Tag Archives: Pamela Slim

A Vision of the Future for Teachers and Leaders

If you are a faithful Tweak Your Slides reader, you know that one of my favorite people is Pamela Slim, guru, author, and TED speaker. Slim advises those who want to “escape cubicle nation”and those who wish to connect the disparate threads of experience to help create a cohesive and impacting body of work, and helps them find a way to take success and their future into their own hand. Upon first studying works like Escape from Cubicle Nation and Body of Work, it seems that Slim’s focus is on experienced workers, those who have been in the workforce for years and are looking for a way to put their experience to different use or who want to pursue their “side hustles.” But, today’s TED Talk shows us that Pam’s mission to change her clients’, readers’, and the world’s vision of success extends to the group she sees as the most important in helping us recover economically–our youth. In her TEDxPhoenix talk, Slim shares several stories of young people who show strength, perseverance, and bravery in the face of a tumultuous world. These young people presented through the framework of Slim’s powerful storytelling can remind teachers and leaders of what our true role is in educating others: we are guides, encouragers, mentors who help others unlock hidden potential that can and will change the world.

Pain is Power

Among these remarkable folks is Amanda Wang, a graphic designer who brings awareness to bipolar disorder by sharing her journey to train for the Golden Gloves with audiences; Amanda uses her pain, her “weaknesses” to empower herself and empower others. In a world with constantly shifting ideas, ideologies, power structures, work modes, etc. the ability to harness pain into power is remarkably important.

A Free Mind Creates Economic Freedom

Another impacting story Slim shares is the story of Willie Jackson, who left a traditional corporate career to help others jumpstart their creative endeavors through building WordPress sites. For Willie, the traditional work mode and traditional definition of success were not enough to make him happy. His willingness to use his talents to help others freed him.

We need to stop telling our young people to spend 40 years creating spreadsheets and PowerPoint slides that have no meaning.

Beauty is a Universal Constant

Slim then shares the story of Avery, a young Navajo man, who traverses two worlds–the world of his native culture and the world surrounding it in Phoenix, Arizona. Avery uses art to communicate his perspective and the perspectives of other natives in a unique way. He gives voice to experiences most of us would otherwise know nothing about, and empowers others to share their experiences. For Slim, Avery is representative of the potential future of contemporary native people. He will grow to be a leader and guide to future generations, including her children.

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As teachers and leaders, it’s up to us to keep this idea as an important focus. Yes, generations have different concerns, different values, different interests, but I think we fall into the “what’s wrong with young people today?” way of thinking far too often and far too quickly. If we see potential in every one of our students, they will live up to that potential. I will be leaving my current position and subject matter with corporate education to return to a learning-centered college in the Fall (the same one I left almost six years ago). I brought with me the principles of learner-centered education, and I learned more than I can say about teaching, leadership, and design as a course director of Professional Communication and Presentation. I will return to Valencia College with these new skills, always keeping in mind that my role is to guide, inspire, and motivate the young people who will continue changing our world for the better.

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Story differentiates your body of work

In today’s world of work, which is characterized by abundance, instability, and ingenuity, professionals have to find ways to differentiate themselves from the many others out there who possess the same or similar skills. How does one rise to the top of a mountain of great communicators, strong work ethics, and innovative, effective, responsible workers (these words all come from LinkedIn’s top ten most overused buzzwords of 2013)?

In oder to differentiate yourself and maximize your competitive advantage, you have to tell your story. Pamela Slim, author of Body of Work: Finding the thread that ties your story together, uses story herself to illustrate the resonance an engaging story can have. She tells the story of her father and John Legend among others, and shares her advice via stories of her own experiences as a career coach.  What story does is place your body of work:”…everything you create, contribute, affect, and impact. For individuals, it is the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life, including all the tangible and intangible things you have created” (Source) into a unique context.

Slim’s book is a great starting point for discovering how to tell your story, but you can also draw much inspiration from the remarkable examples of professional stories on Slideshare.net. One such story is Matt Henshaw’s “How to Rock the Perfect LinkedIn Profile”:

Henshaw’s deck is of course a beautiful example of clean, minimalist design. It’s also one of the best examples of a professional story I’ve seen since David Crandall’s “Anti-Resume Manifesto.” Henshaw tells the story of being “this close” to achieving his dream–being a professional musician–losing a major record contract, redefining himself as a college graduate and computer science sustainability research assistant (phew!), finding his way back to his passion, and articulating a successful plan to pursue this passion as career.

It’s so difficult to tell our own stories at times, especially through a visual medium. Finding the right way to begin a story that for us has very fuzzy beginnings can stop most of us from sharing that story with others (no one tells you to think about how working at a local grocery store is the start of you becoming a teacher 20 years later). Matt’s deck is both inspirational and useful. It shows us that a story can compel viewers, contextualize “failure”, and that careful attention to every version of your story on the web can make a difference. If you want to maximize your competitive advantage, create a body of work and then tell your story.

 

 

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What are your talents?

Two months ago, a student introduced me to one of the most useful resources for developing a professional brand and persona. During a class break, the student pulled up a site called talentoday.com. I saw the student answering a series of questions, then studying a visualization and set of descriptors. All it took was a peek to realize that this could be a wonderful brainstorming and content-building exercise for developing a personal brand.

Talent Today is a free service whose goal is to help users determine their professional personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and motivators. The site is designed for current students and new grads, but the questionnaire and accompanying personality report can be enlightening to veteran professionals as well.

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Many of my questionnaire’s findings aligned with how I already perceive and define myself as a professional–I feel at ease in public and love to meet new people; I find it easy to take on a leadership role and readily volunteer for new initiatives; I believe that innovation is important; I don’t handle stress very well (or as well as I’d like); and I prefer collaboration to competition.

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A few of the findings challenged me to reexamine how I approach work, particularly how low on the motivations scale private/personal life was. I also appreciated the overall analysis of my talents (conscientiousness, responsibility, determination) and my areas of growth (identifying and dealing with sources of stress, remaining loyal to professional ambitions).

My Talent ID gives me a set of percentages based on strengths and areas of growth.

My Talent ID gives me a set of percentages based on strengths and areas of growth.

All in all, my report shows the areas in which I am already excelling (and can continue to grow in) and the areas that need more attention. Such self-analysis is critical for success in Pamela Slim’s “new world of work” (Source).

Take a moment to complete your Talent Today report. What were your talents? Motivators? Areas of growth?

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Blissfully Growing My Body of Work

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I know I’ve said it already, but Pamela Slim’s book Body of Work is amazing–a real life changer. I finished the book last night and it’s helped me continue the introspective task of examining my own body of work and identifying the thread that holds that body of work together. My two months off classroom teaching have already been incredibly productive. Not only have I created the structure for the new Professional Communication and Presentation class, I’ve also been working on the following this month:

  • Becoming the faculty advisor for the Full Sail Student Book Club
  • Advising students as they prepare their Strategic Business Planning final projects and Sports Marketing final projects
  • Advising the International Student Office on their recruitment materials
  • Reworking an executive’s resume and executive bio
  • Advising collegiate DECA students on their presentations
  • Signing up for leadership training at my institution
  • Volunteering to be an online learning platform “super user”
  • Finalizing my application to the Doctorate of Education in Higher Education at the University of Central Florida
  • Perfecting my homemade mojo and homemade tortilla recipes

One area of work I am particularly proud of is the resurgence of some good ol’ faculty collaboration in the Liberal Studies department!

Finalizing the Brown Bag Extravaganza for Liberal Studies

  • I pitched the Liberal Studies Round Table initiative to my superiors in 2013. Initially, my vision for this was as a forum for collaboration, a place where faculty from different departments in the Liberal Studies family could come together and share best practices. The RT had a rough start and faculty yearned for a more informal forum in which to meet and collaborate. This year, I’ve collaborated with faculty from Digital Literacy and Creative Writing to rebrand and revamp the initiative. After scouring faculty for topics and interests, we are one meeting away from finalizing our first session, a more informal meet up where faculty can share best practices and challenges we all face. Our first focus will be GoTo Training. I cannot wait to collaborate with other faculty and have meaningful conversations about how we use this tool and how we can use it more effectively! Here is the flyer I created this week to market the event:

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Professional Communication and Presentation Reboot: Opportunities

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Pamela Slim’s Body of Work is amazing; I am only 60 pages in, but I understand why professionals I look up to like Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte recommend this book. I cannot wait to integrate its ideas into the course and share Slim’s insights with students! Today, I’ll be working on creating the assignments for the month after finishing Slim’s book. I’m hoping to get down to designing lessons this week and next. Previously, in discussing the upcoming PCP reboot, I covered the challenges the team faces:

  • Challenge #1: The lack of synchronous communication
  • Challenge #2: Understanding and engaging in presentation as a process
  • Challenge #3: Streamlining content
  • Challenge #4: Universalizing the experience for multiple degree programs
  • Challenge #5: Emphasizing the first P in Professional Communication and Presentation

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Now, I’d like to talk about how we are working to turn each challenge into an opportunity for growth and what tools/concepts we’re using to tackle those challenges.

Opportunity #1: Google Hangouts to add synchronicity

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Without synchronous communication with both instructors and classmates, students never really get an understanding of how important rapport and connection are in the presenter/audience relationship. Presenting like you are having a conversation is a real challenge when your conversation is with a little green dot or camera. In order to add a bit more synchronicity to the course (in addition to weekly GoTo Trainings), students will now meet for two Google Hangouts in small teams. The purpose of these Google Hangouts is three fold. Firstly, students will be able to engage in self-analysis of their progress on the major course project, considering their strengths and areas of growth. Secondly, students will have a chance to communicate live with their peers, collaborating on project revisions and improvements. Finally, through this medium, students will have a chance to practice delivery and execution while completing fun improv exercises.

Opportunity #2: Using self-analysis and peer-analysis to reinforce process

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Currently, students engage in a bit of self-reflection in weeks 1 and 4 of PCP. First, they consider their goals, challenges, and pitch topics for a persuasive presentation. Then, in week 4, they complete a revision worksheet that includes a reflection on advice portion. Students consider the feedback they’ve received, the amount of time they’ve devoted to the project, and the time they’ll need to finalize the presentation. Peer analysis comes in the form of asynchronous discussion response posts. In the reboot, this will change a bit to include self-analysis and peer-analysis in the Google Hangout sessions. Another way we are working to make asynchronous discussions richer and more collaborative is to ask students to now videotape their responses to one another on discussion boards as opposed to asking them to write these responses out. From Alex Rister’s experience in public speaking online, videotaped responses generate stronger and more applicable feedback. Finally, self and peer analysis will help reinforce that presenting involves a systematic process of creating, designing, critiquing, and delivering.

Opportunity #3: Placing more emphasis on GoTo Training lessons

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Weekly GoTo Training lessons are currently used to reinforce the week’s lesson and activity concepts as well as cover some of the pitfalls of completing work in the course. This, however, means that they are not really used to their greatest potential–as a means of recreating the much more effective live class session, where in students are engaged in activities that reinforce what they learn via the course text and brief class lectures. In the new iteration of PCP, these live sessions will be the primary mode of instruction, with video and text lessons serving as supplements. Whereas currently students would teach themselves what a brand mantra is by studying an article by Megan Mars and watching a video on the subject, students will now learn this concept in a live class session where they can ask questions, get immediate feedback for their mantras, and collaborate with others to better understand and apply this technique. Without attending or watching the archive of a GoTo session, students will not be able to learn the concept as successfully.

Opportunity #4: Focusing on what students want to learn

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It’s been a difficult though enlightening transition from gen ed class for business students only to gen ed class for a variety of business, creative, and technical programs. Our challenge in teaching this many different types of students how to present online in one month was finding common ground, either skills-based or thematic, that would allow all students to engage with the content, their classmates, and the place of their new skills set in their professional futures. Currently, while a persuasive presentation on a non-industry related subject helps students apply their skills to a persuasive presentation delivered with visuals, the students didn’t always seem to see how this skill would fit into their careers. This made the PCP team cringe–what could be more important than learning how to effectively communicate and present your vision to others!? What we had to acknowledge was that finding a subject all students want to learn more about and also focusing their major project on something that would be immediately relevant was more important than learning presentation skills in general. What is the goal of each of our students in earning a degree? To propel themselves to professional success! This desire to grow professionally became our common ground. This leads us to the the most exciting opportunity of this reboot–the Professional Persona Project!

Opportunity #5: The Professional Persona Project

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Pamela Slim believes that a body of work is baed on the connective thread between a professional’s experiences (Source). It’s not about distinct experiences working in a vacuum; it’s about the big themes that connect all of the work you do or will do. The Professional Persona Project is an opportunity for students to consider their development and growth as professionals so far, where they see themselves going as future professionals, and how they can better communicate their unique skills as professionals in a specific field to a target audience (individual, company, or specific facet of their industry).  In this project, students will be analyzing their skills, assets, qualities, and abilities as a professional (assets). They will then consider their aspirations and goals as professionals. Finally, they will analyze the market realities in their chosen field. They will then present this information through a set of visuals and an elevator pitch. The Professional Persona Project is a showcase of what students have learned so far; work they’ve done in and out of school; and their qualities and skills (work ethic, technical abilities, communication/presenting skills, teamwork, etc.). The goal is for them to recognize their own strengths and to highlight those strengths by presenting them in an engaging, professional, and visually-driven way.

Tune in next week to learn more about the new course structure!

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Slideshare of the Day: Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo

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The Professional Communication and Presentation reboot is well under way! I bought my copy of Pamela Slim’s Body of Work today and plan on spending the weekend devouring this text. Another book on my must-read list this year is Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo. The TED model of presenting will continue to be a staple of how we discuss delivery in PCP. I’ve talked about the TED commandments before; these are the ten unofficial rules all TEDsters follow and their purpose is to help support TED’s mission, to find amazing people with amazing ideas and then spread them. Gallo’s book uncovers the nine qualities that TEDsters possess. In today’s Slideshare, a promotional tool for Talk Like TED, Gallo breaks down the qualities into three categories that define a successful TED talk: Emotional, Novel, and Memorable. In addition to swooning over the design, I particularly love how Gallo focuses on passion and storytelling as the core elements each TEDster needs to convey and communicate emotion, to help the audience feel what he or she feels about the subject at hand. Check out the rest of the deck below:

 

 

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