Making a Great Presentation: What I’ve Learned

April 30, 2008

So today was the Quinnipiac University Business Plan Competition in Hamden, CT and I had the pleasure of being able to compete. We were also lucky enough to have a great panel of judges: Nick O’Neil, Adam Ostrow, Chris Cunningham, Andre Yap and Angela Strange all traveled to come see our ideas. It was a really great experience, and I am grateful for their time and input.

All that being said, it is amazing the things you learn when you put yourself out there in front of a panel of judges. My partner and myself placed 2nd, a very respectable showing, but I’ve found that no idea is perfect. We figured that we had thought of everything. We rehearsed every question we could think of, left almost no stone unturned with our research, and in the end we were left stumped with some of the questions from the panel. That’s OK, though. It helped us realize how much extra work needs to be put into a great business plan and business proposal. Here are a few things I learned:

You can never research too much. Luckily, we did a lot of research for our plan and presentation. We actually spent an entire semester on it. Still, we could have done a lot more. Never forget that having facts to back up your claims is absolutely necessary. Credibility is key to having people believe in you.

Practice. And then practice again. And again. And again … you get the point. You can never be too prepared for a presentation, and it is very easy to tell who has not prepared enough.

Always know the value you are creating. This is the most important thing that I learned from this experience. When pitching a business idea, you absolutely must be able to clearly state the value that you are creating for your customers. Without that, you just have an idea that you’re hoping people will like.

Be Memorable. Nobody wants to sit and listen to a presentation where the presenter is stuttering through a boring PowerPoint with no emotion. Don’t be afraid to show people who you are, and don’t forget to convey the passion that has gotten you to this point.

If you remember these few simple points, you will be much better off for your next presentation. What else do you think helps when presenting a business idea? Let me know!

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Could You Sell Your Life?

April 28, 2008

Many people heard about Andrew Baron trying to sell his Twitter account on eBay a few weeks back, stating that he thought others would have a better use for it. When the bids started to reach into the thousand dollar range, he suddenly had a change of heart and revoked the offer to sell. There was a mixed reaction to this sale, but it proved to be harmless. No imagine this: a man that is so haunted by his memories that he is willing to sell his life. Everything he owns, including his friends, family and job.

Ian Usher, a 44-year-old man who lives in Australia is doing just that. His marriage of 5 years ended abruptly and he does not want to have any ties to it anymore. He is putting his house, car, motorcycle, jet ski, furniture, his job and even his friends up for sale in one “life auction” on eBay.

There are two things that bother me about this story. The first is that he thinks that selling all his belongings and leaving his friends will somehow erase the painful memories that he gets when he is around all of them. Unfortunately, he will realize that his mind is more powerful than he thinks, and that memories are close to impossible to erase. Starting over will only mask the pain because ignoring a problem usually only leads to it blowing up in your face at a later point.

The second thing that bothers me is that people are already putting a valuation on how much the bidding will reach. The fact that people are supporting this auction (and that someone will most likely be willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for it) is very disturbing. I can’t even imagine trying to pick up someone’s life where it left off. It seems that a person who would do that would be in just as bad a state as Ian himself is.

Maybe this whole thing is just a publicity stunt, though, and this man is looking for a quick way to make it on the news and put a few bucks in his pocket. If so, it brings up even more questions about mental stability. Either way, I hope that he finds a way to end the pain and anguish he is going through.

What do you think about a “life sale”? Will it fix the problem or just bring about new ones? Let me know what you think.


My Carbon Footprint on Earth Day

April 23, 2008

As I’m sure everyone knows, yesterday (4/22) was Earth Day. Every year up until now I have enjoyed Earth Day and everything that it stands for, but I never really was into participating in it. This year, with gas and energy prices becoming so high, I have had a lot more interest in the whole green movement. Yesterday I wanted to see how much of an impact I am having on the environment around me, so I hopped over to CarbonFootprint.com and calculated my carbon footprint. The results are below.

I had no idea what to expect, and the results totally astounded me. Every year, I am personally throwing 15.299 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere … that’s 33,657.8 pounds! I felt a little bit better about myself when I saw that I was below the country average, but to see the world target and how low it was was a real bummer. It made me think long and hard about what I can do differently.

There are a lot of easy ways to try to lessen our impact on the earth. From now on, I know that I am only going to buy low energy and LED lights whenever needed, and it’s also really easy to buy rechargeable batteries. These are both fairly low-cost alternatives. You may also opt to buy Energy Star rated appliances as well. You can also buy organic foods, and just plain recycle anything that can be recycled. There are also some cool alternatives to everyday accessories like these solar powered backpacks that charge your electronics with energy stored from solar panels. Just try to remember that we can help make a change for the better.

What are some other easy alternatives to help reduce our impact on the earth? I’d love to hear from you!


It Was Refreshing

April 21, 2008

I did an interesting thing this weekend, at least for me. I decided not to use the internet. It worked for the most part (I had to check email for school). The most interesting thing that I found is how little I missed using it. Usually when I get used to doing something day after day, I feel like a part of me is missing when I don’t do it for more than a day. This time, I felt a little bit liberated.

I was free from internet gossip about who’s being sold to whom and I didn’t hear a word about Microsoft/Yahoo. I figured that I would at least miss one huge news story. Turns out I didn’t miss a thing (other than the 300 blog posts I found in my reader on Sunday night). Maybe it was really good timing to do this because I checked Twitter 5 times (I know, a small cheat) and there weren’t more than 20 updates the whole weekend. I later found out that the site was working just enough to let a few updates through.

One thing I did find, though, is that the things I missed were the least important. I missed watching Gary V’s WLTV shows Thursday and Friday. I also missed seeing what everyone else was up to on Twitter (but so did everyone else). Most of all, though, I was constantly thinking about people who would miss this blog. I have no idea if anyone really loves it, but I really like writing for you.

An internet break may not be as easy for most as it was for me, but I would definitely recommend it once in a while. Has anyone else tried this recently? Why or why not? Let me know!


Mini-Vacation Time

April 18, 2008

I will be home for the weekend with family and friends so I will not be updating for the next few days. I think I’ll have some big stuff to talk about early next week. Stay tuned, and thanks for all your support so far!


The Perils of Being an Early Adopter

April 15, 2008

How many times have you seen a new technology emerge and jumped to be the first in line to get it? How many social networks have you joined in beta to say that you got to be one of the select few to use it first? Early adopters are a rare breed that love nothing more than being the first ones to have or do something. But sometimes that comes at a price. Here’s why.

Technology changes at an incredibly rapid pace. If you were one of the first people to buy an iPhone, you know what I’m talking about. There have been lots of updates for the phone, and you’ve even gone through the first phases of iPhone applications. Sure, some may like seeing the changes as the come, but many find it annoying that they can’t just have it work flawlessly all the time. Oh yeah, and remember when they dropped the price by $100 and told you that you could only spend the refund in Apple stores?

Change (for better or worse) is inevitable. This is obviously going to happen no matter what, yet I often find that the early adopters are the most resistant to change. We always like things “the way they used to be”. Take Twitter as an example. This past weekend, Twitter saw an explosion of new users, and also an explosion of spam. (And if you noticed, most people were pissed). According to The Social Times, Twitter is also starting to experiment with advertising “tweets”, which makes other upset. Come on, they have to make money somehow! It’s as if the early users of the site feel like victims of a foreign invasion. Just remember, there will almost always be growth. Get used to it.

There will always be dissent (see above). Many early adopters seem to think that they know what is best for their current adoption because they got to see it at its “purest” form. The problem is that most of us don’t know what is best. Therefore, people argue about it, and sometimes quite publicly. “It needs this feature!” they say. “No more spam!” they cry. Just let the changes pan out, and if it turns out that they were for the worse, then we can start to dissent. Until then, just ride the wave.

Are you an early adopter of something? Have you found these same problems? Let me know what you think!


Video on Flickr … What’s the Big Deal?

April 11, 2008

Flickr recently added the video feature to their photo sharing website. This move has caused quite a stir in the Flickr community. What I am trying to figure out is why so many people are getting so angry about the new addition. Like they say on the web site, “It’s like a photo, but it moves!”

Personally, I think think the addition of video is a great idea. It suddenly opened up a whole new market that was not able to use the photo sharing site. Good thing for the users, good thing for Flickr. Plus, the videos are only allowed to be 90 seconds long. It’s pretty hard to abuse the function in that amount of time.

Flickr is also a place for artists unlike YouTube which is a place for anyone to post a video. That doesn’t necessarily mean that people won’t join solely for the video capabilities, but it leads me to think that the videos won’t just be about internet crazes and music videos. I feel it will be used more to capture quick snippets of events and maybe to comment on something that is going on either with your own or someone else’s work on the site.

So what is all the fuss about? What do you think about the new feature? Am I totally off base? Let me know!