January 26, 2009

Why Do Brian Tracy and Stephen Covey use Overhead Transparencies?

An overhead projector? That's what Brian Tracy used when I saw him last. You know, where you write on clear plastic transparencies. This came as a surprise. At previous keynotes, he just spoke.

I've never used overheads. No one does.

That's not quite true. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, did the last three times I've seen him.

Live drawings create a sense of anticipation. Energy. Spontaneity. You see a creation made right before your eyes. Much more powerful than the usual prepared PowerPoint presentations.

Live Drawings
How else can you make a live drawing? On a whiteboard or flipchart, if available. But ...
  • you have your back to the audience
  • you're harder to hear (you're further away)
  • your drawings may be hard to read (poor lighting, too small, poor colour choices)
  • small canvas with a flipchart
  • dried out pens or illegible colours like red or orange
The Classic Solution
Though "old-fashioned", an overhead provides an elegant solution. You face the audience, which makes you easy to hear, your drawings fill the illuminated screen, you have a canvas the size of an 8.5"x11" page. Even colours like red stand out. The transparencies give an record of your session. Granted, flipcharts do too, but try photocopying them.

Your pens can still dry out, though. Maybe getting ink on your hands is a problem too.
We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. --- CS Lewis
Few meeting rooms have overhead projectors for transparencies anymore. Too bad. We've lost something. Such is progress.


January 19, 2009


Nobody has a franchise on what is good.
--- Ron Silver

So many ways to make money. Small risk. Large reward. Plus recession-proofing. How can you lose?

That's the message from the Toronto Franchise Show which I attended with my son Jeevan at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The room was surprisingly small and attendance was low. Less crowded than a grocery store on Saturday afternoon.

There were business ideas for everyone ranging from food to movie rentals to hauling junk to solar panels. Most franchises had an up-front charge, ongoing revenue splitting and ongoing charges for marketing.

Your brain gets numb within minutes. With so many vendors, how can an excellent, unique idea stand out?

B Players
Major franchisers like McDonalds, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire and Pizza Pizza stayed away. This left smaller companies, including some we never heard of before. Luckily, there were plenty of samples from food-related businesses.

Pleasant Surprise
Representatives from the Canada Revenue Agency were present to answer questions. The provincial government offers help in starting small business and representatives described how.

A franchise costs you money. Would you like one that's free and puts money in your pocket? Sounds good, but that's just another name for a job. What's the catch? You sell insurance and investment products on commission. Several companies were recruiting new advisors.

One company offered small vending machines for nonconventional locations like staff rooms at car dealerships. Apparently we eat junk food in recessions too. Following a five minute presentation, we were all to get a DVD with more details. A weak lure.

When finished, the presenter brought out a stack of cheap-looking Pepsi t-shirts, gave out two and put the rest back!?! Naturally, attendees expected all of them to be given out. The next prize was a collapsible cooler with a built-in radio. A $60 value! Who wants one? Everyone who put their hands up was told they would get one. Huh? They were chintzy with the t-shirts. What's the catch? You had to attend an offsite presentation.

Finally, we were told we could get a free promotional kit with no strings attached. Except you had to register for the offsite presentation. Not us.

The Call To Action
You did not need your cheque book or credit card. Vendors simply wanted you to register for an offsite seminar or agree to accept phone calls (a way around the Do Not Call restrictions). We were not interested enough to bother. We headed to the nearest Tim Hortons to enjoy the benefits of a franchise without owning one.


January 6, 2009


Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.
--- James Levin

A new year already? Let's start 2009 by looking at what you read in 2008. We'll compare with 2007 to see trends.

Overall visits increased by 2.5 times (+149.86%, to be precise) and 80.4% of visitors were new. The average visit length dropped by 4 seconds and encompassed 1.6 pages.

Canadian visitors --- the target audience --- read 1.9 pages per visit and stayed an extra 11 seconds.

The Top 10 Posts
Here's what you read
  1. Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes: Three Lessons From The Salespeople (a surprise)
  2. Three Communication Tips: Jokes, Length, Offense (the final post of 2007)
  3. Universal Principle of Influence #1: Reciprocity (has links to Robert Cialdini's other five)
  4. The Six Most Influential Word Groups (still don't know the source)
  5. Zig Ziglar's Inspire Podcast: Motivating Messages (I keep forgetting to listen new posts)
  6. Five Presentation Tips From Steve Jobs (a master)
  7. Four Habits of Highly Referrable People (from Dan Sullivan with a snazzier title)
  8. Two Tools PowerPoint Presenters Need (still not universal)
  9. Business Card Etiquette (still not followed enough)
  10. Talking > Typing: Dragon NaturallySpeaking (working better than ever, thanks to a new studio-grade microphone from Santa)
What you're reading shows that you're interested in ways
  • increase your business
  • improve your techniques
  • save time
That jives with the purpose of this blog. You can also see the power of appealing headlines.

Where You Live
Canadian visitors came from 142 cities ranging from Whitehorse to St. John's to Iqualuit. Most of you are in Ontario (where I work primarily). Here are the top cities:
  1. Toronto
  2. Vancouver
  3. Calgary
  4. Ottawa
  5. Edmonton
  6. Montreal
American visitors came primarily from New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Like statistics? Many more categories are available. For a flavour, look at what was read on Riscario Insider last year, a public-oriented site.