying? What's the point of trying for anything if you are not going to put your best foot forward? Then you are going to be mediocre and that is just not good enough not only for the nano-MBA opportunity but pretty much everything. It is a waste.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Seth Godin

Seth Godin's blog in one that I follow on a regular basis. I got to see him in Waterloo last year at a Communitech event and I fell in love with everything he said. There is no doubt that Seth Godin is an incredible speaker but what he has to say is so simple yet so profound. And he delivers it in such a modest, yet confident way that you have no choice but to believe every word he says. I was mesmerized.

We have a online discussion board at my work where we share ideas, stories and info about the work we do. To provide some inspiration i often share seth's views on various matters from his blog. You cannot imagine my excitement when I went to visit his blog for my daily mind therapy and noticed that no other but Seth Godin himself was offering a 5-day nano-MBA seminar in May. I had tears in my eyes. An opportunity to spend 5 days with my guru, daily muse and most amazing man alive. The opportunity of a lifetime.
So, just so you all know I have to do everything I can to get this opportunity. Application is due March 31 so the next 6 days will be dedicated to ensuring I have done everything possible to present why i am a worthy candidate.

Hence the blog.

I am not going to lie. I have wanted a blog forever now but something about putting my life, my thoughts, my opinions out there for the world to see and judge was preventing me from actually doing it. I am not afraid of difference of opinions nor do i shy away from a good conflict. There are very few things I like more than a good, heart wrenching turn-your-world-upside-down debate. Where would we be without discussion and exchange of ideas?? But yet I was still afraid. It's one thing to have a debate and share ideas with people you know but online for the ENTIRE WOLD WIDE TO SEE? I needed a push and a reason.

So thank you Seth. Thank you for once again, through your written word, giving me the courage, the inspiration and the wisdom to do the right thing. Thank you for a new beginning.

p.s. for those who live under a rock please check out:

p.p.s. I already have a MBA. But this is more of a reason to do the nano-MBA. The intention of any quality MBA program is to expand your thinking and help you think outside the box. See problems in new ways. Understand other people so you can work with them more effectively. Who can't use more of that?