The day had started out quite badly. A months rain had fallen in a day and it was a toss up between driving and swimming home. I was due to attend a fundraising night for a group who work in Africa (it saves me going to Confession) to discover uncomfortable things like the fact that one in six people go to bed hungry. Every day. And I was happy to meet the CEO of the particular organization. A great guy, really who combines being smart with terrific social skills, the two divine things in one person.
Basic Instincts: The presentations covered a couple of interesting topics. We looked at Micro enterprises (mainly food and agricultural science) and capacity building (infrastructural development). Imagine a conversation with your own kids about going out and finding food. Mine would answer: “Superquinn is closed on the week-ends now?” or “Stop messing and crack open the Häagen-Dazs” (it will be the end of the free-world as we know it, if McDonalds ever goes on strike).
Management 101: The techniques covered at the workshop seemed basic enough. Development of a vision – a better tomorrow. Figuring out income streams from a range of niche products and marketing these – sometimes to customers who are not aware (yet) that they even need the product. It was reminiscent of the Henry Ford quip: “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”. None of the above is rocket science, but ‘simple stuff’ works well most of the time. Particularly in an environment where nature runs against the head and people have to walk 5 Kilometers to get a pot of water.
Moral Inferiority: While I’m struggling to figure out life’s big questions, like where should we go on our next skiing holiday, whole families are struggling to survive. And this because of a pure accident of birth. So, I drove home from the meeting feeling morally inferior to the people who work in that sector, a sort of ‘pinch yourself’ moment. This is a good life, despite whatever crap you are dealing with today, or this week. Note to Self: Stop moaning and get on with it.
But there is one sting in the tail from all of the above. It was prompted by a presenter who went over his allotted time by 30 minutes (a full 100% overrun, inexcusable).
Public Speaking: There is a school in Israel where, if the kids get bored, they are allowed to walk out of the classroom and come back later. If the same principle was applied in business organizations, there might be a lot of empty boardrooms!
So, this weeks question is easy. Are you a good public speaker? If not, go out and get yourself cured. You don’t have permission to bore the audience – even if you are saving the world.
PS My sister Teresa (who is 74) sent me the following text: ‘Enda Kenny will shortly announce that we will soon start deporting old people instead of illegal immigrants. This will lower pensions and HSE costs. Old people are easy to ‘catch’ and find it hard to remember how to get back home. I was really worried when I thought of you. Run friend, run!’
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