Presentable Vs Pestilent Persistence

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. (Coolidge)

Frank’s interview was postponed, no date set. I wasn’t able to set up the interview. I couldn’t get him a “yes.” I couldn’t get him a “no.” His resume was in limbo. So Frank said to himself, “What have I got to lose?” Frank called the VP of HR (Human Resources) at the company every day or two. For weeks he called. Usually he left no message. Frank just called, got voice mail and hung up. Finally the VP picked up his phone. Frank was enthusiastic about the company and the opportunity on the phone. No whining. No complaining. An interview was set up. Frank performed a miracle using the power of persistence.

The facts that made it work:

  1. He was excited about this opportunity. This particular one.
  2. Abject failure was given a cost. No new job.
  3. A price was paid. Regular calls.
  4. Presentable persistence, not pestilent persistence, was employed.
  5. Enthusiasm was generated for every call. He knew he’d get through one day.
  6. He sold himself from the VP’s point of view. No whining, just positives.

If you really want a new job or promotion, you often just have to keep trying. You have to make a positive impact through your persistence. When your opportunity finally comes you have to be ready to pursue it like it is the first time you tried. You have to be all positive.

One last thing to consider. While you are being persistent, continue preparing. Learn something new every day that applies to the job or promotion you want. Win by superior preparation AND persistence. That’s the sweet spot where home runs are hit.

Sales Presentation Perfection – 7 Essential Actions For Success

Recently, I was travelling in the Mediterranean and attended a lecture on ancient Rome delivered by a bright and articulate American professor. He began with an apology, immediately setting his audience up for disappointment–a promise he kept. He went on to explain that he wasn’t very good at the technology–which he proved throughout his talk. And worse still, as soon as he launched into his presentation, he seemed to have forgotten its title and focused instead on the American senate and the need for checks and balances. Nobody cared.

That presenter turned out to be the poster child for getting it all wrong. And what a shame, when it’s so easy to get it right.

Everyone who delivers a sales presentation is nervous at some time. Even if you routinely present, when you know that this one is important, adrenaline flows, mouths dry up and presenters worry that their mind will simply go blank. Why wonder if you’ve got it all right when following these 7 action steps will ensure that you do?


Refine your message.

Why it’s Important

Your audience will–if you are lucky–remember two or three important things from your presentation. The most important thing you want them to remember is your message. Even if they forget all the numbers you recite, the percentages you emphasize or the lists you highlight, you want them to remember the main thing they need to know about you–and that’s your message. So refine it, clarify it, and begin with it before you mention a word of content.


Review your slides and limit your topics to three or four main concepts that support your message. Organize content around those main topics.

Why it’s Important

The listening ear cannot go back and review what you said a few minutes ago and it’s easy for an audience to get lost when they listen to a speaker–especially if yours is only one of several presentations they will hear that day.  Make it easy for your audience to remember your content by limiting the topics you talk about. They’ll think you are smart, clear and wonderful to work with if you eliminate tangents, ditch the minutiae and simplify your talk.


Choose your topics carefully so they address the needs of your audience.

Why it’s Important

We all know that people buy from people they like, and while everyone in your audience does not have buying power, they do have veto power. Keep in mind that every audience includes four types of listeners; your goal is to connect with each of them so they like you better than your competitors. Your message should speak to the executive–that is, your message must make it clear why you are best suited to provide the best the marketplace has to offer. Your topics should speak to the other three types of listeners: the numbers cruncher, the techie and the implementor.


Use a visual metaphor on your slides to reinforce your message.

Why it’s Important

When you use compelling graphics and engaging images your audience remembers your message more easily. 


Eliminate as much text as possible from your slides.

 Why it’s Important

When you read from the screen, you lose contact with your audience. You need to make good, solid eye contact with every person in the room as you speak, and you can’t do that when you are glued to a screen. Don’t worry that you’ll forget something. This is your stuff and you know you could talk for hours about it. What’s more, if you do forget something, nobody in the audience will ever know.


Create handouts that are reader-friendly, well organized and look like real documents.

 Why it’s Important

Handouts that look like documents–not like printed PowerPoint slides–give you the professional edge you want. A well written handout is the proof that what you said in your terrific presentation is valid and true. Your handout should be distributed right before the Q and A and should include all the detail, graphs, charts and illustrations you took off the slides.


Hire a coach.

 Why it’s Important

Even Tiger Woods uses a coach. The good ones always do, because they know a coach can help you kick it up a notch. A good coach can make the difference between ordinary and great. The fact is, it’s hard, if not impossible, to see yourself as others see you. If this presentation is important, you want a professional’s eye checking you out and providing the feedback that will polish your performance–turning you into the likable, memorable, easy-to-hear presenter you know you can be.

A presentation is a performance. And like any performance, there’s a difference between an amateur show and a professional one. Take the 7 essential action steps that help you win the sale. They’ll make you look good and that’s a winning presentation.

Artful Living in the Present – Intensive Retreat in Guatemala 2006

In June of 2004, we were looking for an exotic, not too popular and remote place overseas for a summer meditation / yoga retreat and vacation. My partner Stan who teaches a form of yoga and qi-gong which he developed called qi-yoga and myself, a teacher of Living in the Present / dynamic mindfulness meditation, found Villa Sumaya (heaven on earth in Arabic) – a retreat center at lake Atitlan – which turned to be the ideal place for ourselves and the three busy New Yorkers (in desperate need for an end summer get away) who joined us.

From the moment we arrived to Guatemala and started our journey to lake Atitlan, we kept falling in love with the beauty, colorfulness, simplicity and diversity of this country. The weather in August is perfect for those who don’t like it too hot, too humid and who don’t mind a little afternoon shower.
Villa Sumaya is a combination of simplicity, elegance, exoticness and impeccability. While respecting the Mayan cultural motifs of “Her Majesty the lake”, (as they refer to it there), Wendy Stauffer’s personal accent and taste is felt throughout the premises. (Wendy, the owner and founder of the retreat center is a talented American ex-patriot artist and shaman herself)
There are seven simple and comfortable double occupancy and single rooms, including a delux suite, which are all named after the animal totems they represent. All the rooms face the lake through an incredible garden and each room has it’s own hammock. The first light of dawn and the setting of the sun in the evening, are particularly breath taking. I fell in love with the lake instantly, and found myself mesmerized watching the stoic seaweed gatherers on the lake in boats that look like they were built 2000 years ago.

The only way to travel around the lakes is by public (or private) boats, which because of the size of the local people tend to be very low, and for a tall westerner can be an adventure, as they dock at the small towns around the lake, and people travel in them with their live stock, children and incredible local garments – which differ from town to town, as do their indigenous languages. We learned very soon that the lake dictated our activities and it was no wonder why was it is so revered and respected by the locals. One evening, we got all decked up to go to Panahchell, (the closest town” – for a performance, the lake which is usually calm and pristine, got very turbulent, and as we looked out and saw our boat being tossed up and down, we took a look at each other saying “you’ve got to be kidding me…” and decided to skip the trip and give each other massages at the meditation hall – as we were watching mother nature displaying a dramatic storm. (we later learned was the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan..)

The people are modest and friendly to Westerners. As in any developing country, it is apparent how poor they are in comparison to us, and yet, there is a mutual exchange that can be worked out based on mutual repect – which is an art by itself. Keeping a determined, yet honoring smile and saying ‘hola’ is crucial. It’s not unlikely to arrive to one of the towns surrounding the lake and be flocked by local people who are trying to sell their goods and offer their services. It is however easy to communicate interest or disinterest without too much of a hassle. These trips to the towns around the lake, which we offer are centered around visiting the indigenous cultures and experiencing them first hand: the churches, the people, the food, the art and some shopping. Our favorite towns are San Marcos and Santiago. Traveling in Guatemala as in many other developing countries can be a challenge and a great lesson to the ‘control freak’ in us. Last year, after the group left, Stan and I stayed on for a couple of days, and took a trip to Xella, a town with hot Springs, which we wanted to experience. We rented a van for the day, and as we were making our way through the incredible mountains, we noticed that the traffic was stopped for kilometers ahead of us. When we left the van to inquire what happened, we found out that the local villagers blocked the road with rocks and trees in protest to the privatization of their water – by the government. Three hours later… we found ourselves flowing with the unexpected change. We engaged in conversation with the people, who were too eager to tell us their story, and when the road opened up finally, it was too late to go to our original destination, and yet, it was one of our most memorable experiences of our last year’s trip to Guatemala. We transcended being consuming tourists to having made a connection with the people.

Our retreat last year had 11 participants who started their mornings with qi-yoga, conscious breathing and mindfulness meditation. A delicious breakfast was followed by a lecture and a hike around the lake. After lunch there was free time to catch up on rest, reading, a healing session or a boat tour. Our evenings started with another qi-yoga and meditation practice followed by a candle light dinner; sharing time in conversation, videos, jacuzzi and sauna or just quiet time listening to the crickets.
The retreat started with a blessing ceremony of a local shaman. One of the eight days was a day of silence, which started right after breakfast and ended at dinner. During that day we had plenty of free time to roam around the property, swim in the lake, journal and just lounge in the garden, and just be… Yes, being present – that lost essential art of being – which in our busy ‘doing’ lives in the 21st century is probably the most calming, enriching yet challenging benefits available in the retreat. Spending quality time with yourself, reflecting on your life – far enough from it, yet closer to it than ever before, because of the surroundings and the incredible beauty of nature, the guidance and demonstration of the teachers, and support of the other retretians, can be an investment of a life time; a discovery of the Self – we are always looking for, yet often too busy to find.

It was amazing and humbling to see the participants upon arrival, and witness their transformation and flowering over eight days. Our last night of dance and celebration was particularly joyful. We were happy to share our presence and felt close and accepting of each other. And while we felt sad to leave, we were ready to take the experience with us and integrate it into our daily lives.

As we are preparing for our 2006 retreat, we realize how much the trip impacted our lives, and how long the effects of it stayed with us since we have been there last. We are thrilled to go back to Lake Atitlan and share its splendor and innocence with the next group.