From personal experience and conversations with many experts in the business-to-business field, there is reasonable agreement that most corporate sales, marketing and PR lingo suffer from …
“The Four Too’s.”
Too cowardly cacophonous
Agree or Disagree?
Why is that?
Essentially it boils down to:
Trying to be all things to all people at all times
Not knowing you can’t be all things to all people at all times
Trying to sound really sophisticated, cool, intelligent, intricate and inclusive
And finally, the biggie, not understanding your customer/buyer. They only want one thing. Understand this. You exist to solve a problem for them. That’s it.
An Analyst study of executives who were likely to buy enterprise software (high dollar amount purchases typically), discovered that large vendors promoted speeds, feeds and technology innovation to their marketplace.
And buyers? Not so much.
These promotions more often than not entail lengthy and wordy descriptive obfuscations. Yes, I know what the word means. I’m trying to sound really sophisticated, cool, intelligent and inclusive. (Didn’t work, did it?)
But Guess What?
Buyers don’t care about that. They don’t care about the sales brochures with their pandemically infected corporate gobbledygook word, or the 182 PowerPoint slide presentation — both infested with words drained of all meaning.
They essentially want one thing: understanding. Simple understanding. Clear, short, concise messages and understanding.
Understanding of What?
Understanding of them, their businesses, their processes, problems.
You Are There for Only One Reason
Understanding that the only reason you are there is to help them solve a problem — or introduce them to an idea that will make them better, or their life easier in some way.
They don’t want or need the wordy intellectual technical features and functions tomes.
Keep it simple! Less is more.
More of less is less of more which is, besides confusing … great! We need more of less.
Many an executive has spun wildly hilarious tales of the innovative creative ways they have used sales brochures. Soon a corporate sales brochure may rival Duct Tape for the many ways they can be ill-used.
Typically executives throw away all the cutesy, excessively long-winded corporate gobbledygook brochures as soon as the salesperson leaves the room. Or they will store them on a large dusty file cabinet — until they find a need for useless paper.
Some other findings of the analyst study were interesting as well.
Buyers will pay for …
fast return on investment,
easy implementation, and
But how is that different from 20-30-40 years ago? And isn’t that applicable to any buyer? Any industry? Any country?
Buyers Want What They Want
Buyers are pretty basic. They want what they want. Understanding, practicality and their problems solved – whatever they are.
Would You Buy From This Company?
no return on investment,
hard-to-implement products, and
the world’s worst customer service.”
Just a wild guess … but I’m thinking not.
The Value Of Being a Simpleton
I like simple messages (I’m a simpleton) that give me four tools to combat the four too’s.
The Four Tools
What do you do?
How do you do it?
What makes you different from others?
Why should I buy from you (value proposition)?
But, having recently this corporate hypothetical supraluminal messaging,
“We build, sell and support hypothetical superluminal quantum particle applications with ERP, CRM, BPM, MRM and PLM functionality targeted at horizontically vertical market particularities with platform-neutral ‘LMNOP” (sorta clever, alphabetically speaking) interoperability.”
Featuring an Interview with Al and Laura Ries, authors of WAR IN THE BOARDROOM: Why Left-Brain Management and Right-Brain Marketing Don’t See Eye-to-Eye – and What to Do About It.
There’s a war going on in American business. It’s a war that needlessly inflicts serious economic harm on customers, employees, companies and stakeholders.
It’s a war that causes great ideas and products to vanish. To get lost in the clear fog of logical logic. A devastatingly destructive war that helps bad ideas take root and grow (albeit briefly), nurtured and justified by common sense and … logical logic.
LEFT-BRAIN MANAGEMENT vs. RIGHT-BRAIN MARKETING
What does that mean? How does it work? What to do about it? Find out in this interview with bestselling authors Al and Laura Ries.
BUT FIRST …
The markets being the shape they’re in – no jobs, no money, no hope, economic despair, destruction and disheartenment all around, I thought it’d be the perfect time to start a new company.
So I did. It’s called “Kayser’s No-New Media.” I specialize in old media – none of that highfalutin New Media Web 2.0 vaporware. My differentiator? I go back through time, find and revive great ideas from the past that have gone bad, mostly because they were ahead of their time, or were poorly executed.
See, I understand the left-brainer vs. right-brainer war mentality. I’m above all that Byzantine internecine strife. In fact I’m going to profit handsomely from it because I’m a “Know-Brainer.” I use both sides of my brain, that’s why the new business is booming. Well … at least my one ( beta account – no money has actually exchanged hands yet) account is.
My first job is for an auto manufacturer. Yes I know, not the best time to be dealing with the auto industry. But my client is getting mega bucks in new investment (from taxpayers) … what an opportunity! And this auto dealer has total faith in my new approach. We’re getting ready to rock the Auto World. There is only one catch. They asked that I run my ideas and marketing concept by some world-class Marketing & PR strategists. “No problemo,” (Sometimes I speak German to impress new clients) said I. “Piece of cake.”
I’m going to trust the reader not to leak the top secret details of the project below – or crib the idea. Here’s the concept.
We’re bringing back the Edsel.
Sure it was a colossal flop. Worst car of all-time. But that was only because it was way ahead of its time. It was a DaVinci-like beauty.
And the name – Edselzilla?
Car sales are all about the name. Has to be something that rolls off the tongue. Has to be memorable. Meaningful.
I crafted a crafty neologism from the words “Zilla” and “Illa,” and came up with the name, which also has a scintillating etymological iconic meaning … and could it roll off the tongue any easier?
FULL OF HIGH-TECH PRODUCTS
I made sure the engineers loaded the Edselzilla with incredibly complex and sophisticated products that most people will never use. Products like seats that vibrate and shake to the music – different beats – different shakes, depending on the music. Slick, huh? And, taking advantage of the latest in nanotechnology advancements, the Edselzilla computer sensors monitor the mood of the driver (based upon complex gluteus-maximus seat vibration algorithmic calculations) and displays it for all to see. Can you imagine? A blue-green car means a peaceful driver. A red car … road-rage candidate.
And reliability? We rock. What’s one of the biggest value props for a car? Reliability. The Edselzilla prototype’s been road-tested for a year. It’s better than anything on the market. Tops the Lexus and the Mercedes even.
LOW-END OF THE HIGH-END, HIGH-END OF THE LOW-END
Price Point? A mere $150,000.
We’re going to own the low-end of the high-end, the high-end of the low-end and the almost-highest end of the ultimate high-end. How? We’re going wide. On the drawing boards we have a product line wider than the Grand Canyon. Proof?
Nedselzill: This is sorta niche’ey. For all the guys named Ned Line. Probably not a big-seller at first.
Pedselzilla: The Environmentalist/Green Crowd Line- Equipped with pedals.
Qedselzilla: For the up and coming Quantum Physicist Line
Redselzilla: The only car for People with Red Hair Line
TEDselzilla: The Ted Nugent Fan Line. Comes with a zebra-skinned, M-60 machine-gun attachment on the hood, wood-burning grill on the dash (can cook up to 30 lbs of wild game – cookbook included). Coolest feature? The TEDselzilla’s doors flip up and turn into concert venue-sized speakers. Personally, this is the one I’m buying when it comes out – before Ted Nugent captures the Presidency in 2012.
Weaselzilla: For Politicians Who Raise Taxes on Everyone but Themselves Line -This one will be huge.
We’ll own the market.
Now … for the coup de grâce . A “slam dunk” as a CIA chief once said. I personally negotiated a distribution deal with one of the largest retail chains in the world. Exposure will be incredible. Edselzillas will soon rule the world. Guess who the distributor is?
The largest retailer in the world! The biggest audience. Take your breath away? I knew it would … that’s about it. Wait until Al and Laura hear about this. They’ll probably want to invest.
ENTER: AL & LAURA
Al Ries and Laura Ries are the dynamic father and daughter duo that have reshaped branding in the 21st century. The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR ruffled more than a few feathers and changed the way we look at advertising forever.
Al and Laura Ries have been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age, Business Week, and USA Today.
Laura is a frequent media commentator appearing on Fox News, CNN, CNBC, Fox Business, ABC News, CBS, PBS and Bloomberg.
WIN THE BOOK: For keeping the secret I disclosed above – the first 20 people that send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with “TEDZILLA” in the subject line will win an autographed copy of Al & Laura’s new book.
FINALLY – THE INTERVIEW BEGINS
Steve: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I have a few questions about “WAR IN THE BOARDROOM,” and then want to run a real-world business branding concept by you. First … why did you write this book? What prompted it?
Al Ries (Al): 40 years of frustration. Marketing and Management are at war. In our years of consulting work, we have participated in many battles over marketing strategies and tactics. On many occasions, we have lost those battles and have the scars to prove it. The reason for the war is that marketing and management don’t understand each other. The reason they don’t understand each other is that their brains are different.
Laura Ries (Laura): Management people tend to be left brain thinkers. Left-brainers are verbal, logical and analytical. Marketing people tend to be right brain thinkers. Right-brainers are visual, intuitive and holistic. Our goal with this book is to help establish better communications between marketing people and management people. Better communications leads to better branding.
Steve: Examples of left-brainers?
Al: If you’re the CEO of a major corporation, chances are good you are a left-brainer. Management people tend to be logical, analytical thinkers. In order to make decisions, they want to be supported by facts, figures, market data, and consumer research.
Laura: Directors of Marketing. If you’re in marketing, chances are good you are a right-brainer. Marketing people tend to be intuitive, holistic thinkers. They often make decisions by “gut instinct” with little or no supporting evidence.
Steve: What about “Know-Brainers” (like me) that use both sides off the brain equally?
Al: We call that “Ambibrainerity.” It’s similar to ambidexterity. Most people who are thought to be ambidextrous (switch hitters in baseball, for example) are really left-handers who, with a great deal of practice, have taught themselves right-handed skills. Or vice versa.
Laura: Ambibrainerity is extremely rare. While you can learn to exercise the less-favored half of your brain, working both sides equally is almost impossible. Depending on how you were born, you are going to have to live your life either as a left-brainer or a right-brainer. Every occupation seems to attract people who favor one side of their brain or the other. It might take logical, analytical thinking to run a corporation, but it also takes intuitive, holistic thinking to run the marketing program for that same corporation.
Steve: Is there a common theme or thread that runs through these left-brain vs. right-brain wars?
Al: Yes. There’s usually a common theme to the lost battles. Management argues for ideas and concepts that are just plain “common sense,” a reflection of their left-brain thinking.
MARKETING=INTUITIVE. NOT LOGICAL
Laura: We argue for ideas and concepts that might not be logical, but intuitively we believe are ideas that will work, a reflection of our right-brain thinking.
Steve: I’m going to ask a dumb question …
Al: Who decides in these wars? The deck is stacked. Every marketing decision has to be approved by management. Guess who loses? Of course marketing loses. But more importantly, the two sides are engaged in a war that undermines companies, careers, brands, stockholders and consumers alike.
Steve: Okay … How about a real-world example of an idea battle that management won that marketing would never have thought of? Maybe something from the auto industry – since it’s a hot topic right now. (I’m prepping them for my pitch here. Subtle … isn’t it?)
THE REALITY OF PERCEPTIONS
Al: Okay. Let’s talk about the Volkswagen Phaeton. It’s a high-end luxury car, priced at $100,255, and received glowing reviews from Forbes and USA Today. Business 2.0. hailed it as, “Overwhelmingly the best value among high-end luxury cars.” Remember this. Left-brain management types deal in reality. Facts, figures, charts and numbers. Management acknowledges the importance of perception, but believes that perception is just a reflection of reality.
They think if you change the reality, you change the perception.
The reality was that the low-end car sales were being taken over by Japan and Korea. Chinese brands were poised to enter the US market. Logic dictated that Volkswagen needed to move upstream – up market, to the more profitable high-end luxury cars. It’s completely logical. Common sense. And completely wrong.
THE PERCEPTION OF REALITY
Laura: Right-brain marketing types deal in the reality of perception. What matters to marketing people are not the “facts” of a situation but what’s in the mind of the consumer, which may or may not correspond with reality. What’s in the mind of a “Volkswagen” consumer? Do you think buying a $100,000 car is?
Changing reality is easy; changing perceptions is exceedingly difficult.
Steve: And what happened?
Al: What do you think?
Steve: Well, I’ve never really heard of the Phaeton. But … it’s a Volkswagen.
Al: Exactly. It’s a Volkswagen. Not a BMW. Not a Lexus. The company couldn’t give them away. The Volkswagen Phaeton was introduced in November 2003. Since then, only 3,354 units have been sold in the United States.
Laura: Perception won out.
Steve: But what if it was the best product on the market? The absolute slickest-sweetest-superior and most reliable? Like a Mercedes. Loaded with high-tech features, bells and whistles that would awe a NASA astronaut? Wouldn’t that make a difference? Save the day?
Al: That’s your left-brain coming out. Management believes that nothing matters except the product. Building a better product is the objective of most chief executives. Wrong. Now let’s talk about “reliability.” Where do you think Mercedes Benz finished in an “Automotive Brand Reliability” survey by Consumer Reports … out of the Top 35 Brand names?
Steve: 1st or 2nd?
36TH OUT OF TOP 35!
Laura: Meredes ranked 36th in the 2007 Consumer Reports “Predicted Reliability” customer survey. Right-brainers know you don’t win with a better product. You win with a better brand.
GOING DEEP AND WIDE
Steve: What if they would have had a deep and wide product line? Be all things to all people? Wouldn’t that have turned the tide in their favor?
Al: That’s logical. Sounds like common sense.
Steve: Absolutely. (I knew I was on to something big now)
Al: Left-brain management types always favor a full line. Common sense suggests that a full line of products and services allows you to sell more than if you had a narrow line. Completely wrong. That’s why it’s so hard to win these battles. Common sense is a tough opponent.
Laura: Right-brain marketing favors a narrow line. Selling is the second step in a marketing program. The first step is building a brand in the mind. Building a brand with a full line can be difficult because you don’t stand for anything. And if you don’t stand for anything …
Steve: But if you stand for all things? You’ll surely sell something. I mean it’s just common sense.
Al: Management counts on common sense. Management approaches every situation in a sane, sensible way. Their emphasis is always on the product and the execution. Like I said … very hard to win a battle because common sense and logic … are so logical.
Laura: Marketing counts on marketing sense. The more experience a marketing person has, the more he or she realizes that common sense is usually wrong. Often the illogical, uncommon sense “marketing idea” produces the best results.
Steve: So how do you think this played out when planning for the new high-end Volkswagon Phaeton?
Al: A bunch of people sat down with reams of reports, data, facts, looked at the hard market realities they faced and came up with the logical idea of a $100,000 plus V0lkswagen. Then they had to justify it. Make it make sense. A $100,000 plus Volkswagen. Can you imagine? Why … that’d be like bringing back the Edsel and selling it at WALMART as a high-end luxury car.
DAWS MOMENT (indicates a Deep, Awkward Silence)
Laura: A right-brain marketing type would have never thought it was a good idea. In the automobile field what matters is the brand. Not the product. Perception dictates reality.
Steve: What’s a right-brainer supposed to do when dealing with left-brain management?
Al: Speak their language. Facts, figures, market share analysis. Present their intuitive ideas to a logical thinker logically, in their language.
Laura: Right-brainers have to sell their visual ideas to left-brain management types in verbal terms. Talk about product benefits and features instead of “positioning” the brand in the mind.
Steve: Thank you so much for your time. But … I have to admit something. I’ve been disingenuously disingenuous. I’ve asked most of these questions because I’ve started a new company – and we’re rolling out a new car model. I wanted to test the concept with you. Both from the left-brain and right-brain approach.
ANOTHER DAWS MOMENT
So … I went through the whole EDESLZILLA concept.
A BLACK HOLE DAWS MOMENT
Steve: So what do you think of my Edselzilla? It rocks? Too much left-brain? Right brain? Or …
HOW DEEP CAN A DAWS MOMENT GET?
I don’t know if the reader knows it or not but Al & Laura would be considered right-brain creative types. So they did what any right-brain creative type would do. Presented their answer in a visual.
About Al Ries & Laura Ries
Al & Laura been have been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age, Business Week, USA Today, Marketing News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Brandweek and countless other domestic and international magazines and newspapers. Laura is a frequent media commentator appearing on Fox News, CNN, CNBC, Fox Business, ABC News, CBS, PBS and Bloomberg.
Al and Laura are branding gurus known for delivering business insights with wit, wisdom and worldliness. They are sought after speakers around the world including the U.S. India, China, Europe and South America. So far they have worked in 60 countries and counting.
Al is Chairman and Laura is President of Ries & Ries, the marketing strategy firm they founded in 1994. Together they work with clients like Microsoft, Ford, Disney, Merck, Frito-Lay and Unilever.
A quick, concise communication meant to persuade someone to do something – buy a product, service, idea, etc.
A pitch is a story told with the goal of getting someone to buy into your idea; it’s your request for action. You want them to do something. You appeal to their reason and emotions. They want you to do something too. Don’t be stupid, waste their time or insult their intelligence with lame words drained of meaning.
We all pitch. Everyday. To our friends, family, business, clients, etc.
There are good-to-great pitches. They’re informative, entertaining and on occasion, wonderfully inspiring. They connect with you emotionally and ride the road of reason and common sense to their intended destination―the “decision.” And, more often than not, the decision is right.
Then there are the boring-to-bad pitches. Lame ideas, poorly packaged, with an even worse delivery. Wasted words and wasted time―yours and theirs. But, on the upside, you do get to the intended destination― the “decision”―much quicker. It’s no. A quick no. Then there’s the…
Worst Pitch Ever
I have first-hand experience with this one. How? Why … I did it. Me. Fessing up to it.
It was horrible. A crime against logic, reason and the human language. A stinker of epic proportions. But in the end, it enriched me beyond belief. And it all started with …
A Flea Market Miracle
I was book shopping at a high-end flea market (we have them in Ohio) when I ran across a book called “Making Miracles” by Dr. Paul Pearsall. It was in the $2.00 bin, usually out of my economic range, but looked exceptionally interesting. So, I saved up for three weeks and bought it. The fact that it was still there three weeks later was a miracle unto itself. A sign I thought. It was meant to be. In the cards – so to speak.
This little snippet on the cover was intriguing,
“I died three times. I’m back.”
The book was a mixture of physics, spirituality, hope, action and a genuine reverence for all four. It delved into the evidence for a finely-tuned, aware, universal intelligence with some inexplicable quantum quirkiness. That was my take on “Making Miracles.”
I contacted Dr. Pearsall about doing a story and interview with me. Here was the pitch – almost verbatim.
“Hey, uh, yeah, uh, I, umm … bought your book “Making Miracles” in the discount bin at a high-end flea market here in Ohio. Paid two bucks for it, which was a pretty high price considering how old it is. I don’t really know anything about you or your concepts of non-linearity, observer participancy, synchronicity or meaningful coincidences — but it sounds quantumly cool.
Probably a story there. I’d like to interview you.
Can You Do Any Worse Than That?
Could any pitch be worse than that? Could you do more things wrong? If that isn’t the worst pitch of all-time, I’d love to hear one that’s worse. After I pitched him and realized how lame and unprepared it must have sounded I expected a resounding NO. A “NO” at Tachyon speed (faster than the speed of light).
Well, what do you think happened? Isn’t it obvious?
Dr. Pearsall was an internationally known bestselling author of 18 books at that time. Many of them were New York Times bestsellers. He was a licensed clinical neuropsychologist and one of the most requested speakers in the world, having delivered over 6,000 keynotes. And he was also a frequent consultant to national television appearing on “Dateline,” “20/20,” CNN, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Today Show,” and “Good Morning America.”
And some doofus like me pitches him from a flea market in the Midwest about a book he’d written 12 years ago?
That’s when I first came to the realization of …
The Power of Asking
Dr. Pearsall was great. Unbelievably he said yes. But he didn’t want to do the “Making Miracles” story; he wanted to talk about his book, “The Beethoven Principle.” So we did. And it was soulfully enriching beyond any expectation. And – lucky you – he also showed me the secret to world’s greatest card trick. It will be unrevealed at the end of this true story. But you have to travel a little longer with me to get there. First, we have to get over some…
Overcoming adversity is never simple. Ever. Sometimes, despite Herculean efforts, you still don’t win. You’re crushed, mangled, and left feeling like a little dark spot in the middle of the road that vehicles continuously run over. One spot that used to be a living, breathing organism experiencing the joy of life.
But what about people who not only triumph over adversity but also astound you by propelling themselves to a higher plane? They face life’s inevitable challenges head-on, grow stronger, more vital, and in the end, savor the sweetness life has to offer. Against all the odds, expectations, or beliefs, they thrive. What drives these “Thrivers?” What shared traits do they have? What can be learned? We’re going to find out.
Death, Dying, Dignity and … Humor?
Dr. Pearsall ( Dr. P.) was one such person – a “thriver.” He had an approach to adversity I much admired. He faced death (four times) with dignity and humor? Yes. More on that shortly. But he also left a legacy, the sharing of his life’s work and the people he touched – like me. The miracles he made continue. Because of Dr. P., I became acquainted with a 22-year-old woman. She had just begun her life.
She had just started teaching English Literature in high school. Then … she was struck down by a drunk driver and was left pentaplegic (unable to move her arms or legs and unable to breathe on her own.) She was on a ventilator.
Life for her was over, right?
At that time, she was writing a book about her experiences. Writing a book on the computer that had been specially adapted to allow her to operate the keys with a stick held in her mouth.
A stick held in her mouth. Let me say that one more time.
She was operating a computer with a stick held in her mouth.
And what did she say about it?
“You don’t have to feel screwed. You can construe. Trust me, that one word has very special power. The dictionary says it means to discover and apply meaning, and what a power that is.
It means your life is all in your mind. I am actually happier and more productive now than I have ever been. I sure have more friends and, as you can easily see, I am totally free from multitasking.”
She still had a sense of humor in the darkest of times. A trait shared by many “thrivers.”
Dr. P. introduced me to the possibility of finding hope and meaning in misery. He did this through Izzie.
Izzie was an 86 years old man, in robust health, vibrantly alive, happy as all get-out, and had a devilish twinkle in his eye. But Izzie also had, in his life…
Watched his sister and parents be dragged away in the middle of the night.
Watched his sister be raped.
Watched as Nazi soldiers shot and killed his family … he ran away with eyes closed and fingers in his ears.
Was tortured, starved to skin and bones.
Slept for more than a year in human waste with the haunting, agonizing cries of his fellow prisoners.
The Silent Killer ―Languishing
Izzie should have been dead. Izzie should have been crazy. How could he find any meaning in that misery? Any joy in life after that? How could he even go on?
“Izzie not only maintained, but also enhanced his personal hardiness, natural happiness, capacity for healing, and unrelenting hope. All of us have these innate thriving skills, but we are often too busy surviving or languishing to be aware of and mobilize them.
Too often we are not fully awake and alive until something goes terribly wrong. The eighth deadly sin is “languishing.” It was originally listed as one of the deadly sins until Pope Gregory removed it from the list, but it still robs our life of its energy and joy. Languishing, in my research, turned out to be the silent epidemic of mistaking a busy and intense life for a meaningful and full one.” – Dr. P
Then Dr. Pearsall helped me understand the five reactions to life challenges and how they apply right here, right now.
FIVE REACTIONS TO LIFE’S CHALLENGES
When faced with a crisis, which one do you choose?
Kindling—Make matters worse. React like kindling wood added to a fire.
Surviving—Pretty essential, but don’t you want more?
Resilience—Bouncing back to where you were before.
Thriving—Flourishing not only in spite of the crisis but because of it.
Which one are you?
Not the one you want to be, but the one you truly are?
Are You a Thriver?
Dr. P opened my eyes to see that it’s possible, even in the worst of times, to not just survive a crisis, or in spite of a crisis – but thrive because of the crisis. Dr. P. developed a checklist of questions to see if you have the ability to be a “thriver.” The more items you check, the more likely it is you’re honing your thriving talent.
DR. P’S Thriving Talent Questions
Do you feel more alive today than yesterday?
Do people seem to be made happier by your presence?
Are you laughing hard every day?
Are you in love with life?
Have you been made stronger by adversity?
Do you often feel overwhelmed by the grandeur and beauty of simple things?
How did you do? Really? Not how you’d tell other people you did, but how did you really do?
I struggled with a lot of them. But just thinking about the questions has inspired me to do better.
Dr. P’s pointed me to Beethoven as a great example of a “thriver.” Beethoven turned tragedy and crisis into a harmonious unity that resonates to this day.
From Ode to Misery to Ode to Joy
Beethoven’s ninth symphony, “Ode to Joy,” was written when Beethoven was completely deaf. The chords and chorus were heard only in his mind. Was he crazy? Was he so crazy as to think that this musical wonder haunting his mind could be adequately expressed to others though he could not hear himself?
On May 7, 1824, at Vienna’s Kärtnertor Theater, “The Ninth Symphony – Ode to Joy” was first performed. Beethoven, being deaf could not conduct the premiere. But, he did stand next to the conductor during the performance to indicate proper tempi.
Weep Not for Me
On the final note of the premiere, the audience exploded with thunderous applause. But Beethoven, standing next to the conductor with his back to the crowd, looked straight ahead—he didn’t know.
He had heard nothing.
His “Ode to Joy” was received with rare, effusively raw human emotion. The kind reserved for awe-inspiring moments of a singular human’s triumph over seemingly unbeatable odds. And, most unusually, some of the players in the orchestra wept.
Raucous cheering. Yells and tears echoed, thundered.
None of which Beethoven could hear. He continued to conduct.
The solo contralto noticed Beethoven’s introspective incomprehension, and turned him around. One could only wonder what went through his mind at that moment. He could not hear.
But he could see. He bowed before the cheering crowd.
The Power of Listening to the Teacher
Dr P awakened me to the power of listening. Not to the profane trivialities of everyday life, but the power of listening where no sound treads and real freedom resides. He did this through Mosha, or as she was known by fellow prisoners “teacher.”
Mosha’s story is important. Why? Because in life, overcoming adversity doesn’t always mean winning, sometimes it means winning on one’s own terms. Terms that perhaps only you, yourself, can understand.
Listen… and Find Your Way to Freedom
Mosha was once a dark-haired beauty. But now, a black hollowness surrounded her eyes. She was death-camp, stick-figure thin.
She was death-camp, stick-figure thin because that’s where she was. Her face was swollen and bruised. Beatings were her daily bread.
Mosha was a classical piano teacher. Loved Beethoven. She had been teaching a student Moonlight Sonata when they came for her. They shot and killed her student but kept her alive. One needs classical music such as Beethoven’s, to uplift the soul and keep spirits soaring when working in a death camp. So they kept her alive.
The Nazi officers asked her to play for them.
They asked her.
Music was not for a death camp. And Beethoven was sacred to her.
So they placed both of her hands on a rock. Took turns, made a game out of happily breaking her fingers, one by one, with their rifle butts.
She could have played.
She could have given in.
Instead, she defied.
Music was so sacred to her.She made her stand, sprawled on the ground in agony. But she didn’t give up her sacred gift. She held onto it. Tighter than to life itself.
And when, through the haze of a misery beyond comprehension, her fleeing life heading toward death’s door, she would hear, Beethoven’s music being played in the officer’s club, she stirred, and would say in her teacher’s voice:
Shush! Be quiet now and listen to the deaf man’s symphony.
If you listen as he did, you will hear the way to freedom.” – Mosha
Finally, Dr. P inspired me. He talked the talk, walked the walk. He was a survivor and a thriver.
A “Charles Dickens” of a Life: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times
Dr. Pearsall barely survived birth, conquered among a litany of other obstacles, total blindness, and then finally, cancer – three times. Dr. Pearsall’s triumph over terminal cancer is the basis for his bestseller, “Miracle in Maui” (which when I picked it up for $2.00 it was called “Making Miracles”).
Survive Terminal Cancer?
Doctors told him that he would die of an extremely rare type of cancer that strikes down young and healthy people in the prime of their lives. And, for a little extra good cheer, Dr. Pearsall was also told that even if his cancer went into remission, he’d die anyway. Die from suffocation caused by a deadly virus allowed to attack his lungs by his chemotherapy-and-radiation-weakened immune system.
Does it Get Much Better Than That?
Yes. Dr. P. was told this terminal good news on a Good Friday.
Geez, is that it?
Nope. That Good Friday, as he slowly traipsed down his driveway, the ache of cancer eating away at him, feeling lost and hopeless, he opened his mailbox and noticed an envelope marked “Urgent. Internal Revenue Service.”
Death and Taxes
Yup, you guessed it. Selected for a random compliance audit of State and Federal tax records for three years. How’s that for some good cheer on Good Friday?
How did he react?
He laughed. Laughed so hard he cried.
My kinda guy.
And when I read it I laughed.
Laughed so hard I cried.
(Reader Thought Bubble: So….)
We started with the worst pitch ever at the flea market. You promised to reveal the secrets of the world’s greatest card trick and a miracle that would enrich beyond belief. Wheres the beef?
You mean how did the worst pitch ever, of all-time, mine, eventually enrich beyond belief? Besides awakening me to everything contained above and the hopefulness it inspires?
That’s not enough? Here’s how.
Worst Pitch Ever Leads Reveals Secret to Greatest Card Trick of All-Time
Dr. P taught me the greatest card trick in the world.
It’s simple but can enrich your life beyond belief.
It’s meant to be passed on.
“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
Featuring an interview with Lynne McTaggart, author of “The Intention Experiment.”
“This important book makes a good case that we are on the verge of another revolution in our understanding of the universe.” – Arthur C. Clarke
I Had Good Intentions
I fully intended to keep my 2012 New Year’s resolutions. I knew it would be hard. But I had good intentions. I had good intentions. Really.
However, even though I held out a long time – 6 days, 21 hours and 30 minutes short – of the first full week of January – I didn’t make it. I fell short. Badly. Some of it was simply from a sense of loss (also sometimes known as grief) that had weakened my resolve. Donkey O’Tee, my long-time co-writer and close friend, had left me to pursue his own career as an author (below).
Donkey O’Tee had massive pre-sales. Five copies at least. The media loved him. He took a simple idea, complexified it to nearly an undecipherable obfuscation, eschewing logic and reason, and suddenly he was a media know-it-all star.
But, before Donkey O’Tee went on his book tour, he sensed my despair – my utter hopelessness. Donkey’s are like that. Sensitive. So, he sent two cousins of his to help me out while he was gone on tour. “Hollywood veterans” he assured me. Their names were Cal and Chichen (pronounced “chikken”) Itza (figure out which is which?) from Yucatan, a state in Mexico.
Cal, Steve and Chichen Itza
But they were a little too perky for me.
I slipped into a deep funk. I pondered why my good intentions always went awry. My hair grew out of control (which horrified my friends who were all going bald), and I seemed to shrink – grow shorter from the weight of the deep thought in which I was engrossed. Why did my “good intentions” always go so bad? Then … almost by accident (but not quite – that’s what the word almost means) I ran across a book called “The Intention Experiment – Use Your Thoughts to Change the World,” by Lynne McTaggart.
Your Life of Business … or Business of Life
I jumped eyes first into it. Speed-read it (I completed the introduction). And wow … not just a wishful “think your way to greatness and riches” bunch of crapola, but a book backed by top-notch scientific evidence. On the frontier of science, for sure, but backed by and working with an international team of renowned scientists to measure and create a “Science of Intention.” To prove your thoughts and intentions can be scientifically measured and make a real difference in this world, in your life of business … or the business of your life. The book even had an action plan and an invitation to all readers to join and be a part of the world’s largest experiment – “THE INTENTION EXPERIMENT.”
I was ecstatic.
I rushed out of the house down to the electronics store brimming with good intentions.
Oozing good intentions flowing like a volcanic river.
Yes, a river of good intentions.
That was me.
A NEW I-PHONE TWO WOULD BE MINE!
BUT, things didn’t quite work out the way I had envisioned.
This business of thinking and intention was a bit more complicated than I thought. Or at least I think I thought I thunk that. So as usual I had to go to the source for more information.
ENTER Lynne McTaggart
Lynne is an award-winning author of five books, including “The Field,” which has been published in 14 languages. “The Field” was a major influence on the wildly successful U.S. cult classic, “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and Lynne starred in the BLEEP’s full version, “Down the Rabbit Hole Quantum.”
Steve: Hi Lynne. I tried the intention thing … it didn’t really work too well for me.
Lynne: Did you read the book?
Lynne: Sorta. What’s that mean in English?
Steve: Oh, I forgot you were from England. Well, it means I got carried away after reading the introduction and tried to use my good intentions for something.
Lynne: For your own benefit?
Steve: … Maybe.
Lynne: Didn’t work so well, did it.
Steve: It worked, just not the way I wanted it to. So, what did I miss in the book? What did I do wrong?
Lynne: Besides just reading the introduction? The book is not about sending intentions to make a million dollars. The book is about using the science of intention philanthropically: healing wounds, helping children with attention deficit or patients with Alzheimer’s, counteracting pollution, global warming, that type of thing.
Steve: Oh. (Although the reader can’t see, chagrin may have crossed my face at this point). What else is the book about?
Lynne: “The Intention Experiment” is really some unfinished business I had with my previous book, “The Field.” It was a question (or questions) that was raised – there seemed to be anecdotal evidence to support and suggest that thoughts truly were things. A thought was not only a thing, but a thing that influences other things. A simple thought had the power to change the world. But the question was, could these thoughts and intentions be corralled, scientifically measured, tested … and used for good? The first part of “The Intention Experiment” attempts to synthesize all of the experimental evidence that exists on intention into a coherent scientific theory of how intention works, how it can be used in your life and what conditions optimize its effect.
Steve: So, an investigative scientific journey of the latest, greatest research on thought and intentionality. Who are some of the scientists involved?
Lynne: Robert Jahn, Dean Emeritus of the Princeton University School of Engineering; his colleague, psychologist Brenda Dunne, who runs the Princeton Engineering Anomalous Research (PEAR) laboratory; Dr. Gary Schwartz of the Center for Frontier Medicine in Biofield Science at the University of Arizona; and Fritz-Albert Popp, assistant director of the International Institute of Biophysics (IIB), in Neuss, Germany, to name a few.
Steve: Seriously eminent scientists. I’m familiar with Fritz-Albert Popp. His work on biophoton emissions, that DNA, molecules and cells all emit light that may be used for information communication is not only astoundingly earth-shaking and potentially has the ability to change humanity forever, but unfortunately is pretty much under-appreciated and unknown amongst 99.99% of the earth’s population. What are some of the interesting facts coming out of this research?
Lynne: You can get stronger, bigger muscles just by thinking. Some of the research findings include that athletes who do not physically exercise but only imagine their workouts can increase their muscle strength between 13 and 16 percent.
Steve: By just imagining the exercise?
He’s the Greatest!
Lynne: Yes. Imagine the implications for business. For sales. For marketing. Anyone can see tremendous improvements in their personal or business lives by rehearsing specific activities before actually doing them. Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest, if not greatest, athletes of all times was a master of thought, intention and visualization. He’s covered in the book.
Steve: Other results?
Lynne: Atoms can become entangled and behave as one single giant atom. Human bodies can act as transmitting and receiving antennas, living things demonstrate awareness of the well-being of other living things around them. A sizable body of scientific research, carried on for more than 30 years in prestigious scientific institutions around the world, show that thoughts are capable of affecting everything from the simplest machines to the most complex living beings.
Steve: What do you mean by “intention?”
Lynne: A textbook definition of intention is “a purposeful plan to perform an action, which will lead to a desired outcome,” unlike a desire, which means simply focusing on an outcome, without a purposeful plan of how to achieve it.
Steve: How could I (and the reader) use the science of intention?
Lynne: That’s in the second part of my book. I offer a blueprint for using your thoughts and intentions effectively in your own life through a series of exercises and recommendations. These exercises will show you how to “power up” your own thoughts and intentions to change your life and those around you. It’s also an exercise in frontier science – albeit personal.
Steve: And you do live group experiments via the internet?
Lynne: Yes, with the aid of our readers and our highly experienced scientific team, we conduct large-scale group experiments via the internet to determine whether focused intention has any scientifically quantifiable effects on selected targets.
Steve: How does one get involved?
Lynne: Go to our website for details The Intention Experiment. The first studies will be carried out by physicists Fritz-Albert Popp, vice-president of the International Institute of Biophysics in Neuss, Germany (www.lifescientists.de) and his team of seven; psychologist Gary Schwartz and his colleagues at the University of Arizona at Tucson; and Marilyn Schlitz and Dean Radin of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. You can see the rest of the scientific team on our web site too.
Steve: How will this be controlled? The WWW is full of World-Wide-Whackos, full of in-laws, outlaws and hackers who enjoy mucking things up.
Lynne: Website experts collaborated with our scientific team to design secure log-on protocols and to enable us to identify which characteristics of a group or aspects of their thoughts produce the most effective results.
Steve: An example?
Lynne: A patient with a wound. It is known that wounds generally heal at a particular, quantifiable rate with a precise pattern. Any departure from the norm can be precisely measured and shown to be an experimental effect. In this example, our aim would be to determine whether focused group intention will enable wounds to heal more quickly than usual.
Steve: Hmm. I knew that. And your ultimate plan for these experiments?
Lynne: They’re ambitious. To recruit hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of volunteers from around the world to participate in these series of web-based experiments, to try to tackle a number of societal ills. It will be the largest mind-over-matter study in history.
Steve: Can I take part in your experiments? Can I? Can I?
Lynne: I’d like to send a special letter about it to you and your friends, Cal and Chichen. Is that okay?
Steve: That’d be great! (feeling special … even if she did include the freako animals) Thank you, and best wishes to your readers and scientific team Lynne.
Lynne: Thank you. Intention me on Twitter if you get a chance.
True to her word – a special letter did arrive.
Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning author of five books, including “The Field,” which has been published in 14 languages. “The Field” was a major influence on the wildly successful U.S. cult classic, “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and Lynne starred in the BLEEP’s full version, “Down the Rabbit Hole.” Lynne is an internationally recognized spokesperson on the science of spirituality and also co-executive director of Conatus, which publishes the UK’s most well-respected health and spiritual newsletters and online information including “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” and “Living the Field.”
About Steve Kayser
He’s currently too busy to write his bio because he’s engaged in a scientific experiment …
“Our company is really struggling. I have to give a presentation to upper management about new ideas or new ways to try to help grow our business. I’m afraid if it doesn’t go well, our department will face serious cuts and people will lose their jobs. Any suggestions?”
Having sat through hundreds, if not thousands of business presentations, I offered a different approach to the questioner’s presentation. An approach based not upon technical presentation skills. One not based upon showing how many facts, statistics, and upward pointing trending arrows or bullet points you could force on a PPT. slide. But one that ended with a challenge – to everyone in the room- to try to think different. Act different. Be different. Not your typical presentation.
It’s really easy to give gutsy advice. Especially if you don’t have to do it yourself. Then, a short time later (as these things mockingly go), I had the opportunity to make the same type of presentation myself. To a budget committee. Budget=$$$$$$. Important in any business.
TO BE A HYPOCRITE
I was going to be a hypocrite and whip up the same old boring corporate PPT gobbledygook-crapola that’s expected. But I went back and revisited my answer. Pondered it. Pondering is not my strong suit so … I decided to take my own advice.
Taking your own advice is always scary. I mean really, the last person I want to take advice from is me.
HERE’S THE MARKETING & PR KILLER
But there was one major catch. I had to review an entire year’s worth of work and accomplishments of the department in … FIVE minutes (my allotted time). FIVE MINUTES. If you’re in Marketing or PR you know the new media and social media developments over the last year have exploded at supraluminal speed. You have to go 186,000 MPH just to do an even barely adequate job. So, I compiled the facts and stats. The work on Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Friendfeed, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Blogs, Social Media News Room, E-Zines, Widgets, Blidgets, Idgets, etc. When I laid it all out on slides I ended up with 110 of them. That’s right. 110 slides. FIVE MINUTES. Even Einstein, relativistically speaking, couldn’t make that math work using the same old approach.
WHAT TO DO?
There was only one answer. Experiment. With the very same new media tools and thinking that have exploded over the last year.
THE PRESENTATION BEGINS
Then – the day was upon me. I started out by informing the budget committee that I could not possibly finish the presentation in five minutes because — I had 110 slides. They took it stoically (if you don’t count the gasps of horror, tears or heads down on the table). “But,” I went on, “I could do it 5:06.” (Five minutes and six seconds.)
CLICK & GO
The presentation below is best viewed in Full Screen mode (click on bottom right of screen) and with the sound on.