I Was Humbled by Curious George

April 16, 2013

Back in 2006, my Goal-Free Living book was published by Wiley, and I was feeling quite proud. Later that same year, after giving a speech in Los Angeles, I drove up to Santa Barbara to attend a conference, arriving just in time for lunch.

While standing in the line for the buffet, I turned around and said hi to the guy next to me.

He told me his name was George. He then asked me what I did.

Given my new book and the success of my speech earlier that day, I said with a bit of swagger, “I’m an author and professional speaker.” I was feeling very good about myself.

I asked George, “What do you do?”

He replied nonchalantly, “Oh, I’ve done a bit of television.”

He said it so matter-of-factly, that I assumed he had a small role in television. Maybe he had done a couple of commercials. Or possibly he did some voiceover work; he certainly had the voice for it. Or maybe he once had a “bit” part in a minor show.

He then proceeded to ask me about my book and the work I do, and I gladly shared my life story.

When I sat down at my table to eat, not with George, I looked at the agenda of speakers for the conference.

I was humbled when I realized that the person I was standing next to in the buffet line was speaking later that day. He was none other than George Takei.

At that moment, I realized that truly confident, successful, and impressive individuals do not need to boast. They don’t need to be the center of attention. Instead, they make others feel good about themselves. They ask good questions and are interested in others.

After that embarrassing moment, I have done my best to do what George did with me. Instead of attempting to convince the world of how great I am, I try to bring out the greatness in others. When I am at a conference, I do my best to make others the centers of conversation.

The next time you are with a group, spend more asking questions and listening than talking. Spend more time promoting others than promoting yourself.

As I learned from George, the most powerful people make others feel like a super star.

P.S. I ended up spending about 90 minutes with George. He truly is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He even asked for a copy of my Goal-Free Living book, which I gladly signed and sent. The picture below is what he sent me, to thank me for my book. He is a class act!

George Takei

In March, You Can Have Your Pi and Eat Cheese Doodles Too

March 15, 2013

Today’s Friday Fun Fact

St. Patty’s Day is right around the corner.  It’s time to break out the corned beef and cabbage –  that is assuming that you are not too full from eating pie this past Thursday.  Wednesday, March 14th was Worldwide Pi Day.  And while we may celebrate this auspicious occasion by consuming our favorite home baked delights, this holiday has little to do with those edible creations.

In March of 2009, the House of Representatives designated March 14 (3/14) as worldwide “Pi Day” to encourage the study of Pi and highlight the importance of math and science education programs.

According to www.piday.org, “Pi (Greek letter “?”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.  Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern.”

While 3/14 is a fitting day to celebrate this mathematical wonder, coincidentally it also falls on the birthday of the great physicists, Albert Einstein, who was born in 1879.

If Pi (or pie) is not your thing – don’t worry.  According to thenibble.com, in March alone, there are plenty of other nationally recognized holidays that can tempt your taste buds.

For meat lovers we have National “Cold Cut Day on the 3rd and National Meatball Day on the 9th.  For our vegetarian friends, we have Spinach Day on the 26th and National Artichoke Day on the 16th.   For the snackers amongst us, enjoy Popcorn Lovers Day or National Potato Chip Day (also on March 14th) or my personal favorite, Cheese Doodle Day on March 5th.

Real-World Know-It-Alls

March 8, 2013

Today’s Friday Fun Fact

We all have knowledge that has allowed us to excel in different areas of our life.  But as I had discussed in my Monday Morning Movie, sometimes this knowledge can be the very thing that gets in the way of our success.

But if managed properly, intelligence can be leverage to catapult some pretty astounding careers.  Here are some interesting facts regarding some well-known individuals who have IQs that exceed that of genius level.  According to Business Insider and Listverse:

  • Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, allegedly obtained a perfect 1600 on the pre-1995 SAT, surpassing Bill Gates by 10 points.  And he supposedly has an IQ of 160.
  • Actor, James Woods, who attended MIT on a full scholarship, achieved a perfect 800 on the verbal and 779 on the math portions of the pre-1995 SAT. He opted to leave MIT early to pursue his acting career.
  • Actress and model, Sharon Stone has been reported as having an IQ of 154. As an ironic side note, she described herself as “a nerdy, ugly duckling,” in her online biography at Penn State University Library.
  • Asia Carrerra, who has starred in over 250 hardcore adult movies, has an IQ of 156 and played piano at Carnegy Hall at age 13.
  • Director, Qunetin Tarantino has been tested as having a 160 IQ and actor Steve Martin, 142.
  • Jodie Foster graduated valedictorian of her high school and Magna Cum Laude from Yale.  She  reportedly boasts an impressive 132 IQ.
  • Lesser known, but not any less impressive, is 13 year old Jake Barnett.  At age 3 he visited a planetarium with his parents and responded correctly to a question about the gravitational pull of Mars upon its moons. He has a verified IQ of 170.
  • While never having obtained fame, one of the highest IQs ever recorded, was that of psychiatrist William James Sidis. He started his studies at Harvard University at the age of 11, and was fluent in more than 40 languages by the time he graduated. His IQ has been reported at the astounding level of 275.

Best Practices Are Stupid Infographic

December 11, 2012

Sacha Chua, a “sketchnote artist and experimenter-at-large” from Toronto, developed this very cool infographic of my Best Practices Are Stupid book. And she was kind enough to allow us to share it under the Creative Commons Attribution License.  So spread the love, and visit Sacha’s site to show your appreciation.  (click on the picture to get the full size image).  Thank you Sacha!


Innovation Costs on $0.50

March 4, 2012

I saw this sign while driving in Orlando.  It caught my attention.  As it turns out, there is very little innovation going on at Innovation Way.  Maybe they need to raise the toll.

My New Mantra

September 26, 2011

Chris Martin created this cool graphic that is the mantra for my new book.  As you can see, it includes the url for our soon to be launched website.

Innovation is not replication replication replication

Take Your Shower in the Bathtub…and other travel fun

December 21, 2010

2010 was one of the busiest travel years for me. In just the last 4 months I was in an airport 30 times. Some of my trips included two weeks on the road, traveling from Boston to San Diego to Miami to Niagara Falls to San Antonio, TX to Boston. If you map it out, it makes nearly a perfect star. Another two-week trip was from Boston to Paris to Venice, Italy to Chicago to Dayton, OH back to Boston. International business travel in the last two months also included Dublin, Ireland and Oslo, Norway. As I write this I am on a trip back from Amsterdam, my last plane ride for the year.

During these travels I have observed a quite a few interesting things.  In this article I have an innovation idea, a question, and an observation.

European Bathrooms

So let’s start with something humorous.  Or at least I found it to be funny…

The picture above is a sign that  in my shower in Amsterdam. The sign says, “we kindly request you take your shower in the bathtub.” I felt cheated, because that morning I had planned to shower in the bedroom. Oh well.

But seriously, showers in Europe share something in common: doors that cover less than half of the shower.  People in Europe must be more talented than I am, because I have yet to leave a bathroom unflooded.

There is something very innovative in most bathrooms in Europe: dual flush toilets. These are now just coming to the United States. The concept is simple. There are two flush buttons: one button is for for liquid waste that uses very little water while flushing, and a second button uses the usual amount of water for solid waste . This is a great water saving technology.

Speaking of innovation…

Air Travel & Security

The week of Thanksgiving, there was a concern that a group of individuals would disrupt the security lines by refusing to go through the scanners, opting for me more time consuming hand pat down.

There is a simple solution to this problem. It is a concept I wrote about in my first book, “24/7 Innovation,” called “process pipelining.”

In a nutshell, process pipelining involves segmenting tasks based on complexity. This wildly simple and efficient concept reduced average queuing times by 90% at an insurance company. The same could be done at airports. If you want to be patted down, you go into a separate line. This way you don’t hold up the masses that are happy to go the more efficient route.

I always say, “Design to handle the exception, not or for the exception.”

A Question

And now for the question…

To save my clients money, I always fly economy. When no one is sitting in the next seat, it can be quite comfortable.

But when you have someone next to you, what is the armrest protocol?

Maybe I am too nice, but I find that 90% of the time, the person next to me hogs the entire armrest, often spilling into my space, bumping me throughout the flight.

I often thought it would be cool for there to be a thin “wall” that could be pulled up from the armrest that would clearly delineate boundaries. But if you want to see a solution that someone designed, check out the picture to the left and read the WSJ article.

But given that new airplane armrest don’t yet exist, Wired magazine had a funny solution to this problem, which involves a strategy for claiming the armrest.

What is your armrest strategy? What are some of the innovative, humorous or frustrating things you have observed during your travels?

Happy Holidays and happy travels.

P.S. A while back I wrote an article on how to save big on hotel costs.  Since then some more sophisticated ways of using Priceline have emerged, including the “better bidding” site.

Funny Innovation Quotes (video)

July 14, 2010

A client of mine developed this video for a conference.  They showed it as people entered the room and got seated.  It contains some VERY funny quotes about innovation and change.  Be sure to watch in full screen, add your own music, and enjoy!

L Vaughn Spencer

April 9, 2010

I have been ridiculously busy with the manuscript for the new book.  As a result, my blogging has slowed down.  So, for today’s entry, I want to share with you an interview between a good friend of mine and The Economist.  I’m sure you will agree that L-Vo, as he likes to be called, is brilliant.

What Does This Say?

September 16, 2009

A friend of mine has a very cool T-shirt business.  To promote their products, they developed a set of interesting bumper stickers, including the one below.  I like the design because it involves emblems from playing cards, reminding me of my Personality Poker product.

So, what does this say?

To answer the question, you have to stand on your head and read the image.  Or maybe turn your computer screen upside down.  Or, easiest of all, visit their website.  The URL is the answer.

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